1 February 2022


 The 1960s fad among Latin Christians for using at the Eucharist 'real' ... that is, leavened ... bread was not new. I thank my indefatigable benefactor Professor Tighe for an article by Christopher Haigh in 2003, about usage within the newly protestantised Church of England in 1559 and the following decades.

I tend to feel that the jury may still be out on the religion ... deep within any heart she had ... of Elizabeth Tudor. Sometimes, one can see her choices as straightforward political gestures. She needed, she felt, to be able to say (she did say) that she had been crowned and anointed by Catholic bishops according to Catholic rites ... and so she saw to it that she was. But there was another constituency; the Protestant activists. The more extreme of these already resented or suspected politicians ... including Elizabeth herself ... who had conformed in the Marian period; at least, conformed to the extent of neither fleeing the country nor being publicly guilty of Protestant heresy. So she made a ...?political ... issue of the Elevation of the Host.

On the other hand, one could cite the ornaments of her private chapel ... the preservation of Church Music ... her dislike of married clergy ...

Her Prayer Book of 1559 had followed the BCP of 1551 in ordering that "to take away the superstition which any person hath or might have in the bread and wine, it shall suffice that the bread be such as is usual to be eaten at table with other meats ...". But, strangely, she seems to have added to the Injunctions of 1559 a reversion to the 1549 rubric, "that the same sacramental bread be made and formed plain, without any figure thereupon, of the same fineness and fashion, round, though somewhat bigger in compass and thickness, as the usual bread and wafer heretofore named singing cakes, which served for the use of the private mass."

A correspondent reminds me that the question of "wafer bread" came up in the C of E during the Ritualist Controversies. A Churchwarden, engaging with others to persecute his incumbent for the use of "wafers", surreptitiously conveyed a Wafer away from Communion in order to use It as Evidence in a prosecution. The sacrilege was only resolved by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself demanding to be shown "the Evidence" ... being handed It ... and taking the opportunity to consume It.

The contradiction between statutory provision, and the Royal Will of Elizabeth Tudor, naturally caused confusion. Bishops did not know which to enforce; parishioners would go so far as to refuse the Sacrament if their parish priest made the 'wrong' choice. 

At this point, I found myself wondering whether, in some cases, those who thus refused Communion might have been Catholics or 'Church Papists' who had found thereby a clever way within the Law of not receiving Communion in a Protestant rite. One writer (Haigh) briefly alludes to this possibility; but he does not perform the intricate task of correlating the names and families of such recorded 'principled' non-communicants with the Recusancy lists. That might be fun for some young researcher to take in hand!

He also claims that the use of wafer bread did not last beyond "the end of [Elizabeth's] reign". But here I have personal query to enter.

My last job in the Church of England was as pp of S Thomas the Martyr iuxta ferriviam in Oxford. My predecessor in the years 1616-1640 was Robert ('Melancholy') Burton.

And during his incumbency, wafer bread was (?still) used at S Thomas's!


MGT said...

Dear Father,

What a dad description of your sacred ministry at S. Thomas’s as a ‘job’. Surely, you saw as more than just a ‘job’ ? You demean your role.


Jesse said...

I may have to set a doctoral student onto that scent, Father!

I'm surprised by Haigh's assertion. Bishop Lancelot Andrewes outlived Elizabeth I by over twenty years, and readers of this blog are sure to know of the inventory of the furnishings of his private chapel, which includes a reference to "The silver and gilt canister for the wafers, like a wicker basket, and lined with cambric laced."

The quotation is from an inventory of Andrewes's chapel that was found among the papers of Archbishop Laud. It was printed, with a helpful diagram of the chapel, in William Prynne's Canterburies doom (1646), pp. 121–25. Prynne is aghast at the "strange Popish furniture," including "a silver and gilt Candlesticke [scil. canister] for WAFERS" (p. 123)!

The inventory is printed in the last volume of the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology edition Andrewes's works: Two Answers to Cardinal Perron and Other Miscellaneous Works, ed. James Bliss (Oxford: Parker, 1854), p. xcvii, https://archive.org/details/workstwoanswers11andruoft/page/n108/mode/1up.

Bliss stated that the original copy of the inventory was "now preserved in the British Museum, MS. Harl. 3793, Art. 7, endorsed in the Archbishop's own hand." But it is not mentioned there in the Catalogue of Harleian Manuscripts (vol. 3, p. 81), so I suspect that he either noted the wrong shelfmark or relied on bad information. (He reproduced the text from Prynne, so he had presumably not seen the putative original.)

The existence of an original is not mentioned in Peter McCullough's excellent paper "Absent Presence: Lancelot Andrewes and 1662," in Stephen Platten and Christopher Woods (eds.), Comfortable Words: Polity and Piety and the Book of Common Prayer (London: SCM Press, 2012), pp. 49–68 (we would have expected a reference to it at p. 56 n. 19). The whole of that paper can be previewed (for now) at Google Books: https://www.google.ca/books/edition/Comfortable_Words/52SmDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=comfortable%20words%20polity%20piety&pg=PA49&printsec=frontcover

William Tighe said...

I read somewhere, once, a long time ago, that "wafer bread" was use "continually" at Westminster Abbey, but I can't recall whether it meant "continually to the present day" or "continually up to a certain point in time" (perhaps 1642 or perhaps 1689?).

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Obviously, that fad is the basis of the EO schism of 1054.

Michael Caerularius imagined this reasoning:

* Good Friday was the Parascheve (day of preparation) of the Jews
* therefore the Seder was Friday evening, not Thursday evening
* therefore Christ could not have used matsot on the Last Supper, since it was not yet the real Seder
* therefore it's unnecessary deference to Jewish customs - his words being "Judaising heresy" - to use unleavened bread ...

It is easy to imagine the beginnings of an answer if one recalls Michael Caerularius lived after Hillel II and the automatic Jewish calendar, Our Lord before.

Messengers from the Temple may have not notified Our Lord and His disciples on when the Temple began the month of Nisan, and He may have had to begin it after own observation of the Nisan New Moon - a bit like recently Muslims were beginning Ramadan in France on two different days, depending on what day the New Moon had been visible in Bordeaux one evening earlier than in Strassburg.

Caesaraea Philippi in Galilee is further West than the Temple.

Therefore Our Lord did use matsoth, and "Parascheve of the Jews" uses "Jews" like often in narrator voice for the enemies of Christ.

MGT said...

Sad to see you saw ministry at S. Thomas’s as just a, ‘job’. Surely, it was more than that!?


MGT said...

Sorry to see that you describe your ministry at S. Thomas’s as just, ‘a jog’. Surely, it was more than that?


MGT said...

Sorry to see that you describe your ministry at S. Thomas’s as just, ‘a jog’. Surely, it was more than that?


Zephyrinus said...

Dear MGT (see, above).

I hope your hiccups get better.

Matthew F Kluk said...

Only knowing Father Hunwicke through his online blog writing, I am certain his assignments, wherever and whenever they have been, we're never just jobs to him. He loves God and the souls in his care too much, and is concerned with right worship.

Ian Watt said...

MGT - struggling to see where Fr Hunwicke described his parochial ministry as 'just a job'.

Ian Watt said...

MGT - furthermore, had he written 'my last appointment in the Church of England...', would you imply he saw it as 'just an appointment'?

Mark said...

I love the story of the Archbishop of Canterbury reverently consuming the evidence.

Can anyone provide more information or documentation about that?