23 August 2016

A Model Diocesan Bishop

It would be interesting to know exactly what the Dean and Chapter of Exeter had heard about their new bishop in August 1327. They certainly knew that he had been 'supplied' by the Holy See in place of the man they had themselves elected and whom the King had already confirmed. Presumably they knew he was a favourite of Pope John XXII. I suspect they had also heard that he was a micromanager, because they immediately put in hand the creation of a new Cathedral inventory.

John de Grandisson (pronounced Grahns'n), member of a top-flight international family, certainly turned out to be a man who devoted scrupulous attention, and considerable funds, to worship. A decade or two ago, more than six centuries and one 'reformation' after his death, he still merited an entire section on himself in a major London exhibition of Gothic art ... and some vestments with his arms embroidered on them still repose in a sacristy in ... the Azores! After his enthronement (which as a devotee of the Mater Misericordiae he fixed for the Octave Day of the Assumption in 1328; he decreed that the day should be a top-ranking feast for ever) his first decree endeavoured to raise the level of devotion among the unreformed rabble of Cathedral clergy by granting ample indulgences to those who devoutly attended choir and bowed their heads at the Names of Jesus and Mary. (It didn't work; hearing a few weeks later that the junior clergy were still behaving like naughty third-formers, he sent the Dean a stinker: 'Someone has failed to take measures ...').

As the first of his many benefactions, he gave a sumptuous monstrance to the Cathedral so that Corpus Christi, recently (yes; don't believe all that Transiturus stuff) instituted by John XXII, could be properly observed with a procession. He began his great masterpiece, the Ordinale Exoniense, codifying and modernising the usages of his Cathedral (not, as some Art Historian nutter has written, of the Diocese; in a time of manuscript altar-books the concept of Diocesan Regulations is anachronistic). It was probably he who suppressed some dreadful old lyrics which had previously been sung in the Exeter Procession of Relics: Grandisson preferred the new cult of the Blessed Sacrament (and devotion to our Lady) to tall tales about dubious miracles performed by obscure relics. He dealt expeditiously with a false claim of a miracle, and suppressed a phony shrine of our Lady (a bit like a medieval Medjugorje?) which was in effect a scheme for fortune-tellers to exploit the gullible. We have a couple of pages from a Mary Missal, for daily use in the Lady Chapel either at Exeter or at his collegiate foundation at Ottery, in which the bishop in his own handwriting has painstakingly corrected scribal errors. He completed the building of his Cathedral in great splendour. He went after a Cornish heretic who, as heretics sometimes do, had stolen a Host specifically in order to commit sacrilege. He sent his own private army to prevent the Primate of All England, his own metropolitan Archbishop and Legatus natus Apostolicae Sedis, from entering Exeter on Visitation. He complained to his Patron in Avignon about the Cornish weather. But he did his duty even in the wind-swept extremities of the Dumnonian peninsula, consecrating altars and composing conflicts and seeing to it that in Cornubiphone parishes the clergy could preach in Cornish.

Even though he did not die at this time of the year, he ordered that his obit be kept on the day after the Octave of the Assumption; that is, today. I can't think of a more suitable day.

He was a devout old bully and a most magnificently cosmopolitan pontiff and a gigantic credit to the much-maligned, unjustly maligned, Avignon papacy. What a mercy that a wise Providence in its eternal decrees did not call upon him to exercise his episcopal ministry in the Age of Bishops' Conferences; I can't imagine him ... er ... sitting quietly at a table ... and ... er ... just ... er ...

I said Mass for him this morning. They don't make them like him nowadays. Or do they?

Cuius animae intercedente Matre Misericordiae propitietur Deus.

11 comments:

Marco da Vinha said...

I know that the English people and mine have one of the oldest alliances in the world, but how would you explain the bishop's vestments winding up in the Azores?

Ben of the Bayou said...

Dear Father,

Please do, oh do, say more about the incident with the private army and the Visitation of the Metropolitan. This is quite a tale that must be told and your erudition gives it just the right bent. Please do say more.

Simple Simon said...

Medjugorje has not yet been pronounced phony by the Church. In my experience, most of those who vociferously denounce it as phoney have never set foot in Medjugorje.

Banshee said...

The vast majority of people who denounce Hell have never been there, either. So what's your point?

If you want to argue that the fruit of a Marian apparition should be Catholics participating in massacres of their neighbors, and seers ripping off the public, you have a very different concept of good fruits than I do.

William Tighe said...


"Medjugorje has not yet been pronounced phony by the Church ..."

High time, past time, it were.

Matthew Roth said...

The diocesan bishops have repeatedly rejected it. Usually that is sufficient to squelch it, and that is the normal procedure.

Matthew Roth said...

What exactly is a collegiate foundation? It largely seems to have died out at the Reformation in Catholic circles, and while Jesuits have college churches, their minimal attention to the Divine Office makes me think the two entities are actually distinct.

Simple Simon said...

Banshee my point is that experiential knowledge can be a game changer. Those who denounce Hell may well change their point of view if and whenever they visit it. The sound fruit of Medjugorje is repentance from and confession of sin, total abandonment of oneself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate heart of Mary, prayer, fasting and a life centred around the Mass.
William T, reasons please. Mathew R, what is one to do if one’s Bishop is an Arian, or a stakeholder in Cofused.Com, or the incumbent of Buenos Aires circa 2010?
Whenever Fr. Slavko was asked by pilgrims if Our Lady was really appearing he always replied that he was waiting for the Church to decide. Meantime, live the message. People who assert categorically that Medjugorje is fake have simply jumped the gun. We must wait for the Church to pronounce. In the meantime, pray pray pray.

Josh Hood said...

Simple Simon,

I agree that we must wait for the Church to pronounce, but I mean that we should wait for Medjugorje, or any other alleged apparition, to be declared worthy of belief before lending any credence to the apparitions. I firmly believing chasing after apparitions and other spiritual phenomena is fraught with spiritual danger.

Matthew Roth said...

Please. The bishop of Mostar–Duvno is not an Arian heretic nor is he confused, and nor is he the former archbishop of Buenos Aires. All of the supporters who think Rome gets the last word either don’t get how it works or want Rome to intevene on the slim chance that Rome will overturn the local ordinary's decision, which would otherwise be accepted as final.

Simple Simon said...


John,people who have experienced a profound conversion or healing as pilgrims often went to Medjugorge wounded and broken and came home rejoicing. Why should a sincere pilgrim be described as someone who is chasing after apparitions? Matthew Lourdes and Fatima did not become true because the diocesan bishop declared them to be worthy of belief. They were genuine from the first moment Our Lady appeared. The position with regard to the Bishops of Mostar is well documented. The Bishop in place at the start of the 'apparitions' set up a commission to report on the events. This commission was of course hand picked,and the negative decision was in place before any evidence was taken. Sound familiar? Subsequently the Bishops erratic outbursts led to the Vatican taking things out of his hands. The present Bishop was and still is dismissive of Medugorge. Yet numerous Bishops and thousands of priests believe the apparitions to be genuine. In all the supposed messages of Our Lady in Medjugrge, I have been unable to find and doctrinal novelty or error whatsoever. Has anyone else? Matthew, what am I to do if my Bishop is one of those identified by Pope Francis as a being a Pelagian? What am I to do if my Bishop has abandoned the Church's perenial teaching on the meaning and purpose of Catholic marriage?