Weekend 502.0 (“Romly” traditions)

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for a while.” – Mk 6:30-34

(1) More quotes from The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy:

“Well might conservatives lament that ‘these new preachers now-a-days…have made and brought in such divisions and seditions among us as never was seen in this realm, for the devil reigneth over us now.'”

“On the feast of the Assumption 1537 Thomas Emans, a Worcester serving-man, entered the despoiled shrine of Our Lady of Worcester, recited a Paternoster and an Ave, kissed the feet of the image, from which jewels, coat, and shoes had been taken away, and declared bitterly for all to hear, ‘Lady, art thou stripped now? I have seen the day that as clean men hath been stripped at a pair of gallows as were they that stripped thee.’ He told people that, though her ornaments were gone, ‘the similitude of this is no worse to pray unto, having a recourse to her above, then it was before.'”

“John Husee warned Lady de Lisle in March 1538 against the use of traditional devotions: it would cause ‘less speech’, he wrote, ‘if it might be your pleasure to leave part of such ceremonies as you do use, as long prayers and offerings of candles,’ and he cautioned her against even private keeping of abrogated feast days; ‘leave the most part of your memories, and have only mass, matins, and evensong of the day.’ In a word, she must for safety’s sake conform herself ‘partly to the thing that is used and to the world as it goeth now, which is undoubtedly marked above all other things.”

“This was wishful thinking, but some of this conservative talk was clearly seditious, as in the case of William Ludeham, hermit at the chapel of St Thomas in Chesterfield, who was arrested for saying that since a man who plucked down the King’s arms was liable to be hanged, drawn, and quartered for treason, ‘What shall he do then that doth pluck down churches and images, being but a mortal man as we be?'”

“In short, the saints were to be squeezed out of the litany. And just as the Injunctions condemned the recitation of the rosary, so they struck at the cult of the Virgin Mary by forbidding the ringing of the Ave bell or Angelus. In 1481 Edward IV’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville, had consolidated an already established custom by securing a papal indulgence of a hundred days for all who, on hearing the Ave Bell at morning, noon, or evening, knelt and recited at least one Ave Maria. This charming custom was now condemned as having been ‘brought in and begun by the pretence of the Bishop of Rome’s pardon’, and the bell was silenced.”

“At St Germans in Cornwall Friar Alexander Barclay preached in honour of the Blessed Virgin. At a supper in the Priory there afterwards one one of Cromwell’s correspondents, William Dynham, ‘moved suche questions as I thought myght do good to the audyence’, evidently sounding them out on their views of the recent reforming measures. This provoked Barclay to rashness, as it was probably meant to do, and he declared that ‘I wolde to God that at the beste the lawes of God might have asmuche auctoryte as the lawes of the realme.’ Men, he said, were nowadays too busy ‘in pullinge doune of ymages without especiall comaundement of the Prynce’.”

“When all due allowance has been made for the polemical intentions of those who collected much of the material, it is just as remarkable for the light it throws on the strength and character of traditionalist beliefs under pressure. The struggle between the old and new ways was more intense and more existential than in most other parts of England, but the issues involved were not in essence different from those raised by the progress of reform, or the lack of it, in parishes up and down the country.”

“Conversely, sturdily conservative clergy might find themselves afflicted with radicals in the congregation. The Canterbury parish of All Saints Northgate had a nest of radical Protestants in it, in particular several generations of the Toftes family, who harboured the notorious Joan Boucher, and provided a base for preaching and iconoclastic sorties by radical clergy from elsewhere in the diocese.”

“But where the 1538 Injunction condemned the recitation of the rosary only if it was done mechanically ‘saying over a number of beads, not understood or minded on’, the 1547 Injunction, by omitting the qualifying phrase, condemned all recitation of the rosary.”

“This radical extension of the prohibition was heavy with portent for the outlawing of all imagery whatsoever. It was also significant that the Injunction required the clergy to destroy the images not only in the churches, but also to ‘exhort all their parishioners to do the like within their several houses’.”

“The progress of the visitation facilitated, perhaps even necessitated, further radicalization. As the visitors sought to enforce Injunction against abused images they ran into fierce opposition.”

“It was not merely the prayer-book which antagonized the laity, but this determination to stamp out immemorial devotional customs, even at the cost of preventing those who continued to use the from ‘taking their rights’ by excluding them from Communion, effectively a redefinition of the community of the parish to include only the reformed.”

On St Thomas Becket

“The final clause of the proclamation was an attempt to regain the high ground for the reforming cause with a sweeping attack on the memory and cult of St Thomas Becket, whose shrine at Canterbury had been pillaged early in September, and his bones scattered. Denounced here as a maintainer of the enormities of the Bishop of Rome, and a rebel against the King, he was no longer to be esteemed as a saint, and his images and pictures were to be ‘put down and avoided out of all churches, chapels and other places’. His name was to be erased from all liturgical book, and his Office, antiphons, and collects to be said no more. This abolition of his festivals was said to be, like the earlier abrogations, ‘to the intent that his grace’s loving subjects shall be no longer blindly led and abused to commit idolatry.'”

“Sir Thomas Tyrrell, parson of Gislingham in Suffolk, was in trouble at the Ipswich sessions in January 1539 because, despite his parishioners’ timid refusal to assist him, he had celebrated the feast of Thomas Becket on 29 December, and had devoted his sermon the following Sunday to exhorting his people to continue to go on pilgrimage. When they asked where they might go, ‘seeing that Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady of Grace [at Ipswich] and Thomas Becott were put down’, he told them to go to to Jerusalem, adding that ‘if he were disposed to go a pilgrimage he knew whither to go.”

“Myles Coverdale reported in the spring of 1539 that the area from Newbury in Berkshire to Henley-on-Thames was deep in popery. At Newbury the Pope’s name and titles stood still in the ‘great Matins book’, at Henley the legend of Becket with the ‘feigned story of his death’ stood still in glass of the windows.”

“All over the country there were examples of service books unreformed, or reformed half-heartedly: clergy and churchwardens erased the Pope’s or Becket’s name by lightly gluing strips of paper over them. The great antiphonal of the parish of St Helen’s, Ranworth, a few miles from Norwich, which survived the destruction of Edward’s and Elizabeth’s reigns, and is still to be seen in the church for which it was made, was probably typical of many country liturgical books. In it the services for Thomas Becket have been neither properly erased nor removed, but merely crossed out with the feintest of diagonal pen-lines, making continued use of them perfectly possible, as was indeed to happen at Ranworth in Mary’s reign.”

“At Ashford after the proclamation against Becket had come out, the parishioners had not destroyed his image in the church, as they were required to do, but instead had ‘transposed it’, taking his archiepiscopal Cross from his hand and putting in its place a wool-comb, thereby transforming Becket into St Blaise.”

“Windows containing images of the Pope or Becket were to be selectively defaced or covered over, not smashed; any doubtful cases were to be referred to one or more of the Privy Councillors.”

(2) A quote from Thomas Becket: Murder and the Making of a Saint:

“Our perception of Becket is still marked by the destructive consequences of the English Reformation. At Canterbury Cathedral today the site of his shrine is marked by a single candle; a constant light in a lost space. Light, so often used to invoke the memory of the dead at sites of special significance, is particularly apt for Becket.”

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