Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Goodbye St Francis; hullo, Muhammad

The Provincial Superior of the Capuchin Fransiscans, Br James Boner, has announced that the Greyfriars Permanent Private Hall, effectively a small college of the University, will close at the end of the current academic year. It's students will be transfered to the Baptist Permanent Private Hall, Regent's Park College. The reason given is the drop in the number of friars in the province.

Greyfriars has just celebrated its 60th Anniversary as a PPH of the University. It was the refoundation of the medieval Franciscan presence in the University, founded by Bl. Agnellus of Pisa (d.1213), who was sent to Oxford by St Francis himself. The medieval Greyfriars was home to Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon and Bl. John Duns Scotus, and the Reformation martyr Bl. John Forest. After the great efforts by the Friars of two generations ago to reestablish a presence in the University, that presence will once more disappear. This is a very sad day.

Not everything in Oxford is declining and disappearing. One religious group intent on expanding its presence in the University with splendid new buildings and facilities is the Muslims. Here is a picture of the unfinished new buildings of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

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