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.

Sunday, 28 May 2023

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Winfarthing

As the Pilgrimage moves towards its completion it returns to East Anglia and the rather obscure shrine of Our Lady at Winfarthing. As I have written before about it the story of Winfarthing reads rather like something M.R.James would have delighted in, either as an historical scholar or as the author of ghostly tales rooted in the ever-present past.

My posts about Winfarthing and associated links can be accessed at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Winfarthing

Our Lady of Winfarthing pray for The King and The Queen and for us all.

Saturday, 27 May 2023

An introduction to St Philip Neri

Following on from my post yesterday about the celebration of St Philip’s feast day I see that the New Liturgical Movement marked the day by reproducing a 2016 article from the magazine The Latin Mass by Michael P. Foley which is a good introduction for those who do not know it well to the life and ministry of St Philip. The article can be read at St. Philip Neri: A Patron Saint of Traditionalism

May St Philip pray for the Oratories, for all Oratorians and for all those formed in the Oratorian tradition. 

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Caversham

Opposite Reading, on the north bank of the Thames, lay the shrine of Our Lady of Caversham. 

This is one of the best documented of the Marian shrines of medieval England, being in existence by 1106, and perhaps with an Anglo-Saxon origin. Its restoration over the last century and more has resulted in an exquisite stone chapel from the 1950s in the style of the twelfth century attached to the otherwise architecturally rather undistinguished Edwardian brick Catholic parish church and contains a beautiful statue that is displayed with skill and charm. 

My post about the history of this shrine, with various links, is accessible through last year’s link at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Caversham

Our Lady of Caversham pray for The King and The Queen and for us all.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Reading

Travelling westwards through the Royal County of Berkshire brings us to another addition to Canon Stevenson’s itinerary, the statue of Our Lady in Reading Abbey. 

Aerial view of the abbey church

A digital reconstruction of Reading Abbey

Image: Reading Museum 

The abbey of Our Lady and St John the Evangelist was founded for Cluniac monks by King Henry I in 1121 both to pray for him in life and to be his sepulchre in death. It came to house his great collection of relics, as well as its most famous one, the Holy Hand of St James the Great. That was given from the Imperial chapel of her late husband the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V by his daughter the Empress Matilda - and still survives to this day as I have written about in previous posts. The monastery, close as it was to Windsor and the Thames, continued to provide a burial place for some members of the royal house down to the early fifteenth century and to be the setting for royal weddings, councils and Parliaments.

Within the abbey church was a statue of Our Lady which the Bohemian diplomatic embassy saw on their visit in the way from Windsor to Salisbury in 1466. Much impressed as they were by English churches and pilgrimage shrines such as those of St Thomas at Canterbury and St Edward at Westminster the Reading statue was for them a highlight. One of their attendant rapporteurs wrote that it was  “so admirable that, in my opinion, neither have I seen nor shall I ever see such an one, even should I progress to the extreme ends of the earth. For there could be no image more lovely or more beautiful.” Alas the statue, like the last Abbot and the abbey church itself did not survive the events of the 1530s. What little does survive - stark stretches of rubble core walling stripped of its ashlar facing and reduced to primeval forms - is profoundly sad yet tantalising in what it invites the visitor to recreate in the mind. 

abbey precinct looking west

Reading Abbey from the south east
Image: Reading Museum

Our Lady of Reading pray for The King and The Queen and for us all.

Friday, 26 May 2023

St Philip’s Day

Today is the Feast of St Philip Neri, founder of the Congregation of the Oratory.

The Oxford Oratory celebrated with First Vespers, Brnediction and Blessing with the Relic of St Philip yesterday evening, Sung Lauds this morning and a Solemn Mass this evening.

The preacher was Fr Robert Ombres OP from Oxford Blackfriars who spoke of the influence on St Philip of the Dominicans in Florence who educated him, and, in the background of Savanarola, who St Philip always held in reverence. Savonarola had been executed seventeen years before St Philip was born, but he was a significant influence on him. As Fr Ombres argued whereas Savanarola had his bonfires of the vanities in 1490s Florence St  Philip in Rome baptised the products of the Renaissance in the service of Christ and His Church - music, art, architecture, literature. Both were men of fervour, zealous for souls, but who applied it in very different ways and with very different results.

File:Giuseppe Passeri - Vision of St Philip Neri - WGA17070.jpg

The Vision of St Philip Neri
Giuseppe Passeri 1654-1714
Fitzwilliam Museum
Image: Wikimedia 

May St Philip continue to pray for the Oratories, for all Oratorians and for all formed in the Oratorian tradition.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Windsor

The Pilgrimage now goes to Windsor to the statue of Our Lady which once stood in St George’s Chapel in the Castle. Last year I made the case for extending the Pilgrimage at this point by crossing the Thames to visit Our Lady of Eton as a further example of the medieval Royal quest for Marian intercession.

My previous posts and thoughts about these shrines can be accessed at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Windsor

The connection of the Crown to Windsor and to Eton is obvious and well known. Suffice it to say that apart from Westminster Abbey itself  nowhere expresses the English understanding of Throne and Altar, Church and State so completely as Windsor. 

Our Lady of Windsor, Our Lady of Eton pray for  The King and The Queen and for us all.

Thursday, 25 May 2023

The Mass of Ages

Gregory DiPippo has a good article on the New Liturgical Movement which discusses fallacies about the history of the Traditional Latin Mass that are repeatedly publicised by not a few contemporary commentators, including those often seen as conservative such as George Weigel. 

I think the article is worth sharing both as a means of informing my readership and also as a way of equipping them to rebut such arguments when they encounter them.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Winchester

The Pilgrimage now reaches the tenth and eleventh century capital city of Winchester and the places in the cathedral there which are associated with devotion to Our Lady.

My posts about the cathedral and its surviving Marian art can be accessed at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Winchester

Winchester, and especially the cathedral, has so many links with the history of the monarchy with baptisms, marriages and coronations as well as royal burials that to walk round the cathedral is a royal pilgrimage in itself as well as providing a sequence of insights into English history that is, I suspect, unrivalled outside London and Windsor. In addition it offers remarkable architecture and the spectacular array of tombs of Bishops of Winchester.

Our Lady of Winchester pray for The King and The Queen and for us all.