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 29 August 2011

The Decollation of St John the Baptist

As someone with a particular interest in the later middle ages I appreciate very much the northern gothic style of the paintings of the period. Here is a fine example in Rogier van der Weyden's depiction of the Decollation of St John. It is part of his St John Altarpiece of c.1455-1460 which is now in the Staatliche Museum in Berlin. I am always drawn to the attention to contemporary detail and the refined disdain of the figures in the paintings of the era.


There is a larger version available here, which reveals more of the details in the scene. The whole panel can be viewed here and the whole altarpiece with its three panels can be seen here (the views are greatly expandable).

As a priest-friend once commented to me it is noteworthy that devotion to a saint who was so widely venerated as was St John in the later middle ages - think of the number of surviving depictions and church dedications - but which as a cult has virtually entirely disappeared today, other than as a patronal feast in particular churches.

Relics of St John the Baptist

Today is the feast of the Decollation of St John the Baptist and thanks to John Dillon's posting today on the Medieval religion discussion group I can share some images and details of relics believed to be those of St John.

What is reputed to be the head of St John has been kept as a relic in Amiens cathedral since the early thirteenth century:


The head of St John at Amiens.
The reliquary is an 1876 reconstruction of that presented by King Charles VI in 1385.

Image: Ackteon's photostream on Flickr

There is more information in French about the relic here.

The pilgrimage of King Louis X and Queen Clemence to this relic in Amiens is described in Maurice Druons's wonderful Les Rois Maudits, and dramatised in the classic television version of the early 1970s - one of the best, if not the best, television historical dramas, and which really gave a feeling of medieval life, but I will write more about that on another occasion. That particular royal pilgrimage resulted in the birth and very brief life and reign of King John I in 1316.

The reputed right arm of St John, now preserved in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul:

Relic of the right arm of Saint John the Baptist

There is more about the history of the relic here.

The reputed right hand of St John, now in the Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos:

There is more about the history of the relic here in an article from the Mystagogy blog, where its author John Sanidpopoulos discusses the various hand relics of St John.

The reputed finger bones of St John, said to be those donated by the pious woman Tigris in the later sixth century (cf. St. Gregory of Tours, In gloria martyrum, 13) and kept as relics in the cathedral of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne (Savoie):


Wednesday 24 August 2011

Frankfurt Kaiserdom

Today being the feast of St Bartholomew my mind, being what it is, turns to thoughts about churches dedicated to him. One that comes into the mind's eye, although I have not visited it, is the Kaiserdom in Frankfurt - often referred to as a cathedral, although it has never been the seat of a bishop.

The Kaiserdom in Frankfurt

Image: www.capturedplan.com

As with several other apostles there have been many disputes as to which church holds their authentic relics, and the former papal enclave of Benevento has claimed to hold them for centuries. However Imperial veneration of St Bartholomew also manifested itself north of the Alps, where a chapel dedicated to him was erected in 1017 in the residence at Paderborn and adjacent to the cathedral.

Frankfurt has claimed to have his skin since 1238 - remember the predominant western tradition thatBatholomew was flayed. In 1239 construction began of the present church, dedicated to him and associated with the the imperial residence at Frankfurt am Main. Popularly known as the Kaiserdom ('Dom' in the sense of 'large, impressive church'), it was not completed until the early fifteenth century.

In its present form, including the pinnacles and spirelet on the tower, it is a result of a major restoration following a fire in 1867.


A detail of the upper stages of the tower

There is a multi-page site on the church here , and a brief history can be read here. There are floor plans of the church here and here.

The high altar has a fine Gothic retable from the second half of the fifteenthth century, which depicts the life of Christ, and was originally created for the Katharinenkirche in Salzwedel.
The splendid Maria Schlaf Altar, situated in the Lady Chapel, is the only altar which originally graced the Kaiserdom. It was created in 1434 and shows the dying Virgin Mary surrounded by the apostles. The choir stalls, from 1352, are also noteworthy.

Maria Schlaff Altar

The Maria Schlaff altar.


From the issue of the Golden Bull by the Emperor Charles IV in 1356 it was the site of the election of the Holy Roman Emperors, and in the Wahlkapelle (Election Chapel) the seven Electors (nine from the seventeenth century) gathered here to elect a new Emperor. 16 out of the total 23 German emperors were elected in this small vaulted room on the south side of the church.

Election Chapel

The Wahlkappelle.


The procedure was for the Archbishop of Mainz as senior Elector to be seated in the chapel, for the remaining electors to go in individually and state their choice to him before the Archbishop himself voted and announced the result. If he was present the successful candidate was then enthroned on the altar - that is, I assume, derived from the Offertory at Mass.


The Golden Bull of 1356.

Image: www.hotelpraguecity.com

From 1564 the Holy Roman Emperors were crowned in this church in Frankfurt, as were their heirs, the Kings of the Romans until the last coronation in 1792. In front of the choir a white modern altar, installed in 1994, marks the site where the newly elected Emperors were crowned. There is an article, with illustrations, about the Coronations in the same series as those on the Kaiserdom here.


The Coronation of Emperor Leopold I on August 1 1658.
Top left the proclamation, top right the coronation,
and below the procession to the banquest after the ceremony.

Image: germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org


The coronation of Joseph II as King of the Romans April 3 1764.
A painting by Martin II Mytens or Meytens in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.



A detail from the painting of the coronation in 1764.

Image: english-habsburger.net


A medal commemorating the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II in 1792 - the last such coronation.
Considering what had happened in France on July 14 just three years earlier this was perhaps not a very auspicious date.


The Holy Roman Emperor Francis II died as EmperorFrancis I of Austria in 1835. In his last years he was much loved by his grandson, the young Archduke Francis, born in 1830 and who became the Emperor Francis Joseph in 1848. In his last years he was photographed with his great great nephew Archduke Otto, who died earlier this year - a remarkable link across the centuries.

White Horse country

Last Thursday I travelled out to west Berkshire* into the Vale of the White Horse for lunch with two newly-made friends - I had the privilege of being their sponsor at their reception into the Ordinariate in Holy Week.

Despite pouring rain the journey by bus was pleasant, passing through an area I did not know and still lush with late summer greenery. The area has a sense of a less hurried and more traditional rural way of life, and a Betjemanesque sense of discovering architecture and antiquities hidden away down country lanes. Betjeman himself lived at Uffington and then Wantage. The Vale has a sense of slightly brooding mystery which comes, perhaps, from the presence of the White Horse.

The route took me through Faringdon which, from what I have read of it, appears to have an interesting church, which I must try to get to visit sometime. There is something about its history and architecture here.

All Saints' Church, Faringdon - © Nash Ford Publishing

Faringdon Church

Image: berkshirehistory.com

The church spire was destroyed during the Civil War when Faringdon House was beseiged. Inside the church are the remains of the tomb of Sir Henry Unton (1561-96) who was an Orielensis, and ambassador to France at the time of his death.

I was met by my friends in Shrivenham and we had a most enjoyable time talking over lunch and finding out who were mutual aquaintances and contacts.

The weather prevented us from walking round the village which has a fine mid-thirteenth century church, presumably very much the work of the Abbots of Abingdon who held it in the middle ages. The spire was blown down in 1740 and the present tower replaced it. There is more about the church here.

Uffington Church
Image: http://www.uffington.net/St_Mary

There is an Oriel connection here as well - Thomas Hughes the author of Tom Brown's Schooldays was baptised here, the grandson of the vicar, and went on to study at Oriel, writing his story around the figure of another Orielensis, Dr Arnold of Rugby. The school Hughes attended is very close to the church and to where I had lunched.

This is an area which I must return to explore more of its history.

* I do not extend diplomatic recognition to the new-fangled post 1974 counties, so here we are in Berkshire, not Oxfordshire.

Tuesday 23 August 2011


Almost a year ago I posted Men in mink about almuces. Since then I have been meaning to publish some further thoughts about the topic. Well, let's face it, it is the sort of thing that is never that far from my mind.

The almuces we were considering were those of secular canons - those of cathedrals and collegiate churches - rather than regular canons, such as the Premonstratenians, who as Br. Rupert O.Praem pointed out, have retained the use of white almuces.

Some medieval foundations specify in their foundation deeds or statutes the type of almuces to be worn by the canons. Some were of cloth rather than fur, as for example at the College of the Holy Trinity in my home town of Pontefract, which was founded in 1385. At Beverley Minster different groups within the community had different types of fur for their almuces so as to differentiate them.
The brass rubbings and incised slabs we were considering were from both England and the continent. English medieval almuces appear to have been more on the lines of a mozzetta, but unlike continental examples had two pendant lappets at the front - shown on many English brasses. The examples from the Empire and Poland appear to be longer, and did not have the lappets. Here is a photograpgh from Fribourg in Switzerland from c.1900:

In appearance it is virtually identical to one shown on a brass from Posznan of c.1390.

In France and Scotland the almuce appears to have been worn drawn up over the head of the wearer - wearing it like that in choir on a cold morning must have been rather like wrapping oneself in a duvet to keep warm.

English, German and Polish examples on monuments and in illuminations show it being worn as a close fitting shoulder cape. Here is a mid-fifteenth century English depiction of the almuce worn by an Augustinian canon under a cope:


St John of Bridlington
Mid-fifteenth century glass in the Beauchamp chantry Warwick

Photo: Gordon Plumb's photostream on Flickr

Here is another image of a secular priest from the same period who is also depiced in an almuce:


Robert Semer, Vicar of St Martin-le-Grand York, c.1442.
The cappa nigra is shown as blue rather than black for the sake of allowing light through. Also noteworthy is his "Old English surplice" with its scallopped edges.

From the St Martin window, given by Semer, and still in the church

Photo:Gordon Plumb's photostream in Flickr

By the later fifteenth century the almuce is sometimes shown being carried over the left forearm, as it still is by the Premonstratensians. Thus the figure of Provost Edward Bonkil on the Trinity panels from his collegiate church in Edinburgh from the years 1473-1482, and dated more closely to 1478-9, shows him carrying his almuce over his arm.

The Trinity Altarpiece

Photograph from the National Gallery of Scotland.
Provost Bonkil is in the second panel ftom the left

I found I had copied a posting from the New Liturgical Movement by Gregor Killmorgan from January 14th 2010 about almuces, and I am adding that to this post:

Yesterday I mentioned that the books of the great Joseph Braun SJ are available online. To give those of you unfamiliar with his work an idea, and since I recently came by some very good - and rare - pictures of the almuce being worn on my friend Leo's The Far Sight 2.0, which I use to illustrate this piece, I have translated the respective section from Braun's Handbuch der Paramentik [Manual of Paramentics], p. 204 f. The photographs of tomb slabs of the 16th century were taken by me in Halberstadt Cathedral.

The almuce (almucia, armutia) is not very commonly used today anymore. A part of choir dress, it identifies the wearer as a canon or prebendary. It is made of fur and is in principle a shoulder cape, but is only sporadically used as such any longer. Mostly it is today merely an insignia which either rests on the left arm or is placed on the desk of the choir stall.

The first news of the almuce we receive from the 12th Century. It was originally a headdress: it either had the shape of a cap reaching somewhat beyond the ears , or that of a hood extending below far down the back. Both types are mentioned and described in the statutes of Bayeux (ca. 1270). The hoodlike almuce was here a privilege of the canons of the upper row of choir stalls. It was made, whether cap or hood, sometimes of woolen stuff or silk, sometimes, and this was most common, of fur or lambskin; but in the latter case it was lined with stuff. Also, if made of fur or skin, it was popular to trim it with tassels at the hem, which were made from the tails of weasels and similar animals. The sculptures show plenty of evidence for this, especially in the later period.

Towards the end of the Middle Ages the almuce underwent, in terms of shape and character, a very significant change. The pictorial representations, but especially the numerous tomb figures of canonici from this period are very instructive in this regard [NLM note: see photographs of tomb slabs at Halberstadt Cathedral to the left]. The Almucia now takes the form of a collar, of a real shoulder cloak, which is either slit at the front, or completely closed in the manner of a bell-shaped [NLM note: the term used in German for conical chasubles] chasuble, and it often not merely covered the upper body, but even reached down beyond the waist. A hood was indeed still attached to it, but more as a decoration and as a reminder of the erstwhile purpose and character of the garment than for the sake of use as head covering. In this new form the almuce appears uncommonly becoming.

If the collar remained open in the front of, it ended in some places from the chest on in two long, wide, stole-like strips, which extended almost to the knees. The transformation of the almuce was no doubt occasioned by the circumstance that during choral Office, more and more the more convenient biretta came into use as head covering, and consequently, the almuce lost its practical significance.

The almuce was not originally an insignia of collegiate and cathedral canons. It was even worn by laypeople, and not merely by men, but also by women. In the late Middle Ages it must, however, have already possessed the character of an insignia, as can be inferred from the circumstance that it now regularly recurs in the tomb figures of canons, if the deceased is not shown in Mass vestments. With express words it is called by the Provincial Synod of Milan of the year 1579 an insigne Canonicorum. The odd-sounding name almuce has as yet not found a completely satisfactory explanation.

An almuce of the closed variety is also worn by the canons of the Collegiate Chapter of Saints John Baptist and John Evangelist at Regenburg, Germany, of which Mgr. Georg Ratzinger, the brother of Pope Benedict XVI, is a member:

Monday 22 August 2011

Legal London

Last Wednesday I had a day in London with a summer school with whom I have been doing some work. As they were international lawyers the day was built around a series of visits to the legal world of London, although we included a visit for them to be photographed outside Buckingham Palace and the route took in Westminster and Whitehall so as to give a brief opportunity to explain and illustrate the workings of the British constitution.

Starting from Lincoln's Inn Fields we walked through Lincoln's Inn to the Royal Courts of Justice. I had not properly realised that these are open for visitors to look round, and it is a complex of buildings well worth visiting, both for the grandeur of G. E. Street's design and for its insights into the working of justice.
Royal Courts of Justice London interior
The Great Hall of the Royal Courts of Justice

Image: willswithoutpain

In the lunch break I went off and explored the Middle and Inner Temple, which I had not previously visited, although I had been to both Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn on other occasions. Each of the four Inns has its own character and all repay visiting. The Inner Temple suffered particularly badly in the Blitz, including the burning out of the Temple Church. This was restored but is currently undergoing a further restoration which meant that I could not go inside. Nevertheless it was possible to view the exterior.

The circular nave of the Temple Church

Image: Alan Mothersole on http://www.london-city-churches.org.uk/

The west doorway is a very handsome piece of Norman work, and invites one to pause and reflect on all that it has witnessed in the history of the site.

The west door of the Temple Church


Having rejoined the party and escorted them to the Law Society for a presentation I had time to explore further, walking up Chancery Lane to Holborn, past Gray's Inn and looking at the remains or sites of several of the Inns of Chancery, which originally provided accomodation for the clerks of Chancery - which was based where the former Public Record Office is in Chancery Lane -and then provided the initial education for future barristers before they joined one of the Inns of Court. I regret the disppearnce after their long history of these other Inns, several of which survived until the beginning of the twentieth century. On my stroll I noted the site of Furnival's Inn, looked again at the attractive surviving buildings of Staple Inn, and found in Fleet Street the entrance to Clifford's Inn.

I had a further exploration of the Inner and Middle Temple, walking out into Essex Street, the site of the Strand home of the Devereux Earls of Essex, and the adjacent site of Arundel House, walked round the exterior of St Clement Danes, noted the site of Clement's Inn and went back for a further look at Lincoln's Inn. The last of the Earls of Lincoln who gave their name to it died there in 1310 and was the last of the Lacy lords of Pontefract, so once more a connection to my home area.

As with my visit to the area around St Paul's in July the day was a reminder of just how much can be seen inn a small area of London, and the fact that even if properties have been rebuilt many times over there is a continuity with the past that is fascinating. The corporate memory, and of course one would expect that with lawyers, has sustained that, so that an afternoon's walk is a lecture or seminar in itself.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Confessions of a Convert

I recently read Robert Hugh Benson's Confessions of a Convert, which was published in book form in 1913, but based on some articles he wrote for an an American Catholic magazine a few years previously, and recounting the story of his reception as a convert in 1903.

Confessions of a Convert

It is easily read, with a fluent style and is not , in any case very long. Nevertheless it is very well worth reading, both as an account of Benson's own progress as son of a former Archbishop of Canterbury and as an exemplar of a conversion narrative.

In that respect it stands in many respects alongside Newman's Apologia and Knox's almost contemporary Spiritual Aeneid. What struck me was not only its balance and readbility as an account but its continuing appositeness. More than a century since the events he describes it retains an immediacy that describes a process not dissimilar to that which led to my own reception. Benson's career as a clergyman and monastic was entirely different from my own, but his description of how he had justified and expounded his position as an Anglo-Catholic was one I could recognise very clearly. Here was that delight in doing things in the "proper Catholic way" that I too had once shared in whilst outside the full communion of the Roman obedience.

I was also aware of how true his comments are about how, once one leaves that world, and however much one had appreciated its charms, that then the thought patterns which had one explained its claims rapidly become a thing of the past, irrecoverable to explain why one had remained so long.

I heartily recommend this book to those who have already made the journey, to those thinking of it, and to those cradle Catholics who wonder what holds Anglo-Catholics back. An ideal present for those being received into the Ordinariate.

Friday 19 August 2011

Pilgrims walking with Newman

This morning I had the enjoyable task of showing a group of pilgrims around Oxford. They are a group based in the diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Information on their history and on this year's walk is on their website.

The group started in 1975 when a couple of priests in Arundel & Brighton decided that it would be a good way to mark the tenth anniversary of the formation of the diocese by organising a walk to "beat the bounds" of its territorial area. The participants enjoyed the experience and an annual walk was born. They became Ecumenical in the early 1980's and have gone on from there.

This year their walk is one linking Westminster to Birmingham via Oxford and concentrating in particular on the life of Bl.John Henry Newman. I met them after the 10 am Mass at the Oxford Oratory and provided a tour of Trinity and Oriel colleges and some of the sites associated with Newman, the other members of the Oxford Movement and their friends and opponents.

They were a varied group of nationalities and ages, and were very interested in the various places I was able to show them. I wish them well for the next stage of the pilgrimage.

Cardinal Newman's funeral in 1890

Today is the anniversary of the funeral of Bl.John Henry Newman in 1890. I recently found these images of the occasion on Peter Jennings News and Blog for 10 Aug 2009.

01 web Cardinal Newmans Funeral 19 August 1890
Cardinal Newman's Funeral Mass in the old church at Edgbaston.
03 web Cardinal Newmans Funeral 19 August 1890
PJ WEB CARDINAL NEWMAN FUNERAL IN 1890 1024x959 Cardinal Newmans Funeral 19 August 1890
More than 15,000 people lined the streets as the funeral cortege of Cardinal Newman made its way from The Oratory Church in Edgbaston, to the graveyard at Rednal.

Thursday 18 August 2011

St Helen

Today is the feast day of St Helen, the mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great, and the rediscoverer of the Holy Cross. There is an online biography of her here.

Coin of Flavia Iulia Helena, mother of Constantine I.
Æ Follis (19mm, 3.45 gm). Treveri (Trier) mint. Struck 325–326 AD

Image: Wikipedia

As a patron saint she has a number of churches in my home area in Yorkshire, and they appear to be associations of cosiderable antiquity. Given that Constantine assumed the Imperial purple in York that is perhaps not that surprising. Later legend made Helen British by birth and her cult was extensive in the middle ages.


The modern statue of the Emperor Constantine outside York Minster

Image: www.work-unitedkingdom.co.uk

In Orthodox iconography she is often depicted with Constantine, the Holy Cross between them, and this appears to have typology similar to images of Christ and the Virgin Mary, with, it might appear, the transfer of attributes and poses between both pairings. I am sure someone has written extensively on this subject, though I have not seen such work myself.

File:Brosen icon constantine helena.jpg

A Bulgarian icon of Constantine and St Helen with the Holy Cross



Constantine the Great

Image: olelarsonsfolks.net

Tuesday 16 August 2011

St Stephen of Hungary

Today is the feast of St Stephen of Hungary, about whom I posted last year in St Stephen of Hungary and in The Holy Crown of Hungary.


The reliquary containing "The Holy Right", the hand of St Stephen

St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest

Image: Curious Expeditions photostream on Flickr

So talking of Hungary and Christendom leads, in the way these things do, to this rather curious story about the prospects for Anglicanism in the Apostolic Kingdom.

The Assumption in Brighton

Having celebrated the Assumption on its transferred date on Sunday I took myself off to see my friends at St Mary Magdalen Brighton for their Extraordinary Form celebration with a low Mass yesterday evening.

Difficulties on the way with transport, credit cards and hotels began to look like a diabolical assault, but I managed to attend the Mass, celebrated by Fr Blake, and ending with the singing of the Salve Regina before a candle bedecked Lady Chapel altar.

church interior

The Lady Chapel
Photo from St Mary Magdalen Brighton parish website

The reredos of the altar is in mid-fourteenth century style and was, I am given to understand, painted by a previous parish priest to create the impression of what was the medieval practice in such matters. Although some of his colour scheme is not perhaps that close to the middle ages - for example the Christ Child in salmon pink is perhaps a little unlikely for a medieval colour scheme - but it is a reminder of the lavish use of colour in the fourteenth century. The overall effect is nevertheless rather charming.

Mass was followed by celebratory drinks and several of us went off for an excellent Italian meal. So, despite the difficulties encountered en route, it proved to be a very enjoyable evening with friends and a genuine celebration of Our Lady's entrance into eternal bliss.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Devouring a Bishop

Yesterday afternoon with a group of friends I devoured, literally tore with my teeth, a Bishop in a parish hall.

Now lest any reader thinks that was some new militant initiative from either something of the "We Are Church" variety or an ultra-traditionalist move to reconfigure the Bishop's Conference I should perhaps explain that the Bishop was made of icing sugar, and decorated my birthday cake.

As I mentioned last week I recently attained the age of sixty and a group of friends very kindly, and generously, arranged a splendid birthday party on Saturday in the social centre at the Oxford Oratory. Amongst the comestibles was a birthday cake, which was decorated, thanks to the wonders of modern baking technology, with a sheet of icing sugar onto which was printed a copy of the painting of Bishop Richard Fleming. The original painting is one of a series done in the seventeenth century of Oxford college founders, and engraved for Ackerman in the early nineteenth century. i do not think it is based on a fifteenth-century original.

File:Archbishop Richard Fleming.jpg

The portrait of Bishop Richard Fleming

Image: Wikipedia

The idea was inspired and touching, and brought Richard Fleming to the party. However he did not remain - during the afternoon he was quite rapidly reduced to a head and shoulders, a head, and then just a mitre before he disappeared completely.

So now you know how to devour a bishop.

Friday 12 August 2011

Understanding Dignitatis Humanae

A post by Joe Shaw entitled Religious Liberty: a fresh approach pointed me to an important article by Prof. Thomas Pink, Professor of Philosophy at King's College London, on the interpretation of Vartican II's 1965 statement on Religious Liberty Dignitatis humanae which can be read on Rorate Caeli.

The background to the passing of the declaration can be read here. The question of whether there was a hermeneutic of rupture or continuity in this conciliar statement with what the Church had previously taught has been a vexed issue for many Traditionalists, and apparently still remains a sticking point in the discussions between the Holy See and SSPX. Prof. Pink appears to offer a way forward, and argues that Dignitatis Humanae should be read with a hermeneutic of continuity in the Church's teaching. Here is another article from 2009 by Peter Kwasniewski entitled Dignitatis Humanae which looks on first sight to be offering a similar analysis.

If this is so then it must devoutly be hoped that this can enable discussion to be carried forward on the full reconciliation of SSPX to the Holy See.

I do rather wonder, assuming Thomas Pink is right, why it has taken so long for people to see what he sees. Has there been a hermeneutic of blindness on this topic for far too long?

Thursday 11 August 2011

Death of Cardinal Newman 1890

Today is the 121st anniversary of the death at the Birmingham Oratory of Bl.John Henry Newman. I thought I would repost the pictures I published last year of his lying-in- state prior to his funeral on August 19th.


Cardinal Newman lying-in-State in the Oratory Church, Edgbaston, prior to his Funeral Mass on Tuesday 19 August 1890.

From Times Online October 1, 2008

A painting of the Cardinal lying-in-state

in the Oratory Church at Edgbaston

From Valle Adurni

Tomb of St Philip the Apostle

There have been reports recently of the discovery of the tomb of St Philip the Apostle at the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis in south-west Turkey.

There is a link to an article by Francesco d'Andria, the chief archaeologist on this project, in the journal Biblical Archaeology Review which can be read here. From this the scale of the Martyrium can be appreciated, and one can form some idea of what the whole complex was like.


The remains of the Martyrium of St Philip at Hierapolis

Image: travelpod.com


The recently identified tomb of St Philip

Image: geneveith.com

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Cluniac art at Berzé-la-Ville

Regular readers will know that one of my continuing interests is in the Cluniac tradition. Today I was pointed by a post on the Medieval Religion discussion group to some pieces about the Cluniac priory of Berzé-la-Ville, near to Cluny, and noted for its spectacular, well preserved Romanesque wall paintings. They were rediscovered under whitewash in 1887. They appear to have been the work of Abbot St. Hugh (d.1109).


The chapel at Berzé-la-Ville

Image: vdbann'sphotostream on Flickr

There is an article about the paintings and their artistic inspiration here, and to mark the fact that today is the feast of St Lawrence here is the painting of his martyrdom from Berzé:

Berzé gives us some idea of how the great church of Cluny and its daughter houses would have been decorated.