Saturday 28 January 2012

Sodality Pilgrimage to Rome, Sept 2011, Day VI - Six and seven churches - done!

What a day! Starting out outside St. Maria Maggiore (picture 1) looking for another Vatican post box - an unsuccessful quest - we continued into the Basilica. This is an impressive church (picture 2) with lots of little chapels, one of them open for adoration. Building started in 432
A.D. after God had spoken to the Pope in a dream - in the dream it was snowing on one of the hills of Rome and God told him to build a church there and the city would be rid of the plague that had ravaged it. For this reason the church is also known as Mary of the Snows.

This, the last of the main basilicas, is also one of the seven pilgrim churches. For nearly 700 years this was the seat of the latin patriarch of Antioch - up until 1953 when the last one died and no new one was appointed.

Moving on outside the walls - to San Paolo fuori le Mura (St. Paul's Without the Walls) - the last of the Pilgrimage Churches - we prayed for the Pope's intentions and then went on looking around. This church (picture 3) is absolutely huge and built on the location where St. Paul was buried, his sarcophagus partially displayed in the crypt (picture 4 - and yes, that is a bit of yours truly in the bottom left hand corner there). The church was first built in 386 A.D. but burnt down in 1823 A.D. and has hence been reconstructed and only parts of the antique basilica remain.

In connections to this church is also a monastery which is, I'm sure, lovely to visit - despite repeated visits to the church I still haven't managed it - there is so much to see here! So after praying, visiting the crypt, carefully examining the wall with the Pope portraits and discussing which ones were sodalists and photographing a group of nuns when they were looking the other way we took a break in the cafeteria - a very good one, by the way, a great place to relax before going on to the next stop. In St. Paul's there's also a very nice gift shop where they sell, apart from the usual rosary beads and little statuettes, soaps, candy and oils (oh - and liqueur, too!) made by the monks.

After this visit it was time for what would end up being my

favourite part of the pilgrimage (even though San Sebastiano comes close, too). The church of St. Agnes without the walls (OK, I might be slightly biased my own name being Agnes...). Yes, it is a bit away from the city center - and a bit of a walk from the nearest bus stop - but just opening the doors to this masterpiece of a church made it all feel worth it. After entering the doors you need to the descend a long flight of stairs with beautifully ornamented walls and ceilings (picture 5).

The church that's on the site today was built in the 7th century but there's been a church here longer than that. It is in this church that two lambs are blessed by the Pope on St. Agnes' Feast Day (Jan 21 for those of you who don't keep track), their wool later woven into pallia - the ceremonial white neck-stoles sent to newly elevated Metropolitan archbishops, the church is also another place where you can visit the catacombs of Rome.
After this visit we could go home happy.

Black Scapular of Saint Benedict

The Scapular of St. Benedict is the emblem of the confraternity of that saint, founded in the latter half of the 19th century with the object of associating the faithful with the Benedictine Order. The Confraternity was granted indulgences in 1882 and 1883, and members wear a small black cloth scapular in two segments, one of which usually has a picture of Saint Benedict, although not strictly required.
St. Benedict, pray for us!

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Father Gregory Winterton RIP

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Gregory Winterton, Cong. Orat., of the Birmingham Oratory, who died on Wednesday 18th January 2012 and whose funeral took place today, 24th January. An account of the reception of his body into the Oratory can be found here. The funeral itself was very well attended, not a single seat remained in the church and in excess of a hundred people were also gathered around its edges during the Mass. There were also in excess of 50 priests including representatives from other Oratories.

Father Gregory was the Provost of the Birmingham Oratory from 1971 until 1992 except for six months in 1977. He is well remembered for the work he did in the pursuit of the Canonisation of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, being the Actor for the cause for some years.

The Oratory website has a lovely tribute to Father Gregory which provides many further details of his life and it is not my plan to reproduce those here. From it though most poignant for me is the following quote:

"The moment when Fr Gregory was presented to Pope Benedict XVI and, later that same day, when they met at the Oratory House, provided unforgettable pictures: two men in their eighties—one (the Pope) a devoted student of Newman, the other (Fr Gregory) the tireless advocate of Newman’s holiness. It was the culmination of half a life-time’s hard work for Fr Gregory."

I vividly remember that moment at Cofton Park, pictured above. In the months that followed I heard so many others who knew Father Gregory comment on it, recalling it with pleasure. At the time I knew relatively little of Father Gregory's role in the work that lead to us all being there that day for the beatification. When he later visited Ireland and we spent some time talking together I began to understand a little more of the efforts that he personally made but his modesty obscured just how much he had done. Friday when I opened The Times I must admit I was surprised to discover that they had run a full page obituary for Father Gregory instead of the usual few short paragraphs that I had expected. It was only on reading this piece, much of the content of which is also covered in the Oratory's own piece, that I learnt just how significant a role he had played

Father Gregory's trip to Ireland in May 2011 was to deliver a series of conferences during the Sodality of Our Lady Retreat in Mount Melleray Abbey, O.C.S.O., Cappoquin, Co. Waterford. The theme of these was Newman and Our Lady, a subject close to the hearts of the Sodality, a group not only dedicated to Our Lady but one which meets regularly in Newman's University Church in Dublin. Those who attended found much interest in and benefit from his talks and we all felt privileged at Father Gregory's presence, appreciating the tremendous effort he, then 88 and frail, had made to be with us. Subsequently his talks were published in the Sodality Journal and a copy has been placed here for free download so that others have the opportunity to benefit from his wisdom.

There are so many people who knew Father Gregory far better than I did but I hope readers will understand that it seems strange to me to write a piece like this without sharing some of my own personal recollections. In particular I remember sitting with him at breakfast in the dining room at Mount Melleray whilst we ate porridge, a favourite of his, and he told me about how he came to join the Oratory and how he used to cycle from there right across the city to attend lectures at Oscott College. However, most of all I think I will remember his joy, how at the simplest things a smile would come across his face and it would light up, as he would start to chuckle at some piece of humour which caught his fancy.

Father Gregory, rest in peace, you will be missed by so many.

Sunday 22 January 2012

Mass in St. Abban's Church, Doonane, Co. Laois

Holy Mass in the Gregorian Rite will be celebrated in St. Abban's Church, Doonane, Co. Laois, at 12 noon, on Saturday, 25th February, 2012.

St. Abban of Doonane, pray for us!

Saturday 21 January 2012

Mass for Christian Unity

This afternoon in St. Paul's Church, Arran Quay, Dublin 7, our annual Mass for Christian Unity (ad tollendam schisma) was celebrated in the Gregorian Rite.

St. Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles, pray for us!

Blessing of Lambs for the Pallium

With exams around the corner, I rarely have time to blog, but I wanted to do this small post for St. Agnes day. St. Agnes incidentally is one of the few Memoriae in the calendar with an almost fully Proper Office for Lauds and Vespers and the privilege of the Sunday/Common psalms.

On the feast of St. Agnes, yearly, the lambs supplying wool for the pallium are blessed. But since I'm pressed for time, I'm not writing about that....

This is the pre-conciliar text for the blessing (anyone want to try their hand at translating it before next year?)

¶ Finita Missa statim Vicarius assistens vadit ad deponendum super credentiam Pluviale, Abbas vero accepta mitra, et facta cum ea debita Cruci reverentia, simul cum Diacono et Subdiacono accedit ad faldistorium, ubi sedit, depositis prius manipulis a Ministris, suumque dimittit, iterum Clerici ponunt super Altare duos Agnos, floribus in capite coronatos, cum pelvino in cornu Evangelii et Epistolæ: Cantores cantant antiphonam sequentem ( Stans, etc.) : In eodem tempore Abbas cum mitra imponit ter incensum in thuribulo de more illud benedicens ; expleta Antiphona mitratus accedit ad altare cum Ministris, et ante ipsum, mitra deposita, facta reverentia Cruci in medium ascendit, ubi manibus iunctis in tono feriali, sive cantu, has præces et orationes dicit.

¶ Postea accipit a Diacono aspersorium, et cum eo ter aspersit Agnum in cornu Evangelii in medio, a dextris, et a sinistris, et alterum in cornu Epistolæ pariter ter eodem modo, ac ter adolet incenso, quo aspersit. Deinde accepta mitra, et facta reverentia Cruci revertitur ad faldistorium ad deponenda paramenta.

Stans a dextris eius Agnus: nive candidior Christus sibi sponsam et martyrem consecravit.

V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit coelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

OREMUS. Omnipotens et misericors Deus qui per Moysen famulum tuum Pontificibus tabernaculos servientibus, indumenta instituisti: et per sanctos Apostolos tuos Sacerdotibus et Pontificibus Evangelicis vestimenta sacra providisti: effunde tuam sanctam Benedictionem super hos Agnos, de quorum vellere sacra Pallia pro Summis Pontificibus, Patriarchis, et Archiepiscopis conficienda sunt: ut qui eis utuntur una cum plebe sibi commissa per intercessionem B. V. et M. Agnetis (super cuius tumbam oramus) ad æternam benedictionem perducantur: Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

OREMUS. Deus qui infirma mundi eligis ut fortia quæque confundas; concede propitius ut qui Beatæ Agnetis Virginis et Martyris tuæ solemnia colimus eius apud te patrocinia sentiamus. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

First published in January, 2008

Strawberry Hill in Kildare and Leighlin - Ballyroan

This Church almost made it into 'The ones that got away' because, as you can see from the shot of the plans below, it was recently proposed to 're-arrange' the Church but, despite having been happily held up by the planning authorities, the re-ordering went ahead. If this Church could run it should have run faster!

When I visited the Church there was a mesh over the ceiling but there is a fine plasterwork ceiling there somewhere, probably a worthy match of the eastern wall, which is in a fine 'Strawberry Hill Gothic'. Once I have completed the series on the ones that got away, I intend to look at the ones that didn't, beginning with those that have 'Strawberry Hill' features.

By Strawberry Hill Gothic I understand a style of decoration established by Horace Walpole at his London residence of that name. Walpole wrote in 1794 that "every true Goth must perceive more the works of fancy than imitation" about his house, for which Walpole coigned the word 'gloomth' (as in warmth) that typifies 'the gothic' as a literary genre, which he also pioneered through his novel The Castle of Otranto, that established 'the gothic novel' as a primary prose form for a generation and which continues to resonate in our own day.

As an architectural form, Strawberry Hill Gothic (often spelled with a 'k' to distinguish it from the other forms of neo-gothic architecture) is a flamboyant and decorative gothic in the architectural sense of those words, broadly based upon the English perpendicular, even to the extent that the triforium is completely absent.

Without denigrating the form, it strikes me as more superficial and decorative in the romantic sense of picturesque, in contrast to the more archaeological methods of Ruskin and Pugin the elder, and the total immersion of the Arts and Crafts and pre-Raphaelite movements. Strawberry Hill Gothic aims for sensual effect rather than the material and social change that the Gothic Revival would later espouse. There is no clear transition from the Palladian to the Gothick, in that classicists such as Robert Adam and Charles Barry were equally comfortable providing decoration in either for a demanding patron and can be seen as a form of the roccoco.

The decorative effect of the spandrel, the thinner mullion, the ogee and the pendent are used to maximum effect. As an easier medium for delicate and complicated decoration and, I think, as typical of the style, wood is more common in this 'gothick' than in other forms of gothic. Thus we see on the eastern wall at Ballyroan a riot of wooden decoration and also in the nave windows. The form of the wooden mullions here can also be in Churches in various parts of the Diocese where those windows have been retained. For example, they can still be seen in the Church of the Assumption in nearby Vicarstown and older images of St. Conleth's in Newbridge show the same form in the windows of the nave, well into the 20th cent.

It was our Catholic heritage. Why couldn't they leave it alone?

White Scapular of the Holy Face

The Scapular of the Holy Face, of white cloth has a copy of the famous Roman picture associated with Saint Veronica. Members of the Arch-confraternity have the option of wearing the picture on a medal or cross instead of the scapular, but no indulgence attaches to the practice of wearing the picture, since it is merely one of the acts of piety practiced by them.

May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God be forever praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

Monday 16 January 2012

Mass for Christian Unity - St. Paul's, Arran Quay

Mass in the Gregorian Rite will be offered for Christian Unity, during the Octave for Christian Unity, at 12 noon on Saturday, 21st January, 2012, in St. Paul's Church, Arran Quay, Dublin 7.

St. Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles, pray for us!

Saturday 14 January 2012

Sodality Pilgrimage to Rome, Sept 2011, Day V - Fifteen minutes under ground

Once we got this far in the pilgrimaging some of us had actually had to go back home. The rest of us kept going though - today out to San Sebastiano (picture 1), Pilgrim church no 5, located about half an hour out on the Via Appia Antica. Since burials weren't allowed inside the city most of the old martyrs and Popes were buried outside the walls, and the martyr we're visiting today is St Sebastian (picture 3), buried in the church that bears his name.

Born in the 3rd century he was a soldier in Emperor Diocletian's army and a Christian. When he refused to deny his faith he was tied to a tree and shot by archers but miraculously survived and confronted the Emperor who then had him stoned.

The church in itself is beautiful, like churches are, and situated just over the tomb of St Sebastian and the catacombs built up around it. The catacombs contain both pagan roman and Christian tombs, some of the older ones, family vaults, with incredibly well preserved frescos and urns with the ashes of dead romans. Walking through the catacombs' sometimes narrow and labyrinth like passages was, at times, quite uncomfortable, but a quick prayer to Our Lady took care of that.

Leaving San Sebastiano and walking back in the direction of the city we passed a field with cute, lovely and jumpy lambs (picture 4) before coming to the church of Domine Quo Vadis. Built on the spot where St. Peter was suddenly stopped from fleeing persecution in Rome by Our Lord asking "Lord, where are you going?" Peter answering: "I am going to Rome to be crucified again". The church was built in the 17th century and is, certainly when you compare it to the basilicas in the city, very small. On the floor, in the middle of the church, is a copy of the foot prints (picture 5) left in the ground by Jesus on the occasion described above. The original (picture 2) is now kept in San Sebastiano. So how cool is that - Jesus' feet!!!? Coming back to the hotel that afternoon my own feet felt like stone as well - lovely long walk, underground excursions, sheep and then by far the most aweinspiring footprints - I too would stop in my tracks and go back to Rome!

White Scapular of Saint Dominic

Pope Pius X again in 1903 granted an indulgence to wearers of the Scapular of Saint Dominic. The Scapular is of white wool, and while no image is necessary yet the scapular given in the house of the Dominican General in Rome bears a picture of Saint Dominic kneeling before the crucifix, on one side, and of Blessed Reginald receiving the habit from Our Blessed Lady, on the other.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!
Saint Dominic, pray for us!
Blessed Reginald, pray for us!

Saturday 7 January 2012

Black and Blue Scapular of St. Michael

When, in 1880, Leo XIII raised the Confraternity in honour of St. Michael the Archangel, to the rank of an Arch-confraternity, he conferred a signal honour on the Confraternity founded in 1878 in Rome, and Pisheria. And in 1883, the Congregation of Rites by Decree aproved the summary of indulgences, later to be approved forever by the Congregation in 1903.

The scapular is in two segments, and takes the form of a shield. One segment is of blue cloth; the other black with one cord of blue and one of black. St. Michael the Archangel is shown slaying the dragon, and it is inscribed "Quis ut Deus."

St. Michael Archangel, pray for us!