Friday, May 18, 2018

HERALDRY | Blackfriars (June 21, 2018)

Blackfriars Hall.
Blazon. Gyronny Sable and Argent a Cross flory counterchanged.

Authority Ancient arms.

Meaning: The Gyronny Cross is associated with  the black-on-white 800-year-old Dominican habit – a long white tunic,  covered by a black cloak, or cappa (shoulder cape) or scapular, or some combination. The black and white can be interpreted as truth vs. heresy, or the purity of Christ covered by the guilt of sin. Gyro is Greek word for "turn" and describes  roasting meat on a spit, probably lamb; Jesus is the  Lamb of GodThe Cross flory, with a flour-de-lys on the end of each limb of the cross, refers to St Dominic's plan to create an order to preach to the Cathars of southern France in the early 13th century.

Founded 1221, probably the oldest extant Oxford institution. Dissolved by Henry VIII. Refounded 1929.

Regent: The current Regent of both the Hall and Studium is Very Rev Dr Simon Gaine OP. The prior is Very Rev David Goodill OP. 

Special Features: Blackfriars Hall is uniquely also a Priory and a Study Centre for theology in the tradition of St Thomas Aquinas. It admits men and women of any faith for Oxford undergraduate degrees in theology schools, in Philosophy, Politics and Economic; and it admits graduate students in many subjects. 

St Dominic and a Faithful Dog
Dogs are associated with St Dominic for several reasons. His mother had a dream while she was pregnant with him that a dog leaped out with a torch to set the world on fire. Dogs are faithful. And the word "Dominican" sounds like "Domini" (Lord) and "Canis" (Dog). The Dominicans were called "The Hounds of Heaven" because they were so aggressive in attacking heresy. The dog carrying the torch in its mouth also symbolises travelling to speak about the Light of Christ.

History: Blackfriars is probably the oldest extant Oxford institution, but it did not operate continuously in the next eight centuriesThe first thirteen Dominican friars arrived in Oxford on 15 August 1221, at the instruction of St Dominic, barely a week after the friar's death. The Dominicans were sent to England by a General Chapter of their Order, which met in Bologna under the presidency of St Dominic. They came to Oxford because even then it was the intellectual capital of England. The first Blackfriars hall was built in Oxford's Jewish Quarter, between today's Town Hall and Christ Church. A larger hall was erected in 1245 through the generosity of the Countess of Oxford, expanding to 90 friars and a large church. 

Like all the monastic houses in Oxford, Blackfriars came into rapid and repeated conflict with the University authorities and eventually was dissolved by Henry VIII. 

It took the Dominicans 400 more years to return in 1921. The foundation stone of a third Priory was laid on 15 August 1921. Dedicated to the Holy Spirit, it was founded by Father Bede Jarrett, the first Dominican friar to study at Oxford since the Reformation. In bringing the Order back to the University and to the city he was helped by an American donor, Mrs Charlotte Jefferson Tytus, who purchased the site, then partly occupied by three houses on St Giles. The full community arrived on 17 May 1929, and the church was consecrated three days later. A tower was added in the 1950s, but the building remains essentially unfinished. Blackfriars became a PPH in 1994, owned by the English Province of the Order off Preachers. More than twenty friars currently live and work at Blackfriars.

Daley, Charles M., O.P., Dominicana. Vol. 14 No 1. The Coat of Arms of the Order of Preachers. March 1929. pp 33-42. [OTHER SOURCES TO BE ADDED.]

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