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, 15 June 2021

Cooking the books in the Vatican

The well-known Catholic commentator on Church affairs John L. Allen has an interesting post on Crux about today’s anniversary of the founding of the Vatican Library by Pope Sixtus IV on this day in 1475. More particularly it is about the first Prefect, Bartolommeo Sacchi, better known by his pseudonym of Platina and his somewhat politically chequered and diverse literary interests, and especially in cookery.

The illustration which accompanies the article is the very famous one of the Pope appointing Platina to his new position and dates from 1478. I always cite it to give the lie to the oft cited claim that until Pope St Pius V the Pope wore red, and that then the Dominican Pius retained his white habit and thus established the tradition of the Pope wearing white. In this painting Popr Sixtus, himself a Franciscan, is depicted wearing white under his rochet, as are fourteenth century Popes in some manuscripts. Whilst there may not have been the consistency of more recent centuries it certainly looks as if Popes have worn white since at very least the later middle ages.

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