Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Video of the Installation of a Boy-Bishop

The archives of British Pathé never fail to turn up all kinds of interesting things; here is a video of the installation of a boy bishop at a small church in England on St Nicholas’ day in 1935.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia article on boy-bishops: “The custom of electing a boy-bishop on the feast of St. Nicholas dates from very early times, and was in vogue in most Catholic countries, but chiefly in England, where it prevailed certainly in all the larger monastic and scholastic establishments, and also in many country parishes besides, with the full approbation of authority, ecclesiastical and civil. The boy-bishop was chosen from among the children of the monastery school, the cathedral choir, or pupils of the grammar-school. Elected on St. Nicholas’ day (6 December), he was dressed in pontifical vestments and, followed by his companions in priest’s robes, went in procession round the parish, blessing the people. He then took possession of the church, where he presided at all the (non-sacramental) ceremonies and offices until Holy Innocents’ day (28 December).”

Although the custom was abolished definitively in England under Queen Elizabeth, it has seen a revival in modern times, first in some of the more ritual-minded Anglican churches, and spreading thence even to a few Catholic ones. The cathedral of Hereford has just appointed its new boy-bishop this past Sunday, as may be seen on its website; the cathedral choir school at Westminster had them for the feast of its patron, St Gregory the Great (in March) for at least a few years, as seen at the now-defunct blog Solomon, I Have Surpassed Thee. (I cannot seem to find any recent Catholic examples.)

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