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, 1 October 2015

St Thérèse of Lisieux

Today has been the feast of  Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, O.C.D., probably better known as St Thérèse of Lisieux, or the Little Flower.

This evening after Mass for her feast at the Oxford Oratory we had Solemn Benediction to mark the occasion - she was adopted as a patron of the parish following the visit of her relics here in 2009.

Afterwards I went for supper to a friend's house and we watched his DVD of the film Thérèse with Lindsay Younce playing the saint. Although it told the basic story of Thérèse Martin I personally found it rather too sentimental and too glossy - as do others judging from comments on the Amazon website in their 163 customer reviews. They indeed query some of the details as depicted in the film.

Having read the Autobiography, which is not to everyone's taste, and more significantly, some of her letters and advice as Novice Mistress I think St Thérèse was a much more substantial figure than depicted in this film and in so many other ways. She needs to be seen both as a saint for future generations to look to and as a product of a church and a church-going section of society that was increasingly under threat in the France of her lifetime.  In many ways her sister's photographs of her are the most revealing insight into her - her very simple yet utterly profound idea, her great insight into how one should approach God is too big an idea for sentimentality.


St Thérèse of Lisieux


May St Thérèse continue to pray for us

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