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.


Monday, 2 August 2010

Michael Yelton books

An additional benefit of staying with my friends in Norfolk was being shown books they had but which I had not so far seen. Notable amongst these were two recent books by Michael Yelton - Anglo-Papalism and his biography of Alfred Hope Patten, the restorer of the Shrine at Walsingham, both published by Canterbury Press.

I had read a complimentary review of Anglo-Papalism, but the reviewer's emphasis on the book was perhaps different from that which I would take. From skimming through both books I think they look both interesting and entertaining - Anglo-Papalism has never lacked colourful characters.

One point made by Yelton struck me as topical - he concentrates on the period down to 1960 in Anglo-Papalism, and his life of Fr Hope Patten closes with his death in 1958, with notes as to the later lives of his collaborators. However he contrasts the unrealised vision c.1920 of the Anglo-Papalists of taking a substantial body of Anglicans into union with Rome with the fact that the result of their endeavours has not been that but, at Walsingham, and through Walsingham, a much wider dissemination of Marian devotion in the Church of England and Anglicanism as a whole.

That point is true, but we may now be on the brink of actually seeing some clergy and parishes actually fulfilling the vision under the terms of Anglicanorum coetibus and through the proposed Ordinariates. The "vision glorious" may yet be realised, more than half a century to a century late, but it may still happen, just as there is a revival of those very things in liturgical matters which marked out the pre-Vatican II Anglo-Catholics, and to which so many of them clung so tenaciously. For many others that vision, presented in word and act, has led them to individual union with Rome. The Anglo-Papalists and the restorers of Walsingham - who thus spurred on an unresponding Catholic hierarchy to do something there and restore the Slipper Chapel - have, in their own, delightfully individual, way yielded a rich harvest. We should remember them with gratitude, and pray that we may all rejoice together upon another shore.

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