Wednesday, August 31, 2011

John Ford, Catholicism and History

Completely off-topic, but it's MY blog, after all:
The American film director John Ford died on August 31, 1973. He directed many of my favorite movies, films that I can watch over and over again (just ask my husband!), enjoying both the familiarity of the story and the unique imagery and nuances I see anew each time. Elena-Maria Vidal pointed out his upcoming commemorative stamp on her blog, Tea at Trianon last week. She also posted this article one time about the themes in his movies.

Among my favorites:

How Green Was My Valley
The Quiet Man
The Searchers
Fort Apache
Rio Grande
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
3 Godfathers
The Fugitive
Young Mr. Lincoln
The Long Grey Line
They Were Expendable
My Darling Clementine
Mogambo
The Horse Soldiers
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

In other words, just about every movie he made. I like his sense of family--Ford featured the same actors in many films, like a production company. John Wayne, Patrick Wayne, Carlton Young, Anne Lee, Ward Bond, Victor McLaglan, Henry Fonda, Maureen O'Hara, Woody Strode, John Qualen, Hank Worden, Thomas Mitchell, his brother Francis Ford, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr., Mae Marsh, Andy Devine, Ken Curtis, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, etc.

I enjoy his sense of etiquette and order--like when Henry Fonda's martinet character berates John Agar ("Mr. Shirley Temple") in Ward Bond's quarters and the Sergeant reminds Fonda that he has violated the sanctity of his non-commissioned officer's quarters in Fort Apache. Since he was not invited he has no right to be there. But stiff-necked, stone-faced Fonda still has to start the dance with Mrs. O'Rourke before the battle with Cochise.

His movies reflect--almost always indirectly--on one of the greatest events in American history, the Civil War. Ford's westerns always have some echoes of the War between the States, just because the armies are made up of former Confederate and Union soldiers. The Horse Soldiers is the exception. Ford also reflects on the experience of Irish immigrants --Fonda's Thursday is uncomfortable with the all the Irish-Americans at Fort Apache, and his interference in the relationship between his daughter Philadelphia (Shirley Temple) and the O'Rourke is based on his bigotry. Somehow he did not know what the Irish had contributed to Union victory? And don't forget that he deals with bigotry against the Native American Indians in The Searchers and Cheyenne Autumn, too.

Ford's ability to frame a scene to reveal secrets in relationships--how his brother's wife caresses John Wayne's coat in The Searchers, then Wayne kisses her while Ward Bond stares straight ahead, eating his donut and drinking his coffee; John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara's embrace in The Quiet Man even though they are estranged by her desire for her dowry; Vera Miles placing the cactus rose on Tom Doniphan's bare casket (although you never see it--Ford just puts the scene together before your eyes by suggestion) in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; the women waiting to see who comes home from the battle with the Indians in Rio Grande--reminding us that Ford began as a silent movie director.

His use of music: Ken Curtis singing "I'll Take You Home, Kathleen" to Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne in Rio Grande ("This music is not of my choosing, Kathleen"; "I wish it had been, Kirby"); the dances; the priest Ward Bond singing a rather inappropriate song at the wedding in The Quiet Man; the Welsh choirs in How Green Was My Valley.

I think the author Anthony Burke Smith might sum up the reasons I like John Ford movies in his book The Look of Catholics: Portrayals in Popular Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War. He points out that "while a filmmaker like John Ford rarely focused on clerics and the Church . . . his films gave a distinctly ethnic Catholic accent to his cinematic depictions of American community"; religion "is an unbroken thread running through the films of John Ford, providing his movies with some of their most compelling moments." Smith somewhat dismisses other studies of Ford's films that highlight the "sacramental imagination" demonstrated in the movies, but I think that aspect is also important. Ford's movies depict simple rituals, like the family dinner in How Green Was My Valley and the courtship rules in The Quiet Man as signs of holiness and sacredness.

And most of all, I love these films because my father loved them too. We would get together as a family on March 17 to eat baked potatoes, drink Irish whiskey (neat) and watch The Quiet Man.

Stephen College; August 31, 1681

On August 31, 1681, Stephen College was hung and quartered at Oxford Castle. According to the wikipedia entry on his life and death,

He was born about 1635, and worked at the trade of carpentry. He became known as an anti-Catholic political speaker. He had been a presbyterian until the Restoration of 1660, when he conformed to the church of England. He made himself notorious by his declamations against the papists, by writing and singing political ballads, and by inventing a weapon for self-defence at close quarters, which he called 'the protestant flail.' He knew many persons of rank. Lord William Russell and Lady Berkeley showed him kindness. He was one of the bitterest opponents of Lord William Stafford, and exulted over his condemnation and death. Among the writings attributed to him are coarse attacks on lawyers and Catholics. Among these are 'Truth brought to Light, or Murder will out;' 'Justice in Masquerade, or Scroggs upon Scroggs;' another beginning 'Since Justice Scroggs Pepys and Dean did bail;' 'The Pope's Advice and Benediction to his Judge and Jury in Eutopia;' 'The Wolf Justice' (against Scroggs); 'A Caution,' and 'A Satyr' against James, Duke of York, the Duchess of Portsmouth, and William Scroggs, whom he hated for acquitting George Wakeman.

College was obviously referring to the trend of acquittals in the Popish Plot trials after Titus Oates' perfidious perjury had finally been discovered. The Pepys referred to is indeed the diarist Samuel Pepys, who had been accused and barely escaped with his life. Once accused in the Popish Plot, he was assumed to be a Catholic, even though he wasn't and he had a hard time proving the negative.

When College was brought to trial, he found himself in the same position as Pepys--accused of being a Catholic!--

At nearly two o'clock in the morning the jury retired, and in half an hour gave their verdict of guilty. The court then adjourned until ten o'clock, when sentence of death was pronounced against him. He was visited in prison by two of the university divines, Dr. Marshall and Dr. Hall, who declared him to be penitent. His family was admitted to see him, and attempts made to obtain a remission of the sentence, but the sole concession granted was that his quarters should be delivered to his friends. On 31 August he was taken in a cart to the place of execution, and made a long speech, chiefly to clear himself from the charge of being a papist. He was then hanged and quartered. His body was buried the next evening at St. Gregory's Church, by St. Paul's.

His name is included on the plaque in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford as one of the "Reformation Martyrs"--although I'm not really clear how he was a martyr!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Martyrs of 1588, Part II (and the August 30 Memorial)

There are really two events to remember today. One is the execution of six Catholics--one laywoman, four laymen and one priest--in London as part of the English government's reaction to the attempted invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. The other is the memorial of three female English Catholic martyrs, who were canonized among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970, but have this special day all to themselves on the liturgical calendar of the Dioceses of England and Wales.

On this memorial of Saints Margaret Clitherow (or Clitheroe), Anne Line and Margaret Ward, I invite you to read my article posted on Associated Content, telling their stories and describing their deaths.

They share the date of St. Margaret Ward's execution on August 30, 1588--she was part of a second group of martyrs after the failure of the Spanish Armada. She is a virgin martyr: she helped Father William Watson escape from Bridewell Prison. She visited him often enough that the jailer finally allowed her to enter without searching her, so she was able to smuggle in a rope. Father Watson injured himself unfortunately while escaping and was unable to retrieve the rope. Margaret found John Roche to help the injured priest once out of prison and both she and John were arrested; John because he had exchanged clothing with the priest and Margaret because the jailer figured out that she was the last person to visit Father Watson before he escaped. She was held in chains, hung up her hands and scourged as the authorities attempted to force her to tell them where Father Watson went after escaping Bridewell prison. She refused, even though she acknowledged that she helped him. Offered a pardon for attending Church of England services, she again refused. The torture inflicted upon her left her partially paralysed and she had to be carried to Tyburn for hanging.

Also martyred that day were Blessed John Roche (who had assisted Margaret Ward in the escape of Father William Watson), three other laymen who had assisted priests, Blesseds Richard Lloyd, Richard Martin, and Edward Shelley, and one priest, Blessed Richard Leigh. The regime was certainly sending a message about laity who assisted Catholic priests.

I have also told the stories of St. Anne Line and St. Margaret Clitherow on this blog on the dates of their executions, here and here. As soon as the podcast from my discussion with Barbara McGuigan from Saturday's "The Good Fight" is available, I will post it!

Picture credit: this blog for the image of St. Margaret Ward with the rope she smuggled into Father William Watson--or the rope by which she was hung. I am not sure if the Father Watson she saved is the same priest executed early in James I's reign for treason for his role in the Bye Plot.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Catholic Writers Guild: Blog and Retreat


No, that's not a field command ("Bugler, sound Blog and Retreat")!

I just wanted to direct your attention to the Catholic Writers Guild Blog--they kindly featured news about my interview on "The Good Fight"--which I have linked in my list of blogs on the right.

And also to tell you about the first ever Catholic Writers Guild Retreat:

Catholic Writers to Enjoy Special Spiritual Retreat

Lansing, MI: In collaboration with FAITH Catholic Publishing and Communications, The Catholic Writers Guild will sponsor Your Word is My Delight, a Catholic writers' retreat, Oct 5-9, 2011. Come and delight in God's word and sacrament, and pray in a beautiful and serene retreat setting.

The retreat's key presenter is Pat Gohn, Catholic columnist, podcaster and catechist (link: http://www.patgohn.com/patgohn/About.html). Other presenters are Father Charles E. Irvin, David Krajewski, Father David Rosenberg and Father Larry Delaney.

Writers will enjoy five spiritually-enriching days of daily Mass, adoration, the sacrament of reconciliation and many hours of writing time. Talks will explore how God speaks to and encourages writers through Scripture, papal writings and other topics in order to promote faith-filled writing.

Opportunities for networking also will be offered through an informal "book bash and social hour" Wednesday evening and Faith Catholic's one-on-one "pitch sessions" that give writers the chance to sell their current writing projects.

Cost for the four-day retreat is $450, which includes meals and accommodations. Deadline for registration is Sept 28. A nonrefundable deposit of $45 is required at registration.

• To view a schedule of events, click here. : (link: http://www.stfrancis.ws/portals/0/11%20CWR%20schedule.pdf)


• To register for the retreat click here. (link: http://tinyurl.com/3e48orj) .

Contacts:

Ann Margaret Lewis, Catholic Writers Guild President
Phone: 317-755-2693
email: annlewis@joesystems.com

Michael Marshall, Faith Catholic
Phone: 517.853.7600


Unfortunately, I cannot attend, but I am sure it will be great event. As I've said before, if you are a Catholic writer, you should join the Catholic Writers Guild--for $24.00 a year!

This concludes this commercial interruption. We now return to scheduled programming--important dates, saints, events, and persons connected to the English Reformation and its aftermath--already in progress.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Martyrs of 1588, Part I

August 28, 1588 was busy day for executioners throughout London, as several new gibbets had been constructed. With the defeat or failure of the Spanish Armada, government officials sought to make quite an example.

According to most accounts of the Spanish Armada I've read, Catholics in England were opposed to a foreign invasion and helped with defense of their homeland with as much enthusiasm as any Anglicans. Catholics in exile, especially Cardinal William Allen and Father Robert Persons or Parsons had encouraged the effort, but not Catholics at home. Sir Thomas Arundell, First Baron of Wardour (pictured above) for example was known as a fervent Catholic and was even imprisoned for his faith in 1580. He gave 100 pounds to the government to assist in the defense of England against the Armada.

Nevertheless, here are those who suffered on August 28 in London at Tyburn, Mile End, Lincoln's Inn Field, Islesworth, Clerkenwell, and near the Theatre:

Blessed Hugh More or Moor, educated at Oxford
Blessed James Claxton
Blessed Robert Morton
Blessed Thomas Felton, whose father, John Felton was executed for posting the Papal Bull excommunicating Elizabeth I after the Northern Rebellion
Blessed Thomas Holford, formerly a Protestant schoolmaster
Blessed William Dean, a former Protestant minister, he had been arrested and exiled and returned to England
Blessed William Gunter or Guntei, from Wales
Blessed Henry Webley, a layman who had assisted Father William Dean

These martyrs are part of a group called the Martyrs of London of 1588. On August 30, the government repeated the process with another group of martyrs, including St. Margaret Ward. And then again in early October there would be more. All had been found guilty under the statutes that made the presence of a Catholic priest in England an act of treason and the assistance of a Catholic priest a felony.

Sunday Shrine Series--Follow up on Pontigny

On his Porta Caeli blog, the elegant and shadowy "Patricius" (note his profile picture!) has posted some pictures and notes from the former Cistercian abbey church at Pontigny. Three Archbishops of Canterbury took refuge there in exile, as I noted on my post about St. Edmund of Canterbury.

As he notes:

The Cistercians are long since departed. In the Refectory there was an exhibition about a period when the abbey was in lay ownership who hosted conferences for pretentious intellectuals- of which France has a fine tradition. The church itself is a fine gothic building with a seventeenth century stalls and screen. It has a slight air of musty decay and, as with so many historic French churches, a rather poor looking modern altar.

St. Edmund Arrowsmith

Last year, The Catholic Herald featured St. Edmund Arrowsmith, a Lancashire priest executed on August 28, 1628 after being denounced and betrayed by a man named Holden whose marital irregularities Father Arrowsmith had commented on. According to the article, St. Edmund "was one of the 15 Catholics martyred in Lancashire between 1584 and 1646, although there were several other Lancastrians who died for the old faith outside the county." More details:

Edmund – he was actually christened Bryan – Arrowsmith was born at Haydock, near Warrington, into the very heart of recusancy.

His mother belonged to the fervently Catholic Gerard family; his father Robert, a farmer, and his eldest brother Peter had served in Sir William Stanley’s regiment which fought for Spain in the Low Countries. Peter, in fact, died of his wounds in Brussels.

Bryan Arrowsmith also had an uncle called Edmund who helped train English priests in France. When Bryan went to Douai in 1605 he adopted his uncle’s christian name. Despite periods of ill-health Arrowsmith was ordained in 1612, after which he undertook a fearless and forthright ministry in Lancashire, denouncing heretics with unguarded zeal.


Arrested in 1622, he was released because James I eschewed persecution when trying to arrange a Spanish marriage for his son Prince Charles.

A devotee of St Ignatius’s spiritual exercises, Arrowsmith was enrolled in 1623 as a Jesuit novice in London, probably in the French embassy at Blackfriars. It is not clear, though, whether he spent much time there.

Certainly in 1628 he was acting with his accustomed rigour in Lancashire. A man called Holden, whom he had reprobated for some matrimonial irregularity, denounced him to the authorities.

Indicted at Lancaster Assizes as a seminary priest and Jesuit, Arrowsmith was hanged, drawn and quartered in that town on August 28 1628. The authorities set his head upon a pinnacle of Lancaster Castle, and distributed his quarters elsewhere upon the building. His severed hand is preserved in St Oswald’s Church, Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan.


Throughout the Elizabethan era Catholics in Lanchasire were able to practice their Faith with some security--the Earls of Derby protected them. The Justices of the Peace in that area were Church Papists and had many recusants in their families. Church Papists wanted to remain true to the Catholic Church but would attend Church of England services to maintain their offices. It was not uncommon for the husband to practice this outward conformity while paying his wife's fines. You can see the difficulty with this practice, of course--when would your outward conformity become an inward habit and disposition?

We might see a contrast between between the Church Papist's behavior and Father Arrowsmith's--the Catholic Herald article refers to the martyr's zeal. Because he remained true to his vocation, which included pointing out and correcting sinful behavior, he was betrayed. He demonstrated integrity. Catholic priests in England in that era might have to hide, wear disguises and travel incognito, but they also had to be true to the whole of their vocation, to preach the Gospel in season and out of season.

St. Edmund Arrowsmith, pray for us!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Don't Forget about "The Good Fight" Today!

Remember that I will be on the air later today with Barbara McGuigan on her "The Good Fight" radio interview/call-in show. We will be discussing two great Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation, St. Margaret Ward and St. Anne Line (and St. Margaret Clitherow, although we discussed her before). Barbara McGuigan has prepared a great list of questions and comments. These three women share the same memorial on the liturgical calendar of England and Wales: August 30, the date of St. Margaret Ward's execution in 1588--more about that next week. You can call in and ask me a question: toll free: 1-877-573-7825. The show airs live from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time!

(Illustration: DVD cover for Mary's Dowry Production about St. Anne Line.)

Charles Calvert, Third Baron Baltimore

Grandson of George Calvert, First Baron Baltimore and son of Cecilius Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore, Charles Calvert was born on August 27, 1637. He would succeed his father as Governor of Maryland in 1675, but he would lose the colony after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. His son, Benedict Leonard, Fourth Baron Baltimore, would become an Anglican to regain the family claim to Maryland but died only two months after Charles in 1715. Benedict's son Charles (the Fifth) received the governorship of the colony back from King George I. Unfortunately, Charles the Fifth's son Frederick would be the Sixth and last Baron Baltimore.

But back to today's birthday boy: Charles Calvert's mother was Anne Arundell, whose father was Thomas Arundell, the First Baron of Wardour, a Catholic nobleman who endured imprisonment and suspicion for his faith during Elizabeth I's reign. Charles' grandfather had reverted to the Catholicism of his youth when he resigned as King James I's Secretary of State in 1625 and then began the process of founding a colony on the North American continent that would allow religious freedom. His father Cecilius would implement that vision and Charles struggled to keep it alive.

John D. Krugler, writing about Charles Calvert's vissicitudes in Maryland in his book English and Catholic: The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century, notes that the Third Lord Baltimore was just not the diplomat and leader his father and grandfather had been. He may have been too complacent about the success of religious toleration and Catholicism in Maryland. What destroyed the great Maryland experiment in religious freedom was not Calvert's complacency, however, but England's anti-Catholicism. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Anglicans in Maryland staged a coup, William and Mary took over the colony, and the Church of England became the official state church. Catholics were not permitted the freedom to worship and the usual round of penal laws imposed. Sad ending to a successful, though always delicate, effort to take the state out of the individual's choice of church and religion.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Memorial of Blessed Dominic Barberi, Passionist Missionary

Blessed Dominic Barberi is honored on August 26 and featured on the National Calendar in England. He is probably best known for having received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church on October 9, 1845 but there are other aspects to his life that should be recalled.

The first is that he was born in Italy during Napoleonic rule, meaning that he grew up in milieu of anti-clericalism and irreligion. His large peasant family placed him with an uncle and he was a shepherd. Young Dominic became attracted to the Passionist Order and joined them as a novice in 1814, after restrictions against religious orders were removed.

Secondly, although in England his English language skills were never that strong (which probably gave some the impression he was not that bright), he was a tremendous theologian and scholar for the Passionist order. He was entrusted with greater and greater responsibility.

Thirdly, he received this special call to serve the people of England and received converts. I believe he heard that call because John Henry Newman needed him. As Newman was living in Littlemore after the suppression of the Oxford Movement he was as he said on his deathbed as an Anglican--but he was not yet ready to recover and become a Catholic. The example of Father Barbari, enduring ridicule for his poor English, being stoned in the streets and yet persevering to bring Christ to the people--even leading the first Corpus Christi procession in England since the Reformation--impressed Newman.

Father Dominic worked very hard while in England, establishing churches, preaching and teaching. He suffered a heart attack and died in Reading on August 27, 1849. He is buried in St. Anne's church, St. Helens, Merseyside, alongside Father Ignatius Spencer, an Anglican convert and Passionist, and Elizabeth Prout, another Anglican convert and the foundress of the Institute of the Holy Family.

August 26 Memorial in Wales: The Last Welsh Martyr

The National Calendar for the Catholic Church in England and Wales honors two missionaries from very different eras today. In England the memorial honors Blessed Dominic Barberi--in Wales, St. David Lewis.

Like St. John Kemble and St. John Wall on August 22, St. David Lewis was a victim of the Popish Plot.

The particularly repellent aspects of the Popish Plot are

1) There was no plot at all: Titus Oates perjured himself and made it all up
2) Parliament's leaders, like Lord Shaftesbury, Anthony-Ashley Cooper, fomented it
3) Charles II knew it was not true and yet seemed powerless to prevent it
4) The vaunted English Court system was duped by it and was an accessory to multiple injustices--like that experienced by today's saint!

It took the Courts far too long to recognize this injustice--at which time it started finding the accused not guilty--and Parliament never truly admitted its culpability. Titus Oates was found guilty of perjury but was soon rewarded by the regime of William and Mary with a pension. Charles II protected his brother and his wife, although James and Mary Beatrice fled to Ireland in exile. Charles did not give in to the desire of Parliament to bypass his Catholic brother the succession, either.

St. David Lewis was born and raised in a Protestant family but when he went to Paris at age 16 he was moved to become a Catholic! He was ordained in 1642 in Rome and joined the Jesuit order in 1645--like St. John Kemble he served in Monmouthshire for some years.

In November of 1678, he was arrested, taken to London and questioned in connection with the Popish Plot. Lord Shaftesbury offered him freedom if he gave information about the Plot and renounced his Catholicism. David said he had no knowledge of the Plot and would not renounce his faith.

St. David Lewis was then returned to Monmouthshire and executed in Usk on August 27, 1679. He is the last Welsh marytr. Like Blessed Dominic Barberi, his memorial is on August 26 to avoid conflict with that of St. Monica, St. Augustine's mother. This blog contains some great detail about the Last Welsh Martyr!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE GOOD FIGHT Radio Interview--August 27, 2011

This Saturday, August 27 I will be on the air with Barbara McGuigan on her "The Good Fight" radio interview/call-in show. We will be discussing two great Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation, St. Margaret Ward and St. Anne Line (we will also reference St. Margaret Clitherow, although we discussed her before). Barbara McGuigan has already sent me a great list of issues and questions as we will examine the historical context of their martyrdoms and their witness to us today. These three women share the same memorial on the liturgical calendar of England and Wales: August 30, the date of St. Margaret Ward's execution in 1588--more about that next week. You can call in and ask me a question: toll free: 1-877-573-7825. The show airs live from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Central Time!

(Illustration: DVD cover for Mary's Dowry Productions film on St. Margaret Ward.)

Richard Crashaw, Baroque Metaphysical Poet

Richard Crashaw, born around 1613 in London, joined the Catholic Church in France while in exile from the Civil War in England. His father is commonly called a "strongly anti-Catholic" Anglican divine who yet had an interest in Jesuit Latin hymns.

Crashaw studied at Cambridge and took his BA at Pembroke in 1634 and his MA at Peterhouse in 1638, becoming the vicar at the Church of St. Mary the Less. He was influenced by George Herbert's poetry, friends with Abraham Cowley and even visited Nicholas Farrar at Little Gidding--securely in the Anglican High Church community. The Church of St. Mary the Less, called so to distinguish it from the University Church of St. Mary the Great, still calls itself an Anglo-Catholic church today.

He was forced from his Fellowship at Peterhouse in 1644 and fled the country. In Paris he became destitute; Abraham Cowley brought him to the attention of the exiled Queen Henrietta Maria who gained him some patronage from a Roman Cardinal. He lived for a time at the Venerable English College in Rome. Crashaw became upset with the licentious behavior of some of the Cardinal's retinue however and was moved to Loreto for safety, as a Canon of the Holy House. Soon after his arrival there he died, on August 25, 1649. There is a rumor of poisoning by that faction of the Cardinal's retinue.

Richard Crashaw is one of the Metaphysical Poets, remarkable for the brilliance and extravagance of his language and imagery. Here is an example of his simpler style of verse:

Two went up to the Temple to Pray

Two went to pray? Or rather say
One went to brag, th'other to pray

One stands up close and treads on high,
Where th'other dates not lend his eye.

One nearer to God's altar trod;
The other to the altar's God.

Crashaw was also influenced by the mysticism of St. Teresa of Avila and composed three poems in her honor, the most famous being "The Flaming Heart."

Abraham Cowley wrote an elegy to his friend, praising him as "poet and saint" and proclaiming that he, Abraham, "a Catholic will be/So far at least, Great Saint, to pray to thee" while defending Crashaw's leaving the Church of England for "Error"!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce was born on August 24, 1759. Several years ago, my husband and I enjoyed the movie Amazing Grace so much that we gave everyone in our families a copy of the DVD for Christmas. While it may not have emphasized the connection between Wilberforce's faith in Jesus Christ to his humanitarian efforts, which included child welfare and the end of the slave trade, of slavery, and other ethical and moral issues, like the prevention of cruelty to animals, it made it clear that he was a Christian and a good man.

Wilberforce was an evangelical Anglican, yet his sons were all influenced in one way or another by the Oxford Movement. Three of his sons followed Blessed John Henry Newman and Henry Manning into the Catholic Church (William, Henry, and Robert). The other son, Samuel, was Bishop of Oxford and then of Winchester. Wilberforce at first had opposed Catholic Emancipation but he later supported its passage in 1829, although he was out of office by then.

The BBC posts a biography here.

Another Act of Uniformity, August 24, 1662

After the Interregnum and with the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in England, Parliament also restored the Church of England, a thoroughly Anglican church allowing no variations. Under Parliament and Cromwell in the years before the Church of England had been dismantled and proscribed while various denominations and some radicals had taken over.

With the new Clarendon Code of legislation, the Book of Common Prayer was proclaimed again as the one guide to worship in this Act of Uniformity. The Episcopacy was also restored, and episcopal ordination required. The Book of Common Prayer adopted by Elizabeth I was to be used by all members of the Church of England. The Test Act of James I was revived and strengthened, requiring office holders to take communion in the Church of England and swear the Oath of Supremacy. As Winston Churchill notes in his A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, there was no spirit of compromise in the Cavalier Parliament.

About 2,000 ministers from the Interregnum church left upon this law's passage. Later acts in the Clarendon Code, the Conventicle Act of 1664 and the Five Mile Act of 1665 marginalized those former ministers further preventing them from gathering congregations in private residences or coming within five miles of towns or their former livings or teaching in schools. And the Test Act already referenced meant they would not be able to attend the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford, as they had to swear that oath upon graduation.

It was in the Restoration period that the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, the King James translation truly became popular, because it symbolized the stability of the Stuart Dynasty and the hierarchy of the Church of England. In rejecting the Interregnum period and restoring the monarchy Parliament and the Church of England sent firm signals that dissent and Puritanism especially were not welcomed or tolerated.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Five Star Review on Amazon.com!

I tell you, if you are a Catholic writer, join the Catholic Writers Guild, attend a Catholic Writers Guild Conference, make friends, get involved, ask for help, help another writer: it will bear fruit. Gerard Webster is just one of the great people I met in Valley Forge earlier this month. Check out his books at amazon.com!

*****Title: Entertaining & Informative, August 21, 2011
By Gerard Webster, award-winning author (Jacksonville, FL USA)

Ever wonder how English-speaking Christianity ever ended up splitting into thousands upon thousands of denominations--with as many differing theologies and mores? Or why the differing "Christian" churches persecuted each other? Or where the roots of animus between the different faiths sprung from? "Supremacy and Survival" explains a good deal of it.

Stephanie Mann tackles an ambitious project that spans five centuries, three continents, and numerous turn-overs in governments and religions. She does it in such a way that is both entertaining and informative...and supported by a generous dose of footnotes. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the history and religions of the English speaking world.

Two Yorkshire Martyrs


These two martyrs also died on August 22, in the year 1582, in York.

Blessed William Lacy or Lacey, born and raised in Yorkshire, had been married twice and widowed twice before he went to Rome, studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1581. Lacy had suffered imprisonment for his Catholicism in Yorkshire, paid many fines for not attending Anglican services, and had lost his official post as coroner. Upon his return home he was arrested in York on July 22, 1582 and suffered greatly in prison. He was loaded with heavy irons, confined in an underground dungeon, and subjected to numerous examinations before arraignment on August 11--he was found guilty under the Elizabethan statute that made his presence in England as a priest an act of treason.

He and Blessed Richard Kirkman met in prison. Kirkman was born at Addingham, in the West Riding. He went to Douai in 1577 to study for the priesthood and was ordained at the English College in Reims on Holy Saturday in 1579. He returned to England in August of that year and was arrested a year later on August 8. Before execution, he was moved to an underground dungeon.

Neither priest had much opportunity to serve the Catholics in northern England. Blessed William Lacy is honored on December 1 every year at the Venerable English College in Rome. The students gather in the chapel to sing Te Deum Laudamus before Alberti's Martyrs' Picture (above). Blessed Richard Kirkman is remembered as one of the Martyrs of Douai at Allen Hall in Chelsea, London.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Two Popish Plot Martyrs

St. John Kemble was found guilty of being a priest in England, though not of conspiring against King Charles II in the non-existent Popish Plot and executed on August 22, 1679 in Herefordshire. Herefordshire is not too far from the border of Wales.

St. John Wall, OFM, was executed on August 22, 1679 in Worcester under the same circumstances. Worcestershire is northwest of London.

St. John Kemble was butchered by another incompetent executioner (see the story of Blessed Hugh Green) in Hereford after serving Catholics in Monmouthshire for more that 50--fifty!--years. The Anglicans in the area respected him and he had dwelt unmolested in his brother's castle (Pembridge). He was betrayed by the husband of one of his parishioners.

He was taken to London, where nothing could be proved against him in connection with the Popish Plot (since Titus Oates had made the whole thing up and had perjured himself before Parliament!). Therefore, he was found guilty of the old Elizabethan statute against the presence of Catholic priests in England. (He was born near the end of Elizabeth's reign in 1599 of a recusant family and ordained in 1625, so he was certainly guilty and had been for a long time).

On August 22, 1679 he suffered, forgiving his enemies and proclaiming that he died for the religion that had made England Christian! Before his death, he asked for time to finish his prayers and smoke his last pipe and imbibe a last cup of wine, shared by the undersheriff (who after all had not arrested him for the last fifty years!) . Evidently, this is still remembered in Herefordshire in the sayings "a Kemble pipe" and "a Kemble cup". He had to encourage the executioner to do his work, because he was ready.

The famous stage family, including Sarah (Kemble) Siddons, are related to this great priest and martyr. He is buried in an Anglican churchyard and area Catholics make a pilgrimage to his grave each August 22nd. His left hand is preserved in the Catholic church in Hereford, St. Francis Xavier.

St. John Wall was born in Lanchasire in 1620. He served the people of Worcestershire for more than twenty years. He was arrested in 1678. When he refused to swear to the religious supremacy of the King, he was imprisoned for five months of dreadful suffering. At the end of this time, on 25th April 1679, he was condemned to death for high treason, since he was a priest who had been ordained abroad and returned to exercise his ministry in contravention to the Elizabethan anti-Catholic laws. He argued in vain that Charles II's amnesty of 1660 should have covered him, as indeed it should. Instead he was sent to London to be interrogated by Oates, Bedloe, Dugdale and Pranse. He was found innocent of the accusation of complicity in the “Papist Plot” but because of his priestly ordination and ministry, his death sentence was nevertheless confirmed and he was sent back to Worcester, where he was hanged on 22nd August 1679.

PLEASE NOTE: I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central to discuss these two martyrs with Brian Patrick! I hope you know that it's "a better way to start your day!" (the Son Rise Morning Show, that is!).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Shrine Series Post #7: St. Winifrede's Well, Holywell

From Gerard Manley Hopkins' unfinished play St. Winefred's Well:

O now while skies are blue, now while seas are salt,
While rushy rains shall fall or brooks shall fleet from fountains,
While sick men shall cast sighs, of sweet health all despairing,
While blind men’s eyes shall thirst after daylight, draughts of daylight,
Or deaf ears shall desire that lipmusic that ’s lost upon them,
While cripples are, while lepers, dancers in dismal limb-dance,
Fallers in dreadful frothpits, waterfearers wild,
Stone, palsy, cancer, cough, lung wasting, womb not bearing,
Rupture, running sores, what more? in brief; in burden,
As long as men are mortal and God merciful,
So long to this sweet spot, this leafy lean-over,
This Dry Dene, now no longer dry nor dumb, but moist and musical
With the uproll and the downcarol of day and night delivering
Water, which keeps thy name, (for not in róck wrítten,
But in pale water, frail water, wild rash and reeling water,
That will not wear a print, that will not stain a pen,
Thy venerable record, virgin, is recorded).
Here to this holy well shall pilgrimages be,
And not from purple Wales only nor from elmy England,
But from beyond seas, Erin, France and Flanders, everywhere,
Pilgrims, still pilgrims, móre pílgrims, still more poor pilgrims.
. . . . . . . .
What sights shall be when some that swung, wretches, on crutches
Their crutches shall cast from them, on heels of air departing,
Or they go rich as roseleaves hence that loathsome cáme hither!
Not now to náme even
Those dearer, more divine boons whose haven the heart is.
. . . . . . . .
As sure as what is most sure, sure as that spring primroses
Shall new-dapple next year, sure as to-morrow morning,
Amongst come-back-again things, thíngs with a revival, things with a recovery,
Thy name…

St. Winifrede's Well was a medieval Lourdes in England. According to this site:

The holy spring of St Winifred, an important center of medieval pilgrimage still venerated today, is said to have risen where St Beuno restored his niece St Winifred to life after her head had been severed by Cardoc, a rejected suitor. St Beuno is a well-attested 7th-century figure, responsible for bringing Celtic monasticism to much of north Wales.

The shrine was first mentioned as a place of pilgrimage in 1115, and from 1240 to the dissolution it was part of the possessions of Basingwerk Abbey. Henry V made the pilgrimage in 1415 before his victory at Agincourt, as did Edward IV before Towton Moor in 1461. The future Henry VII, too, is thought to have made a secret visit before winning his crown at Bosworth in 1485.

The present remarkable and architecturally unique building, set into a hillside, dates from the late 15th century. It was probably built for Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother, to replace an earlier structure, and is richly ornamented on the exterior with a frieze of animals, and the badges of Henry VII and Thomas Stanley (Margaret Beaufort's third husband); the quality of the workmanship suggests that royal masons may have been employed.

The building consists of two floors. The well-chamber is open on the downhill (northern) side, while there is level access from the south into the chapel above. A copious spring of clear water rises in a central basin in the shape of a truncated eight-pointed star, with steps in the front for access by the sick. The water flows away beneath the surrounding walkway into a more recent swimming pool. The basin is enclosed by a low wall from which columns rise to form part of an elaborately ornamented vault of unusually complex design, matching the form of the pool below.

The chapel has a north aisle and an apsidal chancel. The three bays of the aisle mirror the three arcades of the vault in the well-chamber below, although stairs linking the two floors are now blocked.


More about Basingwerk Abbey here.

Even though Henry VIII closed down the shrine and suppressed the abbey, St. Winifrede's remained a site of pilgrmage and of Catholic hope. The Gunpowder Plot conspirators visited the shrine. James II and his queen, Mary Beatrice of Modena visited the shrine in hopes of conceiving a son and heir--and their hopes were fulfilled. It is an active Catholic shrine and place of pilgrimage today in Wales and very much supported by the local tourism industry, by the looks of this website.

Note the family connection between Holywell and the Tudors--yet Henry destroyed it!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cardinal Newman's Funeral, 121 Years Ago (yesterday)

John Whitehead on Once I Was a Clever Boy reminds us that yesterday, August 19 was the 121st anniversary of Cardinal Newman's funeral in Birmingham. To quote: "More than 15,000 people lined the streets as the funeral cortege of Cardinal Newman made its way from The Oratory Church in Edgbaston, to the graveyard at Rednal." See the rest of the post here.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the Cistercians in England


St. Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us!



Rievaulx Abbey Ruins (photo credit: Wikipedia)


Tintern Abbey ruins (photo credit: Wikipedia)


We beseech Thee, almighty God, grant that we who celebrate the heavenly birth of the blessed English Cistercian Martyrs, may be strengthened by their intercession in the love of Thy Name.

According to this blog, these are the Cistercian martyrs of England:

Under King Henry VIII's order, many Cistercian monks were cruelly put to death for Catholic faith, the (sic) [though] some may argue about pretexts.

In the months of March and May 1537, died for the Catholic faith
--Dom John Harrison, Abbot of Kirkstead, with Dom Richard Wade, Dom William Small and Dom Henry Jenkinson;
--Dom John Paslew, Abbot of Whalley, with Dom William Haydock and Dom Richard Eastgate.
--The Abbot of Fountains and a monk of Louth Park.
In 1538, these Cistercians were martyred:
--Dom Robert Hobbes, Abbot of Woburn, with Dom Rudolph Barnes and Dom Laurence Blunham.

The Church also acknowledges as authentic confessors of the faith:

--Dom Thomas Mudd, monk of Jervaulx, who died on September 7, 1583;
--Dom John Almond, who died on April 18, 1585;
--Dom Gilbert Browne, the last Abbot of Sweetheart, who died on March 14, 1612.

The Catholic Encyclopedia provides some detail about the history of St. Bernard's order in England:

St. Stephen Harding, third Abbot of Cîteaux (1109-33), was an Englishman and his influence in the early organization of the Cistercian Order had been very great. It was natural therefore that, when, after the coming of St. Bernard and his companions in 1113, foundations began to multiply, the project of sending a colony of monks to England should find favourable consideration. In Nov., 1128, with the aid of William Giffard, Bishop of Winchester, a settlement was made at Waverly near Farnham in Surrey. Five houses were founded from here before 1152 and some of them had themselves produced offshoots. But it was in the north that the order assumed its most active developments in the twelfth century. William, an English monk of great virtue, was sent from Clairvaux by St. Bernard in 1131, and a small property was given to the newcomers by Walter Espec "in a place of horror and dreary solitude" at Rivaulx in Yorkshire, with the hearty support of Thurston, Archbishop of York. By 1143 three hundred monks had entered there, including the famous St. Ælred, known for his eloquence as the St. Bernard of England. Among the offshoots of Rivaulx were Melrose and Revesby. Still more famous was Fountains near Ripon. The foundation was made in 1132 by a section of the monks from the great Benedictine house of St. Mary's, York, who desired to lead a more austere life. After many struggles and great hardships, St. Bernard agreed to send them a monk from Clairvaux to instruct them, and in the end they prospered exceedingly. The great beauty of the ruins excites wonder even today, and before 1152 Fountains had many offshoots, of which Newminster and Meaux are the most famous. Another great reinforcement to the order was the accession of the houses of the Savigny foundation, which were incorporated with the Cistercians, at the instance of Eugenius III, in 1138. Thirteen English abbeys, of which the most famous were Furness and Jervaulx, thus adopted the Cistercian rule. By the year 1152 there were fifty-four Cistercian monasteries in England, some few of which, like the beautiful Abbey of Tintern on the Wye, had been founded directly from the Continent. Architecturally speaking the Cistercian monasteries and churches, owing to their pure style, may be counted among the most beautiful relics of the Middle Ages. To the wool and cloth trade, which was especially fostered by the Cistercians, England was largely indebted for the beginnings of her commercial prosperity.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Queen of Scotland Returns

The infant Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland when she was six days old after her father was defeated at died after the battle of Solway Moss. (James V was also an infant when he came to the throne after the defeat and death of his father, James IV, at the battle of Flodden. His mother, Margaret Tudor, was regent during his minority.)

Henry VIII wanted the young Mary to marry his son Edward, the Prince of Wales, but her mother, being French, sought a strengthening of the "ould alliance" between Scotland and France, and Mary was betrothed to Francis, the Dauphin, or heir of Henri II. Henry VIII conducted some "Rough Wooing" along the border of England and Scotland in protest. Mary grew up in France, encountering the great French renaissance and experiencing the factional court of Henri II. She reigned briefly as Queen consort of Francis II when Henri II died after a jousting accident.

On August 19, 1561, she returned to Scotland, arriving at Leith. Her homeland and kingdom had changed greatly since she went to France. While her mother Mary of Guise was regent, many of the Scots nobles had allied with John Knox to establish the Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland. As Queen of Scotland, the returning Mary required only that she be allowed to practice her Catholic faith; she did not support the Catholic factions of nobles, but accommodated the prevailing Protestant lords.

When she left France, Mary stayed on the deck of her ship watching the coastland of her adopted country fade in the distance. Having lost both her mother and her husband so recently, Mary mourned the loss of France, weeping as she knew she would never return. Remember: she was only 18 years old!

The Birth of Elizabeth Stuart, Future Winter Queen of Bohemia

Elizabeth, eldest daughter of King James VI and I and Anne of Denmark, was born on August 19, 1596 in Scotland. She was the daughter the Gunpowder Plotters intended to kidnap and name Queen of England and Scotland after blowing up the Houses of Parliament. She was only nine years old at the time so Catesby and the other plotters planned to have Henry Percy, the "Wizard Earl" of Northumberland serve as her Protector--her Catholic Protector.

Elizabeth became Queen of Bohemia on November 7, 1619. She had married Frederick V, Elector of the Palatine on February 14, 1613. The purpose of the marriage was to strengthen James's ties to Protestant rulers on the Continent, easing Parliamentary fears that he was too conciliatory to Catholic rulers. But as might be indicated by their wedding date, it was a romantic and true marriage.

She is called the Winter Queen because her reign as Queen of Bohemia was brief. Frederick was defeated at the Battle of the White Mountain on November 8, 1620. The royal family fled and lived in exile for their rest of their lives. Frederick and Elizabeth had 13 children: seven boys and six girls. Frederick died in 1632, so Elizabeth lived many years as a widow. Two of their sons, Maurice and Rupert, served the Royalist cause during the Civil War. Elizabeth returned to England during the reigns of both her brother (Charles I) and her nephew (Charles II), dying in 1662 on February 12 in London.

One of her daughters provided the path to Protestant succession in 1701: Sophia, who had married the Elector of Hanover, Ernest Augustus. Sophia died just before Anne, James II's younger daughter died in 1714. Thus, George I established the Hanoverian dynasty and the current line of succession.

One of her other daughters, Louise Hollandine of the Palatinate, became a Catholic nun with the assistance and encouragement of King Louis XIV. She was a Cistercian Abbess at Maubuisson in the Val-d'Oise in the Ile-de-France, north of Paris. Elizabeth's sixth son, Edward, Count Palatine of Simmern also became a Catholic after marrying Anna Gonzaga of Mantua in 1645. Except for his Catholicism, his heirs could have succeeded to the throne of England.

Hugh Green, English Martyr

Hugh Green was born in 1584 of Protestant parents; he took his degree at Cambridge in 1605, but then converted to Catholicism and went to Douai to study for the priesthood in 1610. He tried his vocation as a Capuchin, but left that order and was ordained in 1612.

In England he served the Catholics of Dorchester and was given refuge by Lady Blanche Arundell of Lanherne. Just before the beginning of the Civil War, Charles I passed another law making the presence of Catholic priests in England a crime punishable by death. Although Hugh Green intended to leave England under this ban, he was too late.

He was captured near Lyme Regis, imprisoned and then executed on August 19, 1642. The story of his execution is more appalling than usual: there was no experienced executioner available, so a barber-cum-executioner spent almost half an hour trying to locate his heart after he had been hung. Finally a soldier mercifully ended this torture. When his head was cut off, the Puritans used it as a football! As Archbishop Challoner notes, this was not an event repeated in the annals of the English martyrs. Blessed Hugh Green is honored at the Church of Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs, and St. Ignatius, Chideock, Dorset. Please note that this is Jane Austen country, as any reader of Persuasion would remember Anne Elliott's fateful visit to Lyme Regis!

In a very strange coincidence, there was an American style football player named Hugh Green, who was born in 1959. He played for both the Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lord John Russell, Future Prime Minister

John Russell, a younger son of John Russell, the 6th Duke of Bedford, was born on 18 August 1792. He would serve twice as Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 30 June 1846 to 23 February 1852 and from 29 October 1865 to 28 June 1866. He was a Whig, as was his father and his father before him. Lord John Russell received the title Earl Russell in 1861--he was the grandfather of Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize winner and 3rd Earl Russell.

The Russell family estates, which John would not inherit as younger son, include Woburn Abbey, which is on the site of a Cistercian Abbey built in 1145. The last abbot of Woburn Abbey was Robert Hobbes, founded guilty of treason and executed. More about Robert Hobbes here.

The abbey was suppressed in 1538. There had been an Eleanor Cross at Woburn Abbey, built at the command of King Edward I to mark the procession of her body from Lincoln to London after she died in November, 1290--it was destroyed probably as the abbey was. Edward VI granted Woburn Abbey to Sir John Russell in 1547, but it did not become a family home until 1619.

During his first term of office, Lord John Russell had to deal with the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in 1850 by Pope Pius IX. When Nicholas Wiseman's celebratory letter was distributed, Russell termed the action "Papal Aggression". More about that crisis here.

In the House of Commons before he became Prime Minister, Lord Russell was instrumental in the passage of the great Reform Act of 1832, extending the franchise. He had also been in favor of Catholic Relief in 1829.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Blessed Virgin Mary and Current Events in England


Bloggers on The Catholic Herald have been commenting on the looting and rioting in London, Birmingham, Manchester and other cities. William Oddie, Francis Philips, and Father Alexander Lucie-Smith have considered what has caused this violence from a Catholic angle.

William Oddie's post is titled "Now we have proof that abolishing parental rights and encouraging single-parent families was disastrous: the disaster has happened". He references a specific law that weakened -- nay abolished --parental rights in England:

. . . the Children Act 1989, which abolished parental rights (substituting for them the much weaker “parental responsibility”), which encouraged parents not to spend too much time with their children, which even preposterously gave children the right to take legal action against their parents for attempting to discipline them, which made it “unlawful for a parent or carer to smack their child, except where this amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’;” and which specified that “Whether a ‘smack’ amounts to reasonable punishment will depend on the circumstances of each case taking into consideration factors like the age of the child and the nature of the smack.” If the child didn’t think it “reasonable” he could go to the police. It was an Act which, in short, deliberately weakened the authority of parents over their children and made the state a kind of co-parent.

He wonders if the current government will have the will to encourage the rebuilding of the ordinary family, with a father and a mother, and children, with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins providing the extended family -- not the state! That's the Catholic moral view from The Catholic Herald.

Francis Philips' article title is a little shorter: "Christianity is no longer the soul of public life: that’s why anarchy broke out last week". While expressing the hopefulness that comes with every World Youth Day, she also notes that the riots are extremely disheartening she knows why:

Everyone in the media has a different explanation for the roots of the recent riots in London and elsewhere. Actually, as Christians know, it is very simple. It is encapsulated in a quotation from a French cleric, Cardinal Pie, cited by Catholic broadcaster Michael Voris that I read this morning on The Vortex: “When Christianity is no longer the soul of public life, of public power, of public institutions, then Jesus Christ deals with this country in the manner he is there dealt with. He continues to give His grace and blessings to the individuals who serve Him, but He abandons the institutions, the powers which do not serve Him. And the institutions, the kings, the nations become like shifting sand in the desert; they fall away like the autumn leaves which are gone with the wind.”

So she offers the doctrinal Catholic analysis of the riots: without Jesus Christ, we cannot know what the human person is supposed to be, what we need to be happy, what society needs to be just, etc.

Finally, Father Alexander Lucie-Smith's article: "England would be a more hopeful place if it rediscovered its devotion to Mary". He points out the historical break that took away that devotion, which so many Catholic countries like Malta, even secular France, and even that home of the Protestant Reformation, Germany can still celebrate with festivity:

Hope is the great message we need to hear. When those dismal killjoys, the so-called reformers, burned the statues of Our Lady at the time of the Henrician Reformation, and after the iconoclasts had done their terrible work of destruction, the people of this country were left without beautiful images, and left without a proper Marian theology, and thus, in large measure, without hope. We need to rediscover our Marian devotion, and we need to cheer up, and look to the future with confidence. These three are all connected; they are in fact one task. The trouble is that once a tradition has been destroyed, how do you revive it again? Unlike Italy, Malta, or even France, England seems to me to be a culturally impoverished place, and religion has been excised from the popular imagination, leaving us all the poorer for it. We are no longer Mary’s Dowry, but we need to become so again. But how?

Thus he provides the Catholic devotional answer: the people of England in the sixteenth century saw Mary, the Mother of God as the loving mother of her Son's Church. As Sir Kenneth Clark pointed out in Civilisation which discussing the iconoclasm of the Reformation, the people saw this loving, kind advocate destroyed and their devotion to her condemned--and in Elizabethan England, the Queen took her place. Instead of celebrating the Birth of the Virgin Mary on September 8, the English celebrated the birth of Elizabeth I on September 7: the state made a drastic substitution--honor your Queen here on earth, not the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for England!

St. Peter in Chains: Tower of London

Edmund Dudley and Richard Empson, counsellors to the late King Henry VII, were executed on August 17, 1510 and buried in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula (St. Peter in Chains) in the Tower of London. Henry VIII ordered their executions early in his reign.

According to the official site for the Tower as a Historic Royal Palace, St. Peter ad Vincula is:

A Tudor chapel containing monuments to residents of the Tower and its prisoners, including those executed on Tower Green.


Originally a parish church, the Chapel was incorporated into the walls of the castle during Henry III’s expansion. It has been rebuilt at least twice, once in the reign of Edward I, and then again in its present form in Henry VIII’s reign.

Three queens of England Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey, and two saints of the Roman Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and John Fischer, are buried here. Their headless bodies were buried under the nave or chancel without memorial until the 19th century when remains found in the nave were re-interred in the crypt.

The chapel also has many monuments which commemorate officers and residents of the Tower who worshipped here. It remains a place of worship for the Tower’s community of 150 or so residents.

St. Philip Howard was buried there for a time but then moved first to the Fitzalan Chapel at Arundel Castle and then to the Catholic Cathedral in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, renamed for him. (It was dedicated to Our Lady and St. Philip Neri; since 1973 it has been dedicated to Our Lady and St. Philip Howard).

The other chapel in the Tower is the Chapel of St. John, which was:

Part of the original construction of the White Tower begun in 1078 by William the Conqueror. The chapel was at the heart of the king’s royal and ceremonial apartments and would probably originally have been brightly painted.

The Chapel of St. John's is not only the best-preserved interior in the White Tower, but also one of the best examples of Anglo-Norman church architecture in England. Although it was probably orginally brightly painted, Henry III (1216-72) embellished it with stained glass windows representing the Virgin and Child and St. John the Evangelist, a painting of Edward the Confessor, and a figure of Christ. For much of its later history, it was used to store state records.

By tradition, it was here that King Henry VII's wife, Elizabeth of York, was laid in state after dying at the Tower in childbirth. It was also here that Henry VIII’s eldest daughter, Mary, was betrothed by proxy to Philip of Spain. St. John’s is still a royal chapel and the Queen’s Chaplain performs a series of services throughout the year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rembrandt and Jesus in Philadelphia

I don't think the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show and the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference will be in Valley Forge next year, but there are other venues to visit if one can stay later (by design). With my missed flight/flight delay last week, I wish I could have visited the Philadelphia Museum of Arts' special exhibition on Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus. I picked up a flyer at the airport announcing the event. As the museum's website explains:

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) is universally acclaimed as the greatest master painter of the Dutch Golden Age, the 17th-century efflorescence of art in the Netherlands. Thanks to an inventory of his home and studio conducted in July 1656, we know that Rembrandt kept in his bedroom two of his own paintings called Head of Christ. A third painting—identified as a "Head of Christ, from life"—was found in a bin in Rembrandt's studio, awaiting use as a model for a New Testament composition. Today, seven paintings survive (from what was likely eight originally) that fit this description, all painted by Rembrandt and his pupils between 1643 and 1655. Bust-length portraits, they show the same young man familiar from traditional artistic conceptions of Christ, yet each figure also bears a slightly different expression. In posing an ethnographically correct model and using a human face to depict Jesus, Rembrandt overturned the entire history of Christian art, which had previously relied on rigidly copied prototypes for Christ.

This exhibition, the first Rembrandt exhibition in Philadelphia since 1932 and the first ever in the city to include paintings by the Dutch master, reunites the seven paintings of this exceedingly rare and singular series for the first time since 1656. Of these portraits, three are being seen in the United States for the first time. Complemented by more than fifty related paintings, prints, and drawings, Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus allows visitors to consider the religious, historic, and artistic significance of these works. Objects of private reflection for Rembrandt, the paintings in this exhibition bear witness to Rembrandt's iconoclasm and his search for a meditative ideal.

In addition to major paintings, many of the selected drawings in this exhibition have been rarely exhibited or lent owing to their light-sensitivity and fragility. Indeed, never before have so many of Rembrandt’s finest paintings, etchings, and drawings that depict Jesus Christ and events of his life been assembled for an exhibition.


The Wall Street Journal reviewed it last week:

Rembrandt van Rijn was among art history's most gifted interpreters of the Bible, bringing a blend of sobriety, tenderness and insight to the sacred narratives he portrayed. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in his numerous depictions of Jesus Christ, the focus of "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus," an exhibition now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Presenting about 50 paintings, drawings and prints—several borrowed from European collections and rarely seen in the U.S.—the exhibition offers a fascinating narrative of artistic innovation and spiritual growth. In the middle of his long career, we learn, Rembrandt began to portray Jesus with features subtly resembling those of contemporary Amsterdam Jews, a move starkly at odds with artistic tradition, yet in no way contrary to the text of the Bible. . . .

Three rooms of fairly small works flesh out the show's intellectual background. The first presents images of Christ in prior European art, demonstrating canonical approaches to portraying this all-important figure, whose physical appearance receives scant mention in the Bible. The second shows Rembrandt's engagement with these traditions through his youthful graphic work, including a famous red-chalk drawing after Leonardo's "Last Supper." And the third offers a sampling of Rembrandt's earliest images of 17th-century Dutch Jews.

Here, we learn that Rembrandt lived on the edge of Amsterdam's largest Jewish community, which was populated by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, almost all of whom were refugees from persecution elsewhere in Europe. The mostly impoverished Ashkenazim, with their untrimmed beards, long hair and traditional garments, particularly captured the artist's attention, as can be seen in a sensitive black chalk drawing of a seated Jewish craftsman at work and in a rapidly executed oil-on-panel "Portrait of a Young Jew" (c. 1648). . . .


Although "Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus" makes its central point well and clearly, the preponderance of minor works, historical background material and pictures by students may cause visitors to wonder if additional top-quality paintings by Rembrandt might have made for a stronger presentation. At the show's original venue, the Louvre in Paris, four more of Rembrandt's New Testament scenes were included, two of them masterpieces. In Philadelphia, the cavernous galleries devoted to the exhibition leave many works seeming marooned, and the extensive use of large, didactic wall texts compounds this problem. Nonetheless, by focusing on the important issue of Rembrandt's midcareer approach to the physiognomy of Jesus, this show ultimately highlights the need for a truly major exhibition on Rembrandt and the Bible, especially here in America, where the master's great biblical history paintings are so seldom to be seen.

My husband and I have a DVD titled The Face: Jesus in Art which features some of these paintings. I have seen some of them at the Louvre and at Jacquemart-Andre in Paris. It will not be in Philadelphia long--then it travels to Detroit. What an experience to see them all together in person!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Father John Lingard, Historian and Poet

Yesterday at Mass we sang this hymn. On this Feast of Our Lady commemorating her Assumption into Heaven, it seems appropriate to post it:

Hail, Queen of heaven, the ocean star,
Guide of the wanderer here below,
Thrown on life's surge, we claim thy care,
Save us from peril and from woe.

Mother of Christ, Star of the sea
Pray for the wanderer, pray for me.

O gentle, chaste, and spotless Maid,
We sinners make our prayers through thee;
Remind thy Son that He has paid
The price of our iniquity.

Virgin most pure, Star of the sea,
Pray for the sinner, pray for me.

And while to Him Who reigns above
In Godhead one, in Persons three,
The Source of life, of grace, of love,
Homage we pay on bended knee:

Do thou, bright Queen, Star of the sea,
Pray for thy children, pray for me.

Father John Lingard (5 February 1771 – 17 July 1851), of course, was the Catholic priest who wrote the great eight-volume work The History of England that did so much to overturn the Whig view of English history. Here is a video performance.

Q3 Reading List

My, but I have a stack of books to read! Working on my second book has led to searching for several books about the Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation, and then there are some other items of interest--here are just three.

The English Church & the Papacy in the Middle Ages, Edited by C.H. Lawrence is proving to be very interesting. Six chapters by different authors. Veronica Ortenberg's on "The Anglo-Saxon Church and the Papacy" details the great devotion of the Anglo-Saxons to St. Peter and to his successors as Vicar of Christ. The Anglo-Saxon hierarchy forged strong relationships with the popes in Rome through pilgrimages, letters, and liturgical adaptation.

Then, just because I read this post I ordered a used copy of Sigrid Undset's Stages in the Road so I could read her chapters on "Robert Southwell, SJ: Priest, Poet, Martyr" and "Margaret Clitherow". Having read The Master of Hestviken and Kristen Lavransdatter, I want to know what this great artist wrote about such great saints, since she knows so much about sinners.

And then I have this book by Patti Armstrong, published by Scepter (as is Supremacy and Survival!)--Catholic Truths for Our Children: Guidelines for Parents.

I'll publish some updates soon on these and other books.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Shrine Series Post #6: St. Edmund's Chapel

Why did I choose today's shrine? Because I received a mailing from The Edmundite Mission of Selma, Alabama. According to the order's website:

The Society of Saint Edmund began in the 1840s in a rural region of France to revitalize the faith of people who had become increasingly alienated from the Catholic Church. Our founder, Father Jean-Baptiste Muard began the Society at St. Mary’s Abbey in Pontigny, one of the great Cistercian monasteries of France and the final resting place of Saint Edmund of Canterbury.

Known as “auxiliary priests,” the Edmundites took on assignments and challenges that local clergy were unable to do. Ardent and powerful preachers, they brought the message of the Gospel from village to village. The order flourished and in time the Edmundites re-established Mont Ste. Michel as a place of pilgrimage and opened several Catholic schools.


St. Edmund of Canterbury died in exile in France in 1240, but his friend Richard of Chicester (who would also be canonized) wanted to honor him in England, so he built a small chapel in Dover:

Near to the Maison Dieu [the hospital] the monks of the Priory of St Martin established a cemetery for the poor with its own small chapel. The chapel, dedicated to St Edmund, was consecrated on 30 March 1253 by Bishop Richard of Chichester . St Richard had always wanted to dedicate a chapel to St Edmund, who had been his friend. The fulfilment of this wish was one of Richard’s last acts as he died four days later in the Maison Dieu. After his death Richard’s body was returned to the chapel to be ‘eviscerated’ (have the internal organs removed) in preparation for the journey to Chichester Cathedral to be buried. The viscera were buried in the chapel altar and both places later became places of pilgrimage.

The chapel was dissolved along with the Maison Dieu in 1544. Its history since then is only sketchily known. Immediately after the dissolution, it was probably still associated with the fortunes of the Maison Dieu and became part of a victualling store for the Navy. After that it became a store-house for the shops which came to be built in Biggin Street. In the middle of the nineteenth century it was converted into a two-floor building, and became a dwelling-house and forge.

In 1943 artillery shells destroyed the two shops hiding the chapel on the Priory Road side, leaving the chapel itself untouched. Attempts to get it scheduled as an Ancient Monument in 1963 failed and it was scheduled for demolition. In 1965, however, it was privately purchased and restored in 1967-8. At least 75 percent of the building seen today is original.


Note that St. Edmund died at the Cisterican Abbey of Pontigny, where both St. Thomas a Becket and Stephen Langton would find refuge during their difficulties as Archbishops of Canterbury. It's in Chablis country, and looks well worth a pilgrimage!

And yes, I sent the Edmundites some money: they are serving the poor in our country faithfully and with love.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Freeman in Warwickshire

Blessed William Freeman was executed in Warwick on August 13, 1595.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

A priest and martyr, b. at Manthorp near York, c. 1558; d. at Warwick, 13 August, 1595. His parents were recusants, though he conformed outwardly for some time to the religion of the country. Educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, he took his degree as B.A. in 1581, then lived for some years in London, where he witnessed the martyrdom of Edward Stransham in 1586. Strongly impressed with this example, he left England and was ordained priest in 1587 at Reims. Returning to England in 1589, he worked for six years on the borders of Warwickshire, and in his interesting life many persons are mentioned who were contemporaries or friends of Shakespeare. In January, 1595, a special commission was sent down to Stratford-on-Avon to search the house of Mrs. Heaths who had engaged his services as tutor to her son. William Freeman was arrested, and spent seven months in prison. He denied his priesthood, but also refused all friendly offers to escape, not wishing to lose his opportunity of martyrdom. Owing to the treachery of a fellow-prisoner, William Gregory, he was at last sentenced as a seminary priest and in spite of a touching protest of loyalty, suffered the death of a traitor at Warwick.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Some New Books to Anticipate!

Mary Tudor, Renaissance Queen updates us on new books about the Tudor era, including this one about Philip of Spain as the King of England:

The Spanish Armada conjures up images of age-old rivalries, bravery and treachery. However the same Spanish monarch who sent the Armada to invade England in 1588 was, just a few years previously, the King of England and husband of Mary Tudor. This important new book sheds new light on Philip II of Spain, England's forgotten sovereign. Previous accounts of Mary's brief reign have focused on the martyrdom of Protestant dissenters, the loss of English territory, as well as Mary's infamous personality, meaning that her husband Philip has remained in the shadows. In this book, Harry Kelsey uncovers Philip's life - from his childhood and education in Spain, to his marriage to Mary and the political manoeuvrings involved in the marriage contract, to the tumultuous aftermath of Mary's death which ultimately led to hostile relations between Queen Elizabeth and Philip, culminating in the Armada. Focusing especially on the period of Philip's marriage to Mary, Kelsey shows that Philip was, in fact, an active King of England and took a keen interest in the rule of his wife's kingdom. Casting fresh light on both Mary and Philip, as well as European history more generally, this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the Tudor era.

She also mentions a new book by David Loades on the Tudor Dynasty, and hopes "his section on Mary pays careful consideration to the works on her reign that have been published in recent years"! Check out the post for the other books and news.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

St. Clare and the Poor Clares in England

Today is the feast of St. Clare, who followed St. Francis's devotion to poverty more closely than any of his other disciples.

The Poor Clares were in England before the Reformation, of course. The Abbey of the Order of St Clare, for example, was located in Aldgate on the eastern edge of London. The Abbey was surrendered in 1539. Venerable Mary Ward established an English convent of Poor Clares in Gravelines, Spanish Netherlands in 1607. During the French Revolution, the nuns of that house had to leave France. They came to England in 1795.

Here is a sad story from earlier this year in The Catholic Herald about the closing of a Poor Clare convent after 160 years:

The Poor Clares were founded by St Clare of Assisi and St Francis of Assisi on Palm Sunday in the year 1212 and spread throughout Europe. Their primary vocation was a contemplative life to pray in seclusion for the needs of the world. At Baddesley Clinton the Poor Clares were also involved in running a local school.

In 1850 a group of six Sisters arrived in Warwickshire from Bruges and the Poor Clare community of Baddesley Clinton was the first community of Poor Clares of the Colettine Reform to be re-established in England after the Reformation.

The community had close links with Blessed John Henry Newman, who lived in the Oratory House in Edgbaston, Birmingham. This holy parish priest used to visit the Sisters and bring provisions given by his parishioners – they used to leave these in a box at the back of the church situated next to the Oratory House.

The Sisters were poor and Cardinal Newman brought other gifts, including Christmas and Easter hampers at his own expense.

Sister Felicity, Reverend Mother Abbess, and two members of the Poor Clare Community at Baddesley Clinton, attended the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman by Pope Benedict XVI during Mass at Cofton Park, Birmingham, on September 19 2010.