There will be no Mass at the Eyre chantry chapel in Bath in either July or August. The next Mass to be celebrated there will be on Tuesday 3rd September at 12.30pm.
Monday, 24 June 2013
Thursday, 13 June 2013
We have received an answer to the mystery of St Lelius. We are extremely grateful to Dr Giles Mercer, who was headmaster at Prior Park from 1996-2009, for finding this passage in J.S. Roche’s ‘A History of Prior Park College’ (1931), pp. 256-7:
The high altar, which was made in Rome of Italian marbles, was the gift of the Countess English. Its sepulchre for relics is seen through a beautiful pierced cross of statuary marble, and on the back of the altar is an inscription asking for prayers for the donor. There are no relics in the sepulchre, but as an explanation of this fact, two traditions exist: one that the marble chest, supposed to contain the relics, on its arrival at Prior Park from Rome, was found to be empty: the other that they were destroyed by a general order from Rome, as many spurious relics were about that time sent from the Eternal City by unauthorised individuals. The relics that were to have been inserted in the sepulchre were said to be those of St Laelius, the Boy Martyr, whose name appears on the back of the altar.
It is disappointing to discover that the chapel does not, after all, contain relics of a child martyr. It seems that Countess English – or at least her agents – may have fallen prey to merchants peddling fake relics in Rome. A lively trade in forgeries such as this has been in operation since the Middle Ages, as is well known. We do not know whether St Lelius even existed. Possibly his identity was part of the deception on the part of the sellers.
One thing is certain, however. There must be a relic present in the High Altar, or it could not have been consecrated.
‘We honour the martyrs' relics, so that thereby we give honour to Him Whose [witness] they are: we honour the servants, that the honour shown to them may reflect on their Master’.
Posted by Caroline Shaw at 10:39
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
In a previous blog post we saw an image of the High Altar of the chapel of Our Lady of the Snows at Prior Park College in Bath. Here it is again (above). This beautiful marble altar contains the complete relics of a child martyr named Lelius. Here is the inscription on the back of the altar. It reads ‘corpus S. Lelii pueri martyris’.
Unfortunately St Lelius is not mentioned in the Roman martyrology. A plausible explanation for this is that he was one of a group of martyrs and therefore not mentioned individually.
How fitting for a school – and one that was for many years educating boys only – to have the relics of a boy martyr in its chapel. We can hope with confidence that St Lelius interceded for the teachers and pupils at Prior Park, and that he will continue to do so today.
The Christian Martyrs' last prayer by Jean-Leon Gerome
We will try and find out more about St Lelius and report any findings in a future post. In the meantime, if anyone has any information about St Lelius and the connection with Prior Park, do please let us know in the comments box below.
Posted by Caroline Shaw at 13:05
Friday, 7 June 2013
Today we celebrate the great feast of the Most Sacred Heart. An extra Latin Mass was celebrated in the diocese, at the chapel of the Sacred Heart in Prior Park College chapel, Bath. It was celebrated by Fr Malcolm Smeaton, the chaplain of Prior Park, who kindly added an Extraordinary Form Mass to his schedule. This was arranged at short notice and so could not unfortunately be advertised.
Fr Smeaton learned to celebrate the Extraordinary Form last year at the LMS Priests’ and Servers’ training conference, and now celebrates a Latin Mass once a week.
Prior Park chapel was built in 1844 by the architect JJ Scoles. It is dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows, a dedication it shares with the great Roman basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
|The sanctuary of the chapel. The wooden forward altar is conveniently easy to remove.|
Pevsner described Prior Park chapel as ‘without any doubt the most impressive church interior of its date in the country.' The magnificent nave with its giant Corinthian columns and the beautiful sanctuary are indeed remarkable.
The impressive polychrome marble High Altar (above) was a bequest of Isabella Countess English. It contains the relics of a martyr: the inscription on the back states ‘corpus s. Lelii pueri martyris’.
Below is the marble side altar of St Edward the Confessor:
In the chapel of St Joseph there are stautes of Pope St Pius X and St Philomena.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Posted by Caroline Shaw at 15:18