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, 9 October 2011

Walking with Newman to Littlemore

As has been my wont since I was received into the "one true fold ofthe Redeemer" I took part in the annual night walk to Littlemore last Saturday evening to commemorate the reception of Bl. John Henry Newman into the Church there in 1845.

Portrait of John Henry Newman
I knew in advance that once more I was to be vested in a flourescent yellow jacket as a front or back marker for the procession, but I was surprised, and flattered, to be met at the door of the oratory church with a request from Br. Oliver, the new member of the community who was leading the procession, that I should be the voice of Newman in the readings at the various stations we mark on the walk. As a convert and an Orielensis this was perhapsd appropriate, but it was an honour I appreciated.

Tracing not only Bl. Dominic Barberi's route from Oxford to Littlemore on the evening of October 8th 1845 but also Newman's life from Trinity to Oriel, the churches of St Mary the Virgin and St Clement, his ideas about Catholic education within the University, and the houses he and his mother and sisters occupied at Rose Hill we arrived at Littlemore for reflections on his decision in October 1845.

In the church of Bl.Dominic Barberi at Littlemore, which might be described as an interesting example of the period which built it (the 1960s) , and might indeed be described in less charitable terms, we had a Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction. For this I exchanged, thankfully, my yellow jacket for a cassock and cotta so as to act as thurifer before we proceeded to the College, and after the final prayers and blessing we were able to venerate the relic of Bl. John Henry in the restored chapel where he and his companions were received.

This walking pilgrimage is always an enjoyable and spiritual event, and if you are ever in Oxford on the night of October 8th I would encourage you to follow in Newman's footsteps to Littlemore, and who knows where else the kindly light may lead.

Image: Oriel College website by kind permission of the Warden and Fellows of Keble College

No comments: