Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catholic Maryland and Oxford

Thanks to Once I Was a Clever Boy, here is a link to John Whitehead's post on Catholic Maryland. At Mass at the Oxford Oratory, he met

a visiting American academic. Talking afterwards I found that he was Dr Henry M. Miller, Director of Research at the Historic St Mary's City project in Maryland, of which I had read something a while back on the internet, and that he was spending a sabbatical research year in Oxford attached, through the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, to Keble college.

The importance of St Mary's City, of which none of the original buildings survive above foundation level, is that it was the first capital of Maryland, established as a private Catholic colony in 1634 by George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, and with freedom of religion. After it was taken over as a Crown colony in 1694 that position changed, and in 1704 there was an Act to deter the growth of Popery. Nonetheless this was the first such experiment in religious pluralism, and the chapel, of which the one built in 1667, replacing one destroyed in the Civil War, and recently reconstructed on its foundations under Dr Miller's leadership, can claim to be the mother church of English Roman Catholic North America.

Here is the website for Historic St Mary's City and a link to Dr. Miller's blog while working in Oxford:

This blog reports the experiences and findings of Dr. Henry Miller while he is on assignment at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Oxford, England. From September 2011 to May of 2012, he will be conducting research about early Maryland and its English connections, writing, and teaching. Watch this space for Dr. Miller's research findings, insights on the remarkable history and nature of Oxford and other places he visits, and curious aspects of living in another country.

If you have read Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation (and if you haven't, why haven't you?), you will know that I trace the thread of the Lords Baltimore and the Maryland colony throughout the chapters on the Stuart monarchs. From the first Lord Baltimore, Geroge Calvert to the third Lord Baltimore, Charles Calvert, the fortunes of their vision of religious freedom in the colony in Maryland ebbed and flowed with the changes in the Stuart dynasty through the Civil War, Interregnum, and finally the so-called "Glorious" Revolution of 1688. John D. Krugler wrote what I think is still the standard work on the their efforts: English and Catholic: The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century.

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