22 October 2022


I have recently taken an interest in the willingness of Diocesan Bishops ... or Vicars Apostolic ... to make interesting liturgical interventions within their jurisdictions without, apparently, the consent of the Roman See. 

In 1441, I think, King Henry VI wrote to Pope Eugenius IV enquiring how the Cause for the Canonisation of King Alfred the Great was proceeding. Since then I have been daily on tenterhooks wondering whether the Holy See has responded, or, if it hasn't, when it will.

Throwing out some encumbrances from my library, I hit upon an old Northampton ORDO (2007, I think) in which October 26 shows "Feria; or St Alfred the Great, King and Confessor - op.mem. (white)".

Does this mean that the Court of S James's has received the much-delayed reply from Rome canonising ... I suppose, equipollently ... King Alfred? Or did the then Bishop of Northampton decide that since Alfred was a first millennium worthy, it would be licit for him as a diocesan bishop to canonise Alfred despite the legislation of Pope Urban VIII reserving such decrees to Rome? Is this eventuality covered by the treatise on the subject by Benedict XIV?

Oh! ... I've just noticed another odd thing ... Alfred is decribed in that ORDO as "King and Confessor". But since the post-conciliar reforms eliminated the title 'Confessor' from the descriptions of Saints in the Sanctorale and Calendar, this canonisation, whether it happened in Rome or in Northampton, must predate the 1960s. Turning the clock back here, aren't we?

Very mysterious. Can anyone help? Has anybody got a Northampton ORDO later than 2007? If so, can you let us know ... has that Daring Diocese continued to observe "S Alfred" on October 26? 


Joshua said...

I see that Old Mother Damnable provides the following among her Lesser Festivals:

26 October
Alfred the Great
King of the West Saxons, Scholar, 899


God, our maker and redeemer,
we pray you of your great mercy
and by the power of your holy cross
to guide us by your will and to shield us from our foes:
that, after the example of your servant Alfred,
we may inwardly love you above all things;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive [sic*] and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

[* Can anyone conceive of why "lives" has been changed into "is alive"? The phrase sounds preposterously ridiculous.]

Post Communion
God our redeemer,
who inspired Alfred to witness to your love
and to work for the coming of your kingdom:
may we, who in this sacrament share the bread of heaven,
be fired by your Spirit to proclaim the gospel in our daily living
and never to rest content until your kingdom come,
on earth as it is in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Nicholas Rogers said...

The earliest depiction of King Alfred as a saint appears to be on the late-12th-century head reliquary of St. Oswald at Hildesheim, where 'Sanctus Elfredus' is one of the royal saints on the base.

In the neo-Romanesque church of Notre-Dame et Saint-Remacle at Spa in Belgium is a stained-glass window of 1889 portraying Alfred, depicted as a haloed Anglo-Saxon warrior, as the name saint of the husband of the donor, Madame Vercken-Kaiser.

Fr. Richard Stanton slipped Alfred into his 1887 Menology, on 28 October: 'At Winchester, the pious death of King Alfred the Great'.