27 November 2021

The Miraculous Medal

The Propers granted by Leo XIII included this hymn ad Matutinum; it is remniniscent of the Latin style of that admirable pontiff (h/t to Ansgerus):

Tutela praesens omnium,/ Salvete Mater Numinis;/ Intacta in Hevae filiis,/ Tu foeda munda pectora.

Numisma quos ornat tuum,/ Fove benigno lumine;/ Virtus sit inter proelia/ Aigisque in hostes praepotens.

Sit flentibus solatium,/ Aegris levamen artubus./ In mortis hora, fulgidae/ Aeternitatis sponsio.

Iesu, tuam qui finiens/ Matrem dedisti servulis,/ Precante Matre, filiis/ Largire caeli gaudia. 

At the end of the first stanza, munda is the verb and foeda agrees with pectora!!

Nice to think of the miraculous medal as an aegis, yes?

The Introit of the Mass is Exodus 13:9: the words of Moses to the liberated people of Israel.

26 November 2021

The Miraculous medal, S John Henry Newman, and the Anglican Patrimony

My excuse for reprinting, yet again, this piece from 2010, is that the Feast of the Miraculous Medal (Saturday November 27) comes on Saturday, and, in accordance with the CDF legislation of March last year, this Mass, from the pro aliquibus locis appendix in the 1962 Missal, together with the accompanying Divine Office, is available for optional use. Given the connections with our dear Patron S John Henry Newman, I venture to suggest its suitability to all my brethren in the presbyterate of the Ordinariate. This year we would in any case be using Mass and Office of our Lady in Sabbato.

On Saturday 27 November 1830, a young French nun, (S) Catherine Laboure, beheld her second and third visions of the Mother of God in the Sanctuary of her Convent Chapel in the Rue du Bac in Paris. Our Lady appeared to her, radiant, standing on a globe, and with her arms stretched out in a compassionate gesture. From her fingers rays of light fell upon the globe at her feet. An oval frame then formed around her with gold lettering that read: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Our Lady promised great graces to those who wore this design with confidence; she showed the Saint the design which now appears on the back of the Miraculous Medal: a large M surmounted by a bar and cross, with two hearts beneath it, one crowned with thorns, the other pierced with a sword, all encircled by twelve stars.

In 1836, Abbe Desgenettes, who had taken over the Church of Our Lady of Victories (a church degraded and desecrated during the Revolution and with a minute congregation), dedicated his parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and founded a Confraternity of Prayer, which had the Miraculous Medal as its badge. In the days before S John Henry Newman's conversion, intense prayer was offered for him in this Church by the members of that very same Fraternity. Back in Blighty, it was on the Octave Day of the Assumption in 1845 (a very patrimonial day: it was also the birthday of blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey) that our great Saint first began to wear the Miraculous Medal.

Yes! The greatest intellect of the nineteenth century! Like the simplest of peasants, he wore a miraculous medal! Is there a sobering message here for our supercilious cultural pride? With his customary sweet irony, blessed Benedict XVI once observed that the devotion to our Lady's Immaculate Heart can be "surprising" "for people from the Anglo-Saxon and German cultural world"! Should we each be a little more thorough in rooting out of our own minds the sordid dregs of Enlightenment superstitions? I stand by my mixed metaphor!!

Now back two or three years, to January 20, 1842. On this day, a wealthy Jewish banker called Alphonse Ratisbonne had, in the Church of S Andrea delle Fratte in Rome, a vision of our Lady just as she appeared on the Miraculous Medal. Shunt forward ... please ... to 1847: S John Henry and St John (who, after their reception, had visited the shrine in Notre Dame des Victoires in thanksgiving for the prayers offered for him there) found themselves now awaiting admission to the presbyterate of the Latin Church, lodged in the Collegio di Propaganda in Rome. Newman makes clear in a number of letters that their windows looked down on the Church of S Andrea delle Fratte; it clearly made some considerable impression upon him. On June 9 1847, his long-time intimate woman friend, Maria Giberne, painted a picture of Newman and his friend St John in a room at Propaganda, with our Lady, as she appears on the Miraculous Medal, between the two of them.

In the 1962 Missal, in the Appendix pro aliquibus locis, November 27 is the feast of Our Lady Immaculate of the the Miraculous Medal. Let us hope that this commemoration, already lawful as an option in the Extraordinary Form, will one day make its way into the Calendar of the Patrimony!

25 November 2021


I must confess that I have not conducted an exhaustive survey of the available literature on Edward VIII, Wallis Simpson, or their sexuality. But the impression I get from what I have looked at suggests that a masterful sexual dominance on his part was not the most obvious public element in their relationship. 

In Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy Sayers (it was 'completed' by J Paton Walsh), the relationship between Rosamund and Laurence Harwell appears to be so structured as to evoke some elements of that between Edward and Wallis. She controls the relationship. She calls the shots, and there are elements of suppliancy and subordination in Lawrence. "It was true that happiness had often to be wooed, pleaded for, struggled for; but he took it for granted that a woman was made like that -- she did not come half-way to meet desire ... she shrank instinctively from passion, but her shrinking inflamed it ... Since every act of love was an act of compliance, it was right to be grateful for it -- her surrender was so beautiful -- an intoxicating compliment that filled one with a perpetual consciousness of achievement. For the territory was never won; Alexander , had he been a lover, need never have lacked for new worlds to conquer -- it would have given him sufficient exercise to reconquer the same world over and over again.

"There were moments when Harwell found the endless ever-renewed warfare exhausting. To come so near, to achieve a conquest so absolute, and then, never to sit and enjoy his heritage in peace, but to find himself battering at the defences again ... She could always, of course, bring him to heel by witholding herself ...

"'But of course I love you for yourself, dearest,' he said desperately, coming over to her. 'How can you possibly think anything else? Oh, damn that telephone! Rosamund, listen ...'

"'Sure?' She smiled over his head as he knelt, in agitated surrender at the bedside, while the bell shrilled unheeded.

"'Certain. ... Surely I've proved it by this time.'

"Her face hardened. She said coldly, 'Hadn't you better answer the telephone?'" 

The two couples, the Wimseys and the Harwells, go to their respective theatres in Paris. The Harwells, at the Grand Guignol, see a melodrama about a woman who murders ... apparently, strangles ... her lover. They find 'the strangling scene' so "terribly exciting" that Rosamund is wriggling with sexual excitement in the homeward-bound taxi. 

The Wimseys, on the other hand, do not need staged kinks to remind them that they are married. They are united in finding the taxi ride to their theatre ... the Comedie-Francaise ... disappointingly rapid. Attempts to elucidate their dialogue ... about worms ... might be inappropriate on as respectable a Family Blog as this one.

Paul Delagardie, who, like any proper old gentleman, goes to the Folies, is reassured that legs ..."and breasts, for that matter ... had improved very much since his young days; for one thing, you see a great deal more of them."

One more episode (in which I will confess to a slight bibliographical uncertainty) ... should finish this topic.

24 November 2021

ORDO, ORDO! Doth BETJEMAN still live?

(1) The happy day has arrived when comes plopping onto our doormats the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO. I enthusiastically commend this admirable publication to readers who are not already familiar with it.

It gives 2021-2022 according to the Calendar of the Roman Rite as it existed in 1939; that is, before Ven Pius XII acquired the collaboration of Hannibal Bugnini and began the series of changes which ended up with the Missal of S Paul VI. OK, you might not be in a position to use this ORDO; you might not even wish to use it; but it is quite an education to visit a world of First Vespers, Vigils, Octaves ... the world our fortunate forefathers inhabited for centuries. Frankly, you will hardly imagine how different that world was. 

When I once looked through the dusty piles of 1930s Parish Magazines at my last Anglican parish, S Thomas the Martyr in Oxford, I suddenly realised that the liturgical information provided weekly by Dr Jalland was what one now can only find in the Saint Lawrence Press ORDO! This is the Liturgy as it was practised by the great Anglo-Catholic Shrine Churches (and Shrine priests) in the bright triumphalist years between the Wars, "...  under the Travers Baroque, in a lime-washed whiteness, The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays, Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness, The bells and banners - those were the waking days When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze."

(2) The Latin Mass Society of GB ORDO. The rites of 1962 as encouraged by Summorum Pontificum.

(3) American ... No Publisher cited ... I think it is SSPX ... Ordo Divini Officii persolvendi missaeque Sacrificii peragendi, but text in English. Also 1962. It includes (which (2) doesn't) information for owners of pre-1960 Breviaries about which bits to miss out because the legislation of the period around 1960 removed them. Gives the local additions for English speaking dioceses throughout the world.

(3) The ORDO I compile: Novus Ordo  information and Church of England information from post 1960. Lots of notes recommending 'traddy' ways of doing these modern rites. Contains the 1961 Office Lectionary I describe in the next paragraph.

(4) Newish (its second year in this form) kid on the block ... the Ordinariate ORDO. The English Ordinariate has now, happily, come into line with the American and Australian Ordinariates in providing its information for the Divine Office from the Church of England's 1961 Office Lectionary, which was based on the lectionary traditions of the Latin Church in the years after S Gregory the Great. (3) also contains this Lectionary.

Its page 87 seems to me strangely familiar ... some arrangements and options remind me of something I've seen elsewhere ... 

It would have been nice if they had given me an acknowledgement!! I am only human!!

23 November 2021


 "A divorced American with painted nails and plucked eyebrows, living in a flat."

These words are recorded as the opinion of George V concerning Wallis Simpson. It seems to me that there are some interesting undertones in Christian literature of the 1930s and early 1940s, about living in a flat. 

Jane Studdock lived in a flat. It had but "a small kitchen". It had no guest room; she and Mark slept in twin beds. "She had always intended to continue her own career as a scholar after she was married: that was one of the reasons why they were to have no children, at any rate for a long time yet." Her prim and programmed sterility is so manifest a characteristic that Merlin redivivus sees her as "the falsest lady of any at this time alive"; assured that she is "chaste" and need not be decapitated, he responds that the child destined to be born of her union "will never be born, for the hour of its begetting is passed. Of their own will they are barren: I did not know till now that the usages of Sulva were so common among you."

Lewis, whose humour is often at its deadliest when it is understated, draws to our attention that this very Modern girl sees no contradiction between her own willed sterility and her projected doctoral thesis on Donne's "triumphant vindication of the body". "Jane was not, perhaps, a very original thinker".

Sayers' satire is as cruel and targetted as that of Lewis. Her own aesthetic prejudices well to the fore, she allows the "thrilled" Rosamund Harwell to explain the advantages of living in "Hyde House, the big new block in Park Lane ... its appointments constitute a positive miracle of convenience." "We have spacious rooms, and no kitchen at all -- we can eat in the restaurant on the first floor, or get our meals sent up. We have no difficulty with servants, because the service is all run for us. All the heating is electric. It is just like being in a hotel, except that we can have our own furniture. We have a lot of chrome and glass things, and lovely modern curtains designed by Ben Nicholson, and some Susie Cooper vases. The management even keep the cocktail cabinet fully stocked for us; we don't have a large one, of course, just a very neat design in walnut with a built-in wireless set and a little shelf for books."

The Wimseys share a moment of amusement at the thought of the intellectual adequacy to be expected of the books upon "a little shelf".

Sterility is as important to Rosamund Hartwell as to Jane Studdock. Her husband would like a child, but "It's so wonderful, just you and me, and if anything, anything at all came to divide our happiness ... Oh, Laurence, I'm so glad we've had all this out. It's such a relief. So long as I've got you I don't want anything more ..."

There is rather more to say about the sexuality of the Harwells, and, indeed, of Wallis Simpson and her admirer. Not to mention George V.

To continue.

22 November 2021

S Andrew is Imminent. But I am puzzled.

 I gather Eamon Duffy has published yet another volume of his Collected Papers, including one which refers to the "rebellions" under poor Bessy Tudor. Time to visit Blackwells, find a comfy chair, and read it! I love the little detail that it was on S Andrew's Day that the "rebels" restored the Catholic Religion to Durham Cathedral. Will Duffy mention that?

S Andrew may be the Patron of Scotland, but his cultus was an enormous part of the Augustinian Mission to Anglia. He is a very popular Dedication in England; the Leofric Missal, which probably began life as a Canterbury pontifical, even includes a special Secret and Preface of S Andrew for use in the Consecration of Churches. Here is the Preface, for those of you who are interested in such things.

VD ... Obsecrantes ut haec atria tuis initianda sacramentis propitius semper aspitias et implorantibus opem tuam misericors largiaris praecipue cum huius basilice presul adscitus venerabilis andreas oblator existat. Qui beati petri principis apostolice dignitatis et felicibus uitae primordiis et caelestis honore collegii et magnifico permanet fine germanus.

"Praying that thou wilt ever look upon these courts which are to be hallowed for [or by?] thy sacraments, and, merciful, wilt grant thy help to those who ask it, particularly since worshipful Andrew adopted as the bishop [Patron?] of this basilica is offerer. Who remains the brother of blessed Peter Prince of Apostolic dignity both in the happy beginnings of life and in the honor of the heavenly college and in their magnificent end."

This stumblingly literal rendering will reveal how many points there are at which I am not really sure what precisely the author is getting at. But the last sentence, in my view, is a lovely piece of Latin, which makes me feel that it is worth the effort to try to suss out the rest.

For example ... I was tempted to emend oblator to orator. But oblator does exist in ecclesiastical Latin from Tertullian onwards.

So I invite the competent ... put away the Times crossword ... drop your Sudoku ... do it now ... here are some worthy puzzles.




21 November 2021

Anti-semitism in the Middle Ages and the twentieth century

I repeat today a piece I offered several years ago; it relates to the early medieval lectionary readings for the Sunday Next Before Advent. 

I think I am the only person who comments upon these ancient readings and their ancient message, which is why I beg indulgence for my ancient repetitiousness.

Most Sundays' Sarum/Prayer Book lections are basically the same as those in the Missal of S Pius V, although with dislocations which put Epistles and Gospels onto different Sundays.

But sometimes, there is a real difference from the Pian lectionary. This happens on the Sunday Next Before Advent, when Sarum (followed by the Prayer Book) and many other Northern European uses has a quite different provision. In these uses we find an Epistle (well, actually, a Lesson from Jeremiah) and a Gospel (from S John) which both moved around a bit in the Middle Ages but pretty well always came just before or just at the start of Advent, as a taster and a preliminary for that season. Their loss is an impoverishment even in the Missal of S Pius V and, a fortiori, in the Novus Ordo.

I will explain the importance of these readings in the words of Abbot Rupert of Deutz (1075- 1129) - a considerable mystagogue. I believe that we can learn from his words about what Scripture and the Tradition teach concerning the redemption of our Jewish brethren, in greater detail than we can learn it from the fumbling (but not unorthodox) Nostra aetate or silly (non-Magisterial) documents from Rome.

"Holy Church is so intent on paying her debt of supplication, and prayer, and thanksgiving, for all men, as the Apostle demands, that we find her giving thanks also for the salvation of the children of Israel, who, she knows, are one day to be united with her. And, as their remnants are to be saved at the end of the world, so, on this last Sunday of the Year, she delights at having them, just as though they were already her members! In the Introit, calling to mind the prophecies concerning them, she sings each year: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Verily, his thoughts are those of peace, for he promises to admit to the banquet of his grace, the Jews, who are his brethren according to the flesh; thus realising what had been prefigured in the history of the patriarch Joseph. The brethren of Joseph, having sold him, came to him, when they were tormented by hunger; for then he ruled over the whole land of Egypt; he recognised them, he received them, and made, together with them, a great feast; so too, our Lord who is reigning over the whole earth, and is giving the bread of life, in abundance, to the Egyptians, (that is, to the gentiles), will see coming to him the remnants of the children of Israel. He, whom they had denied and put to death, will admit them to his favour, will give them a place at his table, and the true Joseph will feast delightedly with his brethren.

"The benefit of this divine table is signified, in the office of this Sunday, by the Gospel, which tells us of the Lord's feeding the multitude with five loaves. For it will be then that Jesus will open to the Jews the five books of Moses, which are now being carried whole and not yet broken - yea, carried by a child, that is to say, this people itself, who, up to that time, will have been cramped up in the narrowness of a childish spirit.

"Then will be fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremias, which is so aptly placed before this gospel: They shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth, which brought up, and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north-country, and from all countries whither I have driven them.

"Thus delivered from the spiritual bondage which still holds them, they will sing with their heart, the words of thanksgiving as we have them in the Gradual: It is thou, O Lord, that savest us from our enemies!

"The words we use in the Offertory: Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord, clearly allude to the same events; for, on that day, his brethren will say to the great and true Joseph: We beseech thee to forget the wickedness of thy brethren! The Communion: Verily I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and it shall be done unto you, is the answer made by that same Joseph, as it was by the first: Fear not! Ye thought evil against me: but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as at present ye see, and might save many people. Fear not, therefore, I will feed you, and your children.
" (The Reading is Jeremiah 23:5 ff; the Gospel, John 6: 5 ff, is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. My translations of the propers are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and the good old English Missal.)

This is a superb exposition, in the biblical and patristic 'typological' idiom, of an important theme in Pauline eschatology - see Romans 9-11. The crucial passage, Romans 11:25-28, is omitted from the Novus Ordo Sunday lectionaries. There is significance, I suspect, in the fact that modern lectionaries delicately step around this Biblical theme: the Eschatological Submission of the Jews to the Call of Christ. 

Sometimes I feel that, despite the call for a "richer table of Scripture" in Sacrosanctum concilium, the Scriptures read to the People of God have in some respects, paradoxically, been made conceptually narrower in the post-conciliar books. I commend (yet again) to the reader the fine Index Lectionum by Matthew Hazell ... a must-have for anybody seriously concerned with Liturgy. ISBN 978-1-5302-3072-3 (paperback).

20 November 2021

Ou est la Moutarde?

Last year, the Archbishop of Dijon (Yes!!) expelled some clergy from his diocese because they refused ever to concelebrate with him.

In one sense, this is interesting news, because it implies that we now have a generation of senior prelates who have not even read the Conciliar documents of Vatican II.

But it is sad to witness a new wave of persecution. And ... even more worryingly ... his Grace claimed that his actions are merely a prolepsis of what PF was shortly to enact (Traditionis custodes had not then been published.)

I do not believe that Concelebration is something which we all need to avoid, totally and invariably, as an absolutely essential  matter of conscience. From time to time, I republish old pieces which make clear the Magisterial basis of my belief.

But the Dijon deed is darkly dirty.

You see, what his Grace is doing is to use the old dodge, beloved of persecutors, of the Trick Question. 

I have heard of a Scandinavian Lutheran ordinand who was suspected of having doubts about the Ordination of Women. His 'bishop' dealt with the matter by calling in his 'chaplain', a 'womanpriest', to celebrate the 'Eucharist' there and then on the study table, so that the young man could demonstrate his conformity and submission by 'communicating'.

During the penal times in our own country, Recusants hauled before the courts could get the Tudor law off their backs by simply ... going to Church! Elizabeth Tudor did not, indeed, make windows into men's souls; they could believe what they liked, but they must conform together with the rest of the community.

And when Recusant clergy were being tortured, there was often the Bloody Question: "If England were invaded by an army blessed by the Pope, in order to remove Elizabeth, would you fight for your Queen or for your Pope?"

I humbly urge brother priests not be fooled by such malevolent tricks.

To be honest, my own weakness has always been for la Mostarda di Cremona.

19 November 2021

Slippery slopes

A kind benefactor once sent me a 1957 ORDO - beautifully bound - of the Province of San Antonio (my guess is that that is in America Septentrionalis). That ORDO has a number of Roman documents printed at the beginning of it revealing that 1957 is a most significant year. It comes just after the first major footmarks were printed upon the Roman Rite by that towering Punic figure, Hannibal 'Non-sum-delendus' Bugnini. The new Holy Week Order had emerged not long before and was to be observed in accordance with a decree of the SCR of 15 March 1956. 

This 'reform' was in fact more radical than the reforms that followed Vatican II; however, the producers of that Holy Week book got away with it because the vast bulk of God's People had for centuries not attended the liturgical Rites of Holy Week; in many places only a lay and clerical elite had done so. And what happens only once a year may anyway not be quite as deeply inscribed within you as what marks your Christian life weekly or daily. 

Less well known is the Decree Cum nostra of the SCR (March 23 1955) simplifying the rubrics of the Missal and Breviary. Tucked away in the Decree is a bit of methodology that was to prove the weapon of first choice among the radical liturgists of the mid-twentieth century: these changes were imposed by, but not confected by, the mandarins of the SCR; they were actually devised by a special (peculiaris) Commissio of experts (periti) - which included Annibale nostro

This was when a scythe cut through all but seven vigils and all but three octaves. Commemorations were not to exceed three. First Vespers were abolished except in the case of first and second class feasts and Sundays. What we now call an 'optional memoria' was invented. Variable Last Gospels were, except at Christmas, abolished. 

Of course my list does not include a myriad of details which, so much has our liturgical culture changed, would now require a great deal of exegesis for many readers. The Bugninis of this world are always best at the broad brush. Because periti had devised these 'reforms' (and not the hands-on pedants of SCR whose entire lives had been spent spotting in advance how a minute twitch upon the Calendar here would have a consequence there), there were innumerable unforeseen knock-on effects. Dubia streamed into the offices of the SCR and Responsa had to be issued less than three months later. 

There are signs that the mandarins had rightly become suspicious of the slipshod workmanship of the Commissio; this time they asked the views of the Commissio but then carefully themselves went through the matters that had been raised. But that did not prevent a new crop of dubia being thrown up when the attempt was made to put the Decree into effect for a complete liturgical year (Advent 1956-Advent 1957). Perhaps by now the SCR was getting embarrassed at having to cart admissions of shoddy drafting down to the editorial offices of Acta Apostolicae Sedis; the next crop of Responsa was published only in Ephemerides Liturgicae, and the Cardinal Prefect of the SCR apparently didn't bother to sign it or have it sealed. 

The period from 1955 until 1967 is a single, coherent, period of slashing and ripping which became ever wilder and ever less respectful of the liturgical inheritance of the Latin Church. People say that it is the first act of embezzlement or adultery that can be difficult; then one soon gets comfortably into the culture of it. Something very similar is true of liturgical 'reform'. The 1955 Decree already includes those sinister words generalis instauratio liturgica. That Decree, and the Missal of 1962, and the Conciliar document Sacrosanctum Concilium, and the Novus Ordo, are all simply episodes in a roller-coaster ride that very quickly got completely out of control and clearly would have done so if no Council had ever been summoned. Even Mgr Lefebvre failed to recognise this until he was already almost in the water at the bottom of the big slope. 

Pius XII was the (albeit unconscious) begetter of the Novus Ordo.

18 November 2021

Chantry Foundations in late Medieval England (2)

Among the impressive relics of the Percy family, who dominated the North of England until the jealous Welsh eyes of the Tudors fell upon them, is Warkworth Castle. It keeps watch, its (intact) Great Tower for all the world like a skyscraper keeping a lordly eye over all Manhatten, over the eiderducks and curlews and waders and oyster catchers of the meres surrounding the estuary of the River Coquet. And, just up the river, is "The Hermitage".

I'm confident that it wasn't a hermitage; the first documentary evidence (1487) describes it as a chantry. It is carved out of the living rock, which has limited the degree of decay into which it has been able to fall. It is a chapel with what is identified as a side-chapel to the North of it; attached is a dwelling just like a substantial house in miniature: kitchen, screens passage, hall on the ground floor; above, solar adjoining the chapel. From the solar there are four slits through the West wall of the chapel enabling worshippers there to partake in Holy Mass.

Imagine that you are standing at the Altar offering the Holy Sacrifice. Immediately to your left (North) is a wall opening with expensive tracery (and ferramenta suggesting that it was glazed) offering a view of the action of the Mass to somebody kneeling and facing South in the possible side-chapel. Immediately to your right (South), occupying the sill of a window which looks onto the outside, is an almost life-sized piece of sculpture which has, I think plausibly, been discerned as a Nativity scene: our Lady in child-bed with S Joseph at the foot (West) of her bed, and (much eroded) manger animals behind her (i.e. to her South).

Somebody kneeling in the 'side-chapel' would look out through the ornate tracery directly onto the Altar and the celebrant, and beyond the priest would see the almost life-sized (and certainly richly painted) Nativity scene. If there was no priest saying Mass, the viewer would look directly onto the Nativity scene ... rather like kneeling at the Crib.

This set up a lot of queries in my mind. Do learned readers know of parallels to a set-up in which a privileged worshipper looking out onto an altar from its left would be provided with a sumptuous devotional object of devotion the other side of the altar? Do you know of other chantry chapels a few hundred yards along a river from a noble family residence? At Alnwick, there was Alnwick Abbey a stone's throw from the enormous Percy Castle there: might the chantry at Warkworth serve a purpose there which would be served at Alnwick by the nearby Abbey? The Percys were not buried in Northumberland: does a sumptuous chantry provide a substitute (a sort of cenotaph) for the opportunity to pray at the burial place of ones forebears? Might the Earl have gone to Chapel to make his confession?

What I am particularly after is evidence and parallels.

17 November 2021

Mucky deeds

I enjoyed the report about the Catalan bishop who has run away with a 'sexologist' and is now employed by a firm which markets pig semen. (I trust the firm is kosher.) But I dismissed it as a crude Bergoglian attempt to destroy Eccles is saved by undercutting it. So I am relieved that Eccles (short for Ecclesiasticus?) has bounced back with a launch of the Arthur Roche for Pope campaign.

It has been suggested, I gather, that this could be the only really water-tight way of preventing him from succeeding Vin at Westminster.

Philological glamour pusses

What an important saint he was, S Hugh Bishop of Lincoln (c1135-1200; within whose massive diocese medieval Oxford lay); who certainly consecrated the church of S Giles in this city in 1200. On the occasion of this visit to Oxford, so the traditional account has it, he instituted the Giler*, still one of the largest fairs in England, which occupies the whole of the broad thoroughfare called S Giles' Street, North of the North Gate.

S Hugh is best known among the narrators of 'romantic' tales because he noticed that the body of Henry II's paelex [in the form pellicem, apparently from the Greek pallax, it is the word used in the old rite Mattins readings for S Hugh's feast] Rosamund Clifford had been buried in the sanctuary of Godstow Priory and that her resting place had become something of a flower-covered and candle-bedecked  popular shrine (this mob adulation post mortem of a royal glamour-puss is curiously redolent of the bizarre and sick cultus of Diana Spencer).

I wonder why Sex and Death, in combination, have such power over the human imagination. Something deep here.

S Hugh ordered that her body be removed and reburied outside in loco profano. "to the end that religion be not vilified and that other women might be terrified from such adulterous practices".** Happy times ... when ecclesiastics were willing to mark their disapproval of the public adultery of kings and magnates. The old Sarum collect (still in use in diocesan calendars of the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite) prays that eius exempla nos provocent ... but who are we to judge?

On the eve of the Dissolution, the priory was a popular place for the education of young noblewomen; the river would have made it accessible ... might we call it Oxford's first Women's College? A sort of ProtoHildas or UrSomerville? 

The 'romantic' can still visit the ruins of Godstow Priory, opposite the Trout, a favourite undergraduate pub in our days but now unhappily devoid of either 'character' or 'romance'.

Giles = Giler; traditional Oxford slang. Cf. Proctor = Progger; Breakfast = Brekker; Queens = Quaggers; Jesus College = Jaggers; etc.. Soccer (for AsSOCiation Football) and Rugger survive nationally. Fr Hummerstone, with characteristic philological acuity, once reminded me of the all-important Wagger Pagger Bagger where, in the primitive days before episcopal and diocesan communications became paperless, we used to ... er ... file away the weighty musings of our episcopal mentors.

** I wonder if S Hugh wrote Latin Elegiacs? An inscription in that metre incised upon her tomb is recorded, which I will very loosely paraphrase in English: "Rosa munda is supposed to mean clean rose, but this specimen was distinctly filthy. She used to have a very nice smell, but now she just ... smells". 

Do you think Rosa Mundi might bear a suggestion of gyne pandemios?

One account tells us that "It bifel that she died and was buried while the king was absent. And whanne he cam agen, for grete love that he had to yr, he wolde se the bodye in the grave, and wan the grave was opened, there sate an orible tode upon her breste bytwene hir teetys, and a foule adder bigirt hir body about in the midle. And she stanke so that the kyng, ne non other, might stond to se that oryble sight." [I suppose this story could be a back-formation from the inscription supra.]

They knew how to tell a story in those days. A bit Grimm.

Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a learned lady, and I bet she imbibed at the Trout ... unchaperoned, d'you think? 

I wonder if she had a reason for giving the name Rosamund (interpreted by Sayers as rosa mundi) to the sexually unwholesome murderee (thoughts of strangling really stir her up) in Thrones, Dominations? The original Rosamunda, according to late legends, died when the jealous Queen offered her the choice between a dagger and a bowl of poison; she chose the poison. 

Oh gracious me ... they really did know how to tell a story in those days.