Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vestiges of Mary's Dowry: Reformation Iconoclasm

Once I Was A Clever Boy continues his series on English Reformation Iconoclasm, focused the destruction of Marian shrines and chapels:

Nothing so encapsulates English iconoclasm in the Reformation period and in subsequent centuries than the attack on the cult, on the veneration, on almost even the name, of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary's Dowry appeared more than anxious to expunge her from its collective life and worship.
I have already mentioned the 1538 burning of several famous statues of her as well as other devotional images, and in the first years of the Elizabethan settlement there were similar scenes - what I wonder did the good people of Sleaford in Lincolnshire think in 1560 when the Crucifix was taken out from their parish church of St Denys and burned in the market place outside?

Lady Chapels in churches attracted the attention of zealous reformers. At Ely cathedral the wondrous fourteenth century Lady Chapel lost all its glass and every statue in the canopy work around the arcades was meticulously decapitated. . . .

The English liturgy was purged of virtually all Marian devotions in 1548, and little survived beyond the feasts of her birth and, surprisingly perhaps, conception. In Oxford University the feast of the Assumption survived as a lesser commemoration, and as it still exists in the University Calendar.

In Oxford the University Church of St Mary the Virgin had a new porch built in 1636-37 by the mason Nicholas Stone at a cost of £230. This was adorned with a statue of the Virgin and Child, and in 1644 this was one of the capital charges brought against Archbishop Laud by the Parliamentarians, on the basis that Laud as Chancellor of the University had sanctioned this. The statue had attracted the respect and indeed devotion of some University students and was blasted by a Parliamentarian musket when the army left the city at the beginning of the Civil War. A modern replacement now occupies the niche.

Read the rest there.

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