Monday, March 12, 2007

The Boy Bishop

H/T to Zadok.

Westminster Cathedral has brought back the medieval tradition of the boy bishop. Check out Msgr. Langham's blog for the article and pictures.
The medieval practice of the Boy Bishop varied from Cathedral to Cathedral, some celebrating it on the feast of St Nicholas, others on the Holy Innocents. In each Cathedral, however, the (adult) Bishop would vacate his seat for the fully attired chorister to take over from him. The chosen boy was surrounded with magnificent ceremonial: at York, the Boy Bishop was taken in procession around the Diocese visiting churches and monasteries, while at Gloucester he received lavish presents from the nobility. The Boy Bishop would always preach a sermon, which attracted huge crowds. The practice was banned at the Reformation, but has in recent years been revived at Gloucester and Hereford Cathedral. Here at Westminster, with our strong sense of continuity with English medieval Catholicism, it is good to see an ancient tradition reborn with such enthusiasm.

I have to say that I do not agree that this is a practice that should be revived. I think it is something that should have never began and was rightly suppressed. Children should not preach sermons at Mass, but much less children who have not been ordained. This entire ceremony looks too much like a farce. This is just one article of proof that liturgical abuse is not a modern phenomenon.

A commentor has informed me that the Boy Bishop's sermon is given after Communion. Therefore, it is more properly a reflection and not a sermon in the proper liturgical sense. It is liturgically correct.

Here are a few links with more information on the tradition.
Catholic Encyclopedia
Full Homely Divinity
St. Nicholas Center
Saint Nicholas Kids

Just to clarify, I also think "mayor for a day" and "principal for a day" are stupid ideas.


Anonymous said...

Reading your comment I ask:are there any children that are ordained?
The sermon by the Boy Bishop was preached after Communion so the Cathedral have followed the proper liturgical norms. It is always worth checking the facts before pronouncing sentence.
Also many think it is a good practice to revive: "He hath put down the mighty from their seat" that is the whole point of this and "hath exalted the humble and meek" but some still have problems with this...

DominiSumus said...

While there are no ordained children in the Church today, that has not always been the case.

I did not "pronounce sentence" on the practice. I merely stated my opinion. I am sure that there are many who think it is a good practice to revive. There are many people who think many things and that is their business. I do not think it should be revived.

Thank you for explaining the timing of the sermon. That makes me more comfortable with it, but I still do not like it.

I grew up with the tradition of the Portuguese Holy Ghost crownings. This tradition was started by St. Elizabeth of Portugal with a similar point of exalting the humble. While I believe the practice of the Holy Ghost crownings is wonderful in theory, in practice it often brings out the opposite of the intended purpose.

In the Holy Ghost crownings 7 families are chosen by lotter to host the Holy Ghost Crown in their home for a week. Parishioners are invited to the home to pray each night. On each of the Sundays of Easter (except Easter Sunday) the family who hosted the crown processes to the church. At the end of Mass one member of the family, usually a child, is crowned.

Thank you for your comments, but I stand by my opinion.