17 October 2019

Sancta Patrona, ora pro nobis UPDATED

A rare liturgical treat this year. Saint Frideswide, Patron of this City and Univerity, has her feast on Saturday (October 19). And, thanks to the Latin Mass Society, there is a High Mass in the traditional Dominican Rite at Blackfriars. 11 a.m..

A treat, because the Dominican Rite is very similar to the old Sarum Rite (the main visual difference is that modern Dominicans do all the 'tridentine' genuflections, which 'Sarum' didn't have). So this is the closest you are likely to get to what happened in honour of the Saint in Oxford Cathedral, originally the church of the priory of S Frideswide until the suppression of the monasteries under Cardinal Wolsey. Unless, of course, it were to happen that ... er ...

Despite the 'Reformation', the University never quite got round to deleting S Frideswide from its Calendar. Check this in your Oxford Diary if you don't believe me.

As Patron, S Frideswide grabs the (second) Vespers of S Luke, who, according to the 1962 rules, doesn't even get a commemoration. She steals her own Second Vespers from the Sunday, which does get a commemoration. Before P*us XII and B*gnini got tinkering, S Luke did get a commemoration of his (Second) Vespers. And there would have been a Common Octave of S Frideswide ...  If I've got some of that wrong, I'm sure there is One Above who will correct me!

Moi, I shall use the 'Gallican' Preface of Patrons.

Back in the days of the dear old Church of England, now no more than a sanctified memory, on this Feast the Lord Bishop sang Pontifical High Mass in his Cathedral, assisted by the Staggers Travelling Circus. Happy times! But all good things come to an end ... up to a point ...

Not very far from the bones of S Frideswide is the grave of Robert King, last abbot of Thame and Oseney and Bishop of Rheon in partibus infidelium, first and only de facto Bishop of Oseney, first Bishop of Oxford (the See was canonically erected by Cardinal Pole on 24 December 1554). His de facto successor was Hugh Curwen, who had been consecrated by Dr Bonner temp' Philippi et Mariae to Dublin (it is not quite true, as people carelessly claim, that only one Marian bishop conformed under Elisabeth). I've no idea where he's buried, poor old gentleman.
[UPDATE: Mark West kindly points out that, according to the DNB, Curwen was buried at Burford; 'Pevsner' does not record a surviving monument.]

Our exalted Patron is still there in her Church, buried under a stone inscribed Frideswide, her bones amusingly mixed with those of some Protestant woman. Nearby, the fairly complete fragments of the medieval shrine have been reassembled.

A statio, perhaps, to be made on the way up to Blackfriars.

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