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, 18 October 2010

Rosary Crusade

Last Saturday I betook myself to London to take part in the Rosary Crusade of Reparation, with its procession from Westminster Cathedral to the Brompton Oratory, followed by devotions in the church there. This was the 26th anniversary of the Crusade and about the fourth time I have taken part in it. It is always a positive and public act ot witness as we walk through Victoria and Knightsbridge saying the rosary, and in the wake of the Papal visit it seemed all the more important to maintain the momentum of public devotion on the streets of London.

I arrived at the Cathedral piazza to meet up by arrangement with a friend, who had not attended before, and found many of the usual suspects there. So there was the usual meeting up with a friend from the Brothers at Brompton, resplendent in his habit as a member of the co-terminous Confraternity of the Precious Blood, and sightings of assorted clergy, religious and Knights of Malta, plus "Bones" from Brighton (Laurence That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill England) with whom I exchanged greetings.

The attendance was good, as always - usually in the region of 3,000 people attend each year, but I did wonder if it is not a somewhat ageing group who form the larger part of the procession - there seemed proportionately fewer younger people than at other similar events. This is surprising given the expectation that one would find youth groups and those more likely to be fit and active wanting to take part in such an event. Maybe it is a matter of publicity. Nonetheless it is clearly esteemed by many who attend year by year.

So off we went following a four foot high statue of Our Lady of Fatima which had been blessed by Pope Pius XII and borne by members of the Catholic Police Guild. This year we managed more orless successfully to keep saying the same decades of the Rosary as a group as we processed

At a packed Brompton Oratory we had the Fatima devotions and then a sermon from the Abbot of Farnborough which linked the experience of the Papal visit - no, it had n't been a dream to see the Pope in Westminster and Hyde Park, or for us to walk through London saying the rosary - with Bl. John Henry's growing understanding as he moved towards reception into Catholicism inhis last years at Littlemore of the importance of Marian devotion as part of his discovery of the Church as a living organism rather than an organisation based solely on the Bible. Here was the development of doctrine in action and practice.

After Benediction there was, as always, the possibility of being enrolled in the Brown Scapular.

As I was leaving the man taking the collection, seeing my Oriel scarf, said that it was good to see Oriel represented. Who says the old school tie/college scarf no longer matters?

After that it was off to the pub for a pint before my friend and I went to dinner with another friend in Harley Street. Thanks to the curiosities of travel in London the last stage of the journey, to avoid being late, was made in a cycle-drawn rickshaw (with sat-nav) from Bond Street. An interesting, and rather enjoyable ride.

After a very enjoyable evening it was a late journey back to Oxford on Sunday morning - snooze on the coach, walk home, bed at 4, awake at 7, in the Oratory before 9 as collector of the "Wax tax" - selling sponsored candles for the Forty Hours next weekend. Not bad going at my age I reckon.

Next year the Crusade will be held on either October 8th or 15th - look out for details in the Catholic press, and join in, and bring your friends.

There are pictures from the 2008 Crusade here.

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