Friday, August 3, 2012

The Arundells and Carmelites of Cornwall

From Tea at Trianon comes this link to "Cornwall: Land of Saints"--

Celtic monks founded a monastery at Lanherne in the 6th century the site of the present convent, which later came into the possession of the bishops and still later of the great English noble family of Arundell. The present building is the medieval Manor House of the Arundells, which is the center of Catholicism in the area. The estate provided work for many people and the family built the Medieval Church of St. Mawgan which you can see in the background of the picture above. The parish church is now in the possession of the Church of England and the convent is separated from the church property by an ancient wall.

The Arundells remained a faithful Catholic family that suffered terribly throughout the period of the English Reformation. They used the manor house to hide Catholic priests, who were in threat of certain death if captured. Not least of these courageous priests was St. Cuthbert Mayne, who was eventually captured nearby at and hung drawn and quartered at Launceston, his quarters being sent to the four corners of the realm, his head being placed on a pike. The top of his scull is in the possession of the convent and is venerated here every Sunday after Mass. One can clearly see the hole in the top of the cranium from where his head was placed on the pike.

Local historians know more or less where the hiding places for priests (priest holes) were built into the manor house walls. One of them is believed to be in the present chapel of the friars, though modern paneling currently prevents its definitive discovery.

The Manor House was also a way station along the route of the Welsh pilgrims to St. James of Compostella. The scallop shell of St. James is engraved in stone above the front door.

In 1794 the Manor House was offered by the Arundell family to a group of English Carmelite nuns who were fleeing France because of the persecution of the French Revolution. From that time until fifteen or so years ago the Manor house has been a carmelite monastery. The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate took it over and it remains the place of their enclosure as contemplatives consecrated unlimitedly to the Immaculate. Read the rest here.

You can read more about the Carmelites on this well-illustrated post and more about the Arundells of Cornwall here. I will never cease learning more and more about the English Reformation and the Catholic heritage of England, because this history is so rich and deep in spite of the horrors of the recusant and penal era!

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