Tolkien Collector's Guide
Tolkien Card to Patricia Kirke from 24 December 1956
By Jlong

Tolkien Card to Patricia Kirke from 24 December 1956

Apr 24

Hey folks,

So I have another transcription question: can anyone make out the name at the end of this Christmas card? (It is evidently someone associated with the Birmingham Oratory).

Here is what I have so far (this is only the very bottom of the message):

"I did hear from you on the Immaculate Conception: a feast to which I have a special devotion. It was the dedication of the Bi[rming]ham Oratory. There I made my first confession and communion, and it is also particularly associated with _________ _________."

Also, regardless of the name at the end, how do you interpret this? Is Tolkien saying that he had his first confession and communion at the Birmingham Oratory in general (no specified date) or on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (this would make it 8 December 1903)?

From his mother Mabel's letter in Carpenter's biography, she notes, "Ronald is making his First Communion this Christmas--so it is a very great feast indeed to us this year" (36).

On the surface, this would seem to rule out 8 December because she specifies "this Christmas"; however, the Advent season occurs throughout all of December. In other words, is Mabel referring to Christmastide or Christmas day?

Any thoughts on the name in the letter or the dating of Tolkien's First Communion?

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Apr 24
"I did hear from you on the Immaculate Conception: a feast to which I have a special devotion. It was the dedication of the Bi[rming]ham Oratory, where I made my first confession and communion, and it is also particularly associated with _________ Bernadette."
Apr 24
Hi JLong!

My guess is that Tolkien is not talking about a person, but about a school.

St Bernadette's Catholic Primary School, Hob Moor Rd, Birmingham.

Do you find this idea helpful?

Best wishes,

Lokki
Apr 24
The word before "Bernadette" is "beloved". Bernadette, ultimately Saint Bernadette, was a young woman of Lourdes who saw apparitions of a lady (the Virgin Mary) who identified herself as the Immaculate Conception. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th.

Wayne & Christina
Apr 24
Thank you for the clarification Wayne and Christina.
Apr 24
Wayne and Christina,

Thanks so much. That is extremely helpful!

Josh
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