Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

University Church of St Mary the Virgin

I'm still reading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis - it's set at Christmas, and some of the characters are going to the University Church of St Mary the Virgin on Christmas eve. Here's a little about the church from Wikipedia ...

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin (St Mary's or SMV for short) is the largest of Oxford's parish churches and the centre from which the University of Oxford grew .... St Mary's possesses an eccentric baroque porch, designed by Nicholas Stone, facing High Street, and a spire which is claimed by some church historians to be one of the most beautiful in England ....

St Mary's was the site of the 1555 trial of the Oxford Martyrs, when the bishops Latimer and Ridley, and the Archbishop Cranmer, were tried for heresy. The martyrs were imprisoned at the former Bocardo Prison near St Michael at the Northgate in Cornmarket Street and subsequently burnt at the stake just outside the city walls to the nort .....

During his time in Oxford, John Wesley often attended the university sermon, and later, as a fellow of Lincoln College preached sermons in the church .... In 1828 John Henry Newman became vicar and his sermons became popular with undergraduates. From the present pulpit John Keble preached the assize sermon of July 14, 1833, which is considered to have started the Oxford Movement, an attempt to revive catholic spirituality in the church and University ...

- The view north from St Mary's, looking into Radcliffe Square, with Brasenose College to the left (west), All Souls College to the right (east), the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre and the Divinity School to the left of centre background, and the Radcliffe Camera centrally. - Wikipedia

Check out the church's website - there's a lot going on there, and they even have a cafe :) ....


Blogger Dina said...

From the Oxford martyrs to the Oxford Movement. They have come a long way.

12:39 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Dina,

Yes, big change. Sadly, things don't seem to be going all that well now ecumenically between Catholic and Protestants (mostly, I think, the pope's fault).

1:19 AM  
Blogger William D. Lindsey said...

I hadn't heard of Connie Willis' book, Crystal, and am really glad to know about it. I intend to look for it at my library today, after reading the link you provided.

And what a beautiful, historic little English church. Something in me--perhaps because I'm far and away more English than anything else--always feels instinctively at home in those churches.

6:29 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi William,

I hope you like the book. I've only been to Ebgland once, but never went into any church on that trip - asn't then a Christian. Now I have to visit them vicariously with Wikipedia :)

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Paul M said...

Wow. I have some trouble seeing images on the computer but that first photo looks so great. A sense of both open space and sacred space.

If they could just use more stained glass and less doctrine I'd go back to church. If I could walk.

7:09 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Paul,

If only most churches were lke that one. Mine has no stained glass, no candles - it looks like a suburban rec room :)

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Paul M said...

Yeah, I hate that. Early in my childhood our church was small but beautiful - rich, deeply colored stained glass, a high ceiling, beautifully carved wooden pews and altar... it was condemned maybe when I was in grade six and what replaced it was just what you describe.

The original one must have been pretty old. It looked really well made. I would guess late nineteenth century, when my hometown and that general area was becoming prosperous as the textile industry era got going in northen New England.

11:28 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

It's funny - part of the reason I joined the Catholic Church was for the beauty, but now that I am Catholic, I've come to dislike the emphasis on beauty - sometimes it seems arrogant and self-absorbed.

1:47 PM  
Blogger William D. Lindsey said...

Crystal, I've now gotten a copy of Doomsday Book, and can't stop reading. I started the novel three days ago and have been devouring it since then. So glad to have learned about it from your blog. What a wonderful story!

10:45 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi William - glad you're enjoying it :)

1:39 PM  

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