Now, Marriage

Posted by Censor Librorum on Aug 5, 2008 | Categories: Lesbians & Gays

After 20 years of honeymooning, Lori and I are getting married.  our-hands.jpg

We’ll be legally wed next Friday, August 15th in Northampton, Mass.   In a quirk of fate, not  only is it my parents’ anniversary, it is  also a holy day of obligation – the  Feast of the Assumption.

While we’re among the first wave of New Yorkers who plan to marry in Massachusetts, California or Canada; we are certainly not the first gay Catholics to publicly vow eternal love and commitment. Not by at least 700 hundred years.

In fact, at one point, vows by same-sex couples were made and immortalized in church.

Wedded Friendships,  an article  by Alan Bray, appeared in The Tablet,  a Catholic newspaper in the U.K., in August 2001. Bray discussed examples of  spiritual same-sex friendships  that have been celebrated in the history of the church with rites that gave them a status akin to marriage. The result of his research was The Friend, published posthumously in 2002 by the University of Chicago Press.

“In the chapel of Merton College in Oxford,” Bray writes, “I gazed on the great monumental brass above the tomb of John Bloxham and John Whytton, who were buried together at the end of the 14th century. It shows two figures standing side by side under canopies with their hands joined together in prayer and looking straight on to the viewer. This is the familiar iconography employed in the fourteenth century for the common tomb of a husband and wife.”

Bray posited that the liturgical form of the vows used in England and France appears to have been for the two friends to receive Holy Communion together after they had exchanged their promises outside the church.

One of the last sights of this practice was Easter Day 1834 when Anne Lister (the mistress of Shibden Hall in Yorkshire) and Ann Walker solemnized their friendship – described in Lister’s diary as a marriage – by receiving Communion together in Holy Trinity Church in Goodramgate, York.

At Mass, during the sign of peace, Lori and I always turn  to each other for a kiss of peace –  osculum pacis –  the holy kiss.  Little did I realize how this act  of love and bonding would be reminicent among some in the Communion of Saints.

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One Response to “Now, Marriage”

  1. Thom Says:



    And thanks for the book recommendation!

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