Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blogging about Blogging: The Quebec Act @ NCReg

So this is a meta blog post, posting about another blog post at the National Catholic Register: a follow-up with background to explain why Fanny Allen's mother and stepfather were so worried about her going to Catholic Canada:

This fear of Catholics and of Canadian Catholics in particular had deep colonial roots in the French and Indian War (part of the Seven Years’ War fought between France and England in several colonial territories) and the 1774 Quebec Act. Great Britain, with help from their British colonists in North America, won the war in 1763 and had obtained the French territory of Quebec in Canada. The colonists were pleased with the defeat of Catholic France.

Eleven years later, Parliament passed the Quebec Act, integrating the former French colony into British Canada. American colonists were not pleased with many of the decisions reached by Parliament. Although the issue of religious liberty among Protestants was tremendously important in the revolutionary period, as Thomas S. Kidd recounts in
God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (Basic Books, 2012), American Protestants did not think that Catholics should be free to practice their faith.

The Quebec Act allowed Catholics in Canada, unlike Catholics in England or other British colonies, not only to practice their faith freely, but to serve in government offices without taking an oath that denied their faith. Catholics in England, Scotland and Ireland could not serve in political office because they would have had to deny the Real Presence in the Eucharist (which the government called Transubstantiation), the invocation of saints, and the authority of the pope. Catholics in Canada could simply swear loyalty to King George III.

In the background for all the British American colonists, even those in Pennsylvania, like Benjamin Franklin (picture in the fur hat that he procured in Canada and that became such a fashion statement in Paris), the specter of James II--and the more remote horrors of the Gunpowder Plot, the Spanish Armada and even the fires of Smithfield--dominated their view of Catholics and the Papacy. Franklin, with his career in Pennsylvania, should have known a little about William Penn's support of James II's efforts to bring religious toleration to England. His speaking and campaigning for the Act of Toleration got Penn in trouble: he was imprisoned and accused of being a Papist!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Handing Down Family Relics: Thomas More's Descendants

In her National Catholic Register article about the exhibition on St. Thomas More at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC, Charlotte Hays notes the source of several of the relics on display:

Several objects in the exhibit were given to the Jesuit college in the 18th century by Jesuit Father Thomas More, the last male descendant of St. Thomas More (More had four children, three daughters and a son). These include an enameled gold crucifix that has three pearls hanging from it and likely contained a relic, now lost, of an earlier saint. Because of the size of the crucifix, it likely sat on More’s desk rather than worn around the neck and likely was on his desk in the Tower of London. A homey gift from Father More was the saint’s reversible nightcap, made with golden thread and gilded spangles. Family history attributed the cap to More’s beloved daughter Meg.

The Center for Thomas More Studies has this resource for the family tree (though not in the form of a family tree) for the More family, based upon a book from Gracewing. According to this site:

Fr Thomas More—the last descendant in the direct male line of St.Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England—died on 20 May 1795 in Bath. He had been the Jesuit provincial superior at the time of the suppression of the Society in 1773.

Thomas More was the eldest of the five children of Thomas and Catherine (née Giffard) of Barnborough or Bamburg Hall in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Born on 19 September 1722, he was followed by Christopher, Bridget, Catherine and Mary. Both sons became Jesuits. Bridget married twice—Peter Metcalfe and Robert Dalton and had descendants; she died in 1797. Catherine died unmarried in 1786. Mary became Sister Mary Augustine of the Austin Canonesses at Bruges and died in 1807. Their home, Barnborough Hall, had been in the family since John, the only son of St. Thomas, had acquired it by his marriage to Anne Cresacre and it remained so until the nineteenth century.

In one of  the appendices to a book written after More's beatification by Father Thomas Edward Bridgett, you may read about all the relics of St. Thomas More that Father Thomas More, SJ gave to Stonyhurst College, including their family history and provenance.

I really think I may have to plan a visit to Washington, DC to see this exhibit, visit the National Shrine, etc. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Copley-Maryland Connection

Thomas Copley, former favorite of Elizabeth I, died in exile on September 25, 1584. He was in exile because he had returned to his family's Catholic faith and it was not safe for him to stay in England. His sons and daughter found different ways to deal with their inherited recusancy. According to the Dictionary of National Biography:

of Gatton, Surrey, and Roughay, Sussex, and of the Maze, Southwark, who was knighted (perhaps by the king of France), and created a baron by Philip II of Spain, and who is frequently referred to by contemporaries as Lord Copley, was one of the chief Roman catholic exiles in the reign of Elizabeth. Camden styles him ‘e primariis inter profugos Anglos.’ He was the eldest son of Sir Roger Copley by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Shelley of Michelgrove, a judge of the common pleas [q. v.], and was one of the coheirs of Thomas, last lord Hoo and Hastings, whose title he claimed and sometimes assumed. Lord Hoo's daughter Jane married his great-grandfather, Sir Roger Copley. Another daughter married Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, and was the great-grandmother of Anne Boleyn. The lords of the manor of Gatton then, as for nearly three centuries afterwards, returned the members of parliament for the borough, and in 1554 Copley, when only twenty years of age, was returned ‘by the election of Dame Elizabeth Copley’ (his mother) as M.P. for Gatton. He sat for the same place in the later parliaments of 1556, 1557, 1559, and 1563, and distinguished himself in 1558 by his opposition to the government of Philip and Mary (Commons' Journals). He was then a zealous protestant, and was much in favour with his kinswoman Queen Elizabeth at the commencement of her reign. In 1560 she was godmother to his eldest son Henry. According to Father Parsons (Relation of a Trial between the Bishop of Evreux and the Lord Plessis Mornay, 1604) the falsehoods he found in Jewel's ‘Apology’ (1562) led to his conversion to the church of Rome. After suffering (as he intimates in one of his letters) some years' imprisonment as a popish recusant, he left England without license in or about 1570, and spent the rest of his life in France, Spain, and the Low Countries, in constant correspondence with Cecil and others of Elizabeth's ministers, and sometimes with the queen herself, desiring pardon and permission to return to England and to enjoy his estates; but acting as the leader of the English fugitives, and generally in the service of the king of Spain, from whom he had a pension, and by whom he was created baron of Gatton and grand master of the Maze (or Maes) (Camden). He also received letters of marque against the Dutch. His title of baron and these letters form two of the subjects of the correspondence that passed between himself and the queen's ministers (Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser.) Much of his correspondence is to be found in the ‘State Papers,’ and in the Cottonian, Lansdowne, and Harleian MSS. He died in Flanders in 1584, and in the last codicil to his will styles himself ‘Sir Thomas Copley, knight, Lord Copley of Gatton in the county of Surrey’ (Probate Office). By his wife Catherine, daughter and coheiress of Sir John Luttrell of Dunster, Somerset, he had four sons and four daughters. His eldest son Henry, Queen Elizabeth's godson, died young; William succeeded at Gatton. The third son was Anthony.

According to the History of Parliament for Gatton, William was also a recusant, so his prospects were few:

The manor of Gatton was in the possession of the Copley family by the early sixteenth century. In 1547 the Members were elected by Sir Roger Copley as ‘burgess and sole inhabitant of the borough’.9 However Sir Roger’s son Thomas†, his widow, and his son William, were Catholics, and spent much of the reign of Elizabeth in exile. In their absence, parliamentary patronage was exercised by Lord Burghley (Sir William Cecil†) and Lord Howard of Effingham (Charles Howard†), subsequently 1st earl of Nottingham, the latter being lord lieutenant of Surrey and part owner of Reigate manor.10

William Copley returned from exile and took possession of his lands shortly after the accession of James I, but his prospects of exerting electoral influence were compromised by his continued recusancy.11 Both the Members elected in 1604, Sir Thomas Gresham and Sir Nicholas Saunders, were Surrey gentlemen. Saunders may have had the support of Nottingham, with whom he had served on the Cadiz expedition of 1596. He may also have enjoyed the backing of Copley, for although he conformed to the Church of England he had strong Catholic connections.

One of William's sons became a Jesuit and worked with Lord Baltimore on the mission of Maryland. His real name was Thomas, but his alias was Philip Fisher, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

b. in Madrid, 1595-6; d. in Maryland, U. S., 1652. He was the eldest son of William Copley of Gatton, England, of a Catholic family of distinction who suffered exile in the reign of Elizabeth. He arrived in Maryland in 1637, and, being a man of great executive ability, took over the care of the mission, "a charge which at that time required rather business men than missionaries". In 1645, Father Fisher was wantonly seized and carried in chains to England, with Father Andrew White, the founder of the English mission in America. After enduring many hardships he was released, when he boldly returned to Maryland (Feb., 1648), where, after an absence of three years, he found his flock in a more flourishing state than those who had opposed and plundered them. That he made an effort to enter the missionary field of Virginia, appears from a letter written 1 March, 1648, to the Jesuit General Caraffa in Rome, in which he says: "A road has lately been opened through the forest to Virginia; this will make it but a two days' journey, and both places can now be united in one mission. After Easter I shall wait upon the Governor of Virginia upon business of great importance." Unfortunately there is no further record bearing on the projected visit. Neill, in his "Terra Mariae" (p. 70), and Smith in his "Religion under the Barons of Baltimore" (p. VII), strangely confound this Father Thomas Copley of Maryland with an apostate John Copley, who was never a Jesuit. Father Fisher is mentioned with honourable distinction in the missionary annals of Maryland, and, according to Hughes, was "the most distinguished man among the fourteen Jesuits who had worked in Maryland".

The third son Anthony, was a poet. According to the University of Manchester Press, which publishes his magnum opus in its Manchester Spencer series:

Anthony Copley's A Fig for Fortune was the first major poetic response to Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. Written by a Catholic Englishman with an uneasy relationship to the English regime, A Fig for Fortune offers a deeply contestatory, richly imagined answer to sixteenth-century England's greatest poem. Through its sophisticated response to Spenser, A Fig for Fortune challenges a contemporary literary culture in which Protestant habits of thought and representation were gaining dominance. This book comprises the poem's first scholarly edition. It offers a carefully annotated edition of the 2000-line poem, an overview of English Catholic history in the sixteenth century, a full biography of Anthony Copley, an assessment of his engagement with Spenser's Faerie Queene, and information on the book's early print history. Extensive support for student readers makes it possible to teach Copley's poem alongside The Faerie Queene for the first time.

There was a fourth son, John, born in Louvain, who became a Catholic priest but then left the Church, became an Anglican and a Church of England minister. One daughter, Margaret, married John Gage of Barstow Manor in Surrey, but they had no "issue". British History Online refers to her as being "of the noted recusant family."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Our Lady of Walsingham, First Shrine to the Mother of God

This recent Catholic News Agency (CNA) story comments upon the continuing popularity of the shrine of Our Lady of Walshingham, which is a Memorial today in the dioceses of England, noting that it was the first pilgrimage shrine to Mary, the Mother of God in Christendom, with its origins in 1061:

“From that time, through till the reformation, in 1538, Walsingham was one of the great shrines of Christendom,” and the only shrine dedicated to Our Lady, Msgr. Armitage said.

It is a great source of pride that Walsingham is the site of the oldest Marian shrine in the world, he said.

“Indeed, if you go to Nazareth, and you stand in front of the Holy House in Nazareth, if you look up, you’ll see all the different images of the Shrines to Our Lady around the world. And the first one that is displayed there is the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.”

Although the shrine itself was destroyed in 1538, a small nearby chapel where pilgrims en route to Walsingham would stop remained. “It’s where the pilgrims would come and before they entered the shrine ground, they would go to confession and then they would take their shoes off, and leave them at the slipper chapel – hence its name – and would walk barefoot into the shrine in the village.”

This tradition continues to this day, the rector added. “Once (the pilgrims) have finished their devotion at the slipper chapel shrine, they then walk along what’s called the Holy Mile into the village.”

After the shrine was rebuilt in the 20th century, the site began to see a resurgence of pilgrims which continues to this day.

“Walsingham is a great crossroads of Catholics in England,” Msgr. Armitage said, and many consider it to be the “spiritual heart” of the country.

CNA also provides this prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham:

O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your divine son, dying on the cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. make your name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.

Pray, O holy mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.

O blessed Mary, mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us. Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Lost Songs of St. Kilda

This kind of story and endeavor resonates with me. Although the Catholic faith and culture in England didn't come down to one man giving that knowledge to another, there was a remnant left to sustain it and help revive it when the time came. The new CD, The Lost Songs of St. Kilda represents an even more tenuous remnant: one man remembering the old songs of a forsaken home and teaching them to another; that other man in old age remembering the old songs of that forsaken home and playing them; and a third man, recording the songs for the rest of us to hear and glimpse the life that is gone. As BBC Scotland News tells the story:

It all began when Trevor Morrison sat down at the piano in Edinburgh's Silverlea Care Home 10 years ago and began to play.

The magic did not go unnoticed.

The tunes were simple, naive even, but memorable and with an extraordinary emotional depth.

As a 10-year-old child on the west coast island of Bute during World War Two, Trevor had been taught piano by a former resident of St Kilda.

His teacher had left the remote archipelago in the outer Hebrides when they were evacuated in 1930.

Somehow, a lifetime later and in failing health, Trevor managed to remember the tunes his teacher had shown him.

Stuart McKenzie, who had been volunteering in the care home, offered to record them.

"He played the most astonishing tunes. They were so different. Complicated, but simple," Mr McKenzie says.

"I went home, got my computer, downloaded a bit of software and went along to a local electrical store and paid £3 for a microphone we could put down the back of the piano for him. And away he went."

Decca has combined the recordings of Morrison made by McKenzie with orchestrations of the melodies and works inspired by the music. This website has samples of the music and a timeline of the history of St. Kilda, which is not really named for any saint as far as anyone can tell.

The album won't be released in the United States until early October. It is a remarkable survival of aspects of a lost culture.

For Members Only

You have to be a member of The Tudor Society to access the material and every issue Tudor Life on-line, although there is a small sample the public may see, and a monthly issue option. In the October issue, editor Gareth Russell kindly featured my explanation of the name and main symbol of The Pilgrimage of Grace on the cover! More information about The Tudor Society here. One of the aspects I like about Tudor Life is that it is multidisciplinary, offering articles beyond historical narration and biography, including information about music, diet, clothing, etc--all those other aspects of life during the Tudor era.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to Make An Author's Day

When I woke up Tuesday morning and checked my email, I found this message:
Dear Ms. Mann,

I got up early this morning to finish reading your fine book Supremacy and Survival. My wife and I found this book recently in the gift shop at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Alabama (the shrine established by EWTN's Mother Angelica.) While we were there I bought 5 different books. I read The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest by John Gerard, S.J. first and followed that up with your book. I am Catholic, 63 years old and really never knew anything at all about the persecution/martyrdom of many Catholics in old England. When I was a kid my father used to talk about St. Edmund Campion , but it never really sank in. I never heard any of this despite 12 years in Catholic schools. I don't think any of my 5 sons learned of any of this either, despite 12 years of Catholic school education.

I want to thank you for an excellent text covering the English Reformation and its aftermath. Yours and Father Gerard's book really were fascinating eye-openers and I hope to do more reading in these areas. Both these books were very hard to put down---real page-turners you might say. I plan to spend time going over your blog articles. I hope you write other books on these subjects in the future. You write succinctly and with great clarity. It makes me feel greater pride in being a Catholic. Spreading this information could lead to more religious vocations, I think.

God bless you and your efforts. Sincerely, Martin P. Harpen, M.D., Suffolk, VA
Dr. Harpen gave me permission to post his email (I added the italics).

What a way to start the day!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Tichborne Traitors

Chidiock Tichborne was a Babington Plot conspirator against Elizabeth I (seen in the Pelican Portrait by Nicholas Hilliard, which symbolizes her love for her country--the pelican mother would pierce its own breast and feed her young with her blood) and he was brutally executed on September 20, 1586 at St. Giles Field, along with other conspirators. The night before he wrote his own elegy and sent it to his wife Agnes:

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

Chidiock's uncle, Nicholas Tichborne, had also betrayed his monarch because of his obdurate recusancy, as Francis Aidan Gasquet describes in his Hampshire Recusants: A Story of Their Troubles in the Time of Queen Elizabeth (1895):

In the year 1589, Nicholas Tichborne of Hartley Maudit, three miles from Alton, died. He had been in the gaol of Winchester for nine years a prisoner, as he says himself in his petition for relief "for not repairing unto my parish church," or as the Sheriff puts it, "in execution for a great sum of money due unto Her Majesty by reason of his recusancy." We have a glimpse of his sad condition in a letter written by him in 1585. In October of that year, orders were sent down to the officials in the various counties to demand from each recusant gentleman or woman one "light horse" for the queen's service, or £25 in money. George Cotton, apparently, was the only one in this part of the country who was " contented " to furnish the horse. Poor Nicholas Tichborne pleaded "non-ability" to do what was required. "I and such other recusants," he writes, "have reported ourselves, notwithstanding our recusancy, to be as good subjects as any other Her Majesty's subjects, which before God I do acknowledge and profess. And hereupon. Her Majesty having present service for certain light horsemen to be sent into Flanders, Her Majesty's will and pleasure is to require of me to have a light horse in readiness, with all the furniture thereunto belonging, by the 26th day of the month of October, or else £25". "I," he continues, "am a younger brother and son of a younger brother," and had only one little farm, "for the maintenance of myself, my poor wife and eight young children." The "lease whereof with all such goods as I had upon the same was sold by Robert White, Esq., late Sheriff of the said county, and the money for the same was paid into the receipt of Her Majesty's Exchequer, to Her Majesty's use in the Michaelmas term in the 25th year of Her Majesty's reign." . . . Tichborne declares that since he has been in prison and all his little property taken away, his family has lived upon the alms of the charitable. He is sorry he is unable to do anything in the way of finding the horse to show " his loyalty and true obedience to Her Majesty . . . He was left consequently in the Winchester Gaol till he died, as I have said, in 1589. The Bishop of the diocese, Dr. Cooper, refused to allow his body to be buried in any church or cemetery, declaring that his conscience would not permit him to suffer a papist to be buried in any of his churches or cemeteries. By the advice of an old Catholic the body was carried to the summit of a hill about a mile from the city and interred in the old disused cemetery of St. James, now known in Winchester as the Catholic Cemetery.

Nicholas' sons, Thomas and Nicholas were executed like Chidiock, but are considered martyrs--they were not part of a conspiracy, but were a Catholic priest present in England (Father Thomas) and a Catholic layman assisting a Catholic priest (Nicholas). They have both been declared Venerable by the Church but have not been beatified in either of the large groups in the 19th and 20th centuries.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia, Venerable Thomas Tichborne:

Born at Hartley, Hampshire, 1567; martyred at Tyburn, London, 20 April, 1602. He was educated at Rheims (1584-87) and Rome, where he was ordained on Ascension Day, 17 May, 1592. Returning to England on 10 March, 1594, he laboured in his native county, where he escaped apprehension till the early part of 1597. He was sent a prisoner to the Gatehouse in London, but in the autumn of 1598 was helped to escape by his brother, Ven. Nicholas Tichborne, and Ven. Thomas Hackshot, who were both martyred shortly afterwards. Betrayed by Atkinson, an apostate priest, he was re-arrested and on 17 April, 1602, was brought to trial with Ven. Robert Watkinson (a young Yorkshire man who had been educated at Rome and ordained priest at Douai a month before) and Ven. James Duckett, a London bookseller. On 20 April he was executed with Ven. Robert Watkinson and Ven. Francis Page, S.J. The last named was a convert, of a Middlesex family though born in Antwerp. He had been ordained at Douai in 1600 and received into the Society of Jesus while a prisoner in Newgate. Ven. Thomas Tichborne was in the last stages of consumption when he was martyred.

Note that Watkinson, Page and Duckett have been beatified (in 1929 by Pope Pius XI). Why not Thomas Tichborne?

b. at Hartley Mauditt, Hampshire; suffered at Tyburn, London, 24 Aug., 1601. He was a recusant at large in 1592, but by 14 March, 1597, had been imprisoned. On that date he gave evidence against various members of his family. Before 3 Nov., 1598, he had obtained his liberty and had effected the release of his brother, Venerable Thomas Tichborne, a prisoner in the Gatehouse, Westminster, by assaulting his keeper. He is to be distinguished from the Nicholas Tichborne who died in Winchester Gaol in 1587. [His father, as described above]

With him suffered Venerable Thomas Hackshot (b. at Mursley, Buckinghamshire), who was condemned on the same charge, viz. that of effecting the escape of the priest Thomas Tichborne. During his long imprisonment in the Gatehouse he was "afflicted with divers torments, which he endured with great courage and fortitude."

According to the English government at the time, all four of these men were in some way traitors. Nicholas, the father, refused to accept the Elizabethan religious settlement by not going to the Anglican services held each Sunday in his formerly Catholic church. He and his family lost all of their material possessions because of his refusal. He could be considered a martyr in chains. His wife, Mary (Myll) must have been just as loyal to the Catholic faith and his sons also remained true. Note, however, that Nicholas (the younger) must have wavered a bit, because in 1597 he "gave evidence against various members of his family". Nevertheless, he helped his brother, Father Thomas, escape from prison a year or so later. Then they were both recaptured, tried, and sentenced to death.

Chidiock's father, Peter, was also a recusant, who spent time in jail for not paying his fines and refusing to attend Anglican services. Chidiock, however, joined in the conspiracy to kill Elizabeth I and place Mary, the former Queen of Scots, on the throne. Reports are that the executions by hanging, drawing and quartering were so cruelly carried out on September 20, 1586 that Elizabeth I ordered the next round of conspirators to be hung by the neck until dead before beheading and quartering. Chidiock was only 24 years old; his youth and agony evidently moved the spectators.

The Babington Plot finally sealed Mary of Scotland's fate, and she was executed in February of 1587. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Catholic View of Catholic Oxford

I have to admit that jealousy, that green-eyed monster, preyed upon me when I read this article on the Catholic World Report website. Aurora C. Griffin, who wrote How I Stayed Catholic at Harvard: 40 Tips for Faithful College Students, is a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, studying Catholic theology:

From what I was able to see in my two years as a Rhodes Scholar pursuing my Master’s degree in theology, Catholic life and faith is alive and well in Oxford. Not in the Theology Department, mind you, which is still largely enamored with nineteenth-century German heretics. There they love to talk about the Enlightenment and how “problematic” traditional theology is. When my advisor discovered that I had worked on Thomas Aquinas for all of my exam and essay requirements, he smiled disapprovingly and looked at me over his glasses: “Well, somehow you’ve managed to come to Oxford and do Catholic Studies!”

There are still faithful Catholics and students of Aquinas at Blackfriars, the Dominican permanent private hall. It is not, technically, one of the thirty-eight colleges at Oxford. If you ask someone at Blackfriars, he will tell you that it is only because they do not have a large enough endowment to be a college. Depending on the year, they may have a sufficiently impressive pool of athletic talent to man a boat for the major crew races (Summer Eights and Torpids), so few visitors would know the difference. The Middle Common Room, which is the hub of student social life, feels just like the one at my own college (Trinity), except there is a note that essentially states: “Wash your own dishes. Unlike the Jesuits, we don’t have the money to pay a maid to clean them for you.”

What is distinctive about Blackfriars, then, is not its status but its deeply Catholic nature and roots. It is said that Thomas Aquinas himself visited Blackfriars in the thirteenth century. To this day, it is a bustling house of study and prayer with daily Mass, Vespers, and its own in-house lectures on everything from beginning Hebrew to the most obscure liturgical theology. Its biggest asset, however, is the set of Dominican priests and brothers who study and teach there. On Monday nights, they lead an Aquinas group: Mass, Vespers, soup dinner, and theology. The discussions often spill over late into the night at the Lamb & Flag pub across the street, a frequent haunt of Lewis, Tolkein, and the Inklings.

She goes on to describe Mass at the Oxford Oratory, events at the Newman Center, Campion Hall, and other Catholic venues. Read the rest there.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Portmanteau Post: St. Robert Bellarmine and the Blessed Virgin Mary

Nearly every Saturday on the Roman Calendar of the Catholic Church is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as an optional memorial and today is also the optional memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, whose connection to the English Reformation I have highlighted before. We can observe both by exploring St. Robert's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary!

Servant of God Father John Hardon, SJ describes St. Robert Bellarmine's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, including this poem:

Among St. Robert’s extant writing there is a short poem of twenty stanzas which he composed in the nature of a Litany to the Blessed Virgin. The text was first published in Italian some fifty years ago, and to the best of the writer’s knowledge, has never been translated into English. Each verse-line begins with the name “Virgin,” joined to a title and petition to Our Lady, starting with the letter “A” and going down the Italian alphabet to “V.” Thus the first seven verses begin with the invocation: “Vergine adorna … Vergine Bella …Vergine casta … Vergine degna … Vergine eletta … Vergine felice … Vergine gradita …”

A free translation to this tribute to the Virgin Mother reads as follows:
“Virgin adored and clothed with the sun, grant me thine aid.
Virgin most beautiful, mystical rose, take abode in my heart.
Virgin most chaste, all undefiled, grant me true peace.
Virgin deserving of all honor and praise, give me thy love.
Virgin elect and full of all grace, lead me to God.
Virgin most blessed, star of the sea, dispel the storms besetting me.
Virgin most virtuous, holy and sweet, show me the way.
Virgin illustrious, with thy burning light, enlighten thou my mind.
Virgin more precious than jewels or gold, make reparation for me.
Virgin most worthy of all praise, mother, daughter, and immaculate spouse.
Virgin and Mother, make me more pleasing to Jesus thy Son.
Virgin most innocent of any stain or fault, make me more worthy of God.
Virgin enriched with every gift and grace, obtain the remission of my sins.
Virgin most pure, grant me to enjoy the bliss of heavenly love.
Virgin, thou lily among thorns, I pray thee for the grace of a happy death.
Virgin more rare than the rarest dream, bring joy to my heart.
Virgin so great there is none like thee on earth, bring peace to my soul.
Virgin most true, loving Mother too, Virgin Mary.”
Holy Mother of God, pray for us!

St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!