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.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

The Cult of St Catherine

Yesterday was the Feast of St Catherine. An especially popular saint in the medieval period personal devotion to her has declined in more recent centuries. 

Here in Oxford Catte Street - once the street of the scriveners - recalls her (“Kate Street”) as the patron of students, philosophers and intellectuals - and from that in a roundabout way came the name of what is now the twentieth century foundation of St Catherine’s College.

Two blog posts which were published yesterday reflected on her legenda and its pertinence today. The Liturgical Arts Journal has a piece about changing attitudes to devotion to her in the later middle ages and during the sixteenth century. It can be seen at St Catherine of Alexandria in the Counter-Reformation

On The Hermeneutic of Continuity Fr Tim Finigan reflects on how we need to recover the messages of the story of St Catherine. His article can be read at Saint Catherine, a patron much needed today

I also came across a post about traditional French practices to honour or remember St Catherine which can be seen at Saint Catherine’s Day CustomsI do not think the role of St Catherine as a patron of millers should mystify the author - the mill wheels and mill stones are a reminder of her attempted martyrdom, and the risk of mill stones shattering reminiscent of that other wheel Maxentius had intended to use on the Saint.

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