Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding.
I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... It was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.
Thinking of visiting Oxford?
Allow me to be your guide... and discover the history of Oxford with an Oxford historian.
I offer a wide range of guided walks around the city and university. These can be a general introduction to the history and architecture or looking at specific themes and subjects.
I am a Catholic and a historian based in Oxford, where I am a member of Oriel College. My research, for a long delayed D.Phil., is a study of Richard Fleming, Bishop of Lincoln in the second decade of the fifteenth century. I also work as a freelance tutor in History and as an independent tour guide.
I was received into the Church in 2005 and am a Brother of the External Oratory of St Philip Neri at the Oxford Oratory.
In The Times today there is an opinion piece by Rear Admiral Chris Parry about the importance of NATO rather than the EU to the defence of the UK. Fair enough, but then we come to his concluding paragraph:
" Britain ( as England ) last achieved Brexit under Henry VIII. In declaring itself a sovereign nation, it threw off a corrupt, alien jurisdiction and faced down the military superpowers of the time. Our ancestors did not fear a " leap into the dark". Nor need we."
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear me...
Where does one begin to deal with that little bundle of assumptions, and how long would it take?
Any jobs advertised for teaching History at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth?
Today, February 29th, is the feast day of St Oswald of Worcester - it must be a bit disappointing to be a saint and then find you only get observed on your proper day every four days - but I assume, indeed believe, that Saints are above such human foibles.
John Dillon has posted a piece about him on the Medieval Religion discussion group [slightly adapted] : A leading figure of the tenth-century Benedictine reform in England, Oswald of Worcester (d. 992) was a nephew of St. Oda the Severe, Archbishop of Canterbury, from whom he received some of his early training, and a more distant relative of Oscytel, archbishop of York, who became his patron after Oda's death. Oswald made his monastic profession at Fleury-sur-Loire and was a monk there until the very early 960s when he was named bishop of Worcester.
At Worcester, though Oswald founded a monastery next to the cathedral he seems not to have converted his chapter into a monastic one (as was alleged in the twelfth century). He also founded Ramsey Abbey on an island in the fens in Huntingdonshire and re-founded Winchcombe Abbey in his own diocese. In late 971 or in the first half of 972 Oswald was elevated to the archbishopric of York but kept the much wealthier see of Worcester in plurality, which is where he died. A cult sprang up almost immediately; its centres were at Worcester and at Ramsey. Oswald has an early Vita ascribed to Byrhtferth of Ramsey (BHL 6374; between 997 and 1002) and a fuller Vita et Miracula by Eadmer (BHL 6375-76; ca. 1115), who was asked to write it by the monks of Worcester. His _dies natalis_ is 29. February, as is also his day of commemoration in the Roman Martyrology.
The fifth item here is an expandable view of a page in the later tenth-century so-called Ramsey Psalter (London, BL, Harley MS 2904), said by Nicholas Brooks in his Oxford DNB entry on Oswald (v. 42, pp. 79-84) "likely to have been made for Oswald's own use at York or Worcester":
This imposing copy of the Psalms in Jerome’s Gallican version may have been intended for the personal use of Oswald (d. 992), bishop of Worcester and archbishop of York, who profoundly influenced the development of the English church during the second half of the tenth century. It certainly contains liturgical evidence linking it with one of Oswald’s foundations, the Benedictine monastery of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire. The beginning of Psalm 110 (109 in the Vulgate’s numbering) is illustrated with a gold letter D(ixit) (He said) with acanthus plant ornamentation. The decoration of the initial of the first words of certain Psalms became standard in English Psalters, and here is a fine example of the ‘Winchester School’ style of illumination.
A page of views of the present Worcester Cathedral, which has a Norman crypt andis very largely a twelfth- and thirteenth-century building, restored in the nineteenth century : http://tinyurl.com/2m2nbc
A view of the remains of Ramsey Abbey's fifteenth-century gatehouse - one of the few fragments surviving of this once famous abbey:
Today I have started the Novena requested by Archbishop Longley of Birmingham for the canonization of Bl. Dominic Barberi. Bl Dominic is most famous for his reception into the Church of Bl. John Henry Newman in 1845, but that was but one part of a remarkable ministry.
The Archbishop has designated Bl.Dominic as one of the patrons of the Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese and will celebrate Mass for the intention of the canonization at SS John and Paul, the Passionist church in Rome, on Saturday March 5th.
Last night the Oxford Oratory welcomed Bishop Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., titular
bishop of Celerina and auxiliary bishop of the Archbishopric of the Blessed
Virgin Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Bishop Schneider at the Oxford Oratory house
Image: Oxford Oratory website
The Bishop, who is well known as a writer and speaker concerned to recall the Church to the beauty and reverence of holiness in life and liturgy, is visiting various churches here during his visit. At the Oratory her presided at Sung Compline and Solemn Benediction, as well as preaching on the centrality of the Cross, its folly and its manifestation of Divine Love. the text of his sermon can be read at Visit of Bishop Schneider
This was a beautiful, austere Lenten celebration of the Office for the end of the day, an occasion to nourish the soul as the season progresses.
John Dillon posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group about the Orthodox feast of the First and Second Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist, which falls today. I posted about it previously in The First and Second Findings of the Head of St John the Baptist last year, but this year there is an interesting further post from Paul Chandler O, Carm. about a recent discovery that is pertinent to the feast:
Nogent (1053-1121) already noted in his Treatise on Relics the existence
of several "heads of John the Baptist", one in Constantinople and
another in Angers. At the time of composition he did not know of another
nearby head of the Baptist which was given to the bishop of Amiens in
1206 and was the occasion for the construction of the cathedral <http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-head-of-st-john-the-baptist-at-amiens-cathedral>. There is another in San Silvestro in Capite in Rome, and another in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, and various others.
recent archaeological work at the ancient church site of Sveti Ivan
(Saint John) near Sozopol in Bulgaria turned up bone fragments in a
5/6th-century marble casket from Constantinople. Surprisingly,
carbon-dating assigned a 1st-century date to the bones, and DNA testing a
Middle Eastern origin. That does not prove a connection to John the
Baptist, of course, but is intriguing. Some non-credulous reports:
So it's Referendum time again, and the national discussion has already started, and manifested itself amongst friends at church and in the Oxford Union.
First thing's first - I do not believe in referenda. To say an electorate can make a more or less irrevocable decision on a particular day and enforce that on succeeding generations is very undemocratic. Such constitutional referenda are very different from the direct democracy of Swiss confederal or cantonal votes or Californians propositions. The logic of the binding referendum could extend to saying " Well you elected a Parliament once - why should you change it every five years? " Sorry, we know the line about many newer nations and "Free elections - once ", and referenda are somewhat in that category. Furthermore they are open to manipulation and also to people voting not on the issue on the ballot paper but on something related or possibly vaguely influencing them. by implication there is not going to be a re-run. Yes, I know this one is in a way, but there have been no re-runs of the referenda which abolished the Italian monarchy in 1946 ( and widely recognised as highly dubious to say the very least) or the Greek monarchy in 1974 ( and strictly against the provision sof the 1952 Constitution)
I have always tended to be somewhat Eurosceptic, and certainly sceptical as to the way the EEC and EU were and are run, and I was very much against Eurofederalism. I recall the line of a friend who now works as an advisor in Downing Street to those he suspected to be unsound on such points, "Are you a Eurofederast?", in the Oxford Union in the late 1990s.
That all said I appreciate the vision, based on a common heritage and the notion of Christendom, or even of the post-1815 Congress system of Europe acting in concert.
That and the state of the world today inclines me to vote to remain within the EU.
In some ways the situation is similar to that of the high medieval church - if the Euro was its Unam Sanctam, then was the Euro crisis its Anagni? ( I assume all readers appreciate those references...)
The Prime Minister does look to have failed to get very much in his negotiations that makes a significant change, and thos eof his Cabinet who say they back his line but without enthusiasm for the EU are, I suspect, about right.
We hear talk of possible new domestic legislation on sovereignty, but that pass was sold in the 1972 Act of Accession; it may well be too late now to do anything about that on an individual basis within the EU
There seems to me to have been a serious and continuing failure to build up alliances within the EU and to have worked for an evolving process of reform and decentralisation. Being the Awkward Man of Europe has not helped the UK's image, and failing to respond as positively as we should have done to the post-1989 situation in central Europe was a major mistake. We should have played a founding part in the process, not, as Churchill and Eden seem to have thought, telling Europe to unite as though the landmass twenty miles from Dover had nothing to do with us. Fog in the Channel does not cut Europe off.
Some European commentators see what is being offered as bad if the EU then get others doing the same, and worse if it leads to a break-up, initiated by a Brexit.
So my instinct is to stay - not least because it is a cold world out there, and we should huddle with our friends. There is also the crucial question regarding Scotland, and the threat of the ris eof seperatism there if they vote to remain and the English vote to leave and take the rest of the UK out of the EU. That is, of course, the fault of having the 2014 Scottish referendum.
Those who urge one to vote Leave need to show what positive alternative they can offer that is not merely a romantic return to the 1950s and the remains of Imperial Preference or that will make us too close to Uncle Sam.
The whole thing makes the political future uncertain in many ways whatever result. Could this do for the Conservatives what Tarriff Reform did in 1903-5?And a final thought harking back once again to the 1950s - is this going to be David Cameron's Suez?
Ever since I first heard its story on television as a small boy I have been interested by the history and fate of Dunwich, the once sizeable Suffolk town which has been inexorably washed away by the North Sea.
The Wikipedia article Dunwich is also a useful account, and like the others illustrated.
The present village and the lost town of Dunwich
The demise of All Saints church Dunwich. The decay and
collapse of this the last of the town churches, epitomizes the decay of
Dunwich in the late 18th to early 20th centuries. The ruins
attracted the attention of artists (including Turner), writers and
poets. The ruins of All Saints now lie covered by the inner sand bank
with some exposed in the gully that lies between the beach and the bank.
Like the lost towns and villages of the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire coasts the story of Dunwich is a reminder of how the coastline has changed in historic time.
Last Saturday I went with a friend to the Mass for the Saturday in the Ember Week at the Catholic church in Caversham. This is the present shrine church for devotion to Our Lady of Caversham, a revived and restored place of pilgrimage, which appears to have originated as such soon after the Norman Conquest.
I went in 2013 to this liturgy and it was a pleasure to be able to do so again. On this occasion the celebrant of the High Mass was Fr Anthony Conlon, assisted by Fr Ian Verrier FSSP as Deacon and Rev. Keith Crocker as Sub-Deacon.
The journey to and from Caversham as well as the Mass itself and the opportunity to pray at the Shrine of Our Lady madce this a most enjoyable way to spend part of Saturday.
The previous Wednesday I had been able to attend the Ember Day Mass at SS Gregory and Augustine in north Oxford.
There are online articles about the Ember Days and their historyfrom Wikipedia at Ember days and from the Catholic Encyclopedia at Ember Days - New Advent
Such quarterly days of prayer and fasting, one for each of the seasons, and originating in the harvests of the Mediterranean world seem an eminently laudable practice. The loss from the modern calendar of such ancient custom, a casualty of liturgical change, seems pointless. One might well ask why they were not retained as seasonal fasting days of prayer, and why they should not br reintroduced, rather than left to the EF Missal and groups such as the Ordinariate.
New Catholic at RORATE CÆLI, not known for his enthusiasm for the present Pontificate, has a post today about the meeting last week between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow which gives a good historical background to the relationships between the See of Rome and the Orthodox Patriarchates.
I was struck by how apposite to church life today are some of the comments in the following extract from a homily by St Bede, who died in 735. It might suggest that early eighth century Northumbrian churchmen and congregations were as fallible as their twenty-first century descendants and successors.
Here is what St Bede had to say - I have highlighted the passage which struck me.
" When the Lord first shewed forth in a figure by cursing the barren fig tree, he afterwards put before us in action even more plainly by casting the profaners out of the temple. The tree was not guilty because of her fruitlessness at this time when the Lord was hungry, for the time of figs was not yet come. But those priests were guilty because they carried on worldly business in the Lord's house, and thereby neglected to bring forth that fruit of godliness which was due, and which the Lord was hungry to find in them. The Lord made the fig tree to wither away under his curse, that all men who saw it, and all men who hear of it, might know that they will be condemned by the judgment of God, if they content themselves with the sound of good works, without the solid fruit of good works, after the fashion of that barren fig tree which gave pleasant shade and the rustle of green leaves, without the solid fruit, of which those leaves were wont to be an evidence.
But because the buyers and sellers heeded not the parable of the barren fig tree, the Lord visited them with the righteous indignation which they deserved, and cast out the traffickers in earthly things from that house. For it had been commanded that nothing should be done therein save the work of God, to wit, the offering to him of sacrifices and prayers, and the reading, teaching, and singing of his Word. Yet we may well believe that nothing was sold or bought in the temple save things needful to the service thereof, as we read in another place, that when Jesus went into the temple he found them that sold oxen and sheep and doves. For we are certainly given to understand that it was the worshippers from afar who, from the inhabitants of the place, bought such things as were needful for sacrifice in the Lord's house.
Therefore, if the Lord would not suffer even so much as the buying and selling in the temple of those things which he willed to be offered in sacrifice therein (and this, no doubt, on account of the greed and cheating which so often accompany buying and selling), with what severity, suppose ye, would he visit such as he might find idling away the time of worship in laughter, or in gossip, or in any other sin? If the Lord will not suffer to be carried on in his house such worldly business as may be freely done elsewhere, how much more shall such things as ought never to be done anywhere, draw down the anger of God if they be done in his own holy house? The words: Them that sold doves: do remind us that the Holy Ghost was given unto the Lord in the shape of a dove, and by doves therefore we are reminded of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. They, then, to this day sell doves in the temple of God, who take money in the Church for the laying on of their hands, whereby the Holy Ghost is given from heaven."
Lawrence England of the blog That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill, and Chairman of the Guild of St Titus Brandsma, has a thoughtful piece on the blog of the latter organisation to mark the third anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI announcing his abdication, and providing Lawrence's interpretation of what has happened in the ensuing period.
As we begin Lent a friend has forwarded to me, as part of the answer to another friend's enquiry, the traditional rules on Fasting and Abstinence as well as the current ones. They are taken from the website of the SSPX in the US and can be read at http://sspx.org/en/rules-fast-and-abstinence
A while ago an Oratorian friend made the good point that dietary practices have changed with the times. In an age of central heating and better domestic insulation and similar conveniences, together with far less in the way of demanding physical work, we eat less because we no longer need to ingest so much fuel to keep warm. Add to that our concern to be healthy, to diet and to lose weight, and we end up eating normally what was formerly seen as being a fasting meal.The age of three substantial cooked meals a day, not untypical a century ago, would seem like gross over-indulgence to many today. Even where it survives in a modified form - such as an Oxford college - it is there to cater to and for young people burning up calories on the river or sports field.
Today is the feast day of St Dorothea of Caesarea.
There is an article with a section on her veneration and cult together with illustrations at Dorothea of Caesarea
John Dillon posted as follows on the Medieval religion discussion group:
Though her legend is reasonably well known (it was widely popular in
the later Middle Ages), the historical Dorothea of Caesarea in
Cappadocia is a cipher. Her earliest mention occurs under today's date
in the late sixth- or early seventh-century (pseudo-)Hieronymian
Martyrology, where of course no details are provided and where even her
association with Caesarea in Cappadocia is found only in the
martyrology's later Recension B. The details first appear in St.
Aldhelm's late seventh- or very early eighth-century prose De
virginitate and are in essence a retelling of the legend of the earlier
attested Dorothea of Alexandria in Egypt (not celebrated liturgically
as a saint), about whom one first hears in Rufinus' early fifth-century
additions to Eusebius' Historia ecclesiastica. On the other hand,
Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia's entry in the (ps.-)HM seems to have
furnished the legend with its secondary martyr Theophilus Scholasticus,
as he's present there in the names immediately following hers
(Epternach version: dorotae teofili scolastici) but absent from
Rufinus' account of Dorothea of Alexandria. The apples and the roses
(later and more generically, flowers) that become Dorothea's
characteristic attribute make their first appearance in the
ninth-century martyrology of St. Rabanus Maurus and the six-year-old boy
whom brings them to Theophilus makes his first appearance in the also
ninth-century martyrology of St. Ado of Vienne. The basket containing
these gifts is an even later development. The basket containing the dog
Toto belongs to another Dorothy altogether.
Some medieval images of Dorothea of Caesarea in Cappadocia:
Dorothea as depicted in the early twelfth-century mosaics of Grado's
four female saints in the cupola di San Leonardo of the basilica
cattedrale di San Marco in Venice:
Dorothea as depicted (at upper left in the central panel) by the Elder
Master of the Holy Kinship in an early fifteenth-century triptych of the
BVM and female saints (c. 1410-1420) in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin:
Dorothea at left (at right, St. Catherine of Alexandria) as depicted by
the Master of the Darmstadt Passion in an earlier fifteenth-century
panel painting (c. 1440) in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon (in a
late medieval interpretation reflected here the boy who serves as
Dorothy's messenger is the young Jesus):
Dorothea as depicted (second from right) in a set of
mid-fifteenth-century glass window lancets (c. 1440-1446; from the
former Carmelite church in Boppard am Rhein) in the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in New York [for much higher resolution click on the image]: http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImages/cl/original/h1_37.52.1-6.jpg Detail view (Dorothea):
Dorothea as depicted (at right; at left, St. Peter) by the Master of
the Saint Bartholomew Altarpiece in a fragment of that work (c.
1505-1510; central panel in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich) in the
National Gallery in London:
This evening I went to hear the Prince of Liechtenstein speak at the Oxford Union. H.S.H Prince Hans-Adam II was speaking about his view of how government worked in the Principality and how that might be employed elsewhere.
He began by making the point that if we look at the state model we need to look to the past to plan for the future. Globalisation and science offer ways for that future. For that there is a need to ensure peace, to have a system that serves all the people with maximum democracy and the rule of law
The State has therefore to be a service company, and emigration by those who feel disenfranchised or disengaged is not the answer. There are he considers groups in free countries who feel oppressed - in Northern Ireland, the Basques, the people of South Tyrol, the aborigines of Australia, the indigenous natives of North and South America.
For the Prince the splitting of the Swiss canton of Berne in 1974 to create a separate canton of Jura was an inspiring example of self determination at local level.
Under the Liechtenstein constitution all 11 units of locall administration have the right to secede if they wish. People have indeed questioned the case for the Principality to exist.
The risk of minorities resorting to violence has been seen in Yugoslavia, Russia, and in the break- up of Austria-Hungary. In any community, minorities may want to leave.
He proposes the service model - the state will not waste taxpayers money on defence.
What will remain to the state ould be law and order, foreign policy and education, and the rest is for the to decide at the local level.
The fear of anarchy leads to dictatorship, so maintaining law and order are the key to keeping a democratic system in place. Laws must be written in an understandable way and to inform subjects. Should not this be taught in schools and the text given to people?
Regulation can be a burden for business firms. If the tax laws are unclear it is the fault of the government that enacted them.
Direct democracyis not popular with politicians, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein are in contrast to other countries. In 1990 the latter rejected a tax law. There remains the danger that the population may vote against minority rights.
Personal standard of H.S.H. The Prince of Liechtenstein
Adopted in 1982
Under the Liechtenstein constitution the Prince has a veto.
With representative democracy, voters cannot choose candidates in the way they might like, but rather vote for a programme, and have to wait until the next election to change the direction of policy.
Today education has levelled up the electorate, but all have to put up with bad decisions
Education is a state right, but should the state run schools or should they be privatised, run by local communities or by business? He favoured a voucher system, which gives the choice to parents and indeed children, and could be used to support home schooling. The Teachers unions are against such schemes, but people feel the state system not adequate.
Indirect taxation saves money for the State; the local community is funded by direct taxation. A social policy of differing rates does not help the poor. A minimalist state would require less cash. It should be possible to sell state property if it is not needed, and to sell off assets. this could help to pay off the national debt. Liechtenstein has done this although possessing few natural assets, but has paid off that debt. This raises the question as to whether taxpayers want to do so.
In answer to questions from the audiencewhen asked why as monarch did he have the idea of direct democracy he said that he considered that today there was need for more than religious validation for the monarchy. A clause in the Constitution allows the people to remove the Prince or abolish the monarchy by a simple majority.
Historically stStates rise and fall, but can we afford this in the third millennium? Can the ballot replace the battlefield.
Asked further about the revised Constitution he has introduced in his Principality the Prince explained that legislative power remained with the Prince, and that populace were happy with that. The Parliament had parties. Draft laws were discussed with the Prince and Hereditary Prince ( who now exercises regency powers in routine matters ) and the chief minister, and then presented to Parliament.
The people, if they gather 1000 signatures, or 1500 to change constitution, can present to Parliament petitions for a popular vote, which will be signed off by the Prince. His father, Prince Franz-Josef II, did attract criticism once by exercising his veto, but Prince Hans-Adam says in advance of a vote if he intends so to do.
Sometimes such direct legislation is badly drafted, against the constitution or conflicts with international obligations. Democracy is the best system, keeping a check on the other side, and it keeps political life in touch with reality. He saw it as a listening to the market, indeed market research, building up from the local level.
Decolonisation outside Europe copied centralised models, when itwould have been better to build up from villages.
He said he had enjoyed business more than government which takes longer, and proved more tiresome
He thought the EU had failed as as United States, and that new model was needed, one that would bring government down to the local level. He also thought it needed a smaller parliament, more like the US Congress is size - he worked there in his youth.
Asked about the impending referendum he said he beinclined to vote to leave the EU, and welcome the UK to the EEA.
As to what happened if smaller units compete he thought it was for the UN to keep the peace - though this might be.Utopian. Liechtenstein had got rid of its army in the mid-19th century, it having been paid for from his own pocket by the Prince.
Parliaments have to be elected, and, in effect, politicians buy votes, and in managing the bureaucracy that ensues there was political horsetrading - the monarch was there as referee.
Ducal hat and insignia of the Liechtenstein primogeniture - a gouache of 1756
A replica of the Hat was presented to Prince Franz Josef II in 1976
This was an interesting and wide ranging address. I am tempted to say taht what works in Liechtenstein might not be practical in larger units. In the Swiss Confederation it has along standing tradition, and a unique constitutional dispensation. As a model it does require an independent Monarch to reconcile and monitor, and that role is exercise wisely and well by the Prince's fellow European monarchs within their existing constitutional dispensations. How far larger realms could copy the Liechtenstein model is another matter.
There is more about the Principality and its history at the following links;
The Special Correspondent has drawn my attention to the article in the latest edition of The Spectator by Damian Thompson which is a review of a book about the Church of England which the publishers, Bloomsbury, have withdrawn before publication.
Yesterday was the feast of St Blaise, and following Mass I had the traditional blessing of my throat.
John Dillon posted an impressive selection of images of St Blaise on the Medieval Religion discussion group:
Not to be confused with his homonyms Blasius of Amorion, Blasius of
Caesarea, Blasius of Veroli, and Blasius of Verona, the thaumaturge
Blasius of Sebaste (d. circa 316, supposedly) is popularly known in
English by a French form of his name (Blaise; other European forms
include, but are certainly not limited to, Blasios / Vlasios, Vlaho /
Blaž, Blasius, Blas, and Biagio / Biase). His cult is first attested
from the sixth century, when the medical encyclopedist Aetius of Amida
reports his being invoked in cases of illness of the throat.
both from the earliest witnesses of the pseudo-Hieronymian Martyrology
and from the probably originally late fourth-century Syriac Martyrology
surviving in a manuscript written at Edessa in c. 411, and thus absent
as well from the hypothetical fourth-century Greek martyrology thought
to have provided a fund of feasts common to both, Blasius has both a
legendary pre-metaphrastic Passio (BHG 276-276c; first attested from the
eighth century) and a metaphrastic one (BHG 277); beyond these Greek
texts there are versions in Latin and in other languages. These make him
a physician of Sebaste in Armenia (now Sivas in Turkey) who is elected
bishop, goes into hiding to avoid the Licinian persecution, lives in a
cave where with the sign of the cross he cures sick animals, is sought
out, arrested and imprisoned, tends the sick, operates miracles, is
tortured, and finally is decapitated. Later versions have him flayed
with carding combs prior to execution. Blasius' miracles include saving a
boy from choking to death on a fishbone and causing a wolf to restore
to a widow a piglet that it had taken from her. In the later Middle Ages
his reputed care for ailments of the throat caused Blasius to be
numbered among the Fourteen Holy Helpers; his association with animals
made him a patron of keepers of livestock.
Since the tenth
century Blasius has been the patron saint of Dubrovnik (formerly
Ragusa), where an originally twelfth(?)-century head reliquary of him,
formed as a Byzantine crown, is kept in that city's early modern
katedrala Marijina Uznesenja (cathedral of the Assumption of the BVM):
Blasius' martyrdom (three scenes) as portrayed, perhaps by Roger of
Helmarshausen, on a long side of a late eleventh- or early
twelfth-century portable altar (copper gilt over wood) executed for the
abbey of Abdinghof and now in the Erzbischöfliches Diözesanmuseum und
Domschatzkammer in Paderborn: http://tinyurl.com/jb3gwu6
The widow brings the pig's head to the imprisoned Blasius (below: wolf
devouring the pig) as depicted in an initial "T" in a thirteenth-century
ms. of Magnum legendarium austriacum (Zwettl, Stiftsbibliothek, cod.
13, fol. 105v): http://tarvos.imareal.oeaw.ac.at/server/images/7002571.JPG
Blasius confronting the Roman governor persecuting him as depicted in a
thirteenth-century glass window panel from the area of Soissons, now in
the Louvre: http://tinyurl.com/2lkkb6
Blasius (at left; at right, Pope St. Urban I) in the late
thirteenth-century Livre d'images de Madame Marie (c. 1285-1290; Paris,
BnF, ms. Nouvelle acquisition française 16251, fol. 91r): http://tinyurl.com/yk9p76d
Blasius (at center, betw. Sts. Eleutherius of Illyria and Hypatius [of
Gangra?]) as depicted in the earlier fourteenth-century frescoes (between
c. 1312 and 1321/1322) in the nave of the monastery church of the
Theotokos at Gračanica in, depending on one's view of the matter, either
Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija or the Republic of Kosovo: http://tinyurl.com/d2mrvqk
Detail view (Blasius): http://tinyurl.com/lm44odu
Blasius as portrayed in an earlier fourteenth-century (second quarter)
chiefly silver reliquary bust probably of French manufacture, formerly
in the collegiate church at Braunschweig dedicated to him (commonly
known as the Braunschweiger Dom) and now in the Bode Museum in Berlin: http://tinyurl.com/pqzvjwv
Blasius (at left; at right, St. Babylas) as depicted in the earlier
fourteenth-century frescoes (betw. 1335 and 1350) in the altar area of
the church of the Holy Ascension at the Visoki Dečani monastery near Peć
in, depending on one's view of the matter, either the Republic of
Kosovo or Serbia's province of Kosovo and Metohija: http://tinyurl.com/y89acds
Blasius' flight from persecution as depicted in a
mid-fourteenth-century copy, from the workshop of Richard and Jeanne de
Montbaston, of the Legenda aurea in its French-language version by
Jean de Vignay (1348; Paris, BnF, ms. Français 241, fol. 65v): http://tinyurl.com/yzmwu82
Blasius (at far right, after Sts. Spyridon the Wonderworker and Clement
of Ohrid) as depicted in the later fourteenth-century frescoes (1360s
and 1370s; restored in 1968-1970) in the church of St. Demetrius in
Marko's Monastery at Markova Sušica (near Skopje) in the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia: http://tinyurl.com/h5ancvj
Detail view (Blasius): http://tinyurl.com/zgp4cvb
Blasius (at left; at right, St. Prochorus) as depicted in the later
fourteenth-century frescoes (1375) in the church of St. George in
Longanikos (Laconia administrative region): http://tinyurl.com/zfpap8g
Blasius (while at prayer, attacked by a demon) as depicted in a late
fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century copy of the Legenda aurea in
its French-language version by Jean de Vignay (Rennes, Bibliothèque de
Rennes Métropole, ms. 266, fol. 69v): http://tinyurl.com/hrb7yk2
Blasius as portrayed holding a model of Ragusa in a fifteenth-century
silver-gilt statuette kept on the high altar of Dubrovnik's katedrala
Blasius (second from left; at far left, St. Bartholomew the Apostle) as
depicted by Masaccio in his earlier fifteenth-century San Giovenale
triptych (c. 1424/25) in the chiesa di San Pietro in Cascia di Reggello
(FI) in Tuscany: http://www.wga.hu/art/m/masaccio/z_panels/giovena1.jpg
Blasius' martyrdom as depicted by Mariotto di Nardo in an earlier
fifteenth-century predella panel (c. 1425) in the Musée des Beaux-Arts
Blasius as portrayed (at centre; at left, St. Ulrich; at right, St.
Erasmus of Formia) in the earlier fifteenth-century polychromed wooden
statues (before 1436) re-used in the central compartment of the
otherwise early sixteenth-century winged altarpiece (1517/1518; restored
c. 2000) by Jörg Lederer in the choir of the Kirche St. Blasius in
Scenes from Blasius' legend as depicted in a later fifteenth-century
copy of Vincent of Beauvais' Speculum historiale in its
French-language translation by Jean de Vignay (1463; Paris, BnF, ms.
Français 51, fol. 58r): http://tinyurl.com/yjmvnju
Blasius as depicted in the central panel of Martín de Soria's later
fifteenth-century San Blas Altarpiece (1464) in the iglesia de San
Salvador at Luesia (Zaragoza):
Blasius as depicted in a detached later fifteenth-century fresco (between
1475 and 1500; from the refectory of the convento di San Biagio in
Cesena [FC] in Emilia-Romagna) in that city's Pinacoteca comunale:
Blasius as depicted (at far right in the lower register above the
predella) by Carlo and Vittore Crivelli in their later fifteenth-century
polyptych of Monte San Martino (c. 1477-1480) in the chiesa di San
Martino vescovo in Monte San Martino (MC) in the Marche:
Blasius (at left, holding a candle; at right, St. John the Baptist) as
depicted by Hans Memling on a wing of his Passion (or Greverade)
Altarpiece of 1491 in the Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte in
Blasius (second from right, flanking the BVM; at far right, St. Roch /
Rocco) as depicted by a Tuscan follower of Neri di Bicci in a late
fifteenth-century panel painting (1498; for the abbey of Santa Maria
della Salute et San Niccolao in Buggiano [PT]), exhibited by the
Carabinieri in 2015 as part of the exposition "La memoria ritrovata" in
Blasius (third from left; after St. Florus of Illyricum and St.
Nicholas of Myra and before St. Anastasia of Sirmium) as depicted in a
late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century Novgorod School wooden
triptych in the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow: http://www.icon-art.info/masterpiece.php?lng=en&mst_id=513
Blasius (at left, holding a model of Ragusa; at right, St. Paul the
Apostle) as depicted by Nikola Božidarević / Nicholas of Ragusa in his
very early sixteenth-century triptych (c. 1501) in the Dominican
convent in Dubrovnik:
Blasius as portrayed in relief (at far right) among the Fourteen Holy
Helpers on the early sixteenth-century tomb of the Kurfürstin Anna
(1512) in the Evangelisch-lutherische Pfarrkirche St. Maria in
Heilsbronn (Lkr. Ansbach) in Bayern: http://tinyurl.com/zbdf72j
Blasius as depicted by Fermo Stella in an earlier sixteenth-century
panel painting of the Madonna between St. Blasius and St. John the
Baptist (1536) in the Museo Valtellinese di Storia e Arte in Sondrio
(VA) in Lombardy (detail view): http://www.wwmm.org/immagini/z_848.jpg
Blasius as depicted (at upper right) in an unframed earlier
sixteenth-century polyptych (1537) in the chiesa del Purgatorio at Ruvo
di Puglia (BA) in Apulia: