The Oxford University Newman Society has been the proud hosts to their principal patron, His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, on the occasion of his visit to his Alma Mater, to inaugurate the Society's annual Thomas More lectures, and launch their fund-raising appeal. Three public events marked this historic occasion, and both forms of the liturgy of the Roman rite were in evidence.
On 5 March, His Eminence celebrated Vespers according to the extraordinary form. By kind permission of the chaplain of Merton College, Vespers was celebrated in the college chapel and sung by the choir, Sospiri, who performed Victoria's 'Ecce sacerdos magnus' and the Magnificat, and led in the singing of the psalms.
Above: His Eminence with the committee of the Oxford University Newman Society
The next day, 6 March, His Eminence delivered a lecture entitled 'Varieties of Intolerance: Religious and Secular'. The lecture was sponsored by The Catholic Herald, and the text of the lecture is now online. The lecture was delivered in the beautiful and unique Divinity School. This great medieval building, begun in 1423, was built for theology lectures and disputations. It was wonderful to see it being restored to its original use on this occasion.
Above: Mr Patrick Milner, and Mr Richard Pickett, who were the principal organisers of Cardinal Pell's visit, seen at his lecture in the Divinity School, with assembled clergy, religious and members of the University, and other guests from further afield.
After the lecture, Cardinal Pell proceeded to the Oxford Oratory church of St Aloysius to celebrate a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. The intention of the Mass was to beseech God for the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, in whose memory the Newman Society is named, and whose writings continue to inspire so many in Newman's beloved Oxford. Mass was sung in Latin according to the Missal of Paul VI, with a polyphonic Ordinary and motets sung by the Oratory choir; as always the ceremonial was perfectly executed in a manner for which the English Oratorians are justly renown. Earlier in the week, Cardinal Pell had also paid a visit to the Birmingham Oratory, where he visited Cardinal Newman's library and celebrated Mass in his room, as reported here.
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