Sunday, December 4, 2011

University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford

The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford is an informal shrine to many historical events and persons. When I have visited it, I have had these things in mind:
  • Blessed Duns Scotus preached there in the early 1300's (more about him later this week)

  • Anglicans Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were tried on heresy charges at St. Mary's during the reign of Mary I and found guilty

  • Blessed William Hartley smuggled in 400 copies of St. Edmund Campion's "Decem Rationes" for the students to read, creating quite a furor

  • Charles I used St. Mary's for worship during the English Civil War (while a Catholic chapel was set up for Henrietta Maria at Merton College)

  • John Wesley attended services while a student and preached a few sermons while Fellow at Lincoln College in the 1740's--including his last in 1742 when he really went after the lukewarmness of the administration and the other Fellows (never invited back)

  • John Keble preached the "National Apostasy" sermon, beginning the Oxford Movement (at least in John Henry Newman's view) on July 14, 1833

  • Blessed John Henry Newman was Vicar of the University Church, preaching such popular sermons that even the colleges' changing the time of tea didn't dissuade the students from attending

  • C.S. Lewis gave his "Weight of Glory" talk there in 1942
So anyone with interest in any of those people and events will find something at St. Mary the Virgin, including bullet holes in the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary above the entrance, courtesy of the Roundheads! (Or be someone like me, thinking of all them jumbled up without "bullets"!) In addition, there's a nice gift shop, cafe, and view of the Radcliffe Camera.

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