Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Liturgical Beauty from Farnborough Abbey

I recently posted some photos of a Requiem Mass at Farnborough Abbey during the Schola Sainte-Cécile’s summer pilgrimage to England. The Mass was celebrated for the last French Empress, Eugénie, the founder of the Schola’s home church in Paris, who lived in England after the monarchy was overthrown; the abbey was built as a mausoleum for the imperial family in exile, and Eugénie, her husband, Napoléon III, and their son Louis-Napoléon are all buried in the crypt. The abbey is dedicated to St Michael as one of the principal patron Saints of France; an inscription on the beams of the apse reads “Saint Michael, notre glorieux patron, intercedez devant Dieu pour la France et l’Angleterre.” (St Michael, our glorious patron, intercede before God for France and England.)

The abbot of Farnborough, Dom Cuthbert Brogan, has very kindly shared with us pictures some of the splendid liturgical objects made especially for the patronal feast; below, I include some of my own photos taken during the pilgrimage.

This illuminated graduale and an accompanying antiphonal were joint works of the monks of Farnborough and their friends, the nuns of Saint Cecilia’s Abbey Ryde, who come from a similar French/English history is similar. The exquisite illuminations are by the nuns.
An illuminated letter for the Introit of St Benedict.
A crozier and vestment made for St Michael in the early 20th century. The title of Abbot of Mont Saint Michel was passed to Farnborough by the bishop of Countances, and much of the Farnborough pontificalia recall this. On the abbey’s coat of arms, three pilgrim shells of the Mont St Michael are joined to three Bonaparte bees. For St Michael’s Day this year, the abbot gave place to H.E. Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop Emeritus of Lismore, Australia, and an old friend of the Abbey. The Sunday Mass was a solemn Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, unusual in that the abbot acted as Assistant priest in his own abbey church. The abbot himself pontificated at Vespers and Te Deum in the afternoon.
A statue of St Michael on one of the walls of the abbey church.
The high altar decorated for the feast day.
(The rest of these photos are mine.) This statue of St Joseph was granted the privilege of a canonical coronation by Pope Bl. Pius IX in 1874. For the Requiem Mass, he was dressed in a black cope.
A beautifully carved wooden Gospel lectern in the form of an eagle; as I have noted on other occasions, lecterns of this kind were so common that many late medieval liturgical books refer to a Gospel lectern as an “aquila” in the rubrics.
The equally beautiful preaching pulpit.
The counterfaçade - the church was completed in 1887, when the English Gothic revival was particularly flourishing.
The back of the church and entrance to the imperial crypt.
There are some nice views of the abbey in this video.
The monks’ house, leaning a bit more in the Romanesque direction.
The grave of Dom Ferdinand Cabrol, OSB, in the graveyard next to the church. The monastic community was founded out of Solesmes, and was almost entirely French until 1947; Farnborough was the liturgical study house of the Solesmes Congregation. English monks assured the future of the house when five monks of Prinknash Abbey joined the French remnant in 1947. – Dom Cabrol was born in Marseille in 1855, and after becoming a Benedictine in 1878, was ordained a priest in 1882. He served as professor of church history at Solesmes, where he was elected prior in 1890. He became prior of Farnborough in 1896, and abbot in 1903. Together with Henri Leclercq, he founded the famous and still extremely useful Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, and also contributed many articles to the original English-language Catholic Encyclopedia.

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