Saturday, July 16, 2011

Solemn Mass in Greyfriars, Oxford

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On Monday the church of SS Edmund & Frideswide celebrated the centenary of its consecration with a Traditional Solemn Mass. The Parish Priest, Fr Ambrose May, wanted to have a Mass of the same kind that would have been celebrated at the consecration, and indeed for the first half-century of the church's existence, both as a Jesuit church and later as a Fransiscan one. This is a nice example of continuity in the Church.
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Mass was celebrated by Fr Aldo Tapparo; the deacon was Br Nicholas Edmonds-Smith of the Oxford Oratory, and the subdeacon Fr Pawel Rochman (a Polish priest studying at Blackfriars). It was accompanied by the parish choir and members of the Schola Abelis, who sang the propers for the Feast of St Edmund of Abingdon, the patron of the church.
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Fr Mark Elvins, the Guardian of the Fransicsan community, reminded us in his sermon that the Jesuit Oxford Mission had been carried out from Waterperry House since 1611, so we are also celebrating the fourth centenary of this mission which was continued with the Church of St Ignatius, in St Clements (where Bl John Henry Newman went to Mass twice a week after his reception into the Church, while he remained at Littlemore), and then SS Edmund & Frideswide. By the time SS Edmund and Frideswide was built, in 1911, St Aloyesius had taken over as the main Catholic church in Oxford (it was built in 1875), but a second church, much bigger than the old St Ignatius, was still needed in Oxford (as was SS Gregory & Augustine's, consecrated in the same year). But after serving both St Aloyesius and SS Edmund & Fridesdwide for a few years the Jesuits very generously sold the latter to the Capuchin Fransiscans in 1919, who already had a house in East Oxford, for a vastly reduced price. The community buildings beside the church were completed in 1930. (More on Catholic Oxford here.)
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The Waterperry Mission from 1611 was itself picking up the torch from the mission based in Holywell Manor by Bl George Napier, who was executed in 1610. More about him here.

This is the second Traditional Mass to take place in this church recently; as far as I know there have been none until then since 1970. The earlier Mass was for the Latin Mass Society and Juventutem Pilgrimage to Littlemore: we after Mass in Greyfriars, a missa cantata celebrated by Fr Anthony Conlon, we retraced Bl J.H. Newman's footsteps from the site of St Ignatius (the building still survives) to Littlemore, where we had Vespers with the Sisters. More on this pilgrimage here.

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