Dr Janet Graffius has been the Curator of Collections and Historic Libraries at Stonyhurst College since 2001, and has done a wonderful job in ordering, documenting and caring for the vast collection of Catholic treasures that Stonyhurst still looks after.
These consist, in part, of relics rescued from the Protestant reformation – and it was superb that a number of these had been brought from the College to the church this evening, displayed on a small table at the front.
The lecture spanned a fair number of years – covering Mary Queen of Scots to Prince Charles Edward Stuart. We began with an extended piece about the importance of anointing, and its continuing relevance to the ‘divine right of kings’ – we all remembered the recent ceremonies when King Charles III was crowned earlier this year.
As the address progressed, a number of items were referred to, though unfortunately – due to their fragility – only some were available to view. Those that we were able to see included a lock of Queen Mary’s hair, James II’s Easter Book, and Robert Gordon’s Powder Horn.
The talk was quite academic, with a plethora of dates and details – this volume of information was undoubtedly impressive, and testified to the huge amount of hard work and research that had gone into the presentation. However, it may have been a bit much for a Fringe occasion, and the event could have been made more accessible by, e.g., having a screen projecting the images far up on the table at the front – so we could all see the pieces referred to, as the talk went on to describe them.
There was a great opportunity for us at the end to view the relics, and Dr Graffius was keen to answer our questions. Incidentally, she told me that the thought of speaking to Scots in Scotland, about Scottish history (even though a Scot herself) had really wracked her verves – but this was a really inspiring and informative evening, with a lot to absorb and ponder.
The event finished at 8.30pm.
Sanctified Royalty, Wednesday 16th August, Church of the Sacred Heart, 7.30pm