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.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

St Pancras

Today is the feast day of St Pancras, a fourteen year old who was martyred in the persecution under Diocletian. As an exemplar of teenage piety he is perhaps analogous to St Aloysius almost thirteen centuries later, and he may have been chosen as a patron for similar reasons by founders of churches.

I posted about him and his cult, as well as his eponymous railway station in 2011 at St Pancras and followed it with a post about one of his most famous English churches, the Cluniac priory at Lewes, which can be seen at Lewes Priory

Until 1970 he shared his feast day, and his place in the Propers of the Mass, with the first century martyrs SS Nereus, Achilleus and Domitilla. The new Calendar gets rid of St Domitilla completely and assigns the day to either SS Nereus and Achilleus or to St Pancras. I posted about this whole group of saints in 2017 at Feast of SS Nereus and Achilleus and of St Pancras

There is an online account of what is known of the life of St Pancras and of his cult at Pancras of Rome

The British Library - now locally situated in his parish - has a blog post about manuscript lives of him in their collection and drawing attention to interest in his cult in England from the Anglo Saxon period. It can be seen at St Pancras: From Roman Martyr to London Station

Although today not perhaps well known other than as a railway station or the name of a geographical area as in both London and Prague St Pancras once enjoyed a much wider devotion across Christendom.

His historic church in London is described in St Pancras Old Church, and that has a useful discussion as to the claims for the relative antiquity of the foundation.

In the City of London there is now the St Pancras Church Garden, which is on the site of the late eleventh century St Pancras Church, which was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. Although the church was never rebuilt the land continued to be used as a burial ground until 1853. The site was partly excavated by the Guildhall Museum in 1963, at which time the burials appear to have been removed. Part of the foundation of the medieval church was found during renovation work on the site in 2010-12.

Elsewhere in England in addition to Lewes Priory in Sussex, where the modern Catholic church is dedicated to him, he is the patron of the church at Arlington in that county, about which there is information at Arlington Village | St Pancras Church | East Sussex. The ancient church under his patronage in the city of Chichester was partly demolished in 1642 and rebuilt in 1750-51, but is still an active foundation.

He is patron of six churches in Devon, including one in Exeter, which is described at St Pancras church: History and Architecture and, best known, at Widecombe in the Moor.

In Canterbury in the grounds of St Augustine’s Abbey are the remains of the Anglo-Saxon and later chapel of St Pancras about which there is information at Early Saxon Churches in Canterbury – St Pancras – Augustine Of Canterbury and at CHAPEL OF ST PANCRAS RUINS REMAINS OF ST AUGUSTINE'S ABBEY, Canterbury - 1096932

In Ipswich there is a Catholic Church dedicated to St Pancras which was consecrated in 1861. The history of the church, which can be seen at St Pancras Church, Ipswich, indicates something of how anti-Catholic feeling could flare up in mid-nineteenth century England.

According to the website franciscanmedia.org Pancras (Pancratius) appears in fictionalized form in Cardinal Wiseman’s novel Fabiola. It also says that German farmers had a saying that three saints whose names are similar - Pancras, Servatz and Bonifatz - were the “ice men” because it was often unseasonably chilly on their feast days, May 12, 13, 14. Even allowing for the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar that is interesting given how chilly it seemed yesterday - so nothing new in that then.

St Pancras, pray for us
St Nereus, St Achilleus, and St Domitilla, pray for us

1 comment:

Zephyrinus said...

Dear "Once I Was A Clever Boy".

Thank you for your most interesting Post on
Saint Pancras.
You mentioned "Ice Men", in relation to various Saints.
You, and your erudite Readers may well be interested in
the Post on ZEPHYRINUS at
which discoursed at length upon "The Ice Saints".
in Domino