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  • Alex Van Goethem

Festive Favourites

Illustration of Christmas Carol singers from Blandyke Papers vol. 289, p.98

It is that joyful time of year once again, and here at the Archives we are feeling particularly festive. We have decided to usher in the Christmas season by showing off a few of our festive favourites, found within the archives.

For the first item on our list we turn once more to the Blandyke Papers created by philosophy students, who each year produced a special Christmas edition. In particular, we have chosen a Christmas poem written by Fr Henry Meyer SJ in 1889 (BP 21), which focuses on the happiness and joy that the season brings. The author clearly looks forward to Christmas as much as we do!

The next item we wish to highlight is one that was also featured in our ‘Explore Your Archives’ exhibition in November (and one which may prove useful to those in charge of cooking for family and friends this Christmas!). This recipe for an inexpensive Christmas pudding, shown below, was recorded by Br Moore SJ in July 1930. Traditionally Christmas pudding is prepared on the last Sunday before Advent, roughly five weeks before Christmas. The fact that Br Moore recorded his recipe in July suggests he was very well prepared!

Br Thomas Moore’s (inexpensive) Christmas pudding recipe (1930) (ref. SJ/29/6)

The recipe was discovered amongst a myriad of other delicious recipes in the recipe book of Br Thomas Moore SJ (1901-1977), including a jam-making timetable, notes on oil consumption, and a recipe for birthday cake. Br Moore spent most of his time in the Society serving as a cook at Manresa, St Beuno’s, Birmingham, and Petworth.

The Juvenilia (1909-1955) are also a great source of merriment. They contained illustrations, poems, scientific and philosophical essays and much more. Unlike the Blandyke Papers, which were produced by the Philosophers, individuals produced the Juvenilia during their Juniorate at Manresa House, Roehampton. Below you can see two colourful illustrations produced by a couple of arty Jesuit juniors in 1909 and 1912, respectively. As you can see, Juvenilia provided an excellent opportunity for budding cartoonists to show off their artistic flair.

Also found within the Juvenilia is this article by James Gallagher, 1910, discussing old and now outdated Christmas traditions, and a rather panicked Christmas weather forecast from 1929, describing the harsh, cold and wet conditions that inevitably accompany this time of the year.

The final items on our list of festive favourites are these beautifully detailed illustrations of scenes relating to the Virgin Mary found within a book of hours of the Virgin. These were books of prayers to be said at certain points during the day, in praise of the Virgin Mary, and were based on the ‘Offices’ or services said and sung daily by monks. The earliest examples date from the 11th century, peaking in popularity around 1500. This particular example dates from 1560, was originally printed in black and white and hand coloured at a later date, slightly blotchily. It belonged to Fr Charles Forrester, an eighteenth century Jesuit, who wrote his name in the front.

The manuscript prayers with additions in Flemish suggest that it spent some time in the Low Countries before coming into Fr Forrester’s possession. The full pictures of scenes relating to the Virgin each have a word written under them, which is the time of the day during which these particular prayers should be said.

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