Saturday, 3 March 2007

Back in the Saddle

Returned from my holidays, I have no intention whatever of sharing my holiday snaps - as this is a blog about Westminster Cathedral. I will, however, stretch a point for one item that thrilled me, in the Karlskirche, Vienna. Up a little back starway is the Museo Borromeo, dedicated to the patron of the Church, St Charles Borromeo. There I found myself face to face with his magnificent Cardinal's hat, his stole (which, at first glance, seems to have 'this way up' directions printed on it!), and soutane with an impossible number of buttons.

This was an exciting discovery, because of my link to the Parish of St Mary of the Angels in Bayswater. St Mary's was the mother house of the Oblates of St Charles, founded in the early days of the Westminster Diocese to help consolidate Catholicism in London. The Oblates departed in the 1970s, but I was parish priest there 1996 - 2001.


I can just get away with this item in a blog about the Cathedral, because the first superior of the Oblates of St Charles at Bayswater was Henry Edward Manning ( below left), later the second Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. His small room at Bayswater, which is still marked, was a place to which he returned frequently. The Church itself contains a fine selection of relics of St Charles Borromeo, including his chasuble (which an expert from the Victoria and Albert Museum thought one of the best of that era she had seen north of the alps), and part of his miraculous rochet that deflected a would-be assassin's bullet.
etc
A. N. Wilson's fine biography of Hillaire Belloc opens with a meeting between Belloc's mother and the future Cardinal in the sacristy at St Mary's. I also found out recently that Gerard Manley Hopkins was confirmed by Manning in the Church.
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Another Cathedral connexion; although the main body of St Mary of the Angels was designed by the architect Thomas Meyer in 1851, it was greatly enlarged by J. F Bentley, later architect of Westminster Cathedral!

9 comments:

Anthony said...

So glad you're back! Michael.

The Perpetual Malcontent said...

i'm curious. why did borromeo have a white casssock? was he ever assigned in a tropical environment or was this some sort of liturgical privelge?

Administrator said...

Glad to be back!

I think Borromeo (who was Archbishop of Milan in northern Italy) belonged to an age before the stricter customs of clerical garb to which we are used. I believe that Papal white cassocks only became de rigeur in the late 16th century (contemporary with St Charles) when Pope Pius V continued to wear his Dominican cassock after his election (although that may be another urban myth!). At the time of St Charles, I suspect there was more room for local variatons in clerical garb - but I am happy to be enlightened!

Sharon said...

Oh go on,go on, go on, show us your snaps! lol

Elizabeth said...

Glad that you had a good holiday, was it relaxing though? I have missed the blog: the items are so interesting and offer a facet of cathedral life that us parishioners rarely see.

Jude said...

Loved the bit about Manning--an unlikely hero of mine given his severe ascetism. Perhaps another connection, Fr. Mark: Under Manning's organization, the Oblates grew rapidly, and Bayswater soon became known as the Hotbed of Papism. And, as a result the West London Protestant Institute was established to combat these alarming Romish advances! You sorta remind me of him...

Hey--you should have inserted your own painting of Manning here--it's very awesome. Hope you enjoyed your holiday!

John the organist said...

Welcome back! Have missed you!

John the organist said...

I may be getting confused but I recall visiting the home of a Renaissance cardinal in Rome which was beautifully furnished. Was that St Charles Borromeo's Roman palace perhaps?

The S. Bede Studio said...

Dear Father, I was very interested in this post about S. Charles. The chasuble of S. Charles that you mention (at Bayswater?): do you know where I might see a photograph of it? I am very interested to do so.
Michael.