24 April 2023

Whither S George?

(1) Could  a medievalist explain the thirteen hundreds to me?

In the middle of the century, we find much play with S George and the symbolism of the Garter. 

But when we get to the end of the century, not a whisker.

As I look at the Wilton Diptych, S George ... and the ideology of the Garter ... are dogs that just don't bark in the night. 

Is it a matter of regime-change? Is there any evidence in the Garter archives?

The liturgical dispositions at Exeter by Bishop Grandisson, fourteenth century, include S George with a very low liturgical rank. When the Sarum Rite, in the Tudor period, attains the dignity of lots of printed editions, S George is still on a low liturgical rank.

I'm glad Benedict XIV felt he had to proclaim S George "Protector" [not "Patron", apparently] of the Kingdom ... but I feel there's somehow something missing in my understanding of the development of the cultus.

Does Shakespeare come into the story? Don't tell me that George is partly a fabrication of the Tudor lie-machine ... that would be just too much to swallow ...

(2) I trust that (English) clerical readers used the Proper (i.e. Sunday's) Last Gospel yesterday, at the end of their Masses of S George.

Before the Vile Disruptions, when a Day with its own Proper Gospel was reduced to a Commemoration by another supplanting celebration (as Sunday II post Pascha was yesterday by S George), the Reduced Day was commemorated by having its Collect, Secret, and Post-Communion read after those of the Supplanting Day ... and its Proper Gospel replaced the Johannine Prologue at the end of Mass.

This is in the Spirit of Vatican II (Some of you people seem never to have heard of the Spirit, the vital all-important SPIRIT, of Vatican II) which requires more Bible to be shared with the People (Sacrosanctum Concilium 51). 

When, after the Great Restoration, I am Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, I shall send the most ruthless members of my dicasterial Gestapo round banging on the doors of clergy who don't read Proper Last Gospels.


Oliver Nicholson said...

The account of the cult of S. George by the Canadian scholar Jonathan Good (The Cult of Saint George in Medieval England) suggests a devotion that was popular, military and royal rather than ecclesiastical and liturgical. Bishop Grandisson was both of foreign origin and not particularly (indeed, at all) involved in the Court - which gave him plenty of time to micro-manage his diocese. Dr. Orme's study of dedications in Devon and Cornwall list a score or so of mediaeval church dedications to S. George in Devon.

Eric said...

It is rather fascinating that the 'spirit' of Vatican II that we are told called for the people to be fed more of the Bible was responded to with the creation of what is called the 'Liturgy of the Hours' that required our priests (and those laity who choose to accompany them in this enterprise) to pray far fewer of the Psalms every day and removed verses from those that were prayed.

But I digress: Saint George doesn't seem to have been celebrated at a level higher than Simplex anywhere until Trent.

Arthur Gallagher said...

There are many saints who could serve as England's patron. Saint Edmund for one, but why stop with him? Why not have three or four, much like the Archdiocese of Dublin, which has, I think, three. The Confessor? S. Austin? S. Alban? Naturally, there is always Our Lady, who has England as her Dowry, so to speak. Why not?

St. Thomas a Becket?

George could use some company.

Moritz Gruber said...

Oftentimes the simplex feasts (or semidouble feasts) are the most popular in all. There are plenty of people who fondly venerate St. Margaret of Antioch who have never heard of St. Jerome Emiliani, no disrespect intended, or who fondly venerate, my own patron and have never heard of St. Thomas of Villanova, no disrespect intended either.

And both of them had once a simplex-feast that was reduced to a commemoration by the double-feast of the two saints mentioned.

That said, St. George would then have been "patron-of-the-club", i. e. the order of the garter, just as (I hear) St. Crispin would have been of the shoemakers' guild, and that would come with a high-ranking votive-mass if the day was impeded.

dunstan said...

Professor Nigel Saul argues that the cult of St George was very much Edward III's invention. He further argues that Richard II had a different ideal of kingship. He writes (For Honour and Fame p122) that 'Richard had little sympathy with the traditional view of war as an instrument of policy believing that it weakened kings by forcing them to barter with their subjects for taxes.' Saul also writes of the way elections to the Garter under Richard were used as marks of royal favour rather than military prowess quoting the appointments of Thomas Mowbray and William de Vere 'although neither was particularly distinguished in arms.' The same demilitarisation of the aristocracy can be seen in his creation of a sorority or sisterhood alongside the Garter 'so as to promote a more civilian atmosphere at court.' This surely goes a long way to explaining the absence of St George from the liturgy during Richard's reign. But St George came back into fashion during the reign of the warlike Henry V. Saul again: 'In a major initiative, in the wake of his victory at Agincourt he expanded the liturgy of the chapel (of St George's, Windsor) by ordering invocations to St George, St Edward the Confessor and the Virgin. The encouragement he gave to the worship of such saints as brought favour to England formed part of a more extensive programme of liturgical reform. In 1415 St George's feast day was promoted to a "greater double" at his request...'