6 December 2022

Meeting old friends

Today we keep S Nicolas; for a couple of decades of my life, at Lancing, a Double of the First Class and a half-holiday when we all sallied forth down to Brighton to do our Christmas shopping or, in the case of the students, to imbibe. I remember browsing happily, one S Nick's Day, in that shop for remaindered books down East Street. I had my back to the window; and I was showing a scholarly interest in a large glossy volume entitled Forbidden Pictures From Ancient Pompei (I didn't buy it). Some cheerful drumming on the window behind me suddenly awakened me to the fact that a fair portion of the V Form approved warmly of my reading matter and shared my views about its academic significance.

The cultus of S Nicolas is one of the most ecumenical and one of the most ancient; he was a saint with as large a portfolio of Patronages as a Renaissance cardinal. He was, at Lancing, co-principal Patron with the Glorious Assumption of our Blessed Lady; on his feast day we used to sing the hymn composed for him by dear Basil Handford: Sancte, Sancte, Nicolas// Tute Patronus noster es// Laus et Deo Gloria// Sancte, pro nobis exor-a. So many of the waterside churches in Sussex, and elsewhere (Byzantine East as well as Latin West), have his Dedication. Wherever one goes, he is the old friend one so often seems to meet up with again. 

When we go to Gardone for the Roman Forum colloquium, we offer our Masses each morning in the superb parish church ostentatiously dedicated Divo Nicolao (what a very 1750s turn of phrase!) high up the hillside overlooking Catullus's lake. Incidentally, one of the baroque ceiling paintings there shows S Nicolas Banishing the Moors. Sancte, pro nobis exora!

In the OF he is merely optional; however, in the Extraordinary Form, happily, he is included in the 2020 CDF list of Privileged observances which cannot be skipped.

Good on yer, mates.

An important point I would like to make concerns the historical-theological aspects of his cult.

What I mean is this. His observance is distinctly older, more widespread, and more significant than many feasts with a loftier 'intrinsic' status; even feasts, for example, of our Blessed Lord. 

S Nicolas on December 6 has Auctoritas, and oodles of it. S Martin is another saint about whom I would make a similar judgement. I would be outraged if either of them disappeared from the Calendar; but the disappearance of Christ the King from Excita Sunday, or of S Joseph Opifex from May 1, would simply encourage me to open another enthusiastic bottle of Waitrose Cava. 

Easy come, easy go, as Auntie used to say.

Or, in my own native Nerdspeak, Auctoritas matters a lot more than daft bits of paper from Rome.



John Patrick said...

"S Nicholas banishing the Moors". Ah, now in our more "enlightened" time we wash their feet on Holy Thursday. After all, God wills a multiplicity of religions, dont'cha know.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

I think I am about to indulge in pedantry. Before the changes, S Nicholas was a Double, not a Duplex I Classis. Thus says my 1913 breviary. The 1960 books made him III Class. So, carefully rereading you text, one discerns that locally, in some mystical way due to his patronage, he was a Double I Cl. in Lancing College. Through the workings of that glorious, convenient, and esoteric separated authority which even you have forsaken!

√Čamonn said...

St Nicholas of Myra enjoys a certain devotion in Dublin, where there is a Church dedicated to him within the limits of the medieval city. When some residents moved to a new suburb (Walkinstown) in the 1960s, they took their devotion with them. So the glaziers that were there 15 years ago, and are still for all I know, rejoice in the title Myra Glass!

stephen cooper said...

Eloquent as always, but I certainly hope that your Auntie, who I do not think you quote often, had more insightful things to say at times. I hope "easy come, easy go" is not the most memorable thing she said.

dunstan said...

I only remember Triumphales O Sodales with the emphasis on the first syllable of the last word of course.

Paulus said...

Feasts of principal patrons are of the first class.