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.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Pope John XXII

Today is the seven hundredth anniversary of the election in 1316 of Cardinal Jacques Duèze as Pope John XXII. He was to reign until his death in 1334. There is an online biography of him here, a more detailed one from the old Catholic Encyclopaedia at Pope John XXII, and the debate in his last years about his less than orthodox ideas on the Beatific Vision and his retraction of them is considered in an article from last year on the blog Rorate Caeli which can be read here. Strange that Rorate Caeli should be writing about these things nowadays. Hmmm.

His election in 1316 is recounted by Maurice Druon in The Accursed Kings in scenes which are marvellously entertaining when the wily Cardinal Duèze breaks the deadlock in the two-year long Conclave and secures election as the oldest and frailest cardinal - who then proceeds to reign for eighteen years.


Pope John XXII approves the Carmelite Rule
Pietro Lorenzetti

As the biographies indicate he was a natural and shrewd administrator and legislator, but not, perhaps, much of a theologian - hence his problems with the Beatific Vision. He clashed with the Emperor Lewis IV and with the Spiritual Franciscans. That is the background to his presence as a non-appearing character in Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.

Related image

 The tomb of Pope John XXII in Avignon


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