Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HERALDRY: Linacre (Updated May 13, 2018)

Linacre College
Blazon: Sable an open Book proper edged Or bound Gules the dexter page charged with the Greek Letter Alpha the sinister page charged with the Greek Letter Omega both Sable the whole between three Escallops Argent.

Authority: Granted 8 Dec 1988.

Meaning: The arms reference Thomas Linacre, the founder. The book implies learning, and the Greek letters suggest that the book is the Bible (the Book of Revelation references Christ as the alpha and omega). The scallops traditionally reference St James and in particular the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James).  Scallops on a coat of arms often imply that the bearer or an ancestor has completed the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

Dr Thomas Linacre
Nominee: The Founder, Dr Thomas Linacre left his fortune to the college to endow professorships in Greek medicine at Oxford and Cambridge. Pia Vogler Jolliffe, D.Phil. (Linacre College, 2006-2011) wrote to stress that Linacre was a Catholic priest, which she says was not clear in the article (45-50) on the Oxford colleges' arms in Oxford Today. Her comment was published online, as a Letter to the Editor, and then in the Trinity issue of Oxford Today. She is Research Fellow at Oxford University's Institute of Population Ageing, Department of Sociology, and is a member of Blackfriars Hall. She wrote (in part):
Marlin rightly mentions Linacre’s service as physician to the King and founder of the Royal College of Physicians. ... I was surprised Linacre’s Catholic faith was omitted. In fact, he resigned his position as King’s physician in 1520 to become a priest.
Calling Linacre a "Catholic" priest, as does the Catholic Encyclopedia in its entry on Linacre, is misleading. It implies that Linacre's taking on Holy Orders after leaving Henry VIII's service was a protest on behalf of Rome against his King. Linacre was loyal to the King, dedicating two pieces of writing to Henry VIII in 1517 and 1519, and he was Cardinal Wolsey's physician as well as the King's. Henry VIII in turn was loyal enough (Defender of the Faith) to Rome during Linacre's lifetime. It was not until 1534 when the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Linacre never had to chose between Rome and his King because he died in 1524, a decade before Henry's split with Aragon and Rome. So Linacre's resignation as a physician was more retirement than protest.

Special Features: Linacre admits only graduate students. It was the first coeducational college at Oxford.

History:  Linacre's path to full College status should be of interest to other Permanent Private Halls, such as St. Benet's and Blackfriars. Pia Jolliffe notes that James J. Walsh, in his introduction to Catholic Churchmen in Science (1906 edition) describes all of the men in his book as "Catholic clergymen of high standing, and none of them suffered anything like persecution for his opinions." Walsh suggests that Linacre's call to the priesthood as a rejection of hierarchy in favor of the simplicity of parochial service:
Dr. Linacre, who besides being the best known physician of his time in England, was the greatest scholar of the English Renaissance period, yet had all his life been on very intimate terms with the ecclesiastical authorities and eventually gave up his honors, his fortune, and his profession to become a simple priest of the old English Church. (Walsh, 80.)
Link to This PostLinacre
Link to Other Posts on Heraldry: Coat of Arms vs. Crest  Harris Manchester

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