R Caelestis patriae amorem, quaesumus, infunde.
Ad Magnificat et Benedictus Antiphona Dilexit justitiam et odivit iniquitatem, propterea moritur in exsilio.
[Holy Father Edmund, we beseech thee to pour upon us in this exile love of our heavenly homeland. He loved righteousness and hated iniquity, wherefore he dies in exile.]
These are 'proper' parts of the Divine Office (Breviarium Romanum, Appendix pro Dioecesibus Angliae) for today, feast of S Edmund of Abingdon (Abendonia, in the Breviary reading) Patron of this Diocese. It is a good day to pray for the Diocese of Portsmouth and its thoroughly admirable, orthodox, bishop, Philip Egan, a definitely extraordinary ordinary. Come to think of it, every day is a good day to do that.
S Edmund's education was divided between the great Abbey in Abingdon, and the 'schools' in Oxford (where he later taught ... er ... I think he may also have visited Paris ...). We live between these two towns; Oxford has quite good libraries, and I go to Abingdon to do bits of shopping in Waitrose and to pick up my free coffee and newspaper. There's not much to see of Abingdon Abbey; as far as Oxford is concerned, I think the only surviving buildings upon which S Edmund's eyes may have rested are the Castle and the Church of S Michael at the North Gate. (Incidentally; the Breviary naturally gives the locative of Oxonia as Oxoniae; the Oxford University Press has always used the form Oxonii. Well, there you go.)
S Edmund became Archbishop of Canterbury; he was involved in disputes, not only with the Chapter there, who were the usual lot of troublesome monks, but also with the King. He died at Pontigny, probably on his way to Rome to deal with the legal cases in which he was involved. He is still to be venerated in his shrine there.
The parts of the Divine Office at the head of this piece remind me of S Paul's rather pointed observation to his Philippian converts ... Philippi had the constitutional status of a Roman colonia , which meant that its citizens possessed citizenship of Rome. They were obsessively proud of this, so S Paul reminds them not to think about earthly things, epigeia, but to remember that their politeuma is situated in the heavens.
We are all in exile until we reach our patria; and the knowledge that our true Passport Office is at a heavenly address ought, I rather think, to discourage us from making too much of a fetich of the fairly modern concept of the Nation State.