29 March 2014

Canonisation again

In 1441, I think, King Henry VI wrote to Pope Eugenius IV enquiring how the Cause for the Canonisation of King Alfred the Great was proceeding. Since then I have been daily on tenterhooks wondering whether the Holy See has responded, or, if it hasn't, when it will.

Throwing out some encumbrances from my library, I hit upon an old Northampton ORDO (2007, I think) in which October 26 shows "Feria; or St Alfred the Great, King and Confessor - op.mem. (white)".

Does this mean that, only a few years ago, the Court of S James's did receive the much-delayed reply from Rome canonising ... I suppose, equipollently ... King Alfred? Or did the then Bishop of Northampton decide that since Alfred was a first millennium worthy, it would be licit for him as a diocesan bishop to canonise Alfred despite the legislation of Pope Urban VIII? Is this eventuality covered by the treatise on the subject by Benedict XIV?

Oh! ... I've just noticed another odd thing ... Alfred is decribed in that ORDO as "King and Confessor". But since the post-conciliar reforms eliminated the title 'Confessor' from the descriptions of Saints in the Sanctorale and Calendar, the canonisation, whether it happened in Rome or in Northampton, must predate the 1960s.

Very mysterious. Can anyone help?

2 comments:

Marc said...

"According to the 'The Book of Saints' by the Benedictine Monks of Ramsgate, England [2002], St.Alfred the Great was honored as a saint at one time with the feast of Oct. 26. 'He had an informal cultus in England in the Middle Ages, but this was never confirmed and is now extinct.'" http://ow.ly/vaET0

Someone decided to include the old king, of once blessed memory.... I would have supposed that reform eliminated his cultus in the late 60s. That his feast was extant in 2007, though....

James said...

"Oh! ... I've just noticed another odd thing ... Alfred is decribed in that ORDO as "King and Confessor". But since the post-conciliar reforms eliminated the title 'Confessor' from the descriptions of Saints in the Sanctorale and Calendar, the canonisation, whether it happened in Rome or in Northampton, must predate the 1960s.

Very mysterious. Can anyone help?"

## He is commemorated in the Church of England, here:

http://forallsaints.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/alfred-the-great-king-of-the-west-saxons-899-3/

- and there is a (slightly equivocal) notice of him at this Catholic site:

"Alfred is regarded as a saint by some Catholics,[125] but an attempt by king Henry VI in 1441 to have him canonized was unsuccessful.[126][127] The Anglican Communion venerates him as a Christian hero, with a feast day of 26 October and he may often be found depicted in stained glass in Church of England parish churches.[128]"

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=1262

(That page looks as though it may be cribbed from Wikipedia)

Mgr. F. G. Holweck's Biographical Dictionary of the Saints (Herder, 1924)lists King Alfred as "Blessed".
However, he is not listed in the 1966 edition of "The Book of Saints" compiled by the Monks of Ramsgate Abbey, though there are more recent editions.
And he is not listed in the 1986 reprint of the 1956 edition of the revision, by Herbert Thurston, S.J., & Donald Attwater, of Butler's "Lives of the Saints".

This is known as - more or less - drawing a blank, but even that may have its uses. I hope so.

On a related note: a booklet on Henry VI published by the Henry VI Society suggests Henry VI may have equipollently beatified by Sixtus IV.

As for the treatise by Benedict XIV, an English translation of part of it, bearing the title "Heroic virtue : a portion of the treatise of Benedict XIV on the beatification and canonization of the servants of God" was published in three volumes from 1850 to 1852. Chapter 7 of volume 2 seems to be the only section even remotely applicable, as it treats of the virtues to be looked for in rulers. All three volumes can be found here:

https://archive.org/search.php?query=Heroic%20virtue%20a%20portion%20of%20the%20treatise

The whole thing,in Italian, can be found here:

http://www.vaticanum.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&keyword=De+servorum+Dei+beatificatione&search_in_description=1&new_articolo_id=&manufacturers_id=&music_genre_id=&categories_id=&inc_subcat=1&pfrom=1&pto=&dfrom=&dto=&x=60&y=17

The 1850-52 translation begins from Book 3 chapter 21 of the original - a search in Google Books reveals a Latin edition from 1840, which has a good deal to say about immemorial cultus, a subject not discussed in the English translation:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MoYPAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=de+servorum+dei+beatificatione+et+canonizatione&hl=en&sa=X&ei=bXE6U-XdBczy7Aa5zYGQDg&ved=0CEsQuwUwAw#v=onepage&q=Urbanus%20&f=false