12 July 2010

No prie-Dieu

In the Westminster Cathedral exhibition of items from its treasury, I wondered if an opportunity was missed of making a point. For, just as might happen in any exhibition in any secular museum, there is a display of reliquaries; primary and secondary of S Edward the Confessor the Patron of Westminster, and of other Saints down to S Charles Lwanga (incidentally, someone should check whether the the numbers by the items are consistent with list given). But, just as in a secular context, there is no suggestion (such as a prie-Dieu) that that these might, for the Christian, be objects of veneration and means of communion with the whole company of heaven. This could have been a lesson to the Art History industry.

Which suburbicarian bishopric has been occupied by two great English cardinals? Frascati, of course, See of our late Sovereign Lord King Henry IX .... and, later in the nineteenth century, of Cardinal Howard (1829-1892). I suppose he was one of the last great Prince Cardinals; he was also Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica; someone should do an exhibition on him as patron of the arts. From his private chapel you can, if you go down to Brompton, see some delightful putti waggling candles; in the Westminster exhibition is a fine chasuble with his arms embroidered; a chalice; and a pair of cruets. I think they have some stuff at Arundel too.

Ah, those were the days.


Sui Juris said...

My own pet hate is captions in displays of, for example, chalices, whoch say "such-and-such was used for such-and-such purpose in Christian worship." The V&A is particularly bad for this.

I know that the past tense is technically accurate regarding this particular chalice (although that state of affairs is not necessarily permanent) but the impression given is that these strange Christian activities are curiousities of the past.

Dominic Mary said...

You're quite right about the numbering of the exhibits, Father : two of No.3, for instance, and no No.11.
More significant, and more alarming to my mind, is the fact that the relic of 'B.D Dominic de M.D.' (Blessed Dominic Barberi) is labelled as 'S. Dominic Guzman' !
Can they not even tell the difference between a beatus and a Sanctus ?
Who, precisely, has compiled this Exhibition ?
Incidentally, I wonder if there is a connection between Frascati and being Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica; because H.E. the Cardinal Duke of York was also Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and became Cardinal Bishop of Frascati.

Anonymous said...

Art History industry—a lovely expression, and so illuminating.