Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you John, it was good to see you again.
Fr Ray Blake