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, 22 November 2014

Gunning for Wyclif

A series of posts on the Medieval Religion discussion group on Thursday caught my attention as a historian interested in the career of John Wyclif [Wycliffe] - my Bishop Fleming was responsible for having his remains exhumed and burned in 1428 - and of his followers, the Lollards.

The posts are, I think, self-explanatory:
Al Magery wrote to the list as follows:

"Is there extra salvation value in studying medieval theologians? In the shooting today in the library at Florida State University, in which three were wounded, USA Today reports:
Student Jason Derfuss said he was leaving the library when the shooter opened fire very near him. Derfuss posted on Facebook pictures of a bullet and a book, Great Medieval Thinkers: John Wyclif, the bulllet had torn through. Derfuss says in his post he was near the gunman when the shooting started but never felt the shot and only discovered the damage three hours later."He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books," Derfuss said. See http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/20/fsu-guman/19310741/
Author of that book is Stephen Edmund Lahey, who teaches philosophy at Lemoyne College."

At this point the Clever Boy would add the comment that it all seems so unlike, so very unlike, our own dear Bodleian here in Oxford.

Jim Bugslag responded:

"Tunics which had lain for a novena on the reliquary of the Virgin's Tunic at Chartres Cathedral used to be considered able to miraculously fend off bullets and other weapons. And I recall some stories of the First World War in which soldiers were saved from bullets or shrapnel by the Bible they were carrying on their person. Wycliffe seems an unlikely inheritor of that miraculous tradition. I'm not sure he'd approve!"

Jaye Procure commented:

"That's certainly not the usual means of hitting the books."

Andrew Larsen summed it all up:

"The question is, is this John Wycliffe's first miracle or Stephen Lahey's?"

Of course there must remain the possibility that the gunman was a sharpshooter who targeted the book. One of Archbishop Arundel's lieutenants who is still out there seeking to eradicate Lollardy...?

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