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 31 July 2011

More on the Holy Hand of Reading

Further to my post about the Holy Hand of Reading I see that last weekend the relic was on display for veneration in St James' Catholic church in Reading, which adjoins the site of the north transept of the abbey church. Therte is an article from the Reading Chronicle about the occasion here. I feel rather disappointed that I did not know beforehand about the visit of the relic and the accompanying lecture and other events as I would have tried to get to Reading to participate in the pilgrimage. Maybe another time.

The Holy Hand today

Image: Reading Chronicle

Here are two pictures of the 1467 reliquary of the hand of St Babylas in the Guelph Treasure in Brunswick, which gives an idea of how the relic might have been displayed in the middle ages.



Images: Genevra Kornbluth www.kornbluthphoto.com/Saints1.html

Friday 29 July 2011

St Olaf's day

A year ago I wrote about the cult of St Olaf or Olav, the patron saint of Norway in my post St Olaf. Readers may be interested to look at these medieval depictions of the saint, and also seek his intercession for all those caught up in the tragic events of a week ago in Norway

Tuesday 26 July 2011

St Anne

Today is the feast of St Anne and St Joachim, the parents of the Bleesed Virgin Mary.

Devotion to them, and especially to St Anne, developed in the later middle ages, as in this wooden figure of c.1500 from Mainz. It was originally polychromed, and traces of that remain.


The Holy Kindred
St Anne with the Virgin Mary and Our Lord

Photo: Genevra Kornbluth www.kornbluthphoto.com/Saints1.html

Monday 25 July 2011

The Hand of St James

Today is the feast of St James the Great. In addition to the great pilgrimage centre of Santiago de Compostella there is also the English devotion to him centred on the Hand of St James from Reading Abbey.

The relic came to there from the Empress Matilda, daughter of the founder of the abbey, King Henry I. She had been married to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry V and following his death in 1125 Matilda returned to England bringing with her the relic of the hand, which hitherto had been part of the Imperial treasure.

File:Matilda jidnrichInem.jpg

Emperor Henry V and Matilda

Image: Wikipedia

The King had founded the abbey of the Virgin and St John in 1121 with Cluniac monks, and endowed it with a formidible collection of relics. The Empress presented the apostle's hand to Reading where it became the principal one, being that of an apostle, the brother of St John the co-patron and a link with the Cluniac inspired pilgrimage to Santiago. From the relic came the use of the shell as an heraldic symbol by the abbey and town of Reading.

The story of the relic and the unsuccessful attempts of the Emperor Frederick I to regain it from King Henry II are retold by the late Prof. Karl Leyser in a splendid essay reprinted in his Medieval Germany and her neighbours. For an excellent biography of the Empress I would recommend Marjorie Chibnell's 1991 Empress Matilda: Queen Consort, Queen Mother and Lady of the English.

Reconstruction of Reading Abbey - © Nash Ford Publishing

A reconstruction of Reading Abbey


The relic remained at Reading until the destruction of the abbey in 1539. There is more about the abbey on the website of the Friends of Reading Abbey. In 1786 workmen found what appears to be the holy hand in the ruins of the abbey - there is more about that here. The relic is now held at St Peter's Catholic church in Marlow.

The Holy Hand

Saturday 23 July 2011

St Bridget of Sweden and Syon Abbey

Today is the feast of St Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), interest in whom has revived in recent decades as a result of the designation in 1999 by Pope John Paul II of her as a co-patron of Europe, from the work of the modern Swedish restored Bridgettine Order, founded in 1911 by Bl.Elizabeth Hesselblad, and also from the work of historians looking at her influence on late medieval spirituality. In that last sense she is reminder of how much later medieval Scandinavia was part of Catholic Christendom. Devotion to her, and use of her spiritual techniques was widespread and appealed both to political elites and to the general populace. Here in Oxford relics of her were presented in the fifteenth century to Osney Abbey, which stood close to where I live.

St. Bridget of Sweden

A statue of St Bridget at Vadstena,
the original mother house of the Bridgettine
Image: american-pictures.com/genealogy/descent/photos/Holy.Birgitta-x.jpg

However in England her most enduring legacy is Syon Abbey. This was initially founded by King Henry V in 1415, and definitely established in 1420 at Isleworth in Middlesex. it rapidly became a centre for disseminating devotion and enjoyed a great reputation for its spirituality. One of thefirst victims of King Henry VIII was the confessor of the house, St Richard Reynolds (1492-1535).

The Angel of Syon

A modern representation of St Richard Reynolds

The monastery was suppressed by King Henry VIII, but the nuns remined together in the households of some of their families, returned to Syon under Queen Mary I, were again disperesed under Queen Elizabeth I, and travelled with the Spanish ambassador to take refuge in the Spanish territories in the Low Countries. Their original home is now partially covered by Syon House, where excavations have revealed the extent of the great church.

Taken under the protection of King Philip II they were forced to flee from the Netherlandish revolt and took refuge in Rouen, until they felt compelled to flee again following the French Wars of Religion in the 1590s, taking refuge unstill under King Philip's protection in Lisbon. There they stayed, an English community in exile surviving the Portuguese war of independence of the 1640s, the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, Pombal's Enlightenment reforms, the Peninsula War, a split in the community when some of the nuns returned to England in the early nineteenth century but eventually dispersed, and a final return in the summer of 1861. Settling in Dorset they then moved to Chudleigh and finally to South Brent in Devon early in the twentieth century. They are the sole surviving monastic community from the English middle ages.

The Nuns of Syon Abbey in 1984

This is all recorded in Canon J.R. Fletcher's fascinating history. A website about the abbey and with pictures of the life of the nuns, still following the Rule of St Bridget, can be seen at Syon Abbey. It is one of four surviving houses of the original congregation.

A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting the grounds of the abbey in Devon and did indeed glimpse an elderly nun talking her morning stroll through the grounds.

However I now hear that the community is so small and elderly that they are leaving South Brent and, I think, going to live under the care of other nuns, although I have not seen reports in print or online, so I am not sure. In recent years some of their treasures, including a pinnacle from the original gateway of the abbey, which they have carried with them in all their travels, have been deposited in other hands for safekeeping.

The pinnacle from the fifteenth century gateway of Syon Abbey

I understand that this St Bridget's day was being observed for the last time at South Brent. If I can find out more I will post about it.

To me it is tragic, heart-rending, that a community which had survived so much, and approaching its sixth centenary, is on the brink of extinction. The failure, for whatever reason, to recruit new generations to such a foundation is desperately sad. Syon has been a precious link which now hangs by the slightest thread.

Celebrating St Mary Magdalen

On Friday I travelled down to Brighton for an overnight visit having been invited to the patronal feast of St Mary Magdalen parish and which was celebrated in the evening with a usus antiquior Missa Cantata.

The church from the northwest, with the parish hall in the foreground and the presbytery beyond

Image from Wikipedia

This was quite a festival of bloggers with Fr Ray Blake as celebrant, The Noise of the Crusade as MC and That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill as thurifer. Following the Mass we were able to venerate the relic of St Mary Magdalen which had been on display in front of her splendidly attired statue.

The church is a fine building by the architect Gilbert Blount and it was a delight to see how the restoration of the interior of the church is progressing. Since I was there almost a year ago there has been the installation of the new lighting (featured a while back on Fr Ray's blog) and the great progress made in stripping the battleship grey paint off the limestone of the interior details and the walls, revealing the remains of the original scheme. There has also been the cleaning of the panels of the ceilings of the sanctuary and the Lady Chapel.


The interior of the church before the present programme of restoration commenced.

Image: seadipper's photostream on Flickr

Although there is still a lot of the grey paint to be removed the sense of a huge improvement was strong, and I look forward to seeinging further progress on future visits.

Following the Mass there was a drinks reception in the presbytery, after which some of us went off for a meal before returning for what was in effect a dessert in the presbytery kitchen. The atmosphere was lively and convivial, mixing serious discussion with banter and humour.

This is a parish with a real concern for the beauty of holiness, with active social concern - notably its 365 day a year soup run to the homeless - and a genuinely friendly and welcoming approach.

Monday 18 July 2011

Emperor Pedro II of Brazil

Today is the 170th anniversary of the coronation of the fifteen year old Emperor Pedro II of Brazil on 18 July 1841, and the first use of the new Imperial crown made for the new ruler.

Wikipedia has a lengthy illustrated biography of the Emperor as well as an assessment of his legacy and an article about the history of the Empire of Brazil from 1822 to 1889.

The downfall of the Brazilian monarchy and the Emperor Pedro's exile and death in Europe was the result of a military coup by a minority, who favoured a military dictatorship rather than a constitutional monarchy, supported by some of the rich coffee growers who resented the monarchy's successful final abolition of slavery a few years previously. Popular sympathy was with the Emperor, but the other contributory factor to the end of his rule was his own sense of ennui, and a fatalistic lack of belief in the future of the monarchy. As a result he put up no resistance and went off two days later into exile.

Monarchist support did contionue and a century later the monarchy still had significant support in areferendum to, in effect, confirm the establishment of the republic. There is more about the Emperors and the house of Braganza-Orleans on this website about the Brazilian Monarchy.

File:Manuel de Araújo Porto-alegre - estudo para a sagração de Dom Pedro II - c. 1840.jpg

The coronation of Emperor Pedro II in 1841

The coronation of the two reigning Brazilian Emperors is of interest in that the monarchy whence it derived, that of Portugal, had abandoned the rite in the seventeenth century with King Joao IV, but it became an integral part of the Brazilian constitutional dispensation, with the Emperor wearing the crown and robes of stae at the opening and closing of the parliamentary session.

There are details about the crown and other regalia here.

Emperor Pedro II, wearing several elements of the regalia, and crowned with the Imperial Crown of Brazil, here portrayed arriving to deliver the Speech from the Throne in the opening of the annual session of the Brazilian Imperial Parliament (General Assembly) in 1872. Painting by Pedro Américo.

As the online biography shows the Emperor was an enlightened ruler, anxious to promote the development of his country, and keenly interested in the scientific and technical developments of his age. This brought him during his incognito visit to Europe in 1871 to visit the sinking of a new colliery a few miles from my home town. As a result it was named in his honour the Dom Pedro with the result that for the next century or so the Emperor of Brazil was commemorated by a coal mine on the outskirts of the small town of Normanton, between Pontefract and Wakefield.

That however is not the limit to my interest in this remarkable ruler, who deserves better recognition, both for what he achieved and for what his empire might have achieved had it not been overthrown.

Spain 1936

Today is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War with the army rising against the second republic.

There is a very good article on Rorate Coeli The Passion of Spain -75 years which I recommend.

Civil wars are terrible things, and the Spanish war of 1936-9 particularly dreadful. Nonetheless the fact that it occured reflects the tensions within Spain at the time. What took place was a battle not merely for power - Spanish nineteenth century history is strewn with such episodes - but of two wholly opposed world views. The horrific violence unleashed against the Church and any imagined supporters of the traditional Spain in the wake of the army's move illustrates what they were acting against - for many on the left this was the opportunity to create a new world order, with Spain as the laboratory. After five years of radical change and turmoil the Nationalists may have finally precipitated the conflict, but the actions in the name of the republic which ensued were post factum validation for the actions of the army and its supporters

My sympathies have always been entirely with the Nationalists - my ideas were formed as a schoolboy reading Luis Bolin Spain:The Vital Years (Bolin arranged the aircraft to fly General Franco from the Canaries to Spanish Morrocco) and C.E.Lucas Phillips The Spanish Pimpernel. I have never had sympathy for the International Left and the "poor little rich kids" like John Cornford and Esmond Romilly (and his girlfriend Jessica Mitford) who decided to visit left-wing revolution in its nastiest form on Catholic, traditional Spain. I once tried to read some of Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, and was bemused to find that the hated "right wingers" were the official Communists...

Speaking of the regions of Spain it is interesting to reflect that the geographical division in the country during the war was essentially, though by no means exactly, that between Castille and Leon, on the Nationalist side, and republican control in Aragon, and the north-east. Similarly the Basque nationalism sponsored by the republic reflected ancient traditions of autonomy, and conflicted with the Catholic, and indeed Carlist, traditions of the north of the country. To understand the background to the conflict means stretching deep into the past of the country.

Paul Preston in his definitely left-leaning, but very readable, set of pen portraits of major players in the Civil War and the years that followed that comprises Blood of Spain discusses the existence of a "Third Spain" - raising the question as to whether the conflict was necessary? I suspect the answer lies in what happened in 1931 - the unexpected revolution which overthrew the monarchy and the traditional order in Spain led to a polarisation within an already essentially turbulent political order. By 1936 the alternatives were clear, the possibility of conciliation gone with the absence of an institution or institutions which could hold or bind the totality together. The events of 1931 were only resolved with the restoration of 1975.

Imperial funeral in Vienna

Last Saturday the funeral of Archduke Otto, the de jure Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary was held in Vienna.

© Sabine Brauer© Thomas Wilhelm Schwarzer, Friedberg in Hessen

Image from Habsburg Monarchy.

There are a set of pictures here, and there is also a video of the funeral procession here.

As the friend who sent me the links wrote:"It all looked rather impressive. I'm glad that he has finally been afforded the dignity and respect he should have been afforded during his lifetime."

There is already along and detailed account of the funeral ceremonies on Wikipedia, which can be studied here. The account in The Daily Telegraph can be read here.

The Daily Mail
has a very handsomely illustrated online feature about the burial in Vienna and in Pannonhalma which can be viewed here, although unlike the author of the article, I would not be so sure that this is the end of the Habsburgs. They have shown themselves remarkably adaptable over many centuries - I am tempted to see them as the most successful family business in European history, as opposed to the dynasties that are tied by history to a particular territory, such as the British and Danish royal houses


The Imperial coffin in St Stephen's Cathedral


The procession from the Cathedral to the Capuchin church


The request for admission at the Capuchin church

Images from Yahoo.news

On Sunday after aservice in Budapest his heart was interred at the Archabbey at Pannonhalma in Hungary. There are two reports with pictures about that ceremony here and here.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Greyfriars Mass

Thanks to Joe Shaw I can now provide a link to photographs of the usus antiquior Mass at Greyfriars last Monday. Here is one of his photographs:


The whole set of 29 can be viewed here.They convey something of the dignified setting as well as the dignified worship offered. The preacher was Fr Mark Elvins OFM Cap., the Guardian of Greyfriars.

I am sufficiently vainglorious to include this image of my censing of the Deacon, Br. Nicholas Edmonds-Smith, of the Oxford Oratory:


Friday 15 July 2011

Pontefract Friary

In two previous posts, St Richard of Chichester in April and St Richard of Chichester in June I referred to the Dominican friary in my home town of Pontefract as being the only medieval church dedicated to St Richard, having been founded by one of his former tutees, Edmund Earl of Lincoln, in 1256.

St Richard of Chichester,
Fourteenth century glass in the choir of Wells Cathedral

Image: therosewindow.com

The site is now largely covered by Pontefract General Infirmary. There were excavations in 1963, in which I took part, before a major extension was built. This revealed a considerable amount of information about the building sequence and gave an indication of the plan. In 1989 more building work revealed something more of the foundations.

New developments on the site mean that the hospital trust and their contractors are planning to level the 1960s infirmary buildings. These cover remains of St Richard's friary which it is believed probably still include standing walling and burials, as well as stratified deposits.
The current timetable involves creating a car park on the 1960s site. Normally this would be encouraged as tarmacking would preserve the remains for the future. However, the plan was to bulldoze to one metre below ground-level and destroy any existing terracing, which probably protects the foundations in places.

Pontefract and DistrictArchaelogical Society and Pontefract Civic Society sponsored the Pontefract Friary Action Group, and gained support not only from archaelogists and academics, but also from the Provincial of the Dominicans and from the Anglican Bishop and Vicar of Pontefract.

As a result of a public meeting held last Tuesday, the petition, and constant lobbying, members of PFAG were invited to a meeting of the local National Health Hospitals Trust, and it was agreed that there will now be no further penetration of the archaeological levels, and the priory site will be buried to protect it in future.

Further excavations are to start on July 26th and continue through August and September on what has been identified as the monastic and post monastic cemetary - there were some burials here during the Civil War.

This is very good news, particularly as Pontefract has not in recent centuries been very good at preserving its historic buildings. I hope to make my contribution towards the historical evaluation of the friary.

One of the intersting features about the friary was its role as a popular place for burial, not only of the founder and his widow but later generations of local people and also, in December 1460, of four victims of the battle of Wakefield. Their heads were exposed over Micklegate Bar in York until they were removed and buried with the bodies at Pontefract by the victorious Yorkists after the battle of Towton in March 1461. In 1463 the bodies of the Earl of Salisbury and his son Sir Thomas Neville were removed to Bisham abbey in Berkshire, and in 1476 the remains of Richard Duke of York and Edmund Earl of Rutland were removed in state to Fotheringhay by King Edward IV. However according to a list of burials in the friary dating from just before the dissolution and drawn up by a herald, the hearts of the four men remained buried in the church.

Medieval Stained Glass featuring Richard, Duke of York - © Nash Ford Publishing

Richard Duke of York 1411-60
Glass from Cirencester Parish church

Image: Nashford publishing

So it is just possible that excavations might yield these remains encased, presumably in lead, like that of King Robert I of Scots. In any case the fact that the site has been safeguarded is very good news, and the prospect of learning more about the friary opens up many possibilities. Those who organised the campaign are to be congratulated on having achieved so much.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

St Wilfrid's Cantley

The New Liturgical Movement has a post about Sir Ninian Comper and St Wilfrid's, Cantley, South Yorkshire, which is well worth looking at.

This exquisite church interior by Comper is his recreation of what he considered a late medieval English parish church might have looked like. The result may, conceivably, be more finely done than the originals were, but it is a delight.

I have only visited the church once, although it is in my home area, being just on the southern outskirts of Doncaster. In recent years an extension has been made, successfully in my opinion, to the small medieval building to create, in effect, a second, modern church reusing nineteenth century furnishings from an aisle added then to what was originally a simple medieval structure of chancel, nave and tower.

The adjacent country house, Cantley Hall, was owned by the Childers family, one of whom, Hugh Culling Eardley Childers was MP for Pontefract 1860-71 and 1872-85, serving as First Lord of the Admiralty, Home Secretary and later Chancellor of the Exchequer in the governments of Gladstone and Rosebery, and he is depicted in stained glass in the church as St Hugh of Lincoln.

His re-election in 1872 for the Pontefract seat was, incidentally, the first Parliamentary election by secret ballot.

Comper's interior at Cantley is an outstanding example of his work - probably his most complete restoration of a medieval church - and also an outstanding example of Anglican artistic patrimony.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Fr Elliott's First Mass

From the New Liturgical Movement's The Ordinariate Comes to St. Birinius, Dorchester-on-Thames here are pictures of Fr David Elliott's first Mass on Corpus Christi Sunday, about whigh I posted in A quiet weekend of piety.

Photos © Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Usus Antiquior at Greyfriars

Last night I was at Greyfriars in Oxford for a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form.


The church from Iffley Road

Isisbridge photostream on Flickr

This was celebrated as part of the events to mark the centenary of the church, which was built in 1910-11 and blessed on July 15th 1911, with first Mass being celebrated there the following day. Built originally to replace the old mission church of St Ignatius by the Jesuits the church and parish was transferred to the Franciscans in 1928. This year also appears to be the four hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the Jesuit mission at Waterperry House in the southern part of the parish in 1611, from which the Oxford Catholic parish developed.

The interior of the church

Image from the Greyfriars website

The church is a handsome building in a romanesque style and has had considerable redecoration to mark the centenary, and great efforts had been made to enhance the church with flowers for the occasion. Those of us who had gone to help were made very welcome by the friars and the parish community.

The parish priest, Fr Ambrose, had been anxious to have a Mass celebrated as it would have been in 1911, and so last night there was a votive in the usus antiquior of St Edmund of Abingdon, who, together with St Frideswide, is the patron of the church. The celebrant was Fr Aldo Tapparo, parish priest of St Anthony of Padua in Headington. Music was provided by members of the Schola Abelis - one of whom remarked on seeing those of us who were assisting that the 'Traddy rentamob' were very much in evidence.

I was thurifer, as I was on the previous occasion this year in May when the usus antiquior was celebrated at the church, which I posted about in Pious exercises. Well, as I have been known to say, once a boy has a little black dress he can serve anywhere. One of the community was taking photographs of the Mass and I hope that, if I can find them, I can post some online.

Following the Mass there was a reception in the parish hall and a chance to meet up with old freinds both from Greyfriars and from the 'Traddy rentamob.'

Monday 11 July 2011

New Mass Translation

Last Saturday evening I attended the Oxford Ordinariate Group Mass at Holy Rood and it was my first opportunity to experience the new translation of the Roman Missal, the use of which has already been accorded to the Ordinariate.

New Roman Missal 2011

Image from the Catholic Truth Society

I was fully prepared for changes such as "And with your spirit" replacing ( at long last) the dreadful "And also with you", but had not realised how different the new, and much more accurate, translation of the Roman Canon would sound. I am very happy that we shall have this new and more accurate translation, but do forsee that it will require the autumn to accustom many people to the new wording

Last Friday Fr Blake drew his readers' attention to a post by Father Simon Henry on how the CTS have, in his word, misrepresented the rubrics of the Mass in their material for the new translations in so far as they describle current practice rather than what the missala ctually says in the Latin original.

Both in getting congregations used to more elevated language and by fidelity to the rubrics that intriguing thing known as Anglican patrimony may well be able to assist all Catholics in the country.

Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Around St Pauls

Whilst on my visit to St Pauls for the Ordination I had an incidental opportunity to do some sight-seeing by dint of walking around a small portion of this historic part of London.

Emerging from the tube at St Paul's one is almost immediately confronted by the memorial rected in 1910 on the site of St Paul's Cross, the celebrated public pulpit of London from the later medieval period down to its destruction in the Civil War. There are articles about it here and here. This is a place of particular interest to me both because of an incident involving Robert Waterton the brother-in-law of Bishop Fleming in the reign of King Henry IV when Waterton's servant mocked a preacher at the Cross, an action for which he was made to do penance, and also the great sermon preached there by Bishop Gardiner following the reconciliation of England and the Papacy in 1554 - reading that helped me in my path to my own reconciliation four and a half centuries later.

Across the road were the ruins of a Wren church, still with its tower, which was obviously a victim of the Blitz. Only on checking afterwards did I find that these were the remains of Christ Church Newgate Street, built out of and over the site of the great church of the London Greyfriars. It is the burial place of, amongst others, those medieval members of the French royal house who married into the Plantagenets, Queen Margaret, the second wife of King Edward I and of Queen Isabella the King Edward II. There is a history with links here.

A reconstruction of the London Greyfriars on the eve of the reformation by H.W.Brewer


The remains of Christ Church Newgate Street

Image: Peter Herring's photostream on Flickr

Regular readers will not be surprised to read that I deplore the failure to properly rebuild these parts of our architectural heritage following the Blitz. On the continent the policy seems much more, and however long it may have taken or indeed still be taking, to rebuild and reinstate. Admittedly London has been responsible since 1860 for destroying quite a number of its historic churches without the assisatance of the Luftwaffe or the IRA, as can be seen in this article with its links.

Round in St Paul's Churchyard was a much better piece of conservation, the re-erected Temple Bar. Designed by Wren, removed from the Strand in the 1870s and rebuilt at Theobalds Park in Hertfordshire it was, after years of neglect, rebuilt and restored as the entrance to Paternoster Row facing the north side of St Paul's in November 2004. There are articles about it here and here.

Temple Bar in its new setting

Image: Wikipedia

The restored Bar looks very splendid and it is good to see it back in the City of London, though part of me at least would havewanted to see it restored to its original site , though that would have meant removing the Temple Bar monument by the Law Courts, never mind the effect on the traffic flow...

After the ordination in the cathedral we journeyed to celebrate with our friend at El Vino's branch in Blackfriars (his father is a journalist) and so once again one was surrounded by history. It was, of course, at Blackfriars that Wolsey held his legatine court to determine the validity of the marriage of Kng Henry VIII and Queen Katherine of Aragon in 1529. It is also of interest as an area to me as it appears that it was in this part of London that Master James of Spain, the cousin of King Edward II who gave the house called La Oriole, and hence its name, to my college, lived out his last years in the late 1320s and early 1330s. I could add a lot about James of Spain, but that can await another day.

Aftera most enjoyable reunion with friends from Oriel and elsewhere in Oxford I went off with a friend up towards Holborn, and into the vicinity of that wonderful building from the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries St Etheldreda's Ely Place - for which see here, here and here - and Charterhouse - the latter with connections to Bishop Fleming, who dedicated its church bell in the 1420s.

Passing the restored market at Smithfield, and evoking memories of the end of the 1381 Peasant's Revolt with the slaying of Wat Tyler by Sir William Walworth and the executions there in the sixteenth century, we had a very good Indian meal before walking back past the entrance to St Barts and found ourselves opposite the Old Bailey and looking in the dusk at the outside of
St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, which is still substantially medieval.

St Sepulchre without Newgate, Holborn Viaduct, London EC1

St Sepulchre without Newgate

Image: Geograph.org.uk

In the churchyard was an information board about the grim and grisly story of the Black Dog of Newgate, which can be read here and here.

Seeking the right tube station we returned to the west end of St Paul's, and walked along the south side, passing the tower, all that now remains of St Augustine Watling Street - another failure to rebuild other than incorporating the tower into the new building of St Paul's Choir School- before getting the tube westwards to Victoria and going our separate ways.

The tower of St Augustine's Watling Street

Image: Wikipedia

The actual distance travelled was slight but it took in a huge amount of historical interest. I definitely want to go back and explore more of the City of London, which I have to admit, is something I have hitherto failed to do.

Anglican diaconal Ordination at St Pauls

Last Saturday I went to the Anglican diaconal ordinations for the diocese of London in St Pauls. Along with a considerable number of his friends I had gone to support a fellow Orielensis who has just completed his training at Cuddesdon, and has a first assistant curacy in north-west London. I may well have left my Anglican years behind me but I would still wish a friend well in their chosen path, and indeed prays for that path to lead eventually to Rome.

Image of news article

The Bishop of London and his area and assistant bishops and the new deacons
on the steps of St Pauls.

Image: Diocese of London website

As I have said before on this blog I find St Paul's a cold and not very appealing building, whilst recognising its place in our national history and conciousness, but it is not, alas, old St Paul's. What I saw of the cathedral did nothing really to change my view, though I did manage a glance or two at the Chapel of the Order of St Michael and St George, which I had not seen before.

Looking at the procession of the Bishop of London his area and assistant bishops into the cathedral I could not help but reflect that two of those bishops at least really ought to be in the Ordinariate, whilst another, Willesdon, in the wake of his daft and disloyal comments about the royal engagement last year should not merely have been suspended temporarily, but packed off to early retirement or the modern equivalent of durance vile in a colonial bishopric somewhere.

The other thing that struck me was the presence of so many lady clergy persons even in the heart of the diocese of London. The issues around female ordination played a significant part in dissolving the glue that held my, and many other Anglo-Catholics, Anglicanism together. Once that happened the path to Rome opened up. So I suppose I should be grateful for what happened, but I still find the sight of women clergy shocking, and, sometimes, risible. One of the new Anglican lady deacons was cheerfully sporting dangly earrings as she processed in and out, whilst the most nauseous sight was on the tube going to St Pauls. There a young lady clergy person in short skirt and clerical shirt and collar was to be seen applying eye-shadow and makeup as she journeyed to one of her friends ordination. Thirty years ago such a sight would have been a comedy sketch on television - now it is reality.

Thought for the day

The other day a friend sent me a post card produced by the Historical Association with a quotation from Elbert Hubbard:

History: gossip well told

So much for all those classes modern undergraduates are taught on historiography...

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Oxford Martyrs of 1589

Today being their feast day it seems reasonable and appropriate to link to my two posts from this time last year about the four Oxford Catholic Martyrs of 1589 and the memorial to them. The posts are Oxford Martyrs of 1589 and Oxford Martyrs memorial.

Otto of Austria 1912-2011

The death yesterday of Otto of Austria at the age of 98 is the breaking of a precious living link to the past.

Otto of Austria in 2004

He was, of course, the rightful Emperor Otto I of Austria and King Otto II of Hungary, and indeed, the de jure Holy Roman Emperor Otto V.

The obituary from the Daily Telegraph can be read here, and the Wikipedia biography is here.

The Mad Monarchist has three posts about him: Archduke Otto von Hapsburg 1912-2011, Archduke Otto, RIP and The Passing of an Archduke.

I once had the privilege of hearing Otto of Austria speak at a lecture he gave in Oxford in 1994. Sitting in the Gladstone Room of the Oxford Union I listened to this elderly distingushed looking man talking about pan-Europeanism and a vision for Europe and reflecting to myself, indeed almost pinching myself to believe the fact, that this was the very same man who, as a little boy clutching his parents hands, had attended the funeral of his great great uncle the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1916:


The Crown Prince Otto at the funeral of the Emperor Franz Joseph in November 1916.

The unnamed figure on the left is the Crown Prince of Sweden, later King Gustav VI Adolf who died in 1973.

Image: Emperor Charles League of Prayer

As someone pointed out to me last night he was also the great great nephew of the Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico.

The obituaries bring out just how many of the major events of twentieth century history impacted upon his life. He lived long enough to see not only the freeing of his peoples from communist rule but to witness the beatification of his father in 2004.

In passing I would add that as one thinks about his life let no one fool you that the peoples of Austria-Hungary have been better off since 1918 without the benefits of Imperial rule. They have n't.

May he rest in peace.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Otto of Austria and also for the Imperial family

Saturday 2 July 2011

Books on St Margaret Clitherow

Amongst the books I am currently reading is Saint Margaret Clitherow by Katharine Longley, which was published in 1986, and is a readable and well researched account of the life of the York housewife who was martyred in 1586. It brings out her remarkable qualities as a devout woman, and also gives an insight into just what was possible for an urban wife to do and how she lived in the period. I wrote about St Margaret in April in my post Recusant women. Coming as I do from quite close to York I have always known the story of St Margaret, and the more I know about her the more interesting she proves to be.

A modern statue of St Margaret Clitherow

Image: Our Lady's catechists

Today I saw on Stephanie Mann's Supremacy and Survival blog a review of a new book by Peter Lake and Michael Questier on St Margaret which sets her in the context of the issues facing recusants in the later sixteenth century. Her post can be read at Book Review: The Trials of Margaret Clitherow. From the post this would appear to be an intersting contribution to our understanding of the world of Elizabethan recusancy.

Friday 1 July 2011

The Mass and Priesthood

Today being the feast of the Sacred Heart when we are encouraged to pray for the sanctification of our priests appears to be a good day to draw attention to the Pope's reflections on priesthood which he gave in his homily on the feast of SS Peter and Paul, when he was also celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of his own priesting. In offering congratulations and good wishes to him as well as pryaers of thanksgiving it is perfectly reasonable to say that he embodies that fidelity to the priesthood and the church that is the ideal all clergy should strive towards. His homily can be read, thanks to Zenit, here.

The Holy Father is not the only church leader to be publically reflecting on priesthood and its liturgical responsibilities. Fr Blake has drawn attention to a recent sermon by the Archbishop of Westminster, also published on Zenit, and with other links it can be read at Vin Nichols on the Priest at Mass. The Archbishop appears to be using the possibilities opened up by the new English translation of the Missal as a means of encouraging good practice.