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 28 February 2011

King Alfonso XIII

Today is the seventieth anniversary of the death in exile in Rome of King Alfonso XIII of Spain.


King Alfonso is, I think, I am right in saying, one of only three European monarchs to have been actually born as King - the others are King John I of France, who lived for a few days in 1316 and King Ladislaus I of Hungary and Bohemia in the mid fifteenth century. The King officially came of age when he was 16 in 1902.

His reign was one which saw the loss of Spain's remaining colonies in Cuba and the Caribbean  and the Philippines in 1898, and the partial recomspense of the creation of a holding in Morocco in the 1920s. It also saw the passing of the old politics of party rotation with the establishment of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera 1923-30. This coincided with a temporary period of prosperity, but by supporting it the King can be seem  to have compromisd the position of the monarchy.  The economic crisis, resentment at the former dictatorship, together with nationalist and radical movements led to the King's exile. The municipal elections in 1931 led to the revolution which overthrew the monarchy on April 14. This seemed to many so sudden that someone remarked that Spain had gone to bed a monarchy and woke up a republic. 

The dreadful years which followed led to increasing polarization and civil war. The Nationalists included many monarchists, but amongst these were Carlists, and those who were unfavourable to the King. In September 1936 Gen. Franco made it clear that they would not accept Alfonso back as King. Over a decade later the Caudillo formally restored the monarchy, but with avacant throne and himself as Regent. When urged to actually reinsate the monarchy he commented that he had found the crown in the dirt and was still burnishing it. Not until 1975 did King Alfonso's grandson become King on the death of Gen. Franco. 

In some ways King Alfonso is reminiscent of our own King Charles II - it's not just the pencil moustache that makes for the resemblance. Alfonso produced several illegitimate children and portraits of him in the 1920s suggest a worldly-wise, dilettante quality not unlike the Merry Monarch.  The attempt of an anarchist to assassinate him and his Queen on their wedding day in 1906 may perhaps, even in that age of violent attacks, have given him a sense of the impermanence of the status quo. There was tendency to self-mockery: thus he made something of a farce of the annual maundy service of washing the feet of the poor and serving them a meal, or deliberately going to an exiled  Spanish republican hairdresser on his visits to London. He was certainly capable of affability and kindness. During the Great War he arranged for contact between prisoners of war and their families through his position as a neutral ruler, and in 1922 he chivalrously provided shelter for the Empress Zita and her family after the death of the Emperor Charles.
His marriage to Queen Victoria Eugenie was overshadowed not only by his infidelity but also by the haemophilia inherited by two of their sons, which resulted in the deaths first of their youngest and then their eldest son, who had previously renounced his rights of succession whilst in exile so as to marry a commoner, as a result of otherwise minor car accidents in 1934 and 1938. Their second son became a deaf mute as a result of an operation as a boy, so he and the Queen were not spared family tragedies.

 On January  14 1941, with his health failing, he abdicated in favour of his third son, the Count of Barcelona, who became the de jure King Juan III, and who was the father of King Juan Carlos I. In January 1980 King Alfonso's remains were returned to Spain and reburied at El Escorial alongside his ancestors.

St Oswald of Worcester

Today is the feast of St Oswald, Benedictine monk and reformer, founder of Ramsey Abbey, Bishop of Worcester from 961 and Archbishop of York from 972, holding both dioceses until his death in 992. He was buried at Worcester which became his main cult centre.

He was one of the great figures in the life of the Church in England in the great period of monastic reform in the mid and late tenth century, and there is a good account of his life here.

Sunday 27 February 2011

Nuptial High Mass

Yesterday I was a server at the wedding of two friends Owen Curry and Emily Shaw.

I have known Owen and Emily for a decade, meeting them at Pusey House, and like me they are converts to Catholicism, being received in 2007 and 2008 respectively. For their wedding they returned to SS Gregory and Augustine in Oxford where Emily was received into the Church.

In his speech at the reception afterwards Owen described the service as a simple, Bible-based one. Well, you could say that, but it has attracted the attention of the bloggers, being a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

The deacon at the Mass, Br Lawrence Lew OP, has posted this illustrated account on the New Liturgical Movement, with links to the other pictures taken by that other indefatigible photographer of things liturgical, James Bradley.


The sanctuary party provided the opportunity for a reunion of former Puseyites who have in recent years crossed the Tiber and all of us very keen on the use of the Extraordinary Form for Mass. So there were three former sacristans of Pusey in the sanctuary, and also two former Anglican clergy amongst the servers. In the photograph above I can be seen wielding the thurible. We had virtually all served together in the past which helped us through the complexities of entrances, exits and positioning ourselves in the right place at the right time in what is a small church. The fact that it all went smoothly also proved the point that it is worth rehearsing as we had for such liturgical occasions.

It was a beautiful and prayerful liturgy and provided, together with Fr Jerome Bertram C.O.'s impressive sermon, a very dignified and sacred beginning to Owen and Emily's married life. Please keep them in your prayers.

Saturday 26 February 2011

Juventutum Oxford - Mass for St Chad

Juventutem Oxford
is being launched on Wednesday this week at SS Gregory and Augustine in Woodstock Road.

There will be a polyphonic Sung Mass for the feast of St Chad, patron of the cathedral and Archdiocese of Birmingham, at the church at 6 pm.
The intention of the Mass will be for the Pro-Life organization, the Good Counsel Network.

Afterwards there will be a meal after for young Catholics 18-35 attached or intrigued by the traditional Mass at a restaurant of as yet unknown location in central Oxford.

For more information there is a facebook page:

Please support this, even if you are outside the Juventutum age category, either (or both) by attending or in your prayers.

Friday 25 February 2011

Newman en français

I spent a very agreeable morning showing a group of 28 seminarians, together with five of their tutors, around Oxford, and specifically places associated with Bl.John Henry Newman. They were from the Séminaire Saint-Yves in Rennes. It's patron, St Yves or Ivo of Kermartin 1253-1303, was a canon lawyer and parish priest whose relics are in the former cathedral at Tréguier. As a priest he was noted for the holiness of his life and his devotion to his people and their spiritual growth. His feast day is May 19.

Saint Yves of Kermartin portrayed by Rogier van der Weyden.

Image: Wikipedia

Given the schoolboy nature of my French I could only hope to speak slowly and awkwardly, but I had the assistance of Philippe Lefebvre, a friend formerly based in Oxford and who now works for the pilgrimage centre at the Birmingham Oratory to act as my interpreter. As a Frenchman he made easy work of rendering my enthusiam for the topic into clear and cogent French for his fellowcountrymen, and sought, successfully I think, to translate my witticisms and asides. My own efforts in French were limited, especially when facing an audience of native speakers - what one can do in one's head does not emerge as well when one starts speaking in public! However I was clearly not unintelligible, which is reassuring.

We started, like Newman, at Trinity and walked via St Mary's church, where Newman was vicar from 1828 until 1843, to Oriel. In both colleges we looked at the chapels and halls, as well as where Newman had his rooms.

In the afternoon their party walked, in the rain, out to the College at Littlemore and had Mass in the church of Bl. Dominic Barberi, before returning to the city centre. There I was able to rejoin them and join them for a convivial supper which I had helped to arrange before they went off on the next stage of their pilgrimage to Birmingham and a visit to the Oratory there.

The seminary provides training for the four modern dioceses of Brittany which form part of the ecclesiastical province of Rennes.

Rennes Cathedral

The whole of the seminary student community was on this pilgrimage to England. Most were Bretons, but they also included Haitians and Vietnamese who are training to serve in France. Brittany is, of course, noted as an area where devotion has remained strong, and they seemed to be living proof of this. One came from the Paris area, but had found the Bretons so welcoming when living there that he had decided to study there as well.

They were interested in the nature of Anglicanism - not always that easy to explain, but a combination of my French, their English and some Franglais sufficed, I think, to answer their questions. We also talked about Newman and Conscience, and how his views on that subject are often misrepresented, and whether I thought Thomas More's example had been an influence on Newman. They were also interested in the way Oxford functions, and appreciated the advantages the collegiate system provides in creating communities of scholarship as well as friendship.

I think I impressed the visitors by my knowledge that there were seven dioceses under the Duchy and ancien regime and other bits of Breton history, such as the battle and the shrine at Auray, which I had gleaned from Peter Lewis's wonderful seminars in past years on late medieval French history at All Souls when Michael "Brittany" Jones came to speak.

They all appeared to me to be excellent young men who will, I am sure, be good and faithful priests, and, hopefully, may further an awareness of Bl.John Henry Newman in Brittany and beyond. I said I would keep them in my prayers and commend them to those of my readers.

Convocation, Catholicism and Anglicanism in 1559

Today is the anniversary of the meeting of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1559 and of the five articles they passed, very much against the trend of government policy at the time, as Fr Hunwicke wrote about it in this article a few weeks back.

I recently rediscovered Fr Philip Caraman's articles from 1974, as reprinted in The Angelus in 1982, entitled 'Elizabethan Catholics and the Mass'. The first of these 'The Gathering Storm' discusses the events around the Elizabethan legislation which established the 1559 Settlement. It can, I hope, be read here.

I have extracted from it two sections about the forceful remonstrances made by the Archbishop of York, Nicholas Heath, who had been Lord Chancellor under Queen Mary I, to the new Queen and in the debate in the House of Lords.

Archbishop Nicholas Heath in 1566

" Meanwhile, Nicholas Heath, the Archbishop of York (he had opposed the burning of heretics under Queen Mary and was considered the most prudent man in the kingdom), had an audience with the Queen. As soon as he was alone with her, he fell on his knees and invoked with tears the name of Jesus Christ. He begged Elizabeth, being a woman, to refrain from tampering with the sacred mysteries. He said that he had been through the English schools and universities and had attained the highest honours; he had been a bishop under her father Henry VIII, and her brother, Edward VI and Lord Chancellor under Mary, and that from his experience in the course of a long life, to say nothing of his own studies, he had learned that the State suffered great harm from frequent changes, even in the laws relating to the administration of justice. How much greater harm, he argued, would result from alterations in religion, where antiquity was held at such great account.

It was a wise and moderate speech. The Archbishop, recalling all that had recently happened, said that it was now proposed to make changes, not simply in ceremonies, but in the highest mysteries of the Faith, which (as the name implied) should be reverenced in silence rather than made the subject of popular debate. To call in question the sacraments of the Church, after such a length of time and in a kingdom which had only recently recovered from schism, would be disastrous in the extreme.

Finally, asking the Queen's pardon for his freedom of speech, the Archbishop concluded; "But if (which God avert) the Catholic religion should unhappily be overthrown in England, I warn, I proclaim and I declare beforehand that I will not recede a nail's breadth in the least thing from the decrees of theCatholic Church, and in that quarrel I will resist every suggestion from others, and even from your Majesty, by every means in my power, to the last moment of my life."

The Queen bade him rise, comforted him with many words and ended by promising the Archbishop that she would do nothing that was not approved by her Councillors and by the whole nation assembled in Parliament. She gave him to think that in some measure she still wished to profess the Catholic Faith."

At the Third Reading in the Lords of the Bill laying down a new service of common prayer to replace the Mass all the Bishops continued to dissent and they were supported by the Marquess of Winchester, the Earl of Shrewsbury, Viscount Montagu, and Barons Morley, Stafford, Dudley, Wharton, Rich and North:

" True to his undertaking, Archbishop Heath spoke out firmly: "The unity of the Church of Christ doth depend upon the unity of Peter's authority. Therefore, by our leaping out of Peter's ship, we must needs be overwhelmed with the waters of schism, sects and divisions which spring only from this, that men will not be obedient to the Head Bishop of God."

The Archbishop asked the Lords whether they thought the Church of Rome was not of God, but a malignant Church, and then went on: "If you answer yes, then it will follow that we, the inhabitants of this realm, have not as yet received any benefit from Christ, for we have received no other gospel, no other doctrine, no other Faith, no other sacraments than were sent us from the Church of Rome."

A lost portrait of a young Elizabeth I that was discovered in the attic of a country house has intrigued historians after X-rays revealed that it was painted over an earlier picture of the monarch.

Queen Elizabeth I is believed to have been around 26 when the portrait was painted, that is in 1559.
As David Starkey has pointed out the emphasis on austere black clothing and the Bible or prayer-book she is holding stresses her Protestant credentials.
There is more about this recently discovered painting

Queen Elizabeth's own views are more clearly stated than was usual for her at this time in a reply she sent in December 1559 to five bishops who had protested at the changes she had introduced. It is an interesting early exposition of a claim to a distinctive Anglican (or British) Church History which is still voiced:

"Sirs,—As to your entreaty for us to listen to you, we have it yet, do return you this our answer. Our realm and subjects have been long wanderers, walking astray whilst they were under the tuition of Romish Pastors, who advised them to own a Wolf for their head (in lieu of a careful Shepherd) whose inventions, heresies, and schisms be so numerous, that the flock of Christ have fed on poisonous shrubs for want of wholesome pastures. And whereas, you list us and our subjects in the teeth, that the Romish Church first planted the Catholic faith within our realms, the records and chronicles of our realms testify to the contrary, and your own Romish idolatry maketh you liars; witness the ancient monument of Gildas, unto which both foreign and domestic have gone in pilgrimage, there to offer. This author testifieth Joseph of Arimathea to be the first preacher of the word of God within our realms. Long after that period when Au[gu]stin[e] came from Rome, this our realm had Bishops and Priests therein, as is well known to the wise and learned of our realm, by woeful experience, how your Church entered therein by blood, they being martyrs for Christ, and put to death because they denied Rome's usurped authority.
As for our Father being drawn away from the Supremacy of Rome by schismatical and heretical counsels and advisers, who, we pray advised him more or flattered him than you, good Mr. Father, when you were Bishop of Rochester? And then, you Mr Bonner, when you were Archdeacon? And you Mr. Turberville? Nay, further... who was more an adviser to our Father than your great Stephen Gardiner, when he lived?.... Was it not you and such like advisers that... stirred up our Sister against us and other of her subjects? Whereas you would frighten us by telling how Emperors... have owned the Bishop of Rome's authority. It was contrary in the beginning, for our Saviour Christ paid His
tribute unto Cæsar, as the chief superior; which shows your Romish supremacy is usurped.... We give you, therefore, warning, that for the future, we hear no more of this kind, lest you provoke us to execute those penalties enacted for the punishing of our resisters, which out of our clemency we have foreborne." —From Greenwich, Dec. 6, Anno Secundo Regni.

With acknowledgements to Lumiarium.com

Only one diocesan bishop, Anthony Kitchen of Llandaff, accepted the new settlement, and the others were deprived, and in several cases kept under house arrest until their deaths. Queen Elizabeth appears to have expected some at least to conform. As she pointed out in her answer reproduced above they had done in the past, but in that she was to be disappointed. Had there not been a number of vacancies - most notably Canterbury - the opposition of the hierarchy would have been stronger.

In the years that followed there remained asubstantial group of Church Papists - those who outwardly conformed to the new settlement but who sought to retain traditional forms or who inwardly believed the Catholic rather than the reformed faith. However, as both Convocation and Archbishop Heath on one side and Queen Elizabeth on the other had indicated there were clear alternatives, and ultimately the Church Papists would have to choose which one to align themselves with.

These matters are by no means the preserve of historians - they are part of the on-going debate about the nature of Anglicanism to which the plans for the Ordinariate are a significant contribution.

Thursday 24 February 2011


Last night I got to the last of three talks delivered at the Oratory here on the subject of Confession by Fr Joseph Welch, one of the Oxford Oratorians. Due to other meetings I had been unable to attend the two previous sessions, but going to this one was certainly very well worth while.

The burden of the talk dealt with such practical matters as distingushing categories of mortal and venial sins, avoiding occasions of sin and the frequency of making a confession. Not only was the talk lucid and cogent, but it reflected in an excellent manner the Oratorian tradition of concern for individual souls.

The other thing which impressed was the attendance. The parish centre was full, with a wide range of ages represented. At the Oratory the sacrament of reconciliation is available before all Masses, so it is not difficult to make one's confession here, but here was an evident wish to know more about the sacrament and its place in the individual's spiritual journey. At a time when many churches offer the opportunity to confess on a much more limited scale and when it is sometimes claimed or presented that there is little interest in using the sacrament, the numbers present would suggest a willingness to avail themselves of it which is very positive.

Very suitable for Septuagesima and preparing for Lent - or any other time of the year.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

Ordination of Fr Silk for the Ordinariate

The New Liturgical Movement has pictures, courtesy of the copyright holder the Ordinariate Portal, of the Ordination of Fr. David Silk, the former Anglican Bishop of Ballarat as a priest within the Ordinariate. The ordaining bishop was the Bishop of Plymouth and it took place in the very fine, rebuilt, abbey church at Buckfast in Devon.

Given the long standing tradition of Anglo-Catholicism in the dioceses of Exeter and Truro, it will be interesting to see what the response to the possibilities the Ordinariate offers in the region. The area that produced the Rev. Mr Gorham of 1850 judgment fame may yet give a new lead. Fr Silk may well have a new and active ministry in the south-west, building on his established roles as a liturgist and former diocesan bishop in Australia.

More on the Chair of St Peter

The New Liturgical Movement has two articles on this subject, about which I wrote yesterday.

One, The Feast of Saint Peter's Chair, is by Br. Lawrence Lew OP and includes the Pope's reflections on the feast.

The second, Decorations of the Vatican Basilica on the Feast of St. Peter's Chair, has pictures and information about the relic preserved as the cathedra Petri, and the basilica's customary observances for the day.

Extra Masses in the 'usus antiquior' in Oxford

There will be a celebration of Mass in the usus antiquior this coming Friday, February 25th, at 6 p.m. at the church of SS Gregory and Augustine in Oxford It will be a Votive of the Passion and is being celebrated as such because of a particular intention.

Next week there will be celebrations in the usus antiquior as is usual at SS Gregory and Augustine on Wednesday, and also the monthly First Thursday and First Friday Masses there. All are at 6pm.

Not only are these opportunities to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form, but a further opportunity to demonstrate support for the Pope's initiative in issuing Summorum Pontificum when there is, apparently, renewed debate about its application - and if you have n't signed the NLM petition supporting the widest application of the motu proprio yet, go and do so!

Christ blessing Emperor Alexander III and his family

The Mad Monarchist has posted a copy of this rather remarkable picture which I thought I would copy and post here. It depicts Emperor Alexander III of Russia, the Empress Marie and their children, the future Emperor Nicholas II, the Grand Duke Michael, both murdered in 1918, andn the Grand Duchesses Xenia and Olga, being blessed by Christ. I know nothing more about its history than seeing it on his blog.

It is, I think, unusual for its date by reason of its unequivocal imagery involving living members of the Romanov dynasty. As religious art produced, I assume, in Russia, it is unusual for not being in the tradition of the Orthodox icon.

Depictions of Deities blessing rulers are amongst the most ancient of art forms and used as expressions of sacral authority from Pharonic Egypt onwards. In the west European tradition they are noteworthy in the Carolingian and Ottonian periods, and prominent in the later middle ages, with, for example, the works of art commissioned for the Emperor Charles IV and the Wilton Diptych of King Richard II. As a model for representing the ruler it lost some favour with the sweeping changes of the sixteenth century, but re-emerged with the Baroque.

This particular painting is a curious blend of such traditional monarchical devotion and the rather pre-Raphaelite, Biblical literal style popular in western European devotional art at that period, and late in its date.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Chair of St Peter


From today's Office of Readings for the Feast of the Chair of St Peter:

From a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great (440-461), the first Pope to really develop and adumbrate a Petrine theology for the Papacy and Church

The Church of Christ rises on the firm foundation of Peter's faith

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing of his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him. As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same. But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Peter says: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replies: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” You are blessed, he means, because my Father has taught you. You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven. It was not flesh and blood that pointed me out to you, but the one whose only-begotten Son I am.

He continues: And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence. You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it. Its words are the words of life. As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth is also bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church. But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one. For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.


Before I called you away from your boat, Simon Peter, I knew you for my own; I have appointed you leader of my people. I have delivered to you the keys of the kingdom.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven. I have delivered to you the keys of the kingdom.

Evangelical ladies

The most recent tutorial I gave on sixteenth century women concentrated on that distinct group of aristocratic or gentlewomen who adopted evangelical religion, and its consequent politics, in the 1540s and early 1550s. As a group they do not appear to have successors in the later sixteenth century - perhaps Gloriana simply put everyone else in the shade.

They include Queen Katherine Parr, Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk, heiress of the Willoughby de Eresby family in Lincolnshire, second wife of Charles Brandon Duke of Suffolk, and ancestress of the Bertie families, her step-daughter Frances Duchess of Suffolk and her daughters Lady Jane Grey, Lady Catherine Grey and Lady Mary Grey. For these four I would recommend Lucinda de Lisle's biography The Sisters who would be Queen, as a balanced assessment of their lives , families and times. In addition there was the assertive Anne, Duchess of Somerset, wife of the Protector, Anne, Countess of Sussex and Anne Askew , whose life and death, shaped by those who used her to attack more prominent figures is in many ways a counterpart to that of the Catholic Nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton, in the 1520s and 1530s.

As a group they were related, or part of patterns of connection and friendship, and the extent to which they influenced one another looks not inconsiderable.  As supporters of evangelical ideas they were serious and articulate and cannot be seen as mere followers of ecclesiastical fashion. Thanks to John Foxe both Ann Askew and Lady Jane Grey acquired a hagiography as martyrs for the Protestant cause. 

File:Catherine Parr.jpg

Queen Katherine Parr

Image: Wikipedia

Catherine Willoughby, drawing by Hans Holbein the Younger

Katherine Willoughby,
Duchess of Suffolk

Drawing by Hans Holbein the Younger

Image: Wikipedia

File:Frances Brandon.jpg

Frances, Duchess of Suffolk

Image: Wikipedia

Portrait of a Lady, possibly Lady Jane Grey, c.1545-47 - Lievine Teerlink
Lady Jane Grey

This miniature by Lievine Teerlink is now considered to be the only,
or best surviving, likeness

Image: MyStudios.com


Lady Catherine Grey with her son.
She is wearing a miniature of her husband, William Seymour
Earl of Hertford.

Miniature by Lievine Teerlink

Image: Lisby 1 on Flickr

These were all, in their own ways, determined, forceful women, and not easily persuaded to keep quiet about their opinions. In many ways they had the advantages of their social position, which gave them independence and the ability to move as Anne Askew did to London.

One other thing, apart from good birth and controversial religious opinions, which links them as a group is that most of them managed, despite their noble, or at least good, birth to contact marriages with second or subsequent husbands well below their own station. This, which was so often a worry for families with daughters of marriageable age, was something they discarded. Moreover these marriages were sometimes arranged with what looks like indecent haste.  Not for them the traditional life of the pious widow or vowess. Some of the marriages seem surprising given the background of the ladies and their husbands, who were not in a position to aid their wives as Lord Stanley had been able to support Lady Margaret Beaufort.

Katherine Parr's fourth marriage as Queen Dowager to Lord Seymour raised eyebrows, and, although not without parallel (Adeliza of Louvain and Katherine of Valois come to mind), appears hasty and unusual. In the case of the Grey sisters their position as heirs or potential heirs made their marriages ones of immediate concern to the monarch at the time.

Determination to achieve what they wanted, be it in religious, political or personal terms seems to be the distinguishing mark of these women. the cost might be high, indeed fatal on occasion, but they were not to be deterred.

Women of more humble origins have not left such ample evidence of their lives and opinions, but it seems not unreasonable to think that sixteenth century women of all classes and opinions were perfectly well able to give voice to their opinions and ideas within the society in which they lived - something which has not always been appreciated by historians or their readership.

King David II

Today is the 640th anniversary of the unexpected death at the age of 46 of King David II of Scots in 1371, an event which brought to the throne the Stewart family in the person of his nephew King Robert II. There is an illustrated online biography of King David here. A much fuller critical biography and assessment by Bruce Webster in the Oxford DNB can be read here and provides an excellent account of his life and reign.

That life and reign, with its pattern of minority and regency, upbringing abroad and english invasion and domination, not to mention personal and marital difficulties was typical of most Scottish monarchs until the accession of King James VI to the English throne in 1603. What is almost more remarkable is the achievement of the Scottish monarchy in retaining and consolidating its hold on the country. Historians today are, as Webster indicates more inclined to a positive view of his achievements as monarch than was the case in the past, notably in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

The illuminated initial of him with his brother-in-law King Edward III reproduced below has always struck me as more than usually insightful for such a piece. It is not only elegant, but manages to convey the Scottish King's discomfiture in the presence of the seemingly more urbane and successful English King, of whom he was a prisoner. King David looks somehow rather dowdy by comparison with the more fashionably attired King Edward.
David II with Edward III

King David II and King Edward III after the battle of Neville's Cross, 1346.
Each king is surmounted by his Coat of Arms
© British Library

Image: royal.gov.uk

On his Great Seal King David II does look more confidently regal:

News Photo: royal seal from 1329 depicting David II King…

Image: Getty images.com

Monday 21 February 2011

From the Archives

After Vespers yesterday, together with a friend, I spent an enjoyable time sitting over a pot of tea and poring (not pouring or pawing) over the latest From the Archives. Published by The Universe this is the seventh in their series of making available material from their photographic library going back a century or more in an attractive magazine format. It makes for a remarkably interesting selection of visual ecclesiastical and social history, drawing upon really fine photographs. The first one in the series can be viewed on line here.

In this latest contribution to the series the editor, Michael Winterbottom, has, I think, excelled himself with his selection of photographs, and also his, shall we say, robust comments about what has been lost to the life of the Church. In particular thers is a wonderful series of photographs of the episcopal hierarchy taken in the 1920s and 1930s - my friend and I agreed you just do not get bishops who look like that these days - and some spectacular ones of the then Cardinal Pacelli, including one of him processing in full vestments at the 1938 Eucharistic Congress in Budapest - utterly splendid.

From the Archives costs £3.50 and if you have not so far seen it well worth looking out for.

Sunday 20 February 2011


Fr Hunwicke has once again been knocking some liturgical nails on the head with his post STILL WAITING FOR VATICAN II where he deals with the disappearance from the modern Roman rite of the Septuagesima season.

It's removal is one more example of that "false archaeology" which sought to restore the liturgy to what certain experts thought it had once been.

I think I can understand ( but not share) their desire to signify the seasonal change to Lent by removing the transitional phase of Septuagesima - purple vestements, no Alleluia or Gloria - which looked rather like the Lenten observance, so as to emphasise the importance of Lent itself. Nonetheless Septuagesima and the two following Sundays were a genuine, and ancient, part of the liturgical heritage of the Church - dare I call it patrimony? There is something wrong in principle in destroying something ancient so as to recover something perceived as more ancient, particularly when the two can coexist, and have done for centuries.

Not only was it part of the continuing tradition of the Church in the West, but it is similar to what is, I understand, the phased introduction of Lent in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. In any case Lent was marked off by other disciplines of fasting as well as the liturgical fast of no music and, of course, and they were bound to appear on this blog sooner or later, the folded chasuble and the broad stole.


The Lenten folded chasuble and the broad stole

Image: New Liturgical Movement

As Fr Hunwicke points out the Church still has enough cause to seek Divine assistance by a season of penitential prayer for its practical needs before the more intense period of personal penitence and preparation that is Lent.

Our parish community


On Saturday evening and after three of the Masses today I was handing out our new leaflets to worshippers at the Oxford Oratory about the Oxford Oratory Appeal and encouraging them to attendinformation events about the plans. Following the Solemn Mass this morning there was a parish party for Fr Robert Byrne, the recently retired Provost, to thank him for his twenty years service to the Oratory and parish, and to wish him well for his six months sabbatical at the Oratory in Philadelphia.

These events encapsulate so much of what is good about the Oxford Oratory - a fine liturgical tradition, a life of prayer, genuine friendship, an expanding congregation - including not a few converts like myself, with another, Rosemary, being received on Friday - please pray for her - and positive plans for the future. Such is our parish community.

It is a community that looks beyond itself - upwards and outwards to God, outwards to the world. Too often, however, in other parishes the phrase "Our Parish Community"can imply an inward looking one. It is a tendency the Pope criticises in one of his published interviews with Peter Seewald, and given whilst he was still a Cardinal. In that he draws attention to the physical and symbolic aspects of the community gathered around the altar and looking in on itself rather than being led to look beyond it to the Infinite, and on the tendency to keep things going because that has become the purpose of the community - being community has become an end in itself.

I have seen churches where that tendency has come to predominate, and whilst not discounting the hard work and effort that goes into such parishes, it seems to me that they are rather missing the point. The readings for today's Novus Ordo Mass suggest a view that looks upwards and outwards in community - Leviticus 10:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3: 16-23; Matthew 5,38-48.

Our parish community, here in Oxford or anywhere else, is not an end in itself - it is a living part of the wider Body of Christ, called to take the whole message of Christ to the world. We celebrate not our own community or ourselves, but that we are in Christ.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Heraldry for Bastards

The most recent meeting of the Oxford University Heraldry Society was addressed by Steve Slater from Wiltshire on the subject of the heraldry associated with bastards.

The bastard is a filius nullius, a man with no rights to his father's property, including his arms.

Althogh the bend sinister is the classic symbol of bastardy in heraldry there are really no fixed conventions about the matter, which for some might be sensitive, but the higher up the social scale the more people were prepared to flaunt heraldically their parentage - to be bastard may be awkward, but being aroyal bastard has a cachet all its own - and medieval kings often found their illegitimate offspring more relaible than their legitimate ones

The earliest example of a bastard's use of heraldry is the effigy of William Longespee, Earl of Salisbury (d.1226) in Salisbury cathedral. He was the illegitimate son of King Henry II, and bore the arms of the king's father Geoffrey Count of Anjou recorded when he married the Empress Matilda in 1128 Azure, six lions rampant or, 3,2 and 1 and shown on his famous enamelled tomb cover from Le Mans:

Geoffrey Count of Anjou

Image: Wikipedia

Earl William's effigy still has traces of colour to indicate that the arms were of the same tincture. This is an early instance of the heritability of arms, even if it bypasses a generation.

Effigy of William Longespee, Earl of Salisbury

Image: Wikipedia

Royal bastards offer some of the best examples. Sir Roger de Clarendon, illegitimate son of Edward Prince of Wales, derived his arms from the arms of peace borne by his father, and bore Or, a bend noir with three ostrich plumes.

Richard Plantagenet, one of the two illegitimate sons of King Richard III, and who lives at Eastwell in Kent until c.1540 is credited with the arms Per pale argent and azure, on a bend sable sanglier blanc [White Boar] His father's livery colours formed the field, and the charge on the bend was his father's badge.

The Beauforts, the familiy of Duke John of Lancaster and his mistress Katherine Swynford, bore a coat based on their father's livery colours of blue and white, with the arms of the Duchy on a bend:

Following their partents marriage in 1396 they were legitimised by both the Pope and the King, and used a coat of arms of France modern and England quarterly ( the Royal arms as used by their half brother King Henry IV) with a bordure company argent and azure:

Following the marriage of Joan Beaufort to King James I of Scots in 1425 the bordure company became, somewhat ironically given that for the Beauforts it was a sign of legitimacy, the norm in Scotland for denoting bastardy.

A manuscript of a herald of the Duke of Burgundy in the fifteenth century shows a bend sinister as the indicator of illegitimacy. The classic sign of bastardy was already established. It can be seen in the arms on the Garter Roll of Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle K.G.(d.1542), the son of King Edward IV - 1 France and England quarterly, 2 and 3 de Burgh, 4 Mortimer, and over all a bend sinister.

These early examples tend to show a very narrow bend sinister, minimising its visual effect, and there appears to have been a practice whereby after three generations the bend sinister was discarded. Although not part of official heraldic practice this appears to have been tacitly accepted. Similarly Charles Somerset, first Earl of Worcester, bastard son of Henry Beaufort Duke of Somerset, originally bore his father's arms with a bend sinister, or, on a gold ground the Beaufort arms on a fess, but subsequently he, and certainly his descendants, the Marquesses of Worcester and Dukes of Beaufort, have borne the undifferenced arms of the medieval Beauforts.

The bend sinister came to be shortened to be a baton in the centre of the shield.

The eldest of King Charles II's illegitimate sons, the Duke of Monmouth bore two successive coats of arms, both of which were differenced by a baton sinister. In his case it was plain white, comparable to the label of a legitimate eldest son.

The second coat of arms of the Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch
The Royal arms differenced with the baton sinister and the inescutcheon of Buccleuch

This quartering is still borne as part of the achievement of his descendents the Dukes of Buccleuch and Queensbury. Of the other ducal descendants of King Charles II, Grafton and St Albans bear his Royal arms with an appropriate baton, now quartered with those of the de Vere Earls of Oxford in the case of the Dukes of St Albans. The Duke of Richmond bears the Royal arms with a bordure company and an inescutcheon, quartered with other arms:

Duke of richmond.svg

The heraldic blazon is: Quarterly: 1st and 4th grand quarters, the Royal Arms of King Charles II (viz. quarterly: 1st and 4th, France and England quarterly; 2nd, Scotland; 3rd, Ireland); the whole within a bordure company argent charged with roses gules barbed and seeded proper and the last; overall an escutcheon gules charged with three buckles or (the Dukedom of Aubigny); 2nd grand quarter, argent a saltire engrailed gules between four roses of the second barbed and seeded proper (Lennox); 3rd grand quarter, quarterly, 1st, azure three boars' heads couped or (Gordon); 2nd, or three lions' heads erased gules (Badenoch); 3rd, or three crescents within a double tressure flory counter-flory gules (Seton); 4th, azure three cinquefoils argent (Fraser).

The Earls of Munster (title created 1831 and extinct in 2000), descended from King William IV and Mrs Jordan, bore the King's arms, with the inescutcheon of Hanover, differenced with a baton azure, charges with three anchors or.

For those of less exalted parentage the addition of a bordure wavy has become the modern sign of illegitimate descent.

English arms difference the supporters and the crest was well as the arms, but this is not the practice in Scotland.

Today the trend is to design a new coat for those of illegitimate stock using charges from the father's arms rather than to petition the Sovereign to assume the paternal arms. In 1717 the College of Arms held that bastards could can inherit paternal arms arms, but the Garter King of Arms from 1754-73 held that they had no right to their father's quarterings.

Archbishop Hugh Curwen

For those who have not read them I would draw the attention of readers to three posts about Hugh Curwen (c.1500-68), successively Dean of Hereford, Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Oxford written by Fr Hunwicke. They can be read here, here and here. The more detailed Oxford Dictionary of National Biography account of Hugh Curwen can be found here.

Petition in support of Summorum Pontificum

Following on from my post yesterday about this matter I am sure many of my readers will already have signed the petition addressed to the Pope in respect of Summorum Pontificum.

The story of the possibility of restrictions being placed on the use of the Extraordinary Form was first publicised by Rorate Caeli , and that site has coverage that is worth looking at. Fr Tim Finigan has a good piece about the issues, which you can read here, at Motu Proprio Appeal

If you wish to sign the petition, as I have done, you can find it by clicking here

Friday 18 February 2011

Forty Hours at Littlemore for the Unity of the Church

Over the weekend of March 4th-6th
there will be
the Forty Hours Devotion
in Bl. John Henry Newman's
Chapel at the College in Littlemore,
with the specific intention for
the Unity of the Church.

Friday March 4th 9 am Mass and Exposition until 9 pm
4pm Catechesis and Benediction for children

Saturday March 5th Exposition 7 am until 9 pm

Sunday March 6th Exposition 7 am until 9 pm
4pm Talk in the library by Fr. Richard Conrad OP, Vice-Regent of Blackfriars, on "Unity - A mark of the Church"

Daily Prayer will be celebrated as follows:
7 am Morning Prayer
12 noon Midday Prayer
5 pm Vespers
8 pm Holy Hour with meditations and hymns
concluding with Benediction and Night Prayer

Rumours about Summorum Pontificum

Laurence England had two posts yesterday on That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill about the rumours about the letter of clarification about Summorum Pontificum - rumours that there may be attempts to restrict its application. I copied the links so that you can read his posts, Pray for Pope Benedict XVI, Now Gloriously Reignin... and Help me with this letter...

If these rumours are true, then it is important for all those who are concerned for the success of Summorum Pontificum and for the liturgy of the Church to pray and give voice to their concern. I have said online that I would sign the letter Laurence has drafted as one means of registering that concern. True liturgical renewal, of which Summorum Pontificum is one, if not the, keystone, must not be frustrated or limited.

That said it is worth bearing in mind that these are at the moment only rumours, and the Church seems to be borne aloft on a sea of speculation. So whilst we await developments we should certainly pray and expound the merit of the Extraordinary Form, and its vital importance to the very being of the Church. It is a time to be resolute, and not to panic. There may be those in the Vatican who want to frustrate the Pope's plans, but there are also those, like Cardinal Burke, as in my recent post, who are insiders and who are definitely supportive of the Holy Father's project.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Bl John Henry on History

With acknowledgements to today's post from Fr Tim on Hermeneutic of Continuity. The quotation is from An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Cardinal Burke ordains at the Institute of Christ the King

The New Liturgical Movement has a post with illustrations of Cardinal Burke leading a pilgrimage to the heart of St Francis de Sales and a diaconal Ordination he celebrated for the Institute of Christ the King in January. You can view it here. From the post there are links to other photographs of both occasions.

Following on from my previous post about the new English translation of the Novus Ordo and its opponants it is so positive to look at the renewed tradition that Cardinal Burke and the Institute both represent and practice.

Almost twenty five years ago I recall looking at the famous photograph from the 1920s of an enthroned Cardinal Mercier of Malines (d.1926) in full pontifical vestments and being told by an Anglican religious that I would never see such a thing in my lifetime (nor, by implication, would anyone else ever do so). Yet here in 2011 is Cardinal Burke in a very similar pose:

Not only that but the whole liturgy was celebrated with the all traditional vestures for the Cardinal and his attendants, as is discussed in the comments on the post. Thus, for example, he wore the winter cappa magna, with the traditional galero, and wore the tunicle was well as the dalmatic under the chasuble. This is what I mean by liturgical renewal - restoring those things that are gone to decay, and making all things new in Christ.

Missal translation

This week's Catholic Herald leads with a story about last ditch resistance to the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.

Even if we read the story as the Herald trying to be eye-catching one can see that those opposed to this more accurate translation appear to be the usual suspects. From what I have seen and the comments of those whose opinions I value it will be infinitely superior to what we have now. Beyond that it should help to carry forward the "Reform of the Reform" by making people in the parishes aware of the possibilities of liturgical renewal within the Novus Ordo.

William Oddie has a typically forceful piece on his blog about the issue, and, if you have time, the comments it has generated repay inspection. Some are less optimistic about the future than Dr Oddie, or for that matter, I would be, but do make some significant points.

Others really do sound like the incoherent wounded cries of the "Spirit of Vatican II" brigade, ever looking for "Futurechurch" as the new and living way. Would that these were their last screams of protest, but that might be hoping for too much. Nonetheless they are worth looking at so as to know the enemy and its mindset.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Roman footprint

I was interested to read this news report from an archaeological site in Yorkshire - it is amazing what can survive the centuries. Very much an instance of Sir Mortimer Wheeler's dictum that he was digging up people, not things.

Monday 14 February 2011

St Cyril and St Methodius

To most people today is the feast of St Valentine, but according to the Roman Calendar it is the feast of SS Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavs. Their widespread cult is relatively recent in western Europe, dating really from the time of Pope Leo XIII. It became more extensive, and ranked as a Feast rather than a Memoria in the Novus Ordo when Pope John Paul II proclaimed them co-patrons of Europe with St Benedict in 1980.

There is an introduction to their lives, achievements and legacy here.

From that their importance in the history of Bulgaria is made clear, and, as aconsequence, in 1909 King Ferdinand I established the Order of SS Cyril and Methodius as the highest chivalric order of his kingdom. I hope to post more about the order and its insignia in the near future

Heraldry for the Ordinariates

In a recent post on The Anglo Catholic Matthew Alderman explores the possibilities for heraldry within the prospective Ordinariates - I use the plural as he is based in the US - and it offers some interesting ideas and facts, as well as three systems that could be applied. You can read it here.

One might (and I do say "might") be a little amused by such a concern for attributes and paraphanalia, but, looked at another way, this does suggest that some people are very serious about the whole project.

Indeed, as Matthew Alderman suggests, one benefit that the Anglican patrimony might bring to the wider Church might well be a genuine heraldic revival on the lines of the work of the late Archbishop Bruno Heim. The living tradition of heraldry in the anglophone world could help reinvigorate it elsewhere. For example a friend has expressed concerns about unauthorised changes to the arms of the See of Westminster made by recent Archbishops. That has been allowed to happen becuase they are a Papal grant, not one from the Earl Marshal, with the consequent lack of administrative and legal discipline. A new awareness of heraldic rules should prevent such 'creativity'.

Ordinariate Holy Hours on February 22nd

The newly established Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is encouraging participation in a Holy Hour on February 22nd, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, to reflect on the role of the Pope within the Church.


The Chair of St Peter
This chair is thought to have been given to the Popes in 875 by Charles the Bald
There is an article about the feast and the actual Chair from the Catholic Encyclopedia here.

Fr Keith Newton, the Ordinary, made this invitation in his column published by The Portal, an independent review of the ordinariate. He encouraged the organization of Holy Hours in parishes on February 22nd to pray about the Pontiff's role and to give thanks for the vision of Pope Benedict XVI "which has brought us to this point." He suggested that those groups planning to become members of the ordinariate "join with their Catholic brothers and sisters" on this day "to ask God's blessing on what lies ahead." He underlined the "tremendous privilege and responsibility" of setting up this first ordinariate as stipulated in "Anglicanorum Coetibus" and added "No doubt we will experience setbacks and difficulties over the next few weeks and months but we can be sure that many people are praying for us and that you will receive a warm welcome in the Catholic Church wherever you are."

This would seem to be a very good day on which to pray with and for the Ordinariate. Last year we had a very moving Holy Hour at the Oxford Oratory on the Feast of the Chair of Peter, and it helped establish those vital points of contact between the two communities. I hope that this year we can pray for the success of this initiative and help support the Ordinariate on its journey in Faith. I hope that reflection on the real and positive possibilities the Ordinariate offers will allay the misgivings I hear from some cradle Catholics, or long-standing converts about the scheme. I appreciate some of the points they make, but think that as they meet the individuals involved and learn more of their reasons they will be reassured.

Fr Tim Finigan has a related post about the impact of the Ordinariate on the Church which is well worth reading here.

Adapted, with my own comments added, from Zenit.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Reception at Littlemore

This evening I attended the reception of two friends from my Pusey House days into the Catholic Church and the Ordinariate at the church of Bl. Dominic Barberi at Littlemore. Daniel and Alexandra Lloyd were received by Fr Andrew Burnham, who had performed their wedding the other year. Daniel was briefly the assistant curate at Stony Stratford, having been ordained as an Anglican deacon last summer.

It was a great pleasure to join with other friends and the regular congregation at the Saturday vigil Mass to welcome them into full peace and communion, and in the context of their reception and being at Littlemore all the more moving to sing the hymns The Church's one foundation and Firmly I believe and truly. In his homily Fr Andrew stressed the historic significance of the event, this being one of the very first receptions of members into the Ordinariate, and how appropriate it was to do so at Littlemore.

At the reception afterwards I was able to ask Fr Burnham for his First Blessing, which I had been unable to receive at Fr Burnham's First Mass

The evening was a good indicator of the vitality of support for the Ordinariate, which plans to establish a group in Oxford with the Lenten catechetical period leading to other receptions at Easter.

Please pray for Daniel and Alex and all those preparing to be received into the Ordinariate, and for the Ordinary and his clergy.

Bl.Dominic Barberi greeting Newman.

Bl.Dominic Barberi has just come in from the wet and cold. It is late at night on October 8th 1845 and he is trying to dry himself in front of the fire at the College in Littlemore. Newman is on one knee requesting of Dominic Barberi that he be received into the Church.

A relief by Faith Tolkien in the Church of Bl.Dominic Barberi

Image: Communigate