From Mr Hal St John Broadbent Sir, May I thank Fr Anthony Symondson for providing additional clarity to his review of Judith Middleton-Stewart's book Inward Purity and Outward Splendour : Death and Remembrance in the Deanery of Dunwich, Suffolk, 1370-1547 (Letter, June 28).
However, I still take issue with the assertion that Catholic England died when sanctuary lamps and votive lights were, as a consequence of Bishops'Book I injunctions(1537 and 1547/8), extinguished.
It is useful to recall sacramental theory in this context: the sign (sacramentum) and that which is signified (res sacraments) are the dual aspects of things sacramental. The sign, that is sanctuary lamps and votive lights, may have been removed in 1547/8 but the thing signified, that is respect for the deceased, could not be so easily legislated against.
My view is that the res sacramenti did not die as an outcome of Henrician reforms ; rather it found different ways of embodying itself in English society. Although the visible lamp may have been dimmed the heat that preceded the flame shone with a different, though nevertheless effective, light after the reformation.
Does this mean we now agree?
Yours faithfully, Hal St John Broadbent [email protected]