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.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Two Celtic Saints

I glean from the Universalis site on the internet that today is the feast day of two Celtic saints, whose lives, and legends, are fascinating stories about their respective eras, and point to the crossing of political and cultural boundaries, especially in the case of St Laurence, with positive and fruitful results. 

St Dyfrig or Dubric or Dubricius (Sixth-seventh century)
He was born in what is now Herefordshire, the illegitimate son of the daughter of a local king. He founded monasteries in south-east Wales, was the teacher of Saints Teilo and Samson among others, and exercised the functions of a bishop. He attended a synod in 545 and is thought to have died a few years later. As with so many Welsh saints of this period, firm dates are hard to come by: some sources put his death in the year 612. 
There is an illustrated and more detailed online account of his life, including his grandfather's reaction to his daughter's pregnancy and the tradition of St Dyfrig both crowning King Arthur and preceding St David as bishop, here.

St Laurence O'Toole (1128 - 1180)
Also known as Lorcán Ua Tuathail, he was born at Castledermot, Kildare, Ireland. He was elected Archbishop of Dublin in 1161 – he was the first elected archbishop, since his predecessor, Gregory, had already been Bishop of Dublin when the city was raised to an archbishopric. He was the first Irish bishop of Dublin, and also the last one before the Reformation: Ireland was invaded by the Normans in 1170 and his successors were all Normans or Englishmen. He took part in the negotiations consequent on the invasion, and negotiated with King Henry II of England. Forbidden for a while to return to Ireland after being made a Papal Legate by the Pope in Rome, he eventually persuaded the King to let him return, but he died on the journey, at Eu in Normandy.
There is an illustrated and more detailed account of his life, cult and relics online which can be seen at Lorcán Ua Tuathail.

This brings out the complexity of the political relations (in both senses of the word) surrounding the Norman move into Ireland and its wider cultural context and also the translation of St Laurence's skull to Chorley in Lancashire in the fifteenth century  - a story I had not come across beforehand.

Adapted from the Universalis post for today

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