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.


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Catholic Maryland


The other Sunday I found myself sharing a pew at Mass at the Oxford Oratory with a visting American academic. Talking afterwards I found that he was Dr Henry M. Miller, Director of Research at the Historic St Mary's City project in Maryland, of which I had read something a while back on the internet, and that he was spending a sabbatical research year in Oxford attached, through the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, to Keble college.

The importance of St Mary's City, of which none of the original buildings survive above foundation level, is that it was the first capital of Maryland, established as a private Catholic colony in 1634 by George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, and with freedom of religion. After it was taken over as a Crown colony in 1694 that position changed, and in 1704 there was an Act to deter the growth of Popery. Nonetheless this was the first such experiment in religious pluralism, and the chapel, of which the one built in 1667, replacing one destroyed in the Civil War, and recently reconstructed on its foundations under Dr Miller's leadership, can claim to be the mother church of English Roman Catholic North America.


The reconstructed church from 1667

Image:Wikipedia

St Mary's City was abandoned in favour of Annapolis as the capital in the early eighteenth century and the buildings dismantled, but Maryland retained a strong Catholic population and it was in Baltimore that the first Catholic diocese of the new USA was to be established.

As we talked I mentioned the fact that some years ago I had visited Kiplin Hall in Yorkshire, the country house built in the 1607-11 by the future Lord Baltimore. It is a house which is not as well known as it deserves to be, both for its architecture and its connections with the foundation of Maryland.

Dr Miller and I finally discovered that we are neighbours, living in the same development of flats in Oxford.

There is an online article about St Mary's City here, and another background article here.

The Oxford DNB life of the first Lord Baltimore can be read here; that of the second baron, Cecil Calvert who was the effective founder of the colony, is here. Biographies of later members of the Calvert family can also be found therein; the life of the fourth baron is here, that of the fifth here, and that of the sixth and last baron, a libertine who died in 1771, here.

The website of the St Mary's City project can be viewed here
, complete with Dr Miller's blog on his life and research in contemporary Oxford.

The website for Kiplin Hall, and an account of its history and owners can be seen here. The house seems to have been a statement as to his success by George Calvert in his home area, and modelled in part on his patron Robert Cecil Earl of Salisbury's great house at Hatfield.


http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/photos/medium/30444129.jpg

Kiplin Hall in Yorkshire

Image:panoramio.com

The state flag of Maryland, adopted in 1904 and unique in its character amongst US state flags, is the banner of Lord Baltimore, with the quartered arms of the Calvert and Crossland families.

http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/educ/essay/html/flag3.gif

Image:msa.md.gov.


Monday, 30 January 2012

"Remember"


King Charles I's enigmatic command "Remember" to Bishop Juxon on the scaffold on this day in 1649 has become part of the collective memory of the events surrounding the King's death. Was it merely a reminder to carry out a last request or the more significant assumption of the role of royal martyr?

Remembrance is central to the cult of the Royal Martyr - the relics obtained of his hair and blood, as displayed in the recent exhibition at the British Museum, and as will be present at the SKCM's liturgy in the Banquesting House today, and the whole demeanor of the King who nothing mean or common did upon that memorable scene.

Image Detail

The iconography of the Royal Martyr

Image: Wikipedia

By his actions the King impressed remembrance of him upon the consciousness of his subjects, not just the fact of his judicial murder. This was his victory over his killers, a subtle undermining of his undoing. In that he followed in the footsteps of his grandmother Mary Queen of Scots ("In my death is my beginning"), and was to inspire King Louis XVI in similar circumstances in 1793.

As King he was clearly not the most skilled of politicians - one watches from a distance of three and a half centuries and observe him moving, if not inexorably, then certainly fatefully towards disaster and destruction; there is an urge to think "now you're not going to do that - oh, you just have..." Nor was he lucky as other were or are. One can see how he exasperated his friends and infuriated his opponants, and how his attempts to extricate himself from problems resulted in an impression of duplicity and untrustworthiness, particularly in the years 1640-42 and 1646-48.

http://mikespassingthoughts.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/king-charles-i-at-trial-2.jpg

King Charles I at the time of his trial
Portrait by Edward Bower

Image:mikespassingthoughts.wordpress.

Yet that was all washed away by the King's conduct at his trial, preparation for death and on the scaffold. By seeking to make him accountable to a court the Army and the Rump failed spectacularly. A discredited King, forced to compromise or rendered powerless, would have suited them and their plans to re-create a reformed state. By putting him on trial and killing him they gave King Charles the opportunity to stand alone against their use of force against the source of lawful authority. The man who suffered from a stammer lost his stammer in this supreme crisis and spoke for himself and his people. In his conduct and defence at Westminster, in his repeated questioning and denunciation of what they were claiming to do he vindicated his cause in words. On January 30th 1649 he vindicated his cause in his blood by his actions and behaviour. Here was political redemption of an individual and his cause, and, we may hope and trust, personal redemption for a devout man, who like everyone, King or commoner, was in need of salvation.

Killing the King may have been essential to achieve the "English revolution" (if such a thing ever existed or occurred), but by killing him the revolution was undermined and defeated - the traditional constitution could, and would, be restored.

My post from last year can be read at The Royal Martyr and there are two related posts about the events at Pontefract castle, where the garrison proclaimed King Charles II on the news of his father's death which can be read in Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio and Col John Morris.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The wrong crown?


Yesterday afternoon my eye was caught in Baker Street tube station by a rather handsome poster advertising visits to see the Crown Jewels. This stated that they were the largest display of such jewels in the world and added the throw away, but very heartening, line that they were "still in use today." The eye-catching picture was one of the White Tower at the Tower of London and, superimposed upon it, a splendid item from the regalia. Fine - except for the slightly curious fact that the piece chosen was the one that is, alas, not in use today - the Imperial Crown of India...

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2367/5809379929_6baf1b9cc4_z.jpg

Image: mbell on Flickr

Was the ad-man beguiled by the "bling" of this wonderful crown from 1911 I wondered, or does he know something the rest of us don't?

For my idea, that the piece in question should find a new use as a travelling Imperial State Crown in Her Majesty's other dominions, read my post The Imperial Crown of India from last month.

A thought for the times


Last Friday was the feast day of St Angela Merici (1474-1540) the founder of the Ursulines.

http://cacina.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/angela-merici.jpg

St Angela Merici

Image: cacina.wordpress

"The disorders of society are caused by those in families. There are few Christian mothers, because the education of young girls is neglected"

St Angela Merici 1474-1540

As the writer of Ecclesiasticus observed - there is nothing new under the sun.

However much we may be tempted to blame social developments we do n't like on changes of attitude within the last generation or so, St Angela's comment is a reminder of the generally fallen state of mankind - in each and every generation we need to rediscover and actuate the Christian message.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Last words of St Thomas Aquinas


Today is the feast of St Thomas Aquinas - Dominican priest, philosopher, theologian and Doctor of the Church.

http://www.saintaquinas.com/thomasparch.jpg

St Thomas Aquinas

Image:saintaquinas.com

This altarpiece in the church of S. Caterina d'Alessandria in Pisa is usually dated to c.1340, but there is the suggestion that it was probably was painted on the occasion of the canonization of St Thomas in 1323. It is usually ascribed to Francesco Traini, but Lippo Memmi has also been suggested as the painter.
In it St Thomas receives not only the divine wisdom but also the wisdom of the Evangelists and the philosophers of the classical world. He then convey this to the Christian community, and also, in order to convert them, to the enemies of the Church. The intertwining structure of these rays of vision or wisdom determines the composition of the picture and creates a pictorial order which reflects the divine order of the cosmos.

The following are said to have been his last words:

If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament. I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written aught erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life.

With acknowledgements to the Oxford Ordinariate group newsheet for this week.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Père Grou - a prophetic voice


Fr Jerome's address to the Oratory Brothers on Tuesday evening was based on a reading from Père Grou's 1786 La Morale tirée des Confessions de Saint Augustin.

In the book Jean Nicholas Grou (1731-1803) the Jesuit director and spiritual guide sought to use Augustine's understanding of morality to answer the problems of his own day and the consequences of the "Enlightenment" and the world of the Philosophes, Voltaire and Rousseau and their followers. In it Père Grou addressed the eighteenth century misuse of 'philosophy', notably in respect of family life and marriage, the pursuit of personal interests at all costs and a view which saw the role of government as being to secure whatever made one happy, with no wider sense of obligation. Frankly it all sounded quite horribly modern and contemporary to my ears. Within only a few years the whirlwind began to be reaped, and his comments anticipated and are reminiscent of Burke's reaction to events in France.

Père Grou himself came to England and became the chaplain to the Weld family at Lulworth Castle on the Dorset coast, published books in England and died at Lulworth in 1803.

His Spiritual Maxims from 1788 can be read online in this Catholic Treasury version here.

He is a writer of whom hitherto I knew the name rather than the works, but I think he is someone I ought to read - if I can ever find the time.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

St Eystein


Continuing the Scandinavian theme today is the feast of, amongst others, St Eystein of Nidaros (d. 1188). Eystein (also spelled Øystein; latinized as Augustinus) Erlendsson, was a member of a well connected noble family in Norway, and was perhaps educated in Paris and had been chaplain and steward to King Inge Krokrygg before the latter appointed him Archbishop of Nidaros (today's Trondheim) in 1158 or 1159, an action confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1161 when Eystein was in Rome. Eystein promoted the adoption of canonical life by Norwegian parish priests, officiated at Norway's first royal coronation (that of Magnus Erlingsson, a minor), and fostered the cult of King St. Olaf (buried in Eystein's cathedral), whose liturgical Office he wrote and whose Miracula he expanded. During the years 1181-83, when King Magnus had been dislodged from his throne in a civil war, Eystein was an exile in England. Trondheim has remained the site for Norwegian coronations and inaugurations, and the items of the regalia are preserved there.

Miracles were reported early at Eystein's tomb and he was proclaimed a saint at a Norwegian synod in 1229. Attempts in the Middle Ages to have him canonized papally were unsuccessful. Eystein entered the Roman Martyrology in 2001 with the designation of Sanctus. The present seminary in Oslo is under his patronage

Apart from the Passio sancti Olavi (BHL 6233, 6323; part of Olav's Office), Eystein's chief monument today consists of the chapter house and the lower portions of the transepts of the since much added to and rebuilt Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.


The porch of the north transept of Trondheim cathedral.
A view from 1885

Image: Wikimedia

This view of the cathedral from 1857 shows the north transept and, next to the choir, the chapter house (the latter with a neo-romanesque apse added in the nineteenth century) :

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Nidarosdom_1857.jpg

Image: John Dillon

The subsequent restoration and rebuilding work has transformed the building as can be seen in these illustrated online articles about Trondheim cathedral here and here and one about the west front can be seen here.

In the Victoria and Albert Museum there is a late fourteenth-century walrus ivory crozier head with traces of gilding which is of Norwegian origin and portrays King St. Olaf on one side and, on the other a bishop whom the V&A cautiously says "probably represents St Augustine" without further indicating whether the Augustine in question were he of Hippo or he of Nidaros. In view of his promotion of St Olaf's cult, Augustine / Eystein of Nidaros would be a good guess:



St Augustine/Eystein


St Olav

Images :Victoria and Albert Museum website

Quite apart from its indication of the cult of St Olav and St Eystein this crozier is also a reminder of the elegant sophistication of late medieval Norwegian art.

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

Decapitating Vikings in Dorset


Yesterday's Daily Telegraph had an article about the discovery at Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth in 2009 of the remains of 51 young men who had been beheaded in a massacre dated to the tenth or eleventh century. Analysis of the bones indicated taht they were of Scandinavian origin, and the killing had been an organised event, with the severed heads piled up to one side.

There is an online account about the discovery here, and another report, with photographs, by the BBC from the time of the excavations can be seen here.

The latest suggestion according to the Daily Telegraph report is that they were victims of the 1002 St Brice's Day Massacre ordred by King Ethelred II and were perhaps Viking mercenaries. The fact that they had been decapitated from the front suggests that they may have been Jomsvikings - a group who prided themselves on showing bravery in the face of death. There is a reference from Queen Emma, Ethelred's wife, to a Jomsviking leader of a group in England at this time.

Last November I posted about the St Brice's Day massacre in Oxford and the recent discovery of the remains of some of the victims. The post can be read here.


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

St Paul - an early portrait


Today being the feast of the Conversion of St Paul it seems appropriate to post a photograph of a painting identified as being of him which was uncovered by Vatican archaeologists in June 2010. It is in the catacomb of St Thecla in Rome and is dated to the late fourth century, and conforms to the easly descriptions of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Whilst it is not a portrait from life it does indicate both a consistant tradition of how St Paul should be presented in art, and it is alo a reminder of the quality of work being produced in the early centuries of the Church's history.


Image: La Repubblica.it

The story of St Thecla and her association with St Paul, together with some links, is recounted in this online account.

In the Heart of Things


In the Heart of Things: Choral Music of Francis Pott


My friend Graham Lunn, now an Anglican curate in Reading, has sent me this about this recording:

Commotio's new CD is to be released next week. According to Gramophone "this is a powerful disc of important music", so do help us to climb our way up the charts by ordering your copy this week using these links
http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/search.php?searchString=commotio+in+the+heart
or

or by looking in HMV, Blackwell's or other music shops from Monday.

We had a great time recording this amazing music back in July, and are very pleased with the finished product, which has already had a bit of an airing on Radio 3 and (as previously hinted) a stonking review in Gramophone. If that isn't enough encouragement, it's worth having a listen just to hear the lovely sound of Grace Davidson.

Our last disc got to number two in the Specialist Classical Chart (second only to Andre Rieu and friends), and was a bestseller on Amazon and iTunes. Let's see how much better we can do this time!

Launch concert: St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, 4th February at 7.30pm. Free entry, retiring collection, music from all four CDs, and canapes made by the choir. What's not to like?


"an important new release of a cappella music... soprano Grace Davidson floats effortlessly above Oxford-based chamber choir Commotio, adding her seraphic poise to their perfect intonation... this is a powerful disc of important music"
(Gramophone)

Obit of Bishop Richard Fleming


Today is the obit of Bishop Richard Fleming - he died on January 25th 1431 at about two hours after noon aged about 45 and had apparently suffered an apoplectic stroke - and as he is the subject of my research, and indeed who gave the title to this blog, someone to whom I feel a close attachment.

Here are two pictures of his tomb in the Angel choir of Lincoln cathedral:


http://www.knowledgerush.com/wiki_image/c/c7/Flemtomb.JPG

The tomb and its canopy

Image: knowledgerush.com

http://www.lincolnshireguide.net/images/cc-lincoln-cathedral-tomb-of-bishop-fleming-dave-hitchborne.jpg

The tomb chest enclosing the cadaver effigy

Image: lincolnshireguide.net

As I wrote last year on this anniversary day one thing I believe I have established in my research is that the tomb as it now appears is not quite how it was designed, and that it has been altered in well-intentioned but inaccurate restoration as well as losing the top finials of the canopy.

Please join with me in praying for the repose of the soul of Bishop Fleming and perhaps also spare a thought for me that I can successfully complete my research into his life.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Rites along the Neocatechumenal Way


The Vatican's approval of all the additional liturgical forms used by the Neocatechumenal Way on January 20th has caused quite an outpouring in the blogosphere.

I would merely point those interested to this background article by the respected Vatican watcher Sandro Magister in his column "'Placet' or 'Non placet?' The wager of Carmen and Kiko" and to two linked articles on the excellent Rorate Caeli blog: Neocatechumenal Rite approved? Let's call it the New Liturgical Way and From his own mouth: how the founder of the Neocatechumenal Way interpreted the January 20 "approval"

I have only once encountered the Neocatechumenate. That was a few years ago when I attended a friend's wedding at St Charles Borromeo Ogle Street in London. As a wedding it was a very happy and joyful occasion, but, as the bridegroom himself said to two of us who are frequenters of the Oxford and London Oratories it was probably not the sort of worship we had experienced before. That was true. My liturgical tastes lie elsewhere. The bride and groom, and most ot the congregation (but not me and a few others) dancing a two-step round the altar at the end of the Nuptial Mass was, well, different.

However one could not but be struck by the sense of commitment and enthusiasm by the regular members of the community to the liturgy as it was celebrated. Such factors have, I am sure, influenced the officials in the Vatican in their decision - I suspect they consider it better to have the movement within the framework of the Church, with the hope - maybe faint - of keeping it online or in line, rather than unregulated.

The Pope has compared the New Movements and their relationship to the Papacy as like that of the early mendicants and the Popes in the early thirteenth century. The historian in me sees these movements as more Franciscan than Dominican in their ethos - so perhaps we had better watch out for new "Spirituals " and "Fraticelli", or another Fra Dolfino...

We have, no doubt, not heard the last on this matter.

Monday, 23 January 2012

St Nicholas Owen


Today is, in this archdiocese, the feast day of St Nicholas Owen. This is a slightly revised version of a post I wrote last year.

Statue of Nicholas Owen
A modern statue of St Nicholas Owen

Image: Church of St Nicholas Owen Little Thornton website

St Nicholas was the Jesuit laybrother who used his remarkable skills as a carpenter and stonemason to construct numerous ingenious priest holes to safeguard mission priests in the late sixteenth century. He was born in Oxford c.1550 in a house on the junction of what is now Queen Street and St Ebbe's Street, and his whole family were of Catholic and recusant sympathies. He died as a result of torture in the Tower of London on March 2nd 1606, having been apprehended in the follow-up to the Gunpowder Plot. His refusal to the point of death to disclose the names of priests and their hiding places safeguarded the Catholic mission at this critical time

The recent Oxford DNB life of him by Michael Hodgetts can be read here. There is also an online biography of St Nicholas, who was canonized in 1970 here, and there are some linked articles here about his life and about his capture and death.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The Royal Gold Cup


As today is the feast of St Agnes it seems not inappropriate to draw attention to the Royal Gold Cup, which is now in the British Museum. The Cup is decorated with enamelled scenes which narrate the story of St Agnes. The cup is a rare and spectacular survival of late medieval French goldsmiths' work, and is of the highest quality. A detailed account of the cup, its dating and history as well as of its decoration can be read here.


" Son of St Louis ascend to Heaven"


Whether he had said "Son of St Louis ascend to Heaven" to King Louis XVI on the scaffold was something the Abbé Edgeworth could not recall afterwards such was his own fraught state, but it is one of those things which if it was not said ought to have been.

The phrase links the King to his illustrious and sainted ancestor and to the whole tradition of French sacral kingship which was being killed in the person of King Louis XVI on this day in 1793. Both in destroying the traditional institutions of governance and in destroying the man who was King the revolutionaries perpetrated a great act of injustice not only to a decent man who had sought to fulfill his obligations as monarch in an ever more difficult situation surrounded by mounting horrors - and therein lies his and his family's martyrdom - but also to the whole of the French people by depriving them of their corporate inheritance and means of self definition.

http://catherinedelors.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Louis-16-adieux14.jpg

The farewell of King Louis XVI to his family in the Temple on the evening of January 20 1793

Image:catherine delours.blog

Whatever the need for genuine reform and renewal within the French system the onslaught on Throne and Altar, the deliberate seeking of the destruction of all that had been handed down - even to the ridiculous calendric reforms - went infinitely beyond what was required into a world of barbarism, insanity, and only partially rescued by a parvenu military dictatorship under the Corsican ogre. Bernard Fay concluded his biography of the King by saying that France has been morning ever since the moment the guillotine cut off his head. A powerful image which has remained with me. Once out of its bottle the genie of revolt and revolution and their vapid and spurious ideals has, alas, remained within the French political process - hence all the disorders since 1830 when the restored monarchy was overthrown.

To see this in action just observe the antics we shall find ourselves watching in the forthcoming "French Presidential Election." Admit it, you know I'm right.

My posts from last year can be read at King Louis XVI and The Orders worn by King Louis XVI.

I also commend to you this Prayer for the King of France.

Friday, 20 January 2012

John Hunwicke preaching in Latin


The official language of the University of Oxford is still Latin, and each January there is a Latin Sermon preached before the University in the Church of St Mary the Virgin - Newman's church from 1828 until 1843.

Last Sunday the preacher was John Hunwicke, a former Anglican priest and member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and for many years a teacher of Classics at Lancing College. He is not unknown to many readers of this blog I suspect. For those who have not seen it his sermon, complete with a translation, can be read by following this link: Legite plura...

With acknowledgements to the website of Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham


The Order of the Elephant


My posts The Queen of Denmark and Danish Jubilee celebrations about the fortieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Margrethe II prompts me to post something about the oldest of the Orders of the Danish Crown - the Order of the Elephant.

Believed to have been initially founded around 1462
the Order of the Elephant was to be the Danish version of the two most famous pre-existing European Orders, the Garter (1348) and the Golden Fleece (1430), and can be seen as part of that process which led to the creation of royal chivalric Orders across the continent in the late middle ages - examples include those of the Annunciation in Savoy, the Dragon in Hungary, the Star and later that of St Michael in France, and, probably, the Thistle in Scotland.

Why the Elephant? Elephants were no more common in fifteenth century Denmark than they are now. The probable reason why the elephant was chosen to symbolize the Order was that the battle elephant was used as a symbol of the champion of Christianity, roused by the sight of Christ's blood. In addition the elephant was the symbol of chastity and purity. Medieval typology found several symbolic links between Christ and the elephant, and it is significant that the central medallion of the star of the Order bears the cross as its device. In the 1470s King Christian I had the Order confirmed by the Pope.

However with the advent of the Lutheran reform to Denmark it fell into semi-disuse, as indicated in this online article about the Order. However the Order does appear to have continued to be bestowed, as in the pictures below, and appears on coin portraits of the Kings, so the revival of 1693 appears to be a revival of an existing Order rather than the revival of an entirely dormant one.




King Christian IV (1577-1648), King of Denmark and Norway wearing the Order



Christen Thomesen Sehested,
A painting of the 1600s, before the re-establishment of the Order in 1693
artist unknown

The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe
Another example of the Order from before 1693



Wolfgang Heimbach:
Christian Rantzau (1614-1663)

Images: A Polar Bears Tale blog

The statutes establishing it as it is today were laid down by King Christian V on 1 December 1693. The King's new system of orders of chivalry was a means to create a new structure of social rank in Denmark. With the introduction of absolutism in 1660, the old nobility had been stripped of its privileges, but the nobility was still a factor of political and economic importance. To break its power, the King sought to create a new elite of burgesses and foreigners who could be useful to the King. Alongside the Elephant was the Order of Dannebrog founded by the King in 1671.

As with the Garter, Thistle and Patrick in the United Kingdom, or Orders such as the Golden Fleece and the Holy Ghost the Order consists of only one class, that of Knight. The riband is pale blue and, like the Garter and the Thistle, is worn over the left shoulder - most Orders have the riband over the right shoulder.

Since 1693 there has been the Chapel of Orders in Fredriksborg Palace, where the arms of recipients of the Danish royal orders are displayed on the walls. The chapel witnessed eight coronations between 1671 and 1840.

Today, the Order of the Elephant is awarded according to the statutes worked out under King Christian V in 1693. The statutes were amended by King Frederick IX on 9 April 1958 by a Royal Ordinance, so that both men and women may be awarded the Order.



This Elefantorden - Order of the Elephant -
belonged to the Danish King Christian V (1646-1699)
This badge was made in 1670 by Paul Kurtz, and
the King had the castle on the elephant's back turned
into a whistle...he used it while hunting north of
Copenhagen in Dyrehaven.



King Christian V in the robes of the Order.
These are very similar in design to the contemporary robes of the Order of the Garter and the French Royal orders. The red mantle with white lining uses the national colours of Denmark








The statutes of The Order of the Elephant December 1st 1693

Images: A Polar Bears Tale blog

http://dkks.dk/assets/import/_resampled/pageimageoverlay-a61012-2wl.jpg

Collar and badge at Rosenborg Castle

http://dkks.dk/assets/import/_resampled/pageimageoverlay-a61016wl.jpg

The star of the Order

Images:dkks.dk


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Danish Jubilee celebrations


A friend has sent me the link to an illustrated article in the Daily Mail about a gala dinner for the extended and interconnected Scandinavian royal houses to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Queen of Denmark's reign. The style is perhaps rather typical of the paper, and the comments, as usual, fairly ( or completely) barking, but the photographs very splendid. The article can be viewed here.

St Wulfstan in stained glass


Today is the feast of St Wulfstan (or Wulstan), Bishop of Worcester, who died in 1095 and was the last surviving Anglo-Saxon bishop from the pre-Conquest hierarchy. My post about him from last year can be read at St Wulfstan of Worcester.

This year I am posting this photograph of a window in the north clerestory of Great Malvern priory, which is a late medieval depiction of one of the patrons of the diocese. Although it is not in any way contemporary to St Wulfstan's lifetime, it does indicate both late medieval devotion to him and is a handsome example of the glazier's art - the face and head definitely suggest a monastic:

photo


Image: Gordon Plumb on Flickr


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Chair of St Peter at Rome - some reflections


As this year we shall lose the feast of the Chair of Peter as it fall on the same day, February 22 as Ash Wednesday it seems appropriate to say something about it on the day which was for long observed as that of the Chair of Peter at Rome, as opposed to that of the Chair of Peter at Antioch, celebrated on February 22 under that title until the changes resulting in the Novus Ordo effectively combined both celebrations.


There is an online history of the observance and the physical relic and reliquary here. The original date appears to be February 22, and that was the day observed as a feast in Rome until the post-Tridentine reforms of the calendar. Some places celebrated it as a feast on January 18th to avoid losing the observance with it often falling in Lent, and from this arose the idea of commemorating both of St Peter's cathedra - Rome in January, Antioch on the original feast day.

My two posts from February last year on the subject can be read at Chair of St Peter and More on the Chair of St Peter.

The feast is, of course more about the continuing Petrine ministry of the Papacy than about a tangible relic or past event, and that point gives me the opportunity to post one of my favourite quotations from an historian. It comes from Walter Ullmann's introduction to his A Short History of the Papacy in the Middle Ages, first published in 1972 and still available in new editions, and, having made his essential point that the history of the Papacy is the history of an idea - the Petrine claim - this is what he then says...

the papacy is the only institution in the European or Western orbit of civilization which links the post-Apostolic with the Atomic age

Ullmann continues:

as an institution it has witnessed the birth, growth, prosperity, decay and disappearance of powerful empires, nations and even of whole civilizations; it has witnessed radical transformations in the cosmological field evidenced by bloody revolutions, intercontinental wars and popular upheavels of such magnitudes and dimensions that wholly novel political and social structures appeared in their train.

I think that the first phrase I have quoted, which I first read in 1994, and has stayed with me ever since, was working away at the back of my mind and was a contributory factor to my conversion.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

King Harald V of Norway


Today being the twenty-first anniversary of the accession of the King of Norway I am republishing my post about him and the Norwegian regalia which I wrote on this day last year. It can be read at The King of Norway.

In doing so may I renew my prayers and good wishes for the King and people of Norway, and especially for my Norwegian friends.

St Antony of Egypt


On the principle of "waste not, want not", or, being modern, re-cycling, or better still, that if something is worth saying once it is worth saying twice, here is the link to my post from this day last year about St Antony of Egypt the father of monasticism.

Looking again at the text from his Life it is interesting to see how St Athanasius describes Antony placing his sister in a convent. Is this a translator's choice or does it indicate enclosed religious life for women by circa 270? Again what I find so interesting is the account's description of parish life in Egypt at that time - something that was already established and was to continue for so many centuries there and across Christendom.

Pictures and sermon from the Ordinariate Anniversary Evensong









The Ordinariate website now has links to pictures of the service of Solemn Evensong and Benediction at St James Spanish Place in London last Sunday at Images on Flickr . There is also the text of Mgr Newton's Sermon.





Image: Ordinariate website


Monday, 16 January 2012

Ordinariate Evensong


After Mass and lunch in Oxford yesterday I went up to London to attend the Ordinariate's Solemn Evensong and Benediction to mark the first anniversary of their erection as part of the Church. This proved to be a splendid and striking event, and which proved to be very well attended.

Now let us be clear - St James Spanish Place where the service was held is, as one might say, a seriously tasty church - fine gothic revival architecture, splendid furnishings and all those Spanish royal connections. It is the sort of church that reaches parts other churches don't. So we were off to a good start with such a location.


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The interior of St James Spanish Place

Image: Paul Lew on Flickr

Furthermore this was a great reunion with many friends - long standing fellow converts from Pusey, more recently acquired Oxford Ordinariate friends, cradle Catholic friends, and some faces from years ago, plus new friends. In other words, the usual suspects were there. I was hailed in the street as I walked to the church by one freind, and on the steps of the church beforehand and afterwards there was a buzz of greetings, enquires as to what one another was doing and swapping of information and banter.

The officiant was the Ordinary and amongst those sitting in choir was Bishop Peter Elliott, the Australian bishop responsible for the setting up of an Ordinariate there, and the new US Ordinariate was commended to our prayers.

The grandeur of the setting was matched by the music - Howells, Parry - "I was glad"always makes the hairs on the back of my neck rise - and Stanford - and its performance. In the music and the staging of the liturgy one saw what I consider the essence of "patrimony" - a way of doing liturgy and worship rather than specific forms. As I have written before I really do prefer traditional Vespers to Anglican Evensong, but the similarity was close.

After a sermon from Mgr. Newton which quoted Bl.John Henry Newman writing in 1848 to the father of the future Cardinal Bourne, as in the Apologia, of his spiritual relief at finding himself secure within the Catholic Church and applied it to the members of the Ordinariate, and their gratitude for all that has been achieved there was a procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. Escorting the Sacrament as canopy bearers and supporters were Knights of Malta - those in Solemn Profession, those in Simple Profession and Knights of Grace - an impressive display of support for the Ordinariate.

In addition to those in the church I had a strong sense that we were joined in communion with those who rejoiced upon a different shore at what has been achieved and is being achieved through the Ordinariate.

Whatever the size of the individual groups as they start out on their pilgrimage of faith, here, gathered together was positive evidence of personal commitment and the support of many others within the Catholic Church.

The reception afterwards packed out the undercroft of the church in the best ecclesiastical tradition - and after a few minutes there I went off with friends to the Angel in the Fields, a hostelry close to the church which provided us with excellent Tadcaster beer to sustain and enliven our conversation.

All round a jolly good evening and very well worth the effort to go up to London.

Photographs of the service were being taken and will doubtless appear on the web.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

More on Onychomancy


Dr Otfried Lieberknecht has posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group some more about medieval divination which readers may find interesting following on from my post Onychomancy:


For those who, like myself, had not yet been familiar with this practice: Onychomancy is a variant or subtype of "Scrying", i.e. of divination by means of a mirror (catoptromancy) or other object with a reflecting surface. Attested in ancient times by Pausanias (VII, xxi, 12) for an oracle in Patrai where the mirror was immersed into the water of a sacred fountain and supposed to reveal whether a sick person would convalesce or die. A boy used as a diviner or medium subject for catoptromancy (as in Reynes' description) is mentioned in the Historia Augusta (Aelius Spartianus, IX, vii, 10) as one of the "madnesses"(amentia) of Didius Julianus: the boy's eyes were blindfolded and charms were spoken upon his head before he had to look into the mirror ("et ea, quae ad speculum ducunt fieri, in quo pueri praeligatis oculis incantato vertice
respicere dicuntur, Iulianus fecit").

John of Salisbury (late 1110s-1180) himself in his childhood was used, or, in his opinion, abused in a similar way by a priest who was supposed to teach him the Psalms (i.e. Latin), see his Polycraticus II, 28:

"Dum enim puer ut psalmos addiscerem sacerdoti traditus essem qui forte speculariam magicam exercebat, contigit ut me et paulo grandiusculum puerum praemissis quibusdam maleficiis pro pedibus suis sedentes ad speculariae sacrilegium applicaret, ut in unguibus sacro nescio oleo aut crismate delibutis uel in exterso et leuigato corpore peluis quod quaerebat nostro manifestaretur indicio. Cum itaque praedictis nominibus, quae ipso horrore, licet puerulus essem, daemonum uidebantur, et praemissis adiurationibus, quas Deo auctore nescio, socius meus se nescio quas imagines tenues tamen et nubilosas uidere indicasset, ego quidem ad illud ita caecus extiti ut nichil michi appareret nisi ungues aut peluis et cetera quae antea noueram. Exinde ergo ad huiusmodi inutilis iudicatus sum et, quasi sacrilegia haec impedirem, ne ad talia accederem condemnatus, et quotiens rem hanc exercere decreuerant, ego quasi totius diuinationis impedimentum arcebar. Sic michi in ea aetate propitiatus est Dominus. Cum uero paululum processissem, flagitium hoc magis et magis exhorrui, et eo fortius confirmatus est horror meus quod, cum multos tunc nouerim, omnes antequam deficerent aut defectu naturae aut manu hostili beneficio luminis orbatos uidi, ut cetera incommoda taceam quibus in conspectu meo a Domino aut prostrati aut perturbati sunt, exceptis duobus, sacerdote uidelicet quem praemisi et diacono quodam, qui speculariorum uidentes plagam effugerunt, alter ad sinum canonicae, alter ad portum cellulae Cluniacensis, sacris uestibus insigniti. Eosdem tamen prae ceteris in congregationibus suis aduersa plurima postmodum perpessos esse misertus sum."

"During my boyhood I was placed under the direction of a priest, to teach me psalms. As he practiced the art of crystal gazing, it chanced that he after preliminary magical rites made use of me and a boy somewhat older, as we sat at his feet, for his sacrilegious art, in order that what he was seeking by means of finger nails moistened with some sort of sacred oil or crism, or of the smooth polished surface of a basin, might be made manifest to him by information imparted by us. And so after pronouncing names which by the horror they inspired seemed to me, child though I was, to belong to demons, and after administering oaths of which, at God's instance, I know nothing, my companion asserted that he saw certain misty figures, but dimly, while I was so blind to all this that nothing appeared to me except the nails or basin and the other objects I had seen there before. As a consequence I was adjudged useless for such purposes, and, as though I impeded the sacrilegious practices, I was condemned to have nothing to do with such things, and as often as they decided to practice their art I was banished as if an obstacle to the whole procedure. So propitious was God to me even at that early age. But as I grew older more and more did I abominate this wickedness, and my horror of it was strengthened because, though at the time I made the acquaintance of many practitioners of the art, all of them before they died were, either as the result of physical defect or by the hand of God, not to mention other miseries with which in my plain view they were afflicted. There were two exceptions - the priest whom I have mentioned and a certain deacon; for they, seeing the affliction of the crystal gazers, fled (the one to the bosom of the collegiate church - the other to the refuge of the monastery of Cluny) and adopted holy garb. None the less I am sorry to say that even they, in comparison to others in their congregations, suffered many afflictions afterward." (tr. by J. B. Pike, Frivolities of courtiers, 1938,p.147)

A child, boy or girl, was required because the incorrupt (virgin) flesh of a child was supposed to have stronger spritiual insights, as Gervasius of Tilbury states ("caro enim incorrupta magis spiritualiter habet intuitus, unde asserunt nigromantici in experimentis gladii, vel speculi, vel unguis solos oculos virgineos praevalere", Otia Imperialia I, 17).

Petrus Garsias (García), who wrote is Determinationes magistrales against Pico della Mirandola by the end of the 15th century, reports and discusses a more or less developed framework of Platonic theory which seems to have served for explaining the the way how scryning works:

"The first manner is by gazing at luminous bodies and instruments. The principle here is that the acies of the human mind in one who gazes on such instruments reflects back upon itself, for the luminosity of the instrument prevents direction or concentration of the mind on exterior things, and repels it, and turns it back upon itself, so that it is forced to gaze upon itself. Thus, according to the philosophy of Plato, if it is purged and cleansed of defilements, which come from the body and cling to the soul, they see as in a clear and clean mirror, and when they inquire about all hidden things, or some portion of them, or some particular hidden thing, it is no surprise that the
soul, turned back into itself, should see such hidden things, for according to Plato the human soul is created fully inscribed with the forms of all knowable things, in respect of its intellectual power..." (quoted from Richard Kieckhefer, Forbidden rites, 1998, p.99)

I am not suggesting anyone takes up scrying or onychmancy - not something to practise (or practice) at home - but it is an interesting insight into the medieval mindset.

Of your charity


Please pray for the repose of the soul of Pauline Margaret Watts, whose funeral was yesterday, and for her son and daughter in their bereavement.

Please pray also for the repose of the soul of Arthur Roland (Roly) Griffiths who died yesterday evening, and for his widow and sons at this time.

Please pray for Carl (C.J.) Buckley who is seriously ill in hospital in Liverpool, and undergoing extensive continuing treatment.

Standish church


Christipher Howse's article in todays' Daily Telegraph is about the church of St Wilfrid at Standish in Lancashire. This is a place I have never visited, but just from reading the piece the church sounds very interesting with its unusual sixteenth century architecture from an Elizabethan rebuilding and with its recusant connections - including the only contemporary public monument to a Vicar Apostolic, that of Bishop Edward Dicconson. Definitely a place to visit if one is on a Lancashire church crawl.

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Standish Church

Image:jennyberrypix.blogspot

The article from the Daily Telegraph can be read here.

Secularism and Society in Sweden


A third Scandinavian country, Sweden, and its contemporary "liberal" culture is considered in an article on Zenit Secularism in Sweden. This looks at the way in which the country has accepted a totally permissive sexual ethos, and the consequences of that. What is described is a worrying indicator of where some people would take the rest of Europe and the world given half a chance.

Oslo ordination


Staying with a Scandinavian theme my Norwegian friend Ole Martin Stamnestro has sent me on the internet an extensive album of photographs of his ordination as a Deacon in Oslo cathedral on January 6th. It looks to have been a splendid occasion which I regret I was not able to attend.

Here is one of the pictures he sent, showing Martin standing between the Bishop of Oslo and, I assume, his assistant bishop.



The Queen of Denmark


Today is the fortieth anniversary of the accession to the throne of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

There is an online biography of the Queen here, and her official website can be viewed at Danish Monarchy. To mark her jubilee the Queen gave an interview to the BBC which can be seen here.


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The Queen of Denmark

Image:zimbio.com

Queen Margarethe combines grace and style with a forthright approach to her duties as monarch and to life in general, and is both popular and respected by her own subjects and by her admirers overseas.

Long may she reign.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Onychomancy


A discussion on the Medieval Religion discussion group led to a posting from John Shinners about divination by fingerrnails onychomancy).

Never heard of it? Well here's your opportunity to find out, and, if you wish to, try it - Child Protection legislation permitting that is...

Robert Reynes' 1470s commonplace book (ed. Cameron Louis, 1980) has this formula for this type of divination by fingernail ... the translation from the Middle English and Latin is by John Shinners:

[29.]
[English] Take a young child--that is, between 7 and 13 years old--and set him in the sun between your legs. And then wrap a red silk thread around his right thumb three times, and scrape his fingernail well and clean. And then write on the nail these letters with olive oil [to make the nail reflective]: O, N, E, L, I; while writing these letters have the child say the Our Father. And then say this prayer: [Latin] "Lord Jesus Christ, King of Glory, send us three angels on your behalf, who may tell us the truth and nothing false about everything we shall ask them." [English] And say this prayer three times with good heart and devoutly. And then three angels shall appear in the child's nail. And then have the child say this after you, either in Latin or English: [Latin] "Lord Angels, I command you through the Lord Father Almighty who made you and us from nothing, and through the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the blessed John the Evangelist, and through all virgins and the power of all of God's saints, show us the truth and nothing false about everything we shall ask you. [English] And then have the child ask what he wishes and they shall show it to him.

The Baptism of Our Lord


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The Baptism of Christ
Piero della Francesca

Image: The National Gallery

Prior to 1955 today was celebrated as the Octave Day of the Epiphany, although as my old St Andrew's Missal points out the Gospel reading was that of the Baptism rather than the visit of the Magi, a survival of an earlier observance of the Baptism on this day. The abolition of the Octave of the Epiphany, regrettable as it was and is was balanced to some extent by restoring today as the feast of the Baptism. That can be seen as legitimate restoration and also providing for a greater degree of celebration of this event which marks the beginning of Our Lord's public ministry.

The Missal which came into use in 1962 retains this feast on this day, but the 1969 Missal moves it to the Sunday after Epiphany, or if Epiphany falls on a Sunday, or as now in England and Wales, if the obligation is transferred to the Sunday, the Baptism is observed on the Monday following. I suspect this was so that more people would attend Mass on the day, rather like the argument for transferring the Days of Obligation to the Sunday in recent years. In my opinion that is a wrong attitude to what people should be expected to do, but I understand the application of that argument if you do not challenge, or are not prepared to challenge, the faithful to practice the public observance faith as it should be done.

In terms of the calendar and the structure of the liturgical year I much prefer the 1955 arrangement, although I would also retain an Octave for Epiphany, and thereby give time to celebrate and reflect upon the manifestations of Our Lord's Divinity and mission. By giving the Baptism its own specific feast it improves on the previous practice, whereas the current Novus ordo concertinas the days together.

A related change in 1969 was moving the feast of St Hilary back one day to January 13th, from its traditional date of the 14th. When it fell on that day it was the first saint's day after the end of Epiphany, and hence its use as an indicator for terms such as those at Oxford.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

New light on Roman Britain


There were interesting reports this week about the first century Roman helmet found at Hallaton in Leicestershire which has now been conserved and reassembled.

There is a background article here on the Hallaton discoveries, and an article about the helmet and the indications it gives as to contacts between the Romans and the Britons both before and during the time of the Claudian conquest can be read here.

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The Hallaton Helmet

Image: BBC

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A reconstruction of the Hallaton helmet's original appearance.

Image:msnbmedia4msn.com

Beating my breast


On the Zenit post for January 10th their liturgical Fr Edward McNamara of the Regina Apostolorum makes these observations in his answers to liturgical enquiries.

Breast-Beating During the Confiteor

In the wake of our opinion (see Dec. 13) that the new translation of the Confiteor ("I confess") would allow for a triple striking of the breast, several readers pointed out an official reply from the Holy See on this topic which I had overlooked.
As one California reader pointed out: "Not that I like this responsum, but it is the final word that I know of on this. Gerunds, etc., are speculative; this is direct and clear."
The text, published in Notitiae 14 (1978), 534-535, says:
"n. 10. In pronouncing certain formulas as in, e.g., the Confiteor, the Agnus Dei, and the Domine non sum dignus, whether on the part of priests or on the part of the faithful, the gestures accompanying the words are not always performed the same. Some strike their breast with a triple strike when saying the aforementioned formulas, others once. Which practice seems that it should legitimately be retained?
"Resp.
"In this case it will help to remember these things:
"1) Gestures and words often tend to give significance to one another.
"2) In this matter, as in others, the liturgical restoration has pursued truth and simplicity according to the passage of Sacrosanctum Concilium: «The rites should be resplendent in their noble simplicity …» (SC, 34).
"While in the Roman Missal promulgated by the authority of the Council of Trent the words were very frequently also accompanied by minute gestures, the rubrics of the Roman Missal restored by the authority of the Second Vatican Council are noteworthy for their discretion with regard to gestures.
"Having said this:
"a) The words mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa which are found in the Confiteor are introduced in the restored Roman Missal by a rubric of this sort: All likewise … striking their breast, say … (OM, n. 3). In the former Missal, in the same place, the rubric read like this: He strikes his breast three times. It does not seem, therefore, that anyone has to strike his breast three times in pronouncing those words in Latin or in another language, even if mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa is said. It suffices that there be a striking of the breast.
"It is obvious also that only one gesture suffices in those languages in which the words for showing one's fault have been rendered in a more simple manner, as, for example, in English, «I have sinned through my own fault», or in French, «Oui, j'ai vraiment peche».
"b) The discretion of the restored Roman Missal is shown to be noteworthy also in the other texts mentioned, namely the Agnus Dei and the Domine, non sum dignus which by words of penitence and humility in one way or another accompany the breaking of the bread and the invitation to the faithful to receive the Eucharist.
"As it was said in response n. 2 of the Commentary «Notitiae» 1978, p. 301: where the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing, it must not therefore be inferred that it is necessary to observe the old rubrics. The restored Missal does not supplement the old one but has replaced it. In reality, the Missal formerly indicated at the Agnus Dei, striking the breast three times, and in pronouncing the triple Domine, non sum dignus, striking the breast … says three times. Since, however, the new Missal says nothing about this (OM 131 and 133), there is no reason to suppose that any gesture should be added to these invocations."

I had already mentioned in my earlier reply that a single striking was a valid interpretation, and this official response confirms this.

At the same time, I think this official pronouncement fails the reality test. More than 33 years have gone by since the response was issued and practically everybody using Latin, Spanish and Italian strike their breasts three times at the Confiteor, no matter what the rubric says or fails to say. I think that the same is going to happen in English now that the triple form is restored, and it would be an exercise in futility on behalf of bishops and priests to attempt to oblige the faithful to do otherwise.

Nor would I consider the attempt a good thing in itself. People will naturally do this, and I believe it makes the sign of striking the breast more meaningful.

The present rubrics are clear about not striking of the breast during the Lamb of God, and the practice is now uncommon. The fact that the Agnus Dei is often sung makes it less natural to strike the breast than in the staccato beat of the Confiteor.

At the same time, there are very good arguments to defend the practice. The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, for example, wrote the following in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy: "During the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), we look upon him who is the Shepherd and for us became the Lamb and as Lamb, bore our iniquities. At this moment it is only right and proper that we should strike our breasts and remind ourselves, even physically, that our iniquities lay on his shoulder, that 'with his stripes we are healed'" (page 207).

Thus far Fr Macnamara.

So it still looks as if I am in good company in retaining, or seeking to retain, this practice in my own prayers at the Agnus Dei in a Novus Ordo Mass (as well, obviously, at the Usus Antiquior) as a worshipper...

Creating Cardinals


I was interested to read this piece on Zenit:

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- When those to be made cardinals gather for the consistory on Feb. 18, the ceremony will be different than it has been in recent decades.

The Vatican announced that there will be a number of changes in the rite, which was last modified in the post-Vatican II changes to the liturgy.

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Pope Benedict XVI confers the red biretta on Archbishop Dziwisz of Cracow

Image: 30giorni.it

According to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff the rite will be simpler, in part to avoid the impression that the ceremony of creating cardinals has any kind of sacramental meaning.

Instead of having the consistory and then the following day a Mass celebrated by the Pope in which he consigns a ring to each new cardinal, there will be just one ceremony in which the traditional three elements -- the imposition of the biretta, the consignment of the ring and the assignation of their titular churches -- will take place.

As well, both the collect and the concluding prayer have been modified, returning to the texts used prior to Vatican II: The two prayers speak of the powers the Lord gave to the Church, in particular that of Peter. The Pope also prays directly for himself, that he may carry out his duties well.

Insofar as the Scripture texts used, there will only be a Gospel reading, omitting the first reading. The Gospel text used will be that of Mark 10: 32-45, in which Jesus announces his death and subsequent resurrection to the disciples and also tells them they must not seek to dominate others, but to be servants to all.

The following day the new cardinals will still concelebrate Mass with the Pope.

This appears to be a conservative reform in that it makes the nature of the elevation clear, and the return to the previous Collects is consistent with a return to a traditional understanding of the event and the Papal and cardinalate ministry. This would appear welcome, and very much in the mainstream of the Benedictine reforms.

What would be more welcome still would be a return to the full traditional ceremonial and the full attributes of the dignity of a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. So not just the red biretta, first given by Pope Paul II (1464-71) - and hence its earlier form than that of lesser ranking clergy - but also of the more ancient galero, and instead of its use merely in heraldry and on notepaper, but its official reception and use at the proper times.

Not that some Cardinals at least do not acquire the symbols of their rank:

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Cardinal Burke - a recent photograph

Image: Renegade Trad blog


In All Hats Are Silly , which has some rather fine illustrations, the author from Renegade Trad makes good points about the haphazard way in which senior figures wear one item and not another. Like the author, if I read him or her aright, I would be a wholehearted favourer of tradional usage - if you are going to do something, do it properly.

Bring back the galero - now!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Legal opinion


"Sir, the law is as I say it is, and so it has been laid down even since the law began; and we have several set forms which are held as law, and so held and used for good reason, though we cannot at present remember that reason."

- Sir John Fortescue, C.J. in Year Book. 36 Hen. VI ff 25b-26 (1458-9)


The account of the life of Sir John Fortescue (c.1397-1479), lawyer and writer on constitutional theory, by E.W.Ives in the Oxford DNB can be read here. Sir John is an ancestor of both the martyr Bl. Adrian Fortescue and of Fr Fortescue the liturgist.

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The effigy of Sir John Fortescue in St Eadburga's Church, Ebrington Gloucestershire
Image: vitrearum on Flickr


With thanks for the quotation to George Ferzoco of the Medieval Religion discussion group.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Even the dogs


Words rather fail me when I see this post Non mittendus canibus from Fr Tim Finigan's blog - and do read the article linked to it from the Toronto Star newspaper to get the full flavour of the parish and diocese - other than to say Woof!, or perhaps grrrrrr....

Showing US Seminarians around Newman's Oxford


As I did this time last year I spent this morning giving a tour to a party of seminarians from St Paul's Seminary School of Divinity in St Paul Minnesota. They are visiting England to study in particular the life and thought of Bl. John Henry Newman, and I was again asked to provide a guided tour of places associated with Newman in central Oxford.

We started after the mid-morning Mass at the Oxford Oratory and after an introduction as to life in Oxford in Newman's time I was also able to show them St John's College, with its links to St Edmund Campion, the backhanded compliment to the Oxford Movement that is the Martyrs Memorial of 1841 and the site of the Catherine Wheel inn where the Oxford Martyrs of 1589 were arrested on our way to Trinity.

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Trinity College Chapel

Image: panoramio.com

Here I was able to show them the chapel, little changed since Newman made his first communion there as an Anglican in 1817, the hall and, having pointed out the windows of one of the rooms he is known to have occupied, finally we looked at Newman's memorial bust in the grounds.

From Trinity we went past the Sheldonian Theatre, scene of the moves to condemn the Tracts, the Bodleian and the site of Newman's lodgings in 1822 and where he heard of his election to the Oriel Fellowship. At St Mary's, currently starting a major set of repairs and renovations, I was able to talk about the place of that church in the life of Newman and the Oxford Movement, with its mixture of acadmic preaching and pastoral care as well as pointing out the south porch and its controversial design incorporating a statue of the Virgin and Child from the time of Archbishop Laud.

As last year the group was photographed in the shadow of Newman's pulpit, and I then took them across the High Street into Oriel, showing them the chapel, with the various Newman links, and concluding with a visit to what is now known as the Newman Oratory above the entrance, and now with its modern commemorative stained glass window by Vivienne Haig.

Stained glass window in Newman Oratory

The Window in the Newman Oratory

Image: Oriel college website

This afternoon the seminarians are going to visit the College at Littlemore, and, after more lectures in Oxford, will then go to visit Maryvale, Ocsott and the Birmingham Oratory at the beginning of next week.

As with their precedessors last year they were a lively and interested group to show around, with plenty of questions about Oxford and Oxford life for me to answer. It was a great pleasure to meet a class of young men of obviously wide ranging gifts who are preparing to enter the priesthood in the near future. It was also very good to meet up again with Fr Tom who was leading the pilgrimage. Once again they were evidence of a confident and approachable Catholicism in the American mid-west.