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, 21 October 2013

Oxford LMS Pilgrimage

Saturday was the day of the annual Latin Mass Society's Pilgrimage to Oxfordand once again Mass was offered in the traditional Dominican Rite at Blackfriars by Fr Richard Conrad. The Deacon was Fr John Saward, the priest of SS Gregory and Augustine, but who is also a Dominican tertiary, as well as a tutor at Blackfriars so very much at home in the priory.

The Dominican form of the Mass has many similarities to the Sarum Use, and, apart from a few post-Tridentine additions, very much what  a medieval Dominican in Oxford or throughout the breadth of Christendom would have celebrated and known.  It is very beautiful and it is a delight to see it being made available again to the faithful.

After Mass I went off for lunch with an old friend from the Birmingham Ortatory who had come for the Pilgrimage, and after catching up on news and ideas, we rejoined the other pilgrims by the tower of St Michael at the Northgate, and on the site of the Bocardo prison over the city's north gate, for the Procession. Here my friend was commandeered to act as crucifer as we set off towards the site of the martyrdom in July 1589 of Bl. George Nichols, Bl.Richard Yaxley, Bl.Thomas Belson and Bl.Humphrey Pritchard. This took us past the site of their arrest, the Catherine Wheel inn - now covered by an eighteenth century extension of Balliol - and along Broad Street.
Now not only was this a Saturday but it was also Matriculation Day, so there were many fresher students around in sub fusc, gown and mortar board, and the tourist and general public just took us all in their stride as part of the Oxford scene -  which of course we are. 

As is our custom on this occasion, awaiting us at the end of Holywell Street was a gallows with four nooses dangling from it - a temporary but striking feature which is set up on these occasions near the site of the martyrdoms in 1589. Looking at a friend who had been assigned the task of looking after this another mutual friend pointed out that the other was, after all, a Daily Mail reader...

We returned along Holywell to Broad Street and Blackfriars, where we concluded with Benediction in the priory church, the incense rising through the afternoon sunbeams in the sanctuary, and sang the Salve Regina in the Dominican Tone.

There are a series of pictures, both of the liturgy and of the procession, together with a report on the Pilgrimage, and a link to more photographs, on the LMS Chairman's blog at Oxford Pilgrimage: Procession and Benediction.

Afterwards my friend from Birmingham and I revisited one of our old haunts on St Giles - the Eagle and Child - aka the Bird and Baby - to see if the local ale was still up to standard before he caught his train home.

A fine occasion, pious and beautiful, but also gregarious and cheering.

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