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 30 August 2020

The Sherborne Missal Digitized

Newsweek and Ancient Origins both have reports about the digitization of the Sherborne Missal by the British Library ( who are, I see,  facing criticism for adopting a “woke” agenda on certain fashionable issues, but let that pass...). The illustrated articles can be seen at Gorgeous medieval book is as heavy as a 5-year-old, but now it's viewable weightlessly and at 
The Missal, commissioned by Abbot Robert Brunyng and made in the years 1399-1407, is one of the glories of the period, a marvellous example of the illuminator’s art and especially famous for its depictions of birds.

Kingfisher (kyngefystere), robin (roddock), skylark (larke), female house sparrow (sparwe hen), starling (stare), spotted woodpecker (wodewale): Add MS 74236, pp. 383, 382, 369, 377, 385, 373 (details). (Public Domain)

Kingfisherkyngefystere), robin (roddock), skylarklarke), female house sparrowsparwe hen ), starling stare), spotted woodpeckerwodewale): Add MS 74236, pp. 383, 382, 369, 377, 385, 373 (details). ( Public Domain 

The inclusion of portraits of the Benedictine calligrapher John Whas, who also records the effects on him of the project, and of the Dominican illuminator John Siferwas, is an interesting example of medieval artists and craftsmen being commemorated.

As a community Sherborne was clearly thriving and in the succeeding next two to three generations was to transform the abbey church - notwithstanding a fire burning part of it caused by a riot about access to the then attached parish church by the townspeople in 1437 - into one of the greatest achievements of English Perpendicular architecture. That is outlined in the history of the abbey at About Sherborne Abbey from the parish website and at Sherborne Abbey from Wikipedia.

I saw the Sherborne Missal when it was still in the collection of the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle some years before its sale to the British Library, and here in Oxford I attended a splendid lecture on it with a really fine series of photographs of the illuminations.

The articles have links to the British Library digitization and I would urge people not merely to look at that but also to visit Sherborne - a delightful town and in the abbey it has one of the most glorious buildings of the fifteenth century.

Virtual Pilgrimage to Walsingham - Day III

Having been to Mass here in Oxford I had to catch up on the recording of the third and final day of the LMS virtual Walsingham pilgrimage later on in the day.

It was good to feel one was present at the Mass in the Slipper Chapel, which is such a prayerful and delightful place. Fr Henry Whisenant’s homily in looking at pilgrimage not just to specific shrines but as the pilgrimage of one’s life was all the more suited to a pilgrimage like this where one participated from home.

Doing that did I am sure bring spiritual benefits - an opportunity to focus on devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham, to reflect further on one’s own life-pilgrimage and to feel drawn back to this graced place in the north Norfolk countryside.

Our Lady of Walsingham Pray for us

Saturday 29 August 2020

Virtual Pilgrimage to Walsingham - Day II

Today, on the second day of the LMS Walsingham Pilgrimage, I tuned in through YouTube to Mass from the marvellous Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge. It is one of the most spectacular Catholic churches in England and really very well worth going to see if you are in Cambridge. The celebrant was Fr Simon Leworthy, someone I got to know slightly when he was based in Reading.

This was followed by two powerful addresses by members of the Community of Our Lady st Glastonbury. These both reflected upon the death of St John the Baptist. The first was given by an old Oriel friend of mine Dom Bede Rowe and the second by Dom Anselm Redman. 

It is very good to see the establishment of this Community in Glastonbury and to witness the return of a Benedictine presence to where St Dunstan began the English Benedictine tradition in the tenth century. I got to know Glastonbury as an Anglo-Catholic, going there on retreat, and savouring that unique blend of spirituality, history and legend that makes the Isle of Avalon what it is. The website of their community is at  Glastonbury Monastery | Somerset

The broadcast concluded with Fr Tim Finigan introducing and leading the recitation of the Rosary. In his succinct but ever thoughtful
way he, like the Glastonbury monks, once again provided food for thought for the spiritually hungry pilgrim, be it to Walsingham or on life’s journey 

Our Lady of Walsingham Pray for us

A German Reliquary of St John the Baptist

Today is the Feast of the Decollation of St John the Baptist, and a day upon which to reflect on not only his death but also his relics. There are still a considerable number of these in both Latin and Greek Christendom.

A German relic of St John the Baptist with a British connection is what is believed to be one of his teeth. Now in Chicago it forms part of the Guelph Treasure. Held since the fifteenth century by the House of Brunswick it was therefore in the keeping of British monarchs from 1714 until 1837 - and was brought in 1803 for safe-keeping to England. After the separation of the two crowns it remained with the Kings of Hanover to 1866 and in exile in Austria with them until it was eventually sold in 1931. The history of it can be read at Reliquary with the Tooth of Saint John the Baptist

Reliquary with Tooth of Saint John the Baptist 
Image: Art Institute of Chicago

St John the Baptist Pray for us

Friday 28 August 2020

Our Lady of Walsingham

The Latin Mass Society virtual Pilgrimage to Walsingham seems a good point at which to post something about the recent reports that what may, indeed may well, indeed what really could be the original statue from the medieval Shrine has survived and is now safely ensconced in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

There has I know been the suggestion - more likely the hope - that the statue had somehow survived, but I have hitherto been of the opinion that this was wishful thinking. Now there appears to be a good reason to
believe that it did survive.

There have been a series of online reports about what has been known since the 1920s as the Langham Madonna, and each adds important detail to the narrative, so it is worth looking at each one,

The Catholic Herald article can be read at 

Was the original Walsingham statue really destroyed – or is it in the V&A?, and this was followed by The Church Times with

Marian statue may be medieval.

The website Living Church has an illustrated article at Original Our Lady of Walsingham Statue May Be in London’s V & A

One of the proponents of the identification of the statue as being the original from Walsingham, Dr Francis Young, has a post on his blog at Our Lady of Walsingham? The Mystery of the Langham Madonna

The Supremacy and Survival  website has more detail about the destruction of the Shrine and the Walsingham Martyrs at Cromwell's Bonfire and Our Lady of Walsingham.  Frank Beswick on Wizzley.com attempts an interpretation of what happened in Walsingham in 1537 at The Mystery of the Langham Madonna

The statue is also considered on the website of 


The Eastern Daily Press website report includes good illustrations of Walsingham today in  Have researchers cracked the 500-year mystery behind a sacred Norfolk symbol?

The Centre for Marian Studies reports on the suggested identification at DID THE STATUE OF OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM ESCAPE BURNING?

If this really is the statue we have hitherto known only from the seal of the medieval Priory, or even if it is a medieval copy of it, then is it not fortuitous that it has been identified in the year of the rededication of England as Our Lady’s Dowry? Also, even if it is confined to a museum, it is literally next door to the London Oratory.

Our Lady of Walsingham Pray for us

Virtual Pilgrimage to Walsingham - Day I

Today the Latin Mass Society is beginning its annual three day Pilgrimsge to Walsingham. In this year of Covid-19 it is a virtual pilgrimage rather than a physical one, and looking at the rain falling at the moment makes me think that is a no bad thing for those who might have set out today to walk from Ely to Walsingham.

Thanks to the LMS livestream it is possible to join in spiritually from the comfort of home - which is not to say that in normal circumstances a degree of discomfort or inconvenience is not an often meritorious aspect of going on pilgrimage.

The online session began with a votive Mass at the restored Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden in north London. There the original shrine certainly existed by 1249, when it boasted two statues of the Virgin. The Black Madonna, visited by St Thomas More amongst others, was destroyed in 1538. A new Catholic shrine has revived the devotion, as has one in its original home at the Anglican parish church. This was revived in 1902 and a new statue was dedicated in 1972 by the then Bishop of Willesden, the future Msgr. Graham Leonard. As with the Shrines at Walsingham the two communities cooperate in bearing witness to Our Lady.

This was followed by four meditations on the Pilgrimage themes. Presented in different ways these linked their respective themes together to set out the spiritual terrain to be traversed.

Dr Joe Shaw, Chairman of the LMS, spoke of the history of the Society’s pilgrimages and about the history of Walsingham, including the new theories about the possible survival of the medieval statue - I shall post about that separately.  

Canon John Cahill from Leicester spoke about the inner journey undertaken by the individual pilgrim, and Fr James Mawdesley FSSP addressed the intention of the Pilgrimage, the Conversion of England and the renewal of faith here. Fr Tim Finigan introduced the recitation of the Rosary with reflections on the Sorrowful Mysteries. These are, or will be, available on the LMS YouTube site.

Following the midday Angelus from Portsea the virtual pilgrims were free to go and walk in their own locality and enter this towards the total of miles walked to England’s Nazareth. Not being really able to do that at the moment myself I wonder if, adapting the old Yellow Pages advert, I can let my fingers do the walking as I type my blog?

St Augustine and St John the Baptist

Today is the Feast of St Augustine of Hippo and tomorrow that of the Decollation of St John the Baptist. It is therefore an eminently appropriate day upon which to share an image of this painting of the two saints who are shown together with a donor.

Aelbrecht Bouts (c.1455-1549) - St. Augustine and St. John the Baptist with a donor. Part 1

                      Image: en.gallerix.ru

Dated to the period 1490-1500 the painting is the work of the Flemish artist Aelbrecht Bouts. In addition to his paintings he should perhaps be noted for his longevity - born circa 1452-5 he died in 1549. There is a short biography of him and a list of where his works may be seen today at Aelbrecht Bouts


Wednesday 26 August 2020

Commemorating St Louis


                         St Louis
           King of France 1226-1270
A depiction of him from the Bible of St Louis and dated to 1226 -1234
                   Image: Wikipedia 

The distinguished liturgical commentator Peter Kwasniewski has a blog post about the commemoration of St Louis, whose feast day was yesterday, and which is on Life Site News today. As he points out this is the 750th anniversary of the death of King Louis IX, who was to be canonised in 1297.

I have copied Dr Kwasniewski’s post as follows, and will than add some reflections of my own:

Today, August 25, is the feast  and the 750th anniversary of the death  of one of the best and holiest rulers the human race has ever seen: Louis IX, King of France (April 25, 1214–August 25, 1270).

Br. Andre Marie writes:

“As the formerly Christian West is sliding further into the tyranny of liberalism, it is balm to the soul to consider that the people in Louis’ France were freer than we are today. They were free from big government meddling in their lives and their wallets. And they were free in the most important way, for Saint Louis believed in a Christian order wherein the State was neither inimical nor neutral to the Church, but was the Church’s helper in securing the happiness, temporal and eternal, of her subjects. Our modern “freedom,” by contrast, is servitude.”

Sadly, it seems that the rulers of the Catholic Church were embarrassed by the example of this great king. In her article “Theological Principles that Guided the Redaction of the Roman Missal (1970)” in The Thomist 67 (2003), the great liturgical scholar Lauren Pristas wrote, inter alia, about modifications that were made in the liturgical reform to the centuries-old Collect or Opening Prayer of his Mass.

The old prayer read (and, where the traditional Latin Mass is celebrated, still reads):

Deus, qui beatum Ludovicum confessorem tuum de terreno regno ad caelestis regni gloriam transtulisti: eius, quaesumus, meritis et intercessione, Regis regum Iesu Christi Filii tui facias nos esse consortes. Qui tecum vivit et regnat ...

O God, who didst remove blessed Louis, Thy confessor, from an earthly kingdom to the glory of the heavenly kingdom, grant, we beseech Thee, through his merits and intercession, that we may be consorts of Jesus Christ, thy Son, the King of kings, who with Thee liveth and reigneth ...

The new prayer, drafted in the late sixties, reads:

Deus, qui beatum Ludovicum, e terreni regiminis cura ad caelestis regni gloriam transtulisti, eius, quaesumus, intercessione concede, ut, per munera temporalia quae gerimus, regnum tuum quaeramus aeternum.

O God, who brought Saint Louis from the cares of earthly rule to the glory of a heavenly realm, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, by fulfilling our duties on earth, we may seek out your eternal Kingdom.

The changes here are important. Pristas comments (also mentioning the Emperor Henry, whose collects were similarly edited):

The original collect for Louis does not explicitly mention his rule as king. This is supplied in the revision — but, again, in terms more reflective of our historical circumstances than his own. The revision may have been designed to accommodate a modern mentality. Its effect, however, is to obscure the truth that holiness is found in persons of every age and social rank. Henry and Louis were not simply entrusted with the care of earthly government; they were Christian rulers who became holy as they ruled because of the Christian way in which they ruled.

She continues:

The change in the petition of the revised collect for Louis is striking and shares common features with the new oration for Henry. The 1962 prayer for Louis begs that we may have partnership with Christ who is the King of kings — here, particularly, the King of King Louis — whereas the revised text asks that we may seek, but does not specify that we also find, “your eternal kingdom.” The petition of the revised text, therefore, is stunningly effete in comparison to that of the original collect which seeks nothing less than full incorporation into Christ. Similarly, the old collect for Henry begs that God make us attain unto, or reach (pervenire), himself, whereas the new version asks only that we hasten (festinimus) unto him. The verb pervenire stipulates arrival, festinare does not. A second feature common to both revised collects [i.e., Louis’s and Henry’s] is a new emphasis on the things of this world which, in addition, are presented in a wholly positive light.

Pristas lastly notes that the original Collect begs that we may reach the King of kings in heaven by the merits  and intercession of St. Louis; in the new Collect, merits have gone strangely missing.

The Secret and Postcommunion of the traditional Mass for St. Louis are equally eloquent. The Secret reads:

Praesta, quæsumus, omnípotens Deus: ut, sicut beátus Ludovícus Conféssor tuus, spretis mundi oblectaméntis, soli Regi Christo placére stúduit; ita ejus orátio nos tibi reddat accéptos. Per eúmdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui vivit et regnat ...

Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that as blessed Louis, Thy Confessor, spurning the delights of the world, strove only to please Christ, his King, so his prayer may render us acceptable to Thee. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth ...

“Spurning the delights of the world” was the kind of “negative” language that (as Pristas demonstrates in the same article) was systematically removed from the Novus Ordo missal. “Striving only to please Christ the King” is no less awkward for a mentalitythat no longer sees the Incarnation as the center of Church life, human history, and the entire cosmos. Inevitably, this prayer had to go; it will not be found — even in bowdlerized form — in the new missal. The Postcommunion strikes a militant note:

Deus, qui beátum Confessórem tuum Ludovícum mirificásti in terris, et gloriósum in cœlis fecísti: eúmdem, quæsumus, Ecclésiæ tuæ constítue defensórem. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui vivit et regnat ...

O God, Who didst make Thy blessed Confessor, Louis, wonderful on earth and glorious in Heaven, constitute him, we beseech Thee, the defender of Thy Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth ...

God exalted on Earth a Christian king who used his authority to promote the Faith, our greatest good here below, and to care for His people, including the poor and the imprisoned. In this way Louis is absolutely opposed to the modern democratic perspective that privatizes and relativizes religion, while fostering a humanistic “care” for the disadvantaged that does not respect their dignity or their supernatural destiny. The prayer also asks God to make Louis a heavenly defender of the Church. Defense is only for those who have belligerent enemies. Not surprisingly, this prayer, too, was cut from the new missal.

It’s also worth pointing out, in passing, that the custom had developed of honoring the Blessed Trinity at the end of all three orations (Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion) with a full doxology. With typical reductive antiquarianism, the liturgical reformers chopped off the doxologies from the Prayer over the Offerings and the Prayer after Communion. In this way was obscured not only the acknowledgment of the Trinitarian nature of all Christian prayer, but the lordship of Christ: “who lives and reigns.” The full doxology, which is multiplied in the Tridentine liturgy (it appears in the prayers at the foot of the altar, the orations, the Offertory prayers, the prayers before Communion — all of these abolished in the new rite of Mass), thus serves as a continual reminder that Christ, as God and man, is King of kings and Lord of lords — a lesson we need to hear today more than ever.

A 35-year-old priest, Fr. Dylan Schrader, is not embarrassed about the kingly glory of St. Louis or the kingship of Christ. Fr. Schrader has collaborated frequently with Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB in the writing of hymns that can be sung to traditional chant melodies. Here are lyrics composed by Fr. Schrader for today’s feast (via email communication from Fr. Samuel):

Most Christian king and man of God,
Saint Louis, lover of the poor,
You served Christ’s lowly ones on earth
And reign with him forevermore.

Rise up, O prince and champion,
Campaign for Christ the Lord again,
Whose cross and nails and thorny crown
Defeat the tyranny of sin.

Defend this Church, which bears your name,
Her shepherd, and your city, too;
Bid love of Christ our hearts impel,
Our thirst for righteousness renew.

Be faith our shield and hope our helm,
Be charity our breastplate, Lord,
Your truth a Iight unto our feet
And sharper than a two-edged sword.

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
One only God whom we adore;
By grace guide pilgrims home to you
To dwell in glory evermore.


King St. Louis IX, pray for us.”                          

The Clever Boy would begin by pointing to the online biography of St Louis which can be read at Louis IX of France for those who want some background to the life and reign of this saint king, and exemplar of kingly duty.

Bible of St. Louis - Morgan fragment, the authorship miniature
              The Bible of St. Louis 
The Morgan fragment in New York.
King Louis listens to his mother Queen Blanche, who apparently commissioned the work, as below a religious dictates to the scribe of the Bible moralisee
                   Image: Wikipedia

I would concur with the comments of both Peter Kwasniewski and Lauren Pristas - both of whom I have heard speak in Oxford - about the differences in emphasis and phrasing between the 1962 and the 1970 Missals. I would add the thought that whether the liturgy is in Latin or the vernacular, recited ad orientum or ad populism, silently or amplified, many in any congregation do not pay much attention to what is said. That is not to say they ought not to, but that they don’t. Liturgists like Kwasniewski and Pristas pay attention to these things, but they are the specialists. What is worrying, as they point out, is that official pronouncements - prayers and invocations - are changed and diluted without the faithful realising that not merely the words but the meaning, and by extension, the belief, of the Church is being adjusted or even compromised.

My other point or points would be as a historian. Capetian France was a topic I studied as an undergraduate and it remains one I find interesting and important. Because King Louis IX became St Louis, the exemplar of good kingship, his reign has acquired a halo of its own. He is thus often compared to his brother-in-law King Henry III to the latter’s disadvantage. I do wonder if that is fair, and if St Louis, as my old tutor thought a reasonable hypothesis, had not a range of abilities and attributes that made him King Henry more alike than is often thought. Did St Louis “ put one over” on his brother-in-law, fellow monarch and liegeman with the Treaty of Paris in 1259?Going on Crusade is fine and noble but could one accuse King Louis of putting idealism ahead of the call of duty as King of France? Being captured the first time and dying of dysentery on the second attempt may not have been the most useful thing to do.

Br André Marie’s comments at the beginning of the post also make me wonder if they are not conditioned by contemporary US concerns. If you desire to see a public polity inspired by the likes of St Louis then that probably involves maintaining the institutions St Louis personified or lived by - what was to become known later as Throne and Altar. The King supported the Church in its mission, but the Church supported the King in his. The limits of that relationship were to be laid bare just over thirty years after St Louis’s death by Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV - and it was just before that relationship fractured that those two combatants secured the canonisation of the saint king.

Given its resources and abilities the government of Capetian France reached deep into the lives and concerns of the King’s immediate subjects and of his great feudatories. As King St Louis showed true Capetian perspicacity in maintaining and extending the rights of the Crown - he was not the grandson of Kinng Philip II or the grandfather of King Philip IV for nothing. He was one of the Kings who made France.

That is not to in any way doubt that he had an attractive personality, had charm and wit alongside being shrewd and devout. The St Louis of the historian is commendable, but he is truly incarnational, a man of flesh and blood, and not an aetherial ideal. True man, true King, true Saint.

File:Head of statue of the king Saint-Louis (Louis IX) (exhibition Saint-Louis 2014-2015).jpg

Polychrome statue of St Louis from Normandy and made at the beginning of the fourteenth century

                   Image: Wikimedia 

St Louis, Pray for us

Tuesday 25 August 2020

FSSP Vestments at Laon

Today being the Feast of St Louis seems an appropriate day on which to copy and paste an article from the Liturgical Arts Journal which was published by that site yesterday. Entitled ‘A Pontifical Set of Vestments from Pluriate’ it is by Shawn Tribe and shows a splendid new set of episcopal vestments for the traditional Rite in use at Laon Cathedral for an FSSP Ordination.

Laon is an attractive historic city and the cathedral is not just worth seeing for its famous west front and multiplicity of towers and stone oxen but also for its beautiful and calm interior. That interior is one that, for all the passage of centuries and ecclesiastical fashions, remains redolent of the France of the Capetians. St Louis, his biographer Joinville and their contemporaries are, you feel, behind the next column....

Shawn Tribe writes:
It has been a little bit since we have featured some of Pluriarte's work and what better time than to feature a Pontifical Mass set they made for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Many of you will have no doubt already seen the photos of the Mass, but may not have known who made the set. 

Of course, the photos are also worth sharing in their own right, set in the spectacular confines of the Cathedral of Laon in France. 

For those who wonder what distinguishes a pontifical set from a solemn Mass set, it is, of course, made up of the usual chasuble, dalmatic and tunicle (as per the solemn Mass), but also includes five copes (one for the Assistant Priest and four more for the pontifical attendants who carry the book, bugia, mitre and crozier) and two more dalmatics for the assistant deacons. 

The Pluriarte set falls entirely within the 19th century idiom of floriated vestments. If you wonder what distinguishes a 19th century floriated textile from an 18th century one, it typically has to do with the style of the flowers (which are more three dimensional in design) and the deeper, less pastel colours of the textile generally. 

Let's take a closer look. 

In terms of the cut of the set, it is a mixture of influences, showing aspects of the Italian, French and Austrian traditions. 

For more information, visit Pluriarte on social mediaor on their website

The Clever Boy will add the obvious point - but it is still worth making - that it is so very good to see such vestments being commissioned and produced, and to see them being used in the liturgy. It makes you think all the disasters that have befallen France since 1789 - barring the happy era of the 1815-30 Restoration - have not happened.

St Louis, Pray for France, Pray for us

Monday 24 August 2020

King Richard I and Queen Berengaria

An Israeli archaeologist believes that he has identified the site of the battle of Arsuf fought on September 7 1191 between the Crusader forces led by King Richard I, and which were victorious, and those of Saladin. Live Science recently had an article about this which can be read at Crusader battlefield where 'Richard the Lionheart' defeated Muslims is unearthed in Israel

The campaign is described very well in John Gillingham’s biography of the King in the Yale English Monarchs series.

At about the same time as this research came to my attention there was a report in The Guardian about plans to finally restore the tomb of the King’s widow, Queen  
Berengaria, at the abbey at L’Epau near Le Mans where she was buried in 1230. The article, which records the misadventures of the tomb and effigy since the late eighteenth century, can be read at Berengaria of Navarre's 'cursed' tomb to be restored

Queen Berengaria often appears as a rather shadowy figure, excluded from the limelight by her husband and his mother Queen Eleanor. However two online biographies of her suggest that she was a more resolute figure than the usual perception might indicate and a not inconsiderable figure in her own right when she lived out her widowhood as what looks to have been a model of regal piety They can be read at Berengaria of Navarrewhich is from Wikipedia, and at Berengaria of Navarre, Queen of England

There is more about the history of the abbey, of the tomb and of what are now believed to be the Queen’s bones at the Wikipedia account of L'Épau Abbey.

Archaeological discoveries in the Holy Land

It is striking how the Holy Land continues to yield significant archaeological evidence. In one way it should not surprise given the millennia of human occupation in that small area of land. In another way it does surprise given the often violent and destructive upheavals that have shaped its history, and the frequent changes of political control. Nevertheless despite all this remarkable things survive awaiting the developer’s heavy machinery followed by the rescue archaeologist’s trowel, or, if they are lucky, the researcher with time and patience.

Three fairly recent discoveries I noticed online all cast significant light on the history of faith and worship and cultural contacts.

The first was the identification of cannabis as an element used in Temple worship in the kingdom of Judah some 2.700 years ago, incense one would expect, cannabis perhaps not. Maybe the sight of the armies of Assyria seemed a little less daunting if you were high on weed. The article about it can be seen at Ancient Israelites 'burned cannabis in worship'

One hopes this is not used as a recommendation for its use - liturgical or otherwise - by the modern pro-drugs lobby.

The second was the discovery last year of an early Mosque in the Negev. This appears to be from the earlier phase of the Islamic conquest, so it is important not just for the history of the region but in understanding the development of Muslim devotion. The account can be seen at  Israeli archaeologists find 1,200-year-old mosque

The third discovery was a major hoard of gold coins from the Islamic period which was reported today. Apart from an indication of personal wealth it also is claimed to point to trading contact with Byzantium. The finds are discussed at Israeli youths unearth 1,100-year-old gold coins. However the Byzantine coin fragments are from the reign of the Emperor Theophilos (829-842) and as the Wikipedia biography of him at Theophilos shows he had a long conflict with the Arabs, so they may be spoils of war as much as the results of trade.

A twelfth century discovery in the Holy Land is one I will link to in my next post.