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.
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
This last weekend the Oxdord Oratory held its annual Forty Hours devotion, as I advertised last week
On Friday evening we began with the Solemn Mass of Exposition, and the temporary gradine which had been installed - a new one was created for last year's event - had almost ninety candles on it.
After having supper with two friends we returned to the church in time for Compline sung by the Dominicans, who used their distinctive chant for the Salve Regina.
Following Benediction the Vigil resumed, interspersed with the recitation of the mysteries of the rosary, and breaks for refreshments in the Parish centre. As someone who can spend the night in vigil it is something I feel I can offer both in adoration and prayer and also on behalf of parishioners who cannot give time in the middle watches of the night.
At 5am we had Mattins and Lauds for Corpus Christi sung by the Oratorian community, followed at 6am by a celebration of Mass of the day - St Ignatius - in the EF.
After more time before the Blessed Sacrament I left at breakfast time.
I returned at 6.30 for the Mass for Peace - an intention that seems more than ever necessary - and then, in an addition to the programme of previous years, at 8 the choir sang Mendelssohn' s Lauda Sion.
On Sunday Exposition resumed after the morning Masses. I spent another hour before the Sacrament, then went to the meeting of the Brothers of the Oratory, then back into church for a final quarter of an hour before Solemn Vespers in the traditional form, a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the church and Benediction.
The Forty Hours is one of the high points of the year and once again the thanks of those who attended must go to the Oratorians, Sacristan, musicians and volunteers who made it all possible. It is over for another year, but one can look forward to it all happening again next year...