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.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

St Philip's Day at the Oxford Oratory

Yesterday was the celebration of the transferred Solemnity of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.

On Sunday evening there was Solemn Vespers of Trinity Sunday, but during the singing of the Magnificat the altar of St Philip was also censed after the High Altar, and the service concluded with the giving of the blessing of St Philip's relic.


St Philip's altar on his feast day 

Yesterday there was a Solemn Mass at 6pm, when the celebrant and preacher was Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB, Abbot of Farnborough. In his sermon he pointed out the complimentary contrasts in the approach of St Benedict and St Philip - one who fled Rome, the other who fled to it - but that the end of their labours was one and the same, the pursuit of holiness of life. He gave this personal reminiscence of the establishment of the Oxford Oratory:

" I arrived here in Oxford for my studies at roughly the same time as the Fathers of the Oratory arrived. All agreed that the Oratorians would add a certain je ne sais quoi and we eagerly waited to see what the quoi would be. I remember Abbot Alan Rees of Belmont remarking that now the Oratorians were in St Giles with the Dominicans and Benedictines, the whole Church was present – the Church militant, suffering, and triumphant – and all this in the one street! "

The full text of his sermon can be read and more photographs of the Mass can be seen on the Oxford Oratory website at St Philip's Day 2013


The altarino of St Philip on the sanctuary, which was used throughout the Novena preceding the Solemnity


Br Oliver reads the Epistle


The Abbot preaching his Sermon:


The incensation of the Abbot

Images: Oxford Oratory website/Tessa Caldecott

During the Mass there was sung a new setting by Prof. John Caldwell of Cardinal Baronius' prayer to St Philip "Look down from Heaven Holy Father...."written by Baronius in the wake of the saint's death and a regular devotion of Oratorians.

Following the Mass there was reception for the congregation, and an opportunity to share in the celebration of the community's founder and patron. One of the great strengths of parish life here at the Oratory is the genuine friendship that develops amongst the worshippers at the church - not a forced sense of "community", but  real friendliness and warmth towards old and new friends alike.

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