26 July 2015

S Anne

A few days ago, Pam and I walked to a village church near Oxford, at Marsh Baldon (yes, I can assure cynical American readers that English villages really do, even outside novels, have names like that).

I am puzzled. The Buildings of England series (popularly known as 'Pevsner' even when, as in the Oxfordshire case, a particular volume was written by someone other than old Bauhaus himself) informed me that the East window dates from 1902, Heaton, Butler, and Bayne. I would have said that, beyond any doubt, this window represented a quite common English phenomenon: the gathering together (with restorations) into one window of fragments of medieval glass from throughout a church (in fact, there is another chancel window, unmentioned by 'Pevsner', including jumbled late medieval fragments from the time of one of the Henry Tudors). (Alternatively: around Oxford a late Georgian antiquary called Fletcher collected unwanted medieval glass; parts of his collection can be found in quite a number of places. But I go for my first suggestion.) Is there anybody inter doctos who can help me out here? I get intrigued by so often seeing tiny glass fragments too insignificant in themselves to attract attention but which cumulatively point to a massive movement in different parts of England to provide new glass, often with Renaissance motifs, on the eve of the Reformation.

The central light at Marsh Baldon has a nice representation of S Anne engaged in her customary occupation of teaching her Daughter.

And ... what a coincidence! ... the next church we saw, Sunningwell, also had a vitreous S Anne. Here, the date is about 1877, and the designer "J P Seddon, a friend of Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites" (Pevsner), who restored the church. In this case the reason for S Anne's presence is that among those whom the window commemorates there is a woman with that Christian name.

[Unmentioned by Pevsner: there are fine and unusual encaustic tiles in the Chancel at Sunningwell by Seddon, showing the Elders casting down their crowns before the throne; "The Lamb slain"; and related themes reminding me of Canon Chamberlain's famous Eucharistic Window in S Thomas's, representing the worship of the Lamb at the heavenly altar and, below, the Sacrifice of the Mass. The unity of the earthly and heavenly sacrifice(s), taught in the paragraph Supplices te rogamus of the Roman Canon, was a favourite theme among the Tractarians. Part of our Patrimony! More on this another time.]

Back in civilised days ... I mean, before the Pius-XII-Bugnini 'reforms' ... S Anne would today have superseded the Sunday Mass (leaving it a Commemoration and a Last Gospel). And so she should: Ann is Pam's middle name (making today her Name Day), and S Anne is also the Patron of Pam's College ... undergraduate memories of so many Sunday lunches in Hall there before we set off on walks through the Oxfordshire countryside ...gracious, all that was more the half a century ago ... water under bridges ...


Grumpy Beggar said...

Thankyou for mentioning St. Ann today Father H. She is still held in great esteem here in the province of Quebec - particularly at the shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré. Although it's a good 300 km. drive when I wish to visit Ste. Anne de Beaupré , I have never left her shrine without some type of complimentary edification - some sign of her attentive care. But isn't that just like a grandmother - to lavish it on her grandchildren a wee bit ?

As St. Joseph's Oratory here in Montreal has special permission to celebrate the Mass of the feast of St. Joseph - even if his feast falls on a Sunday, I believe the same is true of the Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré concerning the Mass in honour of St. Anne. But alas, today I'm stuck here at an apostolate some 300 km away from there.

The last visit I made to Saint Anne de Beaupré in mid-June of this year, I was fortunate enough to attend a candlelight procession with the Blessed Sacrament which followed the the evening Mass. After the blessed Sacrament had been placed in repose, we were invited to come forth to individually venerate a relic of St Anne. As my turn came, and I placed my kiss upon the reliquary , I reflected just how wonderful it is that we should be privileged enough to be entrusted with the relics of the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary - the grandmother of our Blessed Lord. We are given yet another way of connecting through our faith.

Given that our Blessed Mother was assumed body and soul into Heaven, we can't really lay any natural claim to Her relics . . . but we do have Her mum's.

How Saint Anne's relics came to us through the centuries is a terse but fascinating read. One version can be read here : The Miraculous Discovery of St. Ann's Relics

( God bless you Pam, and may your patron Saint intercede for you in a powerful and wonderful way today and always. )

Delia said...

I guess you could try looking at the Oxfordshire volume of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevii (published 1979), though I don't know whether they cover all the small fragments. I couldn't find Marsh Baldon on the search on their website, but this may not match the book.