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 31 May 2022

A Marian Feast Day and Marian Art

The virtual Marian Pilgrimage concludes on what is a Feast of Our Lady - in the Novus Ordo the Visitation, in the Usus Antiquior the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

It is about that latter feast that Peter Kwasniewski writes on the New Liturgical Movement in a trenchant piece about how the Virgin Mary is perceived and consequently depicted in church and liturgical art. His comments would however be appropriate to any Feast of Our Lady, or indeed as a reflection for any day of the year.

I think Dr Kwasniewski cogently expresses in it something of what I have felt for a while when looking at quite a lot of modern, or relatively modern depictions of the Virgin. The sentimentality of not a few of these may perhaps go back further than he suggests to eighteenth century ideas, but mass-production and reproduction has increased both the actual numbers and their distribution. The fact that quite a lot of these productions are frankly bad art does not help. A sickly sweet, simpering spirituality is no advertisement for the claims of the Virgin. Both St Bernadette and Ssor Lucia were profoundly distressed by what artists created as images of their visions of Our Lady at Lourdes and Fatima.

Great art, and it is of course true that devotion to Our Lady has inspired a vast deposit of very great art indeed, does manage to combine and evoke both, or maybe all, the qualities of Mary. This can be by the use of symbols in colour and attributes or by the facial expression. The humble mother in Bethlehem can still exude regal beneficence, as in Stefan Lochner’s masterpiece Madonna of the Rose Bower

Stefan Lochner Madonna of the Rose Bower, c. 1440–1442. 
Image: Wikipedia 

I will conclude with a personal reminiscence from my Anglican days as Parish Clerk at St Giles in Pontefract from round about 1990. Through my instrumentality ( but that is another story ) the parish acquired a dignified statue of the Virgin and Child from a local convent that was down-sizing. This was to go eventually into the Lady Chapel and to be the replacement for one that had got “lost” during a vacancy quite some time beforehand. It was a copy of a popular image from the inter-war period with a tall and slender robed figure of the Virgin. The rather shallow diadem she wore had been painted out at some point and it was lost in the folds of her veil. After a dash round the likely shops a small pot of Humbrol gold model paint and a fine brush were obtained and with a careful hand I soon rectified the state of Our Lady’s crown in time for the imminent Feast of the Assumption. Subsequently the statue had a proper restoration and was secured on a bracket in the chapel, and with a faculty to ensure its legal right to remain.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Walsingham

The virtual Marian Pilgrimage reaches its conclusion today at Walsingham.

Interior of the Slipper Chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Wal;singham

The restored Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in the Slipper Chapel

Image: The Catholic Travel Guide

I wrote about the Shrine and its history, as well as new theories about its origin and the fate of the statue last year in Our Lady of Walsingham and with links to previous posts relating to it.

I have just come upon an article from the US Episcopalian magazine The Living Church and written by my old Pusey House friend the Rev. Mark Michael, about the argument that the original statue of Our Lady of Walsingham has indeed survived and is now, known as the Langham Madonna, in the Victoria and Albert Museum. It can be read at Original Our Lady of Walsingham Statue May Be in London’s V & A

The Langham Madonna (left) and the modern statue at Walsingham. 
Images: ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London; walsingham.org.uk; The Living Church

Our Lady of Walsingham Pray for us

Monday 30 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady on the Red Mount in King’s Lynn

The penultimate stop on the Pilgrimage is in King’s Lynn and the remarkable survival which is the late medieval chapel of Our Lady on the Red Mount.

My description of the chapel can be accessed through Our Lady on the Red Mount King’s Lynn

Our Lady on the Red Mount Kings Lynn Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady ‘of Ardenbergh’ at Great Yarmouth

The shrine in the Priory complex in Great Yarmouth has the additional interest of being a type of war memorial or commemoration of a great victory. My article about it can be read at Our Lady ‘of Ardenburgh’ at Great Yarmouth

Our Lady ‘of Ardenburgh’ at Great Yarmouth Pray for us

Sunday 29 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Oak at St Martin’s in Norwich

The next stop on the Pilgrimage is in Norwich at what might otherwise appear to be a rural shrine but was in an urban setting. It may have similarities to the originally even more rural shrine at Islington which was visited earlier on in the Pilgrimage. 

Our Lady of the Oak at St Martins Pray for us

Saturday 28 May 2022

Celebrating St Philip’s Day at the Oxford Oratory

St Philip’s Day is, naturally, always a highlight in the calendar of any Oratory. This year, with the normal feast day on May 26th being displaced by Ascension Day different Oratories are observing the Solemnity on a variety of days. 

The Oxford Oratory transferred it to today, and with a notable guest celebrant in Cardinsl George Pell, a long-standing friend of the community. Last night there was Solemn First Vespers, Benediction and Blessing with the relic of St Philip. This can be viewed on YouTube at Our Holy Father St Philip — Solemn First Vespers

This morning the Solemn Mass was celebrated, with guests in attendance from the Birmingham and London Oratories as well as the Abnot of Farnborough and other friends of the Oxford Oratory. The YouTube of the Mass is available at Our Holy Father St Philip — Solemn Pontifical Mass

Both occasions were ccellent examples of the Oxford Oratory at its best liturgically and musically, and a celebration of St Philip but also of his sons, the Oratorians and their ministry.

May St Philip pray for the Oratories, their members and congregations.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Winfarthing

The Pilgrimage now reaches its concluding days, returning to Norfolk and on the way to Walsingham. The first shrine on this section is another rural one, that of Our Lady of Winfarthing. 

I posted about the shrine in Our Lady of WinfarthingIn addition to the link in those notes about the Anglo-Saxon finds at Winfarthing Wikipedia now has a very similar but relevant article at Winfarthing pendant

Our Lady of Winfarthing Pray for us

Friday 27 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Caversham

Further west along the Thames is the Shrine of Our Lady of Caversham. In the later middle ages this small chapel outside the village was one of the most famous and popular Marian shrines in England.

In the mid-twentieth century a very elegant small chapel in the style of the twelfth century was added to the present Catholic church in Caversham and a fine, and historic, statue enthroned therein. This now has a crown blessed by Pope St John Paul II, and recently a wall painting was added to the apse behind it. A delightful recreation of this venerable place of prayer.

My account of the history of the shrine can be read at Our Lady of Caversham

Our Lady of Caversham Pray for us

Thursday 26 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Windsor

The votive image of Our Lady in St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle is the next stop on the Pilgrimage. I wrote about this shrine in Our Lady of Windsor

It occurs to me that maybe one could, or should, also include Our Lady of Eton at this point as prayer and petition to Our Lady was central to King Henry VI’s intention in founding Eton College as a focus for national intercession.

Our Lady of Windsor Pray for us
Our Lady of Eton Pray for us

Wednesday 25 May 2022

Rogationtide with Fr Hunwicke

Fr Hunwicke has been marking Rogationtide this week with a series of typically well researched and informed posts about the origins and practical observance of the Rogation Days and all charged with his own distinctive and incisive observations.

I recommend reading and appreciating his articles, which can be seen at:


My 'Rogations' problem

Drinking the Evil Spirits away

Marx and Sparx

In addition Gregory DiPippo on the New Liturgical Movement has an article made up of quotations from William Durandus Bishop of Mende (c.1230-1296) Rationale Divinorum Officium, written in Italy before 1286, about the Rogationtide processions. It can be read at Durandus on the Minor Litanies

The rich mixture of Catholic piety, antique precedents and pagan origins, folk religion, communal celebration, the understanding of the natural order and rhythms of the agricultural year and all that bound these elements together and which characterised Rogationtide is wonderfully evocative of, to borrow a phrase, the world we have lost.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Winchester

The next stop on the Pilgrimage is the ancient royal and episcopal city of Winchester. My account of this devotion in the cathedral can be seen at Our Lady of Winchester

Our Lady of Winchester Pray for us

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Three Medieval Statues of Our Lady

Last year I added to the Pilgrimage itinerary notes about three surving medieval statues of Our Lady in what might be termed the East Midlands. These are at Howden Minster, St Mary’s Church in Stamford and in the Castle Museum in Nottingham, but originally at the now long-demolished church at Flawford, to the south of the city.

My article about these wonderful survivors can be read at Three Medieval Statues of Our Lady

Our Lady of Howden, of Stamford and of Flawford Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady in the Wall at Boston

The Lincolnshire stage of the Pilgrimage concludes in terms of actual places of medieval devotion with this one at Boston. I wrote about it in Our Lady in the Wall at Boston

Our Lady in the Wall at Boston Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Lincoln

This is another halt on the Pilgrimage which I added to Canon Stephenon’s original list and commemorates the patronal and votive statue of Our Lady that was in Lincoln Cathedral until the despoilers removed it, and also draws attention to its very recent, and striking, replacement.

My article about this focus of devotion can be seen at Our Lady of Lincoln

Our Lady of Lincoln Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady in the Wood near Epworth

The Pilgrimage now moves to Lincolnshire and to the shrine of Our Lady in the Wood near Epworth around which was founded the Axholme Charterhouse.

Our Lady in the Wood at Epworth Pray for us

Monday 23 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Park in Liskeard

The Pilgrimage now dashed down to Cornwall to a rural shrine that has been rediscovered and attempts made to restore it in recent decades. I wrote an introduction to its history in Our Lady of the Park at Liskeard

Our Lady of the Park Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of All Hallows Barking by the Tower

Returning to London the Pilgrimage now goes to All Hallows Barking by the Tower. This was another addition I made to the original itinerary and which has a reasonably well documented history as I set out last year in Our Lady of All Hallows Barking by the Tower

As I indicate in that article the church has a fascinating history and much of interest for the visitor to see, and I would certainly recommend a visit. 

Our Lady of All Hallows Barking by the Tower Pray for us

Sunday 22 May 2022

Sutton Hoo and the Staffordshire Hoard

The BBC News website has an article about an exhibition at Sutton Hoo that brings together material both from that spectacular boat burial and from the Staffordshire hoard, which is believed to be loot from Mercian raids into East Anglia.

There are also articles from The National Trust, which owns the site at Sutton Hoo, at ‘Golden age’ of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship is celebrated as objects from two of the most important archaeological discoveries go on display together by and from Suffolk News, which has some very good illustrations of some of the objects on display at Exhibition of 'most important archaeological discoveries ever made' opens to public

The discoveries of such major deposits of precious treasure has illuminated our understanding of Anglo-Saxon art and craftsmanship, opened up our awareness of cultural contacts far beyond the realms of the Heptarchy, including Byzantine Christianity, and also shown the wealth of rulers, and the status such objects both conferred and witnessed to. Gold was important as a means of exchange, but also of celebrating success, and, certainly at Sutton Hoo, was something that could be sacrificed or set aside for ritual purposes. The so-called ‘Dark Ages’ were literally a golden age in reality as well as in the metaphor of their literary and missionary achievements.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Aylesford

The third of the Kentish shrines on this stage of the Pilgrimage is that at the Carmelite friary at Aylesford - now happily restored to the White Friars. 

My article about this from last year can be viewed at Our Lady of Aylesford

Our Lady of Aylesford pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Poulton

The next shrine on the Pilgrimage itinerary in Kent is just inland from Dover at Poulton. 

My notes about it from last year can be read at

Our Lady of Poulton Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Pity in the Rock at Dover

The virtual Pilgrimage now moves to Kent to visit other shrines of Our Lady there, beginning at Dover. The shrine of Our Lady of the Rock clearly ministered to travellers crossing the Channel. I wrote about this shrine in Our Lady of Pity in the Rock at Dover

Our Lady of Pity in the Rock at Dover Pray for us

Saturday 21 May 2022

King Henry VI - death and legacy

Today is the generally accepted anniversary for the death in 1471 of King Henry VI in the Tower of London.

YouTube has two recent videos about the King’s death and legacy.

The first from History Calling sets out the evidence for the events of those days in late May and attempts to assess what might have happened to him. It appears balanced and well researched, and can be seen at How did HENRY VI die? 

Those who look at the comments section appended to it may spot a couple of observations I contributed. 

The second is a recent lecture by David Starkey which concentrates on the legacy of King Henry VI in the foundation of Eton and, more especially, of King’s College in Cambridge. In particular the Cambridge educated Dr Starkey looks at the revival of the King’s College project by King Henry VII at the end of his reign, and the part the cult of King Henry VI as a Saint-in-the-making appears to have played in that. The talk is very much Starkey at his forceful, rumbustious, stimulating best. One might not agree with everything he says - Dr Starkey is not very sound on medieval Catholicism, or indeed perhaps on the last Lancastrian king - but the lecture has some really excellent insights into the history of Cambridge both physically and institutionally, and into the piety and patronage around the two Kings Henry and the formidable Lady Margaret Beaufort and her confessor, the future St John Fisher. Very well worth watching the lecture can be found at Henry VI's Legacy: Was he that bad? David Starkey Lectures

Henry is described in a review by Patrick Marmion for the Daily Mail of the the current RSC production of the Shakespeare’s trilogy about his reign in which he writes of Mark Quartley’s performance as the King who “turns out to be the melancholy conscience of a play where all around him are dogs of war, hunting his - and each other’s scalps.” In that sentence he perhaps captures what it was that made people see King Henry VI as an intercessor for his less fortunate subjects ( as well perhaps, per Dr Starkey, for King Henry VII ) and as a good and pious man.

There are online articles about the popular cult of King Henry as a saint at The miracle of Henry VI: how the weak medieval king became a 'saint', and at The miraculous afterlife of Henry VI

Round about 1500 no Rood Screen in East Anglia seems to have been deemed complete if it did not include a painted panel, however crude, with a representation of the King. On these he is often shown alongside the regional martyr King St Edmund, to whom he is known to have had a strong devotion arising from a long stay at the abbey whilst still a boy. A fine example is that in the church at Ludham in the Norfolk Broads which is described by the Norfolk Churches website at Ludham

A unique survival, which is alas damaged, of this devotion is a print showing the King surrounded by votaries whom he had miraculously assisted. This high quality woodcut survives as a paste-down in the Bodleian Library in MS Bodley 30. 

My reflections from last year on the 550th anniversary of the King’s death, with various illustrations and links, can be seen at King Henry VI - a royal failure?, a royal martyr?

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Four Tapers at St Albans Abbey

The statue of Our Lady of the Four Tapers in St Albans Abbey had an interesting history as it was moved within the monastic church. I posted about this. with various links to online source material in Our Lady of the Four Tapers in St Albans Abbey

Our Lady of the Four Tapers Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Kingswood

Less well remembered than some others on the Pilgrimage route is the shrine of Our Lady at Kingswood Abbey in Gloucestershire about which I wrote last year in Our Lady of Kingswood

Our Lady of Kingswood Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Allingtree

Another little remembered shrine is the wayside chapel Out Lady of Allingtree which today is recalled by a modern church near its site on the western outskirts of Hereford. This is by one of the roads running west from Hereford towards Wales and the Marches, and not a few Marian shrines in the Principality.

I wrote about it last year in Our Lady of Allingtree

Our Lady of Allingtree Pray for us

Friday 20 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Tewkesbury

The shrine of Our Lady of Tewkesbury was another one missing from Canon Stevenson’s original list and which I added. If Evesham was a centre of Benedictine devotion to the vision granted to Eoves and his Bishop, and the cathedral in Worcester a centre of  diocesan devotion then the third amongst the great Benedictine foundations of the area, Tewkesbury Abbey, was a centre for aristocratic petition and prayer to Our Lady.

I wrote last year about the statue, noble piety, puritan desecration and a modern revival in Our Lady of Tewkesbury

Our Lady of Tewkesbury Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Worcester

The cathedral priory in Worcester was the home of a major centre of devotion to Our Lady, under whose co-patronage with Christ, the cathedral is dedicated.

I added this devotional statue to the Pilgrimage route in 2020 and what I wrote about the shrine, and its destruction, can be accessed in Our Lady of Worcester

Our Lady of Worcester Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Evesham

The Pilgrimage now moves west to the valleys of the Severn and Avon, and resumes at Evesham. Apart from Glastonbury Evesham can probably claim to be the oldest place of Marian devotion in the country.

My post from last year with the link to the one from 2020 can be seen at Our Lady of Evesham

Our Lady of Evesham Pray for us

Thursday 19 May 2022

The Ryedale Hoard

I chanced upon a new video from History Hit about four second century bronze objects found by two metal detectorists in 2020 near Ampleforth in Yorkshire and which have now gone on display in the Yorkshire Museum in York.

The video discusses them as individual objects and their significance but then seeks to place them in the context of second century Yorkshire and explores four options for their being buried. It also relates the four pieces to other items on display alongside them in the Museum. This does therefore present them as part of the life of Britannia in the period rather than just objects in a display case with no recovered or conjectured history.

St Yves and a chasuble at Louannec

Today is the feast of St Yves, or Ivo, 1258-1303, the patron saint of lawyers and said to be the only parish priest to be formally canonised in the medieval period.

Wikipedia has a life of St Yves which sets out his austere life, apparently shaped by Franciscan spirituality and his work as a canon lawyer, noted for helping the poor and in reconciling adversaries at Ivo of Kermartin

Louannec, his parish, is on the north coast of Brittany, and close to his birthplace.

The Liturgical Arts Journal recently had a post about a medieval chasuble of fine quality, presumably worn by St Yves when he was as parish priest at Louannec and still preserved there. The vestment was not new in the time of St Yves, being made in the twelfth century from gold and purple fabric produced in Sicily. Being of that date it is comical in shape and similar in that respect to the better known one associated with St Thomas of Canterbury at Sens.

Its survival is doubtless due to its association with St Yves but the fact that a parish church on the Breton coast could possess a vestment of that quality does indicate, once again, that high status textiles could be found far from their place of manufacture, and that a remote coastal parish in Brittany could acquire or be given such a luxury item.

The article about the chasuble, which has some good photographs, can be seen at The Twelfth Century Chasuble of Saint-Yves

St Yves Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady at the Pillar St Edmundsbury

Today the Pilgrimage - why is not clear to me but presumably was to the late Canon Stephenson when he compiled the itinerary - makes a return visit to Suffolk to Bury St Edmunds / St Edmundsbury to a devotional image that was not in the abbey but in the larger of the two parish churches built into the precinct wall, that of St Mary.

My post about it can be seen at Our Lady at the Pillar St Edmundsbury

Our Lady at the Pillar at St Edmundsbury Pray for us

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Doncaster

The second Yorkshire shrine today is that at Doncaster. The medieval devotion was located in the Carmelite friary in the town centre and its restored successor is not far away in the modern Catholic church. 

My posts about it can be accessed at Our Lady of Doncaster

Our Lady of Doncaster Pray for us


Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady on the Bridge at Wakefield

I realised earlier that I was slightly out of sync with the dates from the previous years so today I am continuing to post to get back on track. Tjis post and the next take me back not just to Yorkshire but to my home area. The first of these is to Our Lady on the Bridge at Wakefield

Our Lady on the Bridge at Wakefield Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Furness

The Pilgrimage makes its only foray - or excursus - to the Lake Counties with a shrine I added in last year, to the Cistercian abbey of Furness. 

I cannot but think that Carlisle Cathedral, dedicated in the middle ages to the Virgin, did not have a votive statue of its patroness, but so far I have not come across any references to one.

My post from last year can be seen at Our Lady of Furness

Our Lady of Furness Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Jesmond

Leaving Durham the Pilgrimage now moves further north to what are now the outskirts of Newcastle upon Tyne and the shrine of Our Lady of Jesmond. The ruins of the chapel still attract pilgrims.

My post about it can be accessed at Our Lady of Jesmond

Our Lady of Jesmond Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Bolton in Durham Cathedral

The next stage on the Pilgrimage takes us into the main part of the cathedral at Durham to the statue of Our Lady of Bolton. This was a shrine I added to the original list last year..,,, I will now add to what I wrote then that it must have been quite large to contain an image of the Holy Trinity with a Crucifix that could be removed for the Good Friday devotions.

I understand the latest edition from the Surtees Society of the Rites of Durham sees it not as a reminiscence by a surviving member of the pre-reformation cathedral community but rather as a consciously Recusant description largely compiled by an antiquary, William Claxton, and dating from about 1590. That may well be the case but I do not think that in any way diminishes its value as a record of liturgical and devotional life in the cathedral priory both before the dissolution of the monastery and the Henricisn and Edwardian changes and before the codification after the Counvil of Trent of Catholic practice. By 1590 both processes, for very different reasons, would have made what the Rites describes seem remote.

My post about the statue can be read at Our Lady of Bolton in Durham Cathedral

Our Lady of Bolton Pray for us

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Pity in the Galilee at Durham Cathedral

Later medieval devotion to Our Lady of Pity - the Pieta - can be found on the next stage of the Pilgrimage in the Galilee Chapel at the west end of Durham Cathedral.

My posts about this statue can be accessed at Our Lady of Pity in the Galilee at Durham

Our Lady of Pity in the Galilee Pray for us 

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Abingdon

The Pilgrimage moves west to the Berkshire river bank of the Thames Valley with a visit to the shrine of Our Lady in the great Benedictine abbey at Abingdon.

My post about it can be read at Our Lady of Abingdon

Our Lady of Abingdon Pray for us

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Clare

The next shrine on the Pilgrimage route is also in southern central Suffolk at Clare. Clare is an attractive and historic town with a name to conjure with for a historian with its links to the Clare family and as the root of the title of the various Dukes of Clarence.

The shrine was in the medieval Augustinian friary and since 1953 devotion to Our Lady has  been revived there in what survives of the monastic buildings as can be read at Our Lady of Clare

Our Lady of Clare Pray for us

Monday 16 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Sudbury

The Pilgrimage stays in Suffolk today with another parochial shrine, that at the market town of Sudbury.

My account of this shrine can be read at Our Lady of Sudbury

Our Lady of Sudbury Pray for us

Sunday 15 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Woolpit

The shrine today on the Pilgrimage is that at Woolpit near Bury St Edmunds. This is another example of a local place of devotion attached to a parish church that on occasion attracted interest from further afield.

I posted about it in Our Lady of Woolpit

Our Lady of Woolpit Pray for us

Saturday 14 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Ely

The Pilgrimage route now turns westwards to Ely Cathedral and to a devotion that pre-dates the establishment of a bishop’s throne in the great Benedictine abbey on its island in the Fens in 1109. 

The story of the votive image at Ely and of both devotion to her there and of the destruction of it can be read at Our Lady of Ely

Our Lady of Ely Pray for us

Friday 13 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Thetford

The development of the devotion to Our Lady of Thetford in the important Cluniac priory on the edge of the town is better documented than that of many other similar shrines. In my original post from 2020 I speculated thst the enlarged Lady Chapel on the north side of the choir of the monastic church May have been the chosen burial place of several late medieval Dukes of Norfolk from both the Mowbray and Howard families.

The account of the shrine from last year, with the link to the more detailed post from 2020, can be viewed at Our Lady of Thetford

Our Lady of Thetford Pray for us

Thursday 12 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace of Ipswich

The shrine of Our Lady at Ipswich was one of the most celebrated shrines of later medieval England and I recount the story of that, of the apparent, indeed remarkable, survival of the statue itself at Nettuno in Italy, where it can still be venerated alongside the cult of St Maria Goretti, and the revival of a shrine in Ipswich in my account from last year which can be read at Our Lady of Grace of Ipswich

Our Lady of Grace of Ipswich Pray for us

Wednesday 11 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Coventry

For whatever reason the route of the Pilgrimage now lurches to the the Midlands before returning to East Anglia after its visit to the medieval cathedral of St Mary in Coventry. My artivle about thr history of the devotion and its modern restoration can be read at Our Lady of Coventry

Our Lady of Coventry Pray for us 

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace of Cambridge

The statue in the medieval Dominican friary in Cambridge and its place in the life of both the University and of the local community is introduced in Our Lady of Grace in Cambridge

Our Lady of Grace of Cambridge Pray for us

Monday 9 May 2022

Another milestone for The Queen

Today The Queen becomes, one is told online, the third longest reigning monarch after King Louis XIV and King Rama IX ( Bhumipol ) of Thailand. Next month she is due to overtake him, and then become the second longest reigning monarch after Le Roi Soleil. The Mail Online has an article about this particular record and a bit about the sovereigns mentioned as well as about Prince Johann II of Lichtenstein whom Her Majesty has just out-reigned by a day, at Queen becomes third longest reigning monarch in history

This is a very considerable achievement on the part of all these monarchs, and it is in sense a wish to be grudging to point out that if you count those who might be deemed to have reigned in theory but not ruled in fact then three other recent monarchs have out reigned even King Louis - Emperor and King Otto of Austria-Hungary (1922 - 2011) with 89 years, King Michael I of Romania ( 1927-30, 1940-2017 ) with 80 years and the still living Tsar Simeon III of Bulgaria who acceded to his throne in 1943, and who has also served as Prime Minister of the modern republic …, who will celebrate 79 years as monarch in August.

On this basis, and thanks to modern longevity, Platinum Jubilees should be almost as frequent as Silver or Golden ones ( this year in Denmark, next year in Sweden ), and the King of the Hellenes is within two years of his sixtieth anniversary in 2024.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Oxford

The next stage on the Pilgrimage takes us to the medieval universities, beginning in Oxford.

My article about the various devotional statues of Our Lady in Oxford can be read at Our Lady of Oxford

Our Lady of Oxford Pray for us

Sunday 8 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Muswell

The pilgrimage stop today at Our Lady of Muswell is now probably the least remembered, after those at Willesden and Islington, of the three shrines in what were once villages to the north of London. Like many other of the shrines on this route they have left little in the way of archival or archaeological evidence, yet attracted pilgrims - numbers again unknown - over several centuries.

The history of this shrine is outlined in Our Lady of Muswell

Our Lady of Muswell Pray for us

Saturday 7 May 2022

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Willesden

The shrine of Our Lady in what was once the rural village of Willesden was one that appears to have been especially popular. I have an account of it, and of the restoration of shrines in both the original church - now Anglican - and in the modern Catholic church in Our Lady of Willesden. This is supplemented by More on the rural London shrines of Our Lady, which also takes note of the Crome Hill shrine near Greenwich.

Our Lady of Willesden Pray for us
Our Lady of Crome Hill Pray for us 

Friday 6 May 2022

Twelfth century Bury St Edmunds manuscripts on display

The BBC News website has a report at Medieval manuscripts return to abbey where made about an exhibition in Bury St Edmunds of seven surviving manuscripts from the Abbey. They have been lent by Pembroke and Jesus colleges at Cambridge to mark the millennium of the foundation of the Benedictine monastery in 1020.

These survivors from the abbey scriptorium and library are beautiful in themselves and are a reminder of what we have lost - less than a tenth of the books from the abbey library at the time of the suppression are believed to survive.

Twelfth century Bury in particular was a great cultural centre, of which we get glimpses in these and other manuscripts, in the fragments of the great monastic church and in such superb treasures of the ivory cross, usually considered to be from the abbey and now at the Cloisters in New York. There is a facsimile at the cathedral in Bury St Edmunds.

The cross is described by Wikipedia at Cloisters Cross and by the Metropolitan Museum website at The Cloisters Cross | British | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

I wrote about it in 2012 at The Bury St Edmunds Cross which has a series of images, including one with what is believed to be the original Corpus which is now in a museum in Oslo.

This was also the time that Jocelyn of Brakelonde wrote his Life of Abbot Samson which gives numerous insights into the life of the abbey, and of medieval Benedictinism in general.

Crusader hand grenades

I have come across two articles recently about the identification of what can only be construed as a twelfth century grenade from the Crusader kingdom in the Holy Land. Though such things were recorded the lack of evidence had made modern scholars sceptical as to their actual use and composition.

Reading the articles led me to think of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I am not a particular fan of Monty Python, though the Holy Grail film is among their better work, but it seems appropriate to add the link to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in this post.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Islington

The first of the north London parochial shrines listed on the Pilgrimage is that at the parish church of Islington. I posted about this in Our Lady of Islington

Our Lady of Islington Pray for us

Thursday 5 May 2022

Digitising medieval Scottish manuscripts

The BBC News website reported the other day that the National Library of Scotland has launched a new digital database comprising medieval manuscripts in their collection. 

The Library holds some examples and they have the rarity value for historians because so much was lost in Scotland because of the effects of the reformation. The article suggests that only 1% of Scottish liturgical texts survived.

The quality of the work is another reminder, despite the limited survival rate, of what Scots artists achieved and that the country was part of the mainstream of European culture.

The article, with a link to the NLS website, can be seen at Rare medieval manuscripts digitised for first time

At the end of the article is a link to a report from last year of the purchase by the Library of the mid-sixteenth century Chronicle of Fortingall, which, together with the clearly related Book of the Dean of Lismore which was already in the Library, is a major source for Latin, Gaelic and Scots verse, as well as a chronicle for the period 1554-1579, and has material on Highland history from 1390 onwards.

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in St Pauls

The statue of Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in the nave of St Pauls appears to have been the principal devotional image of her in the cathedral. I wrote about it in Our Lady of Grace by the Pillar in St Paul’s

It was by the statue of Our Lady of Grace that the body of King Henry VI was laid in its open coffin in May 1471 on the day after his death in the Tower of London before being taken to Chertsey Abbey for burial. The choice of this statue in St Paul’s may well have been because, as I quote in my post above, the statue was one with a tradition of prayers for the departed. Being close to the crossing it was a prominent place to display the late King for the crowds to see that he was indeed dead. I will hopefully write more about this later on this month at the time of the anniversary.

Our Lady of Grace Pray for us

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Commemorating the Battle of Tewkesbury

Today is the anniversary of the Bsttle of Tewkesbury on May 4 1471. Last year to mark the 550th anniversary I reposted a series of informative and cogent online articles produced by the excellent Tewkesbury Battlefield Society to commemorate the events of 1471. These can be found in the May 2021 section of my back posts. 

Last year the continuing covid restrictions meant that the annual battle re-enactment and Medieval Festival which has developed from and alongside it had to be cancelled for a second year, but this year the event is back. 

Men in armour poke their polearms at each other, while arrows fly overhead.

The battle of Tewkesbury re-enacted

Image: Wikipedia 

I have been several times to watch the combat, wander around the accompanying medieval fair with its various stalls selling books and prints, reproduction armour and lifestyle resources for re-enactors ( my favourite was a very good armour stand entitled “Dressed to Kill”…) and other related events in the town, such as the storming of the abbey church in pursuit of the defeated seeking refuge there - an addition since I last attended - and the subsequent beheadings outside the Magistrates Court near the abbey.

Tewkesbury is decorated for the occasion with over 180 reproductions of the heraldic banners of the combatants. Not only is Tewkesbury a delightful and beautiful town with many timber frame buildings built over several centuries but it is still dominated, as it was in 1471, by the marvellous abbey, which is the burial place of, inter alia, several of the prominent victims of the battle, including Prince Edward, son and heir to King Henry VI. If you are interested at all in the period and are free to go there on the weekend of July 9 and 10 a visit is something I thoroughly recommend.

The handsomely illustrated website for this year is at Tewkesbury Medieval Festival and there is an account from Wikipedia of the evolution since 1984 of a small re-enactment into what is now said to be the largest medieval festival in Europe at Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of Westminster

The statue, or perhaps statues, of Our Lady of Westminster were of national significance being in the abbey and in the royal palace at Westminster. The one in the abbey is normally believed to be central to King Richard II’s decision to consecrate England to Our Lady as her Dowry in 1381-2 in the wake of the Peasant’s Revolt.

My introduction to this very significant shrine, and to its modern renewal, can be seen at Our Lady of Westminster

Our Lady of Westminster Pray for us

Tuesday 3 May 2022

The Invention of the Holy Cross

Today is the date in the traditional calendar of the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross. Lamentably it is not included in the modern General Calendar. This discovery of the principal relic of the Passion by the Empress St Helena in the early fourth century provided her with her own attributes in representations of her in later centuries. 

The story of the True Cross from the planting of a seed from the tree in the Garden of Eden in Adam’s mouth at his burial to the recovery of the True Cross by the Emperor Heraclius is set out in Piero dellla Francesco’s Legend of the True Cross in the Franciscan church in Arrezzo. It was painted between 1447 and 1466. I posted about this great cycle in The Legend of the True Cross and in Another commentary on Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross to mark the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in September last year.

The Invention of the True Cross from
Piero della Francesca’s The Legend of the True Cross Arezzo 1447-66

Image: Web Gallery of Art

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Red Ark in York Minster

The third shrine on the Pilgrimage was situated in the south transept of York Minster and being next to the red chest - or ark - for donations to the cathedral fabric became known as Our Lady of the Red Ark. 

An account of what is known of this statue and devotion, together with links to other sites, is accessible in Our Lady of the Red Ark in York Minster

The post also includes something about the damaged twelfth century bas relief of the Virgin and Child now in the Minster crypt and the modern statue at the York Oratory.

Our Lady of the Red Ark Pray for us

Monday 2 May 2022

Discovering more about Dunstable Priory

To my regret I have not so far had the opportunity to visit the remains of Dunstable Priory in Bedfordshire. Today only the nave survives of the Augustinian’s church. However that still preserves a spectacular west front. 

Dunstable - Priory Church of St Peter. West front.

Dunstable - Priory Church of St Peter. West front, main doorway.
The west front and doorway of Dunstable Priory
Images: bedfordshireparishchurches.co.uk

Its special place in English and ecclesial history is that it was in the Lady Chapel of the canon’s church that Cranmer pronounced the annulment of the marriage of King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon on May 23 1533. There is more about this from Heritage Daily at The Annulment of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon at Dunstable Priory

After the dissolution of the priory it was one of those former monastic churches listed as potential cathedrals for new dioceses - in this case for Bedfordshire - but that did not come about and all that survives is the parochial nave.

Wikipedia has a particularly detailed account of the history of the house at Dunstable Priory

There is a well illustrated account of the architecture of the church at Dunstable – Priory Church of St Peter from Bedfordshire Parish Churches

Medievalists.net has a report about a recent geophysical survey of the site of the presbytery and Lady Chapel which clearly suggests that the church was more impressive than had been hitherto thought - though with a West facade like that which survives perhaps one should not be surprised. What the survey indicates looks very like the plan of the east end of the similarly Augustinian Great St Bartholomew at Smithfield - though part of that is a skilful Victorian reconstruction. The illustrated Medievalists.net article can be seen at New survey of Dunstable Priory reveals a grander complex

St Bartholomew the Great History

The choir and presbytery of St Bartholomew Smithfield may suggest what was once the appearance of the priory church in Dunstable.

Image: lookup.london