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.

Monday, 20 May 2013

An Extraordinary baptism

On Saturday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending the baptism of Alice Curry, the daughter of my friends Owen and Emily Curry. We all met originally in our Pusey House days, a time which was fruitful for forging lasting friendships. Owen and Emily married in 2011 at SS Gregory and Augustine here in Oxford and according to the Extraordinary Form. It was therefore to that church, and to the Extraordianry Form, and to Fr Saward who conducted their wedding service that they returned for the baptism of their daughter.

Beforehand I met up with another old friend who was here for the occasion and we had a very enjoyable lunch together before travelling up the Woodstock Road to the church.

I was called upon to act as the proxy for the godfather, Fr Martin Stamnestro, who was unable to make the journey from his parish in his native Norway. So it fell to me and to the godmother, Kate Miller, to make the latin renunciations and affirmations the rite required. The older rite does make it very clear that the infant is being well and truly exorcised of Original Sin - and as Mgr Knox used to say, the Devil understand latin.

During the ceremony there was a sudden realisation that the re was no white garment to place on young Alice, and in a moment of inspiration the veil was brought from the statue of Our Lady of Fatima in the Lady Chapel to act as a baptismal covering. We then processed, as planned, to that altar, with Kate carrying Alice and myself bearing the baptismal candle, to place Alice upon the altar and consecrate her to Our Lady. I suspect the use of the Virgin's veil may now become part of the Use of SS Gregory and Augustine...


Our Lady keeps a prayerful eye over Alice who is held in her mother's arms, and with her father on the left. Between them is Kate Miller the godmother, and I am standing behind Fr Saward.

Image: Br Andrew Wagstaff C.O.on Flickr

Afterwards most of use made our way to Owen's mother's house for tea in the garden and the drinking of Alice's health, and a general catching up of news and ideas between old friends.

A very happy and enjoyable afternoon, and at its heart the sacramental regeneration of a new Catholic.

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