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 28 April 2012

Recent archaeological discoveries

The announcement of the discovery of an abbatial crozier and ring in excavations at Furness Abbey has been commented on in several newspaper articles and online posts.

The article in the Independent can be read here and the New Liturgical Movement has the coverage from the Daily Mail in  Medieval Abbot's Grave Uncovered

Fr Blake has also posted about the find in Furness Abbey Crozier Find

The Independent also has this report Sapphire ring 'belonged to Anglo-Saxon or Viking royalty about a significant discovery near York.

Friday 27 April 2012

Medieval heraldic conical chasubles

The New Liturgical Movement has recently had two photographs of surviving medieval conical chasubles, both handsomely decorated with royal heraldry. There is this spectacular example from Spain:

Chasuble of the Archbishop of Toledo,
 Don Sancho de Aragón (1264-1275)

and from fourteenth century France there is this example from the church at Brienon:

It is decorated with the arms of  Blanche de Navarre Queen of France (c. 1333 - 1398) also known as Blanche d'Evreux, daughter of Philippe of Evreux, King of Navarre who became the second wife of King Philippe VI (1293 - 1350):

The arms are: Party per pale: 1. France. 2. Party per fess: a. Navarre. b. Evreux.

I posted about Queen Blanche in my post The library of a fourteenth century Queen of France in September last year.

Fr Blake has some observations about this form of the vestment in his post Conical Chasubles.


Thursday 26 April 2012

First Blessings, First Masses

I now have some pictures of last weekend's first blessings and first Masses of  Fr James Bradley and Fr Daniel Lloyd.

Here they can be seen giving First Blessings in St Patrick's Soho:

Father James Bradley

Father Daniel Lloyd

Images: Fr Ray Blake blog and Andrew Wagstaff.

There is an illustrated report from the New Liturgical Movement on The First Mass of a Young Ordinariate Priest: Fr. James Bradley which was celebrated on Sunday morning at Balham.

That evening I attended Fr Lloyd's First Mass at Holy Rood here in Oxford. It was well attended, with a well conducted liturgy in the best Ordinariatre style, with excellent music to accompany the liturgical action, and an inspiring and moving sermon from Fr John Saward on the infinite benefits of the Mass and the high calling of the priesthood. The NLM has pictures of the Mass at First Mass of Fr. Daniel Lloyd, Holy Rood, Oxford.

On Monday I attended Fr Lloyd's second Mass, again at Holy Rood, on the Solemnity of St George.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

An election in France

The Clever Boy has become aware through contact with the popular media that the revolutionary regime in France is holding an election for the curious position of a "President of the French Republic."

The Clever Boy usually seeks to ignore such intrusions on his tranquility, but, as a strong Burkeian in these matters, part of him feels inclined to comment, rather as one of his relatives once said of a situation in their home town, that were the entire modern French political elite carried off in tumbrils for an up close and personal meeting with Madame Guillotine he would not be overly distressed, and would take along his knitting - and not drop a stitch.

However, gruesome jesting apart, the answer as to who governs France - which has not had legitimate rule since July 1830 - is clear, and readers will know what it is, so, all together now -

Vive Le Roi ! *


Image: Wikipedia

* I leave it to readers to decide if they are for King Henri VII or for King Louis XX

Tuesday 24 April 2012

The Queen in Pakistan

My attention has been drawn to an article about The Queen by an old Oxford friend, Dr Yaqoob Bangash. In it he looks at the role of monarchy in the culture of the Indian sub-continent and makes good points about the whole monarchical principle. The article can be read here.

It is also good to hear that Yaqoob is flourishing and writing, drawing in part, I imagine, on his doctoral research about the creation of Pakistan.

The cost of conservation in Greenwich

Last week I touched on the history of Greenwich in my post about St Alphege. Now a friend has sent me a link to this opinion piece about conservation matters in contemporary Greenwich which can be read here. It is really rather depressing when the conservation industry gets out of control.

Monday 23 April 2012

St George at Fordington

Possibly the earliest carving to indicate English devotion to St George can be seen at the church dedicated to him at Fordington, which is now part of Dorchester in Dorset. His cult, as being that of an essentially eastern saint in England appears to have developed after the Crusades

The church as it now stands is mainly a handsome later medioeval structure, but over the south door is this carving:


Image: Pryderi on Flickr
It is thought to depict St George coming to assistance of Crusaders when they were  hard pressed by the Saracens at the battle of Dorylatum 1097. The Christain soldiers kneel in prayer or thanksgiving  on the left as St George sees off their opponants on the right. There are some small differences in the armour of the two groups.

I suppose one must imagine the carving originally to have been painted like the carvings at Issoire about which I posted at Easter.

The sculpture can be seen, as I saw it one evening,from outside the church as it is in the open porch - it is well worth walking out to from the centre of Dorchester if you are visting that very interesting town.

St George and the Dragon

When thinking which image to post to mark St George' day, and to celebrate the idea of the Christian so conformed to Christ that he Christian so conformed to Christ that he beats down evil in the flesh, it occurred to me to use the spectacular statue of St George and the Dragon in the Storkyran in Stockholm, which is usually attributed to Bernt Notke, and dated to 1489.

File:Stockholm-Storkyrkan (St.Georg).jpg

 Image: Wikipedia

Sankt Nikolai kyrka (Church of St. Nicholas), most commonly known as The Storkyrkan (The Great Church), has been since 1942 the cathedral of the new diocese of Stockholm and is the oldest church in the old town of central Stockholm.

First recorded in 1279 it was for nearly four hundred years the only parish church in the city. Because of its convenient size and its proximity to the royal residence it has frequently been the site of major events in Swedish history, such as coronations, royal weddings and royal funerals.

The most famous of its treasures is the dramatic wooden statue of St George and the Dragon attributed to Notke. It is said to have been commissioned to commemorate the Battle of Brunkeberg (1471), and also serves as a reliquary containing relics supposedly of  St George and two other saints.

There is more about the history of the statue, including alternative ideas as to its inspiration and creation in a series of linked pages which can be viewed from here and questions many modern explanations of the statue

The statue which survived due to the more tolerant attitude of the Swedish reformers towards images and perhaps also because of its patriotic associations with the battle of 1471 is an indication of what may once have decorated other churches across Europe in the later medieval period





Image:arthistory390 on Flickr

Saturday 21 April 2012

Cherries, Goulash and Goose

After the Ordination three of us made our way to a long-established Hungarian restaurant round the corner in Greek Street - The Gay Hussar. Would, I idly wondered to myself, you open a restaurant with such a name today without having a rather specific niche market in mind? In fact the niche market there tends to be particularly left-of-centre politicians - though both principal cnadidates for the Mayorality of London had been in recently we were assured. Thus a range of cartoons of luminaries of the Left stared down at us - but I took comfort in the photographs of the Empress-Queen Elizabeth which topped off the display.

This was the first time I had eaten in a Hungarian restaurant - despite my interest in the history of the country - and without doing a Father Z it is perhaps worth recording what we ate. All three of us enjoyed chilled wild cherry soup - strikingly pink and complete with whole cherries.Excellent. Two of us had the beef goulash - well what could be more Hungarian? However a Hungarian in Oxford has since then assured me this evening that back home goulash would count as soup. The third member of our party had gpose, which looked very good, and is again a  speciality of the country - as in Lajos Zilahy's novel The Dukays - a novel to read if you have a few spare months!

That, with wine, more than filled us, and after coffee we moved on - two of us to look again at St Patrick's and then went by tube to look at the new medieval galleres at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Yes, the labels are dumbed down, and often at the wrong height, but the actual objects on show are wonderful. Well worth seeing. With a brief visit to ther London Oratory this made a good end to an excellent day.

Ordinariate Ordination in London

This morning, after a busy but enjoyable day yesterday guiding a party round Oxford, I was up betimes when it was scarecely light to get off to London to the Ordination of two friends in the Ordinariate, Daniel Lloyd and James Bradley to the priesthood at St Patrick's Soho Square.

Typically, I managed to be a little on the late side getting away from Oxford - the 8 rather than the 7.35 or 7.48 coach, which seemed to be losing time picking up passengers at every stop in Oxford...and there was no time to be saved by getting off at Notting Hill Gate as the bus stop had been temporarily moved - so jump off at Marble Arch, dash into the underfground station, off to Tottenham Court Road, scramble out of the station so as to be on the right side of Oxford Street, up the stairs to the street level, run round the corner into Soho Street and arrive at the church so as to follow the procession into the buiding at 10.05 Phew!

That all said St Patrick's is very fine indeed, gleaming white and gold (T.S.Eliot fans please note) in the wake of its restoration which was completed last year - and about which there is an article here.

File:St Patrick Church Soho Square interior 2011.jpg

St Patrick's Soho Square

Image: Wikipedia

The church was first built in 1792 - "Fr O'Leary's Chapel" - and rebuilt in its present form in 1893. The inscription above the entrance to the church, "VT CHRISTIANI ITA ET ROMANI SITIS" (“Be ye Christians as those of the Roman Church”), a quotation taken from the writings of St. Patrick, seemed very appropriate for the occasion.

The Ordination, conducted by Bishop Alan Hopes, was dignified and impressive, with the church packed, and a considerable number of us standing in the vestibule under the organ gallery at the west end. I will post pictures of the liturgy as they become available.

Looking around in church and at the reception afterwards it was good to see many old friends from Oxford and elsewhere and to catch up with them and their news. There was a sense of confidence to the occasion which applied both in our prayers and good wishes for the two young priests but also for the Ordinariate itself - the congregation included cradle Catholics, longer-standing converts such as myself, Ordinariate members and Anglican friends and well-wishers.  This was the first occasion for such a priestly Ordination within the Ordinariate of two young men who had resigned as Anglican deacons during the first days of the Ordinariate to be received as Catholics and commenced further formation and training. It boded well as an occasion for the future.

St Anselm

St Anselm (c1033-1109), whose feast day it is today, is one of the first Archbishops of Canterbury of whom we have a nearly contemporary image - there is a drawing of St Dunstan and Stigand is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.

For Anselm there survive at least three such representations:

Anselm's seal as Archbishop of Canterbury

 Image: Wikipedia


Image: christchurchwindsor.ca


From an MS Vita of St Anselm


This one is reminiscent of the figures on the porch ar Chartres I wrote about in connection with St Thomas of Canterbury in late December 2011. They seem a reversal of the contemporary idea of being dwarfs standing on giant's shoulders.

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty

Today is the birthday of Her Majesty The Queen, and an occasion upon which to express loyalty and greetings to her.

This year of her Diamond Jubilee is one that will see, and is already witnessing, the respect and affection in which she is held by her subjects. Such feelings are difficult to analyse in our society, or in past ones. What is clear is an immense respect for her professionalism in the exercise of monarchy - even moderately crtical or sceptical voices concede that. For those of us who emphatically beleive in the monarchical principle both here, and in other countries, she does indeed typify those phrases sometimes glibly overworked, but still crucial, phrases like dedication and faithfulness. Those are skills which are there by ancestry, skill and discipline, and as peopel were pointing out in February at the time of the anniversary of her accession, she has provided the still centre for sixty very complex years for this country and her other realms. We have a very great deal to thank God for in our Sovereign, and a very great deal to thank her for in her life and example.

Happy birthday, Ma'am!


Image: radiofrontier.ch

Long may she reign. Long live the Queen!

Thursday 19 April 2012

The Spiritual wisdom of age from the Pope

Following on from the Papal birthday and election anniversaries I thought I would copy this extract from the Pope's homily on his birthday as published on the blog Rorate Coeli. It is a fine example of the Pope's thoughtful spirituality and shows the wisdom of his years:

The anticipated Easter Vigil as a sign of History

The day on which I was baptized, as I said, was Holy Saturday. At that time [1927], the practice was still that of anticipating Easter Vigil on the morning, after which the gloom of Holy Saturday continued, without the Alleluia. It seems to me that this peculiar paradox, this peculiar anticipation of the light on a dark day, could be almost an image of history in our time. On one hand, there is still the silence of God and of his absence, but, in the Resurrection of Christ, there is already the anticipation of God's "yes", and we live based on this anticipation, and, through the silence of God, we feel his words, and, through the darkness of his absence, we foresee his light. The anticipation of the Resurrection amidst a history that goes on is the strength that shows us the path and helps us move forward.

We thank the good God because he has given us this light and we ask him that it may remain with us always. And on this day I have reason to thank Him and all those who once again have made me realize the presence of the Lord, who have stayed with me so that I would not lose the light.

I find myself before the last stage of my life's path, and I do not know what awaits me. I do know, however, that the light of God is here, that He is risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness; that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me go forward in safety. It helps us move forward and, at this moment, I thank from the bottom of my heart all those who continuously make me perceive God's "yes" through their own faith.
Pope Benedict XVI

April 16, 2012

Papal election anniversary

Today is the seventh anniversary of the election of the Pope to the throne of St Peter.

If his birthday last Monday is an opportunity to celebrate his personal achievements as atheologian and as an individual, today is the occasion to give heartfelt thanks for all he has achieved in the past seven years.



The Pope has brought all his theological and spiritual insights to the Apostolic See, travelled extensively, sought to bring within the fold of the Church those who were outside its boundaries through initiatives such as the ordinariate and, hopefully, from the latest rumours, members of SSPX, and sought to reconcile conflicts over the liturgy both by establishing the right to the Extraordinary Form and to regulate liturgical practice by both act and example.

He hasspoken clearly and cogently on moral issues and confronted the abuse scandal, seeking to cleanse the church of thos problem. He has also addresssed the modern and materialist world challenging it, as well as the faithful, to turn to Christ. He continues to write, notably Jesus of Nazareth, and by all these things to proclaim the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. Not bad going for someone starting a new task at 78.

I vividly remember the hearing of his election just before the 6 pm Mass at the Oratory here in Oxford - the first celebrated I suspect in the city under his pontificate. After the singing of the Te Deum I went to look for friends with whom to celebrate. In the course of looking for them I almost literally ran into a well known academic whom I know and asked him if he had heard the news. "Yes" was his reply "Terrible. It's the end of the Catholic Church." I told him I disagreed and sped on my errand. Seven years on I disagree all the more - and so does the verdict of contemporary history.

The task facing the Pope and his successors is immense, problems and difficulties abound, and the future unknown - but so it was for St Peter and for all his successors. Today we have very great and good reasons for thanking God for Pope Benedict and praying that he will be given time and strength to continue his work as a humble labourer in the Lord's vineyard.

Ad multos annos!

St Alphege

Today is the millenium anniversary of the martyrdom at Greenwich by his Viking captors of St Alphege, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1012. Probably known to his contemporaries as Ælfheah ( Ælfhēah, "elf-high") and also called Elphege, Alfege, or Godwine, he was, in modern terms, the victim of hostage taking, and has the slightly dubious distinction of being the first Archbishop of Canterbury to died a violent death - four others have followed him. His cult today is perhaps not what it was in the century and more following his death, but there appears to have been considerable interest in commemorating him this year.

The Oxford DNB life of him by Henrietta Leyser can be read here and there is another online biography here.

There is another account of him from the Catholic church of Our Lady and St Alphege in Bath here. That church is dedicated to him to recall his time as abbot of Bath before he received episcopal orders. The church is marking the anniversary with a Mass celebrated by ther Bishop of Clifton. It is the work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and was begun in 1927, and the main part completed by 1929, and finally finished in 1960 - and was one of the architects own favourite works.


Our Lady and St Alphege Bath

Image: Our Lady and St Alphege/LMS

The church website is here, and there is a fine set of photographs of what appears to be avery fine church from the BBC Bristol website here.

Amongst older churches dedicated to him probably the best known is that in Greenwich, traditionally said to be on the site of his martyrdom. The medieval church collapsed in 1710, and was peplaced between 1712 and 1714 by the present church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor; it was consecrated in 1718.

File:St Alfege.jpg

St Alphege's Greenwich

Image: Wikipedia

Amongst the other churches under his patronage are several in Kent, including one in Canterbury itself, which was declared redundant in 1982, and about which there is a comprehensive illustrated website here.

Further afield from his home area and the south-east there is the handsome medieval church of Solihull in the greater Birmingham area. There is an article about it here. There is a detailed guide to the church available online here. Probably its most famous incumbent was John Feckenham, the former monk of Evesham who went on to become the Marian Abbot of Westminster in the 1550s.


St Alphege's in Solihull is a large cruciform building dating mainly from the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The chancel has the church's most unusual feature in the two-storied St Alphege Chapel, the chapel itself being upstairs with a vaulted crypt below.

Image: Aidan MacRae Thomson on Flickr

Tuesday 17 April 2012

King's Cross

A friend who is regular reader of this blog has sent me the link, courtesy of The Georgian Group, to this picture of the monument which gave its name to King's Cross in London. Indeed I used, unthinkingly, to assume that the area took its name from one of the Eleanor Crosses erected by King Edward I after 1290. The facts are, in fact, otherwise, and resulted in changing the name of the area from Battle Bridge.

King's Cross
Image: twitpic.com/The Georgian Group

It was erected in 1830 as a a monument to King George IV and was built at the junction of Grays Inn Road,, Pentonville Road and New Road, which later became Euston Road.

The monument was sixty feet high and topped by an eleven-foot-high statue of the King, and was described in 1878 by the author Walter Thornbury as "a ridiculous octagonal structure crowned by an absurd statue". The upper storey was used as a camera obscura while the base in turn housed a police station and a public house. The unpopular building was demolished in 1845, though the area has kept the name of Kings Cross, and King's Cross Railway Station now stands by the junction where the cross stood.

Thornbury's description of the cross in his 1878 book Old and New London, vol ii, is as follows:

"In 1830 Battle Bridge assumed the name of King's Cross, from a ridiculous octagonal structure crowned by an absurd statue of George IV., which was erected at the centre of six roads which there united. The building, ornamented by eight Doric columns, was sixty feet high, and was crowned by a statue of the king eleven feet high. Pugin, in that bantering book, "The Contrasts," ridiculed this effort of art, and contrasted it with the beautiful Gothic market cross at Chichester. The Gothic revival was only just then beginning, and the dark age was still dark enough. The basement was first a police-station, then a public-house with a camera-obscura in the upper storey. The hideous monstrosity was removed in 1845. Battle Bridge, which had been a haunt of thieves and murderers, was first built upon by Mr. Bray and others, on the accession of George IV., when sixty-three houses were erected in Liverpool Street, Derby Street, &c. The locality being notorious, it was proposed to call it St. George's Cross, or Boadicea's Cross, but Mr. Bray at last decreed that King's Cross was to be the name."


The demolition of the King's Cross in 1845

Although a somewhat eccentric piece of architecture I suspect that had it survived KIng's Cross might well have become a fondly regarded piece of the London cityscape one can imagine Sir John Betjeman celebrating it.

Thornbury's history of the whole area can be read here.

Monday 16 April 2012

The Tapestry of Creation at Girona

A post on the Medieval Religion discussion group drew attention to this news agency piece about the recently completed restoration of the Tapestry of Creation which is preserved in Girona cathedral in Spain.

Like other wonderful pieces of Iberian medieval art it is not as well known as other surviving pieces north of the Pyrennes, so this is an opportunity to draw attention to it and to the fact that such pieces doubtless once existed across Christian Europe. There is more about the Tapestry (which like its near contemporary of Bayeux is actually an embroidery) here. It is a splendid survival from the age of El Cid and from the era of the Cluniac and Gregorian Reform. Given the likelihood of loss or destruction its preservation is really remarkable - over the centuries it has been appreciated and hence has survived.

The Girona Tapestry of Creation

Detail of the Personification of the Month of April

The embroidery is worked in self couching (Bokara couching) and stem stitch and using wool and linen on a wool twill ground fabric. The remaining pieces measure 3.65m x 4.7m (12ft x 17ft 2 inches). It was produced around 1100 or in the early twelfth century and was most likely produced in its present locality, that of Girona in Catalonia.

The images on the work record the Biblical account of Creatione and include other images relating to the natural world as well as historical references and images of the months of the year (with activities associated with those months also depicted).

There are links here for

Detail of Birds in the Girona Tapestry of Creation


Further reading:

  • Pedro de Palol, El tapís de la creació de la catedral de Girona (: Edicions Proa, 1986)
  • M. Assumpta García i Renau, El Tapís de la creació, símbol del sagrat, (: La Llar del Llibre, 1993)
  • Barbara Baert, "New Observations on the Genesis of Girona (1050-1100). The Iconography of the Legend of the True Cross", Gesta, Vol. 38, No. 2. (1999), pp. 115-127.
  • Harry N. Abrams, The Art of Medieval Spain A.D. 500–1200, (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,

Happy birthday Holy Father

Today is the 85th birthday of the Pope and an opportunity therefore to publish ones's warm good wishes to him on this anniversary, and to wish him very many happy returns of the day.


Image: ncregister.com

I see some in the media are using this occasion, and the impending anniversary of his election, to indulge in the fairly predictable speculation about his possible reirement - but that seems to be par for the course with any monarch who reaches a significant birthday. As with The Queen, what should strike observers is that blend of personal dedication and continued hard work at the tasks of their respective callings.

The Pope's birthday is also an opportunity to re-state appreciation for all that Joseph Ratzinger has achieved and contributed in a lifetime of faithful Catholic life. His work as a theologian and as a communicator of the Gospel, his profound and far-reaching insights into the life of the liturgy and of the Church as a whole, his quiet dignity as a Christian are all to be admired and celebrated by the wider community of the Catholic Church and beyond.


The Pope celebrates Mass - the heart of his calling


Ad multos annos !

Thursday 12 April 2012

The election of Mr Newman

190 years ago today, on Friday April 12th 1822, the Provost of Oriel's butler was despatched to the rooms of one of the two young men the Fellows had decided the previous evening to elect to the prize fellowships for which they had sat the competitive examinations by written paper and viva voces during the preceding week - as this year it was Easter Week. Indeed it is an interesting point to reflect upon the fact that the set of examinations started on Holy Saturday and that included Easter Day itself.

Arriving at the rooms of Mr Newman of Trinity over Seal's Coffee House, the site of which is now occupied by the former Indian Institute, and which now serves as the History Faculty Library, the butler found the occupant playing his violin. 'This in itself disconcerted the messenger', not used to such behaviour on the part of Fellows, and his own favoured means of communicating his message was somewhat unusual ' "he had, he feared, disagreeable news to announce, viz. that Mr Newman was elected Fellow of Oriel, and that his immediate presence was required there" '. Newman thought this ' savoured of impertinent familiarity' and ' merely answered "Very well" and went on fiddling'. He then had to reassure the butler that he had the right rooms and man.

However, no sooner had the butler left than Newman flung down the violin and rushed down stairs with all speed to Oriel, past 'the eloquent faces and eager bows of the tradesmen' now anxious for his custom. That journey can have taken him no more than five minutes, yet its significance is immense in the life of Newman and of those he was to influence.

At the gate of Oriel the Fellows were waiting to greet him, and he found himself almost overcome by being greeted by John Keble. At one o'clock there was chapel and he and the other new Fellow, John Ottley. were installed.


John Henry Newman as a Fellow of Oriel -
detail of the painting by Sir William Ross

Image: victorianweb from the portrait at Keble College

Newman was to write later in life that he 'ever felt this twelfth of April,1822, to be the turning point of his life, and of all days most memorable'.

Young Mr Newman of Oriel


Wednesday 11 April 2012

Cardinal Henry Beaufort

Today is the 565th anniversary of the death in 1447 at his episcopal palace at Wolvesey Castle in Winchester of Cardinal Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, and previously of Lincoln, and one of the legitimised children of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swinford. For virtually half a century he had been at the centre of English political, diplomatic and ecclesiastical life.

The Oxford DNB life of him by Gerald Harriss, who has written the standard modern biography, can be read here.

My research on Richard Fleming, himself Bishop of Lincoln from 1420, suggests continuing contact between the two men from their time in Oxford about 1403-4 until Fleming's death in 1431 and that he can be interpreted as belonging to Beaufort's circle.

The tomb effigy in Winchester cathedral of the Cardinal is a seventeenth century restoration, and in addition to other carvings, such as that from Bishop's Waltham illustrated in the Oxford DNB article there is the theory that this portrait, by Jan van Eyck, usually said to be of the Carthusian Cardinal Niccolò Albergati is in fact one of Beaufort and dated to about 1431. It is now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the original drawing in Dresden.

The probable portrait of Cardinal Beaufort by Jan van Eyck

Image: Wikipedia

There is more about the portrait here , where it is still described as being of Albergati. It is however very different from the other, more ascetic, images of the Carthusian Cardinal that survive.

In the St Cuthbert Window in York Minster is another depiction of the Cardinal which I have reproduced before. It shows him with the Cardinal's hat for which he had to wait so long:


Cardinal Beaufort of Winchester
York Minster, St Cuthert Window
sVII, 1b-2b

Image: Gordon Plumb on Flickr

Pink string and sealing wax in London

The Easter vacation really markls the beginning of the season of conferences and visiting summer schools here in Oxford, and over Holy Week and Easter Week I have again been working with my friends from CBL International who have had a study course for international legal and business students in Oriel. The students themselves were a lively and engaging group drawn from Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands.

I provided tours of Oriel itself, of Oxford and led them on a visit to Blenheim Palace, and yesterday we provided the students with a tour of Legal London. I wrote about a similar day August in my post Legal London.

This required an early start - up before 6 - to get the London coach and navigating the tube system to get to Holborn. From there I acted as guide as we went through Lincoln's Inn Fields to look at Lincoln's Inn, and explaining something of the life and history of the Honourable Societies.


The early nineteenth century Hall and Library of Lincoln's Inn,
opened in 1845



Linciln'S Inn, looking south across New Square
towards the Royal Courts of Justice


After pointing out the historic significance of Carey Street and Chancery Lane en route we had the obligatory group photo outside the Royal Courts of Justice and then went on self-guided tours of that very impressive complex. This time I had more opportunity to look at the display of legal robes and other paraphanalia which illustrtaes the continuity and growth of tradition in the outward expression of the English legal system.

Across the road in the Inner and Middle Temple, where I sat and had my packed lunch, the church was again closed, but I did have more of a chance to look at the memorial to the Order of Templars erected to mark the Millenium. We were fortunate to get in to see the Hall of the Middle Temple, where Twelfth Night was first performed at Candlemas 1602, before having a meeting with a working barrister at his chambers in Fountain Court.


Middle Temple Hall


Then, to round off the afternoon, we took the tube to Westminster, and I led those who wanted to join us on a walk up Whitehall, pointing out the historic significance and current use of the buildings of government from the Palace of Westminster up to Trafalgar Square, and ended up with a visit to a pub to give a further aspect, indeed taste, of British life.

After the party dispersed to make their way back to Oxford I headed up to Marble Arch to meet a friend, and we had a very enjoyable Lebanese dinner in the souk that is the modern Edgware Road. Being Middle Eastern the restaurant did not have a drinks licence, so we were forced to end the evening in another pub. There was perhaps something a little odd about two Catholics calmly sitting in The Tyburn, but it provided the opportunity for a wide-ranging and informative discussion - all right, a good gossip - before I headed back to Oxford, getting back at ten past 1 in the morning. Not bad going at all.

Monday 9 April 2012

Celebrating the Triduum in Oxford

As last year - for which see Observing the Triduum - I spent most of the Triduum serving at SS Gregory and Augustine here in Oxford - they were short of servers so I went there rather than to the Oratory from Thursday to Saturday. However I did also manage to get to Tenebrae at Blackfriars on Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday - my post from last year about its observance can be read at Tenebrae at Blackfriars, and I attended the Stations of the Cross at The Oratory on the evening of Good Friday.

On Maundy Thursday I was acting as second thurifer for the procession to the altar of Repose, helped with the stripping of the altar and stayed for the watch until Compline. On Good Friday, suitably armed with a purificator, I assisted with the Veneration of the Cross and then was back on Holy Saturday to help get the church ready for the Vigil. Here I was again thurifer, avoided getting burned fishing the charcoals out of the new fire, and read two of the prophetic readings. I was rather touched when the Deacon, my friend Daniel Lloyd from the Ordinariate, and like me an old Pusey House man, said how right it felt to be serving together again after, as we worked it out nine years since we kept the Triduum with other Puseyites at Ascot Priory. Daniel was there to sing the Exsultet and act as Deacon of the Mass - the last opportunity he will have to exercise his diaconal ministry in the former capacity before his priestly ordination on April 21st.

I have been promised photographs of the altars and statues as vested for the occasion at SS Gregory and Augustine - that of Our Lady looked particularly fine with a cope, lace veil and crown, and will post them when I receive them.

On Easter Day I was back for the Solemn Mass at the Oxford Oratory in the morning. As is the tradition at the Oratory this ended with the choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus - and confirming for one the sense that indeed the Kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.

After a trip out with the Oratory Sacristan into the Oxfordshire countryside for lunch at Bladon and tea at Lower Heyford I was back at the Oratory for Solemn Vespers sung by the Fathers and choir and finally Benediction to close the liturgical day.

All in all a good observance of the Triduum and of Easter Day, and, coming at the end of a Lent which was, I think, spiritually profitable and yielded insights I had not expected on Ash Wednesday, I do have a sense of spiritual rebirth. The thing now is to hang on to it...

Sunday 8 April 2012

He is not here -The Three Marys at the Tomb at Issoire

Here are the images from Issoire of the discovery of the Empty Tomb by the Three Marys on Easter Day:

R-33-63500-0008-19409 2668px x 4059px - 22.23 cm x 33.82 cm @ 300 ppp RGB

Images :romanes.com/Issoire

The Day of Resurrection


The Resurrection from a missal belonging to Henry of Chichester, Precentor of Crediton.
He is recorded as having given a missal with gilded pages to Exeter cathedral in 1277, and this is presumably it. The manuscript is linked to the Sarum Master who worked circa 1250, and it is now in the John Rylands Library in Manchester.

Image: english.cam.ac.uk

A blessed, joyful and happy Easter to you all

Friday 6 April 2012

Good Friday at Issoire

In this capital at Issoire the scourging at the pillar is depicted:

and here Christ carries the Cross to Calvary:

Images :romanes.com/Issoire

Thursday 5 April 2012

The Last Supper at Issoire

Last November in I wrote in Colour in the medieval church - St Austremoine de Issoire about the spectacular and elaborate restored colour scheme of that Romanesque church at Issoire in the Auvergne. Although the tones of the pigments might be disputed it is possible by looking at the decoration of the basilica to imagine what other great churches looked like in the twelfth century and later.

I thought I would publish over the Triduum some of the capitals depicting the story of Easter. Here is the capital depicting the Last Supper.

R-33-63500-0000-19401 2678px x 4070px - 22.31 cm x 33.91 cm @ 300 ppp RGB

Images :romanes.com/Issoire

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Ordinariate Chrism Mass

Yesterday morning I went to London to attend the Chrism Mass for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham which was celebrated by the Papal Nuncio, H.E. Archbishop Antonio Mennini, at St James Spanish Place.

The setting was splendid, there was a good line-up of priests in choir and the body of the church was filled by the laity as well as some non-participating priests.

The Papal Nuncio, the Ordinary and the clergy of the Ordinariate.
The photograph also indicates how splendid setting for the liturgy is the church.

Image: Ordinariate

The New Liturgical Movement blog has an illustrated report in First Chrism Mass of UK Ordinariate at St. James, Spanish Place. The Ordinariate Portal has a link to a full set of photographs of the liturgy here.


The Archbishop mixes the Chrism

Image:Ordinariate on Flickr/© Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk


The Archbishop bestows the blessing at the end of Mass

Image: Ordinariate on Flickr/© Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Beforehand a friend had expressed the view that the Chrism Mass is merely a modern invention. Whilst it is true tht it is, in its present form, a product of the liturgical changes of the 1950s and 1960s, it is nonetheless a restoration of an ancient practice. My 1930s edition of the St Andrew's Missal refers to its former existence. I assume that at some point the idea that there should only be one solemn Mass on Maundy Thursday, or sheer fatigue at the liturgical schedule, led to it being subsumed within the Bishop's Mass in his cathedral (or wherever he was celebrating Easter), accompanied by twelve priests, seven deacons and seven sub-deacons.

Reinstating a separate liturgy strikes me as a recovery of tradition rather than the invention of tradition. Once the ceremonies of Maundy Thursday moved back to the evening there are practical issues of time to determine events. In its present form, with the modern re-statement of priestly vows, it does serve to be a reaffirmation of priestly responsibility and duty, and, in a somewhat demotic way, by making it a public liturgy, brings that home to the laity as well.

In the context of the novus ordo liturgy and the thought which inspired it this does seem an appropriate occasion for concelebration, as is indicated by the interview to which I linked in my recent post Concelebration. The liturgy so celebrated does assert the unity of the local church around the bishop.

On the other hand it can equally well be argued, on a more traditionalist basis, that here, as elsewhere, concelebrants are not necessary at all, and that the key figure is the bishop as celebrant. Indeed it is important to stress the episcopal function as consecrator of the oils, that this is an hierarchical event, indeed a quintessentially one. The bishop is the mediator of the descent of Grace through tangible sacramental means, and requires no more than the appropriate traditional priestly and diaconal support.

Looking at the older liturgy I see that there, following the blessing of the oil of the sick, the oil of Chrism was consecrated first, and then the oil of the catechumens was blessed. The modern rite reverses this, concluding with the Chrism. This suggests an element of theatricality in the minds of the compilers, rather than adhering to the traditional order of proceeding, and is, I think, to be regretted.

So perhaps I favour restoring a separate Chrism Mass, but would favour a more traditional form, and indeed understanding of its theology.

Monday 2 April 2012

Arthur Prince of Wales

Today is the anniversary of the death at Ludlow Castle in 1502, 510 years ago, of Arthur Prince of Wales, the eldest son and heir of King Henry VII.


Arthur Prince of Wales

Image: Wikipedia from a private collection

Although the Prince, who was fifteen remains a somewhat anonymous figure, his death was to prove one of the most momentous or portentious in English history. As a result the succession passed to his brother, the future King Henry VIII, and even more significantly, led to that King's marriage to Arthur's widow, Catherine of Aragon.

There is an online life of the Prince here and the Oxford DNB life by Rosemary Horrox can be read here.

From his surviving portraits the Prince sometimes appears, like his younger brother, to have taken after his mother's family in his appearance and as an adult King Henry VIII looks to have resembled King Edward IV. However in thos portrait there is also a resemblance to King Henry VI:

File:Arthur Prince of Wales c 1500.jpg

Prince Arthur circa 1500

Image:Wikipedia from the Royal Collection

To stand in Prince Arthur's chantry at Worcester, its elegrant limestone gothic cage surrounding the plain marble tomb-chest, is to feel very close to events which changed this country, and indeed much of the world forever. Nothing sums up more quickly the impact of the changes that ensued than the mustilated figures, including St George, on the reredos of the chapel. Installed to elicit prayers for the Prince they were defaced under his nephew King Edward VI, and when his neice Queen Elizabeth I visited Worcester in 1575 they were plastered over and the blank wall decorated with a painting of the Royal arms. Not until the nineteenth century were the figures revealed in their battered state.


The interior of the Prince's chantry at Worcester cathedral


There is the mildly intriguing question, given the way that the choice of his name associated the Prince with King Arthur, and the bearing of arms attributed to Welsh and British rulers of the past at the Prince's funeral, as well as the general enthusiasm for all things Arthurian at the time, if he had lived and succeeded his father whether he would have been King Arthur I or King Arthur II.

Sunday 1 April 2012

Death of Bl. Emperor Charles 1922

Today is the ninetieth anniversary of the death in exile in Madeira of the Bl. Emperor Charles of Austria in 1922. He was not yet 35 and was worn out by exile, illness and poverty, as well as concern for his peoples. His body still lies in the church he wished to be buried in on the island. When as part of his beatification process his tomb was opened his body was found to be incorrupt.


The Emperor on his deathbed

Image: ritadicascia.blogspot

As regular readers will be aware he is a monarch, and now also a beatus, in whom I have a strong interest. There is more about him, and about an exhibition about him in Vienna on the website of the Emperor Charles League of Prayer , and there is also that for the cause of his consort at
the Empress Zita cause.

Their life stories are deeply moving, lives of faith and dedication both to their Christian calling and that to the service of the peoples and life of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It is story of personal faithfulness and of loss, bereavement and sorrow, both personal and national, or perhaps in the case of the Habsburg monarchy, one should write supra-national.


File:Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry avril.jpg

The April calendar page of the Très Riches Heures is attributed to Jean de Limbourg.

The scene depicts a bethrothal before two witnesses whilst two young women in attendance pick flowers. On the right is a walled garden or pleasance and in the background is the Château de Dourdan, which had been held by the Duke of Berry since 1385, and of which considerable portions remain. Romance and the spring clearly went together in the early fifteenth century mind. There is in its aristocratic rural idyll something we recognise in later artists and even in modern advertisements such as those for firms like Barbour.