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.

Friday 30 November 2012

St Andrew's Day 1554

It was on St Andrew's Day in 1554 that England was formally absolved from schism and received back as a kingdom into the bosom of the Catholic Church.

Led by King Philip and Queen Mary the Lords and Commons knelt before the Papal Legate, Cardinal Reginald Pole and besought absolution which was granted by the Legate in the name of Pope Julius III.

For the Queen this must have been one of the happiest days of her life, the vindication of all she had hoped and no doubt prayed for for a quarter of a century.
St Andrew's day was appointed as aperpetual celebration of the reconciliation, but that can have last happened in 1558, just after the Queen's death.

As I have written before it was reading about the part played in this process by Bishop Stephen Gardiner in Glyn Redworth's superb biography of him,  In Defence of the Church Catholic that removed on eof the last props of my Anglo-Catholic position and influenced, indirectly my own path to Rome in 2005. In particular there is the text of the great sermon preached by Gardiner at Paul's Cross on the Sunday following the reconciliation - it is very well worth reading.

Which brings us neatly up to date. In the 1980s there did appear to be apossibility of some form of organic reunion of the Anglican Church with Rome - remember ARCIC in 1982. That may well have been afudge in advanc eof the papal visit of that year, but there was, not so long ago, a real hope of such an outcome. Now we know better, as is indicated in this post from Fr Tim Finigan  Goal of corporate reunion no longer realistically exists.

The way to unity now lies clearly with individual reconcilition either through the Ordinariate or as a traditional convert. But think what might have been in the 1550s or even in our own times!

St Andrew in art

Here is a selection from the images of St Andrew posted by John Dillon


St Andrew as depicted in an early eleventh-century illumination (ca. 1020) in a sacramentary now at Rouen
(Rouen, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 274, fol. 164v)

Image: enluminures.culture.fr
Here are two views of a twelfth-century statue, probably of the later 1140s or 1170s, from the destroyed tomb of St. Lazarus in the latter's collegiate church in Autun, now in that city's Musée Rolin. It is attributed to the monk Martin and belongs to the great sculptural tradition of twelfth centuy Autun:

St Andrew

Image: World Gallery of Art

Lazarus Monument: Saint Andrew

Side view of the statue

Image: Sacred Destinations

Fifteenth century Rood screen at Gooderstone church in Norfolk
St Andrew stands between St Peter and St James the Great  and St John (partial view)
Each apostle carries his emblem, and has the verse attributed to him from the Apostles Creed above his head.
St Andrew's costume is similar in its style and colouring - green mantle and pink or purple gown - to other images of him from the period, and which became part of the design of the insignia of the Order of the Thistle.

Image: johnevigar on Flickr
Although in Britain he is traditionally associated with a saltire cross in his martyrdom this is not always the convention on the continent. Thus his martyrdom is shown as happening on a conventional cross as in this illumination in an earlier thirteenth-century psalter (ca. 1230-1240) from Hildesheim:

Image: BnF in Paris (ms. Nouvelle acquisition latine 3102, fol. 6v)

Saint Andrew
Possibly 1326 or ca. 1330
Simone Martini (Sienese, active by 1315, died 1344)
Tempera on wood, gold ground
Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

Image: Metropolitan Museum


St Andrew (at right) as depicted in a panel painting of 1395 by Taddeo di Bartolo, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.
Here again he carries an upright cross of martyrdom rather than the more usual saltire form.

Image: World Gallery of Art
St Andrew suffers martyrdom on a tree
Panel painting (ca. 1490) by Carlo Braccesco
 Galleria Franchetti, Ca' d'Oro, Venice

Image: World Gallery of Art


St Andrew holding his traditional saltire cross as portrayed in an earlier sixteenth-century pen-and-ink design for a stained glass window (ca. 1519-1521) by Hans Holbein the Younger,
Kunstmuseum Basel

Image: Wikipedia

Relics of St Andrew

This year I am adapting a post about his relics and depiction in art from John Dillon on the Medieval Religion discussion group for today. With regard to images I have concentrated on the western depictions of St Andrew, and will publish them in a seperate post.

According to Eusebius, St Andrew preached in Scythia, by which latter quite possibly is meant the Roman province of this name erected by Diocletian in today's south-eastern Romania and north-eastern Bulgaria (Ukrainians and Russians think otherwise, of course). Theodoret has Andrew preaching in Greece. From at least the fourth century onward it has been believed that he suffered martyrdom at Patras.

As will be seen there are several  skulls claimed to be his - probably more than even the explanation of skull fragments that have been scattered and venerated as if they were the whole relic.

In 357 relics venerated as Andrew's were brought from Patras to Constantinople's church of the Holy Apostles. Scots believe that in the eighth century St. Regulus (Rule) brought (some of ?) Andrew's relics from Constantinople to today's St Andrews in Fife. Two illustrated pages on the St Rule Tower and the ruins of St Andrews cathedral at St Andrews can be read here and here

In 1208 Andrew's remains were brought, following the Fourth Crusadw of 1204, from Constantinople to Amalfi, where they are now housed in the cathedral dedicated to him. Then, in the 1460s the Despot of Morea, Thomas Palaeologus,  brought with him into exile in Italy a head said to be that of St. Andrew. Pope Pius II  acquired it for the Roman church and, seizing upon this capital opportunity, use it as a propaganda device for his projected crusade against the Turks;  Cardinal Bessarion delivered a welcoming speech to this relic of Andrew in the apostle's partial presence in 1462. In 1964 Pope Paul VI  returned this relic, plus a finger bone from Andrew's relics in Amalfi, to the Greek Orthodox church in Patras as part of his search for reconciliation with the Orthodox.

The opening page of Pope Pius II's account of St Andrew's reception in Italy (with an illuminated initial showing Pope  Pius holding a bust or the reliquary of St Andrew) in a contemporary (1463-1464) collection of writings by this pontiff
(Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 5565 A, fol. 1r):

Image; Biblioteque National Paris


The skull reliquary at Patras


The upper part of a skull is among St Andrew's putative relics at Amalfi.  Some views of it taken when it was on display at Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome in 2008 for the 800th anniversary of his translation to Amalfi can, hopefully, be seen in these expanded views  here, here, here and here.

St Andrew's right foot is said to be in the monastery of Agios Andreas on Kefalonia. Other relics believed to be his are in the skete of St. Andrew on Mount Athos, a Russian foundation honouring one of that country's patron saints. Here is a view of a reliquary belonging to that monastery and said to contain Andrew's skull:


Image: serko.net/50/athos/KaryesandStAndrewsSkete

The Vatopedi monastery on Mount Athos has what is described as a relic of Andrew's right hand:

Click to view full size image

Image: eikonografos.com

From at least 1250 until 1979, when it was transferred to the church at Patras, a cross believed to be that of St Andrew was preserved in the church of St. Victor at Marseilles. 

At Trier there is this reliquary of one of St Andrew's sandals:

St. Andrew's Altar (c.980)

St. Andrew's Portable Altar, made c.980 AD in Trier

Image: sacred-destinations.com

This reliquary enshrines a sole of St. Andrew the Apostle's sandal. This relic is one of those said to have been brought from the Holy Land to Trier by Empress Helena in the 4th century. The splendid reliquary was commissioned by Archbishop Egbert (977-93), who had a special devotion to Saint Andrew.

It is described as portable altar, but I am not clear how it could have served that purpose. It consists of an oak box covered in gold and ivory and topped with a gilded model of the saint's foot, complete with bejewelled sandal strap. It has a sliding lid so that the relics inside could be shown and touched. The long sides are fixed with smooth ivory plates affixed with gold lions and enamel medallions of the Four Evangelists. The plates are surrounded by bands of enamel platelets, gemstones, and pearls. One of the short ends has two Saint Andrew's crosses made of pearls; the other end has a gold coin with the portrait of Emperor Justinian I surrounded by pearls and red garnet. The reliquary was made to be portable, so that it could be carried by kings and bishops when they travelled and used for Mass when they were at home. There are rings on the lion-shaped feet and on the top, allowing the portable altar to be hung or carried in processions.

Thursday 29 November 2012

St Cuthbert Mayne

Today is the liturgical commemoration of the martyrdom of St Cuthbert Mayne, the protomartyr of the English mission, on  30th November 1577 in the market place at Launceston in Cornwall, 435 years ago. Born in Devon in 1544 he was a member of St Alban Hall and St John's College in Oxford, where he had served as chaplain. He had been captured the previous summer at the Golden House, the home of Francis Tregian ( born in 1548) at Probus near Truro. 

St Cuthbert Mayne
The year of his death is wrong by two years

Image: Amazon

There is a good account of his life here and there is also an illustrated account from St Cuthbert Mayne church Launceston here . The biography by Raymond Francis Trudgian in the Oxford DNB can be read here. There is an account of Francis Tregian, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, but released by King James I, here. Trudgian's Oxford DNB life of him and his son, also named Francis, can be read here.

Relic of St. Cuthbert Mayne

The skull of St Cuthbert Mayne

Image: maryvictrix.com


Launceston in 1611

Image: johnspeedmaps.co.uk 


Monday 26 November 2012

Requiem at St Benet's

I was asked last week by the organiser if I would be willing to be thurifer at an EF Requiem Mass for old members of St Benet's Hall here in Oxford which was planned for this morning. I was happy to help and spent the morning doing so.

We began by meeting at the Oxford Oratory at 9.20 to borrow various pieces of necessary paraphanalia, including four catafalque candlesticks and a thurible, and loading them into his people carrier, along with a moveable footplate for the altar and a table to act as the catafalque which he had brought with him. The short journey to St Benet's accomplished we unloaded this improvised tatmobile and began setting up the simple chapel at the Hall for the Requiem, whilst the schola rehearsed.
Once covered with a black pall and flanked by the candlesticks the otherwise ordinary table made an excellent catafalque.

I then realised we had left the communion plate behind at the Oratory, so I had to change out of my cassock and hurry back to collect that, return down St Giles street, get back into St Benet's - I did not, of course, know the door code - and get back into my cassock and sort out with the other servers who had now arrived who was doing what. We were fortunate in our MC, a brother of the London Oratory, who had travelled up to Oxford with the celebrant, Fr Edward van den Bergh, Cong. Orat., who is himself an old member of the Hall.

The Mass went well until, during the prayers following the Canon the thurible, now safely back in the sacristy, set off the smoke alarm none of us had realised was there...I decided that others knew what to do to overide it and, like a well conducted person, went on calmly saying my prayers.

We retrieved the offending thurible for the absolutions and managed that well in the small amount of space the chapel afforded us.

Afterwards we packed up all our borrowings and returned them by road to the Oratory, making sure we had neither lost nor damaged anything, before joining the celebrant, MC and singers for a convivial lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant, which was generously provided for us all.

Despite the need to transport things to and fro and the irritant of the smoke alarm this was dignified occasion, a prayerful intercession for the departed. I gather it is hoped to make it an annual occasion.

St Catherine and Marshal Boucicaut

Were yesterday not Sunday, and therefore the Solemnity of Christ the King in the modern rite, it would have been the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria. An immensely popular saint in middle ages and in subsequent centuries she was dropped from the Calendar in 1970, but reinstated by Pope John Paul II  in 2002. This may have been an opening towards the Orthodox who have retained great devotion to her.

This illustration of devotion to her is taken from the Book of Hours of Marshal Boucicaut, dating from 1410-15.

Image: Wikipedia

There is an account of the artist, known today as the Master of Boucicaut here  and views of other pages of the manuscrpt can be found online.

The Hours were produced for Jean le Meingre II, known as Marshal Boucicaut following his appointment as Marshal of France in 1391, and who lived from 1366-1421. There is an online life of him here and also an account here.  

Hailed in his lifetime as a paragon of the chivalric code  and life of the military elite he was a crusader and jouster who narrowly survived the disaster of the Battle of Nicopolis in 1396, served as the French Governor of Genoa and was finally defeated and captured at Agincourt on October 25th 1415. He had served as commander of the vanguard in the battle. Taken as a prisoner to England he was to remain one of King Henry V's captives until his death in 1421.

Marshal Boucicaut

Image: Findagrave

I am particularly interested in this phase of his life as he was in the custody of Robert Waterton in Yorkshire for part of this time and it was at Waterton's house at Methley that the Marshal died on June 21 1421. His body was sent back to France for burial at Tours. Part of the house Waterton built survived as part of Methley Hall until its demolition in the early 1960s. Waterton, an emiment and long-serving Lancastrian retainer, was the brother-in-law of Bishop Richard Fleming, and the online Oxford DNB life of him can be read hereMy innate modesty forbids me from drawing attention to the authorship of the biography.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Christ the King

Today in the Novus ordo it is the Solemnity of Christ the King.

With that in mind I was struck by a verse in the psalmody at Lauds yesterday in the Divine Office. It is from Ps.131 (132) and in it the Lord says of His anointed:

"But on him my crown shall shine"

Now clearly Christian interpretation of this points unequivocally to Christ as the Anointed One, and his crown in the Crown of Thorns. That is the nature of Divine Kingship.

However to the psalmist the anointed one may have been conceived as a Messianic but still human ruler. That tradition has survived into Christanity and its understanding of temporal, but nonetheless sacral, Kingship. The crown of an earthly King or Queen, Emperor or Empress is God's crown, and they hold delegated power on His behalf. They are consequently bound by that and responsible as Christians for the discharge of the office conferred upon them - it is not a grant of unlimited power but of a responsible office of service to God's people.

Hence the rituals surrounding the reception of the regalia - only the clergy and the monarch and their family, who participate in the royal dignity, are allowed to touch it in the ceremonial, as in Russia, and the physical crown is itself seen as a holy relic. Hence the especial status accorded to the coronation crowns of England, France, the Empire, Hungary and Bohemia.

There is a characteristically good passage on this in Aidan Nicols' The Realm.

Christ crowns King Roger II of Sicily

Image: Web Gallery of Art

Friday 23 November 2012

No Women Bishops yet

So the long-running saga of women's ordination in the Church of England has not yet reached its endgame, or indeed the happy ending desired by its proponents, of the sanctioning of the consecration of women to the Anglican episcopate.

The issue is no longer my direct concern any more, though I retain a concern for the life of this national institution and for its place in our national life. There is also a continuing concern for those of the Anglo-Catholic tradition who remain within the Church of England.  I must admit I expected the legislation to go through, though I was aware of infomed speculation that it would fail to get the necessary votes.

The Synod vote on Tuesday was not only a rebuff of considerable magnitude on the political Richter scale to the dominant liberal ascendancy but also a rebuff to proponents in the Catholic Church both of women's ordination and to those amongst them who appeal to the laity as a means of effecting change.

Listening to Sir Tony Baldry speaking as Second Church Estates Commissioner, resplendant in his Garrick Club (men only) tie I sensed I was hearing echoes of the Gorham judgment of 1850. The General Synod was not debating the theology of consecrating women  - the pass on that has already been sold - but the legal mechanism to implement it. By refusing reasonable safeguards for those who do not accept such female appointees the Liberal Establishment secured its own defeat - no wonder they are so hurt and angry - there is, after all,  nothing so ill-liberal as a thwarted Liberal.

Despite what the Prime Minister might say about nudging the Cof E I doubt if politicians will want to spend Parliamentary time and energy, let alone whether they should, forcing through legislation that undermines the whole principle of the General Synod as set up to be an autonomous legislative bodyand risks a Church-State clash, and might well involve other denominations - and all that with the proposals on redefining marriage looming. Unlike the Prayer Book controversy of 1927-28 the politicians are not, I suspect, as theologically literate as their predecessors of eighty plus years ago, so it is possible that the equality argument is all that would be heard. The Synod may be bounced somehow, but that is more likely to drive out the Anglo-Catholics. Fortunately the Ordinariate is there to welcome them.

As an Anglican friend said to me it shows Dr Williams' knack of turning everything he touchs to dust and ashes - his Primacy will not be remembered for securing women in the episcopate, but for its failure - and Dr Welby faces even more problems than he already had waiting on the archiepiscopal desk at Lambeth.

Amongst  Catholic bloggers there are these posts on the subject from Fr Blake, Women bishops?  and Her Majesty's Ministry for Religion  and from Fr Tim Finigan Disturbing prospects after the Synod vote and  Anglicans fell just two votes short of getting wha...


Wednesday 21 November 2012

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple.


The Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple

Image: Catholic Church Conservation blogspot

The feast itself originates in the east, where it is recorded in the sixth century and is specifically referred to by the Emperor Michael VIII Comnenus in 1166,  rather than in the west, where it arrived in the 1370s, as is explained in an illustrated article which can be read here, together with an explanation of its meaning as a festival.   

The emphasis in the liturgy of the day is not only on the Blessed Virgin's consecraton to God, but also on the place of the Temple, both physical and spiritual, in the life of the people of God. As a feast it became universal with the 1570 Missal and a decree of Pope Sixtus V in 1585.

The source of the feast is however much more ancient, arising from the account given in the second century text of the Protoevangelium of St James, or, as it is sometimes known, the Gospel of St James. There is an account of this text which can be read here.

Although it has never been accounted canonical by the Church the Protoevangelium is nonetheless very early as a text, and cannot therefore be dismissed as a later medieval doctrinal excressence. it is the earliest Marian text outsid ethe Gospels, and narrates the stry of her birth and later upbringing in the Temple community and her betrothal to St Joseph. Some scholars have certainly opined that its origins  do indeed lie in the teaching of St James the Less as Bishop of Jerusalem in the first century. The text of the Protoevangelium can be read in translation here.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Royal 65th Wedding Anniversary

Today is the sixty-fifth anniversary of the wedding of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip in 1947. It is therefore an opportunity to express loyal congratulations and good wishes to them on the occasion.

Theirs is the longest lasting marriage amongst those of British monarchs - the nearest in length is that of King George III and Queen Charlotte from 1761 until her death in 1818.

It is also a reminder in present circumstances that marriages do endure, and that traditional marriage is at the very heart of our institutions as a nation. The facts that marriages, whether of Kings or commoners, can and do endure and provide mutual support for the partners needs to be borne in mind by those who speak too easily of its decline, still more who work to undermine it, or to change it into a merely legal matter of "human rights" or personal self-fulfillment for the parties.


The Bury St Edmunds Cross

Today is the feast of St Edmund King and Martyr about whom I posted in St Edmund in 2010.

This year I thought I would feature the Bury St Edmunds Cross, otherwise known these days as the Cloisters Cross from its present home at the Cloisters Museum in New York, which acquired it in 1963. The depressing story of how it was bought by the Met in New York, and not by the British Museum, is told in toe-curling awfulness in Thomas Hoving's book King of the Confessors.

The cross is believed to come from the abbey at Bury St Edmunds, the great shrine church of St Edmund in Suffolk. Made of five pieces of walrus ivory and standing almost 23 inches high it retains traces of its original polychrome decoration and is dated to 1130-70.

There is an online article about it here.The Metropolitan Museum's website features it here, and gives the texts of the numerous biblical verses carved on the cross.
There is now a copy of the cross at the cathedral of St Edmundsbury, and there is an online article about that which can be read here.

The cross has ninety two figures amd ninety eight inscriptions - this was made for a monastic community that knew its scripture. Shown as the Tree of Life the cross has Moses setting up the brazen serpent as a Type of the Crucifixion in the central boss on the front. To the right is the Deposition, and to the left the Women at the Tomb. Above is the Ascension. At the base of the cross Caiaphas and Pilate dispute the text of the titulus. What is believed to be the corpus from the cross was found in a Museum in Oslo.

On the reverse the Agnus Dei is at the centre, with the emblems of the Evangelists at the cardinal points - although the Angel of St Matthew at the base is now missing.

How the cross survived the dissolution of the abbey in 1539 is unknown - it re-emerged after the Second World War from cenral Europe, and it was the lack of a definite title of ownership by the vendor which, tragically, caused the British Museum to baulk at purchasing it.
The cross is somewhat controversial because of the clear hostility in its selection of verses to the Jews - what was acceptable in a twelfth century East Anglian abbey may not go down too well with potential Jewish patrons of the twentieth century Museum....

Nonetheless this is a wonderful treasure, and a masterpiece from one of the greatest of English abbeys and shrines, and at one of the great periods in its history of which we know a great deal in the life of Abbot Samson by Jocelyn of Brakelond. It is also a window on to the spirituality of the middle twelfth century when new understandings of scripture and tradition blended with those of previous generations. 

The Cloisters Cross

Images: Metroplitan Museum

The Cross with what is believed to be the original corpus, which is now in a museum in Oslo

Image: tumblr.com


The Agnus Dei

Image: Apo Lakay on Flickr


The Deposition from the Cross and Burial

Image:julianna lees on Flickr


The Ascension

Image:peterjr19 on Flickr


Moses setting up the Brazen Serpent

Image:A. Elizabeth Berg on Flickr

Monday 19 November 2012


I mentioned in my previous post that I had been close to the site of Nonsuch, the palace built by King Henry VIII in the years after 1538. It was demolished for the sake of selling off the rubble as building materials, so as to pay her gambling debts, in 1682-3 by Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, who had been given the house by King Charles II

Although often termed a palace Nonsuch was perhaps more a very opulent hunting lodge, being only a third of the size of Hampton Court, which lies a few miles to the north. In one way it may have been similar in its status as a royal retreat to the function of the Grand Trianon or Marly to Versailles for King Louis XIV.

Begun on the anniversary of the King's accession, April 22nd, in 1538, the building very soon had gained its distinctive name, there being none such a structure in the country. It is often compared with Chambord, and seen as a response to King Francis I's palace; the seventeenth century, the English Catholic priest Richard Lassels (1603?–68), in his posthumously published The Voyage of Italy, however referred to Fontainbleau as ‘the Nonsuch of France’.

Sometimes described as arguably the first Renaissance building in England Nonsuch appear to me too eclectic for such a description. It incorporated Renaissance features - notably its stucco decoration - and the gardens may well have been the first truly Italianate landscape feature in England.  Much of it was however fairly typical of the late Perpendicular domestic style of the age, and the two towers on the south front wondrous pieces of exuberance. In many ways it was King Henry VIII's late medieval fantasy toy castle - inspired by perhaps by Arthurian romances and the like. It was the King's equivalent of the Brighton Pavilion created by King George IV around a place for royal recreation. In both cases the expenditure to create them was lavish, and the emphasis on the exotic.

Like the Brighton Pavilion Nonsuch was less favoured by the King's successors. It was leased by King Edward VI and sold by Queen Mary I, but was reacquired by Queen Elizabeth I in 1596, and in her last years she liked it as much as any of her other residences.  Under the early Stuarts it was used occasionally, housed the Exchequer after the Fire of London and in 1670 was given to to Lady Castlemaine, only for her to destroy it a little over decade later. It's loss is, of course, to be greatly deprecated. Only a four contemporary pictures survive of the building, but the excavation of the site in 1959 revealed the plan. The excavation was also important in establishing archaeological investigation of post-medieval sites as an important means of recovering the past.

There is an illustrated online history of Nonsuch here, and there is another online article about the Palace from a local history group, which has more detail as to its history, here

From the same group is an illustrated account of the gardens, which appear to have been both lavish and spectacular and with strong Italianate influences alongside the formal knot gardens of the era. That site can be viewed here.

In addition to that link there is now also, I find, a very fine reconstruction model of the Palace by Ben Taggart on display at Cheam. There is a splendid illustrated article about it here.  It is also featured, with basically the same illustrations, in a Daily Mail article from 2011 which can be viewed here. These include details of the stucco decoration of the inner courtyard.

I have selected two of the pictures to give an idea of both the model and of what has been lost. I think an excursion to see the reconstruction is definitely called for.



Image: countrylifeimages.co.uk

nonsuch palace model

The south front of Nonsuch

Image: Copyright Roger Poynter/ Friends of Nonsuch

Mass at Carshalton

Last week my friend David Forster, Secretary of the Latin Mass Society, asked if I could help serve as thurifer at an EF Mass at Carshalton in Surrey that was being arranged for yesterday afternoon. Fortunately I was free and I was very happy to assist.

By the time we got  away from Oxford with our cassocks, lace cottas, an altar missal,  a set of altar cards and the all-important maniple packed into David's car it had turned into a mini tatmobile* and off we went on the M40 and M25 into what was terra incognita for both of us. I was navigating from a series of maps downloaded from the internet, and, with only one overshooting of a junction in Carshalton and a bit of lucky backtracking, we got there. I was particularly interested to find that en route we travelled round the perimeter of Nonsuch Park, the site of King Henry VIII's spectacular Nonsuch Palace - but I will put up a separate post about that.

Our Lord on the Holy Cross

The reredos in Holy Cross
Image: rc.net/southwark/carshalton

The Mass was celebrated in Holy Cross church in Carshalton, and was, I gathered, the first one there using the 1962 Missal since 1969. The organiser had a fine schola to sing the Missa cantata and the celebrant was Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith.

The congregation was a good number of people, and drawn from a wide age range. I was told afterwards that some of them were people who had not been to the church for a considerable while and who had come back specially for the Mass. Over coffee afterwards it was clear that there was genuine enthusiasm for such an EF Mass at Carshalton, and that our part in making it happen was greatly appreciated.

* A private joke some readers will appreciate

Sunday 18 November 2012

A Cloud of Witnesses

The last couple of days have been replete with saints to commemorate, and I thought I would give the links to the posts I published last year about them for those readers who may not have seen them then, or for whom they are new.

So for Friday there is this post about St Margaret of Scotland and also one about St Edmund of Abingdon.

For yesterday there are posts about St Hilda and Whitby, St Hugh of Lincoln and St Elisabeth of Hungary.

May they all pray for their particular patronages and for all who seek their intercession.

Unam Sanctam

Today is the 710th anniversary of the issue in 1302 by Pope Boniface VIII of his bull Unam Sanctam.

Bonifatius VIII Grabstatue.JPG

Pope Boniface VIII

Image: fr.wikipedia.org

The bull, withits resounding concluding sentence "Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff ", is often regarded as the ultimate official expression of Papal claims to hegemony over both ecclesiastical and secular matters.

The bull was seen to be directed in particular against King Philip IV of France, with whom the Pope had been in dispute over their calims and ambitions to control the Church in France.

King Philip IV
The tomb effigy at St Denis


The text of Unam sanctam can be read in translation here

There is an online article about the bull and the events that led the Pope to issue it which can be read here. An online biography of Pope Boniface VIII can be here and one of King Philip IV here.


Pope Boniface VIII
Statue by Arnolfo di Cambio
Museo dell'Opera dell Duomo Florence
The position of the Papal pallium looks utterly impractical - I think it must be attributed to artistic licence, not actual liturgical practice.


However Unam Sanctam is not just something for historians of the Papacy and the Middle Age. It remains part of the living tradition of Papal claims to exercise its plenitudo potestatis and to its exercise of the Petrine ministry.

Thus Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corpus Christi ( June 29 1943) wrote: " That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam."