Thursday 30 April 2020
Wednesday 29 April 2020
Tuesday 28 April 2020
Recently I came across on the Internet the work of Dr Kylie Murray on the reception of Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy in Scotland. Hitherto this had been thought to have happened during the fifteenth century following Chaucer’s translation of the text into English. Dr Murray however makes a very impressive case for assigning a Glasgow University Hunter manuscript of 1120-40 to Kelso Abbey and to the cultural milieu of King David I. The manuscript contains beautiful illustrations - the oldest secular drawings from Scotland and related to the well-known illuminated initial with King David I and his grandson King Malcolm IV. Originally it was bound with a copy of Cicero’s De Amicitia and Martianus Capella's The Marriage of Mercury and Philology or Satyricon, very much indicative of educational use. Kelso as a monastic foundation appears to have enjoyed very considerable influence in the diffusion of intellectual and artistic norms in not only the twelfth century but afterwards.
An illustrated article by Dr Murray for the British Academy can be seen here. She has a longer article about her research in Medievalia et Humanistica which can be read at Medievalia et Humanistica, No. 41. There is an introduction to the history and architecture of this particularly significant monastery at Kelso Abbey.
One personal benefit of seeing this research was to make me actually read The Consolation of Philosophy right through - which suggests the educational programme of the early twelfth century monks of Kelso still works today.
Monday 27 April 2020
Saturday 25 April 2020
Friday 24 April 2020
The provision that after thirty days the seven Electors should be reduced to bread and water for their diet is reminiscent of the similar provision, but after a shorter time, to reducing the Cardinal electors to a similarly straitened regime in Papal Conclaves in Pope Gregory X’s ‘Ubi Periculum’ of 1274. This having been disregarded in the next few elections was formally made the law of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298. The Wikipedia entry about that can be read at Ubi periculum. It has basically regulated Papal elections ever since.
Thus the two governing institutions - at least in the minds of successive Popes and Emperors - of Christendom successfully stabilised their processes of election and succession in that period of transition as both faced greater challenges with the increasing confidence of the national monarchies and civic republics of that era.
In 1806 the Emperor Francis II, who had assumed the additional title of Emperor of Austria in 1804, announced through his heralds the end of the Holy Roman Empire. Much of its prestige and ethos remained around him as Emperor Francis I, and his heirs retained and retain that. So, in Gibbonesque mood, one can perhaps think of him being succeeded in spirit by other Holy Roman Emperors - Ferdinand IV, Francis Joseph I, Charles VIII, Otto V and Charles IX...
If you think I am, even by my standards, pushing my luck there please remember that the older rite for Good Friday retains in the Solemn Prayers a petition for the Holy Roman Emperor. The later editions of the Missal add a note that as there is no Emperor at present the prayer should be omitted. However I have been assured that in at least one church in this country in recent years the celebrant, following the pre-1955 rubrics, prayed by name for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles...
A word of explanation:
Our Lady of the Oak
Pray for Us
Thursday 23 April 2020
Of S. George, Martyr, and first the interpretation of his name.
George is said of geos, which is as much to say as earth, and orge that is tilling. So George is to say as tilling the earth, that is his flesh. And S. Austin saith, in libro de Trinitate that, good earth is in the height of the mountains, in the temperance of the valleys, and in the plain of the fields. The first is good for herbs being green, the second to vines, and the third to wheat and corn. Thus the blessed George was high in despising low things, and therefore he had verdure in himself, he was attemperate by discretion, and therefore he had wine of gladness, and within he was plane of humility, and thereby put he forth wheat of good works. Or George may be said of gerar, that is holy, and of gyon, that is a wrestler, that is an holy wrestler, for he wrestled with the dragon. Or George is said of gero, that is a pilgrim, and gir, that is detrenched out, and ys, that is a councillor. He was a pilgrim in the sight of the world, and he was cut and detrenched by the crown of martyrdom, and he was a good councillor in preaching. And his legend is numbered among other scriptures apocryphal in the council of Nicene, because his martyrdom hath no certain relation. For in the calendar of Bede it is said that he suffered martyrdom in Persia in the city of Diaspolin, and in other places it is read that he resteth in the city of Diaspolin which tofore was called Lidda, which is by the city of Joppa or Japh. And in another place it is said that he suffered death under Diocletian and Maximian, which that time were emperors. And in another place under Diocletian emperor of Persia, being present seventy kings of his empire. And it is said here that he suffered death under Dacian the provost, then Diocletian and Maximian being emperors.
Here followeth the Life of S. George Martyr.
S. George was a knight and born in Cappadocia. On a time he came in to the province of Libya, to a city which is said Silene. And by this city was a stagne or a pond like a sea, wherein was a dragon which envenomed all the country. And on a time the people were assembled for to slay him, and when they saw him they fled. And when he came nigh the city he venomed the people with his breath, and therefore the people of the city gave to him every day two sheep for to feed him, because he should do no harm to the people, and when the sheep failed there was taken a man and a sheep. Then was an ordinance made in the town that there should be taken the children and young people of them of the town by lot, and every each one as it fell, were he gentle or poor, should be delivered when the lot fell on him or her. So it happed that many of them of the town were then delivered, insomuch that the lot fell upon the king's daughter, whereof the king was sorry, and said unto the people: For the love of the gods take gold and silver and all that I have, and let me have my daughter. They said: How sir! ye have made and ordained the law, and our children be now dead, and ye would do the contrary. Your daughter shall be given, or else we shall burn you and your house.
When the king saw he might no more do, he began to weep, and said to his daughter: Now shall I never see thine espousals. Then returned he to the people and demanded eight days' respite, and they granted it to him. And when the eight days were passed they came to him and said: Thou seest that the city perisheth: Then did the king do array his daughter like as she should be wedded, and embraced her, kissed her and gave her hls benediction, and after, led her to the place where the dragon was.
When she was there S. George passed by, and when he saw the lady he demanded the lady what she made there and she said: Go ye your way fair young man, that ye perish not also. Then said he: Tell to me what have ye and why weep ye, and doubt ye of nothing. When she saw that he would know, she said to him how she was delivered to the dragon. Then said S. George: Fair daughter, doubt ye no thing hereof for I shall help thee in the name of Jesu Christ. She said: For God's sake, good knight, go your way, and abide not with me, for ye may not deliver me. Thus as they spake together the dragon appeared and came running to them, and S. George was upon his horse, and drew out his sword and garnished him with the sign of the cross, and rode hardily against the dragon which came towards him, and smote him with his spear and hurt him sore and threw him to the ground. And after said to the maid: Deliver to me your girdle, and bind it about the neck of the dragon and be not afeard. When she had done so the dragon followed her as it had been a meek beast and debonair. Then she led him into the city, and the people fled by mountains and valleys, and said: Alas! alas! we shall be all dead. Then S. George said to them: Ne doubt ye no thing, without more, believe ye in God, Jesu Christ, and do ye to be baptized and I shall slay the dragon. Then the king was baptized and all his people, and S. George slew the dragon and smote off his head, and commanded that he should be thrown in the fields, and they took four carts with oxen that drew him out of the city.
Then were there well fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children, and the king did do make a church there of our Lady and of S. George, in the which yet sourdeth a fountain of living water, which healeth sick people that drink thereof. After this the king offered to S. George as much money as there might be numbered, but he refused all and commanded that it should be given to poor people for God's sake; and enjoined the king four things, that is, that he should have charge of the churches, and that he should honour the priests and hear their service diligently, and that he should have pity on the poor people, and after, kissed the king and departed.
Now it happed that in the time of Diocletian and Maximian, which were emperors, was so great persecution of christian men that within a month were martyred well twenty-two thousand, and therefore they had so great dread that some renied and forsook God and did sacrifice to the idols. When S. George saw this, he left the habit of a knight and sold all that he had, and gave it to the poor, and took the habit of a christian man, and went into the middle of the paynims and began to cry: All the gods of the paynims and gentiles be devils, my God made the heavens and is very God. Then said the provost to him: Of what presumption cometh this to thee, that thou sayest that our gods be devils? And say to us what thou art and what is thy name. He answered anon and said: I am named George, I am a gentleman, a knight of Cappadocia, and have left all for to serve the God of heaven. Then the provost enforced himself to draw him unto his faith by fair words, and when he might not bring him thereto he did do raise him on a gibbet; and so much beat him with great staves and broches of iron, that his body was all tobroken in pieces. And after he did do take brands of iron and join them to his sides, and his bowels which then appeared he did do frot with salt, and so sent him into prison, but our Lord appeared to him the of same night with great light and comforted him much sweetly. And by this great consolation he took to him so good heart that he doubted no torment that they might make him suffer. Then, when Dacian the provost saw that he might not surmount him, he called his enchanter and said to him: I see that these christian people doubt not our torments. The enchanter bound himself, upon his head to be smitten off, if he overcame not his crafts. Then he did take strong venom and meddled it with wine, and made invocation of the names of his false gods, and gave it to S. George to drink. S. George took it and made the sign of the cross on it, and anon drank it without grieving him any thing. Then the enchanter made it more stronger than it was tofore of venom, and gave it him to drink, and it grieved him nothing. When the enchanter saw that, he kneeled down at the feet of S. George and prayed him that he would make him christian. And when Dacian knew that he was become christian he made to smite off his head. And after, on the morn, he made S. George to be set between two wheels, which were full of swords, sharp and cutting on both sides, but anon the wheels were broken and S. George escaped without hurt. And then commanded Dacian that they should put him in a caldron full of molten lead, and when S. George entered therein, by the virtue of our Lord it seemed that he was in a bath well at ease. Then Dacian seeing this began to assuage his ire, and to flatter him by fair words, and said to him: George, the patience of our gods is over great unto thee which hast blasphemed them, and done to them great despite, then fair, and right sweet son, I pray thee that thou return to our law and make sacrifice to the idols, and leave thy folly, and I shall enhance thee to great honour and worship. Then began S. George to smile, and said to him: Wherefore saidst thou not to me thus at the beginning? I am ready to do as thou sayest. Then was Dacian glad and made to cry over all the town that all the people should assemble for to see George make sacrifice which so much had striven there against. Then was the city arrayed and feast kept throughout all the town, and all came to the temple for to see him.
When S. George was on his knees, and they supposed that he would have worshipped the idols, he prayed our Lord God of heaven that he would destroy the temple and the idol in the honour of his name, for to make the people to be converted. And anon the fire descended from heaven and burnt the temple, and the idols, and their priests, and sith the earth opened and swallowed all the cinders and ashes that were left. Then Dacian made him to be brought tofore him, and said to him: What be the evil deeds that thou hast done and also great untruth? Then said to him S. George: Ah, sir, believe it not, but come with me and see how I shall sacrifice. Then said Dacian to him: I see well thy fraud and thy barat, thou wilt make the earth to swallow me, like as thou hast the temple and my gods. Then said S. George: O caitiff, tell me how may thy gods help thee when they may not help themselves! Then was Dacian so angry that he said to his wife: I shall die for anger if I may not surmount and overcome this man. Then said she to him: Evil and cruel tyrant! ne seest thou not the great virtue of the christian people? I said to thee well that thou shouldst not do to them any harm, for their God fighteth for them, and know thou well that I will become christian. Then was Dacian much abashed and said to her: Wilt thou be christian? Then he took her by the hair, and did do beat her cruelly. Then demanded she of S. George: What may I become because I am not christened? Then answered the blessed George: Doubt thee nothing, fair daughter, for thou shalt be baptized in thy blood. Then began she to worship our Lord Jesu Christ, and so she died and went to heaven. On the morn Dacian gave his sentence that S. George should be drawn through all the city, and after, his head should be smitten off. Then made he his prayer to our Lord that all they that desired any boon might get it of our Lord God in his name, and a voice came from heaven which said that it which he had desired was granted; and after he had made his orison his head was smitten off, about the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty-seven. When Dacian went homeward from the place where he was beheaded towards his palace, fire fell down from heaven upon him and burnt him and all his servants.
Gregory of Tours telleth that there were some that bare certain relics of S. George, and came into a certain oratory in a hospital, and on the morning when they should depart they could not move theo door till they had left there part of their relics. It is also found in the history of Antioch, that when the christian men went over sea to conquer Jerusalem, that one, a right fair young man, appeared to a priest of the host and counselled him that he should bear with him a little of the relics of S. George. for he was conductor of the battle, and so he did so much that he had some. And when it was so that they had assieged Jerusalem and durst not mount ne go up on the walls for the quarrels and defence of the Saracens, they saw appertly S. George which had white arms with a red cross, that went up tofore them on the walls, and they followed him, and so was Jerusalem taken by his help. And between Jerusalem and port Jaffa, by a town called Ramys, is a chapel of S. George which is now desolate and uncovered, and therein dwell christian Greeks. And in the said chapel lieth the body of S. George, but not the head. And there lie his father and mother and his uncle, not in the chapel but under the wall of the chapel; and the keepers will not suffer pilgrims to come therein, but if they pay two ducats, and therefore come but few therein, but offer without the chapel at an altar. And there is seven years and seven lents of pardon; and the body of S. George lieth in the middle of the quire or choir of the said chapel, and in his tomb is an hole that a man may put in his hand. And when a Saracen, being mad, is brought thither, and if he put his head in the hole he shall anon be made perfectly whole, and have his wit again.
This blessed and holy martyr S. George is patron of this realm of England and the cry of men of war. In the worship of whom is founded the noble order of the garter, and also a noble college in the castle of Windsor by kings of England, in which college is the heart of S. George, which Sigismund, the emperor of Almayne, brought and gave for a great and a precious relique to King Harry the fifth. And also the said Sigismund was a brother of the said garter, and also there is a piece of his head, which college is nobly endowed to the honour and worship of Almighty God and his blessed martyr S. George. Then let us pray unto him that he be special protector and defender of this realm.
The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints. Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275. First Edition Published 1470. Englished by William Caxton, First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900 (Reprinted 1922, 1931.)
This chapter is from: Volume 3:
Scanned by Robert Blackmon. email@example.com.
This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.
Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.
© Paul Halsall, September 2000
An image of St George taken from the Book of Hours, use of Sarum, Pink Canopies Group, Bruges, circa 1390-1400, 197 x 123 mm, Sloane MS 2683, f. 14v
Copyright © The British Library Board
Today is the feast of St George, a saint whose aid I invoke daily. Looking on the Internet for illustrations of him one is struck by just how popular his cult has been certainly since the later middle ages and how artists have responded to the challenges and possibilities of depicting him as dragon slayer par excellence.
I have been able to celebrate the day with the 8am Oxford Mass Extraordinary Form livestream. At 12.10pm I was able to watch the Warrington Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form from the FSSP. At 6.30pm I shall return to the Oxford Oratory for Benediction.
The Warrington homily referred to the Google search page for today and which I had thought myself earlier on this morning to be curious. It shows St George and the Dragon sitting and relaxing together with the saint proffering slices of bread on his sword over a fire which the Dragon obligingly feeds with his breath. Fun and charming indeed, but it does quite completely miss the point of the story of St George and the Dragon and what it is telling the viewer about the necessity for the Christian to resist and defeat evil.
Wednesday 22 April 2020
from 2019 and
from the time of the first discovery in 2009.
Items from the Staffordshire Hoard are on display in the Birmingham City Museum and the Potteries Museum in Stoke on Trent.
David, who was 66, had been in poor health for several years and his death not unexpected. I am sure that in coming days obituaries will appear which will attempt to recount a complex and often, I suspect, profoundly sad life, shaped by disappointment at the frustration of promise unfulfilled. A former President of the Cambridge Union he had been on the staff of Archbishop Robert Runcie ( to whose memory he was devoted ) at Lambeth and a minor canon of Westminster Abbey. Rural ministry afterwards in the dioceses of Leicester and Peterborough was not to be a success. As he once said to me in his distinctive clipped and rasping voice “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.” On another occasion he asked me “John, do you think it would have helped me in my ministry if I had actually liked people?”
Such is often the story of gifted comics, and David was true to that trope. At his best as a raconteur he was one of the funniest people one could encounter, and I for one regretted - as his speech was taken by successive strokes - that I would never again hear him recount the discussion by the deanery clergy in west London, chaired by the future Bishop Richard Harries, of charismatic healing through the laying on of hands. That reduced me to tears of laughter, even when one had heard the story several times before.
I met him through the Oxford Union and our friendship was certainly spiced with barbs. His many friends and acquaintances will have a fund of stories, many unintelligible to those who did not know him, his friends and foes and the particular world of the Church of England, and not a few verging on the unrepeatable.
He has however left two classic pieces of ecclesiastical humour that have become classics of their kind. The first is from 1982 when with three other clergymen phe produced “Not the Church Times” - inspired by the “Not The Times” of 1979. It can be viewed, courtesy of St Bartholomew the Great Smithfield, at /NottheChurchTimes.
His other published success - Blackwells in Oxford sell it in the Pastoralia section in their Theology department - was produced with Toby Forward and was inspired by “The Henry Root Letters”. The spoof letters sent to Anglican bishops, and their replies, not to mention ecclesiastical suppliers - orange cassocks and silver foxfur almuces for the pro-cathedral on the fish dock in Hull spring to mind - and others, culminated in a meeting to discuss it presided over by Archbishop George Carey. According to David the Archbishop said, “ Well at least I haven’t replied to one of these letters”. At this his chaplain said, “Well actually Your Grace...”
Tuesday 21 April 2020
Monday 20 April 2020
I have posted twice about the release of Cardinal Pell and reflecting upon it and the interview he gave to Andrew Bolt I am minded to expand further on aspects of the handling of the legal process.
I should state that I am not a lawyer, but have some historical understanding of how the British system and its derivatives in countries such as Australia have developed. I am not based in Australia nor have I followed the case in detail. Those points made I was struck by the force of Bolt’s argument, as a reporter and commentator, that the Australian media, notably the national broadcaster ABC, the Victoria Police and the courts in Victoria need to undergo self-examination or investigation by independent assessors about their behaviour.
This does look to have been a prosecution which was media driven and media sustained, and where the coverage was entirely one-sided. The Cardinal was deemed guilty by many before he ever came to trial. The scenes of him almost being mobbed by hostile protesters outside court buildings do not reflect well on the management of the hearings.
It looks again as if the police and prosecutors decided he was guilty in advance, shutting their ears, eyes and frankly their common sense to any evidence to the contrary. That approach seems to have affected the first two trials and the Victoria appeal. The sole complainant seems to have been believed unquestionably. Much of the evidence considered appears to have been demonstrably implausible in the extreme, yet considered it was, with no pause to reflect upon its credibility.
Such a miscarriage of justice is bad for the victim and for the system. Australia is a sophisticated modern nation under the rule of law, and that such a situation could come about is all the more disturbing than in, alas, some other parts of the world. That should give very real cause for concern to the political and legal establishment of the Commonwealth of Australia. Something needs to be done about what allowed this to happen, and to be done at the highest levels.
Such a case has few parallels in modern times, although miscarriages of justice do happen it seems far too frequently. What comes to my mind is that this may be for Australia what the Dreyfus case was for France. Here again someone “must” be guilty because well, they “must, must n’t they”....
There are other disturbing parallels that relate to the Cardinal’s case. Cardinals do not in modern times usually or commonly end up in prison. In the Anglophone world one might think of St John Fisher in the 1530s, but not since.
However there are much more modern and disturbing parallels where Cardinals did suffer imprisonment after “show trials”, and the Pell prosecution looks very much like a “show trial” in a number of respects. The later 1940s witnessed the cases of Cardinals Josyf Slipyj of Ukraine, Jozsef Mindszenty of Hungary, Aloysius_Stepinac of Croatia, Josef Beran of Czechoslovakia, and Stefan Wyszynski of Poland.
Does Australia really wish to see its legal processes ranked alongside those of Stalinist rule and do Australians wish to see their country behave in such a way? I cannot imagine that to be the case.
Friday 17 April 2020
The earring itself is now part of the collection of the Dukes of Portland on display at the Harley Gallery on the Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire.