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.

Sunday 31 March 2013

Eight years in peace and full communion

Today is the eighth anniversary of my reception into full peace and communion with the Church, and I am following my practice from previous years and reproducing a piece I wrote in my early days of blogging about my reasons for so doing, and in the form I published it last year with some slight emendations and additions.

It was Thursday in the Octave of Easter 2005, and chosen because it enabled friends and relatives who would not have been able to attend at the Easter Vigil to be present and, in one case, to be my sponsor.

I took as my confirmation name Philip - not only the name of the founder of the Oratory and of an Apostle, but also my father's first name and one that I had always liked. So John Robert became John Robert Philip. I subsequently went to the not inconsiderable expense of adding the name by deed poll, so I can insist on officialdom recognising my spiritual journey.

As it happened, by being received when I was, I thereby became one of the very last Catholics to be received into the Church in the pontificate of Pope John Paul II - I feel I squeezed through the door of history in that respect. There are those converts who used to describe themselves as "John Paul II Catholics" or similar phrases. I am, by historic fact and by sympathy a "Benedict XVI Catholic", but, and it is a very important "but", I am a Catholic first - Popes inevitably come and go. That said I consider it an enormous good fortune for the Church and, for me as an individual member of it, to have had His Holiness in the Chair of Peter. His pontificate has been a great blessing for the whole church. Much of what we have already heard from Pope Francis indicates continuity on expressing the faith as his predecessor did, and in bringing a serious Christian awareness to the current social and economic ills of the world.

As I made my decision to seek reception I codified my ideas into nine categories or groups. St Edmund Campion had his Decem Rationes which he placed so provocatively in St Mary's Church in Oxford in 1581. Mine are more personal perhaps, but, in that they may interest others, here are my Novem Rationes of 2005:

1. I believed all that the Catholic Church believed - so why was I not in full communion with it? I read the Catechism through and found nothing from which to dissent within it.

2. In particular I accepted the claims of the Papacy and its necessity in order to maintain orthodoxy and unity.

3. As a historian I appreciated the Catholic case for the nature of the Church and the Papacy, and the fact of its historical continuity - Walter Ullman's point that the Papacy is the one institution that links the Apostolic age to the Atomic age reverberates in my mind.

4. The call to Unity - not only the principal of Ut unum sint but also the specific claims to expressing that unity with all other Catholics through the Holy See as described by the Fathers.

5. The Catholic Church was seen to act on issues contingent upon Christian belief - Life issues might be the most obvious, but there were others, and with an authentic response being made.

6. I realised that my historic sympathies were with Catholicism - which side would I have been on, or at least believed I would have been on or wanted to be on in say, the Reformation? Well it was clear. My heart lay with the Catholic cause.

7. The state of Anglicanism was not encouraging. For Traditionalist Anglo-Catholics the situation was one of increasing isolation, and the sense that a Third Province would not be granted.

8. Much as I loved my Anglican places of worship - Pusey House and St Thomas in Oxford - I felt that I was called to move on. I was at an age when I still could make a change, but that there was not time to delay. If this was the time, then so be it.

9. I thought that many of my Anglican friends were moving or would move into full communion with Rome. Those friendships, based and rooted in a shared spiritual life, were very important to my own spiritual development, and they were pointing all in the same direction.

Looking back from this point, seven years later, I have never had cause to regret my decision. There is no "seven year itch."

I still endorse those nine sets of ideas.

The last three invite some additional comments.

The Church of England has continued on its way, and has failed to have the generosity to provide for Traditionalist Anglo-Catholics. The issue of women bishops remains unresolved and even more divisive it would seem in the wake of alst november's failure to vote the matter through the General Synod.

Anglicanorum Coetibus has been issued - I pray it will be successful in extending the unity of the Church to others of like faith and mind outside its formal bounds. Since 2011 we have witnessed the establishment of the Ordinariate first in England and more recently in the USA. I have been able to help to support those joining it by acting as a pro-sponsor in two cases, or simply by turning up to support their Masses, and, of course, by praying for it.

Summorum Pontificum reasserted the right to have traditional forms of the liturgy and it has been followed by a strong and positive response, and that needs to be continued - as has been said what was sacred once is sacred now.

I am still on excellent terms with friends from Pusey House and St Thomas', and I rejoiced at Fr Hunwicke's appointment to the latter in 2007. It has been good to see all that is happening at both institutions for the Catholic cause. It was very good for my humility that they could manage and survive without me. I retain enormously happy memories of my time at both places and at the churches I worshipped at in Yorkshire before I came to Oxford.

Nonetheless I increasingly find it difficult to see why more people in the Anglo-Catholic tradition are not availing themselves of all - and it is so much - that is offered by the Ordinariate. It is all they have ever said they wanted or indeed hoped for - bar, possibly, taking their church buildings with them, and though I can sympathise to a great extent, but not to the exclusion of what ultimately matters.

As to my friends - well, I was the second of our group to make the move, and three more had followed by last year. In the last two years two more married couples, one with three children, from that set of friends have made that same move. Four of the men have either been ordained or are preparing for ordination.

Along the way I have made many other new friends amongst those converting, and I have been made very welcome in my new spiritual home. I am extremely lucky to have the Oratory and also SS Gregory and Augustine and Blackfriars as places in which to worship regularly here in Oxford.

A friend and I likened the process of conversion and reception not to swimming the Tiber, but to paddling across - when we reached the opposite bank we found friends waiting in the deck-chairs to hand one a towel to dry one's feet and then to hand you a missal or breviary to read as you sat down to watch who would be next to come over.

May St Philip Neri, Bl. John Henry Newman and all the saints continue to pray for me, and for those seeking their home in the Church.

He is Risen! Alleluia!

The Resurrection of Christ 

 El Greco

Image: raindeocampo

The Resurrection is an event without precedent or parallel, and difficult for artists to depict satisfactorily without producing a stage-like effect. However I think El Greco's blend of Mannerism and Greek sprituality with traditional Catholic forms does convey more successfully the dynamic force of what must have been the reality - realism is not enough for such a, literally, earth shattering and earth changing event.

A holy and joyful Easter to you all   

Thursday 28 March 2013

Imperial Maundy

The tradition of the mandatum was not confined to English kings - it survived as a practice in the Austrian Empire and in Spain during the reign of King Alfonso XIII.
" In 1850, Franz Joseph participated for the first time as Emperor in the second of the traditional Habsburg expressions of dynastic piety: the Holy Thursday foot-washing ceremony, part of the four-day court observance of Easter. The master of the staff and the court prelates chose twelve poor elderly men, transported them to the Hofburg, and positioned them in the ceremonial hall on a raised dais. There, before an invited audience observing the scene from tribunes, the Emperor served the men a symbolic meal and Archdukes cleared the dishes. As a priest read aloud in Latin the words of the New Testament (John 3:15), “And he began to wash the feet of the disciples,” Franz Joseph knelt and, without rising from his knees, washed the feet of the twelve old men in imitation of Christ. Finally, the Emperor placed a bag of twenty silver coins around the necks of each before the men were led away and returned to their homes in imperial coaches."

The Emperor washing the feet of the poor on Holy Thursday
A lithograph of circa 1910
From Daniel L. Unowsky, The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism: Imperial Celebrations in Habsburg Austria 1848-1916 (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 2005), p. 29.
Image and text: nobility.org March 7, 2011
1907 newspeper report says that thirty silver coins were given, but I am not sure if that is accurate.
In 1904 the ceremony was attended by Consuelo Duchess of Marlborough (1877-1964) who described it in her memoirs The Glitter and the Gold, published in 1953 and recently reprinted. The Vanderbilt heiress displays in her autobiography both a thoroughgoing pleasure in the privileges of her rank and an American edginess about such privileges, both of which are apparent in her account of the occasion:
[Text to be added]

Royal Maundy in Oxford

It was pretty typical of my luck that the year that the Queen holds the Royal Maundy service in Christ Church cathedral here in Oxford and then pays another visit to Oriel, of which she is Visitor, and where Her Majesty had lunch with the Fellows in Hall, I had to be in London all day, so I will have to be dependent on newspaper and internet reports of today's events.

This was the first time the Maundy ceremony had been conducted in Oxford cathedral since 1643 when King Charles I was residing in the college during the Civil War.

The history and development of the service can be read online here. My post from 2011 about the ceremony can be read at The Royal Maundy.

 The Queen hands out Maundy money at the Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.

The Queen distributes the Maundy money purses in the cathedral

Image: ITV/Press Association

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh outside Christ Church Cathedral after the service. 

 The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh outside Christ Church Cathedral after the service.

Image:ITV/Steve Parsons/PA Wire

There is a good selection of photographs of today's events in the report in the Daily Mail which can be seen here and there is a report with more local detail from the Oxford student newspaper Cherwell here. 

There is a video link with film of the service in the report from the Daily Telegraph which can be viewed here.

Following the service in Christ Church the monarch and her consort travelled to Oriel for lunch with the Provost and Fellows. Oriel is the oldest royal foundation in either of the ancient universities  and the Sovereign is Visitor. So the founder King Edward II's twenty times over great grandaughter came to her  college today. The Oriel website has not yet got photographs available of the visit other than a masthead, but here is a photograph of Her Majesty leaving the college after lunch and looking both happy and in good health:


Wednesday 27 March 2013

The death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378

Today is the 635th anniversary of the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378. It was to prove an event which can be seen as marking a significant historic landmark in the history of the Papacy and of later medieval Europe.

Gregory XI

Pope Gregory XI - a later portrait now in the Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Image: hoocher.com

Born as Pierre Roger de Beaufort  in 1329/30  he was the nephew of Pope Clement VI (1342-52) and had been elected to the throne of St Peter in 1370, having been a cardinal since 1348. Srrongly supported in his resolve to do so by St Catherine of Siena, as in her Letter to Pope Gregory XI ,and against considerable opposition, he insisted, now that it was deemed safe amd practicable, on returning from Avignon to resume papal residence in Rome in 1377, entering Rome on January 17th. 

St Catherine of Siena and Pope Gregory XI

Painting of circa 1460/61 by Giovanni di Paolo (1403-1482)
Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid

Image: Wikipedia

He was the second of the Avignonese Popes to return to Rome, his predecessor Pope Urban V having lived there from 1367 until 1370 when he returned  to Avignon and died shortly afterwards.

Fichier:07 Grégoire XI (Avignon) 01.jpg

Pope Gregory XI returns to Rome in 1377 

A detail from a painting by Girolamo di Benvenuto (1470-1525) in  the Hospital of Santa-Maria della Scala Siena


However Pope Gregory died on this day in 1378. This was to set in motion the events that led to the Great Schism of that year, as I will show in future posts. It is not clear if Gregry might. like Urban V before  him have returned to Avignon, but his death in Rome and subsequent events bled to the return of the papacy to its historic base, even if that was not firmly re-established until after 1447.

Tomb of Gregory XI in the Papal Palace, Avignon

A reproduction in the Papal Palace at Avigon of the tomb of Pope Gregory XI in Rome

Image: corbisimages.com

There is an online life of Pope Gregory here, and there are also online lives of his cousins the brothers Pierre de Murat de Cros and Jean de Murat de Cros, which give further insights into the era. Pope Gregory XI was to be the last French occupant to date of the Papacy.

The arms of Pope Gregory XI

Image: Wikipedia

Monday 25 March 2013

Pope and Pope Emeritus together

Fr Blake has a good post about the historic, indeed unprededented, meeting on Saturday of the Pope and the Pope Emeritus at Castelgandolfo on Saturday. It can be read at We are Brothers. It is particularly useful as it has a link to a post on Andrea Tornielli's blog Vatican Insider which draws out the continuity of approach between the two Popes and seeks to dispel some of the stories and rumours that are winging their way round the internet and through the media. I have added a link to Tornelli's blog to my sidebar.

Friday 22 March 2013

Galician Romanesque

Recently John Dillon posted this picture on the Medieval Religion discussion group of a window at the Monastery of Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil, in Galicia, and speculated if it indicated evidence for a cult of Mickey Mouse in medieval Spain...

On a more serious note there are a series of views of this fine Romanesque church here.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

The death of King Henry IV

Today is the anniversary of the death 600 years ago of King Henry IV on March 20th 1413


King Henry IV

The head of the effigy on his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral

Image: anglophile.ru

The King, who had been in poor or indifferent health for several years collapsed whilst visiting the shrine of St Edward the Confessor at Westminster Abbey and was taken to the Jerusalem Chamber in the Abbot's house. When told that it was so named the King recalled that it had been prophesied that he would die in Jersusalem, which he had hitherto taken as a sign that he would die on Crusade in the Holy Land.


The Jerusalem Chamber as it is today



The effigy of King Henry IV in profile- it suggests  a tired, careworn man


The scene of the King's deathbed is the occasion for Shakespeare in King Henry IV Part II Scene IV to examine the tensions between the King and his heir the Prince of Wales, centred on the Prince, believing his father to have died, taking the crown which had been placed by his father's pillow, and leaving, and the King, upon waking, imagining his son as being anxious for his death and the succession. How close this is to the facts of history is not clear. It can be seen as Shakespeare providing a dramatic version of the political tensions which had existed between father and son, and indeed between the Prince and his brother Thomas, Duke of Clarence, in the years since 1411 at least, exacerbated by the King's illness - which is suggested by Dr Peter McNiven in an article in the English Historical Review to have been progressively chronic heart trouble, sapping the energy of a hitherto active and fit man who died at the age of 46. 

However the various stories of Prince Henry's youthful indiscretions appear to be perhaps more than just sixteenth century dramatic licence but based on traditions handed down by the family of the Earls of Ormonde, who had been one of his intimates.

What does seem attested is that whatever rebelliousness of spirit, or impatience to take charge of government the Prince had, perhaps understandably, shown was now disciplined into that steeliness of purpose that was to mark him out as King Henry V, and to which Shakespeare indeed alludes in the two plays about the reign of his father. Following the death of the old King his son went that same night to confess to the anchorite attached to the abbey in a cell to the south of the choir and spent the night there in prayer. The remains of the cell were rediscovered after the Second World War. Writers contemporary with the young King bear witness to the disciplined, prayerful and chaste life he lived from his accession onwards. So began the reign of King Henry V.


King Henry V

Image: Wikimedia

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Unfortunately I was unable to see the Papal inauguration of Pope Francis on television this morning, and had to rely on internet reports. It was clear from these that His Holiness has raised hopes and expectations in his home continent amongst the faithful who were present in St Peter's Square.

This evening a friend of eminently traditionalist sympathies was saying that he thought this morning's ceremonial was in several ways a distinct improvement on that in 2005. He cited the presence of a crucifix over th Papal throne, and the free-standing statute of the Virgin and Child by the altar, the canopy over the altar and the six large candlesticks flanking the crucifix there, which also had its own, seventh light. 

I assume that these are in part a result of the revision of the rite by Pope Benedict XVI before he stepped aside, and which was reported on the Vatican webite during the vacancy. It was this which restored the homage of the Cardinals - though as with the homage of the Peers at the English Coronation it is reduced to representitives of each degree rather than all the Sacred College. The New Liturgical Movement has Ceremonial Details of Today's Mass of Inauguration on its site.

I must, of course, admit, that I would rather we had had the traditional Coronation of the Pope, and will always recall the impact of watching on television that of Pope Paul VI in 1963.

One thing which surprises me for not being retained in the modified Inauguration, as opposed to Coronation, rite is the ceremony with a Franciscan holding up on three occasions a piece of burning  flax or tow with the salutory admonition as it flared up and extinguished itself to the new Pope of "Pater Sancte, Sic transit gloria mundi." I would have thought that might appeal particularly to Pope Francis. 

The same friend to whom I was talking this evening was last week full of despondency over the impression that was getting about as to the new Pope's liturgical and ceremonial style - be it the absence of the mozetta at his appearance on the balcony of St Peter's following his election, the choice of his own black shoes rather than the traditional red ones worn by Pope Benedict, or the omission of the Papal fanon, which the former Pope had reassumed, today. I must admit to being inclined to agree and we are aware that we are not alone at the moment in fearing that we may be seeing a rolling back of liturgical points which, whilst they may seem small things to others, we see as having a profound significance for the office of the Papacy, and as having been prudently used by Pope Benedict.  

Such fears, whether justified or not, are not assuaged by reports such as this one by the veteran BBC Rome correspondent David Willey (though I often sense his understanding of the Vatican and the Church is less than perfect) which can be seen at Break with past

The reaction against such reports is interesting - as in a blog post from Laurence England in Brighton, a blogger noted for his sympathy for the poor and homeless, which you can read here.

That point made, it is also important to stress that as Catholics we feel loyalty to the Pope and to his office, and respect and look to his spiritual leadership and teaching example - as, for example, I wrote the other day Pope Francis may well be the leader to recall the developed economies to a sense of responsibility and morality. It is rather on these lines that Fr Julian Large C.O., Provost of the London Oratory, has written an excellent piece which can be read here.

Addendum - Thursday

Further to what I wrote above on  Tuesday evening I would draw attention to a very thoughtful posting on his blog by Fr Blake about the nature and perception of Papal authority in the modern world. His point about the risks for the Church of relying on the perceived celebrity of a Pontiff  has  concerned me as an idea since the conclaves of 1978.His post can be read at Larger than life Popes?  

Monday 18 March 2013

St Edward the Martyr

Today is the feast day of St Edward the Martyr, and this year is the 1,035th anniversary of his murder early in the evening of March 18th 978 at Corfe in Dorset. The killing of the teenage King, who had succeeded to the throne in 975, appears to have been so as to place his younger half-brother Ethelred, then a child, and not himself involved in any such conspiracy, on the throne. As King Ethelred II he was the most assiduous proponant of his half-brother's cult, but historians have seen the regicide of 987 as undermining from the very beginning the moral basis of King Ethelred's authority.


St Edward the Martyr
A modern icon of the martyr King

There is an illustrated online account of  St Edward's life and reign here and of his cult here.

The excellent account of his life in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography by Cyril Hart can be read here.
Following rather ignominious burial at Wareham his body was translated to Shaftesbury and the great abbey of nuns there housed his relics and was a place of pilgrimage until the sixteenth century. There is an online account of the abbey here. Only foundations remain of the church, but the relics themselves were re-discovered during excavations in 1931, and confirmed as being of the right date and character in 1970. I recall seeing them - or possibly  pictures of them - on my visit to the abbey site in 1972.

Image result for shaftesbury abbey

A plan of the abbey at Shaftesbury

Image:British History online

Following a protracted legal dispute over custody of the relics, during which they were held in a bank vault, they are now with the St Edward the Martyr Orthodox Brotherhood at Brookwood Cemetary in Surrey. I did not manage to accompany friends on past visits at Easter from Ascot Priory when I used to spend the Triduum there.  The website of the Brotherhood has a section about St Edward which can be viewed here. It is good that the relics are once again a focus of devotion, but it is rather sad that after so many centuries at Shaftesbury that they should be removed elsewhere.

St Edward's cult survived in the Church of England in that he remained in the Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer. Here in Oxford the Tractarian Thomas Chamberlain as Vicar of St Thomas' in the nineteenth century founded a number of schools for both boys and girls, the only one of which survives is St Edward's under the patronage of the boy-martyr King. It was the association of St Edward with the monastic reforms of St Dunstan which probably inspired Canon Chamberlain, as well as the Tractarian attempt to recover devotion to English medieval saints. The school incorporates in its arms the heraldic bearings assigned in later centuries to the Kings of the house of Wessex and uses as a badge the dagger and cup symbols of St Edward's martyrdom.

Sunday 17 March 2013

An Irish version of the Royal Arms

The arms of the Kingdom of Ireland as used from its designation as such in 1541-2 have been, with a varient of gules three harps or used during part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, azure, a harp or stringed argent, which appears to derive from a thirteenth century precedent, as explained here.  From the time of King James I there was also a crest of a tower with a white hart issuing from it - possibly references to Dublin Castle itself and to King Richard II's visits to Ireland.

File:Ströhl-HA-LI-Fig. 04.png

The Arms of the Kingdom of Ireland as used from the accession of King James I


This coat of arms, often crowned rather than with the crest appeared on buildings in Dublin and elsewhere in the period before the Union of 1800-01. Since 1603 the Irish arms have been quartered in the Royal Arms as borne by the Sovereign, together with the arms of the English and Scottish Kingdoms  - there is an illustrated outline history of these arms here.

Unlike Scotland Ireland did not have an officially recognised version of the Royal Arms appropriate to itself which gave precedence to the kingdom. This tradition was recovered or reasserted in Scotland  for the visit of King George IV, and can still be seen both in shileds of arms and the tabards of the Lord Lyon and his Court. In Ireland, by contast, and presumably as a consequence of the long dependency of Ireland upon the English Crown the English version of the Royal Arms was used on shields and for the tabards of the Ulster King of Arms and his assistants.

However there were attempts to produce an Irish version. I have seen, many years ago, in a book on Dublin a photograph of a painted fanlight with the Royal Arms depicted with the Irish quarter first and fourth, England in the  second and Scotland in the third, and I am told by a friend that a similar shield is to be seen on one of the banks in Belfast. A third example is on the reverse of a pattern double florin for use in Ireland produced to mark Queen Victoria's visit in 1900 - this has four seperate shields for the three kingdoms, and two of them are Irish.

When the Irish Free State established its own seals in the 1930s, the "Fob Seal" used on letters of credence  varied the British arms by having the harp in two quarters - this is of course from the era of the External Relations Act prior to 1949.

If the constitutional settlement of Ireland had worked out differently during the twentieth century I can imagine that an Irish version of the Royal Arms might well have been adopted and used when appropriate. Recently I found this rather handsome version of the arms, although I would marshal England in the second quarter and Scotland third, and not as the artist has here with Scotland in the second and England in the third quarter. That notwithstanding it is a fine piece of work, and looks very handsome with the collar of the Order of St Patrick encircling it:

Small Royal Coat of arms with St Patrick Order collar photo SmallRoyalCoatofarmswithStPatrickOrdercollar.png

Image: oren_neu_dag on photobucket

There are other design possibilities from a heraldic enthusiast in Northern Ireland about such an achievement of arms here.

The Order of St Patrick

Today being St Patrick's Day, were it not also Passion Sunday, which takes liturgical preference, it seems appropriate to draw attention to the foundation 230 years ago in 1783 by King George III of the  Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick. This followed on from the summoning in 1782 of what became known as Grattan's Parliament, which gave effective self-government for the Kingdom of Ireland. One function of the Order was to be as a patronage resource for the governance of Ireland.

There is an illustrated online account of the Order here. The Queen's website still includes the Order, although there have been no conferments since 1922 other than to her uncles and, lastly, to her father as heir to the throne in 1936 - the relevant piece is here.
My previous posts on this subject from previous years can be read at  The Order of St Patrick and Banners of the Knights of St Patrick

The Most Illustrious Order of St. Patrick was the Irish equivalent of the English Order of the Garter and the Scottish Order of the Thistle. Knights were required to be "descended of three descents of nobleness" on both paternal and maternal sides. Its purpose was to give social advancement to senior peers and so further secure their loyalty. Admission to the Order was seen as evidence of the high social standing of the recipient and there was considerable competition for the limited places - originally there were fifteen Knights, but the number was later increased to twenty two. 

File:Order of St Patrick installation banquet.jpg

The installation banquet of the first Knights of the Order of St Patrick in St Patrick's Hall at Dublin Castle in 1783

A painting by John Keyse Sherwin of 1785

Image: Wikipedia

Star of the Order of St. Patrick

The Star of the Order of St Patrick

Image:Kotomicreations on Flickr
The then rebuilt Great Hall, or Ballroom, of Dublin Castle became known as St. Patrick's Hall when King George III instituted the Order of St. Patrick in 1783.

The impressive investiture ceremony of Knighthood took place in St. Patrick's Hall. As soldiers lined the route, the new knights in their mantles and habits, walked in ceremonial procession to an installation ceremony in St. Patrick's Cathedral. A celebratory banquet took place later in the Castle.

St. Patrick's Hall
St. Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle

The central panel, of Valdre's ceiling paintings in St. Patrick's Hall, depicts the foundation of the Order with King George III seated on a dais, between the symbolic figures of Great Britain with the then British flag and Ireland with her harp, while Justice and Liberty are in attendance. The stall plates along the walls chronologically record the names and the banners bear the family arms of the Knights of St. Patrick invested after the end of the religious ceremonies in St Patrick's Cathedral consequent upon disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869-71.  The star of the Order is reproduced above the eastern doorway of the Hall.


From 1783 until 1871 the Cathedral of St Patrick in Dublin served as the Chapel of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick. With the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 the installation ceremony moved to St. Patrick's Hall in Dublin Castle. The heraldic banners of those knights at the time of the move still hang over the choir stalls to this day.The stall plates of the Knights can also be seen as well as their helmets and swords.

Image: Hazboy on Flickr


The banners on the north side of the choir

Image:timsackton on Flickr

Friday 15 March 2013

Reactions to Pope Francis

Pope Francis preaches at Mass in the Sistine Chapel.

Image: Reuters/Vatican CTV/ITV.

In the 48 hours since his election as Pope was announced there have been formal congratulations to Pope Francis, much comment on what his election means or portends, theories as to the style and tone of his papacy, studies of how the bloc of reformers and that of curialists cancelled one another out in the Conclave leading to his emergence as the surprise (to the outside world at least ) choice, even an interview with his girlfriend of more than half a century ago.

Much of the comment has been very positive in the press and online as well as on television. A friend has pointed out to me two favourable assessments which lay stress on the Pope's Jesuit formation which can be read here. One is by George Weigel, well known as an interpreter of Pope John Paul II, the other from Fr Fessio SJ, the founder of Ignatius Press and very much a voice of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.
In both his homily at the Mass Pro Ecclesia in the Sistine Chapel and in his address to the College of Cardinals the new Pope paid tribute to the work of his predecessor, and this all points to continuity of approach.
The speed of the Conclave and the choice of a cardinal few expected has contributed to the slight feeling of unreality and uncertainty; as Fr Blake pointed out with customary sagacity on his blog, this partly arises from the circumstances of the abdication of Pope Benedict - we have not mourned him as might normally be expected for abeloved Pope before the election of his successor.
There have also been critical, even hostile, voices. This included the post, and its further expansion, on Rorate Coeli about the way in which Summorum Pontificum was implemented in the diocese of Buenos Aires under Cardinal Bergoglio. That said a  friend pointed out that in his early days as pontiff Pope Benedict was also attacked for not doing more for the traditionalist cause by bloggers.

On Thursday evening one friend was very put out by what he had seen of the Mass celebrated by the new Pope in the Sistine Chapel. He saw it as undoing, a rolling back, of all of Pope Benedict's renewal of customary liturgical practice, with, as he saw it, polyester vestments and just two candles at one corner of the forward altar. This sounded very worrying I must admit, but I looked online at photographs and video and found that my friend must have been genuinely mistaken in some of what he had seen. Certainly there was a forward altar, as there had been in 2005, but the lay out was as encouraged by Pope Benedict and the vestments ones I had seen him photographed wearing.I do rather doubt if they are polyester.


The 'Benedictine' arrangement of the altar


There has also been raking over the past in respect of the Pope's actions in Argentina in the years of military rule before 1982. This I gather comes from a particular radical journal, and is inevitable for any public figure from a country with as unsettled a political history as has Argentina.

The British press has found a particular local difficulty for His Holiness in respect of this country, and tat lies in anumber of statements he has made in relatively recent years about the Argentine claim to the Falklands when he has spoken at requiems for the dead of the 1982 war. That he is a patriot for his own native country should not be cause of criticism, but in terms of relations with the United Kingdom they are unfortunate. They are words which have become hostages to fortune, and will not help with alrge section of the British public. Time will, predictably, tell on that issue...

And that is just the first two days of the Pontificate...

Thursday 14 March 2013

Habemus Papam


The first intimation we had at the Oxford Oratory last night of the elction of a new Pope was the appearance of Br Oliver in the sanctuary at the side of Fr Anton who had just finished giving communion at the 6pm Mass. Following their hurried discussion Fr Anton told us "Habemus Papam", but that he knew no more than that. We marked the occasion with the rapid distribution of hymn books and the singing of the Te Deum.

The congregation scattered in search of news - in my case to an Internet cafe where I tuned in to the BBC News 24 site. I missed the actual announcement by Cardinal Tauran of the new Pope's identity, picking that up from the running band of headlines at the bottom of the screen.

Like many people I was surprised, thinking that the conclave would select a man of say 68 to 72 in age, and therefore I thought Cardinal Bergoglio too old to be a likely candidate - and in that I was far from alone. I did remember him as someone prominent in the speculation about the 2005 Conclave, and the reports that during that Conclave he gathered support, whereupon he indicated his support for Cardinal Ratzinger. Few reporters mentioned him this time, which bears out what I posted about Vaticanologists a few days ago, although John Thavis appears to have picked up indications of support, which can be read here, as had, from what he said on television, other people in Romeitself, such as Mgr Roderick Strange.


Pope Francis 

Image: ocregister

Recently I was told an interpretation of the two Conclaves of 1978. in the first the Cardinals sought a  Bishop of Rome who would preside in collegial charity over the wider Church, and believed they had found one in Pope John Paul I. In the second election of that year they sought a candidate with a wider appeal and remt, and found him in  Pope John Paul II. Last night I was reminded of that in so far as the new Pope addressed his words very much to the diocese of Rome, yet much of the commentary on him focussed on his Latin American origin and the universality of the Church as expressed in his election. I wondered if the Conclave believes it has found a combination of the two models in their choice.

He has a number of firsts on his Papal curriculem vitae- the first Pope to take the name Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, the first non European since Pope Gregory III, who reigned from 731-741, the first American, the first Argentinian and the first religious since 1846.

There has been some discussion as to which St Francis he alludes in his choice of name. I assume with others taht it is il poverello of  Assisi, but there are also those great Jesuit saints, Francis Xavier and Francis Borja.

St Francis of Assisi is a much more complex and intimidating figure than the media and popular perception might think, so they may be in for a surprise.

Which brings me to the prophecies of  St Malachy - we have heard less of them this Conclave, probably because, as they stand, and whenever compiled, this Pope is supposed to be the last Pope, and to be the Angelic Pope of  Joachimite expectations - and those revolved around the hopes and ideas raised by St Francis of Assisi, the propoganda of Olivi and others, and the expectations of the Spiritual Franciscans, notably in respect of Apostolic poverty. This of course became focussed upon Pope Celestine V in 1294 and on the aftermath of his abdication. We shall perhaps see if anything like this manifests itself in coming months and years.

A Christian critique of world in its current mess may well be what we need, and Pope Francius may well be the figure to provide it. It will be good for the Church, and a blessing, if he can build on the foundations reinforced by Pope Benedict. I found apost on the internet from 2005 which gives a series of quotations from the then Cardinal Bergoglio which gives an insight into some of his ideas, and which can be read here.  

The surprise generated by this choice suggests that once again the Holy Spirit has moved as He wills, and not as we might expect  or predict.

Let us keep Pope Francis in our prayers and trust he will lead us in the right way.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

A future Pope on the Holy Spirit and the Conclave


Lest anyone forget amid all the media and online listing of Papal candidates, theologically speaking, the Holy Spirit has a vital role to play in the process of the Conclave. Selecting the new Pope is not just a matter of building an electoral base, as may have occurred in the past, but is also seen as a Divine guidance for the Body of Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed this matter in 1997 during an interview with Bavarian television, whilst he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Prefect of the CDF. This was the year after Pope John Paul published his codification of papal electoral procedures. The comments were reprinted in the book Conclave by the Vatican journalist  John Allen, on pp 135-8.
The Cardinal said that the Holy Spirit does not actually choose the new Pope since "there are too many contrary instances of Popes the Holy Spirit would obviously not have picked." The Pope Emeritus has, I think, a nicely nuanced sense of the history of the Church, which is evident in many of his books and articles.

He went on to say "I would say that the Spirit does not exactly take control of the affair, but rather like a good educator, as it were, leaves us much space, much freedom, without entirely abandoning us."

The future Pope continued: "Thus the Spirit's role should be understood in a much more elastic sense, not that He dictates the candidate for whom one must vote. Probably the only assurance he offers is that the thing cannot be totally ruined."

Conclave statistics


The Zenit news service has produced an article with statistics from the Vatican information service about Papal Conclaves since the eighteenth century which may be of interest to readers. I have edited it slightly:

In the entire history of the Church, the longest papal election - taking place in Viterbo, Italy in 1268 following the death of Clement IV and ending with the election of Gregory X - lasted for over two years. It was as a result of this instance that the modern papal Conclave was instituted.

In modern history, the longest Conclave was that of 1740. It lasted from 18 February until 17 August, 181 days. Fifty-one cardinals participated in the final ballot, four cardinals having died during the proceedings.

In 1758, the Conclave that elected Clement XIII lasted from 15 May until 6 July, 53 days. Forty-five cardinals participated, but one was absent at the final ballot, having left the Conclave because of illness.

In 1769, Clement XIV was elected after 94 days, from 15 February until 19 May. Forty-six cardinals participated in the vote.

Beginning in 1774, the Conclave that elected Pius VI lasted 133 days, from 5 October of that year until 15 February 1775. Forty-six cardinals entered in the Conclave but two of them died during the proceedings.

The Conclave that elected Pius VII took place in Valencia, Spain, since Rome was under occupation by Napoleon’s troops. It lasted from 1 December 1799 until 14 March 1800, 105 days. It was the last Conclave held outside of Rome and 34 cardinals participated.

In 1823, Leo XII was elected after 27 days, 2 September until 28 September, and 49 cardinals participated.

In 1829, the Conclave that elected Pius VIII lasted 36 days, 24 February until 31 March, and 50 cardinals participated.

At the Conclave that began in 1831, the last cardinal not to be bishop was elected Pope, Gregory XVI. The Conclave that elected him lasted 51 days, from 14 December 1830 until 2 February of the following year and 45 cardinals participated.

“Short” Conclaves began to take place from 1846, with the election of Blessed Pius IX. Fifty cardinals elected him Pope in a conclave lasting three days, from 14 to 16 June of that year.

After the longest papal reign, which lasted more than thirty years, the following Conclave also lasted three days, from 18 to 20 February in 1878. Sixty-one cardinals participated in the vote to elect Leo XIII. It is interesting to note that, as his reign was the third longest in Papal history, lasting over 25 years, only four of the cardinals that elected him participated in another Conclave. Another interesting fact from this Conclave is that the first American to be created a cardinal, Cardinal John McCloskey, Archbishop of New York, would have been the first non-European to take part in a papal election but he arrived too late to participate. That honour was to go to Cardinal James Gibbons, archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland at the next Conclave.

In 1903 St. Pius X was elected Pope by 64 cardinals in a Conclave that lasted five days, from 31 July until 4 August, and had 7 ballots. It was the last time that the “Jus Exclusivae” (“right of exclusion” or right to veto a candidate for the papacy claimed by the Catholic monarchs of Europe) was exercised. The Italian Cardinal Mariano Rampolla was vetoed by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary. After his election, St. Pius X abolished the right of heads of state to exercise a veto.

In 1914, the Conclave that elected Benedict XV lasted four days, from 31 August until 3 September. The 57 participating cardinals had 10 ballots. Three North American Cardinals were locked out of the Sistine Chapel, having arrived too late to enter but it was the first time that a Latin American Cardinal participated, Cardinal Joaquim Arcoverde de Albuquerque Cavalcanti, Archbishop of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In 1922, during the Conclave that elected Pius XI, 53 cardinals held 7 ballots over five days, from 2 to 6 February. Two American and one Canadian cardinal were again left out of the Conclave for having arrived too late. After his election, Pius XI established a period of 15 days from the beginning of the Sede Vacante to entering into Conclave in order to allow cardinals enough time to travel to Rome.

In the 1939 Conclave that elected Pius XII, the first patriarch of an Eastern rite participated in the election: His Beatitude Mar Ignatius Gabriel I Tappouni, patriarch of Antioch and all the East of the Syrians. It was the first to which a cardinal travelled by air, in this case the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon. The Conclave, the shortest of the twentieth century, lasted just two days, from 1 to 2 March. The 62 cardinals held 3 ballots.

In the Conclave of 1958 that elected Blessed John XXIII, cardinals from China, India, and Africa participated for the first time. The Conclave lasted four days, from 25 to 28 October and the 51 cardinals held 11 ballots.

In 1963, the Conclave lasted three days, from 19 to 21 June. The 80 cardinals elected Paul VI after 11 ballots.

In 1978, the Conclave that elected John Paul I was the first in which cardinals over the age of 80 did not participate. The Conclave lasted two days, 25 to 26 August. The 111 Cardinal electors held four ballots.

In the second Conclave celebrated that year - the reign of John Paul I lasting just 33 days, resulting in the most recent “Year of Three Popes” - Blessed John Paul II was elected by the same 111 Cardinal electors after eight ballots held over three days 14 to 16 October.

In 2005, Benedict XVI was elected Pope in the fourth ballot of the Conclave that lasted two days, from 18 to 19 April. The largest number of Cardinal electors ever took part in that election: 115.

The Conclave that begins today will be the first one since 1829 to be held during Lent. Once again 115 Cardinal electors will participate.

Monday 11 March 2013

The Conclave


On the eve of the papal Conclave I am posting a piece adapted from an article by Edward Pentin on the Zenit website, to which I have added some further reflection and points of my own.

Some of the earliest papal elections are filled with political power struggles and interference that would be a hallmark of many later conclaves. In 687, after clashes between local clergy, the army, and a conniving archdeacon of Rome, electors simply plucked a priest called Sergius from the midst of the people, sent him to the Imperial palace where he was acknowledged as Pope, and then hurried to the Lateran where he was consecrated pontiff. Surprisingly, given the arbitrary nature of the choice, Pope Sergius I went on to become an accomplished Successor of Peter.

A similar unceremonious election took place in 731 when, during the burial of Pope Gregory II, a priest was again seized, this time from the funeral procession, and rushed off to the Lateran where he was made Pope Gregory III by popular acclamation. As Papal elections were often compromised by outside forces, in particular lay interference, a number of subsequent attempts were made to restrict the voters to clergy and bishops. After electors rigged his election, Pope Stephen III held a synod in 769 to try to ensure that only cardinal priests and deacons were allowed to be electors (until then they were leading clergy, army officers, their troops and leading citizens).

By the ninth century, attempts were made to limit interference in papal elections from Emperors and magnates of the Holy Roman Empire which, owing to the close relationship between the faith and temporal power, when Emperors could, and did, appoint or impose a Pope, had made the process an even greater hot-bed of corruption and skulduggery. Indeed it was the Imperal appointment of Pope Leo IX which paved the way for reform in the mid-eleventh century

As part of this the first major reform of Ppapal elections was in 1059, when Pope Nicholas II issued the decree Nomine Domine – In the name of the Lord. This decreed that Popes were to be elected by cardinal bishops alone. The rest of the cardinals would then be asked to give their assent and after that, the clergy and laity of Rome. The intention was to remove papal elections from the control of noble Roman families such as the Crescentii and Tusculani, and the vagaries of the Roman crowd. As Peter Damian, the reforming Benedictine of that time, wrote: Cardinal bishops do the electing, other clergy give their assent and the people are able to give their applause.

However this did not resolve the problem and unseemly power struggles would continue, leading occasionally to antipopes – those chosen by a rival faction or a rival power in the person of the Emperor who did  not the legitimately elected pontiff.

Pope Nicholas II's successor, Pope Alexander II, faced a rival in the person of Cadalus, the bishop of Parma, who was put forward by German powers because he would be more sympathetic to the Imperial cause. Cadalus was never installed as Pope Honorius II, and simply went back to being the bishop of Parma once efforts to have him installed were exhausted, although he never abandoned his claim to the papacy. The same threat was faced by Pope Gregory VII who was forced to flee from Rome, dying in exile.

In 1130 the cardinals met in two seperate groups in Rome and elected both Pope Innovent II and Pope Anacletus II - the latter has been adjudged the antipope by history, but the matter took a decade to resolve.

Conclaves – which means "with key" indicating that they were secured from outside influence by enforced isolation – came into being in 1179 and the Third Lateran Council of the great canon lawyer Pope Alexander III - who had himself faced an Imperial sponsored antipope. In order to avoid dissension in future papal elections, Pope Alexander introduced the rule that any new Pope had to have a two thirds majority. All cardinals were to vote, not just cardinal bishops. This remained the rule  until Pope Pius XII, who then made it two-thirds plus one - so that the successful candidate did not secure the Holy See on his own vote. Pope John Paul II reduced it back to two thirds, with a simple majority after 34 votes. Pope Benedict XVI made further changes to the process in 2007, reinstating the two thirds rule, but introduced a run-off vote after 34 unsuccessful voting rounds whereby everyone but the two leading candidates are eliminated. The first of the two to reach the necessary two thirds is then elected.

The Alexandine reforms only partially worked, and divisions and deadlock would continue. In 1261, the cardinals were deeply divided, and eventually looked outside their own and plumped for a non-cardinal – Jacques Pantaleon, the Patriarch of Jerusalem. He would undoubtedly have been surprised: Pantaleon just happened to be visiting the papal curia on diocesan business at the time.
Arguably the most bizarre conclave took place in 1271. The Holy See had papacy had been vacant since 1268 and cardinals were struggling to decide on a Pope for a year and a half because of the influence and interference of external powers. Reflecting the frustration many felt, Raniero Gatti, 'Captain of the people', locked the cardinals up in the Papal palace, had the roof taken off, restricted their diet, and surrounded the palace with soldiers. Some cardinals were taken ill as they were left exposed to the elements.

Such protracted conclaves led Pope Gregory X to issue the decree Ubi periculum – 'Where there is danger' - in 1274. Among the rules, he ordered that all future conclaves take place in the city where the Pope died, wait ten days for all the Cardinals to arrive, and that all Cardinals live in common in one room with no partition or curtain. They also had to be completely locked in - no one was allowed to enter, communicate with them, nor they with anyone else. Moreover, after three days without an election, they were allowed only one dish at lunch and supper, then after five days, given only bread, wine and water until they elected a Pope. A number of provisos existed when cardinals were taken ill or needed to attend to urgent business.

Ubi periculum was soon to be temporarily rescinded and protracted conclaves would return. The one following the death of Pope Nicholas IV in 1292 was particularly divided between the factions in the Roman nobility, the Orsini and Colonna families. After nearly two years of deadlock, in 1294 a frustrated King Charles II of Naples drew up a list of his own. After that was rejected, he called on an elderly and holy hermit he knew, Pietro del Morrone, and got him to write a letter upbraiding the Cardinals for their dilatoriness. The Dean of the College of Cardinals read out the letter and said he would vote for Morrone to be Pope. The rest of the college followed suit, leading Morrone to be dragged to Rome and made Pope Celestine V.

As Pope, he reinstated Pope Gregory X's decree. But elderly, ill, and as far as he was concerned, unable to govern as Pope, Celestine resigned from the papacy in that same year of 1294 (Pope Benedict XVI has a devotion to Celestine and left his enthronement pallium on his remains  in 2009). He was succeeded by Pope Boniface VIII who incorporated Ubi periculum into the canon law of the Church in the Liber Sext of the Corpus Juris.

If by the Avignon period the Conclave had become established and legislated for it did not prevent othe rproblems, such as a two year delay in electing after the death of Pope Clement V in 1314; the election of Pope John XXII is recounted in Maurice Druon's splendid saga of the origins of the Hundred Years War.

The return to Rome of Pope Gregory XI in 1376 and his death in 1378 led to th diastrous events of the next election. The Cardinals, surrounded and in danger of invasion by the Roman mob demanding a Roman, or at least an Italian pope, elected Bartolomeo Prignano, Archbishop of Bari, a curial official they thought they could control. This was the last time anon-cardinal was elected - as Pope Urban VI he was in no way tractable and the Cardinals gradually withdrew from Rome, met again, pleaded that they had acted under duress in electing him and elected Cardinal Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII. Thus began the Great Schism.

It ended in 1417 with the election during the Council of Constance of Pope Martin V. On this one occasion the Cardinals were joined as electors by representitives of the five "Nations" which made up the Council in the wool warehose by the lake at Constance which can still be seen.

More Conclaves have included those of the Renaissance, with stories, which may well be fanciful, of Cardinals being bribed by successful candidates for their votes. Between 1590 and 1592, there were no less than four conclaves in 18 months.

In 1740 the conclave would last six months, during which four of the 68 cardinals died. The conclave of 1769 witnessed an unprecedented event with the visit of the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and his brother Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany who arrived incognito in Rome on March 6 and were allowed to enter the conclave. The Emperor stayed there two weeks, freely debating with the electors. Fortunately, he did not press them but only expressed the wish for the election of a Pope who would be able to carry out his duties with the proper respect for the secular rulers. A further lengthy conclave took place from October 1774 to February 1775, leading to the election of Pope Pius VI.

Conclave procedures have changed considerably since then, as have the fortunes of the Papacy. After the death in captivity of Pope Pius in 1799 his successor, Pope Pius VII was elected and crowned in Venice in 1800. Following the loss of Papal control of Rome in 1870 Disraeli offered Malta to the Cardinals as a place for the conclave of 1878, but it was held in the Vatican, as have been all subsequent ones.

Two methods of choosing a Pope – by inspiration (cardinals nominate a candidate and greeted with unanimous acclaim) and compromise (choice is made by a mediating committee) – have long since been dropped and were formally abolished by Pope John Paul II in 1996, and only scrutiny, that is by secret ballot, requiring the now customary two thirds majority, remains. 

In the 1970s, Pope Paul VI introduced the age limit of 80 for electors, and 120 as the maximum number of voting cardinals. Blessed Pope John Paul II, meanwhile, in his 1996 decree ordered that conclaves must always take place in the Sistine Chapel. Previous Popes recommended the chapel, but earlier conclaves have been held in a variety of churches in Rome and other cities. Both in 2007 and on the eve of his abdication Pope Benedict XVI introduced further adjustments to the procedures; the most recent can be seen in  'Motu Proprio' Apostolic Letter Regarding the Election of the Roman Pontiff .

The Conclave which commences tomorrow will be the 75th in the life of the Church – historians date the first as taking place in 1295 when Pope Boniface VIII inserted Pope Gregory X's decree into canon law.