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Saturday, February 20, 2016

HERALDRY | Wilfred Bayne, OSB, Heraldist, Portsmouth Abbey

Portsmouth Shield
Feb. 2, 2016–Sometimes I have been astonished at the moments of exhilaration when making some new heraldic discovery. I have been wondering why. Four reasons, from different parts of my childhood, occur to me:
  • Heraldry was of great interest to my mother, who early explained her mother's family's coat of arms with its motto Ni regret du passé, ni per de l'avenir (no regret for the past, no fear of the future).
  • At Blackrock College in Ireland there was a coat of arms for the school that was on my cap and blazer. Its motto was Fides et Robur (faith and strength).
  • At Ampleforth I was introduced to the Abbey coat of arms, which is also the coat of arms of St Benet's Hall at Oxford.
  • At Portsmouth Abbey, we again deployed a coat of arms and there was a monk who did exquisite heraldry work, Dom Wilfred Bayne (1893-1974), about whom Fr. Damian Kearney wrote a biography for the Portsmouth Bulletin, Winter 2004. Apparently Fr. Wilfred was a convert to Catholicism; he had attended a military academy and from there joined a ballet company in Russia headed by the prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. Fr. Wilfred kept himself busy in his later years doing the coats of arms of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges, among others.
Recently, at the suggestion of Dom Damian of Portsmouth, whom I saw earlier this week when he was visiting Vero Beach, Fla., I have been looking up what I could find about Dom Wilfred. In 1967 the Heraldry Society published a monograph by Dom [William] Wilfred Bayne with 39 pages of coats of arms and illustrations, and a comment on ecclesiastical heraldry by Dom Wilfred. He has prepared coats of arms for many Benedictine institutions.

He has also written an article on the Benedictine Armorial that can be consulted here.

In addition, he prepared the coat of arms for Bishop Ansgar Nelson, OSB (1906-1990), Roman Catholic Bishop of Stockholm, 1957-1962.

Nelson was an interesting subject for Dom Wilfred to work on. Here is a summary of his unusual life:
Born in 1906 in Frederiksværk, Denmark, Knut Ansgar Nelson came to the United States in 1925, converted to Roman Catholicism while working in Salem, Mass. and studying medieval art. In May 1931 he entered Portsmouth Priory, making his solemn profession in 1935 and becoming ordained a priest on May 22, 1937. During his early years in the monastery he taught classics. After his retirement he provided philosophy seminars in the novitiate and for the more advanced students in the school. On August 11, 1947 he was appointed coadjutor Vicar Apostolic of Sweden, as titular bishop of Bilta (Tunisia), and consecrated bishop by Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, on Sept. 8 at a ceremony in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. When Stockholm became an independent diocese in 1953, Nelson became coadjutor bishop. He succeeded to the bishopric on Oct. 1, 1957, resigning on July 2, 1962. After his retirement he served as a chaplain to nuns in Switzerland for five years before returning to what had now become Portsmouth Abbey. Nelson died in Newport Hospital on March 31, 1990.
Comment

I sent the above to Dom Damian and he commented that he studied Homer with Dom Ansgar, who was also his housemaster, during 1944-45, the year before Ansgar left to become Bishop of Stockholm.

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