Ad orientem worship in an English field

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of being shown some of the sights in this part of England.

Although we could not visit Old Sarum, which was closed to visitors yesterday, we did satisfy a deeply primitive urge for ad orientem worship by visiting Stonehenge.  

I pondered the many affliction liturgists I would like to have sacrificed there with a bronze knife… while facing liturgical East, of course, before we moved along to the incredibly Salisbury Cathedral.

Here is one of the most stunning medieval naves I have ever seen.  What a wonderful about Salisbury is that the archtecture is all of a style, unlike many catehdrals from this period.

I shot many photos, be assured, but can only give you a couple.

I was delighted to find what might be the oldest functioning clock in the world.

Althought photos were not permitted in the chapter house, there I found to my surprise one of the four existing copies of Magna Carta.  I had no idea that this page was there and, as I was brought over to the display, my host gave me no clue of what I was about to see. 

I can’t quite convey with words the physical sense that came over me as I realized what I was looking at in that relatively small parchment page, closely written in highly abbreviated Latin.  It was like a wave of static electricity raised every hair on my body. 

After a wonderful lunch, for which we met a priest friend of my host, Fr. Bede Rowe, fortified against the cold and wind with his Roman saturno we were off to Winchester Cathedral.

 

Again, the nave was simply breathtaking.

I was delighted to find here the tomb of one of my favorite 19th English authors, the great Jane Austen.

This was a great day that spanned the history of England from prehistoric times, to the perfection of medieval architecture in the era of the market towns, to the assertion of the rule of law, to the repression of Catholicism, to the flowering of 19th century literature.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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28 Responses to Ad orientem worship in an English field

  1. Paul says:

    I am glad that you are enjoying visiting the UK. The weather at Stonehenge looks typically British! Hopefully one day you’ll make it to Scotland. I believe that the Archbishop of Glasgow is an avid reader…

  2. Gregor says:

    Father,

    I absolutely agree, Salisbury Cathedral is incredible. It’s one of my favourite Cathedrals in all of Europe. And the whole city with its surroundings, the Avon, etc. is lovely. Ah, Wiltshire…

    Regarding your enthusiasm for the Magna Charta, however, perhaps you should remember that Innocent III decried it as “turpis et vilis, illicita et iniqua.” ;-)

  3. Dob says:

    Fr Z. So glad for you. It is very invigorating to see how Catholicism shaped this country. History books have so distorted England’s Catholic past the term medieval is now a derogatory reference. Everyone neatly forgets the fruits of Catholicism. Even simply considering the beauty of the Church buildings, centers of learning Oxford and Cambridge. These have NO parallel in the last 400 years of protestant revolt. Well, with God’s help these lands will see it again.

  4. Serafino says:

    Several years ago I visited Salisbury Cathedral, I was struck by its beauty and magnificence.

    I was, however, sadden when I remembered that this glorious cathedral, which was built as a worthy setting to offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, was stolen from the Catholic Church, and has become a place of schismatic and false worship due to the Protestant revolt of the 16th Century and the invalidity of Anglican orders. (I know it is not politically correct to say things like this these days, but it is still the truth.)

    Being Sunday, I also noticed that there were are only 30 people attending the principle Anglican “Mass.” So much for England’s attempt to be Catholic without the Pope. Let us pray that England will once again be reunited to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

  5. Sean Gallagher says:

    I’m almost certain that Jane Austen was buried in Winchester Cathedral. What you saw in Salisbury must have simply been some kind of memorial stone to her.

  6. I’ve always thought it would be splendid to have a Latin Pontifical High Mass at Stonehenge, preferably at one of the solstice days, for the triumph of Christianity over paganism.

  7. James says:

    I’m glad you had a great day there, Father! That is a lovely part of England. If you want to see another unspoilt part, go north to Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Shropshire. The Welsh Marches are wonderful.

    I hope you were able to take the tour up to the base of the spire of Salisbury Cathedral. It’s fascinating and offers you a glimpse of how these magnificent edifices were built.

  8. Rudy B says:

    Thanks for the updates and great photos, Father; what blessings to be able to see living history!

  9. Jordan Potter says:

    Sean said: I’m almost certain that Jane Austen was buried in Winchester Cathedral. What you saw in Salisbury must have simply been some kind of memorial stone to her.

    Yes, this says she is buried in Winchester Cathedral:

    http://www.jasa.net.au/l&t/grave.htm

    However, I note that the memorial marker in the cathedral floor is identical to the one in the floor of Salisbury Cathedra;.

  10. Jordan Potter says:

    Oh duh. Father Z. actually says it was at Winchester Cathedral where he saw Jane Austen’s tomb.

    How embarrasking!

  11. Jim says:

    There is a vibrant Catholic parish next to the Cathedral (it was our home Parish 15 years ago).

    Pugin designed the building and I remember complex internal paintwork.

    http://www.stosmundsparish.me.uk/sto_historical/sto_churchblding.htm

  12. Recusant says:

    The most amazing thing about Salisbury Cathedral, when you consider that it was the tallest building in Europe until the C20th (the Eiffel Tower is not a ‘building’) was that it’s foundations consisted solely of elm logs and rush bundles – and they built it on a marshy water meadow!

    Nowadays they would insist on concrete foundations 40′ deep.

  13. Will says:

    Fr. Z, you’ve hit two of my favorite English churches. Now, head north and visit my favorite, Durham Cathedral.

  14. Karen Russell says:

    Fr. Z, you’re making me all nostalgic! Portsmouth yesterday–Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral today–the Magna Carta–these are all places I’ve visited in the past with my late (English-born) husband. And we took my mother with us to England on one Christmas trip, and made sure she got to Salisbury. That cathedral is indeed beautiful.

    Enjoy the rest of your visit. I hope I can come back there some day. And ROFL at the references to liturgical East and Stonehenge. DUH!

  15. Patrick says:

    I recently visited Stonehenge, having been at Mass in Westminster Cathedral that morning. While our tour guide trotted out all kinds of weird and wonderful ideas about primitve belief systems and the Earth Mother, and Ley Lines and the rest of it – I couldn’t help but think along the lines that Fr Z has mentioned. Human being have an inbuilt desire to know and commune with their Creator, and since the earliest times they have tried to do so through the construction of temples. Their desire to worship and commune reaches its fulfilment – on earth – in the Holy Mass, and instead of the ancient temples man builds such glorious cathedrals. My inspiration at visiting Stonehenge was only tempered by the final visit of the day, to Salisbury, again a great monument to God and a fitting setting for the Mass, but how sad to know that the Real Presence was not abiding on the altar of such a magnificent church.

    - also agree with Paul, you must visit Scotland, Father. Very interesting to hear that Bp Conti is a reader of the blog (seriously?)

  16. Pat says:

    I recently visited Stonehenge, having been at Mass in Westminster Cathedral that morning. While our tour guide trotted out all kinds of weird and wonderful ideas about primitve belief systems and the Earth Mother, and Ley Lines and the rest of it – I couldn’t help but think along the lines that Fr Z has mentioned. Human being have an inbuilt desire to know and commune with their Creator, and since the earliest times they have tried to do so through the construction of temples. This desire to worship and commune reaches its fulfilment – on earth – in the Holy Mass, and instead of the ancient temples man builds such glorious cathedrals. My inspiration at visiting Stonehenge was only tempered by the final visit of the day, to Salisbury, again a great monument to God and a fitting setting for the Mass, but how sad to know that the Real Presence was not abiding on the altar of such a magnificent church.

    - also agree with Paul, you must visit Scotland, Father. Very interesting to hear that Bp Conti is a reader of the blog (seriously?)

  17. Father M says:

    Father, father, Thank you for the almost virtual tours that you’ve been providing. It warms up a winter day and even cuts through the liturgical penances some of us have to perform on a regular basis. God bless you for all you do.

  18. Great photos Father. I love your hat.

  19. Barb says:

    Dear Andrew Cusak,

    What a wonderful idea! Have a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary form at Stonehenge with the Pope, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, Cardinal Medina Estevez, and Father Z, bringing all the English speaking prelates from around the world to attend. How powerful would that be?! I have been to Stonehenge myself, seen Salisbury and Westminster Cathedrals and never feel that I have gotten enough of everything there is to see in Merrie Old England.

  20. Sean says:

    Having visited all 16 or 17 pre-reformation cathedrals in England a year or two ago (to keep things up by quietly saying the 1962 missal while sat in a choir stall) the nave and west window at Winchester are my personal favourite, even with the smashed glass. I wonder if like me you have noticed that there are more than a few CofE cathedral clergy and helpers eager to fulminate against the reformation, Henry VIII, protestantism, et al upon even the slightest hint that you are a Catholic.

  21. Malta says:

    Fr. you look dapper in a top-hat; I’m glad you wear your collar in public. Your picture of Salisbury is beautiful. It took a modest 38 years to built this Cathedral some 750 years ago, no doubt using materials from older structures. The faith of our medieval forebears is just astounding.

  22. Matt Q says:

    Father Z wrote:

    “I pondered the many affliction liturgists I would like to have sacrificed there with a bronze knife… while facing liturgical East, of course, before we moved along to the incredibly Salisbury Cathedral.”

    ()

    LOL. Father Z, I can appreciate your humor ( serious or otherwise ;-) ). BTW, did you give a sort of prayer of deliverance on that heathen monstrosity?

    Curious point, Father. Why is it that Church history, Royal history and various writings of others do not mention that place yet, modern times seems to hold it’s an ancient heathen monument? It’s only in modern books this place is mentioned. I heard it can be traced back only as far as 1921. ??

    BTW, don’t you do any shopping?

    =================

    Paul wrote:

    “I am glad that you are enjoying visiting the UK. The weather at Stonehenge looks typically British!”

    ()

    The sort of weather I like the most. :-)

    ==================

    Sean wrote:

    “Having visited all 16 or 17 pre-reformation cathedrals in England a year or two ago (to keep things up by quietly saying the 1962 missal while sat in a choir stall) the nave and west window at Winchester are my personal favourite, even with the smashed glass. I wonder if like me you have noticed that there are more than a few CofE cathedral clergy and helpers eager to fulminate against the reformation, Henry VIII, protestantism, et al upon even the slightest hint that you are a Catholic.”

    ()

    Are you priest? How do you quietly say the Tridentine Mass while sitting in a choir stall?

    When you said, “I wonder if like me you have noticed that there are more than a few CofE cathedral clergy and helpers eager to fulminate against the reformation, Henry VIII, protestantism, et al upon even the slightest hint that you are a Catholic,” is that just a form of sentimental hospitality, or are they truly trying to return the Church of England back to the Faith? Very interesting.

  23. Clayton says:

    Salisbury Cathedral is awe-inspiring. When I visited back in 1993, it inspired poetry:

    http://www.doxaweb.com/advent/20.html

  24. Sean says:

    Matt Q, saying in the sense of a layman praying a mass with no priest (how progressive!). I don’t think the people I met were just being hospitable. There was real regret there.

  25. Richard Childress says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit to the UK. I read wdtprs every day (along with Damian Thompson’s “Holy Smoke” blog, you’re both a little bit of daily sanity. I have the privelege of being a 15-year member of Winchester Cathedral Choir (a “lay clerk” as the men of the choir are known) and being in that building and singing choral services 8 times per week, one never gets tired of the stunning beauty of the nave in particular. I organise and direct several services a year in Winchester Cathedral of Compline by candlelight, according to the 1570 Pius V liturgy, with Latin used from start to finish. We get many Catholics coming (and quite a few Catholic priests I hasten to add!) because this combination of liturgy, building and music isn’t available anywhere else.

  26. And to clarify, I am also Catholic (singing in the choir at Winchester but abstaining from “eucharist”) and I also regard Winchester Cathedral as stolen property, like others here have said.

  27. Sue Sims says:

    Matt Q: When you say of Stonehenge that ‘It’s only in modern books this place is mentioned. I heard it can be traced back only as far as 1921′: not so. It was first mentioned by Nennius in the 9th century, who says that it was erected in commemoration of the 400 nobles who were treacherously slain near the spot by Hengist in 472.

    Sue

  28. The tower tour of Salisbury Cathedral is totally worth it.

    You can see the view tower tour from up top.