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.
It was on St Andrew's Day in 1554 that England was formally absolved from schism and received back as a kingdom into the bosom of the Catholic Church.
Led by King Philip and Queen Mary the Lords and Commons knelt before the Papal Legate, Cardinal Reginald Pole and besought absolution which was granted by the Legate in the name of Pope Julius III.
For the Queen this must have been one of the happiest days of her life, the vindication of all she had hoped and no doubt prayed for for a quarter of a century.
St Andrew's day was appointed as aperpetual celebration of the reconciliation, but that can have last happened in 1558, just after the Queen's death.
As I have written before it was reading about the part played in this process by Bishop Stephen Gardiner in Glyn Redworth's superb biography of him, In Defence of the Church Catholic that removed on eof the last props of my Anglo-Catholic position and influenced, indirectly my own path to Rome in 2005. In particular there is the text of the great sermon preached by Gardiner at Paul's Cross on the Sunday following the reconciliation - it is very well worth reading.
Which brings us neatly up to date. In the 1980s there did appear to be apossibility of some form of organic reunion of the Anglican Church with Rome - remember ARCIC in 1982. That may well have been afudge in advanc eof the papal visit of that year, but there was, not so long ago, a real hope of such an outcome. Now we know better, as is indicated in this post from Fr Tim Finigan Goal of corporate reunion no longer realistically exists.
The way to unity now lies clearly with individual reconcilition either through the Ordinariate or as a traditional convert. But think what might have been in the 1550s or even in our own times!