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.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
Today a number of us from the Brothers of the Oxford Oratory - the Secular Oratory - went on a walking pilgrimage to the College at Littlemore, which this weekend is holding its Forty Hours Devotion, with its special intention for the Unity of the Church.
We set off after the 10 Mass and devotions to Our Lady of Oxford at the Oratory. Led by our Prefect of Oratory, Fr Jerome Bertram, we followed St Philip Neri's model, making it a Seven Churches walk, with pauses for prayer and recollection at the various churches en-route.
Part of the walk was on the tow path by the Thames, and we saw the earlier stages of the Torpids races being rowed on the river before walking through Iffley village, with its spectacular Norman church, crossing the by-pass and making our way through Littlemore to the modern church of Bl.Dominic Barberi.
There we prayed the following prayer by Bl. John Henry Newman:
Lord Jesus Christ, who when thou wert about to suffer, didst pray for thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as thou art in the Father and Father in thee, break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Teach all men that the see of St Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy vicar and representative, so that there is but one holy company in Heaven above, so likewise there may be one communion, confessing and glorifying thy holy name here below
We then went on to the College to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.
We lunched in the library at the College and took the opportunity to reflect upon how Brothers could mark Lent and what new initiatives we could undertake.
As on previous occasions this was an enjoyable and thoughtful occasion, drawing upon Oratorian practice and linking devotion to Our Lord with veneration of 'Our Cardinal' and building up those bonds which link the Brothers one to another and to the Oratory.