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.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

St Dunstan in medieval stained glass

Gordon Plumb has posted the following images on the Medieval Religion discussion group of St Dunstan, the great tenth century church man and staesman, whose feast day falls today, and about whom there is an online account here:

Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire, nII, 2b:

York, St Olave, East window, 2b:
and detail:

Trinity College, Oxford, Old Library East window:
and detail of head:

Wells Cathedral, Lady Chapel, sII, C2 - head:
Dunstan had been abbot of Glastonbury before becoming archbishop. He had a high grading in the Wells calendar before the mid 11th century. One of the Cathedral bells bore his name.

John Dillon posted further about St Dunstan as follows:

Dunstan prostrating himself before Christ as depicted in the later tenth century on fol. 1r of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. Auct. F.4.32 (a composite manuscript known as Dunstan's Classbook as much of it can be connected with Dunstan's teaching activity at Glastonbury):


 Image: saintedwardbrotherhood.org

The inscription is in verse. Almost certainly by Dunstan himself, it reads, Dunstanum memet clemens, rogo, Christe, tuere / Tenarias me non sinas sorbsisse procellas ('I beseech you, gentle Christ, to protect me, Dunstan. Do not permit the storms of Hell to suck me in.'). Another translation will be found in Paul Hayward's description of the manuscript (see the discussion of its first part [Eutyches with Old Breton glosses]) here.

Neither translation does full justice to the word play clemens ... procellas. In Dunstan's phrasing Christ is imagined not only as merciful but also as a locus of (metaphorical) fair weather opposing the the storms of hell.

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