Today is the Festival of the Titular of the Cathedral, Christ Church, of the Catholic Diocese of Oxford ... erected as such by Cardinal Pole by virtue of the Legatine Decree Cum supremum of December 24 1554 ... except that there isn't such a diocese ... well, there can't be ... wasn't it implicitly extinguished by the Restoration of the Hierarchy in 1850?
Or do those old dioceses still exist in some sort of canonical limbo presided over by Plato?
I do wonder what to make of those former dioceses and their cathedral churches; as S John Henry Newman put it, "It was sore to part with them. We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to naught ..." His maturer judgement was more robust: " ... That old Church in its day became a corpse (a marvellous, an awful change!); and then it did but corrupt the air which once it refreshed, and cumber the ground which once it beautified." (Could anyone but JHN have got away with calling the C of E a rotting and stinking corpse, even in those pre-ecumenical days? But he says it so beautifully.)
Yet ... and yet ...
When all is said and done, I sometimes feel that there is in the air a shadow left by Catholic England; a footprint left in the ground by those ancient dioceses. I suppose the tourists won't think along those lines today, as they begin again to tramp unknowingly past the grave in Christ Church of the first and last Catholic Bishop of Oxford, Dr King.
Yet, when all is said and done, it would be a comfortable sentimental acknowledgement of what once was, if in the Old Rite, or the Ordinariate, we kept those old Feasts of the Titulars of the pre-1559 Cathedrals, as Doubles of the First Class (Solemnities)!
Then Oxford's old Catholic diocese, like Flaccus, could murmur Non omnis moriar.