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					                                                                                            December 2007 No 30

Westminster Abbey
O        n November 22 Frs Abbot, Alban, Richard and Br

                                                                                               Douai Abbey Newsletter
         Placid took part in the celebration at Westminster Ab-
         bey to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the
event by which continuity was established between the pre-
Reformation English Benedictine Congregation and the pre-
sent-day Congregation. The article below gives a detailed expla-

              Westminster Abbey as it would have been known by the monks; (the
              twin towers were only added in the seventeenth century by Christo-
              pher Wren). Engraving from Dugdale’s ‘Monasticon Anglicanum’.

Dies Memorabilis by Placid Hughes OSB

N          ovember 21 is known among
           the English Benedictines as
           the Dies Memorabilis because
on that day in two different years two
                                               1539. As a former chaplain to Bishop
                                               Bonner of London and Dean of St
                                               Paul's, and now chaplain to Queen
                                               Mary and Abbot of Westminster, Feck-
significant events occurred in the early       enham was well-connected and ready to
history of the Congregation. In 1556,          use his position to effect the restoration
monks took possession once again of            of Catholicism in England.
Westminster Abbey, which had, since its
                                               That many others shared his vision is
surrender in 1540 to Henry VIII’s offi-
                                               evident by the influx of novices at
cials, been used as a cathedral church.
                                               Westminster Abbey, of whom the most
Most of these men had formerly been
                                               notable was Dom Robert Seberte, later
monks during the reign of Henry VIII,
                                               known as Sigebert Buckley. Little is
and, with the coronation of Queen Mary
                                               known about him except that he was
in 1553, they saw new possibilities for
                                               ordained by the Bishop of London and
living the monastic life in England. They
                                               spent most of Queen Elizabeth's reign
were led by John Feckenham, who had
                                               in prison. After his release at the begin-
been a monk of Evesham Abbey until
                                               ning of James I's reign, he was con-
2                                   Douai Abbey Newsletter December 2007

tacted by two young monks,             abbey of Westminster, gave an        evensong, conference partici-
Dom Vincent Sadler and Dom             excellent paper on the first dis-    pants were led up through the
Edward Maihew, recently pro-           solution of Westminster Abbey,       doors on either side of the high
fessed abroad.                         when twenty-four monks               altar to the shrine of St Edward
                                       signed a deed of surrender. She      the Confessor, the only medie-
In 1607, another young monk
                                       put Westminster in the context       val English shrine that survives
professed in Italy, Dom
                                       of the dissolution of the mon-       mostly intact, thanks to the care
Augustine Baker, who had pre-
                                       asteries as a whole, drawing         and industry of Abbot Fecken-
viously been a lawyer, arranged
                                       particular attention to the fact     ham. In this intimate space, and
for the aggregation of Sadler
                                       that, whereas few monks had          later in the chapel of St Bene-
and Maihew to Buckley. There-
                                       left the abbey during previous       dict there was a short service
fore, through Marian Westmin-
                                       centuries, after the royal visita-   consisting of a few prayers and
ster and Dom Sigebert Buckley,
                                       tion of 1535-6, many monks           readings, notably the official
English monks in early modern
                                       departed. She suggested that         document signed by Buckley
Europe were linked to their
                                       the reforms implemented in the       attesting to his act of aggrega-
pre-Dissolution predecessors.
                                       wake of the royal visitation,        tion, and the singing of the re-
On November 22, 2007, a                which brought about a tighten-       sponsory Posuisti and the pro-
half-day conference, organised         ing of monastic discipline, were     fession antiphon Suscipe, led by
by the History Commission of           responsible for the departure of     the Abbot President, the ab-
the English Benedictine Con-           these monks.                         bots of Downside, Ampleforth
gregation, was held at West-                                                and Douai, the titular Abbot of
                                       Dr Peter Cramer of Winchester
minster Abbey celebrating the                                               Westminster, and the Dean of
                                       College gave what he described
400th anniversary of Buckley's                                              Westminster. It was a simple
                                       as 'more of an essay' on the
act of aggregation, one of the                                              and fitting commemoration of
                                       wider context of Buckley's act
two events commemorated                                                     the Dies Memorabilis.
                                       of aggregation. His principal
under the name Dies Memorabi-
                                       point of reference was a monu-       Lastly, the conference ended
lis. More than fifty people at-
                                       mental book entitled Apostolatus     with a reception in the under-
tended, including many abbots,
                                       Benedictinorum in Anglia, pub-       croft, which is the oldest sur-
monks, and clergy and staff of
                                       lished at Douai in 1626. He          viving part of the abbey build-
Westminster Abbey. Before the
                                       drew attention to Dom                ings. It is presently used as the
conference a tour of the abbey
                                       Augustine Baker's role in the        Abbey Museum and contains
was led by Canon Theologian,
                                       production of this book. Rang-       an enamelled medieval retable,
Nicholas Sagovsky, who,
                                       ing far and wide, from the Inns      which, until its recent discovery
among other things, drew our
                                       of Court to Erasmian human-          and restoration, had been used
attention to a small chapel
                                       ism, Cramer illuminated early        as a cupboard. The Dean was
dedicated to St Benedict just
                                       modern ideas concerning the          again thanked for the abbey’s
off the south transept. Apart
                                       continuity and discontinuity,        hospitality and Dom Anselm
from a small plaque high on the
                                       and the legal term 'aggregation'.    Cramer of Ampleforth was
wall, the chapel is dominated
                                                                            thanked for organising the con-
by memorials of poets. The             While tea and sandwiches were
                                                                            ference. From Douai Abbey,
conference began with a warm           being served, the Keeper of the
                                                                            Abbot Geoffrey Scott, Dom
welcome from Dean John Hall            Muniments, Dr Richard Morti-
                                                                            Alban Hood, Dom Richard
in the historic Jerusalem Cham-        mer, displayed a few of the me-
                                                                            Jones, and Dom Placid Hughes
ber, which is the principal            dieval muniments, including,
                                                                            attended the conference.◊
room of the medieval house of          most notably, WAM 9327,
the abbots of Westminster,             which is an early list of the
formerly known as Cheyney-             monks of Marian Westminster.         A booklet Sigebert Buckley, Monk
gates. Built up against the south      Conference participants were         of Westminster The Benedictine
aisle of the abbey church, it is       then hurried into choir for cho-     Link has been published by
now the Dean's residence.              ral evensong. The monks and          Ampleforth Abbey price £2, (by
                                       nuns, however, processed in          post £3), available from Douai
Miss Barbara Harvey, the prin-                                              Abbey Bookshop or from
                                       with the choir and canons, ably
cipal authority on the medieval                                             Ampleforth Abbey. ◊
                                       led by the vergers. Following
                                         Douai Abbey Newsletter December 2007                                             3

School Building Development wins award

T       he development of the former school
        buildings won ‘Silver’ in the ‘Best Reno-
        vation’ category at the prestigious ‘What
House Awards 2007’. At the presentation on No-
vember 16 the judges commented how “minimal
intervention, the use of existing volumes, the
quality of finish and the landscaping all help Ava-
lon stand out”. They also praised the transforma-
tion of the old school buildings for combining
“the historic fabric with a contemporary ap-
proach… always one of the most difficult chal-
lenges in such a conversion”.
‘Avalon’ is the name the developers have given
the project, which is now complete.◊
                                                           Monks visiting the apartment in the former school refectory.

The former Study Hall is an apartment.                     The former Court of Arches is a general reception area.

Studley Parish Open Day

T        he Douai parish of St Mary at Studley in
         Warwickshire held its first ever open day
         on Sunday September 24. The parish
priest, Fr Alexander Austin OSB, explained, “It
was really to raise our profile in the area, and to
                                                             ple were left free to walk around as they wished.
                                                             There were displays about the history of the
                                                             church, and its connected organisations and
                                                             groups such as the church school and the Catho-
                                                             lic Women’s League. There were displays of the
show that the church is for everyone, open and               church plate and vestments as well as and expla-
welcoming. We’re red hot on evangelization! We               nation of the Mass and devotions such as the
sent personal invitations to every house in the vil-         Rosary. Other displays covered the life of St
lage and had a great response, with lots of visitors         Benedict, the Benedictines and Douai Abbey.
including several lapsed and those who want to
                                                             There were activities for children. The gardens
become Catholics. They were all impressed and
                                                             and new parish centre were open and cream teas
positive in their comments, so we’ll probably make
                                                             were available for sale. A video was shown pro-
it an annual event.”
                                                             moting the forthcoming Alpha course which was
Local newspapers, Stratford-upon-Avon Herald, Red-           to run from September 29 for ten weeks
ditch Advertiser and Redditch Standard all devoted
                                                             A chapel was set aside for private prayer, and Fr
generous space to announcing the open day. The
                                                             Alexander was available to talk with anyone who
church was opened from 11.30am until 5pm.
There were organised tours of the church and peo-
                                         Douai Abbey Newsletter December 2007

Community Notes
Br Christopher                              Catholic Records Society, led by       donates, completely free, a large
led a Saturday Workshop on Bene-            Abbot Geoffrey, and Br Placid          plate of cold meats and paté.
dictine Spirituality at the Jesuit          stayed in the town and inspected
                                                                                   Fr Peter has been running two
church in Farm Street, London in            archives in Northern France. In
                                                                                   groups studying the Rule of St
October.                                    the local parish, the autumn
                                                                                   Benedict, and will be giving two
                                            months have been dominated by
Fr Dermot                                                                          talks in Advent on the Infancy
                                            the Archbishop of Cambrai’s pas-
attended the Catholic Theological                                                  Narratives.
                                            toral visitation of the deanery. It
Conference at Louvain, Belgium in           has been a very successful reach-      We hope to start the renovation of
September and the Conference of             ing out, by the local Church, to       the Chapel soon, the last part of
the British Association for the Study       people of all faiths and none, and     the house to be refurbished, to
of Religions in Edinburgh. He also          has embraced the whole town. It        which end a local architect is giv-
gave talks for the clergy of the Dio-       has lasted about six weeks in all,     ing his services free. As can be
cese of Leicester at Swanwick, and          and a year was spent in prepara-       seen, the “Maison” continues to
led a Business Ethics Seminar at            tion.                                  receive a great deal of help from
Canford, Dorset, for sixth form stu-                                               the parish and townsfolk of Douai.
dents.                                      On September 8, the monks ac-
                                            companied the deanery clergy, on       University of Reading
Fr Hugh                                     their annual day out, this year to     This semester a group of monks
spent the summer in Italy learning          St Omer. Other trips away from         under the leadership of Fr Abbot
Italian and has gone to Sant’               Douai have included an overnight       taught a course of Monastic His-
Anselmo College, Rome, to study             stay by the coast in a holiday         tory from 1200 to the present, and
Patristics at the Augustinaianum .          home near Boulogne, in the com-        Fr Gervase gave a course on the
Sadly he had to travel to Australia to      pany of Père André, the parish         Gospel of St Luke and the Acts of
visit his father who became critically      priest, courtesy of two friends,       the Apostles. A university day-
ill and has recently died. Please pray      Michel and Jacqueline Toison;          school at Douai was given by Fr
for the family.                             and a trip to Solesmes (not the        Boniface on an introduction to
                                            home of the famous monastery)          Homer and Virgil.
Fr Gervase                                  where, in a school, the religious of
gave a retreat at Matera in the prov-       the diocese were holding a kind of     Retreats and Conferences
ince of Basilicata, Italy for the or-       fair, the purpose being to let the     The Bl Hugh Faringdon Confer-
ganisation, Retreats Beyond Dover, in       people know what they do. It was       ence Centre and the guesthouse
September. During the retreat the           instructive for the monks as well      are being increaingly used by
participants were able to visit many        as being a good opportunity to         groups, for day and residential
of the cave churches, some going            meet lots of people. In addition,      events. Recently we have had the
back to the early influx of Byzantine       Fr Peter attended a two-day meet-      Bishop and clergy of the Ports-
Christians to the area during the           ing in Paris for chaplains to the      mouth Diocese for their retreat,
iconoclast persecution.                     Equipes Notre Dame, a society          given by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP,
                                            for the benefit of married couples.    a Salvation Army leadership team,
St Edmund’s Eve
                                                                                   a group of young adults from the
The celebration of our patronal festi-      On November 20, the patronal
                                                                                   Diocese of Brentwood, the School
val began as usual with Pontifical          feast of St Edmund, the monks
                                                                                   of Evangelisation from St Patrick’s
First Vespers to which monks and            invited people to come to Ves-         church, Soho, the Lay Community
nuns from the Anglican communities          pers, and afterwards enjoy light
                                                                                   of St Benedict, the annual Gather-
of Elmore, Burford & Wantage were           refreshments. The Chapel was
                                                                                   ing of Consecrated Women, the
invited. Our monastic guests stayed         packed with about fifty people,
                                                                                   Bridge Pastoral Foundation, Head-
for supper and Compline. At the             and more overflowed into the           teachers from Oxfordshire and
Mass on the feast Fr Peter                  corridor.                              Berkshire, the Latin Mass Society,
L’Estrange S.J., Master of Campion                                                 Monos, Tagathata, a Buddhist-
                                            Among other things worth men-
Hall, Oxford and some of our con-                                                  inspired silent retreat, and the Boe-
                                            tioning is that the numbers com-
fraters were present.                                                              hringer Ingelheim company
                                            ing to the young people’s lunch
Maison St-Benoît                            and discussion on Thursdays dur-       among others.◊
                                            ing the school midday break is
Since the summer, there have been           slowly increasing. Many people         Douai Abbey Newsletter is published at
many visitors to the Maison St-                                                    Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, Reading,
                                            are supporting the monks, con-         Berks, RG7 5TQ. Phone: 0118 971 5300
Benoît, mostly from England, includ-        tributing food for this lunch, in-     F ax: 0 118 971 5303 E-m a il
ing quite a few members of the Ab-          cluding the local patisserie, which    douaiabbey@aol.com Web site: http://
bey community.                              gives discounted bread and tarts,      www.douaiabbey.org.uk
                                                                                   No 30 07 .12. 07. Registered charity no
In early September, a group from the        and the local charcuterie, which       236962

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