PRESS RELEASE: 22 November 2007
Catholics of Oxford University celebrate Pope’s restoration of Traditional Latin Mass
Oxford University Newman Society, a society existing for Catholic members of Oxford University, marked the centenary of the death of it’s co-founder, Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, by holding a High Mass according to the Traditional form of the Roman Rite.
Mass in what is now known as the "Extraordinary form" is celebrated in Latin with the priest and people facing east (the traditional direction of the Resurrection) together; many of its rituals date back to the earliest days of the Christian Church. It fell into decline in the 1960s, with the introduction of a simplified form of Mass by Pope Paul VI. However, recent years have witnessed a growth of interest in the "old rite," or "usus antiquor" as it is more properly known. Added impetus has been received following the election of Pope Benedict XVI and his "motu proprio" document encouraging a greater appreciation of the Roman Church’s ancient liturgy.
The Mass, which was held in response to the request of both University dons and students, was held on 19 November in the chapel of Brasenose College, which was filled to capacity. Newman Society President, Michael Ryan, an undergraduate at Brasenose College commented:
"In his recent document the Holy Father said ‘young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist.’ This is certainly true of a large number of students here at Oxford. We were delighted to be able to hold this Mass and are praying that God give us many blessings through it."The Mass was held with the special permission of the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, and was attended by the Senior University Chaplain, Fr. John Moffatt, SJ. The celebrant of the Mass was Fr. Dominic Jacob of the Oxford Oratory and other clergy were also in attendance. Members of Oxford University’s newly formed Gregorian Chant Society sung plainchant propers and an ensemble of professional singers, violinists, and organist sung Antonio Caldara’s Mass in G, together with other polyphonic motets.
Hartwell de la Garde Grissell, MA, FSA, for whom the Mass was offered, died in 1907. He had been a commoner (student) of Brasenose College and had afterwards gone on to serve as a Chamberlain of Honour to Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, and St. Pius X. Among many other events, he witnessed the last days of the Papal monarchy under Pius IX and the fall of Rome to the Italian army in 1870. He was a great collector of relics of saints and a noted numismatician. He was influential in persuading Leo XIII to allow Catholics permission to enter the English Universities and was one of the co-founders of the Newman Society, which was established in 1878.
The Newman Society held a dinner after the Mass, which was addressed by Julian Chadwick, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, a society existing for the promotion of the traditional Mass. In his remarks Mr. Chadwick spoke of the Pope’s personal endorsement of the traditional Latin Mass and stressed that it should never become a cause of discord or division.