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, 3 November 2020

Commemorating All Saints and All Souls

After two Solemn EF Masses at the Oxford Oratory for the Dead - last night for All Souls and this evening the annual one for Deceased Fathers and Brothers of the Oratory - I feel their austere and timeless beauty, together with the absolutions at the cataphalque, has got me firmly into the mood for the November concern to pray for the departed.

The Medieval Histories site had further material for this season beyond the ghost stories from Byland which I linked to on All Saints Day, and I think these are worth sharing together with some additions.

The origins and development of the regular commemoration of the departed in November are considered in Souling and the contribution of the great abbey of Cluny in the eleventh century is examined at Saints and SoulsThe medieval experience of these things in Poland is discussed in Living with the Dead

The tradition of baking Soul Cakes to be given out to those who came around the houses of a community offering to pray for the departed in return is considered at Sweets for All Souls
and, complete with fourteenth century recipes at Soul Cakes

More recipes for Soul Cakes, and how to bake them, can be found on YouTube at Samhain Soul Cakes Recipie and, using a late sixteenth or early seventeenth century English recipe, from the engaging Max Miller of Tasting History at Soul Cakes & Trick-or-Treating

It would be rather nice to see a revival of such things to mark the season. Maybe, when ( if?) we return to ‘normal’ ways churches could take the lead and distribute these scone-like cakes after All Souls Day Masses.

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