Friday, July 29, 2016

The Beheading of Father Jacques


In the midst of recounting the stories of several priests martyred during the recusant or penal era in England here on my blog, I read early Tuesday morning about the martyrdom of Father Jacques Hamel, the 86 year old retired priest. He was decapitated on the altar while saying Mass in Sainte-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy--a community and a church named for the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen the Deacon. Two radicalized jihadists took the small congregation hostage and brutalized the elderly priest. People have proclaimed him a martyr. He certainly suffered and died because he was a Catholic priest, but is he a martyr?

Jimmy Akin at Catholic Answers provides some background, citing a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in 2006:

It is of course necessary to find irrefutable proof of readiness for martyrdom, such as the outpouring of blood and of its acceptance by the victim. It is likewise necessary, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain way, to ascertain the "odium Fidei" [hatred of the faith] of the persecutor. If this element is lacking there would be no true martyrdom according to the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church. The concept of "martyrdom" as applied to the Saints and Blessed martyrs should be understood, in conformity with Benedict XIV's teaching, as "voluntaria mortis perpessio sive tolerantia propter Fidem Christi, vel alium virtutis actum in Deum relatum" (De Servorum Dei beatificatione et Beatorum canonizatione, Prato 1839-1841, Book III, chap. 11, 1). This is the constant teaching of the Church.

Akin provides a translation of the statement in Latin from Pope Benedict XIV ("The voluntary enduring or tolerating of death on account of the Faith of Christ or another act of virtue in reference to God.") As Akin analyzes our knowledge of the horrible attack:

As the most recent Benedict makes clear, it is necessary not only to ascertain the odium Fidei or hatred of the Faith on the part of the killer but also “irrefutable proof of readiness for martyrdom, such as the outpouring of blood and of its acceptance by the victim.”

This is what we do not yet appear to have regarding the death of Fr. Hamel.

That he was killed in hatred of the Faith may be regarded as certain. ISIS-linked killers entering a church and killing a priest while saying Mass is a clear sign of hatred of the Faith (barring a truly bizarre and improbable set of circumstances, such as the priest had somehow personally wronged them and they killed him for that reason).

What needs to be established for proof of martyrdom is that Fr. Hamel voluntarily endured or tolerated death on account of the Faith of Christ.

This could be done in a number of ways. For example, it could be done if witnesses in the church gave statements saying that Fr. Hamel faced death saying things like, “I accept my death at your hands for the love of Jesus Christ” or just telling the killers “I forgive you.”

Even apart from such statements, his acceptance of his death for the Faith could be established if he knew that his parish was likely to be targeted by terrorists and he went about his priestly duties anyway, braving the consequences in order to serve others spiritually.

The latter instance seems most likely: the church was on the list of churches targeted by the Islamic terrorists; if the French government hadn't told the pastor, that would be a great injustice. 

All the reports are that Father Hamel was a wonderful priest, ordained in 1958, serving his people with the Sacraments and through his compassion long beyond retirement age, urging them to holiness, according to this profile in The Catholic Herald

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and may his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

The Catholic priests executed in England during the Recusant or Penal era knew the dangers they faced, as did the laity who assisted them, or became Catholic. They knew their own country's government and official church hated the Catholic faith and that they faced torture and death if they continued in their practice of the faith. They were often offered freedom and even honors if they renounced their faith and attended a Church of England service. 

Image: Paolo Uccello's "Stoning of St. Stephen".

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Campion and Shakespeare Meet

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has written a play about William Shakespeare and St. Edmund Campion. Its title, Shakeshafte, refers to the name mentioned in the annals of Hesketh Hall in Lancashire and the Jesuits in Britain are highlighting performance this week. In interviews about the play Williams says he believes Shakespeare was a Catholic and seems to accept one theory about Shakespeare's "lost years" as fact:

As part of his look into Shakespeare’s life and work, Dr Williams has also concluded The Bard was probably a Catholic.

He said of the play: “We know they both stayed at the same house in Lancashire. I found this a wonderful idea to play with: what might a Jesuit martyr and Shakespeare have said to each other?”

Regarding the ages-old debate over Shakespeare’s religion, Dr Wiliams says he now agrees with rumours that Shakespeare may have been a secret Catholic at a time when Queen Elizabeth I was spearheadeding a brutal repression of the catholic faith.

Dr Williams said: “Shakespeare knows exactly where he does, and doesn’t, want to go, in matters of church and state. He deliberately puts some of his plays right outside the Christian, Tudor/Jacobean framework.

“For instance, King Lear takes place in a pre-Christian Britain. Again, some people argue that Cymbeline is about a rupture with Rome, leading to a reconciliation. I think Shakespeare did have a recusant Catholic background. My own hunch though is that he didn’t go to church much.”

The Dylan Thomas Theatre describes the play:

It is 1581 and the Protestant queen, Elizabeth I, is half way through her long reign, but not all her people are happy to turn from their Catholic past and obey the Protestant regime.

Talk of Catholic invasions and assassination of the queen is rife and those of the “old religion” live in fear and ever watchful spies.

This is the setting for “Shakeshafte” by Rowan Williams when Edmund Campion, a Jesuit priest travelling incognito from one household to another, meets a young Will Shakeshafte who has been hidden at the request of a schoolmaster in Stratford!

Based on some truth, gossip and rumour, it is an exciting play, full of suspense and drama and Rowan has used his poetical and philosophical gifts to create Will’s depth of thought and feelings about human relationships and to elaborate on the personal choices that he has to make.

This production commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another July Martyr--From Wales

Blessed William Davies was beatified with the other 84 Martyrs of England and Wales in 1985 by Pope John Paul II. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he was "one of the most illustrious of the priests who suffered under Queen Elizabeth":

b. in North Wales, probably and Croes yn Eris, Denbighshire, date uncertain; d. at Beaumaris, 27 July, 1593. He studied at Reims, where he arrived 6 April 1582 just in time to assist a the first Mass of the venerable martyr Nicholas Garlick. He received tonsure and minor orders 23 Sept., 1583, together with seventy-three other English students. Ordained priest in April, 1585, he laboured with wonderful zeal and success in Wales till March, 1591-2, when he was arrested at Holyhead with four students whom he was sending via Ireland to the English College at Valladolid. He was thrown into a loathsome dungeon in Beaumaris Castle and separated from his companions, having frankly confessed that he was a priest. After a month his sanctity and patience gained him some relaxation of his close confinement and he was able to join the students for and hour in the day, and even to celebrate Mass. By degrees the jailor became so indulgent that they might have escaped had they so willed. The fame of the priest's sanctity and wisdom brought Catholics from all parts to consult him and Protestant ministers came to dispute with him. At the assizes he and his companions were condemned to death, on which the martyr intoned the "Te Deum", which the others took up. The injustice of the sentence was so apparent that to still the people's murmurs the judge reprieved the condemned till the queen's pleasure be known. Sent to Ludlow, to be examined by the Council of the Marches, Father Davies had to submit to fresh assaults by the ministers. Here too he foiled the artifices of his enemies who took him to the church under pretext of a disputation, and then began the Protestant service. He at once began to recite the Latin Vespers in a louder voice than the ministers', and afterwards publicly exposed the trick of which he had been a victim. From Ludlow he was sent to Bewdley, where he had to share a foul dungeon with felons, and from thence to other prisons until at last he was sent back to Beaumaris, where, to their mutual consolation, he rejoined his young companions. For some six moths he lived with them the life of a religious community, dividing the time between prayer and study, "with so much comfort to themselves that they seemed to be rather in heaven than in prison". At the summer assizes it was decided that the priest must die as a traitor, though he was offered his life if he would go but once to church. In spite of the then open opposition of the people, who honoured him as a saint, the cruel sentence was carried out and he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Beaumaris. As he put the rope round his neck, the martyr said: "Thy yoke, O Lord is sweet and Thy burden is light." His cassock stained with his blood was brought by his companions and preserved as a relic. They, though condemned to imprisonment for life, managed in time to escape, and the youngest found his way at last to Valladolid, where he recounted the whole story to Bishop Yepes, who wrote it in his "Historia particular de la Persecucion en Inglaterra". There is now a chapel in Anglesey built as a memorial to the martyr.

More about Beaumaris Castle here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Five Martyrs on July 26


Blessed John Ingram and Blessed George Swallowell in 1594.

Blesseds Edward Thwing and Robert Nutter in 1600.

Blessed William Ward (born William Webster) in 1641.

When Pope John Paul II beatified the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales, he summarized their cause and their loyalty:

Among these eighty-five martyrs we find priests and laymen, scholars and craftsmen. The oldest was in his eighties, and the youngest no more than twenty-four. There were among them a printer, a bartender, a stable-hand, a tailor. What unites them all is the sacrifice of their lives in the service of Christ their Lord.

The priests among them wished only to feed their people with the Bread of Life and with the Word of the Gospel. To do so meant risking their lives. But for them this price was small compared to the riches they could bring to their people in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The twenty-two laymen in this group of martyrs shared to the full the same love of the Eucharist. They, too, repeatedly risked their lives, working together with their priests, assisting, protecting and sheltering them. Laymen and priests worked together; together they stood on the scaffold and together welcomed death. Many women, too, not included today in this group of martyrs, suffered for their faith and died in prison. They have earned our undying admiration and remembrance.

These martyrs gave their lives for their loyalty to the authority of the Successor of Peter, who alone is Pastor of the whole flock. They also gave their lives for the unity of the Church, since they shared the Church’s fait, unaltered down the ages, that the Successor of Peter has been given the task of serving and ensuring "the unity of the flock of Christ". He has been given by Christ the particular role of confirming the faith of his brethren.

The martyrs grasped the importance of that Petrine ministry. They gave their lives rather than deny this truth of their faith. Over the centuries the Church in England, Wales and Scotland has drawn inspiration from these martyrs and continues in love of the Mass and in faithful adherence to the Bishop of Rome. The same loyalty and faithfulness to the Pope is demonstrated today whenever the work of renewal in the Church is carried out in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in communion with the universal Church.

Holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Wedding of England & Spain: Philip and Mary


On July 25, 1554, Mary of England and Philip of Spain were married in Winchester Cathedral; their nuptials were witnessed by Stephen Gardiner, the Archbishop of Winchester and Mary's Chancellor. Author Conor Byrne offers some details about the celebration of "A Marriage of England & Spain":

 . . .the queen was attired magnificently in 'rich apparel', including a golden robe and a gown of rich tissue embroidered upon purple satin (purple being the colour of royalty) set with pearls and lined with purple taffeta, and a kirtle of white satin embroidered with silver. Mary was accompanied by loyal members of the nobility. Her soon-to-be husband was also splendidly attired in gold. The earl of Derby carried the sword of state before her, while her train was borne by the marquess of Winchester. Notable attendees included the bishops of Winchester, London, Ely, Durham, Chichester and Lincoln.

The wedding was attended by vast numbers of observers, who 'gave a great shout' of joy upon witnessing their sovereign's marriage. The queen's absence of close male relatives meant that she was given away by the marquess of Winchester and the earls of Derby, Bedford and Pembroke. Following a nuptial mass, Philip and Mary proceeded to the bishop's palace under the canopy of state. The couple spent several joyous days in Winchester following their summer wedding. They then departed for Windsor and then to London, in order for the capital's inhabitants to welcome their queen and new king.

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen made a recording of music that might have been performed at the first Christmas Mary and Philip celebrated together, when Mary and her physicians thought she might be pregnant. It includes music by both Spanish and English composers--most especially, Thomas Tallis Puer natus est Mass. The cover image is from the National Archives, Kew.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Newman and Sayers on the Son Rise Morning Show

Anna Mitchell contacted me and asked me to discuss my comparison between Dorothy L. Sayers and Blessed John Henry Newman, as I posted last week and as I presented it in my discussion of Sayers at this weekend's Inkling Festival. I'll be on the air Monday, July 25, during the first local hour--not on EWTN--on Sacred Heart Radio. Listen live here about 7:45 a.m. Eastern; 6:45 a.m. Central.


During my presentation at the Inklings Festival, I made the following comparison between Newman and Sayers' efforts to make the Gospel real to people who perhaps had heard it so often they had begun to take it for granted:
Like John Henry Newman, the Vicar of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford during the Second Oxford/Tractarian Movement, she wanted to make basic Christian doctrine real not notional or even misunderstood, to those who professed it. In “Christ's Privations a Meditation for Christians” Newman asked in the nineteenth century why the Anglicans in his congregation are not making any progress in their faith:
"But why is this? why do you so little understand the Gospel of your salvation? why are your eyes so dim, and your ears so hard of hearing? why have you so little faith? so little of heaven in your hearts?" 
And he answers:
"For this one reason, my brethren, if I must express my meaning in one word, because you so little meditate [upon the life of Christ]. You do not meditate, and therefore you are not impressed."
Sayers thought that by the 1940’s in England there were two reasons Christians did not progress in their faith: not only did they not meditate on the Person and life of Jesus Christ, but also they did not understand it. She believed that Christians didn’t just misunderstand the story or the symbols of the story, the Creeds, but worse, they thought they understood it when they didn’t!
To continue this parallel between Newman and Sayers, in another famous PPS, Newman tries to wake his congregation up, make them feel sorrow for the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus, again noting their familiarity with the accounts of the Passion of Our Lord had somehow left them cold. So he used a homiletic shock therapy, exhorting the students and faculty and townspeople of Oxford: think of an animal being abused and tortured and how that moves you to pity and anger—think of a young child being abused and tortured and how that stirs you—think of an elderly man being abused and tortured and how that affects you—now remember that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnate Son of God and Son of Man was abused and tortured: this must move you to pity and additionally to repentance, because He did it for you.
That’s what Sayers wanted to achieve in The Man Born to Be King, using the medium of radio to take the Gospels out of the context of weekly Sunday readings and present them as a dramatic whole (in a monthly series of broadcasts) so they’d become real to the people again.
I'm happy to highlight the Eighth Day Institute's Inklings Festival on the Son Rise Morning Show--next year (2017!) Joseph Pearce will be the featured speaker! The first picture is of the pulpit in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford (c) Mark U. Mann. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Henry Fitzroy, RIP

Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy died on July 23, 1536. He was Henry's son by Elizabeth Blount, born in 1519 and Henry had bestowed many honors and much wealth upon him: the Order of the Garter; titles such as the Earl of Nottingham, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, Admiral of England, Ireland, and Normandy, and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland--these offices and titles made him very rich. His birth and survival was a sign to Henry that it was not his fault none of the sons borne by Katherine of Aragon survived.

In 1533 he married Mary Howard, daughter of Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk. Henry Fitzroy died just when Henry VIII was considering naming him his heir, in spite of his illegitimacy, since he had no other son to succeed him. Fitzroy witnessed the executions of the Carthusians and of Anne Boleyn; we have no information about what he thought of the religious changes going on around him.

As this site notes, however, those changes would soon affect him--or at least his mortal remains--because his had to be moved a few years later:

In early July, 1536, Richmond was reported to be ill with pains in his chest and a cough, which was diagnosed as consumption (usually identified as tuberculosis), he died at the age of seventeen at St. James's Palace on 23 July 1536.

His father-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk issued orders that the body be wrapped in lead and taken in a closed cart for secret interment, in the Cluniac priory of Thetford. The only mourners were two attendants who followed at a distance. His young widow Mary Howard was refused a pension by the King, as the couple were so young it is doubtful that the marriage had ever been consummated. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries his body was moved to Framlingham Church in Suffolk. His wife, Mary Howard, was also buried in his ornate tomb after her death in 1557.


The Howard family did not want to see their family members moved from their resting place, according to British History Online:

The Duke of Norfolk, the powerful patron of Thetford Priory, naturally looked with dismay upon the approaching destruction of this house and of the church, where not only his remote but more immediate ancestors had been honourably interred. His father, Sir Thomas Howard, earl of Surrey and duke of Norfolk, who died on 21 May, 1524, was buried before the high altar of the conventual church, where a costly monument to himself and Agnes his wife had been erected; whilst still more recently, in 1536, Henry Fitzroy, duke of Somerset, had been buried in the same place. As a means of preserving the church and establishment, the duke proposed to convert the priory into a church of secular canons, with a dean and chapter. In 1539 he petitioned the king to that effect, stating that there lay buried in that church the bodies of the Duke of Richmond, the king's natural son; the duke's late wife, Lady Anne, aunt to his highness; the late Duke of Norfolk and other of his ancestors; and that he was setting up tombs for himself and the duke of Richmond which would cost £400. He also promised to make it ' a very honest parish church.' At first the king gave ear to the proposal, and Thetford was included in a list with five others, of ' collegiate churches newly to be made and erected by the king.' Whereupon the duke had articles of a thorough scheme drawn up for insertion in the expected letters patent, whereby the monastery was to be translated into a dean and chapter. The dean was to be Prior William, (fn. 50) and the six prebendaries and eight secular canons were to be the monks of the former house, whose names are set forth in detail. The nomination of the dean was to rest with the duke and his heirs. The scheme included the appointment by the dean and chapter of a doctor or bachelor of divinity as preacher in the house, with a stipend of £20. (fn. 51).

But the capricious king changed his mind, and insisted on the absolute dissolution of the priory. The duke found that further resistance was hopeless, and on 16 February, 1540, Prior William and thirteen monks signed a deed of surrender. (fn. 52) Two months later the site and the whole possessions of the priory passed to the Duke of Norfolk for £1,000, and by the service of a knight's fee and an annual rental of £59 5s. 1d. The bones of Henry's natural son, and of the late Duke of Norfolk and others, together with their tombs, were removed to a newly erected chancel of the Suffolk church of Framingham, and the grand church of St. Mary of Thetford speedily went to decay.

More about the Howard family tombs here. St. Michael's in Framingham has more information about Henry Fitzroy on its "Historical Tombs" page, including this sad comment: "The responsibility for FitzRoy's burial was placed upon Norfolk by the King who seems to have lost interest in his son, once dead."

Image Credit for Thetford Priory ruins: Wikipedia Commons (licensed: CC BY-SA 3.0); Portrait miniature by Lucas Horenbout , public domain.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Jesus and Women: St. Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene is my confirmation saint. I attended the School of the Magdalen here in Wichita and the sisters were thrilled by my selection, except that I really chose the name to honor the grandmother I never knew. She had been raised Catholic but had left the Church. Personally, I am pleased that Pope Francis has raised St. Mary Magdalen's feast day to the level of a Feast (not just a Memorial). That means that the "Gloria in exclesis deo" will be sung or recited at Mass today and there is even a special Preface (before the Sanctus and the Canon).

When announcing the change, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Arthur Roche commented on the reasons and the timing:

Archbishop Roche drew attention to the fact Mary Magdalene was the first witness to the Resurrection, and is the one who announced the event to the Apostles.

“Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic evangelization; she is an evangelist who announces the joyful central message of Easter,” he writes.

“The Holy Father Francis took this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to signify the importance of this woman who showed a great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” writes Archbishop Roche.

He also notes Saint Magdalene was referred to as the "Apostle of the Apostles" (Apostolorum Apostola) by Thomas Aquinas, since she announced to them the Resurrection, and they, in turn, announced it to the whole world.

“Therefore it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same grade of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the General Roman Calendar, and shines a light on the special mission of this woman, who is an example and model for every woman in the Church.”


Dorothy L. Sayers clearly identifies with the women of the Gospels who are drawn to Jesus. In her radio play-cycle, The Man Born to Be King, Sayers identifies Mary of Bethany as Mary Magdalen as the woman who washes Jesus's feet with her tears in the house of Simon the Zealot. There are some controversies here, as Scott Hahn describes in his Dictionary of the Bible (Doubleday, 2009):

Tradition often identifies Mary Magdalene either with the sinful woman who anointed Christ's feet in Luke 7:36-50 or with Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha mentioned in Luke 10:38-42 and John 11-12. By the sixth century A.D., figures such as Gregory the Great had begun to advance the notion that these two women mentioned in Scripture were one and the same person: Mary Magdalene, who hailed from Bethany and who had become a disciple of Jesus after leading a notoriously sinful life. This tradition explains why Mary Magdalene was revered for centuries as the "model penitent." From a biblical standpoint, it is not impossible that Mary Magdalene could be identified with either one or both of these two women, but decisive evidence is lacking and so it must remain uncertain.

In "The Human Not Quite Human" Sayers writes that it's

no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized . . . who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension . . . who . . . never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female . . . who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious.


Then in “The Light and The Life,” the 7th play from The Man Born to Be King cycle, Sayers dramatizes this great attraction in a scene set at Bethany in the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Mary remembers how Jesus forgave her, referring to Luke 7:36-50:

MARY: I love the wrong things in the wrong way—yet it was love of a sort . . . until I found a better.

JESUS: Because the love was so great, the sin is all forgiven.

MARY: Kind Rabbi, you told me so, when I fell at your feet in the house of Simon the Pharisee. . . . Did you know? My companions and I came there that day to mock you. We thought you would be sour and grim, hating all beauty and treating life as an enemy. But when I saw you, I was amazed. You were the only person there that was really alive. The rest of us were going about half-dead—making the gestures of life, pretending to be real people. The life was not with us but with you—intense and shining, like the strong sun when it rises and turns the flames of our candles to pale smoke. And I wept and was ashamed, seeing myself such a thing of trash and tawdry. But when you spoke to me, I felt the flame of the sun in my heart. I came alive for the first time. And I love life all the more since I have learnt its meaning. 

JESUS: That is what I am here for. I came that men should lay hold of life and possess it to the full.

Let us pray: O God, whose Only Begotten Son entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection, grant, we pray, that through her intercession and example we may proclaim the living Christ and come to see him reigning in your glory. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Snapdragon: Newman and Sayers

I've been completing my preparations for my presentation on Dorothy L. Sayers at Saturday's Inkling Festival and I make some comparisons between Sayers and Newman in the course of my talk. They both tried to make the Gospel real to their audiences; Newman in his pulpit at St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford; Sayers in her essays and the radio play, The Man Born to Be King on the BBC.

Then I was looking at an on-line collection of her poetry and found out that they had another connection: the snapdragon.

Newman thought that he would be living and working in Oxford all his life. He took the presence of the snapdragon growing on the walls of his alma mater Trinity College as the "emblem" of his "own perpetual residence even unto death in [his] University. Joyce Sugg took that image of the "Snapdragon in the Wall" as the subtitle of her biography of Newman originally published in 1965.

Newman wrote a poem about the snapdragon as "A Riddle for a Flower Book":

I AM rooted in the wall
Of buttress'd tower or ancient hall;
Prison'd in an art-wrought bed.
Cased in mortar, cramp'd with lead;
Of a living stock alone
Brother of the lifeless stone.

Else unprized, I have my worth
On the spot that gives me birth;
Nature's vast and varied field
Braver flowers than me will yield,
Bold in form and rich in hue,
Children of a purer dew;
Smiling lips and winning eyes
Meet for earthly paradise.
Choice are such,—and yet thou knowest
Highest he whose lot is lowest.
They, proud hearts, a home reject
Framed by human architect;
Humble-I can bear to dwell
Near the pale recluse's cell,
And I spread my crimson bloom,
Mingled with the cloister's gloom.
Life's gay gifts and honours rare,
Flowers of favour! win and wear!
Rose of beauty, be the queen
In pleasure's ring and festive scene.
Ivy, climb and cluster, where
Lordly oaks vouchsafe a stair.
Vaunt, fair Lily, stately dame,
Pride of birth and pomp of name.
Miser Crocus, starved with cold,
Hide in earth thy timid gold.
Travell'd Dahlia, freely boast
Knowledge brought from foreign coast.
Pleasure, wealth, birth, knowledge, power,
These have each an emblem flower;
So for me alone remains
Lowly thought and cheerful pains.
Be it mine to set restraint
On roving wish and selfish plaint;
And for man's drear haunts to leave
Dewy morn and balmy eve.
Be it mine the barren stone
To deck with green life not its own.
So to soften and to grace
Of human works the rugged face.
Mine, the Unseen to display
In the crowded public way,
Where life's busy arts combine
To shut out the Hand Divine.

Ah! no more a scentless flower,
By approving Heaven's high power,
Suddenly my leaves exhale
Fragrance of the Syrian gale.
Ah! 'tis timely comfort given
By the answering breath of Heaven!
May it be! then well might I
In College cloister live and die.

Ulcombe.
October 2, 1827.

Eighty-nine years later Dorothy L. Sayers had her first book of poetry published by Blackwell's in Oxford and it includes a poem title SNAP-DRAGONS:

I have the streets in mind
And the yellow sun,--
    Lad, you are left behind,--
    All that is done.


Snap-dragons on the wall
Were homely to see,--
    What was it after all
    But vanity?


Snap-dragons on the wall
In my garden too,--
    There is little to recall
    For me and you.


Dead blossoms adrift
Are falling away,--
    You never gave me a gift
    Would last for a day.


Swift is darkness -- swift
The death of a flower,--
    I never gave you a gift
    Would last for an hour.


Gone is the level light
From the wide lands,--
    I would be glad to-night
    Of the touch of your hands.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The O'Neill Dies in Rome

Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, "The O'Neill", died on July 20, 1616, in Rome. He is buried in San Pietro in Montorio, famous for Bramante's Il Tempietto. HistoryToday.com provides this background on his conflict with Elizabeth I and his final exile to Rome:

O’Neill surrendered to the English the following year on the day before Queen Elizabeth’s death. He went to London and met the new king, James I who, it seemed for a time, would be more understanding, but after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 patience with Catholicism ran out and the English regime returned to the whittling away of the O’Neill and O’Donnell estates. Hugh O’Neill hoped to argue his case again in London, but Red Hugh’s successor, his younger brother Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnel, decided to get away abroad. O’Neill realized that the English would take this to mean he was plotting another uprising and that he himself would be implicated. He decided he must go too and said a sad farewell to his friends.

O’Neill and O’Donnell and more than ninety followers set sail in a French ship from Rathmullan in Donegal. They landed in Normandy, went on to the Spanish Netherlands and were quickly packed off to Italy, where the pope provided them with a house in Rome paid for by Philip of Spain. Pleas for Spanish help in Ireland were ignored. The English government was surprised and delighted by the departure of the earls, which in the opinion of the attorney-general of Ireland, Sir John Davies, enabled it to complete the work of St Patrick, who ‘did only banish the poisonous worms, but suffered the men full of poison to inhabit the land still.’ O’Donnell soon died, in 1608, and was buried in the church of San Pietro di Montorio. British agents keeping an eye on O’Neill in Rome reported that after a good dinner he liked to talk of the prospect of ‘a good day in Ireland’.

Hugh O’Neill never saw his good day in Ireland. Almost blind in his final years, he died of fever in 1616 in his sixties and was interred beside O’Donnell. The Protestant plantation of Ulster proceeded apace and the flight of the earls would be the first of many departures from Ireland by native Irish over the following centuries.


You can see the marker for his grave on the church's website.

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