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.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Pilgrimage to the grave of St John Kemble

Today we continued our retreat at Belmont with the Offices and High Mass, an excellent lunch in the refrectory and then went off in the drizzle on pilgrimage to the grave of St John Kemble, who was martyred in 1679 at Hereford, in the churchyard at Welsh Newton, a few miles to the south west of Hereford.

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 Fr Jerome and the Brothers on the Retreat in Welsh Newton churchyard

Image: Oxford Oratory 

Fr Jerome had planned to take us there but we found that as tomorrow is the feast day of St John we could join in the annual walking pilgrimage to his grave which took place this afternoon.

There is an online account of St John and his life and martyrdom at John Kemble (martyr) and there is an article about him from the Catholic Herald from 2010 at The English martyr hanged at the age of 80.There is another account of him from the Herefordshire past website at Saint John Kemble – Martyr.

One of the Saint's hands is held as a relic in the church of St Francis Xavier in Hereford, and there is an account of what looks very much like a miracle wrought at his intercession in 1995 through the use of the relic at St. John Kemble's Severed Hand

Saturday, 20 August 2016

A quiet Saturday at Belmont

Today was our first full day at Belmont, and given over to our Retreat. We all turned up for Matins at 6.30 this morning and followed the monastic regime through the day.

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Belmont Abbey church from the north

Image: Jason Pacey Photography 

Fr Jerome is giving his retreat addresses on the links between the Days of Creation, the Ages of the World and the Virtues.

For these we meet in a book lined room adjacent to the abbey church and its Holy Door, but otherwise read or walk as we wish in the buildings or grounds.

I have been reading John Cassian's Monastic Institutes - which consists of two parts, On the Training of a Monk and The Eight Deadly Sins  - and which was translated by Fr Jerome and published in a very attractive edition by the Saint Austin Press in 1999.


Grace before a meal in the refectory at Belmont 


Friday, 19 August 2016

Going on retreat at Belmont Abbey

Earlier today I travelled from Oxford over to the Benedictine abbey at Belmont on the western edge of Hereford for what is planned as a combined retreat and pilgrimage holiday. This has been arranged for the Brothers of the Secular Oratory of the Oxford Oratory by our Prefect, Fr Jerome Bertram C.O.

The journey across the Cotswolds and then through the lush countryside of Herefordshire was a relaxation in itself and the car I was travelling in managed to arrive just in time for Vespers in the Abbey church despite the potential perila and pitfalls of undertaking ajourney at Friday teatime.

We are staying within the monastic enclosure and taking our meals with the monks so as to follows their horarium. Vespers this evening was my first opportunity to actually attend a service in the monastic church as on my previous stays at Belmont that was out of action due to a major renovation and refit.

Our rooms are quietr and restful, and well appointed and I look forward to the chance to rest and re-create here. I hope the others enjoy their visit - Belmont was my suggestion and apart from Fr Jerome, who came here for his own retreat earlier in the year, none of the others have visited the abbey before.

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Belmont Abbey

Image:Belmont Abbey

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Funeral of the Queen of Romania

The BBC News webite has an account of Royal funeral for Romania's uncrowned Queen Anne
and the Royal Forums website has a post Mourners At the Royal Palace in Bucharest
with other related links from it to other posts.

From the blog New My Royals there are these pictures of the Queen's lying-in-state:

Romanians pay last respect to late Queen Anne of Romania

Hundreds of mourners have paid respect to the late Queen Anne of Romania, lying in state at the Royal Palace now the Art Museum of Romania, in Bucharest August 11, 2016. The body of Anne of Romania, the wife of the Romania's former King, Michael of Romania, arrived in Bucharest Tuesday for the royal funeral. Queen Anne, aged 92, died on August 1 in a hospital in Switzerland. Born Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma, she met Michael in 1947 and married him in 1948.
Hundreds of mourners have paid respect to the late Queen Anne of Romania, lying in state at the Royal Palace now the Art Museum of Romania, in Bucharest
Hundreds of mourners have paid respect to the late Queen Anne of Romania, lying in state at the Royal Palace now the Art Museum of Romania, in Bucharest

Hundreds of mourners have paid respect to the late Queen Anne of Romania, lying in state at the Royal Palace now the Art Museum of Romania, in Bucharest
Hundreds of mourners have paid respect to the late Queen Anne of Romania, lying in state at the Royal Palace now the Art Museum of Romania, in Bucharest
Hundreds of mourners have paid respect to the late Queen Anne of Romania, lying in state at the Royal Palace now the Art Museum of Romania, in Bucharest

  Images: newmyroyals.com

The Royal Standard of Queen Anne of Romania

Image: Wikipedia

Scandinavian Monarchies in WWII

Recently the Mad Monarchist posted an interesting piece about World War II and the Scandinavian Monarchies which draws several themes together. 

I am not quite sure if I agree with the Mad Monarchist in his tendency to see decline in the story he unfolds. Thus in Sweden the constitutional changes ( whether you agree with them or not ) consolidated into law in 1974 were ones which had developed over the preceding three-quart-rs of a century and Swedish commentastors conside rthe monarchy there more popular than in the past. I recall both before and when the present King came to the throne in 1973 journalist were inclined to write off the Swedish monarchy as finished in an age of social democracy. In reality a young King and Queen and their family held the attentuion and loyalty of the majority,and if you follow theses things at all it is clear the Swedish monarchy is no stanger to public splendour and ceremonial  - barely a bicycle in sight. It was back in 1907 that, very regretably, and on the grounds of cost, that the Swedish royal house, abandoned the coronation ritual; such a change is not recent.

Similarly in Norway the coronation ceremony has not been obligatory soon after 1906. I greatly regret that, but the more muted inaguration of King Olav V in 1957 was followed by a more elaborate ceremony in 1991 for King Harald V according to Norwegian friends.

Denmark gave up the coronation in 1863, but the monarchy retains apublic ceremonial face which is impressive.

In both Denmark and Sweden the condtitutional clashes over the King's powers were made manifest in the First World War or its aftermath, not the Second.

The article is also interesting in bringing out the differences between the the kingdoms, perhaps exacerbated for the Danes and Norwegians by Swedish neutality in the years cafter 1940.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Bl. John Sandys - an Oriel martyr

Today is the 420th anniversary of the martyrdom of the priest Bl. John Sandys at Gloucester in 1586. An Oriel man born 1550/55 in Cheshire or Lancashire he converted to Catholicism and then trained at Reims for the priesthood.

His ability to celebrate Mass the morning of his execution is an interesting insight into what could happen in an Elizabethan prison, whilst the actual carrying out of his death sentence shocked some at least who did not share his religious convictions.

Stephanie Mann had this post about on her Supremacy and Survival blog him last year:

There are other accounts of him at Blessed John Sandys from the Duiocese of Shrewsbury website and at John Sandys from the Robinswood Hill Roman Catholic parishes website.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Casting light on the interior of Salisbury's spire

An article in The Daily Telegraph the other day concerned a Salisbury Cathedral volunteer who has helped to cast light on the interior of the 180ft spire by paying £5,000 to have new light bulbs installed.
It is the tallest spire in Britain, with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to Salisbury Cathedral every year to walk up its 332 narrow steps and get a closer look at the fourteenth century architecture and the timber reinforcement inserted between 1346 and 1376 to stabilise the spire.

The illustrated article can be viewed here.