Holy Body Parts (again) also Priestly Cenacles

My wholesome interest in relics and reliquaries is well known to readers of this journal.
A pleasing vignette on the subject, from the conference at the abbey of ******** which we attended (nay, organised) last week.
Dame Margaret was in the middle of a lucid exposition of the collections of a venerable house of Dames Anglaises, delivered with a clarity and beauty of enunciation of which most actresses could only dream, when she came to the relics, and to the listing of precisely which quarters of which martyrs were in their keeping.
“You know” came a patrician, abbatial voice from the back of the room, “I rather think we’ve got his head”.
The same gathering involved, on the first night, one of those priest’s covens which are familiar to (male) persons who work on the kinds of things upon which I work. You need one monsignor, two priests and one or two laymen of the faith who count as honorary clerics for the duration. You also need a litre bottle of whisky, the top of which you dispose of as the cenacolo begins according to season (in summer you throw it out of the window, in winter you throw it into the Presbytery fire.) So there we were all in due order, viz. One Monsignor, one Prior, one priest, one distinguished historian from Cambridge rather markedly of the Faith, myself and the keeper of the Catholic Archives of Scotland who is a good man called Andrew who can hold his drink (and who is, incidentally, a Protestant, so he gets marks for bravery as well.) Divine irony has decreed that I (son of a distiller on one side and of a house which has been shipping sherry since the nineteenth century on the other)should be mildly allergic to alcohol, so I was doing the whole show on tap-water. The usual subjects were covered with the usual zest, including a memorable comparison of two Archbishops to S. Anselm and Val Doonican respectively. Then, as the whisky sunk and the absurdly prompt midsummer dawn began to gather itself behind the towers of the abbey, the Cambridge professor rather markedly of the Faith turned to me and looked me up and down.
“I am contemplating” he concluded with a fine oratorical flourish, “the disgusting spectacle of a Regius Professor stone cold sober.”

One Response to “Holy Body Parts (again) also Priestly Cenacles”

  1. Janey Says:

    This story is of course set in England. At an equivalent moment in Maynooth before the Pope sent them all back into clausura, the litre bottle of duty free was merely a prelude to a plastic carboy of poteen produced from beneath an archiepiscopal bed.

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