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.


Saturday, 30 April 2016

Pilgrimage to Abingdon


Earlier today I joined a group from the FSSP community at St william of York in Reading on a Jubilee Year Pilgrimage to the Holy Door at the church of Our Lady and St Edmund Abingdon. Although Abingdon is only just south of Oxford this was the first time I had visited the church.

 


Image:stedmundabingdon.org.uk

I travelled there by bus with a friend who is a regular at the FSSP Mass over in Reading, and after we had found the church, we had time to walk into the town centre. It was Market day, and abingdon has some attractive and historic buildings.

Our Lady and St Edmund is externally a handsome mid-Victorian church built between 1857 and 1865 and  was substantially funded by the then Earl of Abingdon. It is built in what might well be termed a Puginesque style, and has elegant accessories such as a cloister connecting it to the presbytery.

 

Image:taking-stock.org.uk

Rather sadly, in my opinion, the interior does not now live up to the expectations aroused by the exterior. Not uncommon changes in the post Vatican II era have seen here the placing of a very small forward altar under the chancel arch, and the chancel itself seemed almost abandoned save for an isolated tabernacle on a pillar base at the east end. Doubtless the walls were once stencilled ( or intended to be ) but now the side chapel walls are simply painted blue and raspberry,

Some  fragments remain of what once was, including an impressive crucifix on the north wall, the side chapel altar on the south side, an impressive east window with saints of the Order of Malta flanking Our Lady of Abingdon and St Edmund.

On the north side is a rather appealing thirteenth century-style statue of Our Lady of Abingdon dating from 1954:
 http://www.thamesisis.org.uk/churches/our_lady_abingdon/our_community/diary/images/Our%20Lady%20of%20Abingdon%201.jpeg
 Image:thamesisis.org.uk

The Mass, in the chapel on the south side of the church, was a votive of St Edmund of Abingdon, and the vestments were obviously ones that the FSSP had brought with them. At the end we were able to venerate a relic of St Edmund, but I feel compelled to add that the reliquary was in obvious need of polishing.

We were I must add made welcome by the parish, and after Mass had our packed lunches in the excellent parish centre which is adjacent to the church.

After lunch we returned to to make an examination of conscience, to formally process through the Holy Door, and concluded with Benediction including the recitation of the Rosary.

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