Wednesday, September 30, 2015

No Martyr Here: The Victim Status of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

Amy Fuller writes in History Today online:

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a 17th-century poet, playwright and nun. In her native Mexico today she is celebrated as an icon: her old convent is now a university bearing her name; she is the subject of a movie and many plays and novels, and she even features on the 200 peso banknote. Yet, despite her fame, her story has been distorted and the more that is written about her, the further we get from the true historical figure.

The misrepresentation of Sor Juana's life began in the 1930s but gained traction thanks largely to Octavio Paz’s 1982 biography and the 1990 movie,
I the Worst of All. Her privileged life and the support of the Church and court have been ignored. Instead, the popular narrative tells us that Sor Juana was persecuted by the Inquisition for stirring up controversy. As a result, she is now known as a subversive upstart who was silenced and forced to give up her career and possessions, and her tragic death from the plague is framed as a martyr’s atonement to make up for her ‘transgressions’.

Though she is relatively unknown in the UK, a production of
The Heresy of Love, which is based on Sor Juana’s life, has been thrilling crowds at London’s Globe since the end of July. This critically acclaimed play by Helen Edmundson was written in 2012 and builds upon the existing mythology, ramping it up even further. Within this new version of events, Sor Juana’s beauty and sexuality become central to her persecution: she is torn down by bitchy female rivals as well as male authority figures. Her punishment too goes to new levels as she mortifies her own flesh, even cutting her face, and the books in her library are publicly burned by order of the Inquisition.

Fuller goes on to argue that much of this interpretation of Sor Juana's life is creating a martyr-victim when there isn't one, and that anti-Catholic and anti-clerical politics played a crucial role:

The creation of Sor Juana’s ‘persecution’ coincided with a rise in anti-clericalism and the reclaiming of Mexico’s history after the Revolution. This predominately focused on presenting a Mexico that rallied against outside influence in order to free itself from the colonial power of Spain and the invading force of the US. In order to fit this narrative, Sor Juana’s works were presented as rebellious and anti-Spanish. But, in reality, each of her volumes was praised by the Inquisition and prefaced with dedicatory letters and poetry from Spanish nobility and clergy celebrating her as an icon of the Spanish Empire. In return, she commended the crown for having saved the indigenous Mexicans from the ignorance of paganism.

This cooperation between Sor Juana and the Spanish crown and the Church does not fit the acceptable image of a Mexican heroine. It is much more appropriate to have her rebel against her ‘oppressors’ and suffer for having done so.

Indeed, in a plotline that is continued in
The Heresy of Love, Sor Juana is presented as finding favour and safety only temporarily with the Viceroyals. Once their tenure is complete and they return to Spain, she is thrown to the wolves. As such, her narrative becomes a metaphor for Mexico itself: tyrannised by Spain and then left to rot.

Far from being silenced within her lifetime, this actually began in the 20th century and continues today. Her own image, largely self-made, was deemed unacceptable for a modern day Mexican national treasure and decimated. As a result she has become a victim after all.

You can imagine that part of the pleasure some members of the audience received from attending the play The Heresy of Love is that it confirmed their views of organized religion and the Catholic Church.

Note that Amy Fuller has studied the works of Sor Juana and wrote her PhD dissertation on the nun's one act plays in the Eucharist:

The seventeenth-century Mexican poet, playwright and nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, is best known for her secular works, most notably her damning indictment of male double standards, Hombres necios (Stupid Men). However, her autos sacramentales (allegorical one-act plays on the Eucharist) have received little attention, and have only been discussed individually and out of sequence. By examining them as a collection, in their original order, their meaning and importance are revealed. The autos combine Christian and classical ‘pagan’ imagery from the ‘Old World’ with the conquest and conversion of the ‘New World’. As the plays progress, the mystery of Christ’s ‘greatest gi ft’ to mankind is deciphered and is mirrored in Spain’s gi ft of the True Faith to the indigenous Mexicans. Sor Juana’s own image is also situated within this baroque landscape: presented as a triumph of Spanish imperialism, an exotic muse between two worlds. 
Amy Fuller gained her PhD in Spanish Studies from the University of Manchester in 2010, and is a Lecturer in History at Nottingham Trent.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Michaelmas and St. Michael

From the first chapter of Henry Adams' Mont Saint Michel and Chartres:

The Archangel loved heights. Standing on the summit of the tower that crowned his church, wings upspread, sword uplifted, the devil crawling beneath, and the cock, symbol of eternal vigilance, perched on his mailed foot, Saint Michael held a place of his own in heaven and on earth which seems, in the eleventh century, to leave hardly room for the Virgin of the Crypt at Chartres, still less for the Beau Christ of the thirteenth century at Amiens. The Archangel stands for Church and State, and both militant. He is the conqueror of Satan, the mightiest of all created spirits, the nearest to God. His place was where the danger was greatest; therefore you find him here. For the same reason he was, while the pagan danger lasted, the patron saint of France. So the Normans, when they were converted to Christianity, put themselves under his powerful protection. So he stood for centuries on his Mount in Peril of the Sea, watching across the tremor of the immense ocean,--"immensi tremor oceani"--as Louis XI, inspired for once to poetry, inscribed on the collar of the Order of Saint Michael which he created. So soldiers, nobles, and monarchs went on pilgrimage to his shrine; so the common people followed, and still follow, like ourselves.

Today's feast of the Archangels was one of the important days of the sanctoral and secular year in England before the English Reformation, according to this site:

Michaelmas, or the Feast of Michael and All Angels, is celebrated on the 29th of September every year. As it falls near the equinox, the day is associated with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days; in England, it is one of the “quarter days”.

There are traditionally four “quarter days” in a year (Lady Day (25th March), Midsummer (24th June), Michaelmas (29th September) and Christmas (25th December)). They are spaced three months apart, on religious festivals, usually close to the solstices or equinoxes. They were the four dates on which servants were hired, rents due or leases begun. It used to be said that harvest had to be completed by Michaelmas, almost like the marking of the end of the productive season and the beginning of the new cycle of farming. It was the time at which new servants were hired or land was exchanged and debts were paid. This is how it came to be for Michaelmas to be the time for electing magistrates and also the beginning of legal and university terms. . . .

Traditionally, in the British Isles, a well fattened goose, fed on the stubble from the fields after the harvest, is eaten to protect against financial need in the family for the next year; and as the saying goes:

“Eat a goose on Michaelmas Day,
Want not for money all the year”.

Sometimes the day was also known as “Goose Day” and goose fairs were held. Even now, the famous Nottingham Goose Fair is still held on or around the 3rd of October. Part of the reason goose is eaten is that it was said that when Queen Elizabeth I heard of the defeat of the Armada, she was dining on goose and resolved to eat it on Michaelmas Day. Others followed suit. It could also have developed through the role of Michaelmas Day as the debts were due; tenants requiring a delay in payment may have tried to persuade their landlords with gifts of geese!


As you might expect, things changed:

Through the celebration of the day in this way, the prosperity and wealth of the family is supported for the coming year. The custom of celebrating Michaelmas Day as the last day of harvest was broken when Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church; instead, it is Harvest Festival that is celebrated now.

The Fisheaters website has more details about other customs on Michaelmas.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the Divine power of God, cast into hell Satan,
and with him all evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Presentation and An Article


I wrote an article for the October issue of Tudor Life: The Tudor Society Magazine (membership/ prescription required) on "The Choices Catholics Faced in Tudor England", tracing religious change through the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I and what those changes meant for a Catholic who just wanted to attend Mass, receive the Sacraments, and live as his or her English ancestors had for years. Editor Gareth Russell specifically asked me to write an article from the Catholic perspective for this special Reformation issue.

On Tuesday, September 29, my sister and I will drive to Hutchinson, Kansas, where I'll make a presentation to the Hutchinson Theology on Tap group on "The Continuing Relevance of the English Reformation". I'll cover some highlights of English Reformation history but mostly discuss how that history is so relevant today, with examples of current events like changes in the Royal succession, the burial of Richard III (Anglican or Catholic service?), Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Scotland and England five years ago, the Anglican Ordinariate, religious freedom issues, etc. More information here on the facebook page for TOT in Hutchinson.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Anne Boleyn's Songbook

Music, secular and religious, was an essential element at Henry VIII's Court--the king enjoyed music and dancing and evidently wrote music himself. He valued musical talent and dancing ability in his courtiers and ladies. Anne Boleyn shared Henry's musical taste, and Alamire, a British ensemble of consort singers, has recorded her favorite works:

Anne Boleyn is famously the the most notorious of Henry VIII’s six wives. She was brought up in France and for a time was under the guardianship of Margaret of Austria, who was patron some of the most famous composers in all of Europe. It is here where the young Anne developed her keen musical tastes, and when a collection of her favourite works began to be assembled into what is now known as the Anne Boleyn Songbook (Royal College of Music, MS 1070). The book probably remained in her possession until her execution in 1536, when she was wrongfully accused by Henry’s council of adultery with no less than five men (one being her brother, George). Another of the accused was Mark Smeaton, her music tutor and lutenist, who may have had a hand in including some of the love songs in the book.

Here Alamire explores motets and chansons by the greatest composers of the early 16th century, including Compere, Mouton, Brumel, and Josquin. Performances by Alamire are interspersed with French chansons and instrumental items for lute and harp from the songbook. Also included in the programme is a haunting setting of ‘O death rock me asleep’, the text of which is thought by some to have been written by Anne while awaiting her fate in the Tower of London.

Alamire posted a video promoting the project and the music critic of The Telegraph, Ivan Hewett, discusses the songbook's provenance--it seems to date before she became the Countess of Pembroke or Queen of England:

In 1536, Anne Boleyn, queen of England for only three years, is in the Tower of London awaiting execution on charges of adultery. She writes a letter to Henry VIII, protesting her innocence, and composes a doleful poem: “O Deathe rock me asleep / Bringe me to quiet rest / Let pass my weary guiltless ghost... For I must dye, there is no remedy.” Someone then turns those words into a song, which has survived for five centuries.

There’s no evidence the poem really is by Anne. But it’s touching to think we have a song by a queen lamenting her own demise, and it might even be true. Anne was an educated woman, well able to compose a poem, and she was musically literate too. The proof of that is a leather-bound volume on the shelves of the Royal College of Music, known as Anne Boleyn’s Songbook. It’s a fascinating collection of 42 compositions, which is one of the most important sources of French Renaissance music anywhere. Remarkably, it’s lain untouched for nearly 500 years. Now David Skinner, director of the choir Alamire, has picked out around 20 of the best pieces and recorded them. . . .

The most obvious clue to the book’s ownership is an inscription in tiny writing which states “Mistres ABolleyne nowe thus.” “Nowe thus” was the motto of the Boleyn family, and the word “mistress” is a sign that the book was put together before Anne became queen in 1533. This suggests that the Songbook is the musical equivalent of a commonplace book, which Anne started after she was sent to Europe in her early teens, to complete her education. After a year at the court of Margaret of Austria, who was a great patroness of composers, she spent many years at the French court. The book could well be a record of the music Anne encountered on her travels, and later in England.

This is the poem ascribed to Anne Boleyn in the Tower of London:

O death! rock me on sleep, 
Bring me on quiet rest; 
Yet pass my guiltless ghost 
Out of my careful breast: 
Toll on the passing bell, 
Ring out the doleful knell, 
Let the sound of my death tell, 
For I must die, 
There is no remedy, 
For now I die. 

My pains who can express? 
Alas! they are so strong, 
My dolor will not suffer strength 
My life for to prolong: 
Toll on the passing bell, etc. 

Alone, in prison strong, 
I wail my destiny, 
Woe worth this cruel hap that I 
Should taste this misery: 
Toll on the passing bell, etc. 

Farewell my pleasures past, 
Welcome my present pain; 
I feel my torments so increase 
That life cannot remain. 
Cease now the passing bell, 
Rung is my doleful knell, 
For the sound my death doth tell, 
Death doth draw nigh, 
Sound my end dolefully, 
For now I die.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

September Martyrs: Blesseds William Spenser and Robert Hardesty

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Father William Spenser was an:

English martyr, b. at Ghisburn, Yorkshire; executed at York, 24 September, 1589. His maternal uncle, William Horn, who signed for the Rectory of Cornwell, Oxfordshire, in 1559, sent him in 1573 to Trinity College, Oxford, where he became Fellow in 1579 and M.A. in 1580. There, convinced of the truth of Catholicism, he used his position to influence his pupils in that direction; but he delayed his reconciliation till 1582, when, with four other Trinity men (John Appletree, B.A., already a priest; William Warford, M.A. and Fellow, afterwards a Jesuit; Anthony Shirley, M.A. and Fellow, afterwards a priest; and John Fixer, B.A., afterwards a priest), he embarked from the Isle of Wight, and landed near Cherbourg, arriving at Reims, 2 November. Received into the Church five days later, he was ordained sub-deacon and deacon at Laon by the bishop, Valentine Douglas, 7 April, 1583, and priest at Reims by the Cardinal Archbishop de Guise, 24 September, and was sent on the mission 29 August, 1584. He effected the reconciliation of his parents and his uncle (the latter was living as a Catholic priest in 1593), and afterwards voluntarily immured himself in York Castle to help the prisoners there. He was condemned under 27 Elizabeth, c. 2, merely for being a priest. With him suffered a layman, Robert Hardesty, who had given him shelter. 

Blesseds Spenser and Hardesty were among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1987. During the homily at the beatification Mass (on the Feast of Christ the King), the pope spoke of the role of the laity in that era:

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

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

Seventeen years ago forty of the glorious company of martyrs were canonized. It was the prayer of the Church on that day that the blood of those martyrs would be a source of healing for the divisions between Christians. Today we may fittingly give thanks for the progress made in the intervening years towards fuller communion between Anglicans and Catholics. We rejoice in the deeper understanding, broader collaboration and common witness that have taken place through the power of God.

In the days of the martyrs whom we honour today, there were other Christians who died for their beliefs. We can all now appreciate and respect their sacrifice. Let us respond together to the great challenge which confronts those who would preach the Gospel in our age. Let us be bold and united in our profession of our common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Our Lady of Walsingham

Since the year 2000, September 24 is the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, and in 2011 the shrine(s) celebrated the 950th anniversary of the founding of "England's Nazareth". Today in Walsingham there are two shrines--one Catholic, one Anglican. Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's vice regent in these spiritual matters, had the first (Catholic) shrine destroyed along with other shrines to the Mother of God throughout England. The statues were brought to the Chelsea area of the London and destroyed in a bonfire. Walsingham calls itself "England's Nazareth" and promotes both the Catholic and the Anglican shrines on its tourism website. 

In 1893, Pope Leo XIII promised: "When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England." Even after Pope Leo restored the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in 1897, it took some time for [Catholic] England to return to Walsingham. In 1922, the Anglo-Catholic Father Hope Patton established the Anglican shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. In 1934, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bourne, led a major pilgrimage to the Catholic Walsingham and it became the National Marian Shrine. 

With Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's foundation of the first Personal Ordinariate for groups of former Anglicans on January 15, 2011, named for Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady's return to England was even more firmly established. 

O alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin most pure, now we sinful as we are, come to see thee who are all pure, we salute thee, we honour thee as how we may with our humble offerings; may thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Ghost may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose him. Amen.

All Holy and ever-living God, in giving us Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and Brother, You gave us Mary, His Mother, to be our Mother also; grant us, we pray you, to live lives worthy of so great a Brother and so dear a Mother, that we may come at last to you the Father of us all, Who lives and reigns for ever. Amen.

Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Martyrs: Blessed William Way

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia: Today's martyr, Blessed William Way (Alias MAY, alias FLOWER), was born in Exeter Diocese (Challoner says in Cornwall, but earlier authorities say in Devonshire); hanged, [disem]bowelled, and quartered at Kingston-on-Thames, 23 September, 1588. He is frequently confused with the martyred layman Richard Flower, alias Lloyd, who suffered at Tyburn, 30 September, 1588 (as to whom see RICHARD LEIGH), with the priest William Wiggs, alias Way, M.A., a notable prisoner at Wisbech, and with William Wyggs, M.A., of New College, Oxford. Our martyrWilliam Way received the first tonsure in the Cathedral of Reims from the Cardinal of Guise on 31 March, 1584, and was ordained subdeacon, 22 March, deacon 5 April, and priest 18 September, 1586, at Laon, probably byBishop Valentine Douglas, O.S.B. He set out for England 9 December, 1586, and in June 1587, had been committed to the Clink. He was indicted at Newgate in September, 1588, merely for being a priest. He declined to be tried by a secular judge, whereupon the Bishop of London was sent for; but the martyr, refusing to acknowledge him as a bishop or the queen as head of the Church, was immediately condemned. He was much given to abstinence and austerity. When he was not among the first of those to be tried at the Sessions in August, he wept and, fearing he had offended God, went at once to confession, "but when he himself was sent for, he had so much joy that he seemed past himself".

I presume to that seem "past himself" is like being "beside himself": almost out of his senses from a strong emotion, in his case, joy. Since Father Way was known for his "abstinence and austerity", his display of emotion seemed unlike his usual comportment. This expression evidently comes from William Caxton's translation of a French version of the story of Aeneas: Dido is “hors de soi” when she hears that Aeneas has left her. Henry Purcell tells the story of Dido and Aeneas in his opera. Tatiana Troyanas sings her aria, beside herself with grief on the pyre, whose fires Aeneas will see:

Recitative:
Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.

Aria:
When I am laid, am laid in earth, 
May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate

We remember both Blessed William Way and his fate (his martyrdom). He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

Image: Aeneid, Book IV, Death of Dido. From the Vergilius Vaticanus (Vatican Library, Cod. Vat. lat. 3225).

The Spanish Armada and Ireland

From The Irish Times (September 20, 2015):

A ceremony to remember the 1,100 soldiers from three Spanish Armada ships who perished at Streedagh, Co Sligo, more than four centuries ago has been held on the beach there. Hundreds of local people stood for a minute’s silence as the Last Post was played and a wreath carried to the sea by members of the Sligo Sub Aqua Club on Saturday afternoon.

Eddie O’Gorman, chairman of the Grange Armada Development Association, said it was important to mark the spot where so many lost their lives 427 years ago. “Those people got neither a wake nor a burial,” he said.

Locals and tourists etched 1,100 crosses into the sand on the beach to mark each life lost when, in violent storms on September 25th, 1588, three ships from the Armada were driven ashore and wrecked there.
La Lavia, La Juliana and the Santa Maria de Vision were part of Philip II of Spain’s failed attempt to invade England.

Ireland of the Welcomes describes the discovery of these ships and the contemporary details from a survivor:

The remains of these ships have lain undisturbed on seabed of a small beach off coast of Sligo for 397 years. The final resting place of wrecks of ships La Lavia, La Juliana, and Santa Maria de Vision that were part of Philip II of Spain’s great fleet lie at bottom of sea in Streedagh Strand which is near village of Grange in County Sligo in north western coast of Ireland. In a landmark discovery wrecks were detected by members of Streedagh Armada Group in May, 1985. The search was led by Steven Birch, who, with his team of English divers made groundbreaking discovery of what remains of ships in Streedagh. Although fact had been known locally since time of wreckings, this was first search that verified existence of Armada ships in this area. Dr. Colin Martin, Armada historian and specialist underwater archaeologist officiated, and sites were recorded. Due to exposed nature of their location three cannons were removed for preservation and subsequently retrieved by Office of Public Works for safekeeping. They are now held in Collins Barracks museum in Dublin where they are exhibited to public. . . .

The three ships had become detached from their squadron, and drifted off coast of Streedagh. A westward wind was howling and ships had few anchors, having cut them at English fire ship attack near Calais. They were hit by Atlantic storm, and lifted as pounding waves on seaward side forced them over. Eventually vessels rapidly broke up.Since then issue of ownership of wrecks has been a subject of contentious dispute and complicated legalities. After much legal dispute it was finally ascertained that ownership of wrecks was to be designated to Irish State who now acts as a protector to these sites. There is also another important aspect to events of Streedagh in 1588. One of Spanish aboard La Lavia who escaped subsequent massacre ashore, lived to tell tale, outlining what happened in a letter.

It is estimated that from three vessels about 1,800 men drowned, rest came ashore at Streedagh. The English George Bingham’s army killed 140 Spanish at Streedagh. However, even before English forces arrived, surviving Spanish had to deal with Irish. Thousands of Irish natives gathered in sparsely populated Streedagh, beach now littered with bodies, flotsam and injured. Several Irish attacked (but contrary to popular view at time, did not kill) Spanish, instead they took their money, clothes, jewelry and whatever could be salvaged from ships. Having escaped, de Cúellar’s now famous testimony records his epic journey. He found refuge from friendly chieftains (O’Rourke and McClancy) in then English-garrisoned North County Sligo/Leitrim. De Cúellar also witnessed much cruelty, arriving at nearby Staid Abbey he found ‘twelve Spaniards hanging within church by act of Lutheran English.’ Later, after being forced to work as a blacksmith in Glenade valley de Cúellar fetches up at McClancy castle at Rossclogher, Lough Melvin, County Leitrim and spent his days telling fortunes to women.

There is a new biography of Philip II of Spain by Geoffrey Parker. Yale University Press describes it thus:

Philip II is not only the most famous king in Spanish history, but one of the most famous monarchs in English history: the man who married Mary Tudor and later launched the Spanish Armada against her sister Elizabeth I. This compelling biography of the most powerful European monarch of his day begins with his conception (1526) and ends with his ascent to Paradise (1603), two occurrences surprisingly well documented by contemporaries. Eminent historian Geoffrey Parker draws on four decades of research on Philip as well as a recent, extraordinary archival discovery—a trove of 3,000 documents in the vaults of the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, unread since crossing Philip’s own desk more than four centuries ago. Many of them change significantly what we know about the king.

The book examines Philip’s long apprenticeship; his three principal interests (work, play, and religion); and the major political, military, and personal challenges he faced during his long reign. Parker offers fresh insights into the causes of Philip’s leadership failures: was his empire simply too big to manage, or would a monarch with different talents and temperament have fared better?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fanfares for the Tudors by Georges Delerue

A facebook "friend" posted this video of the beginning of A Man for All Seasons, highlighting the soundtrack by Georges Delerue, who also wrote the soundtrack for another Tudor era flick, Anne of the Thousand Days. Delerue obviously wanted to use English Renaissance-style music without just adapting a composer of the era. Much of the effect is in the orchestration. TCM.com has the film clip with the opening credits, on their website, but you have to watch a commercial first! The LP from 1966 includes both music and dialogue.

Delerue composed a fanfare for the opening sequence of Anne of The Thousand Days. On a more medieval note, he composed the score for John Huston's A Walk with Love and Death.

Turns out that he composed music for some other films I'm familiar with: The Black Stallion and The Black Robe. He composed the scores for over 350 films and was called "the Mozart of cinema" by Le Figaro!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Historical Apologetics Series on the Son Rise Morning Show

Matt Swaim and I will close out our series on Church History and Apologetics with another of the positive contributions of the Church to Western Culture: the establishment of the university (and Church contributions to education in general). You'll have to listen on-line or with the Sacred Heart Radio app, because my 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern time slot isn't carried by EWTN anymore.

As Thomas E. Woods, Jr., explained in his book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization the Church's development of the university should put to rest the claim that the culture of the Middle Ages was anti-intellectual and superstitious (the Dark Ages):

It was, after all, in the High Middle Ages that the university came into existence. The university, which developed and matured at the height of Catholic Europe, was a new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, comes to us directly from the medieval world. And it is no surprise that the Church should have done so much to foster the nascent university system since, according to historian Lowrie Daly, it was "the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."

The precise origins of the very first universities are lost in obscurity, though the picture becomes ever clearer as we move into the thirteenth century. We cannot give exact dates for the appearance of universities at Paris and Bologna, Oxford and Cambridge, since they evolved over a period of time — the former beginning as cathedral schools, and the latter as informal gatherings of masters and students. But we may safely say that the process occurred during the latter half of the twelfth century.

In order to identify a particular medieval school as a university, we look for certain characteristic features. For one thing, a university possessed a core of required texts, on which professors would lecture and to which they would add their own insights. A university was also characterized by well-defined academic programs lasting a more or less fixed number of years, as well as by the granting of degrees. The granting of a degree, since it entitled the recipient to be called master, amounted to admitting new people to the teaching guild. Although the universities often struggled with outside authorities for self-government, they generally attained it. They also desired and received legal recognition as a corporation. . . .

The university and the intellectual life it fostered played an indispensable role in Western civilization. Christopher Dawson observed that from the days of the earliest universities "the higher studies were dominated by the technique of logical discussion — the quaestio and the public disputation which so largely determined the form of medieval philosophy even in its greatest representatives. "Nothing," says Robert of Sorbonne, "is known perfectly which has not been masticated by the teeth of disputation," and the tendency to submit every question, from the most obvious to the most abstruse, to this process of mastication not only encouraged readiness of wit and exactness of thought but above all developed that spirit of criticism and methodic doubt to which Western culture and science have owed so much."

According to historian of science Edward Grant, the creation of the university, the commitment to reason and rational argument, and the overall spirit of inquiry that characterized medieval intellectual life amounted to "a gift from the Latin Middle Ages to the modern world…though it is a gift that may never be acknowledged. Perhaps it will always retain the status it has had for the past four centuries as the best-kept secret of Western civilization."

In his Historical Sketches, Blessed John Henry Newman traced the history of the development of the university from the Academy of Athens, through the Schools of Charlemagne, to Paris and Oxford. He wrote The Rise and Progress of the Universities while working on the Catholic University of Ireland. In the chapter on the collegiate system of Oxford he provided some details of the room and board provided during the Middle Ages:

Accordingly, one of the earliest movements in the University, almost as early as the entrance into it of the monastic bodies, was that of providing maintenance for poor scholars. The authors of such charity hardly aimed at giving more than the bare necessaries of life,—food, lodging, and clothing,—so as to make a life of study possible. Comfort or animal satisfaction can hardly be said to have entered into the scope of their benefactions; and we shall gain a lively impression of the sufferings of the student, before the era of endowments, by considering his rude and hardy life even when a member of a College. From an account which has been preserved in one of the colleges of Cambridge, we are able to extract the following horarium of a student's day. He got up between four and five; from five to six he assisted at Mass, and heard an exhortation. He then studied or attended the schools till ten, which was the dinner hour. The meal, which seems also to have been a breakfast, was not sumptuous; it consisted of beef, in small messes for four persons, and a pottage made of its gravy and oatmeal. From dinner to five p.m., he either studied, or gave instruction to others, when he went to supper, which was the principal meal of the day, though scarcely more plentiful than dinner. Afterwards, problems were discussed and other studies pursued, till nine or ten; and then half an hour was devoted to walking or running about, that they might not go to bed with cold feet;—the expedient of hearth or stove for the purpose was out of the question.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vestments and the Gunpowder Plot

From Friday, October 16, 2015, through Monday, April 11, 2016, Auckland Castle will present an exhibition titled "Plots and Spangles":

The Guy Fawkes story comes to life through the resplendent embroidered vestments created by Helena Wintour, daughter of a Gunpowder Plot conspirator.

On the eve of the Gunpowder Plot's planned date 410 years ago, there will be a presentation at the castle:

Jan Graffius, Curator at Stonyhurst, will present an examination of Helena Wintour's embroidered vestments and their Catholic iconography. The talk will look at the religious and cultural resources available to recusant laity in the decades after the failed Plot of 1605, and Helena's close association with Jesuit spirituality. The complex iconography of her beautiful embroideries draws on many sources, from botanical prints to Counter-Reformation confraternities and English metaphysical poetry.

Helena's remarkable life story and that of the creation and survival of a unique set of 17th century embroideries is a compelling, romantic and tragic tale, which culminates in the triumphal re-uniting of her divided life's work at Auckland Castle, in the exhibition 'Plots and Spangles: The Embroidered Vestments of Helena Wintour’ that opens in October 2015.


Sophie Holroyd presented a paper at 2002 conference on Helena Wintour's vestments titled "Rich Embroidered Churchstuff" that was subsequently published in Catholic Culture in Early Modern England from the University of Notre Dame Press. Holroyd had written her PhD dissertation at the University of Warwick on Embroidered rhetoric: the social, religious and political functions of elite women's needlework, c.1560-1630, also in 2002.

According to its website, Auckland Castle:

is one of the UK’s most important historical buildings. Since the days of the Norman Conquest in the 11th Century, Auckland Castle has been a seat of power. For almost 900 years, it has been the palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham and although the site where Auckland Castle now stands has seen numerous changes, few will have been as far reaching and visionary as those which are set to take place in the 21st Century. 

The castle was home of the Prince-Bishops of Durham before the English Reformation and remained a seat of Church hierarchy even after the Reformation, falling into private hands when the Church of England was disestablished during the English Civil War and Commonwealth period. Then it was restored to the Church of England when King Charles II returned to the throne.

In May this year a similar exhibit was held in the library at Douai Abbey. St. John's College, Oxford posted this notice:

This year sees the exhibition at Douai Abbey of another collection of English vestments from the early modern period. The Wintour Vestments date from around 1650 and were embroidered by Lady Helen Wintour, daughter of Robert Wintour, one of the Gunpowder Plot conspirators. The set of vestments was split in about 1670 and will be exhibited together for the first time at Douai (near Newbury) from 23 May until September. The opening hours for the exhibition will be 11 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at weekends.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Five Years Ago Today: Day Four of Papal Visit--All Newman, All the Time


Sunday, September 19 was the last day of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom: it was focused on John Henry Cardinal Newman: Benedict presided over the beatification Mass, visited the Birmingham Oratory (and met the Oratorians' cat Pushkin), and mentioned Blessed John Henry Newman at nearly every point along the way.

During the Beatification Mass:

England has a long tradition of martyr saints, whose courageous witness has sustained and inspired the Catholic community here for centuries. Yet it is right and fitting that we should recognize today the holiness of a confessor, a son of this nation who, while not called to shed his blood for the Lord, nevertheless bore eloquent witness to him in the course of a long life devoted to the priestly ministry, and especially to preaching, teaching, and writing. He is worthy to take his place in a long line of saints and scholars from these islands, Saint Bede, Saint Hilda, Saint Aelred, Blessed Duns Scotus, to name but a few. In Blessed John Henry, that tradition of gentle scholarship, deep human wisdom and profound love for the Lord has borne rich fruit, as a sign of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit deep within the heart of God’s people, bringing forth abundant gifts of holiness.

Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or “Heart speaks unto heart”, gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God. He reminds us that faithfulness to prayer gradually transforms us into the divine likeness. As he wrote in one of his many fine sermons, “a habit of prayer, the practice of turning to God and the unseen world in every season, in every place, in every emergency – prayer, I say, has what may be called a natural effect in spiritualizing and elevating the soul. A man is no longer what he was before; gradually … he has imbibed a new set of ideas, and become imbued with fresh principles” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, iv, 230-231). Today’s Gospel tells us that no one can be the servant of two masters (cf. Lk 16:13), and Blessed John Henry’s teaching on prayer explains how the faithful Christian is definitively taken into the service of the one true Master, who alone has a claim to our unconditional devotion (cf. Mt 23:10). Newman helps us to understand what this means for our daily lives: he tells us that our divine Master has assigned a specific task to each one of us, a “definite service”, committed uniquely to every single person: “I have my mission”, he wrote, “I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place … if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling” (Meditations and Devotions, 301-2).

The definite service to which Blessed John Henry was called involved applying his keen intellect and his prolific pen to many of the most pressing “subjects of the day”. His insights into the relationship between faith and reason, into the vital place of revealed religion in civilized society, and into the need for a broadly-based and wide-ranging approach to education were not only of profound importance for Victorian England, but continue today to inspire and enlighten many all over the world. I would like to pay particular tribute to his vision for education, which has done so much to shape the ethos that is the driving force behind Catholic schools and colleges today. Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, he sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together. The project to found a Catholic University in Ireland provided him with an opportunity to develop his ideas on the subject, and the collection of discourses that he published as The Idea of a University holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can continue to learn. And indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity: “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it” (The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390). On this day when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us.

During the Angelus, after Mass:

When Blessed John Henry Newman came to live in Birmingham, he gave the name “Maryvale” to his first home here. The Oratory that he founded is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. And the Catholic University of Ireland he placed under the patronage of Mary, Sedes Sapientiae. In so many ways, he lived his priestly ministry in a spirit of filial devotion to the Mother of God. Meditating upon her role in the unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation, he was moved to exclaim: “Who can estimate the holiness and perfection of her, who was chosen to be the Mother of Christ? What must have been her gifts, who was chosen to be the only near earthly relative of the Son of God, the only one whom He was bound by nature to revere and look up to; the one appointed to train and educate Him, to instruct Him day by day, as He grew in wisdom and in stature?” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, ii, 131-2). It is on account of those abundant gifts of grace that we honour her, and it is on account of that intimacy with her divine Son that we naturally seek her intercession for our own needs and the needs of the whole world. In the words of the Angelus, we turn now to our Blessed Mother and commend to her the intentions that we hold in our hearts.

At Oscott College, Pope Benedict reflected on Blessed John Henry Newman's "Second Spring" sermon at the first diocesan synod held in England after the Restoration of the Hierarchy:

This has been a day of great joy for the Catholic community in these islands. Blessed John Henry Newman, as we may now call him, has been raised to the altars as an example of heroic faithfulness to the Gospel and an intercessor for the Church in this land that he loved and served so well. Here in this very chapel in 1852, he gave voice to the new confidence and vitality of the Catholic community in England and Wales after the restoration of the hierarchy, and his words could be applied equally to Scotland a quarter of a century later. His beatification today is a reminder of the Holy Spirit’s continuing action in calling forth gifts of holiness from among the people of Great Britain, so that from east to west and from north to south, a perfect offering of praise and thanksgiving may be made to the glory of God’s name.

And at the airport on the way home to Rome:

It was especially moving to celebrate with them, here in Birmingham, the beatification of a great son of England, Cardinal John Henry Newman. With his vast legacy of scholarly and spiritual writings, I am certain that he still has much to teach us about Christian living and witness amid the challenges of today’s world, challenges which he foresaw with such remarkable clarity.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Five Years Ago Today: Day 3 of Papal Visit (Mass and Eucharistic Vigil)


The state-sponsored aspect of Pope Benedict's visit ended mid-morning on Saturday, September 18, 2010 after meetings with the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. In only the second public Mass of the visit, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at Westminster Cathedral (Votive Mass for the Most Precious Blood at the Cathedral dedicated to the Most Precious Blood). The Chant Cafe blog commented on the solemnity of the celebration and the particular selection of William Byrd's Mass for Five Voices:

At long last, and the wait was very long, the world has seen an example of a magnificent Papal Mass, celebrated by the Pope Benedict XVI in the Westminster Cathedral, with glorious decorum, perfect music, and holy dignity all around. We have so long been used to other things that it seem to take a while to fully settle into the reality that this was truly a Papal Mass fully worthy to be written up in the history books as a model and ideal -- even in the ordinary form of the Mass and even before the Mass translation is upgraded this time next year.

The musical Mass setting of choice for the occasion was the Mass for Five Voices by William Byrd (1539–1623). It is the most dramatic, most difficult, and most emotionally compelling of the three Masses that Byrd wrote for the Catholic Mass. In his time as Queen Elizabeth’s own composer, Byrd was writing English music for the Anglican Church by day and, by night, secretly composing music for the Catholic Church in hiding, for Masses celebrated in castles and manors untouched by the politics of the time.

There was so much poignant and thrilling about hearing this particular setting, performed perfectly of course, in the open daylight, in a restored Catholic Church in England, with the Pope presiding, at a Mass attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. Byrd’s Catholicism is in hiding no more! Instead, it is available to the entire world in the context of a liturgical splendor unlike any we’ve yet seen. . . .

The extraordinary nature of this event was evident from the grand entrance, featuring a “Tu es Petrus” setting by Scottish composer James MacMillan, another man who has made his mark on history. The setting was regal and unapologetically so. It was a great example of modern liturgical music for procession. . . .

The German heritage of this Pope was honored with th
e Christus Factus Est by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) at Offertory. I had never actually heard this piece before. This moment was a great one, surely for the Pope, who must know this music well, but also for Bruckner himself, who experienced in his own life a great deal of suffering for his own Catholicism. His greatness was never really acknowledge by his contemporaries and his unfashionable Catholicism tagged him as "pious and overly devotional" in the Germany of his times.

You can watch the Mass here.

In his homily at Mass and in his remarks during the Eucharistic Adoration Vigil later that night, Pope Benedict alluded to the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales. In the homily:

Faithful to Christ’s command to “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19), the Church in every time and place celebrates the Eucharist until the Lord returns in glory, rejoicing in his sacramental presence and drawing upon the power of his saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world. The reality of the Eucharistic sacrifice has always been at the heart of Catholic faith; called into question in the sixteenth century, it was solemnly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent against the backdrop of our justification in Christ. Here in England, as we know, there were many who staunchly defended the Mass, often at great cost, giving rise to that devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist which has been a hallmark of Catholicism in these lands.

At the Eucharistic Adoration Vigil, held in Hyde Park, Benedict was preparing for the beatification of John Henry Newman the next. He commented on the proximity of Tyburn and the martyrs who suffered there:

Not far from here, at Tyburn, great numbers of our brothers and sisters died for the faith; the witness of their fidelity to the end was ever more powerful than the inspired words that so many of them spoke before surrendering everything to the Lord. In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied. And yet, the Church cannot withdraw from the task of proclaiming Christ and his Gospel as saving truth, the source of our ultimate happiness as individuals and as the foundation of a just and humane society.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Five Years Ago: Someone Else Remembered!


Her Majesty's Government recalled the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's visit yesterday too, according to Vatican Radio:

The United Kingdom is this week marking the fifth anniversary of the apostolic visit to the country made by Pope Benedict XVI.

The trip, from 16-19 September 2010, was the first ever official Papal State Visit to the UK, as Pope John Paul II’s visit was a pastoral one.

During his four-day trip, Pope Benedict visited both Scotland and England, and beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman.

To mark the 5th anniversary, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, said the State Visit “took our bilateral relationship to a new level”, adding the UK and the Holy See have built on it since then, “through Royal, ministerial and official visits and an intense bilateral engagement on the issues that matter - the Middle East, Ukraine, climate change, human rights, poverty and international development, human trafficking, geo-political conflict.”

“The 2010 State Visit looked to the future; to how the UK and the Holy See might co-operate better to improve our planet, tackle poverty, and contribute to the common good,” he added. “That objective remains as relevant and as necessary today as it did five years ago”.

The Catholic Herald re-posted William Oddie's comments from five years ago after the visit:

The richness, volume and sheer variety of the teaching the Pope gave us, and its perfect suitability for each of its many very different audiences, ranging from his intellectually hugely impressive address to the leaders of civil society in Westminster Hall to his call to that enthusiastic audience of schoolchildren to aim at becoming saints, was astonishing. And perhaps the first thing that needs to be said is that this was above all a personal triumph for the Holy Father himself. What came over consistently was the huge warmth, the seemingly inexhaustible loving kindness of the Pope’s gentle but nevertheless powerful personality. After all the caricatures, the man emerged.

Despite his intellectual impressiveness, which was evident throughout, everyone now knows that this is no withdrawn, scholarly rigorist, incapable of relating to people or understanding their lives: this alleged coldness, it was widely claimed, was what explained the supposed lack of enthusiasm about the visit, even among Catholics.

Well, we will hear no more now about his purported lack of charisma, an assessment invariably followed with a comparison, to Pope Benedict’s disadvantage, with John Paul II. Pope Benedict is, we have now all seen, hugely charismatic: but his charisma is of a different kind, less dramatic, less forcefully energetic than that of Pope John Paul.

As I've prepared the posts for this anniversary, I have indeed noted that some surprise on the part of the British hierarchy seems to come through their remarks; in the vernacular, they seem to be saying: "We didn't know you had it in you!" 

Five Years Ago Today: Day 2 of Papal Visit (Westminster)

On the second day of his visit, Pope Benedict celebrated Catholic education at St. Mary's University College, Twickenham, held an ecumenical meeting, and then visited Rowan Williams, then the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, addressed Parliament and "civil society" in Westminster Hall, Westminster Palace, and then celebrated Evensong at Westminster Abbey.

After the visit, Edward Pentin wrote in The National Catholic Register about how extraordinary these events and the access the Pope had received were:

A week after Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Scotland and England and its historical significance is still reverberating.

The first state visit by a Pope to Britain was remarkable in many different ways, not least because of the graciousness and generosity shown by Queen Elizabeth II.

Here was a Pope coming to the United Kingdom at the invitation of Her Majesty, the supreme governor of a church that violently split from Rome 500 years ago. Yet she gave him free rein to address her subjects as he saw fit – even beatify one who left her church to come over to Rome.

For the first time, a ruling English monarch allowed the Successor of Peter to address her Parliament, attend a liturgy in the church of her Coronation, and even to pray with her archbishop at the tomb of the Royal Family’s patron saint. Her government also hosted unprecedented formal bilateral talks with Holy See officials. . . .


It was a remarkable turn of events and a highly significant moment in British history. Were they alive today, the Queen’s Tudor predecessors would have been flabbergasted and probably summoned her executioner. More, Fisher and Campion, on the other hand, would be rejoicing.

It was at Westminster Hall that Pope Benedict made his remarks about St. Thomas More:

As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose “good servant” he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.

This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.

And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident - herein lies the real challenge for democracy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Five Years Ago Today: Pope Benedict XVI in Scotland


Pope Benedict XVI began his official and pastoral visit to Scotland and England at Holyrood House in Edinburgh, Scotland with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who welcomed him. The latter met him at the airport and the Queen officially addressed him:

Your Holiness,

I am delighted to welcome you to the United Kingdom, and particularly to Scotland, on your first visit as Pope. I recall with great pleasure the memorable pastoral visit of the late Pope John Paul II to this country in 1982. I also have vivid memories of my four visits to the Vatican, and of meeting some of your predecessors on other occasions. I am most grateful to them for receiving, over the years, a number of members of my family with such warm hospitality.

Much has changed in the world during the nearly thirty years since Pope John Paul’s visit. In this country, we deeply appreciate the involvement of the Holy See in the dramatic improvement in the situation in Northern Ireland. Elsewhere the fall of totalitarian regimes across central and eastern Europe has allowed greater freedom for hundreds of millions of people. The Holy See continues to have an important role in international issues, in support of peace and development and in addressing common problems like poverty and climate change. . . .


I know that reconciliation was a central theme in the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman, for whom you will be holding a Mass of Beatification on Sunday. A man who struggled with doubt and uncertainty, his contribution to the understanding of Christianity continues to influence many. I am pleased that your visit will also provide an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the established Church of England and the Church of Scotland.

Your Holiness, in recent times you have said that ‘religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified’. Today, in this country, we stand united in that conviction. We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society.

On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit.


Pope Benedict responded and introduced a theme he alluded to again during the visit: Britain's role in defeating Hitler and Nazi Germany, while echoing remarks the Queen made about peace in Northern Ireland:

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny" (Caritas in Veritate, 29).

Sixty-five years ago, Britain played an essential role in forging the post-war international consensus which favoured the establishment of the United Nations and ushered in a hitherto unknown period of peace and prosperity in Europe. In more recent years, the international community has followed closely events in Northern Ireland which have led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Your Majesty’s Government and the Government of Ireland, together with the political, religious and civil leaders of Northern Ireland, have helped give birth to a peaceful resolution of the conflict there. I encourage everyone involved to continue to walk courageously together on the path marked out for them towards a just and lasting peace.


The organizers of the Papal visit created a booklet to provide historical background and information about the Catholic Church, acknowledging that "there are many gaps in public knowledge in these matters". One of the questions asked and answered in the booklet was "Why is the Pope meeting the Queen?"--

Her Majesty is the official host of the Papal Visit. She will greet Pope Benedict XVI as an honoured guest and welcome him to Britain formally. . . .

The Queen paid a memorable State Visit to the Vatican thirty years ago and a less formal visit in the Millennium Year, to mark the 20th anniversary of the earlier one. Those previous meetings symbolised reconciliation in both historical and religious terms; so this Visit of the Pope to the UK will too. They were about learning from history while not being bound by it. When Queen and Pope mention their common historical inheritance, as they are likely to do in their formal greetings, they are referring to the way in which the traditions which they embody have been closely entwined for a thousand years or more. Sadly, not always so harmoniously:

Henry VIII’s breach with Rome and events in succeeding reigns caused painful consequences for thousands and led to a bitterness that affected several centuries.

It is important to recall that Queen Elizabeth II is also Queen of Scots, and it will be in Edinburgh that she welcomes Pope Benedict to her United Kingdom. Henry VIII removed the English national church from papal jurisdiction and placed it under the authority of the monarch, later termed the “Supreme Governor.” Things went very differently in Scotland.

The Presbyterian, or Reformed, Church of Scotland insisted on complete freedom from royal control. The Pope will certainly appreciate the distinction. In Scotland the role of the monarch is not to govern the Church, but to protect its privileges. That is why she is called its”Protector”. She is not the Church’s head - the Church of Scotland says that is Jesus Christ alone.


After exchanging greetings and gifts with Queen Elizabeth, Pope Benedict went on to the St. Ninian's Day Parade in Edinburgh and then traveled to Glasgow for Mass at Bellahouston Park.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Robert Devereux, Third Earl of Essex, RIP (With Notes about his Mother!)

After failing as a general for Parliament in the English Civil War, Robert Devereux, the son of the Earl of Essex referenced in the title Elizabeth and Essex, died on September 14, 1646. His first wife was Frances Howard, who left him for Robert Carr, one of James I's favorites. When Robert and Frances were charged and convicted in the Overbury Murder, Devereux urged the king to have Frances Howard executed, but James spared her for the sake of his favorite. Devereux second marriage was also a failure and he died without an heir. As this site describes his fall from leadership in Parliament's Army:

Essex opposed the formation of the Committee for Both Kingdoms in February 1644 because he realised that it threatened his authority. His political influence was further undermined by the failure of his military campaigning that year when, after arguing with Waller, he disobeyed orders from Parliament, split his forces and marched into the West. Although he relieved the siege of Lyme, his subsequent invasion of Cornwall resulted in a crushing defeat at Lostwithiel in September 1644 after which Essex left his troops to their fate and made an ignominious escape in a fishing boat.

Although he was not officialy censured by Parliament, the disaster of Lostwithiel ended Essex's military career. Returning to the House of Lords, he supported the Earl of Manchester against Oliver Cromwell's criticisms of Manchester's leadership of the Eastern Association, and in December 1644 he joined an unsuccessful attempt to have Cromwell impeached for sedition. Essex led the opposition in the House of Lords to the measures proposed in the Commons for the re-organisation of Parliament's army, but he was finally obliged to resign his commission, which he did with a dignified speech on 2 April 1645, the day before the Self-Denying Ordinance was passed.

Thereafter, Essex lived in semi-retirement, a revered and respected figure once he had laid down his military commissions. He suffered a stroke after stag hunting at Windsor and died on 14 September 1646. He was buried in Westminster Abbey with great pomp and ceremony, and an effigy was erected to his memory. A month after the funeral, however, his grave was vandalised and his effigy beheaded by a former Royalist soldier. The effigy was refurbished but was finally destroyed on the orders of Charles II after the Restoration, though Essex's body was left undisturbed.


His mother was Frances Walsingham, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham, widow of the great poet and courtier, Philip Sidney. She married for the third time in 1603, to an Irish Catholic, Richard de Burgh, and became a Catholic herself. Their son and Richard's heir, Ulick Burke, fought for Charles I in Ireland during the same civil war. So she had two sons fighting in the war between King and Parliament--on opposite sides.

Her daughter Honora de Burgh married a Catholic, John Paulet, 5th Marquess of Winchester, who also fought for Charles I (in England) and they were held in the Tower of London after Cromwell broke through the besieged Basing House in 1645--he finally recovered his land and title after the Restoration and married a third time: Isabel Howard, the daughter of Blessed William Howard (the grandson of St. Philip Howard).

Frances Walsingham Spenser Devereux de Burgh died in 1633. According to this author's work, she is another fascinating figure of the Elizabethan/Jacobean era:

Much has been written on Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth the First's Secretary of State and Spymaster, but very little on his daughter, Frances, who is comparatively unknown but closely connected with the greatest of that era.

As a child, she survived the massacre of St.Bartholomew's Eve, together with Sir Philip Sidney, in Walsingham's embassy in Paris. At thirteen, she contracted herself in marriage to one of her Father's employees and, when this was forbidden, she was married to Sidney. She followed him on campaign in the Netherlands and was with him when he died of wounds following the battle of Zutphen. She then married the Queen's favourite, the Earl of Essex. Sidney had died with chivalric perfection, Essex, after a treasonable uprising, died with his head on a block eleven years later.

Within two years, Frances married the Irish Earl of Clanricarde, who had been brought up in the Essex household, and had accompanied Essex on several campaigns. She converted to Catholicism and together they built and left to posterity two outstanding houses. The book covers the last half of the reign, including the defeat of the Armada, Dutch, Spanish and Irish campaigns.

Frances was a survivor, but must have had, besides intelligence, rare charm or beauty to have married, in succession, three of the most charismatic men of the age. Seven of her twelve children survived.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

William Cecil's Birthday

The History of Parliament website has a section dedicated to the English Reformation, particularly to the MPs (Members of Parliament) who engaged in the legislative battles over religion in England from Henry VIII's to Elizabeth I's reign. Here are some comments from the page on William Cecil, one of Elizabeth I's most important counselors:

Cecil served in Parliaments under Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I. He became Elizabeth I’s most trusted minister, and played a major role in her government and her religious settlement.

Cecil was the son of one of Henry VIII’s minor courtiers. His father made sure that Cecil was well-educated at grammar school and Cambridge University, and this education helped make Cecil an excellent scholar, administrator, and Protestant reformer.

Cecil was a member of Edward VI’s Privy Council, but when Mary came to the throne he retired from public life. He did not want to implement Catholic policies. He mostly stayed out of trouble during Mary’s reign, but did, on occasion, speak against her. During this time he entered the service of Mary’s sister, Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth became Queen she immediately made Cecil an important government official, the Secretary of State. He played a vital role in her 1st Parliament, shepherding through the major religious laws. Cecil agreed with Elizabeth that England should be Protestant, but in such a way that would not upset a country that was divided by religion and had lived through many dramatic changes.

Cecil was Elizabeth’s most trusted advisor. In 1570 he was even allowed to stamp documents with her signature without speaking to her first. Yet they did not always agree. Cecil was not afraid to use Parliament to put pressure on Elizabeth. For example he supported, and sometimes even wrote, the petitions Parliament made to Elizabeth asking her to marry. He also supported some of the Puritan attempts to further change Elizabeth’s religious settlement.

Cecil’s attitude towards Catholics hardened in later years, and he began to see them all as a threat to Elizabeth and Protestant England. This included Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, and he was instrumental in Mary’s execution after the Elizabeth's 6th Parliament. For this, he was banished from Elizabeth’s sight for four months.


This site provides some background on Cecil's birth and early life:

William Cecil was born on September 13th 1520. He was born into a minor Welsh noble family that had fought for Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Rewarded for their loyalty, the Cecil family worked for Henry VIII and Edward VI. Cecil was educated at Grantham and Stamford Grammar Schools and at St. John’s College, Cambridge University. At Cambridge, Cecil was very influenced by Humanism and Protestantism. After Cambridge, Cecil went to Gray’s Inn in London. In 1543, Cecil became a Member of Parliament and quickly developed a reputation as a fine administrator.

Morton Selten, who is "generally acknowledged" to be an illegitimate son of the future Edward VII, played William Cecil in Fire Over England (1937); Vivien Leigh plays his fictional granddaughter Cynthia. The film contains a tender scene of Flora Robson as Elizabeth feeding her Lord High Treasurer some soup!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Three Events Next Week

Next week is filled with events I plan to attend:

The first, on Tuesday, September 15 is the inaugural meeting of the Sisters of Sophia group at The Ladder (the home of the Eighth Day Institute):

After almost seven years of Hall of Men meetings, it is time to offer something similar for the ladies.

Beginning September 15, the Sisters of Sophia will begin commemorating the company of wise women at the Ladder on the third Tuesdays of each month.

Doors open at The Ladder at 6:15, food will be served at 6:30, the Eighth Day Convocation will begin at 7:30, followed by a presentation on Holy Wisdom by Nyleen Lenk. We'll wrap up with Q & A from 8:15-8:30.

We look forward to seeing you!


The second, at the Spiritual Life Center, is the first in a series of talks under the title Docentium:

Docentium: A Catholic Voice for Freedom
Docentium is a new program designed to weave Catholicism and Culture together. New topic each month!

The Mission of Docentium is:

~To form and equip disciples of Christ with sound teaching, faithful to our Tradition
~To build comradery in shared belief and shared interest, in the context of a shared meal
~To inspire more courageous witness in our families, parishes, workplaces, and communities

Join us on the third Thursday of every month at the Spiritual Life Center for an evening of food, friendship, and learning. Doors open at 6 p.m., food is served at 6:30 p.m., and a lecture will be given on some topic related to religion and culture. The cost is $15 per person.

This first gathering occurs on “Constitution Day” [which] celebrates the anniversary of the historic day on which delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia in 1787. Fr. Eric Weldon will give a presentation on Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signatory of the Declaration of Independence.


And the third is our monthly meeting the Wichita-Newton-Hutchinson chapter of the American Chesterton Society on Friday, September 18 at Eighth Day Books. Our reading is the next three more chapters in The Well and the Shallows: "Babies and Distributism", "The Three Foes of Family" and "The Don and the Cavalier". Our meeting starts and 6:30 p.m. around the table on the first floor between to the Chesterton/Tolkien/Sayers/Barfield shelves and the Patristics section! Good company all around!