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, 29 December 2020

St Thomas of Canterbury and his place in history

I see that Fr Hunwicke has some pertinent reflections in his blog upon St Thomas on his 850th anniversary. Like my previous post they turn upon a manuscript and its ownership, and interesting for that reason alone.

St Thomas’ place in English history is undoubted, but what it exactly is remains an issue of debate, a debate that, as two Oratorian sermons I heard online today clearly pointed out, is still ongoing and highly relevant.

In my later Anglo-Catholic years as Churchwarden of St Thomas the Martyr here in Oxford I often reflected as churchman and historian on the saint’s place in our history as a country, and in the history of the Church. The essence of understanding lies I decided in the fundamental principles he stood and died for, not to be waylaid, as scholars and students often are, by the minutiae of criminous clerks and suchlike. Such is of genuine interest to the quarrels of the 1160s - but for us today it can get in the way of seeing why St Thomas acted as he did, and why his fate is still remembered.

Fr Hunwicke’s thoughts can be read at Bishop Becket

Having written this post I see that Fr Tim Finnigan has also posted an excellent piece on his blog with his reflections on St Thomas. It can be read at Thomas Becket: the simple but daunting question he puts before us today

St Thomas Pray for us

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