18 October 2019

18 October: S Eadnoth of Dorchester

The Heavenly Birthday, Natale, of S Eadnoth Bishop of Dorchester. He was killed while saying Mass during the Battle of Assandun.

The victorious Danes killed him; I expect I will be criticised for suggesting that it shows more respect ... indeed, fear ... towards the power of the Sacrifice of the Mass, to kill a priest for offering it than it does just to dismiss the Eucharist as some irrelevance by which nobody need feel threatened. Might the Danes who killed S Eadnoth and the man who killed Fr Hamel at the altar be a millimetre closer to Truth than the Obama who so slyly campaigned to replace 'Freedom of Religion' with a 'Freedom of Worship' about which he couldn't care less?

S Eadnoth ended up being buried at Ely. His own Cathedral Church at Dorchester, just South of Oxford, was to lose that status half a century later under the Normans, when the sedes episcopalis was transferred to Winchester. S Eadnoth's church, or rather, the gothic Abbey Church built over its site, was once, but is no longer, a dynamic Anglo-Catholic centre with a Missionary College attached.

At the beginning of this millennium, the shrine of Dorchester's founding bishop S Birinus was reconstructed. That reconstruction is superbly emblematic of all that is pathetic about a faded and gutless middle-of-the-road Anglicanism devoid of real content. On top of the now meaningless masonry there is no feretory containing relics; attached to its west end there is no Altar for the August Sacrifice. (The same is true of S Frideswide's Shrine in Oxford.) The C of E is terribly good at 'heritage' and demonstrating a polite enthusiasm for the past, but has no real awareness of any interaction between the Now and the Supernatural. (The church is in the hands of a woman 'priest'.) In Kenneth Kirk's pontificate, the Anglican Bishop Suffragan of Dorchester was permitted, once a year on S Birinus' feast in December, to sing Pontifical High Mass in Dorchester with all the dignities of a Diocesan Bishop, including the presence of the famed and feared Staggers Serving Team commanded by Canon Couratin.  A past era; a departed culture.

Sic transit gloria ....

But you can find the supernatural a little way away, down by Dorchester's river, in the lovely little Victorian Catholic Church of S Birinus, beautifully restored by the admirable Fr Osman, who celebrates the Old Mass in it, and is one of the assertores Veritatis who is prepared to lift his head above current parapets.

Luci cedant tenebrae, et cedunt.

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