Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Agnes and Snow.

Beavering away in and borrowing books from the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield today, which you can see in the picture above, I went to see representatives of J and M Sewing, a firm of very good clerical tailors based in Newcastle. I am now worried about how I am to pay for what I have ordered, but will leave that for another day.

The beauty of parts of Yorkshire (I would like to live in Kettlewell, in the dales) is overwhelming. I have lived in the city for most of my life, the other part has been in starkly different surroundings. I look forward to moving to Preston in June for many reasons, but one of them is being closer to the Ribble Valley and the Lake District. Fellow Ribble Valley and Forest of Bowland walkers will know what I mean when I say that my heart leaps when I pass the Tickled Trout. Stone built cottages and rolling dales seem a long way from new American Presidents, which monumental waste of time and energy, Facebook, keeps me aware is still dividing opinion sharply and with a great lack of charity on either side. Still, good things come from America, as they always have done. Not thick pan pizza or strange yellow fizzy beer obviously, but broad outlooks, much culture and generosity. In particular I would like to thank one of our regular wanderers for donating a very generous amount of money towards Saint Hilda's Church, for the purchase of a new lectern for the All Souls Chapel. Thank you.

The M62 to Yorkshire cuts right through the centre of the moors around Saddleworth and Shaw, today covered with snow and frost. The hoarfrost this morning made beautiful patterns on the roof of my car in the phosphorous glow of the street lamp, glimpsed as I almost fell flat on my backside, slipping on black ice.

Today as you will all know, is the feast day of Saint Agnes, whose shrine at Saint Hilda's receives extra candles and a drape for the day, both to bring attention to her statue for the children who come in for their assembly this morning and to draw attention to the example of her life. The lamb at her feet comes from the Latin for her name, the Greek being equally apposite, being chaste. The Capuchinesses of Rome still are given the wool of a blessed lamb to make the palliums from which are given to most of the Archbishops as a sign of meekness and purity, thus differentiating them from the palliums available on eBay.

It seems that Agnes died in her early teens, having refused to marry, been unafraid of the threat of torture, surviving virgo intacta an attempted rape in the public brothel of Rome and refusing to offer the obligatory incense to the Roman Emperor cult. She was beheaded during the terror of Diocletian, against his will, it is documented and assumed, as the murder of a young, innocent girl is never good for business. She stands as an example of continence to ones vows and promises to God and as a signifier of our true home.