Thursday, 29 July 2010
Today is the feast day of St Olaf, the patron saint of Norway.
It is a good occasion upon which to send my greetings to my Norwegian friends and an opportunity to share the notes on St Olaf from John Dillon on the Medieval Religion discussion list. As with the recent post on another Scandinavian saint, St Bridget,I have not bothered converting the links. They include some wonderful images of medieval art - Norway has preserved some superb examples of English inspired or influenced high medieval art, of the sort that was lost in England itself in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
St Olaf, from a frontal c.1320-30 now in Trondheim cathedral
Olaf of Norway (d. 1030). Olaf II Haraldsson became king of Norway in 1015, reconquered areas that had been under the control of Danes and Swedes, and effected, partly by force, the conversion to Christianity of his then still largely pagan country. A rebellion forced him from his throne in 1028; he died two years later trying to regain it. Olaf was buried at what much later became Trondheim. His son Magnus promoted his veneration as a saint and built a chapel at his grave. In 1075 that chapel was replaced by a cathedral (now the cathedral of Nidaros). The later twelfth-century archbishop of Nidaros, St. Eystein (also spelled Øystein; latinized as Augustinus) wrote the Passio preserved in O.'s Office (BHL 6322, 6324). A paper on it by Eyolf Østrem is here:
Olaf's mid-thirteenth-century statue at Tyldal kirke in Østerdalen:
An English-language site on the much rebuilt cathedral of Nidaros:
Olaf's spring in the cathedral:
An illustrated, English-language page on the cathedral's early fourteenth-century St Olav altar frontal (thanks again to John Shinners for sharing this with the list two years ago):
Some Olaf -related visuals outside of Norway:
a) Olaf in the mid-fifteenth-century vault paintings in Överselö kyrka in Strängnäs kommun (Södermanlands län):
b) Olaf on the fifteenth-century rood screen at St Michael, Barton Turf (Norfolk):
c) An English-language page on, and some views of, the originally mostly fifteenth-century St Olave's church in Chester (restored, 1859):
and here is another image of Olaf from Chester cathedral:
d) An English-language page on, and some views of, the originally late medieval St. Olav's church in Tallinn:
Many views of the church are here (follow the sequence of thumbnails near the bottom):
The second post also has an Oxford connection, starting as it does with Colin Stephenson's Merrily on High. Fr Stephenson had been vicar of St Mary Magdalen's in Oxford, a church I used to periodically attend in my early days in the city. More than anyone else it was Stephenson who made 'Mary Mags' the "highest" church in the Church of England before he went to Walsingham. The post and its comments, which are worth looking at, are here.
The post is a series of reflections, as indeed are the interesting comments, to which I will add my halfpennyworth. Anglo-Papalists who abandoned the heritage they had assumed did not do themselves, or the tradition they espoused any favours. Indeed it was where that tradition was preserved that Anglo-Papalism and Anglo-Catholicism had serious pulling power - it was a significant factor which kept me within the Anglican orbit for a long time.
Happily, nay, mercifully, things have moved along on the other bank of the Tiber . Those Anglo-Papalists who value the beauty of holiness expressed in traditional forms will be far safer and ultimately far happier within the proposed Ordinariates, or within the widening traditionalist movement within the Catholic Church. They should value and preserve, or indeed revive, their ceremonial practices, and bring them on board the barque of Peter. Yes, bring your lace and folded chasubles - they really can be the new and living way.
Which brings me back to St Thomas. Whatever the intricacies of the dispute with King Henry II, and indeed not a few of the English hierarchy, and however much issues were lost sight of or changed out of recognition, one thing St Thomas did believe in and stress was his fidelity to the Holy See in the person of Pope Alexander III, but also to the Papacy in principle. St Thomas, whatever else he may have been, came to be seen as a martyr for the independence of the Church under the Pope. No wonder King Henry VIII was so determined to destroy his cult. So yes, it is good to see St Magnus Martyr celebrating St Thomas, but, with great respect and genuine concern, may I suggest that they should perhaps give some thought to what St Thomas might, conceivably, be saying to them,particularly in the present circumstances of Ecclesia Anglicana.
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
They are the usual Wednesday and First Friday Masses at 6, but also an additional one on Thursday August 5th at 6 for Our Lady of the Snow.
He says he is thinking of making these First Thursday evening Masses a regular part of the programme. During the Year for Priests, the Holy Father encouraged parishes to revive the tradition of praying for priests and vocations on First Thursdays. This devotion is associated with Pope Pius XI, who instituted the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, and that Mass will be offered whenever calendrically possible.
Do please mention these Masses to friends.
Fr Saward also reminds people of the weekly day of Eucharistic Adoration, on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This concludes with Traditional Latin Benediction at 5.
Monday, 26 July 2010
The organiser has sent me the following details which I am happy to share online:-
For more info - please ring Amanda Lewin - 01869 600638
Further to my post last Thursday, here, in addition to some pictures of Campsall church, and as promised, is the inscription I referred to.
I have taken the text from J.E. Morris The West Riding of Yorkshire 2nd edn (rev) (Methuen's Little Guides, 1923) p.147
The rood screen [which is, I think, later fifteenth century*] has the following inscription at the head of the dado and below the openings, being transcribed by Morris on 15 July 1909:
Behold thy Maker on yond cros al to to[rn]
Remember his Wondis that for the did smart,
Gotyn withowut syn, and on a Virgin bor[n],
All His hed percid with a crown of thorne.
Alas! man, thy hart oght to brast in too.
Bewar of the Deuyl whan he blawis his hor[n],
And prai thi gode aungel conne the.
Morris says he transcribed with care, but added the punctuation. The letters in [ ] are absent, not merely illegible. In one case (hor) he noted the usual mark of abbreviation: a superscript - above the o. I think that defeats me as a blogger.
Whom he so little pleases, she in scorn
Does teach his devilship to wind the horn
I have a feeling that this quotation from "Grim" may be more obscene than Morris realised - but that may say more about me! The Devil's horn is, of course, the anti-type of the trumpet of the Archangel Gabriel.
Now the real interest of this inscription at Campsall is two fold.
Firstly it must have been painted to make it legible - today it looks like a piece of decorative carving, given its cramped setting and black letter form. So here is further proof of the use of colour in medieval church decoration.
Secondly it assumes a reasonable degree of literacy from the average worshipper in this West Riding church in the late middle ages as they kneel before the rood screen, with the Rood above.
The Campsall screen is, to my mind, a wonderful illustration of the points Eamon Duffy made in The Stripping of the Altars, and why, with all due respect to Professor Duffy, whom I greatly admire and respect, I was in no way surprised, unlike so many other historians, by the evidence he adduced for late medieval popular piety in rural as well as urban England.
Sunday, 25 July 2010
This year seems to have more than any previous one I can recall a superabundance of European language students. Now I get the impression that individually these are probably perfectly pleasant teenagers ( Is that an oxymoron? Never mind) of the French, Italian or Spanish variety.
Collectively the effect is rather different. Frankly, it is frightful. It is like making one's way through an interactive film - something like "Oxford - Invasion of the Eurobrats"
Those of you who have experienced Oxford this year will appreciate the point, and those who have not will get it, if I compare the effect to the film "Gremlins"... (provided you have seen that film.)
Meanwhile change goes on in the city, and being change it is usually problematical, and often not for the better. Thus the former Border's bookshop, as well as another shop in the central area is being turned into Tesco supermarkets. Useful I agree, but is that how we want to see the future of central Oxford, dominated on its main streets by supermarkets?
As a further sign of change and decay in all I see (and I manage to see a lot of it) Gills, the ironmongers off the High, are closing at the end of August. This is a consequence of failing to negotiate a satisfactory new lease. Not only is it the loss of a traditional business, but the firm claims to have been here since 1530 - so it is older than many colleges, and indeed institutions such as the Bodleian (1602) and the Ashmolean (1683).
I had tea with a retired North American academic on her way to the Catholic Record Society conference in Yorkshire. Over scones and jam and cream we discussed pro-life matters and family history, and then moved on to the Divine Right of Kings, its medieval precursors, and considered equivalent ideas in Catholic kingdoms in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe.
Then it was off to the Eagle and Child to meet up with an Oxford friend who is now a lecturer in Egyptology at Liverpool. From the pub we moved on to a restaurant, and the conversation embraced, inter alia the current state of the Church of England, and possible converts to Rome, his holiday in Uzbekistan, which opened up Central Asian ideas about kingship, the fact that the Sultanate of Rhum was a claim to be the successor of Rome, the influence of Hellenistic art on that of Buddhism - both new ideas for me - then back to Egypt, the Desert Fathers, St Anthony, St Pachomius, the lives of these early saints - the way their monastic model was spread through the writngs of John Cassian and its influence not only on Benedict of Nursia, but more specifically I am sure (though I have not seen this explored in general books on medieval monasticism) on St Bruno, and his Carthusian model.
We also reflected on events which really changed the world - Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire, Constantine's conversion, how one should interpret the French Revolution in these terms of uniquely decisive events - he was more incline to see that than I was myself perhaps - the Sarajevo assassination and the outbreak of the First World War. Along the way I learned much more about modern Central Asia than I did before - well, I'll be honest I did n't know very much to start with - and the interesting attitudes to conservation of historic sites out there - drastic restoration being the order of the day, complete with sanitised park land around the ancient monument.
All that with good Italian food and wine, and a friend's good humour, plus some gossip (sorry, human interest stories) about mutual friends - what more could you ask for sitting outside on a summer evening?
Friday, 23 July 2010
I have always considered Trinity to be architecturally one of the most appealing of the colleges, partly because of its distinctive layout and extensive grounds, and the sense of continuity from the buildings of the pre-reformation Durham College, whose building these once were, and also because of the rather heterogeneous character of the buildings. So it was a pleasure on both occasions to show people the place where Newman spent some of his formative years.
She interests me for a number of reasons. She is very much a product of the late medieval church, very much of "my period". Eamon Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars gives an idea of her popularity in fifteenth and early sixteenth century England. Some relics of her were presented by a fifteenth century Yorkshireman resident in Oriel, Thomas Gascoigne, to Osney Abbey - a proverbial stone's throw from where I live. I have visited the grounds of Syon Abbey in Devon, that remarkable and profoundly moving survivor of medieval piety - the one English community to survive the reformation, having been founded by King Henry V in 1415-20. A website about the abbey is here.
She is probably better known today than for several centuries. Most of her original Order's foundations werecasualties of the reformation era, and it has been in the twentieth century that the new Order, established by Bl. Elizabeth Hasselblad has prospered and made a great contribution to the work of the Church. It is to this community that Sr Mary Richard Beauchamp Hamborough, an English woman, whose cause is being promoted by the Order, belonged. There are some details here.
Alongside that are still those houses with a continuous history, such as Syon, from the age of St Bridget, and also, I undertand an American group who have revived the order for men, as well as women, as was the original scheme of the foundress.
I am reproducing John Dillon's post for today in his 'Saints of the Day' series from the Medieval Religion discussion group, slightly edited. I think life is too short to convert all the addresses to links!
"Bridget (Birgitta) was the daughter of an important Swedish family. She was married when she was about the age of fourteen. One of her eight children was St. Catherine of Sweden (or of Vadstena; 24. March). After her husband's death in 1344 Bridget lived as a penitent near the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra and in 1346 she entered the newly founded double monastery at Vadstena (endowed for her by King Magnus II, whose Queen she had once served at court as a lady in waiting). There Bridget established her Order of the Most Holy Saviour (a.k.a. the Brigittine Sisters), whose rule was confirmed in 1370. In 1349 she moved to Rome, where she continued to record the visions and revelations that she had been receiving since childhood and where she worked tirelessly for the improvement of the Church and for the return of the papacy from Avignon.
Bridget's daughter St. Catherine brought her body back to Vadstena in 1374. Bridget was canonized in 1391. She is the patron saint of Sweden and now, since John Paul II's pontificate a patron saint of Europe. Herewith two views of her putative relics, preserved together at Vadstena with those of Catherine:
http://www.sanctabirgitta.com/media/331.jpg and http://tinyurl.com/3xphp57
Bridget's supposed cranium there is apparently not hers:
http://tinyurl.com/2734gpp and http://tinyurl.com/38mlezs
Bridget in an altar painting of ca. 1485 said to be in Salems kyrka (Stockholms län):
I haven't seen that painting in recent photos of the altar area and wonder if it is not now in a museum.
Bridget at left (Catherine at right) in an altar painting of ca. 1500 said to be in Högsby kyrka (Kalmar län): http://tinyurl.com/2beecf
Bridget at right (St. Hemming at left) in an altar frontal of ca. 1500 said to be at Urjala (Swedish: Urdiala) in southern Finland: http://tinyurl.com/lkc72r
A late medieval cult statue of Bridget (ca. 1475) from an altarpiece formerly in Sollentuna kyrka (Stockholms län), now in the Historiska Museet in Stockholm: http://tinyurl.com/my3emr
This page of expandable views of fifteenth-century statues in Borgs kyrka in Norrköpings kommun (Östergötlands län) includes several views of one of Bridget: http://tinyurl.com/n7fxox
The first image on this illustrated, Swedish-language page on Bridget is a view of a fifteenth-century statue of Bridget formerly in Törnevalla kyrka in Törnevalla (Östergötlands län) and now in the Historiska Museet in Stockholm:
http://historiska-personer.nu/manadensperson.htm A detail view of the upper part of that statue: http://tinyurl.com/l3v2n9
Another statue of Bridget, no longer holding the pen and the book that are her recurring attributes, formerly in the same church and now also in the Historiska Museet in Stockholm:
If you go again to: http://mis.historiska.se/mis/sok/fid.asp?fid=94092
and click on the tag "Heliga Birgitta" (at upper right) you should get a page of thumbnail links to many other such statues and to views of some pilgrim badges from Vadstena.
A better view of a Vadstena pilgrim's badge: http://www.sanctabirgitta.com/media/120.jpg
A view of Vadstena abbey church, consecrated in 1430, in today's Vadstena kommun (Östergötlands län): http://tinyurl.com/2e8mlc
A couple of views of the originally mid-thirteenth-century King's Palace at Vadstena, given to the monastery in 1346, remodeled for the nuns' use, used for other purposes after the monastery's abandonment at the end of the sixteenth century, and restored in the 1950s (the site is now a museum): http://tinyurl.com/yvyer5 and http://tinyurl.com/2ba4xk
An illustrated, Swedish-language page on the history of the abbey:
An embroidered fifteenth-century reliquary from the abbey church, now in the Historiska Museet in Stockholm: http://tinyurl.com/nga6gz
After her canonization Bridget's childhood church at Skederid in Norrtälje kommun (Stockholms län) became a pilgrimage site. It was expanded in the fifteenth century and has since been greatly modified. Here's an expandable view showing its fifteenth-century portal:
The monastery at Alvastra in today's Ödeshögs kommun (Östergötlands län) in whose vicinity B. lived just prior to her going to Vadstena was founded in 1143. It is now a ruin. Herewith illustrated, English-language and Swedish-language pages on the site and some other views:
More of the church was still standing in ca. 1700 (the engraving is from Erik Dahlberg's _Svecia Antiqua et Hodierna_): http://tinyurl.com/34bg5kn "
Other relics, such as her cup and mantle are preserved in Rome.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
I realise as I reflect on this feast of St Mary Magdalen that over the years several churches dedicated to her have marked my historical as well as my spiritual path.
One is the very fine historic parish church at Campsall in my native Yorkshire. Situated in that area dotted with fine churches alongside the Great North Road between Pontefract and Doncaster. It shows two phases of two phases of Norman work, the later work of extremely high quality, later medieval improvements, including what may have been a priest's room to enable him to be there for an early celebration of Mass, and amongst the furnishings a handsome fifteenth century rood-screen (a rare survival in the area) with an English inscription on it worthy of Eamon Duffy's interest I think - but more of that is another post, and an altar from Pugin's now destroyed Jesus Chapel at Ackworth - and again more on that to come in another post. Opposite the church the vicarage includes substantial medieval remains - again a rarety.
As a boy I remember being fascinated by reading accounts of the discovery in 1853 (I think) of the considerable remains in Doncaster Market Place of the church of St Mary Magdalen. Abandoned at the reformation it had been absorbed by houses and shops and was only revealed when they were being demolished to make way for the new market hall. it too, alas, was destroyed though a pillar was, I believe, preserved. It still shocks me to think of that destruction of such a fine historic survival - there are engravings of the remains of a very fine building.
To the west are the remains of Monk Bretton Priory, again dedicate dto teh magdalen, and founded as a daughter of the Cluniac Priory in Pontefract, but which in the thirteenth century declared,and secured, its independence from Pontefract, continuing until 1538 as Benedictine priory. It is not very well known, and situated on the edge of Barnsley, but well worth visiting - it is administered by English Heritage.
It was with fellow pilgrims from, amongst other parishes, St Mary Magdalen Altofts, a few miles west of Pontefract that I first went as an Anglican on pilgrimage to Walsingham. The church at Altofts was built in the late nineteenth century by Mrs Meynell-Ingram, sister to the great Lord Halifax of Church Union fame. Though not comparable to her great church at Hoar Cross in Staffordshire it is still a fine building.
It was in Magdalen College here in Oxford that I first discussed with a Oxford academic, Gerald Harriss, the possibilities of my coming to Oxford to study late-medieval history as a graduate student, and that discussion took place in what must be virtually the holy of holies to late medievalists - K.B.Macfarlane's library.
Once established in Oxford, like so many Anglo-Catholics over the years, I used to go to "Mary Mags". In those days the church could still be described to one as being " the highest in the Church of England" - not I think true at the time, but the remains of Colin Stephenson's work - again see a forthcoming post - were still visible in the outward forms of the liturgy. Over the years, as I found other Anglo-Catholic churches to which I gave my allegiance, I seemed to see the heritage of "Mary Mags" being whittled away, as Solemn Evensong and Benediction every Sunday was replaced by a said service in the Lady Chapel and then scrapped, the creeping influence of 'Affirming Catholicism' took its toll, and now, I gather, women clergy assisting. Very sad to see in my opinion.
Finally there is St Mary Magdalen's Brighton, now well known through Fr Blake's blog. I visited the church last year and it really is splendid. I gather from the blog that the restoration work is progressing in the church, and its parochial life seems very impressive. It is a real and positive example of what can be achieved in this day and age by a priest and a parish working to live out in its fullness the Catholic truth and vision. Long may it continue on that path.
So these various churches have marked my journey in faith and also provided me with much enjoyment as an historian. I am grateful for all that, and realise how lucky I am to have experienced so much of the Christian heritage of the country.
May St Mary Magdalen continue to pray for us, and for the churches entrusted to her patronage.
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Protect the Pope is a new website which counters attacks on Pope Benedict’s reputation and integrity, and provides information and resources for Catholics to respond to incidents that constitute incitement to religious hatred.
At the launch of Protect the Pope.com Rev Nick Donnelly, a permanent deacon of Lancaster Diocese who set up the site, said:
"It's been said that anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice, and in a way we Catholics have colluded in this by ignoring it, hoping it will go away. But the personal attacks on Pope Benedict in the run up to the Papal visit show us its not going away.
Since 2006 we’ve had the legal right to protect ourselves from religious hatred. Of course people in this country have freedom of expression, but this does not mean they have the right to create a climate of hostility and fear. It’s a question of protecting our human rights to freedom of belief and freedom of worship."
The website gives information on the law regarding hate crime and provides Catholics with the means to report to the police incitement to religious hatred or acts of religious hatred which take place during the Holy Father’s visit. The website also has an anti-Catholicism log tied into its news feed to help raise awareness of anti-Catholic prejudice.
I have added a link to the site in the sidebar.
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Well, unfortunately, I shall not be doing so this summer - it is one of those journeys I would dearly like to undertake, with so many wonderful places to see en-route as well as being a pilgrimage to one of the great shrines of the world.Not so long ago I read Edwin Mullins' The Pilgrimage to Santiago which, although forty or so years old, is still a good introduction to the history and to the art and architecture to be seen along the way, as well as being an enjoyable travelogue. For those who cannot make the journey you can go and admire the plaster cast sculpture of the late twelfth century (1168-88) Portico de la Gloria, the great west door of the cathedral, in the V&A cast gallery. All right, not the same as going to Santiago, but still awe-inspiring.
However in this Jacobeo year, a jubilee year occasioned by the feast of St James falling on a Sunday, Fr Daniel Seward from the Oxford Oratory will be walking part of the camino from Leon to Compostella in August, and is seeking sponsorhip for the walk in aid of the Oxford Oratory Reaffirmation and Renewal appeal. To start that off the Women's Oratory are having a tea party from 3 until 5 in the Parish Social centre on Sunday - which is St James' Day - and are offering tea and cakes, Pimms etc, as well as the chance to sign up on a sponsorship form.
Dee was a mathematical scientist of his times, hence he both anticipates the developments of the future, but also was fascinated by a complex scientific astrology, and by the search for a unifying metaphysical basis for society. He was certainly Christian, but had left traditional confessional doctrinal certainties behind in a quest for what was, essentially, a gnostic set of answers to, well, everything.
John Dee's career is extraordinary, and the characters around him a very curious group, and notably so Edward Kelley, his most remarkable "skryer". By the time they had finished their time together they had, apparently, even got into wife-swapping - so that may (but may not, of course) make you want to read this very interesting book. I would recommend it - it is written for a wide readership.
In the absence of the book there is a good online introduction to Dee here.
Monday, 19 July 2010
St Kenelm, who is thought to have died c.815 is a Mercian royal saint,and one with whom the historical and the hagiographical traditions part company early on. There are links here and here, with a further interpretation here, all of which discuss these aspects of his life.
Glass showing St Kenelm in Upton Snodsbury church, from 1968
Bl John Sugar was born in Wombourne and raised an Anglican, he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy although preaching against the Catholic Church until his conversion. Following ordination, he worked among the poor Catholics in the Midlands, going about on foot. Bl Robert Grissold was his faithful servant and they were eventually both arrested at Baddesley Clinton. They were martyred together at Warwick on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16th 1604.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
This idea is not uncommon. It ignores the historical facts of life in pre-Reformation England, and the loyal service of Catholics to the crown ever since. Some of the most ardent monarchists I know, both in devotion to the principle and the person of the monarch are Catholics. I venture to suggest that there are few people who could or do exceed me in devotion to the monarchy, and to the monarchical principle. I was much offended by an Anglican ordinand friend who accused me of disloyalty to The Queen by becoming a Catholic - and he is someone who professes, on occasion, to be a Jacobite.
Some of my Catholic friends do claim to be Jacobites, but I do not think they are likely to start an uprising to put King Francis I,II and III on the throne.*
Nonetheless the notion of disloyalty is around. It should be discounted. If the Earl Marshal can be the premier Catholic subject of the Crown, why cannot others also be perceived as loyal subjects?
I recently heard that one person I know who was much concerned as a committee member of an organisation which was considering taking advantage of Anglicanorum coetibus. His prime concern was not to be disloyal to The Queen. Fine - but he is an American citizen, with strong links to the Democratic party in the rebel colonies. Surely if that issue of loyalty concerns him he should take the oath of alliegance and get a British or Canadian passport.
* I of Bavaria, II of England and Ireland, III of Scots. For more details see, for example, here, which also gives some other claimants, notably HRH The Infanta Alicia, Duchess of Calabria, presumably therefore to her supporters Queen Alicia I.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
The second post also has an Oxford connection, starting as it does with Colin Stephenson's Merrily on High. Fr Stephenson had been vicar of St Mary Magdalen's in Oxford, a church I used to periodically attend in my early days in the city. More than anyone else it was Stephenson who made 'Mary Mags' the "highest" church in the Cof E before he went to Walsingham.
The post and its comments, which are worth looking at, are here .
Now the post is a series of reflections, to which I will add my halfpennyworth. Anglo-Papalists who abandoned the heritage they had assumed did not do themselves, or the tradition they espoused any favours. Indeed it was where that tradition was preserved that Angl-Papalism and Anglo-Catholicism had serious pulling power - it was afactor which kept me within the Anglican orbit.
Happily, nay, mericfully, things have moved along on the other bank of the Tiber . Those Anglo-Papalists who value the beauty of holiness expressed in traditional forms will be far safer and ultimately far happier within the proposed Ordinariates, or within the widening traditionalist movement within the Catholic Church. They should value and preserve, or indeed revive, their ceremonial practices, and bring them on board the barque of Peter. Yes, bring your lace and folded chasubles - they really can be the new and living way
Which brings me back to St Thomas. Whatever the intricacies of the dispute with King Henry II, and indeed not a few of the English hierarchy, and however much issues were lost sight of or changed out of recognition, one thing St Thomas did believe and stress was his fidelity to the Holy See in the person of Pope Alexander III, but also to the Papacy in principle. St Thomas, whatever else he may have been, came to be seen as a martyr for the independenc eof the Church under the Pope. No wonder King Henry VIII was so determined to destroy his cult. So yes, it is good to see St Magnus Martyr celebrating St Thomas, but, with great respect and genuine concern, may I suggest that they should perhaps give some thought to what St Thomas might, conceivably, be saying to them.
I recognise that long before I left the Church of England I was in a sub-section, those who sought the Catholic faith and life within the national church. When it was time for me to move on I did so, and have never reproached those who stayed. Not being a member of the Church of England anymore I am probably less acerbic about those who do not belong to that sub-section than when I was still a member. I do, however, feel genuinely concerned for those faithful, traditional Anglo-Catholics who have been so shamefully treated by the General Synod. I understand the hurt they must feel at, in effect, being told to "get lost".
They face making hard decisions. I hope and pray they make the right ones. I hope I am not being smug if I say I hope their decision is for the Roman option - either individually, or through the proposed Ordinariates. For clergy and their families it needs courage and resolve, but I am sure help is available and there are those who have gone before them to help and advise.
For many laity the really difficult question may be leaving a particular place of worship. That I understand - in 2004 -5 that was a real concern to me, and on my behalf for others, as I prepared to leave St Thomas' and Pusey House here in Oxford. If, and it is a big if indeed, if Anglican dioceses have any charity or decency they should be prepared to come to arrangements. In some cases they would be rid of buildings they don't want, and reminders of people and ways of doing things they clearly don't want. But, of course, they may be dog in the mangerish. Very likely will be, I fear, but there may be some interesting test cases as to who owns a parish church - the answer may not always be the same.
I hope many will see the recent votes, after proper, but not protracted, reflection and discussion, as something from which a positive choice can be made. The Roman option is to re-enter historic unity, to be able to live out the Catholic faith in its fulness, to be free of the tedious constraints of bishops and archdeacons who have no sympathy for what that tradition is. Rome is also a living tradition - if liturgy is a barrier, i.e. Anglicans preserved a tradition that Rome appeared to throw overboard in the 1960s (and there is some truth in that), well, now with Summorum Pontificum and the general trend in liturgical practice, things are improving on this bank of the Tiber. The Ordinariates and 'Anglican Patrimony' can not only carry that tradition forward, they can share it with the wider Church. Did I hear a few Tabletista Bishops and their allies muttering under their breath? Never mind - their day is increasingly done.
So yes, I hope I am not smug. Hurt for friends who have been hurt, prayerful for them, hopeful for them, yes, I am that. As the psalmist might have put it,
Put not your trust in General Synods or any son of man..... From whence cometh my help? my help cometh from the Lord (or in this case, His Vicar)
These are topics on which I shall be commenting again, so watch this space...
Friday, 16 July 2010
Thursday, 15 July 2010
He is dedicated reader of this blog, and assures me he has read it in Kashmir, Kashgar and Kazakstan. His only criticism was that it was not, in his words, "bitchy" enough. He thought I was not doing justice to my skills in that respect. He obviously knows me well. Well, I will see what I can do over coming posts to keep him happy.
There was fringe benefit to the lunch - there is a real plus to lunching a deux with a Muslim who orders a bottle of wine and then declines to drink from it...well, I did not want it to go to waste...
The first is that an understanding of his mystical theology is, I believe, a great help in understanding the theology of "my" Bishop, Richard Fleming. I am not saying that Bonaventure's work influenced Fleming directly, rather that they arrived at similar views. Fleming's literary remains are not comparable to the collected works of a figure like Bonaventure, but they are in the same essential tradition.
The second point of interest is that both were Papally provided to the see of York, but never secured it. In the case of Fleming politics, both secular and ecclesiastical, played the crucial part on frustrating the plan - but that is another, and very long, as well as very interesting, story.
The fact that John of Fidanza does not figure on the list of Archbishops of York is one that I have never seen fully explored - is it one of those topics I might look at if I ever have time? We'll see. I must look it up in the appropriate authors. The following are a few thoughts off the top of my head.
Essentially John/Bonaventure is said to have declined it through humility, but then he went on to become Cardinal Bishop of Albano.
The death in 1265 of Archbishop Godfrey Ludham left the see vacant. the Chapter elected the Dean to succeed him, but as so often in such cases the Dean's election was quashed by the Pope, Clement IV, and Bonaventure provided in November of that year. It was not until October 1266 that Bonaventure renounced the appointment, which went to Walter Gifford, Bishop of Bath and Wells.
Given the situation in England - 1265 had seen the battle of Evesham and the defeat and death of Simon de Montfort, and in 1266 the siege of Kenilworth was being concluded with the Dictum, it looks as if filling the see of York either got entangled in politics or simply was neglected as far as the government was concerned. Was the appointment of the Seraphic Doctor an example of Clement IV seeking to extend Papal powers in a political vacuum, and also of providing (in both senses) for the appointment of a distinguished theologian? Given that non-native appointees in bishoprics had been an issue in the recent problems between King Henry III and many of his magnates, this was venturing on delicate ground.
Whatever the English context I wonder if Bonaventure would have really wanted to transfer himself to England and the responsibilities of being Archbishop of York. That is, of course, assuming that he might have been resident rather than an absentee. As it was York missed out on having another saint-archbishop, and Bonaventure missed out on the delights or otherwise of dealing with the chapters of York and the three pro-cathedrals of Beverley, Ripon and Southwell, the administration of a huge diocese and a province with, in whoever was Bishop of Durham, a very independent minded principal suffragan, let alone administering the palatine lordship of Hexhamshire. What would the seraphic Doctor and the people of his diocese made of each other? One of those curious might-have-beens of history.
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Today is also the anniversary of certain unfortunate events in Paris on this day in 1789. What does it not say about the French that for most of the last 200 odd years, apart from the happy period between 1815 and 1830, that they have given up this day - it has been the official national day since 1880 under the 'Third Republic' - to celebrating the destruction of a fine historic monument from the medieval period. The Bastille was but the first in many casualties in terms of buildings. let alone lives and institutions, in the dreadful events that unfolded in that unhappy kingdom. As those great Oriel historians Sellers and Yeatman would say the events in France from 1789 were a Bad Thing - indeed a Very Bad Thing. As a schoolboy I basically refused to study such unsavoury matters, resuming the study of history with the restoration of something like normality and civility in 1815. I still, to adapt a phrase, refuse to extend diplomatic recognition to the events of those years. There is more about the history of the Bastille itself here.
All that is not to deny that France in 1789 was not in need of renewal and reform, but so was every country in Europe - and so, more or less, are all nations, at all times. At the time it must have looked as if France was, abit belatedly, modernising its national life. Then things got out of hand - how they did so is a fascinating historical question. Why do some countries, in effect, go mad? The answer to the need to adapt to changing times does not lie, however, with the mob. Not then, not now. The calling of the Estates General was an attempt to carry through reforms. It would not have been an easy task, but events need not have developed in the way that they did. From the recent news reports French public life under the present regime is, allegedly, every bit as venal as it ever was under the Ancien Regime, but with none of the redeeming qualities of the old France of Throne and Altar. It has always struck me that, considering all that the Monarchy achieved for France, the French were a very ungrateful lot in destroying it. Indeed the ingratitude of the French as a nation in recent centuries has not gone unnoticed, by both the French and foreigners.
Today is also the anniversary of the Assize sermon preached in St Mary's here in Oxford in 1833 by John Keble, Fellow of Oriel and Professor of Poetry in the University.
Now, 177 years later, we appear to be finally witnessing the playing out of the drama he inaugurated. It is a day to give thanks for all that the Tractarians and their successors did and sought to do. It is also a day upon which to reflect as to what their heirs and inheritors of that tradition should now do. There are three good posts from the former Bishop of Richborough here, here and here, and also by the present Bishop of Ebbsfleet in a pastoral letter which address those issues clearly but carefully. They are of more assistance, being more thoughtful, for those outside the structures of the General Synod than sound-bite quotations in the national press.
We shall have to see what develops over the next few weeks and with the meetings scheduled for Anglo-Catholic clergy and laity in the early autumn, but there seems to be no hope, if, indeed, there ever was, of any provision for them within the Church of England. Damian Thompson has made the point on his blog that there can no longer be any doubt but that the Church of England is now a liberal protestant body, despite all the endeavours of the Tractarians. Here indeed is National Apostacy.
I have recently met Anglicans who express the hope that a new Oxford Movement can arise that will again re-energise the C of E. Well, it's a fine idea, but I cannot see where a sufficient basis upon which to build such a movement can any longer be found. We are not living in 1833 with all the norms of that society. We have seen what has happened since, for both good and ill, and the choices look pretty clear, if not stark.
Keble, ultimately, did not, or did not have to, give a final answer to the question of that National Apostacy. His successors are perhaps rather more on the spot. They need the prayers and support of their friends.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Last year the New Liturgical movement had some splendid articles about Bamberg, which is particularly associated with Henry. From amongst these I would recommend this article on the cathedral, which as it stands to day is one of the triumphs of late twelfth and early thirteenth century German architecture and another on the contents of the treasury. This includes the burial vestments of Pope Clement II and imperial mantles, including one that belonged to St Henry himself. Not only are such survivals precious in themselves, but they are a wonderful indication of the splendour of eleventh century liturgy and monarchy - even if they have suffered depredations over the centuries.
Quite enough to make one want to go on holiday to Bavaria.
Sunday, 11 July 2010
By a happy coincidence in this week's Catholic Herald there is an article about the work of the Gillick family in the new scheme of decoration of the altar in SS Gregory and Augustine, which has been in the process of installation over the last eighteen months. This can be found here.
Fr Hunwicke has been suggesting which team his readers should support in the World Cup Final, and attracted a number of comments to his post.
Although I loathe and abhor football, certainly so in the case of the professional game,like you I am inclined to support the Spanish team, if only for historical-cultural reasons. Your post conjures up a new historical interpretation of the Revolt of the Netherlands as a football match. The teams captained by Philip II and William of Orange, with Philip's new striker in the Duke of Alva, whilst the Dutch have such English signings as Sir Philip Sidney and the Earl of Leicester. Of course they have the problem of Egmont and Horn being sent off early in the first half, and their captain the Prince of Orange during the second.The Spanish may have scored the occasional own-goal during the match. The result - a score draw?
Here are the two team captains, but not in the appropriate modern football kit:
Perhaps I should add that thought that, given his name, William the Silent was a reporter's nightmare in the post match interview.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Before dinner we were given a tour of the College chapel with its splendid Pre-Raphaelite glass by Burne Jones and William Morris glass. As a style it is not entirely to my taste, but it is fine craftsmanship, and one of the lesser known treasures of Oxford. Well worth seeing if, like me until last night, you have not seen it.
After the well attended and enjoyable dinner in Hall Fr Richard Duffield spoke about the appeal and about Newman. He stressed the way that American Catholics had managed to implement Newman's vision of a Catholic University education in ways that had never been achieved in Britain or Ireland.
He also spoke of the generous support given by American Catholics to Newman, especially at the time of the Achilli trial. This had enabled Newman to buy the site of the Oratory cemetary at
Rednal, where the Cardinal and his fellow founders of the Oratory were eventually interred.
There was also the gift of a ring, which Fr Richard had with him. It consists of an entire nugget of gold from the California goldrush mounted on a ring. It is, frankly, pretty hideous, but a remarkable gift. Newman, who perhaps reasonably does not seem to have liked it very much, gave it to Fr Faber, and it appeared through the good offices of Fr Ignatius Harrison, Provost of the London Oratory. Apart from its weight it would perhaps pass as a modern piece of expensive costume jewellery in an exhibition. It could never be worn in any conceivable circumstances other than as a knuckle-duster - which does conjure up some curious fantasy images of Newman, or Faber, settling disputes with it...
The evening ended with a successful auction, which helped swell the coffers of the appeal. All in all a very good evening, blessed with fine weather and good company.
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Modern monument to Duns Scotus in St Mary's church in the High here in Oxford. Photo from Catholic Oxford
Like many others I would like it to have had greater impact already, but a great deal has been achieved, and solid progress made. A great deal has been achieved and a great deal recovered for the liturgical life of the Church. In this country it is clear that some dioceses are more favourable than others, and that in some places the laity are more responsive or pro-active than in others. This may not entirely be the responsibility of individuals in the clerical hierarchy - it may be that there simply is not, at present, a constituency for traditional forms in certain areas. The reasons for that may be complex. Resolving then may require not only practical action but also research to understand developments over the last half century and maybe longer.
With both clergy and laity it is partly, though by no means entirely, a matter of different generations. The signs of a favourable attitude towards the Extraordinary Form amongst younger clergy and religious, as well as laypeople is very encouraging. The success of the various training conferences in this country is very hopeful, as has been the support given at an international level by leading members of the Curia. The New Liturgical Movement has some very positive stories today, including Cardinal Canizares at Wigratzbad for the ordinations there, a Usus Antiquior parish being established in Dayton, Ohio and a well attended EF Mass at St Charles Borromeo in Hull, of which the following is one of the photographs:
A few years ago such a restoration would have been barely imaginable. A great deal has been achieved.
This is despite some bishops seeking to claim a power to control the application of in their dioceses, and a sense that in not a few places the Papal motu proprio has never been heard of - that seems to include large parts of some avowedly Catholic countries.
To some extent supporters of the traditional liturgy have been over-optimistic as to the response of others, and now feel disappointed that more has not already happened. The zeal of some may indeed have intimidated members of the hierarchy, who themselves feel unsure about celebrating Mass in front of what can be so critical an audience. For some of them it must also be a shock to the system to see the return of that which they had, for whatever reasons, assumed belonged to the past. "We don't do that anymore" can now be answered with "Yes we can", and indeed "Yes we will."
On the whole I am optimistic, but I also feel impatient to see more achieved - but that may just be me. We should give thanks for what the Pope has given back to us, and work to make it more available. Traditionalist minded Catholics need to cultivate further the arts of positive evangelisation in these matters. I stress the positive aspect - simply denigating much that does indeed deserve denigration in contemporary liturgical life may relieve the feelings, but it may not achieve much more. The continuing positive promotion of the Extraordinary Form, as is being done by organisations and authors, but by all who support it, can, I am sure bring real benefits to both individual souls and the life iof the Church. That may be the way to cure impatience and the causes of impatience at the same time.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Whilst finding today's readings in the Divine Office I was struck by yesterday's second reading at Matins - I had read that proper for St Maria Goretti rather than the ferial one. That is from St Augustine's Discourses on the Psalms. In it he addressed as brothers those outside full communion, and sought ecclesial reconciliation with them. He was obviously thinking of the Donatists of his day, but the passage seemed highly relevant to contemporary concerns.
This week is the Oxford Oratory's In(ter)dependence Appeal Week, concentrationg on Anglo-American links. It is, I think one may confidently say, going very well. The organisers are to be congratulated on their hard work in advance and the success of what has happened so far.
I was unable to attend the first event, last Saturday, a family day at The perch at Binsey, but I gather it was well supported and avery enjoyable event, with the Cajun band L'Angelus as the main performers. On Sunday the music at the Solemn Mass was by American composers, and the preacher Fr Joel Warden of the Brooklyn Oratory. Monday evening we had a splendid concert of music by the International Baroque Players and by Adam Brakel, the organist of West Palm Beach cathedral. In addition to fine music it was delightful on a summer evening to mix, Pimms in hand, with friends in the open space alongside the church.
Yesterday afternoon I led a group on a walk around medieval and Reformation Oxford. This was something I enjoyed, and so, I hope, did the members of the party. It was tantalising to have to hurry past so many places of interest with only a fleeting reference to what can be seen inside a college, or in the area behind a building, or without having the time to explain the intricacies of Oxford history. However I think I managed in two hours to cover five or so centuries with a degree of historical insight and some humour, as well as dodging the hazards of life in contemporary Oxford - pavements congested with tourists, scaffolding around historic monuments and the myriad of buses in the city centre.
Tonight we have a talk by Walter Hooper, a staunch member of the Ortaory congregation, about his memories of C.S.Lewis. Walter was Lewis' last secretary, and has been a leading figure on the interpretation of his work and legacy.
Tomorrow I am performing again - this time on Catholic and literary Oxford from Newman to the Inklings. So, if you are free tomorrow at 2pm, the Oratory is the place to be...
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Following on from my post yesterday I have now found a photograph of the memorial erected in 2008 to the four martyrs. It is at the eastern end of Holywell Street, near the junction with Lomgwall Street.
There is a piece about the plan to erect the plaque and an account of the four men in this report from the Catholic Herald
Monday, 5 July 2010
Today is the feast of the Oxford Martyrs of 1589 - Bl. George Nichols and Bl. Richard Yaxley, two mission priests, Bl. Thomas Belson and Bl.Humphrey Pritchard, laymen. They were apprehended just before midnight on May 18th that year at the Catherine Wheel, an inn which stood at the junction of Broad Street and Magdalen Street on a site which is now part of Balliol. It rather looks as if the Catherine Wheel and the Mitre in the High Street were 'safe houses' for Catholics, and presumably good 'cover' as places for recusants to meet up: there is something similar in John Gerard's Autobiography about his arrival in Norwich the previous autumn. The landlady of the Catherine Wheel was certainly seen as implicated, being subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.
Frs Nichols and Yaxley were caught together with Thomas Belson, a young layman from a local gentrey family on the borders of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, who had acted as their courier and agent. A young man of determination he had dissuaded his family from being "Church papists" - that is outward conformers to the established church. Humphrey Pritchard, born in Wales, was the barman at the inn, who when the others were arrested declared that he too was a Catholic.
The priests were hung, drawn and quartered, and the two laymen hanged at the gallows at the end of Holywell Street in Oxford. All four were beatified in 1987. A memorial tablet was unveiled and dedicated two years ago, and the place of their martyrdom an established place of pilgrimage for the LMS Oxford Pilgrimage.
There is a biography of Bl. Thomas Belson, published a few years ago, and the bar of the social centre at the Oxford Oratory is named in honour of Bl. Humphrey.
Here is a link to part of Tony Hadland's excellent Thames Valley Papists, which gives more details about the four martyrs, including their words from the scaffold.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
It was thanks to what he and others achieved up and down the country that I was able as an Anglican to grow into the Catholic faith. I owe a great deal not only to the likes of Chamberlain, and their successors, but also to faithful clergy who ministered in my own time and home area. The journey beginning at St Giles Pontefract and taking in en route St Thomas at Purston, St Mary at South Elmsall, St Cecilia Parson Cross and the Bilham group of parishes, and the shrine at Walsingham and the Glastonbury Pilgrimage, drew me on to Pusey House and St Thomas in Oxford. Without them I would not have so well placed to make the final transition to the fullness of that faith in full peace and communion with Rome. For all that I am immensely grateful.
Many other Anglo-Catholics have followed similar paths, and would, I am sure, agree as to the debts they too owe.
This is not just a personal matter, it has a wider significance. At the present time there is the real possibility and hope of other Anglo-Catholics making that final move. I appreciate their apprehension - above all perhaps over possibly losing their churches, as Valle Adurni highlighted last week - but as Ancient Richborough and others have indicated the risks of staying are ultimately worse. I am tempted to say that if I could do it, so can they.
Chamberlain may not have been a 'Romaniser', but then he was not faced with the threats to the integrity of orthodox belief and practice within Anglicanism which confront people today. The choices made by Chamberlain and others, led by Pusey were, in their own way, as difficult as those made by Newman and his companions. The former group chose to stay, in the hope of better things. For a while that hope seemed justified. It looks much less so now than a century or seventy odd years ago.
To cradle Catholics, who so often appear to know or understand little of the Anglo-Catholic expereince, I would say that beyond the charity of welcoming converts there is the deeper charity of making welcome people who think almost exactly as they do, and who have often been through journeys in faith that can augment the whole Church. There is a need to learn more about what Anglo-Catholics believe, and that it is not just 'dressing up' and 'playing at Church'. Those of us who have completed the crossing of the Tiber, and those paddling, wading or swimming across now, and those still tentatively putting a toe in the water have brought and can bring much to the life of the entire Body. It may be the 'Anglican Patrimony', it may just be ourselves, but it is something, and something that ultimately is called forth by God.
Friday, 2 July 2010
St Thomas' keeps the feast of the Translation of the relics of St Thomas on July 7 as its principal patronal, a tradition going back there to the late nineteenth century. Indeed St Thomas was one of the few post-apostolic saints to have two feast days - those of his death and translation - in 1170 and 1220 respectively. Another to have such a double commemoration is St Cuthbert.
I retain enormous affection and regard for St Thomas', for its faithful parishioners, and for its redoubtable p-i-c and blogger, Fr Hunwicke. Living just across the churchyard from it I see it everyday and keep it and all associated with it in my prayers.
In 2003 I published a history of the church and parish as a festschrift to the last Vicar, Robert Sweeney, and in so doing realised what a special place St Thomas has in the history of the Catholic revival in the Church of England.
I still have a place there as Archivist, and by a happy coincidence Forward Plus, the free newspaper produced by Forward in Faith, has in its latest edition an article about Thomas Chamberlain, the great and remarkable vicar who established St Thomas' as one of the very first Anglo-Catholic parishes in the country. Chamberlain's fifty year ministry there from 1842 to 1892 links the era of the Tractarians to that of the Lincoln Judgment. Modesty almost forbids me to name the author of the article, but I think being a blogger is not that modest, so I will own up to having written it. You can find the article online at the website of Forward Plus by scrolling down to the article, or you can, no doubt, pick up a copy in right thinking Anglican churches.
© National Portrait Gallery, London
This photograph of Chamberlain which illustrates the article was taken in the early 1860s by one of his colleagues from Christ Church here in Oxford - the Rev. Charles Dodgson - Lewis Carroll.
Please pray for all at St Thomas' and for its future both as a community and as a place of worship.
Anyone interested in obtaining copies of my book on the church should contact me at email@example.com