11 September 2009

Our Lady of Oseney

Puritans always feel critical of the popular observances which popular piety heaps upon the Calendar. Thus, S Pius V, the saintly but rather Puritan pope under whom Raffael's great picture of the Madonna di Foligno was evicted from the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill (here at S Thomas's we have a superb copy as part of our High Altar), also evicted a number of popular commemorations from the Calendar, including SS Anne and Joachim. They very soon crept back in. The not-very-saintly-at-all Bugnini evicted ... well, quite a lot of people; but among the casualties of his era was the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Towards the end of the Pontificate of John Paul II this memoria was edged back onto September 12. It's the way of things.

When this commemoration returned, the Roman authorities made the suggestion that it would do very nicely as a day on which the makers of local calendars could include the Mother of God under some local title. Not a bad idea. I shall commemorate our Lady of Oseney, the Titular of the great abbey - one of the greatest in England - just across the railway lines from us, by whose monks the original S Thomas's was built. (Mind you, I think in future years I might go back to the usage of my learned predecessor Dr Jalland, who, in the 1930s, according to his Parish Newsletters, used to sing a Votive of our Lady for Oseney Abbey on the day after ther feast of S Thomas's Translation in July. Or - sometimes - on July 2, old Visitation day.)

Not that September 12 was the original date for the festival of the Name of Mary. Before the Calendar was reformed by S Pius X, quite a number of festivals were permanently lodged on Sundays. Liturgists tended to dislike this sort of thing, because it meant that the lovely old Roman Sunday Masses, with their prayers composed by fourth and fifth century popes, never got a look-in. And this feast (double major) occupied the Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Third Sunday in September was the Festival of the Seven Dolours of our Lady; Pius X shifted it to the Octave day of her Nativity, which is also, most suitably, the day after Crouchmas (the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, as you RCs call it). It survives there as one of the tiny number of former Octave Days on the modern Calendar. The First Sunday in October was the Festival of the Holy Rosary; under Pius X it went happily to its natural day, October 7, anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto. S Joachim occupied the Sunday after the Assumption. You get the idea. People found that the 'Green' season did rather go on.

Frankly, I'd rather have interruptions of that sort than the endlessly fashionable So-and-so Sundays favoured by the modern English RC hierarchy (and by other modern hierarchies???).


Michael McDonough said...


Never heard the term before, but would that be derived from "Crucis-mass"?
BTW, I love these old names for feasts.

Unknown said...

I was going to ask about Crouchmas as well, Father. Michael McDonaugh beat me to it.

Have you any idea how it is that some feasts, led by Christmas, acquired the "mas" suffix? Aside from Christmas I know of Childermas, Candlemas, Michaelmas, Hallowmas, Martinmas and now Crouchmas. Yet the list of feasts lacking this term is considerably longer.

johnf said...

Like Michael and David I had never heard of Crouchmas before, Father. So I googled it.

There was a reference to Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (of which I have a facsimile of the 1894 edition).

The entry for Crouchmas implies that it is a season 'from the Invention of the Cross to St Helen's day (May 3rd to August 18th)'

Then it says that Crouchmas Sunday is Rogation Sunday.

I am now confused!

I also love these old names for feasts and have often wondered whether someone could write a Microsoft Word Macro to generate the appropriate day at the head of a letter.

Jeremy Stevens said...

Is it too politically incorrect in the increasingly Muslim UK to recall that the September 12 Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary was extended to the entire Western Church in thanksgiving for the defeat of "the Turks" at the gates of Vienna on this date in 1683?

The Polish king Sobieski had invoked Our Lady's intercession.

The Polish Pope John Paul II restored the memorial.

Just in the nick of time, if we observe it!