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, 31 October 2011

Adjusting the Succession


The announcement of an agreement amongst the governments of all Her Majesty's realms to amend the law regarding the Succession, as reported here and here raises several thoughts.

First of all, such an agreement, apparently arrived at quite speedily, gives the lie to the long-standing argument that the law could not be changed due to the impossibility of getting legislation through all the respective Parliaments. Given that it has still to pass, nonetheless this move indicates a willingness to move as one.

The process reflects a mood of a renewed, positive view of the Monarchy in the wake of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and notably in some of the leading Commonwealth realms - as detailed for Canada in The Monarchist blog and it can be seen, in a slightly quirky way, in the response to Miss Gillard not cutseying to her Queen in Australia. Such a trend in opinion is good in itself.

As to the changes themselves the removal of the ban on marriage to a Catholic is good, removing a piece of discrimination, and also widening the potential marriage arena. In Canada and Australia that should help resonate with substantial sections of the population.

Retaining an insistance on the Monarch not being Catholic may be politically and ecclesially judicious at present, but given that the Sovereign's role as Supreme Governor in practical terms is fornally issuing the conge d'elire to elect Bishops and receiving their homage, and signing into law the Measures which having passed unchanged through Parliamnet representing the latest daft ideas of the General Syond it is no different from their position as Monarch in temporal affairs. So a Catholic could do that as well as an extension of the Monarch's duties. That is not to say that the Monarch does not have an important part to play by their personal support of Christianity - The Queen has been exemplary in this matter.

Enabling females to succeed in direct relation to their order of birth is something I am a little wary about, but taht may be that I am not someone who likes the look of changes of this sort. Applying such changes to the descendents of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge means that members of the Royal Family can be prepared from birth for their likely responsibilities, not having to adjust in later life, as has been the case in some other European Monarchies that have changed their succession law recently.

In reality the last time such a legal provision would have affected the succession would have been in 1901, and we must presume that had the law been in place in the earlier nineteenth century the Princess Royal would not have married abroad....

Fortunately, and ultimately, it depends on genetics rather than on politicians, and its effective intoduction is at some hypothetical date in the future, and at least two more reigns away.

A friend and I agreed there is one other point - what about peerages? Now that, alas, they no longer carry admission as of right to a seat the House of Lords - and there is, shamefully, legislation going through to remove the remaining hereditaries - and women were admitted to seat there in 1958, could not, or should not, legislation allow such titles of honour to descend in the female line?

Friday, 28 October 2011

Revising St Cedd


A technical difficulty with one of the pictures I attempted to post of Lastingham church has led me to change that image and add two others of the church to my previous post. So if you have already viewed it you might like to do so again.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

St Cedd and his churches


Today is the feast of another great Northumbrian saint, St Cedd, who died in 664, which is celebrated here in the Archdiocese of Birmingham as he was the elder brother of its patron St Chad, and indeed engaged in missionary work within what is now its territory.

Wikipedia has a good account of his life and achievements which can be read here, and as that shows his main areas of influence were in Northumbria and amongst the East Saxons. In each of those areas are remarkable churches associated with him.

At Bradwell on Sea in Essex is the chapel of St Peter on the Wall which he built in the remains of the Roman coastal fort of Othona. There is an illustrated article about the chapel here.

http://gallery2.thedms.co.uk/032/1640339/DSC07560.jpg

The chapel at Bradwell
An atmospheric photograph indicating its situation.

Image:visitessex.com

Several centuries later but equally remarkable is the church at Lastingham in the North Riding of Yorkshire. This, the site of St Cedd's death and burial, was refounded as a Benedictine monastery in the years after the Norman Conquest by monks who set out from houses in the south to restablish the houses of which they had read in Bede. Lastingham was commenced in 1078, but the community moved to York in 1088, becoming the great abbey of St Mary. They left an unfinished church which was adapted to become the parish church. With its crypt it is a remarkable survival from the age of King William I, Lanfranc, Anselm and Pope Gregory VII. There is a site which has more about the church here.

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Lastingham church from the north-east

Image:markbarkerbushcraft.co.uk

http://ih0.redbubble.net/work.2430748.5.flat,550x550,075,f.inside-lastingham-church.jpg

Lastingham church interior begun 1078-1088, restored 1879

Image: redbubble.com

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3596/3471065673_04b5958339_z.jpg

The late-eleventh century crypt at Lastingham

Image: Wade Stone on Flickr

http://www.lastinghamchurch.org.uk/images/appleton/sml_plan_dates.jpg
Plan of the church and crpyt

Image:Lastingham church website

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

St John of Beverley


Today has been the feast of the translation of St John of Beverley. St John, a former Bishop of York, died on May 7th 721, and was buried in the monastery he had founded at Beverley.

photo

St John of Beverley.
Early sixteenth century glass in the chapel of The Queen's College,Oxford.
The figure was re-set in later glass when the chapel was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century.

Image:Lawrence Lew OP on Flickr

The church, or more particularly, St John himself, at Beverley received great benefactions from King Athelstan in the 930s, and the saint and king were often depicted together in and around the Minster. It was at Beverley that in 1037 at the time of his formal canonisation (or perhaps a recognitio) his relics were translated to a new shrine, the event which is commemorated today - still his feast in northern Catholic dioceses rather than his dies natalis. His shrine church at Beverley was, in effect, a pro-cathedral within the diocese of York, served by a college of canons and with a residence for the Archbishop adjacent to it.

Just over a century later, in 1138 there is the earliest existing mention of St John's banner when Archbishop Thurstan incorporated it, with those of St Cuthbert and St Wilfrid into the standard which gave its name to the Battle of the Standard when the invading Scots were defeated.

In 1188 a fire severely damaged the minster in Beverley, and not until 1197 were the relics of the saint recovered and in the following decades the rebuilding of the church led to the creation of the present Beverley Minster, one of the most beautiful, and possibly, situated as it is off the beaten tract for tourists, one of the least known of the great churches of medieval England.

http://www.walkingenglishman.com/eastyorkshire/04beverley20/08.jpg

Beverley Minster

Image: walkingenglishman.com

By 1266 it was accepted that when levies from were made in Yorkshire for the royal army, it was sufficient for Beverley to send one man with the banner of St John. In 1292 a new shrine was commissioned by the Chapter. An extant contract between Roger de Faringdon and the Canons of Beverley specifies

"a silver-gilt shrine, made from gold and silver supplied by the Chapter, 5 feet long, 1 foot wide. Of proportionate height, beautiful, and adorned with plates and columns in architectural style with figures everywhere of size and number as the Chapter determine, and canopies and pinnacles before and behind, and other proper ornaments. Roger to remake any figure at the whim of The Chapter. The pay to be silver equal to the weight used before gilding. Roger may not undertake any other work before completion."
On 25 October 1307 John's relics were translated to the new tomb. The new shrine is usually stated to have been elevated on the top of the reredos screen behind the high altar, and not on a seperate pedestal.

King Edward I was a devotee of St John and furthered the cult, and in 1295 the King established a chantry in Beverley Minster in the saint's honour. In 1301, he gave 50 marks towards the building of the shrine and he also diverted half of a fine owed by the town to the same purpose and ceded the remaining half. The King visited the Minster in 1296, 1297, and 1300 on his way north to fight the Scots and took the banner of St John to aid him. The banner was also used in military campaigns by King Edward II, King Edward III and King Henry IV, and King Richard II stopped at Beverley on his Scottish campaign of 1385.

In 1415 King Henry V gave the credit for his victory at the Battle of Agincourt to the miraculous intervention of St John, the battle having been fought on this anniversary of John's translation. On the day of the battle, blood and oil were seen running from the shrine. The King made John one of the patrons of the royal household and Archbishop Chichele of Canterbury ordered that both of his feasts on May 7 and October 25 were to be celebrated throughout England. King Henry and his new Queen Katherine came to Beverley in 1420 to make offerings at the saint's shrine, as did their son King Henry VI in 1448.

It was in this period in the early fifteenth century, and somewhat earlier than had hitherto been thought according to recent interpretations, that the west end of the Minster was completed.

http://s0.geograph.org.uk/photos/18/38/183897_2e664030.jpg

The west front of Beverley Minster.

Image:© Copyright Graham Hermon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


there is more about the relationship between the town and the cult of St John in this article from the East Riding VCH volume 6. The shrine appears to have been destroyed in 1541, but in 1664 the bones of St John were discovered under the nave floor by workmen. Today a floor slab marks the grave and on May 7th each year a civic pilgrimage is held, together with children from Harpham, the village where St John was born.

Grave of St John of Beverley

The grave of St John

Image:© Copyright Graham Hermon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

With acknowledgements to the articles on Wikipedia and in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

King Michael I - further reflections


This evening, after having drunk the health of King Michael I on his ninetieth birthday, it occurred to me that he is noteworthy for the his longevity as a monarch. King from 1927 until 1930 and since 1940, allbeit forced into exile in 1947 with an enforced abdication which he subsequently disclaimed and which was exacted under pressure, and not therefore voluntary, and only returning to the country in recent years in anambiguous position, he has been a monarch longer, at 74 years already, than those better known long-reigning rulers, Queen Victoria (63 and a half years), Emperor Francis Joseph (just short of 68 years) and King Louis XIV (72 years).

In fact the only person I can think to have potentially exceeded that is Otto of Austria, who as the de jure Emperor Otto I of Austria and King Otto II of Hungary may be assigned a reign from his father's death in 1922 until his death earlier this year of 89 years. His various renunciations of claim may be discounted as what he considered necessary at the time, and may be therefore discounted had been able to exercise his hereditary rights.

If however one looks at monarchs who did actually occupy their thrones, then King Michael is the longest reigning European monarch - the tragedy for him and his people is that he has not been enabled to exercise that role.


The Romanian Royal Standard,
as adopted in 1922

Image:Wikipedia

Dominican Rite in pictures


Dr Joseph Shaw of the Latin Mass Society has very kindly sent me the link to his set of photographs of the LMS Oxford Pilgrimage last Saturday. He appears to have made a comprehensive record of the Mass, and the set repays study. The 143 photographs certainly convey the beauty of the liturgy, as well as something of the Pilgrimage procession.

photo

The elevation of the Host

Image: Joseph Shaw1's photostream on Flickr


Dr Shaw's own account of the day can be read and viewed at Oxford Pilgrimage photos: Mass and Oxford Pilgrimage: Procession

Monday, 24 October 2011

The King of Romania at 90


Today is the ninetieth birthday of the King of Romania.

King Michael I, King of the Romanians to give him the proper translation of his title, is one of the great survivors of the last century - there are no other heads of state who were such in either the 1920s or again in the 1940s. There is an illustrated online biography of the King here, and there are many more pictures and other related material on Diana Mandache's Royal Romania blog. There is an illustrated site from 2001 here about the Romanian royal family.

There is an article with interviews with King Michael and Queen Anne by Peter Kurth from 1990 which can be read here.

There is a BBC World report about the birthday including an interview with the King which can be read here.

Today the King addressed the Romanian Parliament and other celebrations in Bucharest this week are described here, but it is, to my mind, disappointing that our own Royal family are not listed as attending, whereas others, both reigning and exiled will be present, including the King and Queen of Sweden and the Queen of Spain. Putting such a public distance between deposed or exiled monarchs and royal houses who are also relatives, which seems to go back to the reign of King George V and the post Great War situation, is not good for monarchical solidarity, even though they do attend our own royal occasions, such as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.



The King in 1947, the year he was forced into exile.

Image: Wikipedia

The text of the King's speech to the Romanian Parliament today can be read here, and there is a report here about the occasion. Here are some pictures of this rather remarkable event:

previous next
previous Romania's former King Michael I poses next to a bronze sc... Octav Ganea / AP

King Michael I stands by a bust of King Carol I
Romania's former King Michael I sits before delivering a ... Octav Ganea / AP

The King awaits to give his address to Parliament

Image:sfgate.com

King Michael I of Romania delivers his anniversary speech next…

The King addressing Parliament

Image:Getty images
previous next
previous Romania's former King Michael I stands after delivering a... Octav Ganea / AP

The King receiving a standing ovation

Image: sfgate.com



Dominican Rite in Oxford


On Saturday I took part in the annual LMS Oxford Pilgrimage. The High Mass was celebrated at 11 am in the church of Blackfriars on St Giles, and this year was in the traditional Dominican Rite. I do not know when such a Mass was last celebrated in the church, but I suspect it was forty odd years ago, and it was a wonderful and beautiful occasion.

The celebrant was Fr Richard Conrad, the deacon Fr Thomas Crean and the sub-deacon fr Gregory Pearson, with other Dominicans providing the team of acolytes and thurifer. This was the Mass for which the church was designed, and the dignity and solemnity of the occasion was enhanced by the sunlight streaming in through the windows and the clouds of incense within the sanctuary. One could not imagine a more beautiful way of celebrating the Sacrament, and the consequent ability to be drawn into a prayerful relation with the Divine. It is a precious part of the Dominican heritage, and that of the wider church, and I sincerely hope that it will be celebrated again there in the not too distant future and that others may both witness and benefit by it. I do hope that individual Dominicans and Dominican houses avail themselves of their recently confirmed right to celebrate Mass in this form.

It was very moving to attend Mass in a form with a continuous liturgical history and usage from the thirteenth century, and one which closely parallels the Sarum and other Uses of medieval England, as well as of other monastic orders. Thus it would be largely indistingishable from the Mass as celebrated in, for example, the Dominican friaries in Oxford or in my home town of Pontefract before their dissolution in 1538. There was, of course, something of the liturgical train-spotter about some of us, observing the various features specific or unique to the Rite, but, I hasten to add, it was the totality of the offering which really concerned us, not the minutiae.

The Mass offered was one special to the Dominican Missal - the feast of dedication of all Dominican churches which is assigned to October 22nd - and Fr Conrad preached an elegant and eloquent homily linking the dedication of particular church buildings to the dedication of the believer.

The Pilgrimage was well attended, with some travelling up from the south coast or the south-west to attend. When I can find some photographs online I will post them or links to them.

Following the Mass I had a most enjoyable Italian lunch with my good freinds Andrew Wagstaff of The Noise of the Crusade aka The Last Knight and John Hunwicke, before Andrew and I joined the procession commemorating the Oxford martyrs of 1589. Starting from the site of the Bocado prison adjacent to the tower of St Michael att the Northgate we processed with Fr Crean behind the cross and a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham along the route of the martyrs journey to execution, and past the site of their capture at the Catherine Wheel Inn - now covered by part of Balliol. In warm autumnal sunshine we made our way past tourists and shoppers as well as graduands and their families at a degree day, and the animal rights protesters by the Sheldonian, along Broad Street and Holywell Street to the site of the gallows. Returning the same way we sang the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the martyrs' witness (and, yes, we did genuflect at the appropriate point) and concluded with Benediction given by Fr Crean in the church at Blackfriars.

After that Andrew and I had our own nostalgic pilgrimage to the Eagle and Child (aka the Bird and Baby) before joining other pilgrims - including Paul Smeaton of Smeaton's corner and Sean Wright of Juventutem Oxford- in the Lamb and Flag for further refreshment. After this Andrew and I adjourned to the bar of the Oxford Union before heading off for supper and his departure on the London coach. So, all in all, a very pious and a very convivial day.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Commemorating Trafalgar


Today is Trafalgar Day, which apart from its national significance, has a particular link to a monument in my home town of Pontefract - which given the fact that the town lies well inland is both somehat unusual and also, dare I suggest, given the circumstances of the acquisition of the memorial not untypical of the town's history and character.

Filling most of the south wall of Pontefract Town Hall, built in 1785, is a plaque depicting The Death of Nelson. Set behind cast-iron railings with spear finials and lotus standards, and with an expaletory label, it shows the wounded Lord Nelson being carried from the deck of HMS Victory, and underneath it the words of the famous signal: England expects every man will do his duty.

It is in fact the plaster sculpture or maquette from which one of the sides of the base of Nelson’s Column, in Trafalgar Square, London, was cast in bronze. Four sculptors contributed to the making of the monument. Of these this one, by John Edward Carew , was the first to be installed, facing Whitehall, in 1849 and cast by Adams, Christie and Co. of Rotherhithe.


The plaque on Nelson's Column

Image: Wikipedia

I have not found a photograph online of the Pontefract plaque but I did find the image above of the finished bronze in Trafalgar Square.

Carew was a friend of Benjamin Oliveira, one of the two Liberal M.P.s for Pontefract from 1852 until 1857. The M.P. suggested to the Mayor of Pontefract that the plaque would look well in the Town Hall and show the town’s admiration for Lord Nelson. The offer was accepted and the plaque, cut, as can still be discerned into six pieces, was transported by horse and flat cart and delivered and erected in the Town Hall.

Shortly afterwards the bill arrived. The Corporation of Pontefract had been under the impression that the plaque was a gift from the sculptor and a great deal of embarrassment ensued. The bill was finally paid, but the amount was never disclosed.

With acknowledgements to my friend Barbara Stewart's blog Barbara's Web Site : family history and local history. This is a good example of how a blog can serve as an autobiography and family history and be a record for others interested in the local history of an area.


Bl. Emperor Charles


Today is the centenary of the wedding of the Archduke Charles to Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma, the future Emperor Charles and Empress Zita, and now the day appointed as that of his commemoration as a beatus.


http://www.emperorcharles.org/images/JPG%20800/cd%201/04--Engagement%20and%20Wedding/Cat%20No%2070--The%20Newlyweds%20at%20the%20Reception--Postcard,%20Mimosa.jpg

The future Empress and Empress on their wedding day October 21 1911

http://www.emperorcharles.org/images/JPG%20800/cd%201/04--Engagement%20and%20Wedding/Cat%20No%2069--Wedding%20Party%20on%20the%20Balcony%20of%20Villa%20Schwarzau-.jpg

The Emperor Francis Joseph with the Archduke and Archduchess and other family members on the balcony at the Villa Schwarzau.
Archduke Francis Ferdinand can be seen to the rear on the left.


In addition to the continuing cause for the Emperor's canonisation the cause of the Empress has also been introduced and the websites for these can be found at Emperor Charles League of Prayer and at Empress Zita cause.

It is worth reflecting that no other head of state from the twentieth century has been raised to the altars of the church, and one has to go back along way to find one, even canonizations centuries later such as that of the thirteenth century King Ferdinand III of Castile in 1671, let alone one within the lifetime of their children.

The story of the Empress and Empress is a tragedy not only in political and international terms for their peoples, but also a personal one, the piecemeal wearing down of a high-minded, devout, decent young man, devoted husband and father leading to a premature death at the age of 34. What redeems it is his personal holiness, as set out in the readings of the Novena for his cause which I have been saying, or in the various biographies of him.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Forthcoming EF Masses at SS Gregory and Augustine


Fr Saward, priest-in-charge of SS Gregory and Augustine, informs me that there will be celebrations of Mass in the Extrordinary Form in the church as follows

This evening, Thursday 20th, at 6 p.m., Low Mass.

Next week the Wednesday evening Mass on 26th October is cancelled, but there will be an additional Mass that week:
Friday 28th October, SS. Simon & Jude, 6 p.m., Low Mass

Sunday 30th October, Rosary Service & Traditional Benediction, 5 p.m.

Tuesday 1st November, All Saints, 6 p.m., Low Mass

Wednesday 2nd November, All Souls, 6 p.m. Sung Requiem Mass

Thursday 3rd November, First Thursday, 12 noon, Low Mass (Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament before and after)

Friday 4th November, First Friday, 6 p.m., Low Mass

On Sunday 20th November there will be Sung Mass at 12 noon, the second in the series of offering the Sunday liturgy in the Extraordinary Form.

Solemn Evensong with the Ordinariate


Yesterday evening I attended the second of the Solemn Evensongs held at Blackfriars by the Oxford Ordinariate group. As last time this was well attended, the congregation including Ordinariate members, other relatively recent converts like myself, cradle Catholics and some who are still within the Church of England.

The service was to celebrate the feast of St Fridewide, and the form of service now has the Vatican recognitio, rather than using the version from the US Book of Common Order - thus the suffrage for The Queen was in its proper place.

The music was provided by The Newman Consort, the officiant was Mgr. Andrew Burnham and the preacher Dom Aidan Bellenger OSB, Abbot of Downside.

The collect was translated from the Sarum Missal as published in Antwerp in 1527, just before all the trouble began, and a worthy reminder of patrimony:

Almighty and eternal God, source of truth and lover of virginity, grant us, we beseech thee, that the merits of St Frideswide, thy virgin so pleasing to thee, may be as a commendation of us to thess whose life by its chastity gave to thee such satisfaction. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and regneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Afterwards there was Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and with those two superb twelfth century hymns indicative of thec Benedictine, indeed Cluniac, spirituality of the age - Peter Abelard's O what their joy and their glory must be and Bernard of Cluny's Jerusalem the golden - and both translated by the incomparable, and Anglican, J.M.Neale.

This was an opportunity for the Anglican patrimony in the use of traditional language and choral music to be made available to the wider Catholic Church.

I have to say that I genuinely prefer the structure of Vespers to Evensong, which of course merges Vespers and Compline, and miss the antiphons to the psalms and canticles, but the combined effect of words, music and ceremonial was very conducive to prayerful reflection.

I am in such matters inclined to the view that patrimony is more about the way things are done rather than the specific forms of Anglican liturgy - that has, after all, been debatable territory since very early in the Oxford Movement - but that is in no way to fault what was offered last night.

Afterwards there was a reception in the Aula at Blackfriars and an opportunity to catch up with friends old and new, and the prospect of another such Evensong next term.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Hymn to St Frideswide


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St Frideswide
Fourteenth century glass in Christ Church Cathedral

Image: Lawrence Lew OP on Flickriver

After Mass at the Oratory this evening we had Benediction in honour of St Fridewide and the opportunity once again to sing one of the more remarkable examples of English hymnography in her honour. I understand the hymn originates at her shrine church, now Christ Church cathedral. The hymn does recount the life of the saint - my favourite verse is no.3 - nor can one fault its sentiments, and I would be loath to see its use abandoned, but great poetry, to be frank, it is not.

It is sung to Handel's March from Judas Maccabeus - Hail the conquering hero comes - and also used for Thine be the Glory.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.
Child of royal parents, courted by a king,
Sought a crown of glory, spurned a wedding ring.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Powerful and peaceful, vowed to God alone,
Frideswide chose a heavenly, not an earthly throne.
Prayer and meditation raised her soul above
All this world's attraction; Jesus held herlove.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.


Algar of Leicester planned to do her wrong,
Sent his men to seize her, Frideswide's faith was strong -
In an instant blinded then his sight restored,
They knew both the wrath and mercy of the Lord.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.


Wonders of healing Frideswide's prayers obtained -
Crooked limbs were straightened, speech the dumb regained.
Through her intercession may the grace be ours
For God's use to offer all our gifts and powers

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Light filled the city as she passed away
Journeyed through death's shadow into endless day,
There we hope to join her, by the truth set free,
Where we have our treasure, there our hearts shall be.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Autograph material


I spent part of this afternoon assisting in moving part of the library at the Oxford Oratory. One of the items we had to move was a case containing sliding draws which contain a collection of archive letters which are part of the patrimony of the church.These have been part of its collection for many years and items are sometimes on display.

It is nonetheless remarkable to be handling framed letters from a selection of saints and beati, including St Charles Borromeo and St Joseph of Cupertino (whose ability to levitate would have helped when we were emptying bookshelves come to think of it), and the only autograph letter from St Ignatius Loyola in this country. The Oxford Oratory is rich in such treasures and we are extremely lucky to have a community like the Oratory to safeguard them.

Church of St Frideswide Oxford


Whilst I was churchwarden at St Thomas the Martyr here in Oxford the church was linked in a single benefice with the church of St Frideswide in the Botley Road. As today is the feast of St Frideswide and I recently found this drawing of the proposed design I thought I would post about it.

St Frideswide's originated in the remarkable ministry of the great Canon Thomas Chamberlain as vicar of St Thomas the Martyr from 1842 until 1892. Concerned that the Nonconformists might establish a foothold in the community that had been built on Osney Island in the western part of his parish he built a mission church which was replaced, largely I believe at his expense and indeed impoverishment, by St Frideswide's, and a separate parish established.

The church as it stands was designed by S.S. Teulon (1812-73) and built between 1870 and 1872.There are biographies of this interesting, if not particularly well-known, architect here and here. Presumably following his death the Oxford architect Harry Drinkwater (1844-95), of whom there is a biography here, built the vicarage including the connecting corridor which links it to the church and is a feature of interest and character.

In 1878 Drinkwater produced this design to complete the church with an impressive tower. I was given to understand that the reason this was not carried out were concerns about the weight involved given the position of the church close to the Thames. This is borne out in the picture below from the floods in 2007. Nevertheless this is another instance where one very much wishes it had been possible to complete the building as designed.

http://archiseek.com/wp-content/gallery/uk-england-oxfordshire/0023.jpg

Harry Drinkwater's design for St Frideswide's 1878

Image:http://archiseek.com/2009/1878-st-frideswide-osney-oxfordshire/

http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2007/07_02/churchAP2507_468x308.jpg

St Fridewide's during the summer floods of 2007.

Image: Daily Mail

The church is handsome, and solemn in a rather severe way both inside and out - not so much beautiful as substantial.

Inside the church is a wooden door from the only other nineteenth century church dedicated to St Frideswide. The church, in London, was bombed and destroyed in the Second World War, but the door, carved by Alice Liddell, Alice of Alice in Wonderland, with the story of St Frideswide, was rescued and found a home in her other church.


The Queen of Australia


The Queen has arrived in Australia on her latest visit to her realm.

Queen Elizabeth II is on her 16th visit to  Australia

The Queen is welcomed in Canberra


This is her first visit since 2006, but some years ago the pundits who were predicting an Australian republic, would have dismissed either visit by the reigning Queen of Australia to the country as implausible. So much for pundits. Statistics suggest that support for a republic is ebbing, with a recent Roy Morgan survey showing support for abolishing the Australian monarchy at its lowest level for two decades.

According to the poll, only 34% of Australians now support establishing a republic - the lowest level since 1991 - while 55 % want to keep the monarchy. The clear defeat of the republican cause in the 1999 referendum was striking.

The constitional basis and position of the Australian monarchy is set out here. What is needed is for that position to be consolidated. I think that in past decades the relative coolness of some Australian goverrnments has reduced the number of royal visits - presumably hoping to reduce interest thereby. No doubt a visit by The Queen and Prince Philip, and likely to be followed by one by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will help renew the sense of identity between monarchy and people.

One symbol of that is the Queen's Royal Standard of Australia, adopted in 1964, although as with others used in Commonwealth realms I wonder why The Queen does not simply fly her undifferentiated arms as Queen, as she does in the United Kingdom, and as, I assume, in the case of the various armorial standards of her realms borne at the Coronation.

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The Queen's Royal Standard in Australia

Image: Wikipedia

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Understanding the Roman Canon


For part of the Forty Hours I was reading Hugh Ross Williamson's The Great Prayer. Published in 1955, when he was still an Anglican clergyman, it is a study of text of the Roman canon of the Mass. The following year he was received as a Catholic and the book may in part reflect the thoughts that led him to that decision. It has now been reissued by Gracewing with a new commendatory introduction by Bishop Alan Hopes and costs £9.99. There is a review from The Anglo Catholic which can be read here

Like that reviewer I would recommend the book to anyone interested as both a liturgical and historical introduction and as a book for spiritual reflection.

With the new translation of the Missal coming into use it is an excellent guide to this venerable prayer. The author stresses that this was the Mass text used by St Augustine in the first Mass he celebrated in this country on his mission of 597 - when he wrote it was no doubt an attempt to call Anglicans back to their patrimony. Now his book can serve to call Catholics back to their patrimony in this beautiful prayer which binds the Church together accross the centuries.

Prussian Coronation 1861


Today is the 150th anniversary of the Coronation of King William I and Queen Augusta of Prussia at Konigsberg in 1861. The King, who became German Emperor in 1871, was the last Prussian King to have a coronation - his son Frederick III was too ill and died after 99 days as Kaiser and King in 1888, although he envisaged two ceremonies, one as King and another as Deutsches Kaiser, and his son, William II, was dissuaded from holding the ceremony on the grounds of expense - Bismarck was not at all favourable to ceremonial, tending to see it as out of date. It is somewhat surprising, given William II's flamboyant style, that he did not insist on having a coronation.

This was the first coronation of which photographs survive, though I cannot find any online. I have seen one in a book by those eminent historians of photography Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, and there is a photograph of the Crown Princess on the day in Roger Fulford's Dearest Child. I remember seeing a series of paintings of the ceremonies reproduced some years ago in one of Sotheby's Art at Auction year reports.

I did find this picture, a painting by Adolf Menzel from 1861. The arrangement of the cathedral looks similar to that for the Norwegian coronation in 1906, with two facing thrones. The figures in red mantles are Knights of the Order of the Black Eagle:

Adolf Menzel, <I>Coronation of Wilhelm I in Königsberg in the Year 1861</i> (1861)

Original: Stiftung Preußische Schlöser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg, Schloß Sanssouci, Potsdam.
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Monday, 17 October 2011

Splendour and Vigil at the Forty Hours


Last weekend the Oxford Oratory had its annual celebration of the Forty Hours Devotion.

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The scene in church

We began on Friday evening with a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, followed by the recitation of the appropriate litanies. These helped focus my mind - I felt I had listed all those people and things I wished to pray for at the start rather than having the anxiety of specifically remembering them, or forgetting them, during the following hours. At this point I counted 68 candles around the Blessed Sacrament

I temporarily broke my vigil at this point, but left the church with a very real sense of the love of God in Christ Jesus and of how our response should be that of love responding to Love, rather than fear, and that we seek forgiveness for our sins and to avoid committing them so as not to offend and so as not to besmirch the Body of Christ which is the Church, in total union with His Body in the Sacrament. I do not claim anything original in writing that, more the sense of something I knew being restated to me.

I returned to spend time in Vigil, and to attend Compline sung by the Dominicans, and which concluded with the distinctive Dominican tone for the Salve.

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Compline with the Dominicans

Through the night we had reciations of the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries with time for silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the chance to have refreshments to sustain us through the night. There was aconsistent supply of people keeping vigil as and when they could.

At 5am there was Matins and Lauds of the Blessed Sacrament with the Oratorians and the Sisters of the Work in their distinctive habits. This was medidative and reflective, and superior to the tendency I have to find myself rushing through the Divine Office in private recitation.

At 6am we had an Extraordinary Form Mass for the feast of St Teresa of Avila, and light began to filter in through the clerestory. In that early morning light there was the continuing beauty of this Heaven on Earth that had been set up on the altar, and a profound sense of peace and tranquiity.

On Sunday the 11am Mass was, by established usage, one of the Sacred Heart, and Fr Joseph Welch's sermon in the series being delivered by the Oratorians on the Mass, was on the Offertory, and chimed in well with the mood of the Forty Hours. His sermon can be read here.

In the evening, by which time I counted twenty more candles around the altar, there was the singing of Solemn Vespers, followed by a Procession - and I always enjoy religious processions with their symbolism and actuation of the Body of Christ and the Church moving through time and space - and in conclusion Benediction.

A beautiful and splendid as well as a prayerful weekend which is always an occasion to look forward to and to draw benefit from.

Images : Oxford Oratory website


Saturday, 15 October 2011

Cardinal Manning


Last Monday evening I went up to London to the Anglo-Catholic History Society autumn lecture by Fr James Pereiro on "Manning's Intellectual Journey" at St Matthew's Westminster, and about which I posted in Lecture on Cardinal Manning on October 10th.


Image: Idle Speculations

Unfortunately I was delayed on the coach and missed the first few minutes, but the lecture proved to be erudite and elegant. I made some notes, but cannot hope to convey at all adequately all that Fr Pereiro said. Both from what he said and from a partial reading of his Cardinal Manning An Intellectual Biography Oxford UP 1998, and essentially reissued as Cardinal Manning: From Anglican Archdeacon to Council Father at Vatican I by Gracewing of Leominster in 2008, it is clear that Manning repays study.




I would recommend readers to go to these, but here are a few points which struck me as salient.

What emerged was the coherence and consistency of his ideas over his long and remarkable life and career. His journey was parallel to that of the Oxford Movement rather than part of it, despite its closeness, and his time as a student at Balliol. In particular he was concerned with the fact that Christianity is fideistic, publically expressed in The Rule of Faith, published in 1839 from a sermon he preached in Chichester Cathedral.

Manning stressed the role of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, an idea which Fr Pereiro thought appealed to only the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England and which did not become widely appreciated in the Catholic Church until the pontificate of Pope Pius XII in Catholic Church.

Lavington in Sussex with the church be created there was his Littlemore, and has the graves of his wife and other relatives, and was clearly a place and time in his life that he loved.

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West Lavington Church
Built by Manning and consecrated by his brother-in-law Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in the autumn of 1850, just before Manning resigned and was received as a Catholic in 1851

Image: Wikipedia

As Archdeacon he expressed courteously, but firmly, his dissent on occasion from his more latitudinarian Bishop. Towards the end of his Anglican years he published four volumes of sermons, and of these Fr Pereiro thought the masterpiece was the last published just at the time of Manning's conversion - he resigned at the end of 1850 and was received as a Catholic on 6 April 1851. As a result it was largely ignored by Anglicans whom he had left behind and by Catholics as the work of someone who had been out of communion with them when he wrote.

In pursuit of an understanding of the basis of faith and belief he denied the arguments for sola scriptura as believers had faith before the creation of the New Testament canon. It would be like claiming there was no Church before the Councils - one would not claim there was no Church before Nicea in 325. In later life in the years around 1870 he became ware of the German historical school, led by Dollinger, which sought to make an historical case the basis for determining truth. Manning saw only too clearly thatthe work of historians is based on revisionism, and that certainly did not provide the certainty faith requires.

In seeking how to determine what was the guarantee of faith he found a key concept in the work of the sixteenth century Spanish theologian Melchior Cano who wrote of the agreed consensus of the Fathers as to esrtablishing the truth. For Wiseman this was the equivalent of the impact on Newman of Wiseman's 1839 quotation as to how one can judge securely. It took him longer than Newman to appreciate the concept of the development of doctrine, and he struggled at times to reconcile this with the summary of Vincent of Lerins.

Manning held that the impress of Truth led to the believer being justified by baptism. Thus even those outside the formal structure of the Catholic Church who responded to the call of Faith were responding to the Truth given by the Spirit, and that Truth is Christ. This he considered he had seen in the lives of those he receive dinto the Church, and it was a position he defended at Vatican I. In a sense therefore the seemingly Ultramontane hardline Manning is revealed as more 'ecumenical' than his postumous reputation might suggest.

As an Anglican he saw a Church of England which denied the infallibility of the Church, and asked himself and his readers if it could be recovered? His answer clearly was that it could not, and his previous experiences can be seen as ones which led him to be an advocate of the decree on Infallibility in 1870.

His move towards Rome took him time - on that charged anniversary day November 5th 1843 he had preached an anti-Papal sermon in St Mary's in Oxford which was sharply critical of the Romeward trend of others - such as Newman - whom he saw as betraying their responsibilities to the Church of England. He did admittedly go the next day to Littlemore to see Newman and explain his position, and was not granted a meeting.

His own conversion was a threefold choice, an exercise of his own private judgement, and shaped by the appointment of R.D. Hampden to the see of Hereford, the Gorham judgement of 1850 and
the re-establishment that autumn of a Catholic hierarchy, which clearly was proceeding on the basis of an authentic tradition of received Faith.

In the 1840s he was keen to maintain the role of the Church in Education, and feared the secularism that the state might bring to this sphere. In that sense he was perhaps prophetic. As a friend pointed out to me Manning never took state money to assist Catholic schools, unlike the policy adopted under his successor at the time of the 1903 Education Act.

Manning knew the world of politics without being worldly, and sought to make his opinion sknown to his Oxford contemporaries who went on to high public office - notably Gladstone. Fr Pereiro said that four volumes of correspondence between them have been prepared for publication. For a time the correspondence was interrupted by the row over Infallibility in 1870 and the years that followed. That same year of 1870 saw the publication of Disraeli's novel Lothair with Manning depicted as Cardinal Grandison. (Was Disraeli acquainted with the life of the great fourteenth century Bishop of Exeter?)

As Manning was himself aware as man of ability he rose within the Church of England, and rose further and higher as a Catholic. In that sense he is a classic example of how members of an elite always find their place within societies.

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Punch cartoon of 1882

Image:Wikipedia

In addition to Fr Pereiro's book I would recommend as a life of Manning Robert Gray's Cardinal Manning: A Biography, published in 1985, which seeks to redress the unfavourable portrait created by early biographers and refracted through Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians.

I came away from the lecture better informed and keen to read more by the speaker, and with a renewed sense of the stature of Manning as a theologian and thinker.


Friday, 14 October 2011

1066 and All That


In August I was having dinner with two friends, one of whom is a teacher in his native Germany and he talked about a plan to bring his pupils on a summer school to Hastings next year. Perhaps prompted by the memory of the old postage franking from Hastings on book catalogues describing the town as "Hastings - popular with visitors since 1066" complete with a smiling Norman helmeted face against a conventional representation of the sun my mind turned to a new hermeneutic of interpretation of the Norman Conquest. In this it is to be understood as a summer school - well, early autumn - that got a bit out of hand. Lanfranc and Anselm as school masters had stayed back in Normandy and left it to the head-boy to take the party unsupervised over the Channel, and, well, he did rather more than they had planned.*

Reflecting on this conceit it occurred to me that there was more, and something much more serious, that I could say about the Battle of Hastings today, its 945th anniversary.

Even allowing for the dangers implicit in a post hoc ergo propter hoc argument no event in the last thousand years has been more important to the life of England - and hence the English speaking world - that the Norman Conquest. the only rival is the drawn out process of the reformation. W.C.Sellar and R.J.Yeatman, those influential Oriel historians and authors of what Sir Michael Howard, formerly Regius Professor of Modern History in the University one described, to great applause in Oriel Hall at a History appeal dinner, as "the greatest work of historiography written in the twentieth century" 1066 and All That, published in 1930, got it right. It is a uniquely memorable event - not even 55BC comes close.

I am always inclined to be irriated, inter alia, by those who dismiss medieval history as irrelevant, and to ignore, or try to ignore, the impact of what happened in 1066 and what flowed from it really invites the most severe of censures (even if I do restrian myself when in conversation).

The life of the Conqueror by David Bates in the Oxford DNB can be read here and Prof. Bates writes that "he possessed an energy and an instinctive political intelligence which still seem awesome across a gap of nine hundred years." To stand before the tomb which encloses all that remains of the King-Duke - a single thigh bone - is, in my experience, an awe-inspring experience in the grandeur of St Etienne Caen.


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The modern tomb of King William I in the Abbey of St Etienne Caen.
The original tomb was destroyed by the Hugenots in 1562.

Image: yurigetsradical on Flickr


The invasion of 1066 was not the first in the eleventh century, nor was it to be the last successful one of this country - 1326, 1399, 1461, 1485, 1688 all come to mind. Given that William was of Viking descent (and it the Bayeux Tapestry is to believed, of arguably Scandinavian appearance ) he invites all the more comparison with King Swein and, more importantly, his son King Cnut of Denmark and their invasions of 1013-14 and 1016. Indeed without their intervention the events of 1066 would probably have never occurred - by displacing King Ethelred II and his family, and later the death of King Edmund II, the exile of the West Saxon dynasty and the life of King Edward the Confessor all helped create the siuation Duke William seized in 1066. As Donald Matthew argues in his book on the Conquest the underlying question for the English in the eleventh century was not if, but by whom, their country would be invaded and ruled.

The chattering classes of Iseldone or Isendone [as Islington is termed in Domesday Book] in 1066 (can one envisage them? Well if not, try) might have thought William was just another invader who would come and ultimately go, but he did not. With the events of 1066, whether it was obvious at the time or not, the centre of political and cultural gravity shifted decisively.


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The statue of the Conqueror in his birthplace Falaise

Image:lucasbrouwers.nl

One simple measure of the impact of King William and his conquest can be seen in respect of the institution that above all embodies the historical and constitutional link accross the centuries - the Monarchy. The fact that the later medieval habit of numbering and listing Kings "after the Conquest" led eventually to that phrase being forgotten - thus of the eleven Kings Edward we only number those from I to VIII, those after the Conquest. What one might idly reflect would happen were we to have King Edmund III or King Alfred II or King Edgar II? (I think we may safely assume that Ethelread and the other Ethel- varients are consigned to the past... )

Although the names Edward and Edmund were revived in honour of the Anglo-Saxon royal patrons and intercessors St Edward the Confessor and St Edmund by King Henry III, royal names have tended to reflect the effects of the Norman Conquest.

So the Duke of Cambridge who is, through both Queen and Prince Philip a 29 times great- grandson ( and a 28 times one through Queen Mary) of the Conqueror, and also descended from him through Diana Princess of Wales, bears the baptismal names William Arthur Philip Louis - and not, for example, Cnut Swein Harald Olav.

If William might be an obvious link, then Arthur reflects in part that rediscovery by Anglo-Norman writers after 1066 of the British legends and their adaptation to twelfth century cultural conditions. Philip first became used in the West from the naming of King Philip I of France (1060-1108), and his name reflected Eastern Orthodox devotion to the Apostle through the King's mother Anna of Kiev. Louis originates as the Frankish name of King Clovis, but it appears to be with the French King Louis VI (1108-1137) that it too became widely used. Not only do they indicate French influence, but they were to become two of the most widely used names amongst the Capetians and their descendents.


* One regular reader may recall the partial inspiration for this notion.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Novena for the canonization of Emperor Charles


As I did last year I have started the Novena for the canonization of the Emperor Charles of Austria in the lead up to his feast day on October 21st. The text of the Novena, with its reflections on his life, can be found here. The website for his cause is that of the Emperor Charles League of Prayer

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Bl. Emperor Charles

Image: Emperor Charles League of Prayer


The Miracle of the Sun


Today is the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima in 1917 and I am sharing an advertisement I received today from that excellent organisation Aid to the Church in Need about the latest film about the Fatima apparitions. I have not so far seen this film, although I did successfully recommend it for the DVD loan collection of the Oxford Union Library.

Aid to the Church in Need is pleased to offer the inspiring film Fatima The 13th Day - A Story of Hope at a bargain price!

Written and directed by Ian and Dominic Higgins, the film retells the story of the young seers at Fatima, bringing alive the events of May to October in 1917.

On this day 94 years ago, people descended on the Cova da Iria in Portugal to witness a miracle - known as the Miracle of the Sun - that the children had been told to preach by Blessed Mary.

Many pilgrims went barefooted, reciting the Rosary as they went, when the miracle occured as promised.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster called the award-winning film "a remarkable re-telling of the story of Fatima... I believe that many will be deeply touched by the film."

Fatima The 13th Day - A Story of Hope DVD. Photo: Aid to the Church in Need

Fatima has a special connection with Aid to the Church in Need, as the charity was consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima by its founder, Father Werenfried van Straaten.

Available at a bargain price of just £15.99 plus P&P - get your copy now!


St Edward the Confessor


Today is the feast of St Edward the Confessor. The anniversary is not that of his death, January 5th, but rather that of the translation of his relics to a new shrine in Westminster Abbey in 1163. I wonder if the date, a day before the anniversary of the battle of Hastings, was chosen deliberately for that reason - a hermeneutic of continuity perhaps.

St Edward was born at Islip, near Oxford, so he can be accounted as a local as well as a national saint.

The Oxford DNB life by Frank Barlow, who has written the standard biography of the King, and who stresses that St Edward was much more than the possibly rather colourless figure he often appears to be presented as, can be read here.

Last year I posted St Edward and St Edward's Crown to mark this feast, and I think it is worth reading again.

http://www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/sebc/visit/images/Edconf.jpg

St Edward the Confessor from the Bayeux Tapestry

Image: stedmundsbury.gov.uk

His cult has remained central to the monarchy and hence the survival of his shrine, as well as the designation of the Crown of St Edward, and the centuries-long notion of the good laws of King Edward which were to be upheld by his successors. His cult was promoted by successive monarchs, notably King Henry III who initiated the rebuilding of Westminster abbey and King Richard II. It remained essentially one for the court rather than being a popular devotion, but it underpinned the sacrality of the monarchy.

May St Edward continue to pray for The Queen and the Royal Family, and for the realm.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sung Extraordinary Form Mass this Sunday in Oxford


Fr John Saward of SS Gregory and Augustine here in Oxford will celebrate the first of a series of regular monthly Sunday EF Sung Masses in his church this coming Sunday, October16th, at 12 noon.

If you know anyone who might be interested in attending please pass the information on to them.

If you are visiting Oxford from outside you could combine attendance at the Mass with the Forty Hours Devotion at the Oxford Oratory
.

Celebrating St Wilfrid


Today is the feast of St Wilfrid, one of the greatest figures in the history of the Anglo-Saxon church. Although originating in Northumbria his career and ministry took him to other parts of England, notably Sussex and the Isle of Wight, and in later years to Mercia, as well as his visits to the continent.

I posted about him last year and that can be read at St Wilfrid. There is an online biography here and the Oxford DNB life by Alan Thacker can be read here.

He is the patron of forty eight ancient churches, mainly in the the north and these are not infrequently associated with the medieval estates of the Archbishops of York - much more than St Paulinus, and with reasonable historical justification, he was seen as the establisher of the See.

Devotion to him has survived especially in Ripon and the public commemoration of his return from exile appears to have survived as a custom that was reinvigorated in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as can be read in this piece about this year's celebrations, held on July 31st. However I am rather inclined to think they do such religious pageants with more panache in Italian cities.

In Yorkshire he is also commemorated by two fine churches of a more recent date. St Wilfrid's York was opened in 1864 by Cardinal Wiseman and served until 1878 as the pro-cathedral of the Diocese of Beverley before it was partitioned into two. The church is close to York Minster, and the effect is perhaps not necessarily a happy one, with St Wilfrid's very French style making it all the more conspicuous. I do not know if this was at all intentional.

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St Wilfrid's and York Minster

Image:phototravelings.blogspot.com




St Wilfrid's Harrogate from the south-east

Image: The Victorian Society website

In Harrogate is the great Anglo-Catholic church of St Wilfrid, the masterpiece of the architect Temple Moore. Begun in 1904 it was completed in 1935. Temple Moore worked mainly in the north - almost his only southern building is Pusey House in Oxford.

Fr Faber's devotion to St Wilfrid, and his taking of that name in religion, led to the creation of St Wilfrid's chapel at the London Oratory as well as St Wilfrid's Hall there.

On another tack altogether - what has happened to the Society of St Wilfird and St Hilda ( SWISH for short) that was launched as a reaction to the Ordinariate? I commented last year on the irony of St Wilfrid at least as patron - he was the most ardent Romaniser and loyal subject of the Papacy in his age.

May St Wilfrid continue to pray for his churches and the lands he evangelised and ministered to, and for the unity of the Church.

Matters of definition


Last week the Prime Minister addressing the Conservative party conference said he believed in Gay Marriage not despite being a Conservative, but because he was a Conservative. Not all his hearers and MPs agreed with him, but that is to be expected.

Now Mr Macaroon - a bit tough on the outside but squidgy inside -, as I refer to him, is entitled to his opinion. Let us be honest - what might be termed Gay Common law marriages have been around for donkey's years - two people of the same sex quietly co-habiting, and now Civil Partnerships allow such couples to have legal and financial privileges. What is to be faulted there is more the lack of similar provision for parent and child or siblings who share a common abode, and face the curse of estate duty or the failure to transfer other financial rights.

One might indeed, even support such monogomus same-sex unions as a remedy against casual fornication,

As a historian I have no problem accepting the evidence that same-sex attraction and activity has been around for a very long time. As a Catholic I uphold the Church's teaching on sexuality.But everybody is not Catholic, and we have to look at the world as it is in such matters.

No, the problem is rather one of terminology. The Prime Minister appears to be defining Marriage and Conservative (in the sense of a UK political group) in ways that are not consonant with what those two terms have traditionally been taken to mean - Marriage as the union of a man and a woman with the potential for having children, Conservative as a political system that is not exclusively individualistic, but one that is aware of the claims of society and shaped by Christian teaching and principles.

One begins to wonder what else is being re-defined in Mr Macaroon's mind.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Bl. William Howard Viscount Stafford


Today is the feast day in this diocese of Bl. William Howard, Viscount Stafford (1612-80) who died a martyr's death on Tower Hill as a result of the Popish Plot.

The Oxford DNB life can be read here and there is another account here.

If I have put the link in correctly there should be an article about his death here by my friend Anne Barbeau Gardiner.

This portrait shows him as a young man, just after he obtained the Stafford peerage by his marriage.

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Lord Stafford by Sir Anthony Van Dyke
1638-40
Sao Paulo Museum of Art

Image:Wikipedia

I understand that the upper part of the altar in the private house chapel - and thus not accessible to the public - at the Oxford Oratory comes from Viscount Stafford's chapel.

Monday, 10 October 2011

St John of Bridlington


Today is also the feast of another saint associated with Yorkshire - St John of Bridlington who died in 1379.

This Oxford-educated Yorkshireman also known as John Thwing or Thwenge, from the village of his birth, was a canon regular at Bridlington Priory in the coastal section of his native Yorkshire Wolds, where he rose to be cellarer and then prior. He was recognized locally for his holiness and after his death miracles were reported at his tomb. His first Vita (BHL 4355) was written before his canonization in 1401.

Writing that it strikes me that it is St John rather than St Thomas of Hereford, canonised in 1320, who was the last English-born conessor to be raised to tha altars by the Church before Bl.John Henry Newman. the fact that St Thomas was cited as such points to the loss of the cult of St John from other than very local perception or the interests of medieval historians like myself - very much Jonathan Hughes' Pastors and Visionaries and Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars territory.

There is also an early account in Middle English, the Verse Life of John of Bridlington. A rhymed Latin poem of perhaps contemporary political import, the Vaticinium Roberti Bridlington, circulated under John's name and could conceivably be his (George Rigg thought so in Speculum 63 [1988]; Michael Curley in the Oxford DNB seems less willing to entertain the possibility). That Oxford DNB life can be read here.

He was a popular figure in fifteenth century English devotion amongst both the Lancastrian royal house and at a more popular level. Amongst surviving depictions of him are this one of him at the left, holding a fish, and at the right, St. Giles, on the fourteenth-century rood screen in St Andrew, Hempstead (Norfolk):

http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/hempstead/images/hempstead%20(18).JPG


St John as depicted in an earlier fifteenth-century miniature (betw. 1401 and 1415) in the added prayers to saints in the Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours (London, British Library, MS Royal 2 A XVIII, fol. 7v):

 John of Bridlington (c.1320–1379), manuscript painting
St John as depicted in the mid-fifteenth-century east window (between 1447 and 1464) of the Beauchamp Chapel, in the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick:

photo

Image: GordonPlumb on Flickr

In the latter two examples there appears to be some similarity in the depiction of St John's face and hair, which may indicate a continuing tradition as to his appearance in life.

Adapted and extended from John Dillon's post for today on the Medieval Religion discussion group.