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.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Celebrating Corpus Christi

Yesterday being the traditional Feast of Corpus Christ I went to the EF Mass at teatime at SS Gregory and Augustine here in Oxford - the Oxford Oratory were also having a Solemn Mass for the feast at the same time, so traditional practice was well honoured in the city.

At SS Gregory and Augustine Fr Saward preached with particular reference to the part played in promoting Corpus Christi as a devotion by St Thomas Aquinas. As is of course well known St Thomas was asked by Pope Urban IV in 1264 to compose the Office and Propers of the new feast, and this gave Fe Saward the opportunity to link this both to St Thomas’ wider achievement as the synthesiser of Catholic thought and Aristotelianism and to the Angelic Doctor’s own spiritual insights in his last months in 1273-4 in Naples and on his deathbed at Fossanova. A suitably academic way in Oxford to mark this great feast.

As I discussed with a friend over dinner afterwards it was not until a couple of generations later with the publication of the Extravagantes - a lovely name for a collection of canon law - by Pope John XXII that the wider Church realised it should be keeping this  new feast. The speed and enthusiasm with which it was taken up is an indicator of the public desire to celebrate the gift of the Eucharist, of the Blessed Sacrament.

No comments: