2 March 2024

When is a Bishop not a Bishop? When is a Double of the First Class (with First Vespers and Octave) not even any sort of Feast Day?

 Looking at a 'new' Calendar is a bit like looking over a 'wreckovated' church. So, I warn you that, today, don't try to find S Chad on modern English Catholic Calendars. He has been amalgamated with his brother S Cedd and, combined, they occupy 26 October. The reason for this is the Conciliar superstition that no Saint ... well, perhaps just the weightiest Saints of all ... should be allowed to "clutter up" Lent.

All this; despite the fact that today, the 6th before the Nones of March, is the day of Chad's death and burial. And it is the day when he was commemorated throughout the Middle Ages ... until our own times. You will find him in the Breviaries used by our Victorian Catholic forefathers such as S John Henry Newman. His shrine had been in Lichfield Cathedral, until, at the Reformation, that shrine was despoiled  ... but I expect most readers know the romantic tale of how Mr Prebendary Dudley rescued the relics; how they were kept safe by the Hodgetts family; rediscovered by Fr Benjamin Hulme in 1840, just in time for the Age of Pugin.

When (1841) Mr Pugin built his new Catholic Cathedral in Birmingham, the rediscovered relics were splendidly enthroned above the High Altar; this, I think, makes Birmingham Cathedral (rather wonderfully) the only such church in this country where the dispositions of a major Catholic Shrine Church are still to be found. 

Back in S John Henry's time, after the enthronement of the relics, Birmingham Cathedral had S Chad as its the Titular: His Festival was a double of the First Class with an Octave through its dioecese: a week which is now liturgically a wasteland. While this Kingdom still had its own Calendar ... I am still describing the days of S John Henry ... S Chad was celebrated (March 2) throughout the entire Kingdom. However, when each English diocese received its own separate Calendar, this came to an end: but S Chad still remained on the Calendars of many of the English dioceses, from the Scottish border South to Oxford. And so matters remained ... until the decade of the the Great Calamity, when, hand in hand with his brother, he was ordered off into the Essex autumn.

You can just imagine those Great Men ... the Liturgical Experts of the 1960s ... fulfilling their Calling of Slashing, Ruining, Maiming, and Burning. They wouldn't have been put off by trifles like the words in the ancient Chad Collect " ... hodierna festivitate laetificas ..." And soon their cry will have gone up: "Here's another Chadfest! 'Tuesday in the fourth week after the Octave of Easter: Translation of S Chad'! Horrors! That could come in May! Just imagine the weather being fine and they'll all be doing out door processions! This isn't Tasmania, you know! Quick! Scissors! Quick!" 

[Which 'translation' was that? The end of Lectio vi in an old Birmingham Breviary will probably say, but I don't possess one.]

S Chad was a great Missionary bishop, but he had a problem with the Greek-Syrian monk Theodore, whom Rome sent to be Archbishop of Canterbury. S Theodore judged S Chad not to have been validly consecrated to the Episcopate. The reason for this suspicion is unclear ... it probably lies somewhere in the tangle of facts surrounding his Consecration: the Roman Mission to the Anglo-Saxons happened to be rather short of bishops; Chad's principal Consecrator, Wini, had secured his see through, er, simony; and the two assistant consecrators were probably Cornishmen: iffy 'Britons', anyway. All S Bede tells us is that Chad, in the Archbishop's view, non fuisse rite consecratum. But so impressive was S Chad's humble acceptance of the harsh judgement thus passed, that S Theodore ordinationem eius denuo catholica ratione consummavit ... and S Chad resumed bishopping.

I think of S Chad as a rather Ordinariate figure. When the Ordinariates were set up, we clergy were all required to give up the exercise of our episcopate or priesthood ... and to regard ourselves as unordained! I remember the bizarre day when our bishops, whom we had so often seen with pontifical dalmatics under their chasubles, were "ordained deacons" in the despoiled chapel of Allen Hall and then solemnly, ritually, clad in ... diaconal dalmatics!

I wrote a light-hearted article about this at the time ... I think I might also have described how the incense kept activating the Novus Ordo fire alarms ... and was told that I had been a Very Naughty Boy Indeed.

Sancte Ceadda bis consecrate in mortis tuae hodierno anniversario ora pro nobis.


Inutilissimus Servus said...

Happily, he is commemorated on March 2 in the postconciliar Roman Martyrology (2004): "Lichfeldiae in Anglia, sancti Ceaddae, episcopi, qui in angustis temporis sui provinciis Merciorum, Lindissi et Mediterranaeorum Anglorum episcopatus officio praefuit, quod iuxta antiquorum patrum exempla in magnae vitae perfectione administrare curavit."


Deacon Nicholas said...

We Orthodox commemorated him just the other day.