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.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
Feast of SS Nereus and Achilleus and of St Pancras
This morning I went to a Mass celebrated by Fr Antom Webb at the Oxford Oratory to mark the tenth anniversary of his priestly Ordination.
Fr Webb was ordained on feast of SS Nereus and Achilleus in 2007in the Oxford Oratory, of which he was then a member. This is a feast always important to Oratorians and their church in Rome became Cardinal Baronius' basilica. Fr Anton subsequently left the Oratory and now ministers as a Prison Chaplain and Parish priest in the diocese of Northampton. If you are wondering who these two saints were here is the Third Reading from this morning's Office of Matins: The brothers Nereus and Achilleus were eunuchs of
Flavia Domitilla and were baptized by St. Peter at the same time as she
herself and her mother Plautilla. Because they persuaded Domitilla to
consecrate her virginity to God, they were accused of being Christians
by Aurelian, who had been betrothed to her, and were sent to the island
of Ponza. Soon afterwards, they were scourged in an effort to make them
sacrifice to idols, and were taken to Terracina, where, after they had
overcome the torture of the rack and flaming torches, they were
beheaded. Their bodies were taken to Rome by their disciple Auspicius
and buried on the Ardeatine Way. As for Flavia Domitilla, who had
received the sacred veil of a virgin from Pope St. Clement, she also was
deported to the island of Ponza, and after a long imprisonment was
taken to Terracina. There, by the judge's orders, her dwelling was set
on fire, and she won a glorious death, along with the virgins Theodora
and Euphrosyna, her foster-sisters, on May 7, under Emperor Trajan.
Their bodies were buried by the Deacon Caesarius.
It is also the feast of St Pancras. Of him the Breviary says that he was born of a
noble Phrygian family, was baptized in Rome at the age of fourteen.
Under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, he was arrested; and when he
firmly refused to sacrifice to the gods, he was beheaded and so won the
glorious crown of martyrdom. His body was buried secretly on the Via
Aurelia by the matron Octavilla.
There is more about him at Pancras of Rome which
includes folklore about him and other Ice Saints and why his cult
developed in England, and there are more general links at St._Pancras
St Pancras - a northern German statue of circa 1300 now in the Bodemuseum
It was a happy occasion upon which to meet up with Fr Anton and other friends from the Oratory to help him celebrate this anniversary - and to reflect on how quickly time seems to pass...