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, 7 July 2012

Relics of St Thomas of Canterbury

Today is the feast of the Translation of St Thomas of Canterbury, an event which occured in 1220, and led to the tradition of the Jubilee of St Thomas every fifty years at Canterbury - in 1420 the claims associated with it caused a few riased Papal eyebrows on the part of Martin V in respect of Archbishop Chichele.
The bones of the martyr Archbishop may have been destroyed in 1538, but, as is documented in the recent book The Quest for Becket's Bones, they may have survived at Canterbury. In the arguable absenc eof primary relics there are some remarkable secondary relics of St Thomas Becket.

At Sens cathedral, where St Thomas spent part of his time in exile in the 1160s there are preserved vestments which are believed to be those of St Thomas.

In May the New Liturgical Movement editor Shawn Tribe posted this piece about them:

" I came across the very interesting website of Dr. Genevra Kornbluth which, amongst other treasures, contains her photographs of vestments which are said to have been used by the 12th century saint, Thomas à Becket, and which are housed in the Treasury of the Cathedral of Sens.

Some of you will have no doubt seen some images of a reproduction of this particular chasuble, but these are the first high quality images I have seen of the original itself -- not to mention photographs of other period medieval vestural elements as well.

I am pleased to reprint them here with the kind permission of Dr. Kornbluth. (Please click each image to enlarge them for more detail.)
The chasuble with its famous orphrey pattern

A more detailed view of the orphrey

Alb. Take note of the ornamental apparel as well as the ornamental cuffs. 

The apparel which would have attached to the amice.

Maniple and stole. The cuffs and apparels on the alb are also more visible here.

Pontifical Sandals

You can see more details here.

Photos reprinted with permission. www.KornbluthPhoto.com "

The New Liturgical Movement followed this up more recently with this post by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P.:

"This mitre, belonging to the treasury of Westminster Cathedral, is currently on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It dates to c.1160-1220, and so, is contemporaneous with the life of St Thomas Becket.

Since the 19th century it has been associated with the relics and mitre of St Thomas Becket at Sens Cathedral, although this association is now disputed. The lappets do not match because the one embroidered with an apostle was formerly attached to another mitre, c.1180-1210 also at Sens Cathedral; the floriate lappet is original.

In form and decoration, this mitre does resemble the famed Becket Mitre. The scrolls and floriate embroidery are silver-gilt thread worked on padded white silk. The circular compartments in the embroidery and the red band of silk would have been ornamented with jewels and enamels but these have been removed.

The mitre is 27cm x 23.5cm with a 3cm-wide lappet (extending to 6.5cm at the base) that is 44cm long."

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