Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

More on St Wilfrid

Today is the feast of St Wilfrid, a saint to whom I have a continuing devotion, and about whom I have posted beforehand in St Wilfrid and Celebrating St Wilfrid. The second of these deals with two relatively modern churches dedicated to him, the Anglican one by Temple Moore in Harrogate and the Catholic one in York. My interest in him has been given a more immediate focus with the proposed Oratorian care of that church of St Wilfrid in York, a project which starts later this month.


St Wilfrid
An early sixteenth century painting in Chichester cathedral

Image: yorkarchaeology.co.uk

There is a lot of information about him and places linked to his life and ministry in the website In Search of St. Wilfrid from the Anglican church of St Wilfrid in Bognor in Sussex. This was compiled to mark the 1300th anniversary of his death in 2009 and a commemorative pilgrimage undertaken by the parish to places associated with St Wilfrid.

To mark his feast day I am posting two more images of this great saint, who combined a passion for the unity of the Church under Roman leadership with an apostolic zeal that led him to evangelize the people of Sussexand to found a whole series of monasteries, together with a very real concern for the rights and privileges of the churches of which he had care. 

The first is from the exquisite Comper restoration of the historic parish church of St Wilfrid at Cantley, just south of Doncaster. This was a self-conscious attempt to re-create the atmosphere of a late-medieval English parish church, and was entrusted to the young Ninian Comper. The result, together with its very skilful modern extension, is quite spectacular - very well worth a visit if you are nearby. I posted about it two years ago in my piece St Wilfrid's Cantley. The church's own website is here.


St Wilfrid
Statue in the Church of St Wilfrid at Cantley near Doncaster
An early work by Ninian Comper


The other image is from the website In Search of St. Wilfrid and is a depiction which attempts to more faithfully capture the style of vestments and pallium of the seventh century - I suspect they are less elaborate than St Wilfrid would have deemed suitable, and may have an element of 'false archaeology' to them! Blue is an unlikely colour for a vestment at that time I would opine, and St Wilfrid, who was only a Bishop, would not have been entitled to wear a pallium.


Early twentieth century glass in the Chapel of St Wilfrid, Church Norton 


May St Wilfrid pray for all his churches, and especially for the Oratorian project in York

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