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, 6 January 2014


File:Fernando Gallego - Epiphany - Google Art Project.jpg

The Epiphany
Fernando Gallego c. 1480-90
National Museum of Catalunya

Image: Wikipedia

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, and as I have said and written in previous years I hope that we shall soon see the decision to transfer it, together with the Ascension and Corpus Christi, to the nearest Sunday rescinded. I was quite happy to have an anticipated celebration of the Epiphany yesterday, but today is the day. Fortunately I was able to observe it in the Extraordinary Form, as well as saying the Office of the Epiphany on the proper day.

As it turned out I did so twice. At lunchtime I attended the Low Mass at the Oxford Oratory celebrated at the High Altar by Fr Jerome Bertram before going off for a light but celebratory lunch with a friend at a new cafe nearby.

Late in the afternoon we went up to the Missa cantata celebrated by Fr John Saward at SS Gregory and Augustine in north Oxford. This had music provided by the Newman Consort and the Schola Abelis, who sang a Palestrina Mass and a motet by Clemens Non Papa. The whole Mass was particularly beautiful in the candlelit church, still splendidly decorated for Christmastide. To one side of the altar was a reliquary containing a fragment of the Manger, empasising our coming as pilgrims with the Magi to the Christ Child.

As my friend and I reflected over dinner we are very fortunate here in Oxford not only to have regular access to the Extrordinary Form , and within the mainstream of the Church, and to celebrations conducted with such care and thoughtfulness, not least in both cases with elegant homilies.

A happy and joyful Epiphany to you all.

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