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.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

St Joseph in medieval English glass

Regular and widespread devotion to St Joseph only really developed in the later middle ages - I read that the first statement of the Church's belief in Joseph's virginity was in Peter Damian's 1059 Letter 61:11 to Pope Nicholas II on the subject of clerical celibacy, and not until the fidfteenth century did his cult really begin to deveklop with preachers such as St Bernardino. It was St Teresa of Avila who forwarded his role as a patron with her foundation in Avila a century later and his feast was only included in the Roman Missal in 1621.

Nevertheless St Joseph was depicted in medieval art in scenes relating to the Incarnation. Gordon Plumb has posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group these medieval stained glass images of St Joseph being chosen as husband of the Virgin Mary as recounted in the second century Apocryphal Protevangelium of James and in The Golden Legend:

Newark, St Mary Magdalene, sII, 4e, Joseph chosen as husband of the BVM:
and details, early 15th century:

Lincoln Cathedral, North Transept Rose, D2, Joseph chosen as husband of BVM, c.1220-35:
and details:

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