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 2 May 2024

Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Undercroft in Canterbury Cathedral

The second shrine on the Pilgrimage is that of Our Lady of the Undercroft in Canterbury Cathedral.   

General view of the Chapel of Our Lady in the Undercroft

My post about it from last year can be seen at Marian Pilgrimage - Our Lady of the Undercroft in Canterbury Cathedral

Edmund Waterton notes on the screeens the presence of coats of arms of members of the nobility from the time of King Henry VI. Presumably they visited the shrine on the way to or from Calais in the latter stages of the French war. He also cites offerings by Queen Elizabeth of York in 1502, and by her son King Henry VIII, who offered 6/8 in both 1514 on the Tournai campaign and 1520 on the Field of Cloth of Gold visit. 

In the 1520s Erasmus described the shrine as follows: 
From the shrine of St Thomas, we returned to the crypt. Here the Virgin Mother has an abode, but somewhat dark, inclosed within a double screen of iron, for fear of thieves, for indeed I never saw a thing more laden with riches. When lamps were brought we beheld more than a royal spectacle, which in beauty far surpassed that of Walsingham. This is only shown to men of high rank or great friends. 
Waterton p 9, quoting Erasmus Peregrinatio religionis ergo
The screen work of the chapel dated to circa 1370

chapel has a beautiful quality of tranquility and although much damaged retains much of its original decoration. Because it is not on the main tourist route in the cathedral it has, as a Catholic priest and I were discussing a few weeks ago, a profound spiritual impact and one feels close to those who created and adorned it.
The modern statue by Mother Concordia Scott OSB
Images: Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society 

May Our Lady of the Undercroft pray for The King and all the Royal Family and for us all.

No comments: