12 February 2009

Oscott Goes Up To Town.

Tuesday saw the whole community at our seminary go 'up to town', as someone on our coach says is the common phrase nowadays, meaning to go down to London. We went with the principle aim of visiting the impressive Byzantium exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Though not really my cup of tea, even I could not fail to be impressed with the sixth century Antioch Chalice, on loan from the Met in New York. The academy's website details:
After its discovery in c.1911, the silver gilt artifact was believed to have been the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper.

Though not the purpose of our visit to this fine institution, I did rather enjoy a short time in the remodelled 18th century fine rooms! Exquisite and a wonderful space to boot. If you have the chance, go and see Frith's, Private View at the Royal Academy. It is a wonderful oil painting of late 19th century figures who were most unlikely to ever be in the same room at the same time! Oscar Wilde stands almost next to Lily Langrty and a few feet from Gladstone, whilst a portrait of Disraeli hangs in the distance. Worth the visit for this alone.

We were also able to have a tour of Westminster Abbey, which, strangely enough, I had never been to before. Overall, I was left with the impression that it was now something of a mausoleum housing the great and the good of post-Reformation Britain. Distinctly eerie and gloomy. Almost lifeless, if you'll excuse the pun. The place is, however, full of wonderful history. I had no idea that Elizabeth I lies atop Mary Tudor, nor indeed that Mary, Queen of Scots, lies buried on the opposite side of the chapel. Fascinating. The absolute gem, for me, was to visit the Shrine of St Edward and say some prayers. He's always been one of my favourites; a most English saint.

Finally, of mention, if not in fact the absolute spiritual highlight was to join the parish in celebrating mass at Westminster Cathedral. We were also able to have a few words with His Eminence, the Cardinal before our celebration. Again, more prayers to be said at the tomb of his predecessor, Basil Hume.

So, all told, a day of favourites, saints, humour, shopping (tea at Fortnum and Mason, don't you know), praying and communion.

St Edward, The Confessor. Ora pro nobis.

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