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.

Saturday 30 January 2016

More on Rhodes

A fellow Orielensis has sent me links to three Daily Telegraph articles about the decision to retain the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel.

The first is by another member of the College, Dan Hannan MEP:


The second deals with the background to the decision:


The third looks at the aftermath:

Floreat Oriel

Commemorating King Charles I

This evening I happened by chance to meet a friend, a former Anglican cleric who is now in full peace and communion with the Catholic Church. He had just returned from attending a wreath laying at Windsor at the grave of King Charles I.



The interior of the Royal Vault


He commented that this was as in his past days in the Church of England, and seemed to wonder if it was now entirely appropriate to attend. I gave my opinion, as I have on this blog in the past, that it is entirely suitable. Not only does it demonstrate loyalty to the institution of the monarchy but also if King Charles had compromised and agreed to the destruction of the episcopalian Church of England - and thereby literally saved his neck - there would not have been the context for the emergence of the Oxford Movement almost two centuries later, and all that that portended for Anglicans like ourselves who were drawn to Catholicism.

There is an interesting piece about the Book of Common Prayer service for January 30th and its removal in 1859 atthis piece on the Project Canterbury website from The Commemoration of King Charles the Martyr by Vernon Staley (1852-1933), chapter seven, which an be viewed at anglicanhistory.org/charles/kcm.html

Annual events to commemorate the King's death are covered on the Calendar Customs website at
calendarcustoms.com/articles/charles-i-commemoration including dates for 2017.

There is a piece here about the place of the Banqueting House in Whitehall in these annual events, and about the installation there of the memorial bust of the King. In about 1945 Hedley Hope-Nicholson, a King Charles I enthusiastfan and central member of the Society of King Charles the Martyr, found three lead busts of the King and arranged to have them set up in his memory. The piece can be seen at www.londonremembers.com/memorials/charles-i-beheaded

The English Civil War Society website has details of the plans for their parade tomorrow when, by kind permission of the Royal Parks Department, the King’s Army Annual March and Parade will again follow the route taken by King Charles I from St James's Palace to Whitehall. Details at  www.ecws.org.uk/31st-january-2016-commemoration-of-the-execution...

A new book on the Holy Roman Empire

A friend and regular reader of this blog has sent me the link to a review of The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History by Peter H. Wilson (Allen Lane, pp.1008, £35, ISBN: 9781846143182) in The Spectator.

Image: Amazon

The review can be read at http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/the-holy-roman-empire-has-been-much-maligned/

This looks to be a very useful and impressive work of scholarship.

Friday 29 January 2016

The Ford Lectures 2016

This evening I attended the first of the Ford Lectures for 2016.

They are being given by Professor Christine Carpenter and entitled "The Problem of the Fourteenth Century: Politics, State and Society in England 1307-1399 "

Image: University of Oxford 

From what we heard in her introductory lecture this evening these promise to be very interesting indeed, with a breadth and clarity of interpretation worthy of a scholar of Professor Carpenter's distinction.

Cecil Stays Put

I heard on the Radio 4 Midnight News, where it was about fourth in rank as a story, and on the later BBC World Service, where it was equally prominent as a report, that the statue of Cecil Rhodes is staying put on the facade of Oriel  - and quite right too.

I am tempted to opine on the Andy Warhol principle that it is, for fifteen minutes, the most famous statue in the world for the moment.

The BBC News website quotes The Daily Telegraph report as follows:

Still on the subject of educational institutions, the Telegraph reports that a statue of British imperialist Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University will not be removed.

Campaigners wanted the statue taken down because they said it represented racism.

A report prepared for governors of Oriel College warned that £1.5m in donations had already been cancelled - and they risked losing a £100m gift by considering the campaign.

Oriel confirmed in a statement to the Telegraph: "Following careful consideration, the college's governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place."

The Telegraph states: "Oriel's agreement to enter into discussion about the future of the statue triggered a wider row about free speech in universities and whether students need to be protected from offence.

"The college has now been panicked into cancelling the proposed consultation. The plaque on the building where Rhodes lived while a student at Oriel will also stay, but it and the statue will have an accompanying sign providing historical 'context'."

The Telegraph believes Rhodes' opinions reflected the prejudices of his time but intelligent minds are capable of interpreting the past in context.

It comments: "Rhodes will not fall. Oriel College has decided that the controversial statue will stay. It is a pity that it took so long to reach that conclusion and a pity that it required the financial pressure of benefactors.

"But the donors, or potential donors, were overwhelmingly of one entirely rational point of view: the past cannot be rewritten. And it is not the responsibility of Oxford students to try."

Floreat Oriel

Thursday 28 January 2016

St Thomas Aquinas

Today is the novus ordo feast of St Thomas Aquinas, and John Dillon has again provided a selection of depictions of St Thomas for the Medieval Religion discussion group, which I am reproducing here.

Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) was a nephew of one of the kingdom of Sicily's great nobles, Tommaso d'Aquino, count of Acerra and grand justiciar of the realm.  His father, Landolfo d'Aquino (the count's younger brother), was the lord of Roccasecca, the castle where Thomas was born.  Educated first at Montecassino and then at the University of Naples, Thomas shocked his family by becoming a Dominican novice rather than pursuing a traditional career in the landed church.  Unhappy at this turn of events, his father had him kidnapped and then held at another castle until he should come to his senses.  After almost two years Thomas managed to escape with the aid of his sister Theodora and then entered upon the life's work that would make him famous.  For that, one may read Ralph McInerny's account of Thomas in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Thomas was canonized in 1323.

A few views of what's left of the castle at Roccasecca (FR) in southern Lazio:
http://tinyurl.com/jen93b6 [click on the images for much higher resolution]

Some period-pertinent images of St. Thomas Aquinas:

a) as depicted (author portrait; at left, Pope Urban IV) in a late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century copy of his Catena aurea (Dijon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 72, fol. 2r):


b) as depicted (predella; sixth figure from right) by Simone Martini in his early fourteenth-century polyptych of Santa Caterina in the Museo nazionale di San Matteo, Pisa (1319):


c) as depicted (at upper right, above Sts. Dominic of Caleruega and Francis of Assisi) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of Dante's Commedia (London, BL, Egerton MS 943, fol. 146r):

d) as depicted (at centre, between St. Peter and St. Paul) by the Master of the Piani d'Invrea Cross in an earlier fourteenth-century triptych (1330s) in Albi's cathédrale Sainte-Cécile:


e) as depicted (at left) by Bernardo Daddi in an earlier fourteenth-century panel painting (1338; "The Temptation of St. Thomas Aquinas") in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin:


f) as depicted by Lippo Memmi in an an earlier fourteenth-century panel painting (c. 1340; "The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas"; formerly attributed to Francesco Traini) in Pisa's chiesa di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria:


g) as depicted in a mid-fourteenth-century copy of southeastern English origin of an anonymous abridgement of his Vita by William of Tocco (c. 1350; London, BL, Harley MS 916, fol. 1r):

h) as depicted in the lower panel of the mid-fourteenth-century window (1350s; from designs by Nardo di Cione) in the cappella Strozzi di Mantova in Florence's basilica di Santa Maria Novella:
Detail view (better colour, too):

i) as depicted (teaching) in the later fourteenth-century Breviary of Charles V (c. 1364-1370; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 1052, fol. 348v):

j) as depicted by Andrea Bonaiuti (Andrea da Firenze) in a later fourteenth-century fresco (ca. 1365-1368; "The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas") in the former chapter room, now the cappella Spagnuola, of Florence's basilica di Santa Maria Novella:


Detail view (Thomas Aquinas):


k) as depicted twice in a later fourteenth-century book of prayers of southern French origin (c. 1378-1383; Avignon, Bibliothèque-Médiathèque Municipale Ceccano, ms. 6733):
1) preaching [ or teaching -Clever Boy ] (fol. 6r):

2) praying (fol. 6v):


l) as depicted (his vision of the two angels who protected his chastity) in an early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Paris, BnF, ms. Français 242, fol. 323r):

m) as depicted (inspired while at prayer) by Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni) in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting (1423) in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (photographs courtesy of Genevra Kornbluth):


Detail view (Thomas and the dove of the Holy Spirit):


n) as depicted in the earlier fifteenth-century Hours of Catherine of Cleves (c. 1440; New York, The Morgan Library and Museum, Morgan MS M.917, p. 367):

o) as depicted (at far right, upper register of saints) by Beato Angelico in a mid-fifteenth-century fresco (c. 1441-1442) in the chapter room of the convento (now Museo nazionale) di San Marco in Florence:

Detail view:


p) as depicted (at right, flanking the BVM and Christ Child; at left, St. Dominic of Caleruega) by Beato Angelico in a mid-fifteenth-century fresco (c. 1445) transferred to canvas in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg:


q) as depicted (upper register at centre, accompanied by a mitred St. Albertus Magnus; at left, Beatrice and Dante) by Giovanni di Paolo in a mid-fifteenth-century copy of Dante's Commedia (c. 1450; London, BL, Yates Thompson MS 36, fol. 147r):

r) as depicted in grisaille by Jean le Tavernier in the mid-fifteenth-century Hours of Philip of Burgundy (c. 1451-1460; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 2, fol. 269v):

s) as depicted (praying before engaging in a disputation) in a later fifteenth-century Flemish miniature in a French-language version of the Legenda aurea (c. 1470; Mâcon, Médiathèque municipale, ms. 3, fol. 215v):

t) as depicted by Benozzo Gozzoli in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (1471; "The Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas") in the Musée du Louvre, Paris:


Detail view (Thomas between Aristotle and Plato):

u) as depicted (second from left; at far left, St. Bernard of Clairvaux) by Francesco di Giorgio Martini in a later fifteenth-century panel painting of the Nativity (1475) in the Pinacoteca nazionale di Siena:
Detail view (Bernard and Thomas):


v) as depicted by Carlo Crivelli in a panel of his later fifteenth-century Demidoff Altarpiece (1476) in the National Gallery, London:

Image: Wikipedia 

w) as depicted by Sandro Botticelli (attrib.) in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1481-1482) in the Abegg-Stiftung, Riggisberg (canton Bern):


x) as depicted by Matteo Felice in a late fifteenth-century copy of Neapolitan origin of his Expositio litteralis in Isaiam (between 1489 and 1492; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 495, fol. 1r):

y) as depicted by Alessandro Agolanti in a panel of the late fifteenth-century glass window (1492; from designs by Domenico Ghirlandaio) in the cappella Tornabuoni in Florence's basilica di Santa Maria Novella:

z) as depicted (left margin at top) in a hand-coloured woodcut in the Beloit College copy of Hartmann Schedel's late fifteenth-century Weltchronik (Nuremberg Chronicle; 1493) at fol. CCXVr:

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Why Conspiracies Fail

The BBC News website has the following story, which seems to be something in the way of a mathematical proof of what historians have, in the main, known for a long time. It reinforces the argument that conspiracies don't happen or don't work.

The report can be read at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35411684

Relics of St Thomas from Hungary to visit Canterbury

My attention has been drawn to reports of the visit of relics of St Thomas of Canterbury to his cathedral this coming May. They are coming from Esztergom Cathedral in Hungary as part of an
extended Pilgrimage in honour of St Thomas.

There is a good account of the plans for the events, of the Esztergom relic in particular and of the rise of devotion to St Thomas in Hungary in the Communist era there, in an article in The Daily Telegraph which can be viewed at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/12113298/Bones-of-Thomas-Becket-to-return-to-Canterbury-via-Hungary.html

The relic of Thomas Becket that Hungary will loan to Canterbury Cathedral
The Esztergom Reliquary of St Thomas

Image: Daily Telegraph

Sunday 24 January 2016

Septuagesima at St William of York in Reading

Today I travelled with a friend who, as a regular worshipped there, makes the journey most Sundays to Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the church of St William of York in Reading. We had an easy journey by train and bus from Oxford to Reading and on to the church.

St William of York was built in 1909, and designed to be enlarged if need arose. The modern extension is to a different plan and the Edwardian intention is still clear.

Today it is a part of a diocesan parish, and also used by the University chaplaincy, the FSSP and the Ordinariate.

We were going to the FSSP 11am Mass for Septuagesima in the Extraordinary Form, the 1962 Missal being their essential Rite. Their website can be seen a Facebook page accessible to all which can be viewed at https://m.facebook.com/fssp.england

The Fraternity celebrant was Fr Matthew Goddard.

As we had arrived early I had a good view of the Altar's transformation from its novus ordo style to a more traditional one, as the additional altar cloths were put on, then a violet frontal and finally the very handsome crucifix and set of six candles.

For the celebration of the Mass Fr Goddard had a particularly handsome Roman chasuble and matching stole and chalice veil in violet fabric with gold and blue decoration, which looked quite new.

The Mass was entirely traditional, beginning with the Asperges and with the Second ( Third ) Confiteor before Communion.

There was an excellent team of young servers and the choir in the west gallery sang the Propers.

All in all this was a prayerful and beautiful liturgy, one that was eloquent of 'otherness' and sacrifice, one that was thoughtful and serious. There was a good congregation, with a good number of children in addition to the servers.

Afterwards we went with another friend who sings in the choir at these FSSP Sunday Masses for lunch at his flat. This was an opportunity to see something of the converted country house in which he lives and to enjoy a series of tasty courses accompanied by fine wines.

After that it was back to Oxford for the three of us to go to Vespers at the Oratory.

Friday 22 January 2016

St Vincent

Today is the feast of St Vincent, whose depiction in art I have featured before but this year Gordon Plumb and John Dillon have provided a most impressive series of pictures of the saint's story on the Medieval Religion discussion group. Many of these are very interesting as to what later medieval life and liturgy were like, and hence this rather lengthy post. Larger views of the pictures I have posted can be obtained by clicking on the appropriate link at the bottom right.

Gordon Plumb started the series of images as follows:

St Vincent of Saragossa:
The 22nd of January is the feast of St Vincent of Saragossa, who died in 304 and was a deacon and the first Spanish martyr. He was trained by Valerius, bishop of Saragossa. Of his martyrdom there is no doubt, though there is considerable uncertainty about exactly how it occurred. Prudentius is our first witness and Augustine attests that the cult was known all over the Roman Empire. According to the ancient Legend, he suffered under the edicts of Diocletian and Maximian. At first imprisoned and kept short of food, he refused to sacrifice and was then racked, roasted on a grid, imprisoned and put into the stocks. He died as a result of his sufferings. He is often shown as a deacon holding a palm, or else suffering on the grid.

Angers, Cathédrale Saint-Maurice, Bay 121, Martyrdom of St Vincent, c.1180:
and detail of Vincent's body protected by crows:
of Vincent being flogged:
of Vincent being visited by angels in prison:
Vincent on the grill:
Death of Vincent:
Vincent and Valerian before Decius:

Oxford, St Peter in the East, North Chapel, North window, right-hand light, part of deacon holding palm (St Vincent of Saragossa): This glass was given by Vincent Wycking, Vicar in 1433.

Heydour, St Michael, nV, 2a-3a:

Harpley, St Lawrence, wI, D2, Vincent and Ledger:

Panel in the Collections of the Victoria &Albert Museum showing Vincent burnt on the rack from Saint-Germain-des-Près, Paris of c.1240-45.
The church was originally dedicated to St Vincent, later being redecicated to St Vincent and St Germanus. On this window see Mary B Shepard in Gesta, Vol. 37, No, 2, 1998.
Further panels in the Metropolitan Museum, New York can be seen here:

Bourges Cathedral, Bay 12, St Vincent of Saragossa window, with facility to see excellent images of each panel by clicking on the window outline. To get to Bay 12 click on the appropriate box in the
general plan of the Bourges windows:

John Dillon then posted his selection, again with an introduction to the cult:

A popular martyr of early Christian Iberia, Vincent (d. 304?) was a deacon at Zaragoza (a.k.a. Saragossa) who did a lot of preaching for his Bishop, Valerius.  The latter (in some accounts) had a speech impediment.  At the outbreak of the Diocletianic persecution they were both arrested and hauled off to Valencia, where they were imprisoned pending a hearing.  When that hearing came, Vincent did most of the talking and spoke so ably that the presiding magistrate concluded that the really dangerous one was the deacon, not the bishop.  Consequently, Valerius was exiled but Vincent remained in prison, where he underwent a series of tortures before being executed.

Early witnesses to Vincent's cult include St. Paulinus of Nola, Prudentius, and St. Augustine of Hippo.  The last named eulogized Vincent annually on this day and we have from his pen no fewer than six sermons celebrating this saint.  Vincent's Passio in its standard form (BHL 8631) was in existence by the middle of the sixth century.  A briefer text (BHL 8638) may be close in content to a Passio that circulated in the fifth century.  On Vincent's early medieval cult in general, with editions of major texts, see Victor Saxer, Saint Vincent diacre et martyr: Culte et légendes avant l'An Mil (Bruxelles: Société des Bollandistes, 2002; Subsidia Hagiographica, vol. 83).

Some period-pertinent images of Vincent of Zaragoza (or, if you prefer, of Saragossa; also V. of Huesca, V. of Valencia, and V. the Martyr) :

a) as depicted (third from left; after Sts. Demetrius and Polycarp) in the heavily restored, later sixth-century mosaics (c. 561) in the nave of Ravenna's basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo:

b) as depicted in the late tenth- or very early eleventh-century so-called Menologion of Basil II (Città del Vaticano, BAV, cod. Vat. gr. 1613, p. 342):

c) as depicted (two scenes from his Passio) in the early eleventh-century frescoes of the central apse in the basilica di San Vincenzo in Galliano, a frazione of Cantù (CO) in Lombardy:
1) Undergoing torture by hot lead:
2) His corpse guarded by birds and being prepared for burial:

d) as depicted (in the soffit at right, second roundel from bottom) in the earlier twelfth-century mosaics (c. 1143) of the chiesa di Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (a.k.a. chiesa della Martorana) in Palermo:

e) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Germanus of Paris) in the frontispiece to a mid-twelfth-century collection of writings by Origen from the abbey of St.-Germain-des-Prés in Paris (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 11615, fol. 2v):

f) as depicted (centre register, second from left, between his fellow deacons Sts. Peter of Marcellinus-and-Peter and Lawrence of Rome) in a probably mid- or slightly later twelfth-century mosaic (restored, 1859) in the choir of the basilica cattedrale della Trasfigurazione in Cefalù :

This second view  is greatly expandable:

g) as portrayed (martyrdom scenes) in a perhaps later twelfth-century relief (after c. 1160) in the Münster in Basel:

h) as depicted (at right; at left, St. Victor of Syria) in the later twelfth-century frescoes (1164) in the church of St. Panteleimon (Pantaleon) at Gorno Nerezi (Skopje municipality) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia:
In Byzantine-rite churches both Victor and Vincent are celebrated on 11. November (in the Synaxary of Constantinople Vincent also occurs by himself under 22. January). That is also the feast day of St. Men(n)as the Egyptian, whose church in Constantinople is reported from the twelfth century as possessing relics of Vincent and Victor.

i) as portrayed in high relief (scenes) on his late twelfth-century polychromed stone cenotaph in the Basilica de los Santos Hermanos Mártires, Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta in Ávila:

The Clever Boy would add that these are a wonderful series of pictures of late Romanesque sculpture which has retained its paintwork - a delight to peruse.

j) as depicted (martyrdom) in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (c. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 28v, sc. 1B):

k) as portrayed in high relief (birds guarding his corpse at sea) on the left pillar of the left portal of the late twelfth or early thirteenth-century south porch (by 1210) of the basilique cathédrale Notre-Dame in Chartres:

l) as depicted (scenes of his life and martyrdom) in the early thirteenth-century St. Vincent window (bay 12; c. 1215) in the ambulatory of the cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Bourges:

m) as depicted (scenes from his Passio) in panels from a mid-thirteenth-century glass window (1240s; from the abbey church of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris) in the Walters art Gallery and Museum, Baltimore:
Gordon Plumb's post has links to other panels from the same window in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

n) as depicted (martyrdom) in a panel of a mid-thirteenth-century ambulatory window (Bay 201, panel A1; c. 1254) in the cathédrale Saint-Julien, Le Mans:

o) as depicted (scenes of his life and martyrdom) on a later thirteenth-century altar frontal (parchment over wood; from the church of Santa María de Monte at Liesa [Huesca]) in the possession of the Diputación Provincial de Huesca (for better views click on the individual frames):

p) as depicted (sixth from left, after an archangel, St. Peter, the Christ child, the BVM, and St. Paul; the remaining two are St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Augustine's son Adeodatus, venerated in medieval Milan as a saint) in a later thirteenth-century fresco on the parapet of the Gospel ambo in the basilica di San Vincenzo in Galliano, a _frazione_ of Cantù (CO) in Lombardy:
Detail view (Vincent):

q) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the Legenda aurea (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 24v):

r) as depicted (martyrdom) in the late thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (ca. 1285-1290; Paris, BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 78r):

s) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (between c.1312 and 1321/1322) in the monastery church of the Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo:

t) as depicted (second from right, lower register, in the panel at lower left; martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century pictorial menologion from Thessaloniki (between 1322 and 1340; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Gr. th. f. 1, fol. 16v):

u) as depicted (two scenes: preaching and undergoing martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (c. 1326-1350; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 185, fol. 101v):
Note that in these illuminations we seem to have evidence of that rare figure in church annals, the mitred deacon. In the first of these, the figure robed in blue is thought to depict Vincent's actual bishop, the confessor St. Valerius of Zaragoza.

v) as depicted in a panel of the mid-fourteenth-century great window (c. 1340-1350) in the choir of the Kirche St.-Vinzenz in Segringen (Lkr. Mittelfranken) in Bavaria: 


w) as depicted (martyrdom) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea, from the workshop of Richard and Jeanne de Montbaston, in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (1348; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 46v):

x) as depicted (portrait; scenes) by the Master of Estopiñán in a later fourteenth-century triptych (c. 1350-1370) in the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona:

y) as depicted (the finding of his body) in a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes Métropole, ms. 266, fol. 48v):

z) as depicted (his body about to be cast into the sea) in an early fifteenth-century copy of the Elsässische Legenda aurea (1419; Heidelberg, UB, Cod. Pal. germ. 144, fol. 295v):

aa) as depicted (at left, martyrdom; at right, St. Vincent Ferrer) by Bernard (Bernat) Martorell in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg:

bb) as depicted (martyrdom) by the court workshop of Emperor Frederick III in a mid-fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea (1446-1447; Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, cod. 326, fol. 38v):

cc) as depicted in grisaille by Jean le Tavernier in the mid-fifteenth-century Hours of Philip of Burgundy (c. 1451-1460; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 2, fol. 257v):

dd) as depicted (scenes) by Nuno Gonçalves on several later fifteenth-century panels (c. 1451-1475) in the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon:
A closer view of a copy:

I posted about these great panels in St Vincentin 2011.

ee) as depicted by Jaume Huguet in five mid-fifteenth-century panels from a never-finished altarpiece (c. 1455-1460; for Barcelona's església de Sant Vicenç de Sarrià) in the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona:
1) Ordained priest by St. Valerius of Zaragoza:

2) Brought before the proconsul Datianus / Dacianus:

3) Martyrdom - torture by fire:

4) Martyrdom - torture on a cross-shaped eculeus:

5) Seekers for cures at his tomb:

ff) as depicted by Tomás Giner in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (between 1462 and 1466) in the Museo del Prado, Madrid:

gg) as depicted (at left; at centre, St. James the Great; at right, St. Eustace) by Antonio and Piero del Pollaiolo in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1466-1468) in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence:

hh) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (c. 1480-1490; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 244, fol. 54v):

ii) as depicted (at centre, between St. Michael the Archangel and St. Lawrence of Rome) in the central panel of the late fifteenth-century retable in the iglesia de San Vicente Mártir at San Vicente de Labuerda in Labuerda (Huesca):

jj) as portrayed in relief (image at right) on a guldiner of 1493 from Bern:

kk) as depicted (martyrdom) in the earlier sixteenth-century portion (c. 1540) of a window in the église Saint-Ouen at Pont-Audemer (Eure):


Later John posted some additional images of St. Vincent:

1) as depicted (two scenes) in an eleventh-century troper from Autun (Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal, 1169):
a) Martyrdom on a cross-shaped eculeus (fol. 14v, bas-de-page):
b) Martyrdom by fire (fol. 15r):

2) as depicted (beaten with clubs) in an earlier fourteenth-century French-language legendary of Parisian origin with illuminations attributed to the Fauvel Master (c. 1327; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 183, fol. 215v):

3) as depicted (four scenes) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of books 9-16 of Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum historiale in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (c. 1335; Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 5080):
a) With St. Valerius of Zaragoza before Datianus / Dacianus (fol. 263r):
b) Martyrdom on a cross-shaped _eculeus_ (fol. 263v):
c) Martyrdom by fire (fol. 264r):
d) Datianus / Dacianus orders the disposal of V.'s body; ravens protect it from a wolf (fol. 264v):

4) as depicted in the very late fourteenth- or earlier fifteenth-century Breviary of Martin of Aragon (Paris, BnF, ms. Rothschild 2529, fol. 306v):

5) as depicted by the Portuguese artist Frei Carlos (attrib.) in an earlier sixteenth-century panel painting (c. 1520-1530) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The Museum website can be seen here: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/435847


Thursday 21 January 2016

Iraq's oldest monastery destroyed

Amidst all the horrors being relayed of atrocities perpetrated by the self-proclaimed Islamic State there is a report on the BBC News website that satellite images confirm that the buildings that still survived of what was the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq have been deliberately destroyed by the jihadist IS group.

The illustrated report can be seen here

St Agnes

Today is the feast of St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr.

Here are some of the more striking images of her from those posted by John Dillon on the Medieval Religion discussion group:


St Agnes  depicted (bottom register, at far right) by Duccio di Buoninsegna in his early fourteenth-century Maestà (between 1308 and 1311) for the cathedral of Siena

Detail view  of  St Agnes:



St Agnes at left; at right, St. Ambrose of Milan by Simone Martini in a predella panel of his earlier fourteenth-century Polyptych of Santa Caterina (commissioned, 1319) in the Museo nazionale di San Matteo in Pisa

St Agnes depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century East Window (ca. 1320) in the church of the former Cistercian abbey of Heiligkreuztal near Riedlingen (Lkr. Biberach) in Baden-Württemberg:

 Heiligkreuztal, Klosterkirche, Hl. Agnes

Detail view:



St Agnes at left with at right, St. Domitilla by Andrea di Bonaiuto in a later fourteenth-century diptych (c. 1365-1370) in the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence



An earlier sixteenth-century silver and silver gilt reliquary statue (c. 1520-1525) in the treasury of the St.-Paulus-Dom in Münster

Requiems for King Louis XVI

Today is the anniversary of the guillotining of King Louis XVI in 1793.

Looking around on the internet I found that last year the Provost of the London Oratory celebrated a
Requiem Mass for King Louis XVI at Rye in Sussex as was reported by the Rye News as follows
www.ryenews.org.uk/news/requiem-mass-king-louis-xvi, with the comment that this may be the first Mass for King Louis XVI of France and Queen Marie Antoinette to be celebrated in St Mary's Rye. Very probably, but non ethe worse for that.

This year at Versailles itself on January 21st and 22nd in the Chapel Royal of the Palace there will be performances of the Requiems composed after the Bourbon Restoration by Cherubini in 1816 and by Plantard in 1823. Even if these are concerts rather than liturgical celebrations they an interesting sign in the current French climate. There is more about them at Requiem(s) for Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette

These Versailles commemoration are included in the online list of Masses being offered for the repose of the soul of the King and the martyrs of the Revolution, which can be seen at Messes pour le repos de l'âme du Roi Martyr, Louis XVI. This is a not inconsiderable list, celebrated in cathedrals and churches across the length and breadth of France.

Wednesday 20 January 2016

St Sebastian

Being based in Oxford it seems only appropriate when offered by John Dillon via the Medieval Religion discussion group a series of images of St Sebastian to share them with readers on this the feast of the name saint of Lord Sebastian Flyte, the second son of the late Marquess of Marchmain.
Some of the later paintings reflect the choices made in the Italian renaissance by artists and patrons to depict the almost nude male form, as opposed to earlier traditions of representing St Sebastian, and do have, dare I suggest it, something in them of homoerotic sado-masochism - you can't say the Clever Boy fails to cater for all tastes amongst his readers.

Here is John's selection together with his introductory note:

The Roman martyr Sebastian (d. 3d cent.?) is first documented in the Depositio martyrum of the Chronographer of 354, where he is entered under today as a martyr of the Via Appia.  According to St. Ambrose of Milan, Sebastian was a native of that city who was martyred at Rome.  His legendary Passio (BHL 7543; ineptly ascribed to Ambrose) is our earliest source for this saint's frequently depicted attempted execution by arrows, of which so many pierced him that -- still according to the Passio -- he came to resemble a hedgehog.  The same account -- which is set in the the persecution of Diocletian and Maximian and which previously had detailed his support of the twins Mark and Marcellian and many others --  then gives a rapidly healed Sebastian a final colloquy with Diocletian after which the saint is clubbed to death in the Circus and his body is dumped into a nearby sewer.  Instructed by Sebastian in a vision, a Christian matron named Lucina retrieves his body and buries it at a location in the catacombs near the remains of the apostles (Peter and Paul, of course).  When the persecutions have ended Lucina converts her home into a church and gives it to the church of Rome.  Thus far the Passio.  Lucina's church is of course the titulus Lucinae, the predecessor of today's San Lorenzo in Lucina. The burial site specified in the Passio is that of Sebastian's martyrial church on the Via Appia Antica, after several rebuildings over the centuries today's basilica di San Sebastiano ad Catacumbas (or San Sebastiano f. l. M.).

Some period-pertinent images of St. Sebastian of Rome:

a) as depicted (third from right) in the heavily restored, later sixth-century procession of male martyrs (c. 561) in the nave of Ravenna's basilica di Sant'Apollinare Nuovo:


b) as depicted in a probably late seventh-century mosaic portrait in Rome's basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli:


c) as depicted (upper register, martyrdom; lower register, St. Blasius / Blaise) in a later twelfth-century breviary for the canonesses of Seckau (Graz, UB, cod. 832, fol. 18r):

d) as depicted (martyrdom) in one of four panels of a full-page illumination in the late twelfth-century so-called Bible of Saint Bertin (c. 1190-1200; Den Haag, KB, ms. 76 F 5, fol. 35v, sc. 1B):

e) as depicted (martyrdom) in an earlier thirteenth-century collection of saint's lives in their French-language translation by Wauchier de Denain (between 1226 and 1250; London, BL, Royal 20 D VI, fol. 48v):

f) as depicted (at left; St. Mary Magdalene at right) in a mid-thirteenth-century glass window (c. 1250-1260) in the west choir of Naumburg's Dom St. Peter und St. Paul:


g) as depicted (martyrdom) in a later thirteenth-century Cistercian psalter of upper Rhine origin (c. 1260; Besançon, Bibliothèques municipales, ms. 54, fol. 15r):

h) as depicted (martyrdom) in the later thirteenth-century frescoes (1278 or 1279) of Rome's chiesa di San Lorenzo in Palatio ad Sancta Sanctorum:
A different interpretation (the BVM and St. John disporting themselves at archery?):

i) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late thirteenth-century copy of French origin of the Legenda aurea (San Marino, CA, Huntington Library, ms. HM 3027, fol. 22v):

j) as depicted (at far right, martyrdom; at centre, Sts. Mark and Marcellian) in an earlier fourteenth-century copy of books 9-16 of Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum historiale in its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (c. 1335; Paris, BnF, ms. Arsenal 5080, fol. 218v):

k) as depicted (perhaps; the identifying inscription appears to have been re-painted) in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (between 1335 and 1350) in the church of the Holy Ascension in the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć in, depending upon one's view of the matter, either the Republic of Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija:

l) as depicted by Nicolò Semitecolo in several later fourteenth-century panel paintings (1367) in the Museo diocesano in Padua:
1) supporting Sts. Mark and Marcellian before the emperors:


2) martyrdom by arrows:


3) martyrdom by clubbing; his body dumped in a sewer:


4) entombment:

The Clever Boy would ad dthat these four paintings have some lovely fourteenth century details of interest in themselves - click on the link to see them in alarger format.

m) as depicted (at left; at right, a sainted pope) in a pair of late fourteenth- or fifteenth-century frescoes in the ambulatory of the abbey church of Sant'Antimo at Montalcino (SI) in Tuscany (the abbey claimed to possess relics of Sebastian given at its foundation in 781 by Pope Hadrian I, who supposedly had received them from Charlemagne):



n) as depicted by Taddeo di Bartolo (martyrdom) in a remounted early fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1400-1410) in Naples' Museo nazionale di Capodimonte:


o) as depicted (martyrdom) in the Suffrages of the earlier to mid-fifteenth-century Hours of Françoise de Dinan (ca. 1435-1450; a.k.a. Hours of Catherine de Rohan and of Françoise de Dinan; Rennes, Bibliothèque de Rennes Métropole, ms. 34bis [pt. 2 of ms. 15942], fol. 87r):

p) as depicted by the Master of the Bodensee (second from left, after St. Anthony of Egypt, and with St George and St Ursula) in an earlier fifteenth-century panel painting in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe:

q) as portrayed in a mid-fifteenth-century head reliquary (1450) in the Pfarrkirche St. Sebastian in Ebersberg (Lkr. Ebersberg) in Bavaria:

File:Relic of St. Sebastian 01.JPG

There is anothe rpicture of the reliquary at 

r) as depicted by Andrea Mantegna (martyrdom) in a mid-fifteenth-century panel painting (later 1450s) in the Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna:


s) as depicted in a later fifteenth-century fresco in the left apsidal chapel of the crypt of the chiesa di San Ponziano in Spoleto:

t) as depicted by Sandro Botticelli (martyrdom) in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (1473) in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin:


u) as depicted (at right, martyrdom; at left, pope St. Fabian, whose feast day also falls today) in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1475), attributed to Giovanni di Paolo, in the National Gallery, London:
1) Before cleaning in the 1970s (the National Gallery still calls this cleaning 'recent'):


2) After cleaning (the second image is clearer but the colours are off) :

The Clever Boy will add that the National Gallery website states that: Recent cleaning revealed the original upraised position of Sebastian's hand and forearm and some twenty arrows piercing his body, most of which had been painted out.

At the bottom in each corner is a kneeling Brother of the Confraternity of the Misericordia, a lay brotherhood which was devoted to the Seven Works of Mercy. The brothers, dressed in black with white veils, are holding what may be spoons used for collecting alms.

This is a complete votive picture - one promised and offered in thanks for the favourable answer to a prayer - and is probably one of Giovanni di Paolo's late works.

v) as depicted by Antonello da Messina (martyrdom) in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1476) in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden:


w) as depicted by Andrea Mantegna (martyrdom) in a later fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1480) in the Musée du Louvre, Paris:


x) as depicted (martyrdom) in the later fifteenth-century Hours of Dionora of Urbino (c. 1480; London, BL, MS Yates Thompson 7, fol. 93v):

y) as depicted by Giovanni Baleison (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century fresco by Giovanni Baleison in the Chapelle Saint-Sebastien, Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée (Alpes-Maritimes):

z) as depicted (at left; at right, St. Anthony of Egypt) in a late fifteenth-century stained glass roundel in the Museum Schnütgen, Köln:

aa) as depicted (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century stained glass roundel in the Musée national du Moyen Âge (Musée de Cluny), Paris:

bb) as depicted by Cosmè Tura (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1484) in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin:


cc) as depicted by Andrea Mantegna (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century panel painting (c. 1490) in the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti alla Ca' d'Oro, Venice:


dd) as portrayed (martyrdom) in a late fifteenth-century silver and silver gilt reliquary (c. 1497) from Augsburg in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:


In addition here are some glass images added by Gordon Plumb:

St-Nicolas-de-Port, Bay 105, 5a-7a, 5b-7b, martyrdom of Sebastian,
early 16thC.:
and detail:

St-Nicolas-de-Port, Bay 113, 2c-4c:

Bourges, Cathédrale Saint-Étienne, Bay 27, Virgin and Child with
Sebastian and another saint: