THURSDAY DECEMBER 1 is the festival of S Edmund Campion and his companions the Holy and Blessed Martyrs of Oxford University; hundreds of scholars and students of this University were killed under the Tudors for keeping alive the thousand-year-old Faith and worship of the English Church. Many of them had to flee to abroad where they completed their training for the priesthood before returning to their native land ... and to martyrdom. Just as, in an earlier century, a secession of docti from Oxford had resulted in the Daughter University in the Fens, so this Elizabethan secession led to a Nova Oxonia at Douay in the Low Countries. Whence per aliquot vicissitudines comes Allen Hall, now nestling under S Thomas More's Mulberry tree on the site of his Chelsea house. Long live the conies.
MONDAY DECEMBER 5 is the date on pre-Conciliar local calendars for S Birinus of Dorchester, a few miles down the Thames from Oxford. He came from Rome around 635; converted and baptised the King of Wessex and set up his bishopric among the Roman remains in Dorchester at a time when there were no bishops either in Winchester or Lincoln. In more recent decades, when the Diocese of Oxford was in Anglo-Catholic hands, and the see of Dorchester had been revived as merely a suffragan see of Oxford, the Bishop of Dorchester was allowed, just on S Birinus' day, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester Abbey with the full ceremonial of a diocesan bishop. On one memorable occasion in the 1940s the Pontiff gave his blessing at the end of Mass with such enthusiasm that his ring flew off his gloved hand and could only with difficulty be recovered from behind a radiator! Nowadays there is an immensely sweet little Catholic church by the bridge, where Fr John Osman (who took his own bit of the Patrimony with him across the Tiber some years ago) is superbly restoring both the fabric and the Old Mass, while the old Abbey is in the hands of a priestess. The former great Anglo-Catholic Missionary College at Dorchester is now hardly even a memory.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 8, the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, was one of the English Church's gifts to the rest of the Western Church. We borrowed it from the East in Saxon days; Norman bishops tried to ban it on the grounds that it wasn't observed in Rome; but we hung on to it and eventually Rome came round to our way of thinking. A foretaste of the valuable contributions of the Anglican Patrimony!
FRIDAY DECEMBER 9 is the day of S John Diego Cuahtlatoatzin, whose name betrays his Aztec origins, and who had a most beautiful vision of our Lady. And so on the following MONDAY we observe our Lady of Guadaloupe, Patron of America. These Novus Ordo commemorations, thematically coherent with the season of Advent, would slide neatly and beautifully onto the EF Calendar! Why are traddies so shy about pestering Ecclesia Dei to enrich the 1962 calendar?
SATURDAY DECEMBER 10, meanwhile, is the memorial of the Holy House. Mary's home at Nazareth is a symbol both of Incarnation and of the sanctity of simple family life. This festival relates primarily to the shrine of the Holy House at Loretto in Italy, where the House is encased in baroque finery; but, of course, there is the restored Anglican Holy House at Walsingham, where the architecture and ambience still speak of the joyfully optimistic Anglo-Catholicism of the 1930s (and its fine aesthetic taste). In the Ordinariate, we have not lost our affection for this shrine; the Mass authorised in our Missal for our Lady of Walsingham is the lovely old Mass authorised for the Holy House at Loretto (by Innocent XII, 1691-1700), which Fr Fynes Clinton adapted for use at Walsingham by simply omitting the phrase in the Collect about a miraculous Translation!! Sadly, the Anglican shrine has given up the use of this Mass. We in the Ordinariate are faithful old bodies ... we don't just dump our Anglo-Catholic Patrimony!
There was a (now lost) Holy House at Glastonbury, where the void reminds one of the void that lies at the heart of Protestantism, Liberalism, Relativism, and Iconoclasm. I have a private suspicion that these English medieval Holy Houses might have had their origins in First Millennium wooden or turf Oratories which were already venerated for their antiquity long before the Norman Conquest.