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 30 November 2011

Forthcoming Usus Antiquior Masses in Oxford

There will be Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the church of SS Gregory and Augustine, Woodstock Road, Oxford on the following occasions in the near future:

Wednesday 30th November, St Andrew, 6 p.m. (and, of course, every Wednesday at that time)

Thursday, 1st December, Martyrs of the University of Oxford, 12 noon.

Friday, 2nd December, First Friday, 6 p.m.

Thursday 8th December, The Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, 12 noon.

Tuesday 13th December, St Lucy, 6 p.m. This is Fr Saward's ordination anniversary.

Sunday 18th December Advent IV, Sung Mass, 12 noon.

Devotion to St Andrew in medieval England

Although St Andrew is most frequently associated in the British consciousness with Scotland he was certainly honoured and invoked in medieval England.

Two ancient cathedrals, Rochester and Wells, are under his patronage, as is the one time cathedral and later priory church at Hexham, and he is also a co-patron with St Peter and St Paul of what is now Peterborough cathedral. There are parish churches dedicated to him in London and Norwich, and the remains of others in Worcester and York.

In York Minster there is this fine early fourteenth century depiction in glass of his death:


The martyrdom of St Andrew
From the de Mauley window in the nave of York Minster

Image:Gordon Plumb on Flickr

Outside towns he is a not an especially common patron, but I would draw attention to the fine former collegiate church of St Andrew at Greystoke in Cumberland. Being rather off the beaten track it is, I suspect, as well known as it deserves to be. I visited the church many years ago whilst on holiday in Carlisle with relatives whom I cajoled to take me there. There are illustrated articles about the church here, here and here. The misericords in the church are illustrated here. The VCH Cumberland account of the college can be read here.

The east window of the church has some fine fifteenth century glass recounting the life of At Andrew after the ebvents recorded in the New Testament. Thanks to the Rev.Gordon Plumb's post on today's Medieval Religion discussion group I can post a link to his fine set of images illustrating the glass and the story of Andrew, including his journey to Wronden to rescue Matthew. It can be viewed here.


The east window of Greystoke Church.
The glass in the tracery is nineteenth century but that in the main lights fifteenth century York work

Image: Gordon Plumb on Flickr

Closer to my own home the church of St Andrew at Slaidburn, in Craven, was the first benefice held by Bishop Richard Fleming in 1403-4, being presented to it by Pontefract priory as patron. Only the tower survives from Fleming's time, the rest of the church being rebuilt later in the fifteenth century. There is a picture of the church as it is today here.

Just outside Pontefract is the church of St Andrew Ferry Fryston - often referred to as Ferrybridge church. This was moved from its original site in the marshes near the river Aire in 1952-3 to a new, drier, location. There is an illustrated article about it here.

Between Doncaster and Barnsley is the church of St Andrew at Bolton on Dearne. This is a church with very important Anglo-Saxon remains, and there is an illustrated article about it here. It is a church of which, on my church crawls, I became very fond - partly because of its traditional West Riding Anglo-Catholicism and also becuase it is little appreciated for its archaeological importance. A glance at later editions of Sir Nikolaus Pevsner's The West Riding reveals how he dismisses the church in a few lines in his first edition, and then had to add a lengthy piece in the appendix revisions explaining how its importance had been pointed out to him by H.M.Taylor - even experts can miss what actually stares one in the face.

St Andrew - patron of Scotland

Today is the feast of St Andrew the Apostle, and has been observed as such since the fourth century. Thinking about this led me to reflect on his emergence as the patron saint of Scotland, and the attendent iconography.

I have edited, adapted and in places extended the following paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on St Andrew - the whole article, and his links with other countries can be read here.

Eusebius quotes Origen as saying that Andrew preached along the Black Sea as far as the Volga, Kiev and Novgorod. In consequence he was to become a patron saint of the Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the see of Byzantium (Constantinople) in the year 38, installing Stachys as bishop. According to Hippolytus of Rome he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, written in the second century. This diocese was to develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.

By long established tradition Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras in Achaea on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours describe Andrew as being bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified. However a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), now commonly known as a "Saint Andrew's Cross" This is supposed to have been at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been (though of course, the privilege of choosing one's own method of execution is a rare privilege, indeed), and is similar to the story of St Peter being crucified upside down at his own request or insistance, and for the same reason. The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, does not seem to have been standardized before the later middle ages in the view of Judith Calvert in her article "The Iconography of the St Andrew Auckland Cross" in The Art Bulletin 66.4 ( December 1984, pp.543-555) p.545,n.12. She drew this as her conclusion after re-examining the materials studied by Louis Réau in his Iconographiede l'art chrétien III.1 (Paris 1958) p.79 and held that St Andrew's Cross appeared for the first time in the tenth century, but was not to become universal before the seventeenth century, and she was unable to find a sculptural representation of St Andrew on the saltire earlier than an early twelfth century architetural capital from Quercy. However I would comment that every eleventh century or later medieval depiction of St Andrew shows him with or on the saltire.

About the middle of the tenth century, St Andrew became the patron of Scotland.

Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought under supernatural guidance from Constantinople to the site which became St Andrews in Fife. Of the two oldest surviving manuscripts one is among those collected by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and bequeathed to King Louis XIV, and now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the other is in the Harleian MSS in the British Library. They state that the relics of Andrew were brought by one Regulus to the Pictish king Óengus mac Fergusa (729–761). The only historical Regulus (Riagail or Rule) - the name is preserved by the tower of the church of St Rule which adjoins the remains of the medieval cathedral in St Andrews - was an Irish monk expelled from Ireland with Saint Columba; his dates, however, are c.573 – 600.

There are good reasons for supposing that the relics which came to St Andrews were originally in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. 732), and founded a see, not, as according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews. Given that the church at Hexham had been founded by St Wilfrid, with his strong links to Rome, and more importantly that the church there was dedicated to St Andrew, this looks a tempting interpretation. The connection made with Regulus is, therefore, due in all probability to the desire to date the foundation of the church at St Andrews to an early a date as possible.

According to legend, in 832, King Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford in East Lothian. The legend states that whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would make Saint Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in terms of numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud formation as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly designated Saint Andrew as the patron of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the Scottish flag on the basis of this legend. However, as outlined above, there is evidence that St Andrew was venerated in Scotland before this date.

It has also been suggested that St Andrew's connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, of 663 when the Celtic church felt that St Columba had been "outranked" by St Peter and that Peter's brother would make a higher ranking patron. In 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath cited Scotland's conversion to Christianity by Andrew, "the first to be an Apostle".

The National Archives of Scotland website has an interesting, illustrated, piece about the use of the image of St Andrew as national patron and emblem: it can be viewed here.

St Andrew also appeared on pilgrim badges from the cathedral priory at St Andrews, examples of which have been found in excavations in the city.



There are some good pictures of the remains of what was once the largest cathedral in Scotland, and something of its history here and here. There is an introduction to the site, designed for school groups, with a reconstruction drawing from Historic Scotland here. Incidentally the cathedral priory, founded about in the early twelfth century, was colonised by canons from Nostell priory in Yorkshire, and which was close to my home town.

After the Scottish War of Independence St Andrew continued as a national symbol, as in the Trinity Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes of circa 1478-79 depicting the saint standing behind the kneeling figures of King James III and his son and successor, James Duke of Rothesay, the future King James IV.


St Andrew with King James III and the future King James IV.
From the Trinity Panels by Hugo van der Goes
Royal Collection on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland

Photo from Englishmonarchs.orm

However a somewhat similar scene with King James IV from his Book of Hours, now in Vienna, and dating to about the time of his marriage to Queen Margaret in 1503, shows St James the Great as his sponsor or patron:


King James IV at prayer.
Queen Margaret is shown top right, and beneath are the arms of the King of Scots.


Unfortunately these two illustrations are not of the highest quality but they were the only ones available on the web - due I think to copyright reasons. However they do serve to illustrate the points under consideration.
It is to this period that one may well look for the origins of the Order of the Thistle, which I discussed in my post The Order of the Thistle last year. The inventory of King James III's goods made in 1488 includes a collar of the same design as that of the present Order, and in the miniature above the royal arms in the panel on the lower right are encircled by a collar as well as those on the altar frontal in front of the King. King James V is depicted wearing a similar collar in paintings and King Charles I wore one at his coronation at Holyrood in 1633.

Monday 28 November 2011

The Royal Anjou Bible

There was a post on the Medieval Religion discussion group today about a link to images of the spectacular Royal Anjou Bible, which is now at the library of the Theology Faculty of the University of Leevan/Louvain.

It was created in 1340 for King Robert I of Naples (d.1343) and given by him to his grandaughter and heiress the future Queen Joanna I (d.1382) and her future husband Prince Andrew of Hungary (d.1345). It is thereby linked to one of the most spectacular and lurid marital and murder scandals of the fourteenth century. On Queen Joanna's colourful life there is the recent biography is Nancy Goldstone's Joanna: The Notorious Queen of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily. I have glanced at this but not yet had time to read what looks to be a readable and detailed account.

As an example of the art of the illuminator it is a wondergul glimpse of the glittering culture of the Angevin court in the early fourteenth century, with its links across the Mediterranean and to both France and Hungary and to the Papal court at Avignon.

The link, which has some notes about the manuscript at the end, and a link to a recent book about it, is here. It may take a little time to load, but the illuminations are delightful. I am copying and pasting the first, and most spectacular, one:

Anjou Bible illuminated manuscript page

The Way of Salvation - details

Following on from my previous post I have found a view of part of Andrea di Firenze's The Way of Salvation which shows some of the figures of the ecclesiastical and temporal hierarchy in more detail, including the figure of the Knight of the Garter, who is very prominent in the centre foreground. Ages ago I read a piece which tried to identify him, but have not got it to hand.



Here are two more details:

The first shows the figures to the left of the previous group, with members of various religious orders and a bishop:


The Dominicans preaching:


Images: arthistory390 on Flickr

Finally, here is a detail from the upper right of the painting:



Saturday 26 November 2011

The Way of Salvation

As we are in the week following the Feast of Christ the King (OF) and as we come to the beginning of Advent, with its eschatalogical themes, it seems appropriate to post this image of The Way of Salvation of circa 1365-1368.

It was painted by Andrea da Firenze or di Bonaiuto (circa 1346 - post May 16, 1379) in what is now the Cappella Spagnuolo in Florence's basilica of Santa Maria Novella. This is the Dominican church, and the painting would have been seen by Bishop Richard Fleming when he was in attendance on Pope Martin V who lived at Sta Maria Novella in 1418-20 - indeed Fleming was almost certainly consecrated as a bishop at the basilica or in the papal apartments which still survive there.


Image: Web Gallery of Art

A larger photograph of the painting can be viewed here.

As readers will see the figures at the lower base are reproduced in the mast head to this blog. Not only is there the Fleming connection, but the figures of Pope and Emperor, King, Cardinal, Bishops and religious seemed to me to encapsulate many of the themes the Clever Boy wants to write about. The Clever Boy is not that clever when it comes to technical matters, so the mast head, along with the fleur-de-lys at the side are the work of his computational Eminence grise - and apologies to him for not having acknowledged his work earlier on in the year.

The black and white dogs are, of course the domini canes, and the figure in a white hooded jupon is one of the earliest depictions of a Knight of the Garter - the garter can be seen below his left knee. Also present are St Bridget of Sweden and Queen Joanna I of Naples.

A wonderful picture, with plenty to look at and reflect upon. There is a lengthy interpretive online article here.

Friday 25 November 2011

Dominic Mary of Libera me blogspot RIP

My friend David Forster has drawn my attention to his post on the St Tarcissius blog to the sad news of the death of Dominic Mary, the blogger of Libera me. His post has a further link to that of Gem of the Ocean, Dominic Mary's widow. Please join with us in praying for the repose of his soul and for his widow at this time.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Oxford Pro-life witness - this Saturday

Oxford Pro-life witness - Saturday 26th November

3pm - 4pm

In reparation for abortion, and offering prayers for all unborn babies,
their mothers, fathers and families and all those involved in abortion,
especially the nursing staff of the John Radcliffe Hospital

Please meet outside the Church of St Anthony of Padua, Headley Way, Oxford.

We stand at the entrance to the John Radcliffe Hospital (Oxford's only abortion provider)

Refreshments available afterwards in the Church hall.

For more information contact:

Amanda Lewin- 01869 600638

EF Sung Mass last Sunday in Oxford

On the LMS Chairman's blog there are pictures of the Missa cantata celebrated at SS Gregory and Augustine here in Oxford last Sunday by Fr John Saward. This is the first of a plan for a monthy celebration of Mass in the Extraordinary form at 12 noon on the third Sunday of each month. The report and pictures can be viewed at Sunday Missa Cantata in Oxford.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend on this occasion, but hope to do so on other occasions.

SS Gregory and Augustine's has the, literally, valuable advantage of possessing its own parking area, as well as being on a main bus route, so getting there is not difficult if you live within easy travelling distance of Oxford.

The next such celebration will be on Sunday December 18th.

Praying for The Queen

I was pleased to see the following announcement from the Bishops of England and Wales:

The Bishops’ Conference requests that on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Sunday 3 June 2012, each parish will celebrate a Mass with prayers to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. During this Mass, the first reading is replaced by 1 Kings 3:11–14 and the Prayer for the Queen, which has been approved by the Bishops, is used after the Post Communion Prayer and before the Final Blessing.

Prayer for the Queen

V. O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen.
R. And hear us on the day we call upon you.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come before you.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with your spirit.

Almighty God, we pray,
that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen,
who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm,
may continue to grow in every virtue,
that, imbued with your heavenly grace,
she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil
and, being blessed with your favour
may, with her consort and the royal family,
come at last into your presence,
through Christ who is the way, the truth and the life
and who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God,
for ever and ever.

Image: LMS Chairman blog

As the LMS Chairman has pointed out the Domine salvum /salvam fac* has been prayed for the monarch since at least 1815. It was dropped in 1964, the Bishops requesting that prayers for ther Sovereign be included in the Bidding prayers instead - though one suspects that, as in the Church of England, this is more observed in the breach than in the observance.

Under the Use of Sarum the King's name was entered in the Canon after that of the Pope and Bishop ( given there was a silent recitation of the Canon that could have avoided problems in the Wars of the Roses) and the King's name was prominent in the Canon as translated in the 1549 Prayer Book, but it disappeared in 1552 and subsequent reissues. On the continent the use of the monarch's name in the canon also survived in use. This is surely a point where the Ordinarite can set a good example or maintain the Book of Common Prayer state prayers.

Reviving the Domine salvam fac for the Jubilee is fine, but why should not parishes say it as a devotion every Sunday? Why indeed should not the laity recite it as a private devotion? I do - and have done for a while.

* Salvum for a King, salvam for a Queen

St Augustine's Ramsgate

Fr Blake has a post about the appeal to restore Augustus Welby Pugin's St Augustine's Ramsgate which can be read in At the House of Lords.

The campaign is one eminently worth supporting, and I would recommend it to anyone interested and with funds.

Writing of Pugin prompts me to get on and post about another Pugin design, but one that is, alas, no more - the Jesus Chapel at Ackworth in Yorkshire. Watch this blog!

Revising Wolsey's hat

I have now managed to find online an article from Christ Church Matters for 2010 which has more information about what appears to be Cardinal Wolsey's galero, and in the light of that I have revised my post Cardinal Wolsey's red hat. So if you have already read it you might like to go back and learn more about this intriguing survival. If ou have not already read it, well it is a further inducement so to do.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

St Clement and his churches

St Clement, whose feast day falls today, was the third successor of St Peter, and is accorded a place in the Roman Canon. There is an online article about him and his cultus here.


St Peter and St Clement
Mosaic circa 1200 San Clemente Rome

The New Liturgical Movement has an article about him, with links to a series of their posts about the remarkable, even amongst Roman churches, San Clemente in Rome, which can be read at St. Clement and San Clemente. There is a page about the iconography of the apse here.

San Clemente has been in the care of the Irish Dominicans since 1667, and there is a general introductory article about the basilica here.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

St Cecilia Parson Cross

Last year in my post St Cecilia's Day I wrote about my visits to the fine church of St Cecilia Parson Cross in the northern suburbs of Sheffield and my extraordinarily happy memories of the parish in the time of the late Canon Geoffrey Bostock OGS, when it was a great, Romanising, Anglo-Catholic stronghold.

Looking at the parish website today I see that the main church building is at present closed due to structural problems,and services being held either in the undercroft Lady Chapel or at the daughter church of St Bernard, and an ominous sounding notice of a meeting in September to discuss the future of the church. Desperately sad news. As I wrote last year I do not want to go back, but I mourn for what is departed or departing.
Parish Church of St Cecilia, Parson Cross, Sheffield - 2

St Cecilia's from the west

Image:Geograph SK3392
© Copyright Terry Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Cardinal Wolsey's red hat

Today being St Cecilia's day reminds me that Cardinal Wolsey's titular church in Rome was that of Sta Cecilia in Trastevere.

Here in Oxford in his foundation which eventually became Christ Church is what is said to be his Cardinal's hat or galero, which he received in 1515 from Pope Leo X. The hat was carried in solemn procession through London on November 15th that year and on November 18th Wolsey received it from the hands of the Archbishops of Canterbury, Armagh and Dublin at the conclusion of Mass in Westminster abbey. The scene is depicted in a rather florid nineteenth century painting reproduced on the cover of Schofield and Skinner' s excellent The English Cardinals (2007) :


The hat now at Christ Church was found in the Great Wardrobe in London by Bishop Burnet in 1710 and eventually passed into the hands of Horace Walpole. From his collection it passed to taht of Charles Kean and in 1898 it was given to Christ Church and is kept in a specially made case in the Library - which is not open to visitors. Expert opinion considers the rabbit fur fabric and silk as well as the design to be of the early sixteenth century. The hat is missing its cords and tassels, but the holes for them can clearly be seen.

If it is actually Wolsey's hat one wonders whose hands it passed through after his arrest and death in November 1530 - did it at one point rest over his grave in Leicester abbey before it was dissolved, or was it left at Cawood when he was arrested?

Christ Church Library, Cardinal Wolsey's Hat 1912, Oxford

Christ Church Library, Cardinal Wolsey's Hat 1912, Oxford

Image:Francis Frith Ref: 64075

The college does not make much of this link with its founder, and this photograph from 1912 was the only one I could find online.

However the hat was lent on display to New Haven in 2010 to the Paul Mellon Center for British Art at Yale's exhibition on Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill. There is an article, complete with illustrations of the hat, by the Curator of the Christ Church Picture Gallery in Christ Church Matters 2010 about transporting the hat to the USA and entitled The travels of a hat.

A scandalous Archbishop?

Depending on whether one follows his younger contemporary Roger of Hovedon who assigns his death to November 22nd or Thomas Stubbs in the fourteenth century, who gives November 26th (our old friend scribal error may explain it - reading xxii as xxvi) hereabouts is the anniversary of the death 830 years ago in 1181 of Roger of Pont L'Evêque, born in Normandy about 1115 and who had been Archbishop of York since 1154.

The Oxford DNB life of Roger by Frank Barlow can be read here.
There is a similar online article here, which mistakenly places his burial at Durham, not York.

As Archbishop he is perhaps most famous for his being seen as an opponent of Thomas Becket, not least over the respective claims of the two archiepiscopal sees. As a friend and I recently agreed Roger was perhaps unlucky to have as his opposite number a future martyr for the liberties of the Church, and to have clashed with St Thomas over the exclusive claims of Canterbury to crown the English monarch. Roger's coronation of the Young King Henry on June 14th 1170 was the final breach between the two men.

Given other circumstances Archbishop Roger might have been remembered as a great servant of church and country and as a magnificent builder and patron. Little of what he built or knew now survives.

York Minster had been badly damaged by fire in 1137 and as Archbishop Roger set about remodelling the choir and crypt in 1154. The new eastern end of the cathedral was completed in 1175 producing an aisled choir, with its own transepts 40 feet longer than its predecessor. The eastern end was squared off and the whole choir raised over a large crypt. This may have been inspired by that at Canterbury which he would have known as Archdeacon to Archbishop Theobald.That is all that survives, as the choir was replaced after 1361 by Archbishop Thoresby's even grander structure. Even then its survival was accidental - the top of the vault was hacked away, and the crypy filled in until it was excavated after the 1829 fire. Part of the rubble from the old choir was used to create the eastern crypt as aplatform for the new fourteenth century altar and shrine of St William. What survives of Roger's crypt can now be viewed as part of the Minster undercroft. Archbishop Roger also extended the transepts by 40 feet and added two western towers, which disappeared with the early fourteenth century rebuilding of the nave.

The remains of Archbishop Roger's crypt at York

Image: York Minster website

In the north aisle of the nave there survives one panel of glass which is thought to have originated in Archbishop Roger's choir glazing. It is a figure from a Tree of Jesse:


Image: travelpod.com

To the north, behind the Minster, there survives part of a cloister arcade from the Archiepiscopal palace which is normally ascribed to him, as was the foundation of the collegiate church of St Mary and the Holy Angels for his clerks and which adjoined the palace gate. With the expansion of the Minster nave, this became joined to the cathedral in the early fourteenth century, but was a casualty of the reformation; its foundations were uncovered in the 1960s restoration.


The remains of the palace cloister



The cloister with Archbishop Grey's early thirteenth century chapel

Image: farm5 on Flickr

Of the three great daughter churches that functioned as pro-cathedrals in the diocese of York his work of the 1170s at Ripon survives in some nineteenth century reconstruction, but at Beverley anything he did has totally disappeared. At Southwell the church appears to have been completed just before his time, and he would doubtless recognise it, even with its great perpendicular window.

Southwell Minster


Probably the only other church he would recognise is the fine twelfth century nave of the church on the archiepiscopal manor at Sherburn in Elmet, which was sometimes used by Archbishops for ordinations and meetings.

There is more than a whiff of scandal attached to Roger. According to a letter attributed to John of Salisbury, who first reported this story in 1172 two years after the death of Thomas Becket, and nine years before Roger's own death, as a young and ambitious clerk in the household of Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury, and his Archdeacon from 1148, Roger was involved in a scandal involving a homosexual relationship with a boy named Walter. After Walter made the relationship public, Roger reacted by embroiling Walter in a judicial case that ended with Walter's eyes being gouged out. When Walter then accused Roger of responsibility for this crime, Roger persuaded a judge to condemn Walter to death by hanging. Becket supposedly was involved in the cover-up afterwards, by arranging with bishops Hilary of Chichester and John of Coutances for Roger to swear an oath that he was innocent. According to John of Salisbury, Roger then went to Rome in 1152 and was cleared of involvement by Pope Eugenius III. John of Salisbury further alleges that it was only after bribery that the Pope cleared Roger. Frank Barlow points out in his biography of Becket that while Roger was accused of these crimes, and may even have been guilty of some sort of criminal homosexuality, John of Salisbury, a noted partisan of St Thomas, could almost certainly have had the motive for bringing up this story in 1172 as a means of defaming Roger.The story would naturally have put Roger in the worst possible light. The story does not put Becket in too good a light, and if it is not true or exaggerated then John of Salisbury, distinguished scholar and churchman that he was, does not look so good either- if he actually wrote the letter in question.

The story, whether true, exaggerated or false, is better than most fiction - once again it would make for a good novel or drama, let alone modern newspaper style headlines "Archbishop of York arranged to have ex Gay-lover blinded and hanged" would be quite a good line - with or without phone-hacked evidence.

More seriously the story is a reminder that there have always been scandals and alleged scandals in the Church. That is not to minimise them, but it is also to say that we need to be sure when we pass judgement. The truth or otherwise about Archbishop Roger and Walter is now, presumably, unknowable. Contemporary allegation of scandal should be examined with the utmost seriousness, caution and care.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Latin Mass Society Annual Requiem

On Saturday afternoon I went up to the LMS Requiem in Westminster Cathedral celebrated by Bishop Alan Hopes. There is an illustrated report by the LMS Chairman in his blog post Annual Requiem from which I have copied two photographs. In the report Dr Shaw has a link to his impressive Flickr set of images of the Mass.


At first I thought the attendance was relatively small, but realised at communion that many of the places behind me had filled up to provide a good congregation. The sanctuary of the cathedral provided a fine setting for the liturgy with its sombre magnificence - although I did notice that someone at the cathedral had omitted to change the altar candles to unbleached wax.

It is a few years since I was able to attend the Requiem, and I was pleased to see that the absolutions at the catafalque are now performed as routine on this occasion, which did not happen last time I was there.


It was perhaps unfortunate that CIEL were having their annual Mass at midday, followed by a speaker meeting at Brompton on the same day. One of my friend managed to attend both Masses, but a bit more liason might well result in more people getting to both of these occasions and showing the extent of support for the Extraordinary Form.

Afterwards there was an opportunity to meet up with various friends and to go off for a drink and a meal before travelling back to our various homes.

Saturday 19 November 2011

All Greek to me

Last night the Clever Boy and the Catholic Schoolmaster betook themselves to the Oxford Playhouse to see Clytemnestra, the triennial Greek play production from the Oxford University Classical Drama Society. It is quite a few years since I attended a production in Greek of a classical play, and this time the play was accompanied by an on-screen simultaneous translation either side of the stage.

Aeschylus' Oresteia was first perfomed in 458 BC, and 2,469 years later the play has lost little of its raw impact. The performances were good, and displayed both technical ability and real understanding. It is very good that such a tradition can be maintained, and indeed appreciated - the theatre was full.

Over supper afterwards we ruminated whether one could interpret the Furies in their pursuit of Orestes as Social Services, as usual arriving too late on the scene, offering to the House of Atreus courses in bereavement counselling, anger management and family conflict resolution.

Friday 18 November 2011

An interview with Kaiser Wilhelm II

A friend has sent me a link to an interview with the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II at Doorn in May 1922. Conducted and written up by Baron Clemens von Radowitz-Nei it was published in the New York Times.

provides an interesting insight into the Kaiser's ideas and assessment of the situation at that time, and his comments, or lack thereof, on various contemporaries. The article can be read here - it requires a bit of scrolling down to read.


The Kaiser in exile.
This photograph conveys an image not dissimilar to that in the text of the interview,
although here he is in uniform.

Image: History-wiki. wikimedia.com

I recently read Giles McDonagh's biography of the Emperor and hope to post a review of it in the near future. The twenty and more years the Kaiser spent in exile at Doorn, and where he died in 1941, are interesting in themselves and would, I suspect, in the hands of the right author, make for a very good film or stage drama. This interview gives some indication of what such a work might contain.

Huis Doorn is now a museum, and there are pictures of it here.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Good Queen Mary

Amongst my birthday presents was a signed copy from the author, my friend John Edwards, of Mary I: England's Catholic Queen, the latest in the Yale UP series of biographies of English monarchs.

I was delighted both to be given a copy of the book, and to find what a superb piece of work it appears to be - I say appears to be merely because I have only had a chance to glance at it and read some passages rather than devour it cover to cover. It has received some excellent reviews, and from what I have seen deservedly so. As John Edwards' expertise is rooted in late medieval and sixteenth century Hispanic studies he has explored as no-one appears to have done hitherto the full, Spanish dimension of Queen Mary's formation and the wider context of her marriage to King Philip.

I must get on and read the book through, but thought that the anniversary of the death of the Queen, and of Cardinal Archbishop Pole, which falls today, was a good occasion upon which to draw attention to the book. It is also a good occasion, as Fr Blake urges his readers in Death of Catholic England, upon which to pray for the repose of the souls of the Queen and the Cardinal.

My post from last year Queen Mary I and Cardinal Reginald Pole has pictures of the Requiem celebrated for Carsdinal pole in 2008 at magdalen, his Oxford college.

St Elisabeth of Hungary

A third saint whose feast falls to day is St Elisabeth of Hungary, 1207-31. She is one of aseries of saints produced by the Arpad dynasty in Hungary. There is an online biography of her here, which has links to other relevant sites, including her shrine church at Marburg. With St Louis she is the co-patron of the Franciscan Third Order.


SS Elisabeth, Margaret and Henry of Hungary

Simone Martini 1318

Lower Basilica of St Francis, Assisi



St Clare and St Elisabeth, two Franciscan female saints

Image: Christusrex.org


St Elisabeth of Hungary with Isabel of Portugal, wife of Duke Philip the Good of Burgundy

Petrus Christus, 1457-60

Groeninge Museum Bruges

Image: evangeliso.org

This is the left wing of a triptych. The original triptych with the Mater Dolorosa in the central panel and St Catherine in the right wing was part of the collection of Margaret of Austria. The small triptych was probably commissioned by Isabel of Portugal who ordered the triptych at the time of her retirement to a Franciscan convent in Nieppe, France, in 1457. It later entered Margaret of Austria's collection. The panel shows Isabel of Portugal with Saint Elizabeth and features the typical, finely chiseled and almost doll-like style of Petrus Christus. (Acknowledgements to the Web Gallery of Art)

Isabel and Elisabeth are, of course, the same name, hence the association as well as the shared interest in Franciscan spirituality and the fact of both being of royal birth.

Here are two phpotographs by Genevra Kornbluth of the shrine of St Elisabeth at Marburg:


The Shrine at Marburg

Image: http://www.kornbluthphoto.com/images/ElizShrine1.jpg


Detail of the shrine base

Image: http://www.kornbluthphoto.com/images/ElizShrine2.jpg

There is a German language site about the church at Marburg here with expandable views of the church and its furnishings. There is another German site about St Elisabeth here, with reproductions of medieval paintings of her and also a picture of her copper gilt chasse of 1235-50

St Hilda and Whitby

Today is also the feast of St Hilda, the great Northumbrian Abbess of royal birth who established monasteries at Hartlepool, Whitby and later Hackness. The Oxford DNB life of her by Alan Thacker is here and there is another account of her life here.

The ruins of the later medieval abbey, refounded after the Norman conquest, have become one of the most familiar images of both the Yorkshire coast and iconic of the dissolution of the monasteries.


Whitby Abbey


As a very small child I spent a number of holidays in Whitby with my parents and the abbey and picturesque town form some of my earliest memories. Not ony was there the abbey - there is the remarkable parish church with its box pews filling every available bit of space, the delightful town tumbling down towards the river Esk and there were also memories of Captain James Cook and his yoyages of discovery. Staying in such a place fed my early interest in, and enthusiasm for, the past. With my father I went as a toddler to say good morning each day to the statue of Captain Cook each morning. My mother used to tell the story of how, when I went to Whitby to stay when I was no more than four and a half, was insistent on the first night in the hotel that the following morning the first thing we had to do was not play on the beach or suchlike but that we must climb the 199 steps that lead from the harbour to abbey to revisit it and as she finished the story "and we did too."

In later years I discovered pictures showing the abbey when more of the fabric survived and that fed my desire to know what these great buildings had looked like when they were complete.

At Whitby the domestic buildings disappeared quite quickly, but the ruins of the abbey church survived, possibly as a coastal mark for mariners, gradually decaying and collapsing.

Whitby Abbey engraving J010105

Samuel Buck's engraving of 1711 is actually from the south west,
and shows the south wall of the nave and the tower and south transept still standing.

Image: englishheritageprints.com

The nave fell in 1762 to be followed by the south transept a year later. Much of the west front, including most of the great west window, collapsed in November 1794.

Whitby Abbey 1789

The view from the west in 1789.
An aquatint by F.Gibson


The ruins from the north-west, painted by J.C.Buckler before 1812

Image: 1st-art-gallery.com

The central tower fell on 25 June 1830, and a storm did some damage to the choir in 1839. Since then the ruin has changed little although it was shelled by German ships on 16 December 1914 and some small damage was done to the west end.

There are good online accounts of the history of Whitby,the abbey and its architecture here and here.

St Hugh of Lincoln

Today is the feast of St Hugh of Lincoln, the Carthusian who was bishop of the diocese from 1186 until his death in 1200. My post from this day last year can be read at St Hugh of Lincoln.


The surviving base of the shrine of St Hugh's head in the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral.
The Angel Choir was built as the setting for the shrine of St Hugh's body and head between 1256 and 1280.
The metal superstructure is a piece of highly misguided, even if well-intentioned, 1980s artwork.


St Hugh was the second Carthusian to be canonised, following the founder of the order, St Bruno. The impetus for Hugh's cause came not from the Order, which disdained to promote such matters, but from the reverence he had received from the wider Church, both clerical and lay.

As thefollowing pictures show devotion to him survived on the continent after the reformation in England.

File:San hugo obispo de lincoln.jpg

St Hugh with his emblems of the swan and the Christ Child emerging from the chalice.
Francisco Zurbarán, 1637-39
Museo de Cadiz

Image: Wikipedia


The Virgin and Child with St Bruno and St Hugh of Lincoln.
Sebastiano Ricci, 1704-06
Private collection

Image: regnumnovum.com

Wednesday 16 November 2011

St Margaret of Scotland

In addition to what I published in my post last year about St Margaret which I linked to in the last article readers may be interested in these links and points of interest.

The Life of St Margaret by her former spiritual advisor Turgot, later Prior of Durham, and dedicated to her daughter, Queen Matilda, who was the wife of King Henry I, can be read in translation here.

The modern biography by G.W.S. Barrow in the Oxford DNB is available here, and there are other accounts of her life here and here.

In 1887 the Bodleian Library bought a manuscript subsequently identified as being St Margaret's Gospel book, and which bears evidence of water damage from when the book, having been dropped in a river, was subsequently retrieved with the text undamaged.

The beginning of St Mark's Gospel from St Margaret's Gospel Book

Image: Medieval Musings

There is a recent study of the Gospel book by Rebecca Rushfurth Queen Margaret's Gospel Book: The favourite book of an Eleventh Century Queen of Scots published by the Bodleian.



St Edmund of Abingdon

Today is the feast of both St Margaret of Scotland and St Edmund of Abingdon, and following that link will take you to my post about them both from last year. This year I am posting about them separately

St Edmund of Abingdon, born there about 1175, an Oxford academic and subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury 1234-1240,who was canonised in 1247.

The recent Oxford DNB life by C.H.Lawrence is judicious and can be read here and there is another online article about him here.


St Edmund of Abingdon
Thirteenth century glass in the east window of St Michael at the Northgate, Oxford

Image: Lawrence Lew on Flickr


St Edmund's fibula on display in Westminster Cathedral on his feast day in 2010

Image: Lawrence Lew on Flickr

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Martyr Abbots

Yesterday was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Abbot Hugh Faringdon of Reading and his companions and today that of the martyrdom of Abbot Richard Whiting and his companions in 1539. My posts from last year about Bl. Hugh Cook or Faringdon, last Abbot of Reading and about Bl.Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glastonbury give an accouint of their lives and witness in blood for the Catholic faith.

Monday 14 November 2011

God Bless the Prince of Wales

Today is the 63rd birthday of The Prince of Wales, and an opportunity to express my loyal and good wishes to him


Image: romania-insider.com

I have always had great respect and admiration for the Prince, who strikes me as a conscientious man who not only works hard at the tasks imposed by custom on Princes but who had had the courage and commitment to raise the debate on a number of important environmental as well as cultural and faith issues. He has not always had an underatanding national or international audience, but he seems to have regained much of the the respect to which he is entitled, and continues to serve his Sovereign and mother and her peoples with diligence and insight.

Challoner's account of the Oxford martyrs

Following my recent post Commemorating Bl.George Napier my friend the Catholic Schoolmaster has reactivated the link on his blog to his transcription of the text of The Oxford Catholic Martyrs, by Bishop Challoner, with its accounts of Bl. George Nichols, Bl. Richard Yaxley, Bl. Thomas Belson and Bl. Humphrey Pritchard, the martyrs of 1589, and Bl. George Napier, martyred in 1610.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Massacre in Oxford

Well that headline got your attention, but it is rather stale news. Today is the feast of St Brice and the anniversary of the massacre on that day of the Danes in Oxford, and elsewhere, in 1002 on the orders of King Æthelred II. It was ethnic cleansing eleventh century style.

There is an informative assessment online of King Æthelred II which reflects current historical thinking about his life and reign. An article about the massacre, with an interesting discussion of various historians interpretations of what actually happened can be seen here. As the article shows by quoting himself in a charter to St Frideswide's (now Christ Church cathedral) from 1004 things had been violent in Oxford two years earlier:

For it is fully agreed that to all dwelling in this country it will be well known that, since a decree was sent out by me with the counsel of my leading men and magnates, to the effect that all the Danes who had sprung up in this island, sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat, were to be destroyed by a most just extermination, and thus this decree was to be put into effect even as far as death, those Danes who dwelt in the afore-mentioned town, striving to escape death, entered this sanctuary of Christ, having broken by force the doors and bolts, and resolved to make refuge and defence for themselves therein against the people of the town and the suburbs; but when all the people in pursuit strove, forced by necessity, to drive them out, and could not, they set fire to the planks and burnt, as it seems, this church with its ornaments and its books. Afterwards, with God's aid, it was renewed by me.

The King does not appear at all penitent, other than for the incidental damage to St Frideswide's church, even though the massacre probably caused the Danish invasions which were to force him into exile in Normandy a few years later and after his restoration and death the establishment of the Danish line of Kings from 1016 until 1042.

A gold mancus of King Æthelred II
British Museum



King Æthelred II
An illumination from the Abingdon Chronicle of c.1220


In 2008 building work for an extension to St John's college revealed a series of skeletons of young men who had suffered violent deaths and been dumped in mass grave outside the city on the site of a bronzeage temple circle. The dating would indicate that these were victims of the St Brice's day massacre. The choice of this place for the burial suggests that a place associated with demons or suchlike in their minds was where the inhabitants of Oxford thought the Danes belonged. There is a report on the discovery here.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Oxford Ordinariate news

Next Saturday, November 19th, the Vigil of Christ the King, there will be Evensong at 5.30pm at Holy Rood before Mass at 6pm. The preacher at Mass will be Fr. John O'Connor, OP, Prior of Oxford Blackfriars.

In a fortnight's time, on November 26th, there will be an Advent Carol Service of Lessons and Carols at Holy Rood at 4 pm. The Newman Consort will provide some of the music, and the service will be followed by tea and mince pies. At 6pm there will be the Vigil Mass of Advent Sunday.

Members and friends of the Ordinariate are urged to attend and to bring friends and enquirers to see the Ordinariate in action. If anyone is considering joining the Ordinariate this is an ideal opportunity to come along and meet members and supporters.

The Church of Holy Rood is situated in Abingdon Road, just south of Folly Bridge, and on the eastern side of the road. It has its own car park.

Friday 11 November 2011

Talk on potential reconciliation with SSPX

Last night, along with a wide range of interested listeners, I attended the talk by Dr Brian Sudlow on the future of the relationship between the SSPX and the Catholic Church which I advertised in SSPX and the Church - a lecture.

Dr Sudlow is the translator of the biography of Archbishop Lefebvre by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, and a former supporter of the Society. His reasons for leaving are set out in Why I left the SSPX milieu which can be found on his blog The Sensible Bond.

Given that the current lack of certain knowledge about the state of discussions between the CDF and SSPX his talk had to be a reflection on the background and his own views as to what could, or should, happen. Such rumours as there have been do not suggest a positive outcome in terms of acceptance, but they may turn out be part of the continuing politics of the situation.

For Dr Sudlow the key issue was that of the authority of the Church as the ultimate source of legitimacy, and he believes that if SSPX can accept that as apparently set out in the preamble to the proposed aggreement they would find a place for themselves within the Church. Given that they have Bishops already that would give them an advantage over other groups such as the FSSP or the Bon Pasteur institute in Bordeaux, which are dependent upon the existing diocesan episcopate. Those groups had not always found it easy at first but they were beginning to build upon their foundations.

His view was that SSPX cannot be self validating in regard to the interpretation of Catholic Tradition, and saw a tendency to cite texts of lesser authority that suited their case against ones of higher canonical status. He believes that, like academics, they should be willing to submit their ideas to the intellectual critique of episcopal and theological confreres. If that was accepted they might be surprised to find that they had more acceptance than they expected. Such issues were always risky, but that was one that was part of being part of the whole Church. In that respect there was a need for the long view, of seeking ultimate validation, not waiting until everything was as SSPX might want it before re-entering full communion.

He feared a hardening of attitudes if the breach remained unhealed. There is now a generation which has no knowledge of the pre-1988 situation, and that the ultimate logic for some might be a new wave of sede vacante-ism. The Pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, had laboured hard to achieve reconciliation in 1988, and had courageously gone out to meet SSPX and seek to bring them fully into the fold.

Dr Sudlow was of the view that the particular French polito-religious concerns of SSPX members there were more or less impenetrable to non-French Catholics, but did think that some of the French episcopate were more favourable than hitherto to traditional ways.

Recent events such as the recent Assisi day and the beatification of Pope John Paul II raise new difficulties in the minds of SSPX members who distruct what they saw in the implied syncretism of the first Assisi meeting, and who are critical of the late Pope's actions, notably of course the excommunications of 1988.

It was possible that if no agreement with the whole of SSPX was achieved that the episcopate would split, with on eor possibly others accepting the offer from Rome, and others remaining outside. Individual SSPX bishops had a considerable personal following, who might well follow where they led.

This was a thought-provoking talk, and elicited a fair number of questions, but all of us, speaker as much as audience, are dependent upon the formal response of SSPX. Time to redouble one's prayers on this matter I think.


The Pope and Bishop Bernard Fellay of SSPX

Image: eucharistandmission.blog

King Pedro V, the Beloved

Today is 150th anniversary of the death of King Pedro V of Portugal in 1861. He died of cholera at the age of only 24, and his death was to be within days or weeks of those of two of his younger brothers. The son of Queen Maria II and her King-consort husband Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg he was thus related to the Coburg network of the royal families of Europe. He succeeded his mother as King in 1853, aged 16, and until his majority his father acted as regent until 1855.


The future King Pedro V as Prince Royal and Duke of Braganza


There is a biography of the King here , and an excellent, much more detailed one with a fine selection of illustrations here.


State portrait of King Pedro V

Image: findagrave.com


A description of the King's oath taking in 1855


His marriage to his short-lived Queen Stephanie of Hohenzollern has produced no children before her premature death in 1859 and he was to be succeeded by his brother, King Luis I.

King Pedro V in his early years as monarch

Image: Wikipedia

King Pedro V in later years


The death of King Pedro was not only a personal tragedy, but may have been one for the Portuguese monarchy. Just as his mother had been apopular ruler so King Pedro was both popular and dedicated to his people and improving the life of the nation - very much a Coburg trait. He became known as Pedro the Beloved. Had he lived longer and continued on the path that appears to have been in his mind there might have been an avoidance of the national decline that occurred under King Luis I and King Carlos I and enabled forces opposed to the monarchy and traditional life to blame the Crown and argue, disastrously, for change.