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.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011



The Presentation in the Temple
Stefan Lochner
Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt

Today is Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation of The Lord in the Temple and of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As it marks the fortieth and last day of Christmastide I have decided to mark the day here with another painting by Stefan Lochner, whose works I used at Christmas and Epiphany. It is another delightful example of his style.

Candlemas with its wonderful imagery is one of the feasts I enjoy most in the calendar, and here in Oxford I have found two particular reasons to add to the joyful nature of the day.

It is the feast of my college, Oriel, which will celebrate it with a gaudy tonight. The full name of the college is The House of Blessed Mary the Virgin in Oxford commonly called Oriel College, and although the other feasts of Our Lady used to be observed with celebrations I suspect Candlemas became the main one because it is the only feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary to fall in Full Term. The eighteenth century glass from the old east window of the chapel (now on the south side of the organ gallery) depicts the Presentation, which suggests that by the mid-eighteenth century at least it was seen as the college's patronal feast.

The second reason is linked. It was on Candlemas 1848 that Bl. John Henry Newman established the English Oratory. I am not sure if in this he was influenced by the Oriel connection, but he certainly chose the Oratorian model because it resembled in structure the lofe of an Oxford Common Room.

So it is a day to remember with thanksgiving both Oriel and the Oratories, and to pray for their continuing welfare.

1 comment:

Sanchez said...

I found an interesting post on Candlemas, which presents it in light of various traditions: http://dstp.cba.pl/?p=3855