8 May 2023


A former post which has accumulated information like a glacier over the years.

 It's interesting how these nice old feasts, so calamitously suppressed during the Great Rupture, have a bit of a tendency to get their foot back in through the door. Admirable feet! Today's feast (previously a double major) features in the calendar of the Anglican diocese of Truro (which encompasses Cornwall) entitled, I think I recall, S Michael, Protector of Cornwall. I presume this goes back to the researches and imagination of Canon 'Patrimony' Doble, and has not a little to do with the former monastery on a dramatic island called S Michael's Mount. I am told that the 1962 Missal has this feast in an appendix. I presume that the new CDF dispositions with regard to the Extraordinary Form put this festivity back onto the general menu of the Old Mass.

Lectio v in the old Breviary reveals how, at Gargano in Apulia, a certain bull wandered off from his cows. (Wotta Mistaka t'maka.) After a long search, they found him stuck (haerentem) in the entrance of a cave. Someone fired an arrow, which - a common occurrence - rebounded upon the archer (who was presumably an Australian), so of course they went off to consult the bishop of Sipontinus. As one does. He ... it's what bishops are for in the Analecta Bollandiana ... ordered a triduum of fasting and prayer to seek God's will. After that, S Michael, as he tends to, appeared and explained that the place was under his protection and that (well, he would, wouldn't he?) he wanted (Yes! Yes! You've guessed!) cultus in that very spot. They found the cave was shaped like a temple (you were expecting that, weren't you?), and so of course they used it for worship. Ut saepe fit, miracles followed.

As a result of a query I posted earlier, my friend and benefactor, the erudite Professor Tighe, sent me the following reference and text. Other friends also very graciously helped. What would I do without the learned people who read this blog?

I have, probably foolishly, rendered the Middle English orthography into something a little more modern, and indicated (+-+) the bit which stymies me. I will submit to correction with my customary humility, and I welcome elucidation..

Mirk's Festiale ... Part 1 , ed. Theodor Erbe (London, 1905)

[S Michael] appeared also to another bishop at a place that is called now Michael in the Mount in Cornwall, and bade him go to a hill's top that is there, where he found a bull +tent wyth theves+, there he bade [them] make a church in worship of him. But because there were two rocks, one on either side [of] the church, that the work might not up for them, S Michael bade a man in a night [to] go thither and put away the rocks, and fear nothing. Then went this man thither, and set to the rocks his shoulder, and bade them in the name of God and S Michael to stand aside completely, and so they did, as much as need was."

UPDATE I am indebted to Mr Nicholas Rogers FSA for a resolution of the main crux, which seems even to have been perceived as a crux in the Middle Ages. Jacobus de Voragine had written: ubi taurum a latronibus absconditum inveniret. Two variants exist in English: simply a bole tied; and a bull stoppid with thornis. " So 'theves' meant thieves, but was taken by at least one copiest to mean 'theves', or thorny thickets," concludes Mr Rogers. 

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