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 31 May 2014

Harvington Hall

Today, for the first time, I visited Harvington Hall near Kidderminster in Worcestershire. The visit was organised as a summer excursion for the Brothers of the Oxford Oratory.

Harvington Hall Kidderminster

Harvington Hall from the east

Image: birminghamdiocese.org.uk

The Hall is an Elizabethan moated manor house with rare wall paintings and the greatest series of priests' hiding places in the country - it has seven plus a vestment hide - and they are thought to be the work of St Nicholas Owen. When they were constructed Harvington was owned by Humphrey Packington. There is an illustrated online account of the history of the house at the post Harvington Hall
from the blog Tudor Stuff, and there are more photographs and information here

Model of house

A model of Harvington Hall as it may have appeared when completed by Humphrey Packington.
The demolition and alterations of c.1700 removed the battlements and the three blocks at the rear on the north west. The view is from approximately the same angle as the photograph above.


In 1696 it passed by inhertance from Humphrey Packington's daughter, Lady Mary Yates, to the  Throckmorton family, who were based at Coughton Court. Probably as an economy measure they demolished the north wing and the Great Hall on the western side about 1700, leaving a rather lop-sided plan. A model in the house indicates the rather grander appearance the Hall originally had. The house was partially occupied by relatives and by the priest but gradually decayed, and by 1826 the family had moved elsewhere and much of the top floor was unfurnished; by 1904 it was described as `hastening to decay'. However in 1923 it was bought by a benefactor, Ellen Grant-Ferris, and given to the Archdiocese of Birmingham and is now managed through a voluntary committee. Restoration work over the years has revealed the wall paintings and is a continuing process to enhance the building and its setting.The wall paintings, though faded, do indicate the often lavish and colourful decoration of houses in the period.

Amongst the items on display are some very fine vestments - one associated with St John Wall, who was martyred in 1679 and who had ministered at the Hall. These are displayed near the old chapel in the upper part of the building. Originally the walls and ceiling were covered with a trailing design of flowers whcih must have made the chapel into a simulation of a floral bower.

The official website of Harvington Hall can be seen here. I would certainly recommend the Hall for a visit by anyone interested in recusant history or more generally in the history of the period.

The Hall offers excellent refreshments - we had a good lunch to set us up for sightseeing - and audio guides as well as several publications on the history of the house. There is also a Heritage Centre in the Malt House at the rear with films about the history of Harvington.

Adjacent to the Malt House, and backing on to the moat, is the Georgian Chapel.

Georgian chapel at Harvington Hall

The Georgian chapel at Harvington Hall

The chapel was created in 1743 by adapting the upper storey of a farm outbuilding, to replace the original chapels on the top floor of the house, and was in use until 1823 when it was damaged by fire. Services were transferred to the new church of St Mary which opened in 1826, and after renovation the chapel was converted into a village school which functioned until 1913. 

In 1987 it was returned to its original use as a chapel and fitted out with contemporary furnishings, including the early 19th-century altar and communion rails which came from a church at Upton upon Severn.
Image:   © Copyright Tiger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence./ Geograph

Facing the Hall to the east is the parish church. This is now the official shrine of St John Wall, and there are bronze reliefs of him and St Nicholas Owen in the church.

Interior of St Mary's Church

Interior of St Mary's Church Harvington

The interior of the Gothic church built across the road from Harvington Hall in 1825 for Sir George Throckmorton. The east window with interesting Y-tracery was installed in 1855, probably by C.F. Hanson, and the stained glass by Hardman of Birmingham dates from 1893.
Image:  © Copyright Tiger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence/Geograph

It was in the church that we said the prayers used by Brothers at our weekly meetings, to bring to mind that this was a pilgrimage as well as a very enjoyable day out. 

Our jorney back brought us across Worcestershire, and with warm afternoon sunshine and lush foliage all around us a pleasure in itself. We stopped off briefly in Evesham, with me acting as guide, to look at the site of the abbey and to also see for the first time the statue of Eof, the swineherd whose vision led to the foundation of the abbey there - but I will post about that seperately next week.

After that we crossed the remainder of theVale of Evesham, climbed Broadway Hill with its specatular views of the region, and back through Chipping Norton to Oxford. A splendid day out, and my thanks to Fr Jerome for organising it and Mark for bringing his people-carrier to take the brethren out.

Friday 30 May 2014

A visit to St George's Chapel Windsor

Today I went on an excursion organised by the Oxford University Heraldry Society to St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle - my first visit to the castle for over fifty years.

We had a fairly early start from Oxford, as we were booked in at the Chapel for 10.30. So up betimes and off to Summertown in North Oxford for my lift to Windsor. Being between other roadusers travelling times we made good progress. The jorney took us through Slough, and this, my first visit, brought home to me what Betjeman wrote so long ago about it - "Come kindly bombs and fall on Slough/ It isn't fit to live there now"...

On arrival at the King Henry VIII gate of the castle it was a slightly disconcerting sign of the times to be met by the usual attendants plus a policeman armed with a serious looking gun. Nevertheless the welcome to our group was very friendly and we had two of the Military Knights to acts as guides to the chapel and to the Garter plates of the Knights of the Garter in their stalls in the choir.

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 The choir of St George's Chapel


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The banners of the Knights of the Garter

Image: Wikipedia 

The tour of the Chapel enabled me to see things I recalled vividly from my previous visit, plus things I had missed, such as the Beaufort chantry with the tomb of the first Earl of Worcester and, in the south choir aisle, the onetime home of the Cross Gneth, plus things that are not always accessible, such as the Rutland chapel with the tomb of Lord and Lady Roos and the brass of her parents Anne Duchess of Exeter, sister of King Edward IV  and King Richard III, and her second husband Sir Thomas St Leger. The chapel is full of  tombs and memorials of interest to anyone with a sense of history and genealogy - you almost fall over deceased monarchs - there are ten sovereigns buried in the chapel.

Stall plates

The earliest surviving Garter plate, which is of Sir Ralph Basset, together with those of later Knights 


The tour of the stalls with the Garter plates was a rare opportunity to get a close view of this amazing collection. To view them all would take an age, but our guide, who has complied a new cross-referenced list of the plates, pointed out those of the first Dukes of Marlborough and Wellington, of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and John Major amongst Prime Ministers, whilst the array of foreign royalty was amazingly rich. Starting with Charles the Bold of Burgandy and Emperor Maximilian I along the way - and we had to keep moving forward through the lines of the range of stall beneath the Knight's ones, I spotted, inter alia, numerous Portuguese monarchs down to King Manuel II, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Emperor Haile Selassie,King Ferdinand I of Romania, King Charles X of France, and some other French Kings' plates could be seen in the further distance. There were two plates from the fourteenth century - though possibly not originally in the Chapel - and several of participants in the events of the Wars of the Roses.

I was a little disappointed that some of the most recent plates, such as those of the Earl of Wessex and of the Duke of Cambridge, had abandoned the traditional medieval French for English in their inscriptions - by contrast Lady Thatcher's stall plate was, for all her supposed Euro-scepticism, in traditional French.

After our tour we came out by the Dean's cloister and went for buffet lunch in the basement - the Dungeon - of the Curfew Tower, before having a tour of the Archives of the Chapel and Order. These included displays of early fifteenth century account rolls of the Dean and Chapter with the earliest references to the Garter plates, records of nominations by the Knights to fill vacancies - a practice which durvived until the time of Queen Victoria's widowhood - and which survived in an early sicxteenth century manuscript recovered by chance in London from the clearance of a private collection and returned to King George VI, and plans of the stalls and their plates.

We also were shown items from the library of the Chapel, including a Caxton, and finally the permanent display of treasures, including the illuminated Black Book commissioned by King Henry VIII about 1534-5, and which was on show at the Greenwich exhibition about him in 1991, and has group portraits of the King surrounded by the Knights of the Garter, including Emperor Charles V, King Francis I, King James V and King Ferdinand I.

The Black Book of the Garter 

The Black Book, named after its black velvet binding, is the first surviving register of the Garter. It was begun in 1534 when Henry VIII was married to Anne Boleyn. However it incorporates material from earlier registers (which are now lost) dating to the reign of Henry V. The text is in Latin and it contains statutes, an account of the foundation of the Order and the record of ceremonies and elections. It is finely written and richly illuminated in the Flemish style. There are representations of the founder of the order, Edward III and his wife Philippa along with Henry V.

The pages depicted here are on the reign of Henry VIII and the ceremonies of the Order for 1534. Above left, Henry VIII is surrounded by twenty-five knights in the robes of the Order; bottom left and right, the knights in armorial surcoats, process to chapel where, above right, the three junior knights arrive.

The Black Book shows the impact of the Reformation as in later admissions, various decorations of the Order that are depicted have been mutilated and wiped out to eliminate ‘superstitious’ elements.

Image and text :little-miss-sunnydale on Flickriver.com 

As well there is  in the display the Red Book, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth I, and the Blue Book from the reign of King Charles I. Also on display were a tally list of votes in the papal conclave of 1676 - how that got to Windsor is unknown - and handwritten nominations by several seventeenth century Knights, including the future King James II.

This was fascinating day out, and I am very grateful to the organisers for arranging it. If any reader gets the chance to have such a tour I warmly recommed doing so. In any case Windsor is so rich in fascinating things to see that any visit, or indeed repeated visits, is definitely something to do.


Thursday 29 May 2014

Franciscans of the Immaculate, the Pope and SSPX and Californian Oratorians...

Rorate Caeli is a blog which has some very interesting posts and a distinctive view on ecclesial matters. The three latest pieces are, I think, in their different ways, worth sharing.

The first is about the continuing problems around the Franciscans of the Immaculate and the impending visitation of the Sisters of the community, about which Fr Blake was writing recently. It is purely and simply a forwarded request for intercession by using the Rosary and can be read at A CALL TO PRAYER on behalf of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Immaculate

The second is a report from a French source in SSPX about the Pope's concern for practical matters affecting the Society in Argentina, and makes for rather intersting reading in what it reveals. It can be read at  SSPX Bp. Fellay on Pope Francis: "He has read the biography of Abp. Lefebvre twice - and he liked it."And some other important revelations

The third post is on an Oratorian theme from California, and struck me particularly because the various US Oratories had figured in a conversation at recreation after the meeting of the Brothers of the Oxford Oratory on Tuesday evening. It can be seen at New oratory community in San Francisco

Oak Apple Day

In addition to being Ascension Day this year May 29th is always Oak Apple Day, the anniversary of entry on his thirtieth birthday of King Charles II into London in 1660, and seen as the symbolic date of the Restoration. 

Samuel Pepys recorded that "Parliament had ordered the 29 of May, the King's birthday, to be for ever kept as a day of thanksgiving for our redemption from tyranny and the King's return to his Government, he entering London that day." Until 1859 it was observed as a public holiday, and I see no reason for not re-instating it - the average churlish republican (and you have to be churlish to be a republican in my opinion...) is not going to look too good opposing a public holiday.

One year I did manage to get some oak leaves to wear on May 29th - not that that was as easy as getting arose for St George's day.



Maybe the Church of England, which would not have itself been restored without the Restoration settlement, should re-introduce in Common Worship the special service of thanksgiving for May 29th which was was removed from the Book of Common Prayer in 1859. Given that King Charles II died a Catholic, and showed himself favourable to Catholicism, it could be restored as Anglican patrimony in the Ordinariate.

There is an online account, with links, of surviving commemorations of Oak Apple Day here. In Worcester the day is still marked by decorating the Guildhall gates and railings with oak leaves.Worcester was named as “the faithful city” for its Royalist allegiance during the Civil Wars. The celebrations at Worcester are illustrated, and others at Northampton, Castleton (which is surely a much older tradition converted into a celebration of the Restoration and Aston-on-Clun are all covered in the blogpost Oak Apple Day by Elizabeth Hanbury, which also refers to other surviving celebrations.

The oak is a reference of course to the King hiding in the oak tree at Boscobel House in Shropshire during his flight after the battle of Worcester in 1651. The oak tree where King Charles hid at Boscobel is not the original but is a direct descendant of the original. there is more about it at Royal Oak.


The Royal Oak at Boscobel

Image: Ana the Imp

Happy Oak Apple Day!

Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day, and I shall observe it with Mass in the Traditional rite at the Oxford Oratory at lunchtime. I am quite happy to celebrate it again on Sunday as being the Sunday in Ascensiontide, but do beleive the feast itself should be kept on the fortieth day after Easter.



There is a reflective post from 2011 from Father Z, quoting from writings of Pope Benedict XVI, which can be read at The Ascension and Feet, and Fr Zuhlsdorf has two posts about the unwise choice to allow the transfer of the celebration of the Ascension to the following Sunday. The first one, Fr. Z's annual rant about Ascension Thursday Sunday, is from 2011, and the second, Ascension Thursday,
citing an article in the Catholic Herald by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith, is from 2012.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

More on St Augustine's Abbey Canterbury

Following on from my post St Augustine's Abbey Canterbury a friend who is a regular reader sent me a note about St Augustine's Abbey and the books behind the High Altar. There is, he tells me, an interesting detail in Christopher de Hamel's A History of Illuminated Manuscripts 2nd ed. 1994 p.16.

Among the books depicted behind the altar was a two volume Bible. This was preserved in English Catholic hands until at least 1604, but is, alas now lost.

Given that I would add that we all owe a debt of gratitude to Archbishop Parker for preserving the Gospels beleived to have been brought by St Augustine, and for the other parts of the Canterbury libraries he preserved by giving them to Corpus Christi in Cambridge.

Recommended reading

As I was last term I was again asked to prepare a list of history books for consideration this week by my fellow members of the Library Committee of the Oxford Union for recommendation to the Union for purchase.

Here, with some comments upon them, are the books I suggested - some chosen to supplement the collection's existing holdings, others new books which would, I believe, be of interest to members both for academic study and for general or recreational reading.

Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz and Matthia Wemhoff "Vikings: Life and Legend"  British Museum Press
The book of the current British Museum exhibition. Useful for anyone studying or interested in the the period.

Malcolm Barber " The Crusader States"   Yale University Press
Essential for those studying the Crusades option, by a leading historian of the topic.

Angus Konstram "Bannockburn: Scotland's Greatest Battle for Independence"  Aurum Press
In the 700th anniversary year of one of the most significant battles in British history and with the Scottish referendum looming an appropriate subject.

Richard Barber "Edward III and the triumph of England: The battle of Crecy and the Order of the Garter"  Allen Lane
A major contribution to studies of the period by a leading expert.

Judith Maltby "Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England"  Cambridge University Press
Standard work by the chaplain of Corpus Christi College.

John Drury "Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert"    Penguin 
Acclaimed study by the former Dean of Christ Church of a significant figure in the early Stuart world. 

T.C.W.Blanning "The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815"    Penguin
Highly acclaimed study by an outstanding interpreter of the period.

John V.Fleming "The Dark Side of the Enlightenment: Wizards, Alchemists and Spiritual Seekers in the Age of Reason"    W.W.Norton and Co.
The less rational, not to say quirky, side of later eighteenth century intellectual life.

Jesse Norman "Edmund Burke: The Visionary who invented Modern Politics"     William Collins
Well reviewed, and the latest work on Burke.

James A. Secord "Visions of Science: Books and reading at the dawn of the Victorian Age"    Oxford University Press
A stimulating insight into the makeup of nineteenth century intellectual developments.

Hannah Pakula "An Uncommon Woman: The Life of Princess Vicky, the Empress Frederick"  Phoenix
Not just the standard biography, but also a major study of Anglo-German relations at the highest levels in the late nineteenth century.

R.F. Foster "Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life"  Clarendon
Standard biography by the current Professor of Irish History at Oxford.

Tim Butcher  "The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin who Brought the World to War"   Chatto and Windus
A very well reviewed account of what influenced and formed Gavrilo Princip.

Frank Millard  "The Palace and the Bunker; Royal Resistence to Hitler"  History Press
An informed and valuable academic study of the opposition of the old order to the Third Reich.

Richard Benson "The Valley: A Hundred Years in the Life of a Family"  Bloomsbury
Recently read on BBC Radio 4 - a social history of the coal community of the Dearne Valley in Yorkshire, and one to complement "Black Diamonds", about the coal owning Earls Fitzwilliam and their great estate and house at Wentworth Woodhouse, which was published a few years ago and which we have in the collection.

Paul Robert Magocsi  "History of Ukraine: the Country and its People."  University of Toronto Press  2nd Edn
The standard work and a topical subject - the outsider needs to understand something of the history of the country and why things are happening now as they are.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Fr Blake on the Franciscans of the Immaculate

Fr Blake in Brighton has a post, written after meeting some Sisters of the Order, about the continuing controversy around the visitation of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. It can be read at I'm praying for the Sisters of the Immaculate, and the comments on it are also worth perusing. The link from Fr Blake's post does not open properly on the computer I am using, but readers doubtless have better hardware than I do.

This is a story which has lain low for a while, but the questions and deeper issues underlying this enquiry remain unresolved and unexplained. The longer the matter drags on the more harm it does to the Franciscans of the Immaculate and to the wider Church, for whom it raises a real sense of worry about the way some officials act in the name of the whole.

St Augustine's Abbey Canterbury

Today is the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury, who died in 605. The monastery of SS Peter and Paul which he founded at Canterbury to the east of his cathedral in 598, became his shrine church. In the tenth century St Dunstan added the dedication to St Augustine, which became the name by which the abbey was known, and it became one of the great Benedictine houses of medieval England - indeed the first where the abbot had the right to wear pontificalia, a papal grant made in 1063. There is an online version of a useful illustrated history of the abbey from 1896 here, and a contemporary online account with illustrations and links here

I recall Fr Hunwicke making the point that the plan of Christian Canterbury was arguably based on that of Rome, with the cathedral church of Christ inside the city as with the Lateran (itself primarily dedicated to Christ) and SS Peter and Paul outside the walls, like the Vatican and St Paul's in Rome, but combined into one in the Kentish city. I cannot find the exact link, but he makes related points about following Roman patterns in Fr Arthur Middleton and my Biretta, a post from 2009.

Other than the fine late medieval gatehouse little of it survives today beyond foundations in the care of English Heritage. Until 1822 however much of one of the western towers of the great romanesque church, known as Ethelbert's tower after the King baptised by St Augustine in 597, survived.

Ethelbert's Tower in 1800


The local historian William Gostling recorded that

"On the morning of the 10th of October, 1822, the S.S.W. corner of the Tower, known by the name of Ethelbert's Tower, comprising about one half of what remained of that venerable edifice, and amounting in weight to many hundred tons, and nearly seventy feet in height, fell with a tremendous crash, cracking by the shock the remaining part, the altitude of which was about one hundred feet, and presenting a grand, but terrifically dangerous appearance. On the Thursday subsequent to the accident, which was occasioned by a tremendous high wind, an attempt was made to pull down that which was left standing, by inserting large timbers through the various fissures; but this trial was extremely futile; a plan of a more formidable kind, (a battering ram) was then adopted, which likewise, in the onset, proved of no avail; but, upon its removal, and being directed in another position, that justly admired and very ancient structure, yielded its majestic head to the force of the machine, in the afternoon of Thursday, October 24th. Its descent was awfully grand, and to the lover of antiquity, grievous. Thus fell an edifice, consecrated by ages, and rendered sacred by its association with some of the most important and intereseting events in our local and national history."

St. Ethelbert's Tower had an internal space about 16 feet square, walls 4 1/2 feet thick. It was erected A.D. 1038-50, and was a fine piece of Norman architecture.

John Bulman, Three drawings of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury by John Bulman, 1780 - 1800

Watercolour of St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury by John Bulman, 1780 - 1800

This was not the only loss in this period. Henry Ward in the Canterbury Guide, published in 1843, records how 

"In the common cemetery which adjoins the church southward, about sixty feet from it, there stood, till lately, a large massive ruin, composed of flint and rubble stone, of an extraordinary thickness, having been to all appearance, two sides of a campanile or bell tower. It was taken down in 1793, by the united efforts of nearly 200 men, the materials, exclusive of rubbish, amounting to nearly 500 cart loads."

With acknowledgements to Machadoinck.com for these quotations 

The remains of St Augustine's Abbey in 1703.
The Ethelbert tower is centre right


The fate of St Augstine's is reminder of how much has been lost, and indeed how significant remains survived to be recorded by antiquarians but are lost to us other than in their descriptions and drawings.

At Trinity Hall in Cambridge there survives a remarkable piece of late medieval antiquarian information about the abbey. Here is an extract from their blog, which had featured the Canterbury Gospels and their use at the enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury:

" One item due to play a key role in the ceremony is the St Augustine’s Gospels (Corpus Christi College MS286). This magnificent manuscript is a vulgate text of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and was probably brought to England by St Augustine in 597. The practice of using St Augustine’s Gospels for the enthronement of the Archbishops of Canterbury was revived in 1945. The Parker Librarian, Christopher de Hamel, will remain in charge of this precious manuscript throughout the ceremony.

St Augustine's Gospels viewed via the Parker Library on the web

St Augustine’s Gospels viewed via the Parker Library on the web

But why is a Corpus manuscript featuring in our Old Library blog and what its connection to Trinity Hall?

The answer lies in one of our own most precious manuscripts Thomas Elmham Historiae Abbatiae S. Augustini (Trinity Hall, Cambridge, MS1) created in about 1410-1413. On one leaf of Thomas of Elmham’s history is a remarkable early plan of the East end of St Augustine’s Abbey. It is finely drawn in red, blue and black and features the chapels of the East end, various reliquaries, the high altar and the altar screen.

Plan of the East end of St Augustine's Abbey (Trinity Hall Cambridge MS.1)

Plan of the East end of St Augustine’s Abbey (Trinity Hall Cambridge MS.1)

“At the top of the screen are six books identified by a small inscription as the books sent from Pope Gregory (the Great) to Augustine”. The entry in the Cambridge Illuminations exhibition catalogue continues, “It is intrinsically probable that they included the St Augustine’s Gospels.” Thus our manuscript contains the earliest depiction of the Gospels used for the enthronement of the new Archbishop! As one of the holiest works in Britain it is more than likely that St Augustine’s Gospels were kept as an object of veneration with other sacred texts above the high altar of the Abbey.

The six books above the high altar of St Augustine's Abbey

The six holy books above the high altar of St Augustine’s Abbey

The Abbey was destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries and remains a ruin today. The monastic library was dispersed and its manuscripts came onto the open market. Our manuscript was collected by the antiquarian and Catholic sympathizer, Robert Hare (d. 1611), who was a great donor not only to Trinity Hall but also to the University Library. Thomas Elmham’s Historiae Abbatiae S. Augustini came to us as a result of Hare’s friendship with Henry Harvey (Master of Trinity Hall 1559-1585) and has been a treasured by the College ever since.

Robert Hare's signature

Robert Hare’s signature


Here is an engraing of part of the Thorne plan, showing the High Altar and its reliquaries , and which is a very important source for what was the appearance oif the interior of major monastic churches. Its influence can be seen in some of the twentieth century works of that great designer Sir Ninian Comper.


Solemn Pontifical Mass for St Philip's Day at the Oxford Oratory

Yesterday evening  the Oxford Oratory had a Solemn Pontifical Mass for St Philip's day celebrated by the former Provost, Bishop Robert Byrne of Cunacestre. As with the report yesterday of Solemn First Vespers I have copied the photographs from the Oratory website and added a few further comments of my own.

It was, as the Oratory website says, a  great joy to have the Right Reverend Bishop Robert Byrne, Cong. Orat. celebrate and preach for his first St Philip's Day as a bishop. It was a joyful occasion both in that it celebrated the ministry of  St Philip, the saint of joy, and, as the photographs show, there was joyfulness in the Oratorian community of the parish.

The Introit procession to the strains of Ecce Magne Sacerdos:
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In addition to Bishop Robert we were also honoured by the presence of the Bishop of Northampton, the Right Reverend Peter Doyle, who had been unable to be present at Bishop Robert's Episcopal ordination, as well as other clergy and religious friends of the Oratory:

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As the Provost, Fr Daniel remarked, bishops are like buses - you wait and then two come along at once.
The first reading, from the Book of Wisdom:

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The second reading, from St Paul's letter to the Philippians:

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The Gospel, from St John:

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The sermon:
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The Creed:
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The Offertory incensation:

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The final blessing:

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The clergy  and servers procession forms up to leave the sanctuary:

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Bishop Robert blesses in procession from the church:

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Images: Oxford Oratory

Monday 26 May 2014

St Philip's Day in York

The website of St Wilfrid's in York has a report of the first celebration in the parish, yesterday, of St Philip's Day since the Oratorian clergy from Oxford took charge of the church. I have copied and posted it from their parish site.

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Bishop Robert Byrne Cong. Orat. was the celebrant and preacher at St Wilfrid's for St Philip's Day, the first for him as a bishop and the first for the Oratory Fathers in York. There was a Solemn Mass at 11am followed by a party in the Rectory. In the evening Bishop Robert celebrated Benediction. Apart from our York parishioners there were some visitors from elsewhere in the county who know the Oratory from Birmingham, London and Oxford or through the Oratory School.

A happy feast of St Philip to all our Oratorian brethren and friends!

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Text and images: St Wilfrid's York

First Vespers of St Philip at the Oxford Oratory

Yesterday evening at the Oxford Oratory we had Solemn First Vespers of the Solemnity of St Philip. This was, as always on such occasions, a very splendid celebration, and one that was properly prayerful and devout. I have copied the photographs from the Oratory website and added some captions.

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 St Philip's Altar with the relic bust of the saint.
The painting is a copy of Gido Reni's famous image, and was painted by Maria Giberne, one of Newman's penitents, and comes from the Birmingham Oratory.

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The Provost, Fr Daniel Seward, presides at Vespers

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The Cantors, Fr Dominic and Br Oliver, bow during the doxology

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Acolytes and some of those in Choir
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The Sanctuary during Vespers

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The statue of St Philip

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The incensation of St Philip's Altar and relic

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Regular members of the Oratory congregation - the Solemn Vespers had an particularly good attendance

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Preparing for Benediction

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 The Provost blesses a member of the congregation with a relic of St Philip

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The Oxford Oratory has a young and devout congregation

Images: Oxford Oratory

The photographer was a new recruit to taking photos on such an occasion and has done splendidly - I suspect they have got themselves a new role at the Oratory.