Corpus Christi in Liege & Maiden Lane

Corpus Christi Church in Maiden Lane where St Juliana is in the top right window

In the Belgian town of Liege this year’s Corpus Christi on Thursday 20 June is being described as the 773rd.

Bishop Jean-Pierre Delville of Liège says: “I am delighted by the growing interest of so many people from Liège and elsewhere for this intangible and spiritual patrimonial treasure of our city. Under the impetus of mystical and socially committed women, especially Saint Julienne de Cornillon, Corpus Christi was created in 1246 in Liège by my predecessor.

It was Saint Julienne de Cornillon, or Juliana as she in known in Britain, who conveyed Christ’s wish that we should have this extra festival in the church calendar. We needed to be able to say thank you for the gift of Holy Communion with a joy that is difficult on Maundy Thursday in Holy Week.

This is why Corpus Christi is on a Thursday although many now celebrate on the nearest Sunday.

Most, but not all, Roman Catholic churches in England and Wales will mark it on Sunday.

The exceptions include Arundel Cathedral where a street procession to the castle follows Mass.

Another church keeping the feast on both days is Corpus Christi Maiden Lane Church in London’s Covent Garden.

This delightful little church has an image of St Juliana in a window behind the high altar. After Sunday morning’s Mass there is procession round the Covent Garden piazza and passing, in an ecumenical gesture, under the porch of St Paul’s Church.

An ecumenical Corpus Christi procession in Mayfair will follow Sunday’s 11am Sung Eucharist at The Grosvenor Chapel and the 11am Sung Latin Mass at Farm Street Church.

Another procession begins at 5pm on Sunday from the Assumption Church in Warwick Street W1B 5LZ and makes its way to St James’s Spanish Place in Marylebone.

But Anglican All Saints Margaret Street W1 will take its procession along Oxford Street on Thursday following a 6.30pm Mass.

An early 20th-century image of St Juliana of Liege

Trinity Sunday

Holy Trinity Trowbridge

Trinity Sunday marks the end of the great liturgies of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.

We are about to enter ordinary time. This is time is live out the faith after the renewal of the Easter season.

The ancient celebrations will be found this weekend at Kirtlington in Oxfordshire where there is the Lamb Ale feast with lots of morris dancing.

At Rothwell in Northamptonshire the ‘Rowell Fair’ opens at 3pm in the afternoon following a civic service in Holy Trinity Church. The ancient traditional celebrations are on Trinity Monday starting at 6am outside Rothwell Church.

Trinity Sunday, in honour of God the father, Son and Holy Spirit, was invented in Liege and brought to England from Normandy by St Thomas Becket when Archbishop of Canterbury.

Liege also gave us Corpus Christi which is observed later in the week or next Sunday.

Whitsunday Biscuits

A Cornish fairing as sold at Whitsun fairs
Goosnargh Cake

The weather forecast is good for Monday which is Whit Monday and should be a Bank Holiday.

Whitsun, or Pentecost as we now call it, marks the completion of Easter which seemed to end at The Ascension last week.

But at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the followers of Christ as they were about to build and spread the church.

So Whitsun is today a big Sunday in every church and there will be a public London celebration during the afternoon in Trafalgar Square.

When it was also a long weekend break from work it was a greater landmark in the secular year.

Fairs and feasting were part of the ancient holiday which was recognised with a Monday Bank Holiday by the Victorians.

Cornish fairing biscuits were sold at Whitsun fairs in the west country and are now made by Furniss Foods.

In Lancashire the biscuit is a different recipe and known as a Goosnargh cake. Goosnargh is a village near Preston where you can buy the biscuits (once a penny each) in the Post Office.

Furniss’s Original Cornish Fairings

Ascension Day 2019

The Verger with staves leads the beating the bounds procession on Tower Hill

Thursday 30 May is Ascension Day which means tower top singing and beating the bounds in many places.

The special events come forty days after Easter when, according to St Luke, Jesus ascended to heaven by disappearing in a cloud. This was the last Resurrection appearance.

The best place for tower top singing is Oxford where several colleges keep the tradition going.

Southwark Cathedral will have prayer and singing at the top of its Tudor tower at 7.30am. At St Peter’s Church in Bournemouth the 6.30am service will be followed by singing from the base of the spire.

All Hallows-by-the-Tower in London is well-known for its Ascension Day beating the bounds because the boundary runs down the middle of the Thames. The party sets out at 4.15pm to beat each boundary mark with sticks and pray for protection and blessings. At Tower Pier several people board a vessel to reach the invisible boundary . Visitors are welcome to join the congregation on the tour.

St Bartholomew the Great in London’s Smithfield, which has a new policy of keeping feast days on the actual day (rather than the nearest Sunday), is restoring its custom of beating the bounds on Ascension Day.

After the 7pm Choral Eucharist on Thursday the churchwardens, choir, congregation and children will follow the short parish boundary and call at the pubs.

Rogation Sunday 2019

Rogation Sunday at Mudeford

This year there are not so many special events on Rogation Sunday 26 May because, maybe, it falls unusually on the Bank Holiday weekend.

The annual Beating the Bounds in Cambridge or Southwell are not taking place.

But tradition will be maintained at Leighton Buzzard, Mudeford and in the Lea Valley.

The Wilkes Walk to the Leighton Buzzard almshouses begins after the 9.15 Parish Eucharist at All Saints Church.

At Mudeford in Dorset there is Blessing the Waters at 3pm in The Run at the entrance to Christchurch Harbour.

In the Lea Valley there will be a Lammas Lands beating the bounds party setting out at 2pm from the Princess of Wales pub next to Lea Bridge.

May Day

May Day 1894 (Walter Crane)

On Wednesday 1 May the calendar provides more confusion. It manages to be not only May Day but also St Philip and St James’s Day or St Joseph the Worker Day.

The May Day carol The winter’s sleep was long and deep mentions ‘two saints of God’.

But the universal calendar moved Philip and James to 3 May in 1955 to allow for May Day to be St Joseph the Worker Day giving the Virgin Mary’s husband two special days each year. We kept St Joseph’s Day during Lent.

However, Mary has the whole month. May is the Month of Mary. This tradition started in about 1826 whilst soon John Ruskin was instrumental in the spread of the May Queen custom in schools.

So May Day is the occasion to celebrate working people along with carpenter St Joseph, the coming of spring and summer and honour the Virgin Mary.

Look out for 6am tower top singing at Magdalene College Oxford, garlands being carried at 10am to church by children at nearby Charlton-on-Otmoor, the ‘Obby ‘Oss in Minehead and Padstow all day and the Green Man in Greenwich.

St George’s Day on Monday & Tuesday!

Southwark’s St George cultural festival is postponed to June

It’s St George’s Day at last.

With 23 April falling within Easter there has been confusion about the correct date. 

The Church of England is observing St George’s Day today Monday 29 April.

But because today is the feast day of St Catherine of Siena Day, patron of Europe, the Roman Catholic Church has designated tomorrow Tuesday 30 April for St George.

St George is not only England’s patron saint but also Catalunya’s and Barcelona Cathedral celebrates on Monday evening.

Southwark is the focus for England having the capital’s oldest church dedicated to England’s patron saint and its association with Henry V and his return from Agincourt.

This year there will be Mass at 6.30pm on Tuesday at Southwark’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of St George followed by a reception for everyone.

Quasimodo Sunday

The Sunday after Easter Day has many names.

It used to be generally called Low Sunday although it is uncertain why. Was it because of a low attendance or less exuberance than last week?

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter but since Millennium Year many call it Divine Mercy Sunday because St Faustina Kowalska, canonised in 2000, claimed that this is the wish of Jesus.

This year, as we remember the Notre Dame de Paris fire, it might be tempting to use the very old name Quasimodo Sunday after the entrance antiphon Quasi modo geniti infantes meaning Like newborn infants.

Like newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia. 1 Peter 2.2

In Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris novel, the hunchback is called Quasimodo because when a child he was found abandoned in the cathedral porch on Quasimodo Sunday.

It’s not st George’s Day

London’s oldest church dedicated to England’s patron saint: St George the Martyr Borough High St

It is 23 April which is Shakespeare’s birthday and Turner’s birthday. But it’s not St George’s Day.

Today is Easter Tuesday.

The great Easter celebration takes precedence.

Liturgical celebrations for St George have been moved to Tuesday 30 April.

Easter Monday: Eggs & hare pie scrambling

Hallaton’s Hare Pie Scrambling

Easter is just starting. Even the Book Common Prayer has a collect and readings for Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday.

The weather is good for egg rolling in Preston’s Avenham Park which has been an Easter custom there since 1867.

Meanwhile at Hallaton in Leicestershire the annual Easter Hare Pie scrambling and bottle kicking on Hare Pie Bank starts in the village church at 11am. This custom dates back at least 800 years to just after Magna Carta.