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.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Corpus Christi - now and then

Today I have been observing the feast of Corpus Christi, but also looking forward to our celebration of it with the procession through central Oxford on Sunday afternoon.


Image: Wikipedia

At lunchtime I went to the Low Mass in the Extrordinary Form at the Oxford Oratory. This evening I attended another celebration, this time a Missa cantata with a procession, confined to the inside of the church because of the weather, at SS Gregory and Augustine in north Oxford.

Quite apart from its beauty as a feast, and it is one of which I am very fond indeed, Corpus Christi is also a feast which links in with my research on Bishop Fleming. Whilst was Rector of Boston in the years after 1408 he served, exceptionally both for a cleric and in its duration, for three successive years as head of the local Guild of Corpus Christi, and did so again in 1427 when he was Bishop of Lincoln. This must, I think, be seen as genuine commitment to the Guild and its work, and something which remained important to him as diocesan bishop and when he was seeking, uncuccessfully as it turned out, to establish a collegiate foundation in the parish church. Like other similar Corpus Christi Guilds that in Boston drew its membership from across a wide social spectrum and included local landowners from the region. The site of the now demolished Guild chapel adjoins the south porch and south aisle of St Botolph's in Boston.

Boston parish church

St Botolph's Boston.
The site of the Corpus Christi chapel is in the foreground on the left.  
Image: Copyright Norma Clare/Genuki

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