Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.

I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop...
It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

A French interview with the Pope

The Zenit website has the text of an interview given by Pope Francis to the French Catholic La Croix newspaper.
Speaking with journalists Guillaume Goubert and Sébastien Maillard for La Croix, the Holy Father discusses issues ranging from migrants, the separation of Church and state, and the scandal of sexual abuse by priests.
He also takes a question on the Society of St. Pius X and on the synods on the family.
La Croix has now published an English translation of the interview, available here. The original French text is at http://www.la-croix.com/Religion/Pape/INTERVIEW-Pope-Francis-2016-05-17-1200760633
The comments the Pope makes are, to my mind, more interesting or revealing than many of the stories we read emanating from the Vatican.

Roman barracks

The BBC News website has a post about how excavation work for a new metro line in Rome has unearthed a huge army barracks from the reign of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd Century. The report can be viewed at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36311156 

Monday, 16 May 2016

An altar frontal made from part of a dress of Queen Elizabeth I ?

There is an intersting post on the website Royal Central about a discovery in a Herefordshire church. I have  amended the text slightly:

A richly embroidered altar cloth, which may be a remnant of a dress belonging to Queen Elizabeth I herself, has been found in Bacton, Herefordshire. Historians believe that Queen Elizabeth I could have given the dress to one of her faithful servants, Blanche Parry. Blanche Parry was born in Bacton. The cloth was preserved for centuries in the small rural church of St Faith's in Bacton and it has now been identified by experts as a piece of a 16th century dress. Until very recently it hung in glass case on the wall.
© Historic Royal Palaces
© Historic Royal Palaces
 The connection to the Virgin Queen has been rumoured for centuries. Tracy Borman, a Historic Royal Palaces joint chief curator, has featured the story in her new book, The Private Lives of the Tudors. It was not uncommon for Queen Elizabeth I to pass on clothes she no longer wore, due to her enormous wardrobe, and the theory is that it once formed part of a court dress. It was made from cloth of silver, which was a high status fabric which could only be worn by royalty or the highest members of the aristocracy. It cannot be definitely confirmed that the dress was worn by Queen Elizabeth I, but she is depicted wearing a very similar fabric on the bodice of her dress in the Rainbow Portrait at Hatfield House.
 Tracy Borman said, "This is an incredible find - items of Tudor dress are exceptionally rare in any case, but to uncover one with such a close personal link to Queen Elizabeth I is almost unheard of. We're thrilled to be working with St Faith's Church to conserve this remarkable object, which will now be further examined by our conservation experts at Hampton Court Palace, where we hope to be able to display it in future."

St Ubaldus of Gubbio

John Dillon posted about St Ubaldus of Gubbio, whose feast day is today, on the Medieval Religion discussion group as follows:

Orphaned while still a boy, the wealthy Ubaldus (d. 1160; the name is a pronunciation spelling of the more familiar Hucbaldus or Hubaldus) was educated at a community of canons at Fano in the Marche, embraced an ascetic lifestyle, and returned to his native town of Gubbio in Umbria, where he became a canon of the cathedral chapter and later its prior.  After a disastrous fire he undertook the rebuilding of the cathedral church.  Ubaldus was ordained priest and in 1129 became Gubbio's bishop.  Noted for his pastoral zeal and and for careful management of church property and revenues, he refused to be dissuaded or even angered when physically threatened during a period of factional strife in the city.  Gubbio's victory in 1151 over an attacking force from Perugia and other cities was credited to the efficacy of Ubaldus' prayers.  In 1155, already elderly and infirm, he succeeded in convincing Friedrich Barbarossa, who had just burned Spoleto, to lift his siege of Gubbio.  Ubaldus is Gubbio's patron saint.

Ubaldus has two almost immediately posthumous Vitae from Gubbio, the first (BHL 8354) emphasizing his leadership in the nascent Augustinian Canons and the second (BHL 8355, 8357; two versions, of which the longer, dedicated to Barbarossa, is the earlier) on his merits as a reforming bishop.  He was canonized by Pope Celestine III in 1192.  Two years later, when his body was exhumed for transportation to the predecessor of the early sixteenth-century basilica di Sant'Ubaldo atop Monte Ingino above the city, it was found to be incorrupt.  As it still is, apparently:




Ubaldus' cult remained local until the latter half of the fourteenth century and the early fifteenth, when it spread across northern Italy chiefly in Augustinian contexts.  Also in the fourteenth century it crossed the Alps and found a home at Thann in Alsace, where a collegiate church was dedicated to him under the name of Theobald.  Thann's Vita sancti Theobaldi (BHL 8028) presents a form of Ubaldus' Vita secunda thought to be intermediate between its two versions from Gubbio and Thann's "finger" of its Saint Theobald has been shown to have come from the body preserved on Monte Ingino, though from its right earlobe rather than from a hand (see "La vérité à propos de la relique" at <http://www.eugubininelmondo.com/fr/Thann.html>).  Herewith a view of Thann's reliquary housing this object of veneration:

Some period-pertinent images of St. Ubaldus of Gubbio:

a) as depicted (lower register, second from left) in an earlier fourteenth-century polyptych (c. 1325-1350) in Gubbio's Museo civico:



b) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. John the Baptist) in an earlier fourteenth-century detached fresco (1342?) remounted in Gubbio's Museo civico:

c) as depicted (lower register at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. Jerome) by members of the Bellini workshop in a later fifteenth-century triptych (c. 1464-1470) in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Venice:



d) as depicted (at left, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at right, St. Sebastian) as depicted by Giovanni Martino Spanzotti  in a late fifteenth-century triptych (probably early 1480s) in the Galleria Sabauda in Turin:



e) as depicted (at left, holding a model of Gubbio) in the early sixteenth-century frescoes (c. 1501-1510) in Gubbio's cappella del Spirito Santo:
Detail view:


These frescoes are currently undergoing restoration.  There are excellent detail views of the portrait of Ubaldus from earlier this year toward the beginning of the brief YouTube video linked to here (starting at 0:17):

f) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Augustine of Hippo) in an early sixteenth-century fresco (c. 1503; attributed to Orlando Merlini) in Gubbio's Museo civico:

Theresa Gross Diaz added a link to an article about the rather splendid - and rather curious - celebrations Gubbio puts on each year for St Ubaldus. Italian cities have ofen preserved wonderful customs such as this as signs of local identity and patriotism. The illustrated article about the Corsa dei Ceri in honor of St Ubaldo on May 15) can be seen at http://www.italoamericano.org/story/2016-5-15/Gubbio  The three 'ceri' i.e. 'candles' (for SS Ubaldo, Giorgio and Antonio) are shouldered up the very steep Mount Ingino from the central piazza.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - amending the Castro succession

The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies


 I was sent the following link by a friend about the announcement by HRH the Duke of Castro that he has amended the law of succession to his claim to the throne of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to a system of absolute primogeniture, thus putting his two daughters in immediate succession to himself. The post can be seen at  http://royalmusingsblogspotcom.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/duke-of-castro-adopts-gender-equal.html

As the writer points out this may well call into question the apparent moves to reconciliation two to three years ago with the other claimant branch of the Bourbon house of Two Sicilies represented by HRH the Duke of Calabria. The link to that story can be accessed at  http://royalmusingsblogspotcom.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/royal-musing-exclusive-reconciliation.html

Looking for illustrations to add to this post I was surprised by the number of T-shirts, mugs, key-rings and suchlike that one can buy on-line with the arms of Il Regno that one can purchase online. Do Cafepress know something we don't? It it a hopeful sign for the future of the cause of the Two Sicilies?

I remeber being told by friends who had been on a motoring holiday that on a mountain road in, I think, the Abruzzi, they passed a very modern road sign proclaiming that drivers had now entered the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Talking to other freinds who are from the south of Italy and indeed from the Two Sicilies, they still resent the denigration of what was in many ways a progressive realm by Italian standards in the mid-nineteenth century and the wholseale asset stripping of economic resources that followed upon unification wiith Piedmont-Sardinia. That led to the poverty of the south. Only now are people outside Italy becoming aware of how the south was an occupied zone, with Piedmontese troops in plenty for many years after 1861.

File:Coat of Arms of Princess of the Two Sicilies.svg

 Arms of a Princess of the Two Sicilies

 Image: Wikimedia 

Tough cookie, Garibaldi, as one might say.

All of which reminds me to try to get on and read Harold Acton's The Bourbons of Naples and The Later Bourbons of Naples.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Prof Dennis Nineham

A friend has sent me the link to the Daily Telegraph obituary of Professor Dennis Nineham, formerly Regius Professor of Theology at Cambridge, Warden of Keble College and Professor at Bristol.
Like the friend who sent the link I knew Prof. Nineham in his retirement when he served for several years as a Senior Member on the Library Committee of the Oxford Union. As my friend wrote "it really did show the breadth of an Oxford education when you spent time talking to people like this waiting for the Librarian to arrive."

Dennis Nineham was a courteous man, punctilious in attending meetings, unafraid to express his displeasure or disagreement with Union Officers if need be, but also displaying humour and also friendliness towards much younger people.

Theologically I suspect I did not have that much in common with him, but he is someone I do recall with regard as an example of the " old school " of academics here.


The Duke of Cambridge in Oxford

I gather from the Internet through a post on the Royal Central site that the Duke of Cambridge was in Oxford today.

The post, slightly adapted and with some of my comments and explanations added in [ ] reads as follows:

" On Wednesday, the Duke of Cambridge travelled to Oxford to open Magdalen's completed Longwall Library which has been under construction for more than two years. His Royal Highness also opened the Blavatnik School of Government [ an ugly circular  creation in glass between the Woodstock Road and Jericho ] and the Weston Library [ that is, what used to be the New Bodleian. this is an excellent resource for Library users, and for visitors, having permanent exhibition spaces, and a tea room. It has been open for use for about a year]

This library renovation was a multi-million pound project with a new wing added and the interior was gutted and tore out to make more room for reading areas and to let in more natural light. During this time, students have been using a tent they've lovingly named the “Marquee."

Renovating Longwall has been a project of hard work and long hours of dedication by many; donations from alumni and telethons held by current students and administrators to raise the £10.5 million necessary to see this project completed. The construction company contracted to work on the building put in thousands of hours as well. So with a project of this scope and magnitude, there is bound to be controversy.

There are some who don't think the Duke should be the one to open Longwall. First-year musician student from Magdalen Ted Mair is one isn't pleased with this idea.

He said: “Prince William has made it to his current position simply by being born to a certain father. This appears to me as exactly the kind of cultural elitism that Magdalene, as part of the University of Oxford, should be discouraging. As an institution trying to open its gates to students from as many walks of life as possible, this choice of guest seems like a step backwards."

Another source told Oxford Student Paper, Cherwell: “We have a great many Magdalene alumni who have achieved far more through their own endeavors than Prince William has by accident of birth. Why didn’t the college choose one of them?"

[ It always surprises me - well to some extent at least why it is that reporters bother to record such miserable little whiners on these occasions...]

There are those though, who believe it quite fitting for the Duke to have this honour. Oliver Baldwin is one such student who said: "This is an honour for the school. “I’m very excited about The Duke of Cambridge coming to open the new library. The Queen is a symbol of Britain and The Duke of Cambridge, as the future king, is a symbol of where Britain is going, always remaining relevant to each new generation."

[ Much better! ]
Sam Sherburn, the current Magdalen JCR President hopes the Duke will see the value of the building.

He said: “I’ve talked about Magdalen's New Library Project to more alumni than I care to remember across several Telethons It is a fantastic project and it is great to see it open at long last. I hope that the Duke of Cambridge will be able to see for himself the hard work and dedication of those involved in the project– and those revising for their exams, for whom the New Library is a much-needed asset!” "

The Clever Boy will add that he, and he suspects many others in Oxford, were not aware in advance of this visit. As I, and others indeed, have pointed out before, the  University does not publicise these things well. I did see some preparations at the Weston Library the other day, but there was nothing to draw attention to what was scheduled.