13 December 2022

Oxford Cathedral

I popped into the Cathedral the other day to warm my hands at what Mgr R A Kox and his chums in the SSPP would have advertised as a "Latimer and Ridley Pricket Stand".  Frankly, I think the flickering candles (none of that electrical technology here; modern Anglicans find Mystic Flicker more attractive) would be better placed before the bust of blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey, whom I quite often visit. He would have some things to say about .... and .......

What a powerful part of the Ordinariate's Anglican Patrimony Pusey is. How splendid it would be if the Ordinariate were able to fund some promising young scholar to edit and publish his (unprinted) lectures on Typology, perhaps also to reprint the University Sermon on the Eucharist for which he was suspended a munere contionandi for two years. Typology is the Catholic way of understanding and using Scripture, needed more than ever in these times. And Pusey's Eucharistic teaching, based as it is on the utter realism of the Greek Fathers whom he so lavishly quoted, is just what we need for an age in which most Catholics stroll up to a 'Eucharistic Minister' or her husband, without any reverence; take a Host; and then stroll nonchalantly away, conveying It to their mouths and consuming It as they walk. 

Is such determined and ostentatious irreverence known to have existed in any other period of the Church's history?

And quite near Pusey is the tomb of Robert King, last Abbot of Thame and Oseney and the only recorded Bishop of Rheon in partibus infidelium. He was assigned that see in 1527, apparently, with the intention that he should provide episcopal ministry in the Southern (Oxfordshire) part of the gigantic diocese of Lincoln. Why Rheon? Because it was still in the news ... many books had been written since the siege of Nigripontis in Euboea in 1470? The end of that siege was marked by the Moslems with atrocities and massacres and by their elaboration of interesting ways of killing ... such as the sawing in half of the Christian leader. Plus ca change ...

In 1542, Henry Tudor formed a new Diocese of Oxford, with one of King's enormously grand Abbatial churches (Oseney, just the other side of the Thames) as its Cathedral; and with King as diocesan bishop. 

But money talks. The cathedra was soon moved to the Chapel of Cardinal College, and Oseney sold off. King, a veritable Tudor Ecclesiastic, sat at Cranmer's trial and survived all the changes introduced by successive Tudor monarchs until his death on December 4 1557. He was the first and the last Bishop of Oxford to be in full communion with the See of S Peter. 

The see remained vacant until 1567, when Oxford's next Bishop, Hugh Curwen, was appointed. Bishop Bonner had consecrated him with the Apostolic Mandate according to the rites of the Pontifical to be the Marian Archbishop of Dublin, but he had conformed to the 'Settlement' of Bloody Bess ... do you think he now regrets doing so? ... and he died in 1568. The see then remained vacant until 1589 ... I wonder why. Did an effective sede vacante of more than thirty years, 1557-1589, have anything to do with the very recusant character of Elizabethan Oxford? 

Or did it simply result from the poverty of the see?

Quorum Animabus Propitietur Deus.


Prayerful said...

RIP indeed. The last monasteries closed could only have stayed open if an abbot accepted the Royal Supremacy but quite a few of those survivors died or lived with notable public or private heroism.

A certain number of monasteries had a later career as parish, poor relief foundations, collegiate churches, and even cathedrals. This happened in Dublin where the Benedictine canons of Holy Trinity (St Lawrence O'Toole's Arrosian canons had a short career there after the Normans), now usually called Christ Church Cathedral became canons for the conforming Archbishop King, a rare archdiocesan ordinary with two collegiate cathedrals (+John Comyn 12C had no love for his monastic canons hence the nearby collegiate Cathedral outside the walls perhaps beside a holy well). Outwardly conforming yet inwardly, privately following the old Faith may or may not have been sufficient, but they were respected for their old office. James G. Clarke's English focused work on the Dissolution does recount various examples like a well respected schoolmaster who long outlived his monastery and was addressed as abbot and was so on his grave stone plus some women who lived quietly in a house under their pensioned Abbess. In contrast, Ireland has close to 200 monasteries when Betty died, probably tolerated for pragmatic reasons (tolerating Catholic usages was perhaps considered if +Creagh of Armagh had become Prot), the old St Kevin's church (a ruin in St Kevin's park where Bl Dermot O'Hurley of Cashel is buried) was perhaps Catholic until the Stuarts. One or two bishops in Ireland accepted appointment from both Pope and Queen.

This things could be blurry but God knows all. King might have found it repugnant to take the path of the later holy Archbishop of Cashel or to join the small (ie 1) number of episcopal martyrs under the Tudors.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

The regular canons if Christchurch, Dublin, were in fact Augustinians (as were those of Carlisle and St Andrews). De Oxonia, si Magister, in precibis tuis, potes cujusdam Dominae oxoniensis meminisse ...


Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

*precibus, of course. Fat fingers on my mobile. (I is next to U.)