Monday, August 21, 2017

The Tenth Pope Named Pius

There have been twelve popes named Pius; the first (Pope Saint Pius I) in the second century; the latest (Pope Pius XII) reigning from 1939 to 1958. Popes named Pius have seen the Church through tumultuous times: During Pope St. Pius V’s pontificate, the Catechism of the Council of Trent was published and also revised editions of the Roman Missal and Breviary as he continued the Church’s implantation of the reforms of the Council of Trent. Pope Pius VII, whose cause for canonization was promoted by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, endured imprisonment and exile at the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte and worked for the freedom of the Church in France after the Revolution and Reign of Terror. Pope (Venerable) Pius XII served during World War II, doing all he could to aid civilians affected by the war, especially leading efforts to save Jews in Italy and Rome, descrying the Nazi regime’s campaigns against non-Aryans, including the Polish Catholics.

Pope St. Pius X, who reigned a little more than 11 years from 1903 to 1914, was a reforming pontiff, taking the motto Instaurare Omnia in Christo, or "to restore all things in Christ" to guide his papacy. Like Pope St. Pius V, he lived simply, stating that he had been born poor, had lived poor, and wanted to die poor. He shared Pius V’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, writing an encyclical on the fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Also like Pius V—and his immediate predecessor Pope Leo XIII—he promoted the method and works of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Pius X was born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto on June 2, 1835 in what was then the Kingdom of Lombardy. As a parish priest and then bishop he had more pastoral experience than previous popes, but he also taught theology in seminary even though he never earned a doctorate. When he succeeded Pope Leo XIII, he saw the great danger to the Catholic faith as Modernism, which he considered the "synthesis of all heresies." Setting out a long list of Modernist propositions which he said Catholic could not agree, he also wrote an encyclical descrying Modernism, Pascendi dominici gregis ("Feeding the Lord's Flock"), pointing out that the agnosticism of the Modernists on matters of Church doctrine, the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the Sacraments could lead to atheism. Pius X demanded loyalty oaths against Modernism from all Catholic priests.

Some scholars and theologians, like Alfred Loisy and George Tyrell, were removed from teaching positions, forbidden to publish their works, and even excommunicated. Some faithful but innovative scholars and theologians, like Father Marie-Joseph Lagrange, OP, founder of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, were also suspected and hampered in their efforts. During the reign of Pope Pius XII, the Ecole Biblique would publish The Jerusalem Bible translated not from the Latin Vulgate but from Greek and Hebrew texts; during Pope St. Pius X’s campaign against Modernism, such a volume might not have been possible. Marvin R. O’Connell provides an excellent overview of the period in Critics on Trial: An Introduction to the Catholic Modernist Crisis (Washington DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1995).

More positively, Pius X encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion and earlier First Communion. First Holy Communion had been delayed until the teenaged years, but he moved it to the age of reason, about seven years old, when a child could accept the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Host. He is the “Pope of the Blessed Sacrament”.

Other liturgical reforms included the restoration of Gregorian chant in the Mass instead of classical settings by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, or Cherubini. His motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini, written in Italian, also encouraged Renaissance polyphony, leading to the revival of works by Victoria, Palestrina, Byrd, and others from the sixteenth century.

Pius X also began the process of revising and regularizing the Code of Canon Law for the universal Church and, because of his pastoral experience, required the teaching of catechism classes in every parish in the world, establishing the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Pope Pius X described the duties of a catechist in his 1905 encyclical, Acerbo Nimis (“At this very troubled and difficult time”):
The task of the catechist is to take up one or other of the truths of faith or of Christian morality and then explain it in all its parts; and since amendment of life is the chief aim of his instruction, the catechist must needs make a comparison between what God commands us to do and what is our actual conduct. After this, he will use examples appropriately taken from the Holy Scriptures, Church history, and the lives of the saints - thus moving his hearers and clearly pointing out to them how they are to regulate their own conduct. He should, in conclusion, earnestly exhort all present to dread and avoid vice and to practice virtue.
As a pastor, Pius X knew this material had to be taught so that the students, both young and old, would understand it, but he also required that the catechesis be comprehensive and complete:
The catechetical instruction shall be based on the Catechism of the Council of Trent; and the matter is to be divided in such a way that in the space of four or five years, treatment will be given to the Apostles' Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer and the Precepts of the Church.
As pastor in Rome, Pope Pius X preached a homily every Sunday at St. Peter’s and gave catechetical instructions himself.

Pope Pius X dealt with some difficult church-state relationships in Europe, particularly in France, where conflict led to the official secularization of French society, called laicite. France had long been known as the Eldest Daughter of the Church and after the French Revolution, strong links between the government and Church, especially in education and healthcare, had been re-established. The official 1905 separation of Church and State ended that cooperation and Pius X condemned that action.

In the United States, he recognized the growth and stability of the Catholic hierarchy, and removed it from the authority of the Congregation of Propaganda—the U.S.A. was no longer considered mission territory. On August 15, 1913, Pope Pius X authorized the building of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, making a donation in Italian lire to its construction.

When he died on August 20, 1914, Europe was on the brink of World War I. Devotion to him led to the process for his canonization to begin quickly and he was beatified by Pope Pius XII on June 3, 1951 and canonized on Mary 29, 1954—the first pope to be canonized since Pope Pius V in 1712.

Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Blessed Hugh Green and the Arundells of Lanherne

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Blessed Hugh Green endured incredible agonies during his hanging, drawing, and quartering on August 19, 1642 at the hands of an inept executioner:

His parents, who were Protestants, sent him to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1605, but was afterwards converted and entered Douai College in 1610. He left again in 1612 to try his vocation among the Capuchins. From want of health or some other cause, he was unable to continue, and became a chaplain at Chideock Castle, Dorsetshire, the home of Lady Arundell of Lanherne. On 8 March, 1641, Charles I, to placate the Puritan Parliament, issued a proclamation banishing all priests from England, and Green resolved to obey this order. Unfortunately the news had been late in reaching him, and when he embarked the month of grace given for departure was just over. He was therefore arrested, tried, and condemned to death in August. In prison his constancy so affected his fellow-captives that two or three women sentenced to die with him sent him word that they would ask his absolution before death. They did so after confessing their sins to the people, and were absolved by the martyr. A providential reward for his zeal immediately followed. A Jesuit Father, despite the danger, rode up in disguise on horseback, and at a given sign absolved the martyr, who made a noble confession of faith before death. As the executioner was quite unskilled, he could not find the martyr's heart, and the butchery with appalling cruelty was prolonged for nearly half an hour. After this the Puritans played football with his head, a barbarity happily not repeated in the history of the English martyrs.

The Lady Arundell of Lanherne at that time would have been Elizabeth, the wife of Sir John Arundell, according to this blog:

Arundell, Sir John (c.1605-42), kt. Eldest son of John Arundell (c.1564-1633) and his wife Ann, daughter of Henry Jerningham alias Jernigan of Costessey Hall (Norfolk), born about 1605. The date of his knighthood has not been traced. He married Elizabeth (d. 1656), daughter of William Brock and had issue:
(1) Sir John Arundell (c.1623-1701), kt. (q.v.).
He inherited the Lanherne estate from his father in 1633.
He was buried in 1642. His widow was buried at St Columb Major, 8 April 1656.

The Arundells of Lanherne were faithful Catholics and had suffered for their faith: another of their chaplains, Father John Cornelius, SJ (born John Conor O'Mahony, the son of Irish parents living in Cornwall) also suffered martyrdom during the reign of Elizabeth I and there were repercussions:

Another Sir John Arundell, who died in 1589 — or, according to the Isleworth Register (Oliver's Collections), in 1591 — at Isleworth, was converted to Catholicism, as Dodd tells us in his 'Church History,' by Father Cornelius (a native of the neighbouring town of Bodmin). In defence of Cornelius Sir John Arundell lost his own liberty, and was confined for nine years in Ely Palace, Holborn (cf. Morris's Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers, 1875; Simpson's Edmund Campion, 1867; and Challoner's Memoirs of Missionary Priests, 1803). 

According to the Landed Families blog cited above, that Sir John Arundell (born around 1530) had a connection with another martyr--the protomartyr of missionary priests, St. Cuthbert Mayne:

Cuthbert Mayne, the first seminary priest to be executed, praised Sir John from the scaffold at Launceston on 30 November 1577, the government could no longer tolerate his refusal to accept the Elizabethan settlement, and thereafter he came under constant pressure. Vulnerable as a recusant to accusations of disloyalty, Sir John suffered repeated imprisonment, fines, and enforced residence in London for the remainder of his life, despite his public declaration both of his loyalty to the queen and of his willingness to defend her and the realm against the pope. He married, about 1560, Lady Anne (d. 1602), daughter of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, and widow of Charles Stourton (c.1520-57), 8th Baron Stourton, and had issue.

Three of his daughters joined convents on the Continent!

Father Hugh Green was beatified in a large troup  by Pope Pius XI in 1929. He is honored among the Chideock Martyrs and with the Douai Martyrs.

Blessed Hugh Green, pray for us!

Image creditArms of Lord Arundell of Wardour: Sable six martlets Argent

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Newman on St. Monica--and on the Human Mind

Our Eighth Day Institute Sisters of Sophia held its monthly meeting this week. Because the speaker scheduled had to postpone her presentation on Mother Maria Skobtsova, we convened to read aloud a sermon by Blessed John Henry Newman on St. Monica. So she was our heroine for the month and we all were the speakers, as we read the sermon paragraph by paragraph around the table. He delivered the sermon at the opening Sunday Mass of the academic year at the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin in 1856. He paid tribute to St. Monica's great prayers for her son Augustine's conversion, and then noted:

My Brethren, there is something happy in the circumstance, that the first Sunday of our academical worship should fall on the feast of St. Monica. For is not this one chief aspect of a University, and an aspect which it especially bears in this sacred place, to supply that which that memorable Saint so much desiderated, and for which she attempted to compensate by her prayers? Is it not one part of our especial office to receive those from the hands of father and mother, whom father and mother can keep no longer? Thus, while professing all sciences, and speaking by the mouths of philosophers and sages, a University delights in the well-known appellation of "Alma Mater." She is a mother who, after the pattern of that greatest and most heavenly of mothers, is, on the one hand, "Mater Amabilis," and "Causa nostræ lætitiæ," and on the other, "Sedes Sapientiæ" also. She is a mother, living, not in the seclusion of the family, and in the garden's shade, but in the wide world, in the populous and busy town, claiming, like our great Mother, the meek and tender Mary, "to praise her own self, and to glory, and to open her mouth," because she alone has "compassed the circuit of Heaven, and penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and walked upon the waves of the sea," and in every department of human learning, is able to confute and put right those who would set knowledge against itself, and would make truth contradict truth, and would persuade the world that, to be religious, you must be ignorant, and to be intellectual, you must be unbelieving.

Then he addressed his main object: how the University he was founding was to help students mature both in their religious faith and their intellectual, philosophical development. Newman explores this challenge:

My meaning will be clearer, if I revert to the nature and condition of the human mind. The human mind, as you know, my Brethren, may be regarded from two principal points of view, as intellectual and as moral. As intellectual, it apprehends truth; as moral, it apprehends duty. The perfection of the intellect is called ability and talent; the perfection of our moral nature is virtue. And it is our great misfortune here, and our trial, that, as things are found in the world, the two are separated, and independent of each other; that, where power of intellect is, there need not be virtue; and that where right, and goodness, and moral greatness are, there need not be talent. It was not so in the beginning; not that our nature is essentially different from what it was when first created; but that the Creator, upon its creation, raised it above itself by a supernatural grace, which blended together all its faculties, and made them conspire into one whole, and act in common towards one end; so that, had the race continued in that blessed state of privilege, there never would have been distance, rivalry, hostility between one faculty and another. It is otherwise now; so much the worse for us;—the grace is gone; the soul cannot hold together; it falls to pieces; its elements strive with each other. And as, when a kingdom has long been in a state of tumult, sedition, or rebellion, certain portions break off from the whole and from the central government, and set up for themselves; so is it with the soul of man. So is it, I say, with the soul, long ago,—that a number of small kingdoms, independent of each other and at war with each other, have arisen in it, such and so many as to reduce the original sovereignty to a circuit of territory and to an influence not more considerable than they have themselves. And all these small dominions, as I may call them, in the soul, are, of course, one by one, incomplete and defective, strong in some points, weak in others, because not any one of them is the whole, sufficient for itself, but only one part of the whole, which, on the contrary, is made up of all the faculties of the soul together. Hence you find in one man, or one set of men, the reign, I may call it, the acknowledged reign of passion or appetite; among others, the avowed reign of brute strength and material resources; among others, the reign of intellect; and among others (and would they were many!) the more excellent reign of virtue. Such is the state of things, as it shows to us, when we cast our eyes abroad into the world; and every one, when he comes to years of discretion, and begins to think, has all these separate powers warring in his own breast,—appetite, passion, secular ambition, intellect, and conscience, and trying severally to get possession of him. And when he looks out of himself, he sees them all severally embodied on a grand scale, in large establishments and centres, outside of him, one here and another there, in aid of that importunate canvass, so to express myself, which each of them is carrying on within him. And thus, at least for a time, he is in a state of internal strife, confusion, and uncertainty, first attracted this way, then that, not knowing how to choose, though sooner or later choose he must; or rather, he must choose soon, and cannot choose late, for he cannot help thinking, speaking, and acting; and to think, speak, and act, is to choose.

This is a very serious state of things; and what makes it worse is, that these various faculties and powers of the human mind have so long been separated from each other, so long cultivated and developed each by itself, that it comes to be taken for granted that they cannot be united; and it is commonly thought, because some men follow duty, others pleasure, others glory, and others intellect, therefore that one of these things excludes the other; that duty cannot be pleasant, that virtue cannot be intellectual, that goodness cannot be great, that conscientiousness cannot be heroic; and the fact is often so, I grant, that there is a separation, though I deny its necessity. I grant, that, from the disorder and confusion into which the human mind has fallen, too often good men are not attractive, and bad men are; too often cleverness, or wit, or taste, or richness of fancy, or keenness of intellect, or depth, or knowledge, or pleasantness and agreeableness, is on the side of error and not on the side of virtue. Excellence, as things are, does lie, I grant, in more directions than one, and it is ever easier to excel in one thing than in two. If then a man has more talent, there is the chance that he will have less goodness; if he is careful about his religious duties, there is the chance he is behind-hand in general knowledge; and in matter of fact, in particular cases, persons may be found, correct and virtuous, who are heavy, narrow-minded, and unintellectual, and again, unprincipled men, who are brilliant and amusing. And thus you see, my Brethren, how that particular temptation comes about, of which I speak, when boyhood is past, and youth is opening;—not only is the soul plagued and tormented by the thousand temptations which rise up within it, but it is exposed moreover to the sophistry of the Evil One, whispering that duty and religion are very right indeed, admirable, supernatural,—who doubts it?—but that, somehow or other, religious people are commonly either very dull or very tiresome: nay, that religion itself after all is more suitable to women and children, who live at home, than to men.

Please read the rest there. The sermon, even though some in the group were unfamiliar with Newman's style, resonated with the mothers, sisters, and aunts at the table. Newman proves himself to be so psychologically astute, as one of my friends said before the meeting, reflecting on the confusion that comes with knowledge. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Villiers Brothers and Their Catholic Wives

The Wall Street Journal (subscription only, of course) published a review of a new biography of Frances Villiers (nee Coke), Viscountess Purbeck, who was forced to marry John Villiers, the brother of George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham and James I's Court favorite. Love, Madness, and Scandal: The Life of Frances Coke Villiers, Viscountess Purbeck is by Johanna Luthman and published by Oxford University Press:

The high society of Stuart, England (sic) found Frances Coke Villiers, Viscountess Purbeck (1602-1645) an exasperating woman. She lived at a time when women were expected to be obedient, silent, and chaste, but Frances displayed none of these qualities. Her determination to ignore convention contributed in no small measure to a life of high drama, one which encompassed kidnappings, secret rendezvous, an illegitimate child, accusations of black magic, imprisonments, disappearances, and exile, not to mention court appearances, high-speed chases, a jail-break, deadly disease, royal fury, and - by turns - religious condemnation and conversion.

As a child, Frances became a political pawn at the court of King James I. Her wealthy parents, themselves trapped in a disastrous marriage, fought tooth and nail over whom Frances should marry, pulling both king and court into their extended battles. When Frances was fifteen, her father forced her to marry John Villiers, the elder brother of the royal favorite, the Duke of Buckingham. But as her husband succumbed to mental illness, Frances fell for another man, and soon found herself pregnant with her lover's child.

The Viscountess paid a heavy price for her illicit love. Her outraged in-laws used their influence to bring her down. But bravely defying both social and religious convention, Frances refused to bow to the combined authority of her family, her church, or her king, and fought stubbornly to defend her honour, as well as the position of her illegitimate son.

On one level a thrilling tale of love and sex, kidnapping and elopement, the life of Frances Coke Villiers is also the story of an exceptional woman, whose personal experiences intertwined with the court politics and religious disputes of a tumultuous and crucially formative period in English history.


The note about the "religious disputes" of the era refers to the fact that Frances, in exile in France, became a Catholic--as had her estranged husband before in England--and even resided in a convent for a time. Why would Frances Villiers become a Catholic? Because from the Catholic Church she could obtain forgiveness of her sins. From the high commission of the Archbishop of Canterbury she had received only condemnation and public penance. Through the Sacrament of Confession, Frances received private, indeed secret, absolution and restoration to the the Grace of God.

It's interesting to note that Katherine Villiers (nee Manners), Duchess of Buckingham was also a Catholic--and that her marriage to George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham was nearly as rocky as Frances's to John. George and Katherine had to get married to save her reputation, and as this post on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog shows, her devotion was not matched by his:

The Buckinghams lived a lavish life-style, but it seems clear that this was not the fairy-tale life which Katherine had imagined. Perhaps she had unrealistically believed that Buckingham would leave his life at court and devote himself exclusively to her, and in a bitter, reproachful letter in 1627 she told him that, ‘… there is none more miserable than I am, and till you leave this life of a courtier which you have been ever since I knew you, I shall think myself unhappy.’

Whatever the dreams and hopes for her marriage had been, Katherine had to contend with reality and accept that she had not only gained a husband but also all his family, which included the doting King himself. Then there were the mistresses, notably the spirited court beauty Lucy, Countess of Carlisle. When Buckingham was in Madrid with Prince Charles in 1623, during which time he was created a Duke, his behaviour at the straight-laced Spanish court caused great offence.

Buckingham again outraged convention and stretched Katherine’s devotion to the uttermost when he travelled to Paris in May 1625 to escort England’s new Queen, Henrietta Maria, to her new home. The English favourite scandalised the French court by blatantly making love to the French Queen Anne of Austria, giving scant thought to his pregnant wife at home. The Duke’s obsession with Anne, which he did not try to disguise, must have caused Katherine great heartache, and he made determined attempts to see the queen again.


Katherine was Catholic before she married George and had to conform to the Church of England to make their forced marriage possible. She returned to the Church afterwards. After the Duke of Buckingham was assassinated by John Felton, she married a Catholic Irish land magnate, Randal MacDonnell, 1st Marquess of Antrim.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Assumpta est Maria


This site has a great list of appropriate hymns and musical selection for today's feast, including this hymn by Father John Lingard:

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--or at least to present a more balanced view of the English Reformation.

Before declaring the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pope Pius XII surveyed the bishops, asking them for input. The tradition and practice of the Church had long been to depict and celebrate Mary's triumph in Heaven with her Son and because of her Son. In his 16th/17th century Gradualia, for example, William Byrd set the Propers of the Mass of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Introit, Gradual and Alleluia before the Gospel, Offertory, and Communion). The Cardinall's Musick devoted a CD in their complete cycle of Byrd recordings to his Marian music. As Andrew Carwood noted of Byrd's setting of the Mass for the Assumption:

Byrd produces a vigorous setting for the Assumption Introit, fresh sounding and vibrant with a concentration on the joy displayed at Mary’s arrival in heaven. Once again, Byrd uses triple time to conclude his setting of the Gradual and Alleluia, this time to reiterate the final words of the verse (a rare occurrence) after which he resolutely remains in three until the very end of the movement. The Offertory verse Assumpta est Maria is most remarkable for its final Alleluia which must classed as one of the most imaginative settings of this word ever produced, whilst the Communion Optimam partem elegit is exquisite in every detail.

More on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the English Reformation here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Two Irish Martyrs, OFM

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Blessed Patrick O'Hely or O'Healy was:

Bishop of Mayo, Ireland; d. At Kilmallock, September, 1579. He was a native of Connaught, and joined the Franciscans at an early age. Four years after his profession he was sent to the University of Alcalá, where he surpassed his contemporaries in sacred studies. Summoned to Rome, he was promoted in 1576 to the See of Mayo, now merged in that of Tuam. Gregory XIII empowered him to officiate in adjoining dioceses, if no Catholic bishop were at hand, and supplied him generously with money. At Paris he took part in public disputations at the university, amazing his hearers by his mastery of patristic and controversial theology, as well as of Scotist philosophy. In autumn, 1579, he sailed from Brittany and arrived off the coast of Kerry after James Fitzmaurice had landed at Smerwick from Portugal with the remnant of Stukeley's expedition. All Munster was then in arms. The House of Desmond was divided, and the politic earl had withdrawn from the scene of action. The bishop and his companion, Conn O'Rourke, a Franciscan priest, son of Brian, Lord of Breifne, came ashore near Askeaton, and sought hospitality at the castle where, in the earl's absence, his countess entertained them. Next day they departed for Limerick; but the countess, probably so instructed, for the earl claimed the merit afterwards, gave information to the Mayor of Limerick, who three days later seized the two ecclesiastics and sent them to Kilmallock where Lord Justice Drury then was with an army. As president of Munster, Drury had recently perpetrated infamous barbarities. In one year he executed four hundred persons "by justice and martial law". Some he sentenced "by natural law, for that he found no law to try them by in the realm". At first he offered to secure O'Hely his see if he would acknowledge the royal supremacy and disclose his business. The bishop replied that he could not barter his faith for life or honours; his business was to do a bishop's part in advancing religion and saving souls. To questions about the plans of the pope and the King of Spain for invading Ireland he made no answer, and thereupon was delivered to torture. As he still remained silent, he and O'Rourke were sent to instant execution by martial law. The execution took place outside one of the gates of Kilmallock.

Conn O'Rourke or O'Ruairc, was indeed of high ranking Irish family from the Kingdom of Breifne, depicted on the map on the right. His ancestors had been kings and lords of Breifne for centuries.

Sir William Drury, pictured above, died later that year while still in Munster (October 13). More about him here.

On September 27, 1992, Pope John Paul II beatified a group of Irish martyrs, including the two who suffered on August 13, 1579 (O.S.):

Margaret Bermingham Ball, 1584, Dublin
Patrick Cavanagh, 5 July 1581, Wexford
Edward Cheevers, 5 July 1581, Wexford

Dominic Collins, Jesuit lay brother from Youghal, County Cork, 31 October 1602
John Kearney, Franciscan Prior of Cashel, 1653
Matthew Lambert, 5 July 1581, Wexford
Maurice MacKenraghty, Chaplain to the Earl of Desmond, 1585
Robert Myler, 5 July 1581, Wexford
Terence Albert O'Brien O.P., Bishop of Emly, 31 October 1651
Conor O'Devany, Franciscan Bishop of Down & Connor, 11 February 1612
Patrick O'Healy, Franciscan Bishop of Mayo, 31 August 1579
Peter O'Higgins O.P., Prior of Naas, 23 March 1642
Dermot O'Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, 20 June 1584
Patrick O'Loughran, priest from County Tyrone, 11 February 1612
Conn O'Rourke, Franciscan priest, 31 August 1579
Francis Taylor, former Mayor of Dublin 1621
William Tirry, Augustinian priest from Cork, 12 May 1654

During his homily that Sunday--he also beatified several religious founders--he spoke in English about the Irish Martyrs, which included the group known as the Wexford martyrs (names in bold above):

2. “My soul, give praise to the Lord”.

And how can we fail to sing the praises of the seventeen Irish Martyrs being beatified today? Dermot O’Hurley, Margaret Bermingham Ball, Francis Taylor and their fourteen companions were faithful witnesses who remained steadfast in their allegiance to Christ and his Church to the point of extreme hardship and the final sacrifice of their lives.

All sectors of God’s people are represented among these seventeen Servants of God: Bishops, priests both secular and religious, a religious brother and six lay people, including Margaret Bermingham Ball, a woman of extraordinary integrity who, together with the physical trials she had to endure, underwent the agony of being betrayed through the complicity of her own son.

We admire them for their personal courage. We thank them for the example of their fidelity in difficult circumstances, a fidelity which is more than an example: it is a heritage of the Irish people and a responsibility to be lived up to in every age.

In a decisive hour, a whole people chose to stand firmly by its covenant with God: “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do”. Along with Saint Oliver Plunkett, the new Beati constitute but a small part of the host of Irish Martyrs of Penal Times. The religious and political turmoil through which these witnesses lived was marked by grave intolerance on every side. Their victory lay precisely in going to death with no hatred in their hearts. They lived and died for Love. Many of them publicly forgave all those who had contributed in any way to their martyrdom.

The Martyrs’ significance for today lies in the fact that their testimony shatters the vain claim to live one’s life or to build a model of society without an integral vision of our human destiny, without reference to our eternal calling, without transcendence. The Martyrs exhort succeeding generations of Irish men and women: “Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called . . . keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

To the Martyrs’ intercession I commend the whole people of Ireland: their hopes and joys, their needs and difficulties. May everyone rejoice in the honour paid to these witnesses to the faith. God sustained them in their trials. He comforted them and granted them the crown of victory. May he also sustain those who work for reconciliation and peace in Ireland today!

Blessed Irish Martyrs, intercede for the beloved Irish people!


There are many more Irish martyrs who have not been beatified or canonized. Like the cause of the martyrs of England and Wales, it was delayed by English supremacy in Ireland and fear of reprisal; also, many records have been lost. The cause of the Irish martyrs is described on the Catholic Saints website:

The collective title given to the 260 or more persons who are credited with dying for the faith in Ireland between 1537 and 1714.

Pope Benedict XV signed the Commission of Introduction for their beatification in March 1915. The long delay in the start of their Cause was occasioned by the scarcity of official records and by the evident reprisals which any such virtual declaration of the injustice of laws still in effect would naturally have brought from the English ascendancy. The latter objection was removed in 1829 by Catholic Emancipation; the former was gradually overcome as conscientious investigators published the results of their researches. A series of publications begun in 1861 by Dr Moran (then Vice-Rector of the Irish College, Rome, Italy, later cardinal, and Archbishop of Sydney) was followed in 1868 by a collection of memorials made with great discrimination by Major Myles O’Reilly; the labours of these two men greatly facilitated the task of investigation finally entrusted by the ecclesiastical authorities to Father Denis Murphy, SJ, whose materials were published in 1896, thus completing the work started in Portugal between 1588 and 1599 by Father John Houling, SJ. Either the records of the various martyrdoms during the reign of King Henry VIII were all destroyed, or it was too dangerous to attempt to keep them, and for that reason the evidence for this time is so scanty that only two names of martyrs belonging to this period have been submitted in the appeal for beatification. Neither have any names been submitted from the earliest narrative, i.e., the histories given to an Irish professor at the University of Alcala by an old Trinitarian friar, for discredit has been thrown on it because it was worked up by the fanciful Spanish writer Lopez.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Putting the Roman in English "Roman Catholicism"

Father Dwight Longenecker writes for the National Catholic Register:

Since King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church to found the Church of England, you would imagine that Anglicans would never claim to be Catholic. But they do.

When I lived in England I often heard members of the Church of England say, “We’re Catholic too; we’re just not Roman Catholic.”

The theory is that the English Church was always Catholic, but in the 16th century it was “reformed”: The popular idea is that jolly old King Henry VIII saw that the monasteries were full of fat old monks and he went through and tidied things up a bit. The Church had become fat, old and corrupt, and Henry and his children, Edward and then Elizabeth, straightened things out, streamlined a few things and got everything shipshape.

This is not only a complete whitewash of the depredations, iconoclasm and wholesale destruction of the Catholic Church, but it is also a misreading of English Catholic history. Along with this view of the English Reformation is a strange idea that the Church in England was, from the beginning, separate from Rome and that only in the Middle Ages onward was it under Rome’s thumb.

While I usually don't like the use of the term "Roman Catholicism"--it ignores the Eastern Rite communities in the Catholic Church--in the case of this article, it makes perfect sense. Reading Father Longenecker's article, I was reminded of a book I read six years ago, The English Church and the Papacy in the Middle Ages, which I reviewed here:

Introduction by C.H. Lawrence
Chapter 1: The Celtic Church and the Papacy, by Kathleen Hughes
Chapter 2: The Anglo-Saxon Church and the Papacy by Veronica Ortenberg (new for the 1999 edition)
Chapter 3: From the Conquest to the Death of John by Charles Duggan
Chapter 4: The Thirteenth Century by C.H. Lawrence
Chapter 5: The Fourteenth Century by W.A. Pantin
Chapter 6: The Fifteenth Century by F.R.H. DuBoulay
Index

The first chapter is refreshingly free of the Thomas Cahill-type conflict between Celtic and Roman Catholicism in which the Roman Catholic Church is rigid and evil and the Celtic Church all humane and wonderful. Instead, Kathleen Hughes surveys the interaction between the Papacy and Celtic bishops and culture without that polemic edge, while still covering the issues about the of Easter and discipline throughout the Church.

In the second, new chapter for the 1999 edition, Veronica Ortenberg describes the very close relationship between the Catholic Church in England  and the Papacy during the Anglo-Saxon era, including of course, Pope St. Gregory the Great sending St. Augustine of Canterbury to Kent. She demonstrates how devoted Catholics in England at that time were to the Popes as the successors of St. Peter, how regularly bishops and laity travelled to Rome on pilgrimage, and how much correspondence, usually requesting and offering papal guidance, was exchanged.

As expected from the title, the third chapter covers, although with the assumption of the reader's prior knowledge of the outline of events, the conflicts between Henry II and St. Thomas a Becket, and John and Innocent III, noting that in the latter case, at least, once the crisis was resolved John gained a great deal of support from the pope, especially after making England a vassal of Innocent III.

Father Longenecker's argument accords with the material presented in this book as he concludes:

Was the Anglican church founded on some pure, serene and ancient apostolic church that existed in Britain for 600 years before the arrival of St. Augustine sent by Pope Gregory? There’s no evidence for it.

Instead, the British Church was started by Romans, converted the locals, and remained linked to Rome even after the legions departed from Britain. After that, the missionary efforts to the British Isles were of Roman origin.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Castle, A Priest, and A Poet

Scotney Castle in Kent is owned by the National Trust. This graphic novel offers chapters telling the story of the families that lived in the castle, including a recusant Catholic family. The second short story, "The Priest" tells how the Thomas Darrell family sheltered Father Richard Blount during the Elizabethan Era:

This period is known as the English Reformation. The monarchy was in radical transition, and the religion of the country with it; from Church of England under Henry VIII, the country became briefly Protestant under Edward VI, Catholic under Mary I, and then Protestant again under Elizabeth I.

These four changes to the accepted religion of the country happened within the space of just 11 years. It was a time of immense fear, full of plots, intrigues and conspiracies involving the highest levels of society.

Scotney is in the hands of a strong Catholic family who are forced to give consent for their daughter to marry the Protestant poet, Barnabe Googe. Their reluctance cast a cloud of suspicion around the family and when a Catholic Priest arrives unexpectedly at their door seeking refuge, things can only get worse.


You can may see a couple of pages from this chapter here.

More about Barnabe Googe, the poet Darrell's daughter married:

He studied at Christ's College, Cambridge, and at New College, Oxford, but does not seem to have taken a degree at either university. He afterwards removed to Staple's Inn, and was attached to the household of his kinsman, William Cecil. In 1563 he became a gentleman pensioner to Queen Elizabeth. He was absent in Spain when his poems were sent to the printer by a friend, L Blundeston. Googe then gave his consent, and they appeared in 1563 as "Eglogs, Epytaphes, and Sonettes".

There is extant a curious correspondence on the subject of his marriage with Mary Darrell, whose father refused Googe's suit on the ground that she was bound by a previous contract. The matter was decided by the intervention of Sir William Cecil with Archbishop Parker, and the marriage took place in 1564 or 1565. Googe was provost-marshal of the court of Connaught, and some twenty letters of his in this capacity are preserved in the record office.

He was an ardent Protestant, and his poetry is coloured by his religious and political views. In the third "Eglog," for instance, be laments the decay of the old nobility and the rise of a new aristocracy of wealth, and he gives an indignant account of the sufferings of his co-religionists under Mary. 


Can you imagine the tension during any family visits? A most unwelcome son-in-law! He and Mary had several children: Matthew, Thomas, Barnabe Jr., William, Henry, Robert, Francis, and Mary.


was born into the Leicestershire branch of the Blount Family in 1565. He attended school at Balliol College, Oxford. Afterward he went to Trinity for his university studies, but left shortly after arriving having converted to Catholicism. He travelled to the English College run by English priests of the Roman Catholic Order of the Society of Jesus at Douai in the Spanish Netherlands, arriving on 22 July 1583. The college was temporarily in Rheims due to ongoing conflict in Douai. In 1584 he continued on to the English College, Rome.

After five years at the English College in Rome, Blount was ordained a priest in 1589. He worked with Father Robert Parsons, S.J. to smuggle himself back into England in 1591 posing as returning sailor prisoners-of-war from the failed expedition against Spain by the Earl of Essex. He was taken before the Lord High Admiral Howard of Effingham to present his story. His knowledge of the events and of seamanship were good enough for him to pass and be allowed back into England.


Blount used Scotney Castle for his base of operations in the area from 1591 to 1598He became a Jesuit in 1608, during the reign of James I.

In 1617, Blount was selected as Superior of the English mission of the Society. As Superior he took on the yoke of leadership of the English Jesuits. At the time there were approximately 200 Jesuits, 109 of which were in hiding in England.

In 1619, the Pope made England a trial province. Identification as a province indicated that the area covered had stability and permanence. Blount was appointed to the highest leadership position in a trial province, Vice-Provincial. Blount's task as Vice-Provincial was to organise the province for further validation at the next meeting of the Society of Jesus leadership. Blount organised five fictional colleges in London, Lancashire, Suffolk, Leicestershire and Wales.

His work was recognised by the Order leadership and England was made a full Province of the Society with Blount as the first Provincial superior. Blount was the Provincial of the English Province of the Society of Jesus until 11 August 1635, when he was succeeded by Henry More, S.J.


Henry More, SJ was a great grandson of St. Thomas More. Blount died on May 13, 1638; Charles II's queen, Henrietta Maria, had a requiem Mass sung for him in her private chapel at Court.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

William Byrd's "Ave Verum Corpus"


I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show with Anna Mitchell this morning--a little after 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central--to talk about the great eucharistic hymn "Ave Verum Corpus" and about William Byrd.  Please listen live here! Podcasts will be uploaded there too.

She's following up on my blog post at the National Catholic Register last week:

Before the evening Mass this Sunday at my parish in Wichita, Kansas, the schola was practicing William Byrd’s setting of the “Ave verum corpus” (Ave Verum):

Ave verum corpus, natum
de Maria Virgine,
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine
cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.
O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie, (Or: O clemens, O pie)
O Iesu, fili Mariae.
Miserere mei. Amen.

Kneeling in my pew, praying the Glorious Mysteries, I could not help, sotto voce, singing along with the “Miserere mei”. Because I listen to Byrd’s music often, I recognized his composition; because I listen to liturgical music often, I recognized the prayer:

Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
having truly suffered, sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
from whose pierced side
water and blood flowed:
Be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death!
O sweet Jesus, O holy Jesus,
O Jesus, son of Mary,
have mercy on me. Amen.

The schola went over a couple of tricky passages and at first sang the motet with piano accompaniment. During Mass, they sang it at the Offertory.

As I heard it, I joined in the prayer of adoration of Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament, and of His Paschal Sacrifice about to be re-presented on the Altar. This Eucharistic hymn also reminds me of my mortality and hopes for a happy and holy death.

Knowing that William Byrd had composed it during a time when the Mass was illegal in England, his setting of this hymn made me grateful not only for freedom of religion in our country, but for the bounty our diocese has received from God recently. Our bishop ordained ten priests and ten deacons this May; our parish, Blessed Sacrament, received two of the newly ordained priests as Parochial Vicars, and one of the deacons has been serving us this summer. Next May, God willing, Bishop Carl Kemme will ordain ten more priests!

And some background on William Byrd here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Blessed John Fingley

On August 8, 1586, Blessed John Fingley or Finglow, one of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales was executed. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he was:

An English martyr; b. at Barnby, near Howden, Yorkshire; executed at York, 8 August, 1586. He was ordained priest at the English College, Reims, 25 March, 1581, whence the following month he was sent on the English mission. After labouring for some time in the north of England, he was seized and confined in Ousebridge Kidcote, York, where for a time he endured serious discomforts, alleviated slightly by a fellow-prisoner. He was finally tried for being a Catholic priest and reconciling English subjects to the ancient Faith, and condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

He attended Gonville and Caius College at the University of Cambridge. As an article from the alumni magazine of Caius College in 2007 notes:

Many of our students of the 1580s became Jesuits and Seminary priests, at a time when either to be or to harbour a priest was high treason, for which the penalty was hanging, drawing and quartering. A Caian became head of the Jesuits in England, and another the Rector of the College at Valladolid. Five were certainly executed. One was John Ballard, convicted for his leading role in the Babington plot to assassinate Elizabeth. (It was the discovery of this plot that led directly to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots.) One priest was pardoned on the scaffold (probably for recanting in the face of the horrors of hanging, drawing and quartering.) Another escaped from prison to the English College in Rome. There can be no doubt that the Bull of Pius V excommunicating Elizabeth and absolving her subjects of allegiance to her was fatal to them. Virtually all condemned priests were asked on the scaffold whether they were loyal to the Queen. All insisted that they were. Asked to reconcile that proclaimed loyalty with the Pope’s decree, it was impossible that any could find a convincing answer. 

There were four others whose only crime was saying mass and administering the sacraments to their English flock: William Deane, John Hewitt, John Fingley (appointed butler by Dr Legge), and Francis Montfort. Of William Deane, Bishop Challoner writes that he was a man of ‘exceptional gravity and learning’ and that when he came to the place of execution, he began to speak of the causefor which he and his companions were condemned: but his guards stopped his mouth “in such a violent manner, that they were like to have prevented the hangman of his wages.” Deane and Hewitt were beatified in 1929, and Fingley in 1987. 

It was indeed a tragic period. It is difficult – perhaps impossible – for us to recapture an atmosphere in which such secrecy, suspicion, dissembling – and heroism, were part of college life. In these ecumenical times it is perhaps still harder to understand why so many Caians went abroad, returned, were banished and returned again to risk a hideous death simply in order to say the mass (sic).

Obviously, they could have just said Mass on the Continent! They did not "risk a hideous death simply in order to say the mass (sic)"! They returned to celebrate the Mass and the other Sacraments for the Catholic people. Dr. Casey could also have said that it's hard to imagine a government declaring that saying or attending a religious service was an illegal act! 

The Caian who became the head of the Jesuits in England was Richard Holtby (1606-1640). I presume Dr. Casey is referring to Father Francis Edwardes who recanted on the scaffold at Chichester in 1588? Christopher Walpole, SJ, St. Henry Walpole's brother, was the rector at the college in Valladolid. The Dr. Legge he references, who appointed Blessed John Fingley as butler, was Thomas Legge (pictured above). This blog post describes what a college butler does.

Blessed John Fingley, pray for us!

Monday, August 7, 2017

William Shakespeare and Robert Southwell

Brad Miner writes at The Catholic Thing about a new TV series, Will:

Would that I were such a booster of our Faith that I might recommend Willunreservedly just for being respectful of Catholicism, but faith here is mostly a veneer, even though it lacquers everything. And although Will goes further than any previous dramatic presentation in emphasizing Shakespeare’s faith, it goes too far. It takes threads of true history and weaves them into an absurd tapestry of fantasy. Of Shakespeare’s Catholicism, scholars have no doubt. Of his devotion or crypto-activism, however, there is little evidence.

So, then, in fair London where we set our scene: In 1592, actor Richard Burbage (Mattias Inwood) will star in Richard III by Shakespeare (Laurie Davidson) but actually be portraying Richard Topcliffe (Ewen Bremmer), Elizabeth I’s Catholic hunter and torturer: a sort of embarrassment of Richards.

Topcliffe’s main obsession is capturing a cousin of Shakespeare, the Jesuit priest/poet Robert Southwell (Max Bennett). Topcliffe, unaware of Shakespeare’s relationship to Southwell, has actually commissioned the play from Will, thinking it will be a paean to Topcliffe himself.


So the series adapts the "Secret Catholic Code in Shakespeare Plays" theory! It is true that Topcliffe was obsessed with Southwell: he seems to have hated him, to have enjoyed torturing him, and to have continued to attack him through Southwell's trial as Father Henry Garnet described it:

“The Chief Justice asked how old he was, seeming to scorn his youth. He answered that he was near about the age of our Saviour, Who lived upon the earth thirty-three years; and he himself was as he thought near about thirty-four years. Hereat Topcliffe seemed to make great acclamation, saying that he compared himself to Christ. Mr. Southwell answered, ‘No he was a humble worm created by Christ.’ ‘Yes,’ said Topcliffe, ‘you are Christ’s fellow.'”

What vitriol! And this exchange on Southwell's torture:

Southwell: I am decayed in memory with long and close imprisonment, and I have been tortured ten times. I had rather have endured ten executions. I speak not this for myself, but for others; that they may not be handled so inhumanely, to drive men to desperation, if it were possible.
Topcliffe: If he were racked, let me die for it.
Southwell: No; but it was as evil a torture, or late device.
Topcliffe: I did but set him against a wall.
Southwell: Thou art a bad man.
Topcliffe: I would blow you all to dust if I could.
Southwell: What, all?
Topcliffe: Ay, all.
Southwell: What, soul and body too?


This blog notes the salutation to the printed edition of Southwell's Saint Peter's Complaint, published on the Continent after the martyr had suffered, "To My Worthy Good Cosen Master W.S." and the conjecture that the W.S. is indeed William Shakespeare. Southwell remonstrates with his good cousin about the abuse of poetry: "Worthy cosen, Poets, by abusing their talent, and making the follies, and faygnings of love the customary subject of their base endeavours, have so discredited this facultie, that a Poet, a Lover and a Lyar, are by many reckoned but three words of one signification."

America magazine also highlights the series and Southwell's prominent role in it, but errs in one statement: "Among the victims of Elizabeth’s Protestant zeal are the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, canonized by Paul VI in 1970." Not all of the Forty Martyrs suffered under Elizabeth I!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Quoodle Is on the Quover--the Cover!!

Ignatius Press has published a new edition of G.K. Chesterton's The Flying Inn! I'm glad to see the dog, Quoodle on the cover.

Quoodle is introduced in chapter 10, aptly titled, "The Character of Quoodle":

THERE lay about in Lord Ivywood’s numerous gardens, terraces, outhouses, stable yards and similar places, a dog that came to be called by the name of Quoodle. Lord Ivywood did not call him Quoodle. Lord Ivywood was almost physically incapable of articulating such sounds. Lord Ivywood did not care for dogs. He cared for the Cause of dogs, of course; and he cared still more for his own intellectual self-respect and consistency. He would never have permitted a dog in his house to be physically ill-treated; nor, for that matter, a rat; nor, for that matter, even a man. But if Quoodle was not physically ill-treated, he was at least socially neglected, and Quoodle did not like it. For dogs care for companionship more than for kindness itself. . . . 

Now Lady Joan Brett did appreciate dogs. It was the whole of her type and a great deal of her tragedy that all that was natural in her was still alive under all that was artificial; and she could smell hawthorn or the sea as far off as a dog can smell his dinner. . . .

Quoodle can sense Lady Brett's appreciation:

The man who was mowing the garden lawn looked up for a moment, for he had never seen the dog behave in exactly that way before. Quoodle arose, shook himself, and trotted on in front of the lady, leading her up an iron side staircase, of which, as it happened, she had never made use before. It was then, most probably, that she first took any special notice of him; and her pleasure, like that which she took in the sublime prophet from Turkey, was of a humorous character. For the complex quadruped had retained the bow legs of the bull-dog; and, seen from behind, reminded her ridiculously of a swaggering little Major waddling down to his Club.

And Quoodle has a poem composed in his honor!

“They haven’t got no noses
The fallen sons of Eve,
Even the smell of roses
Is not what they supposes,
But more than mind discloses,
And more than men believe.

“They haven’t got no noses,
They cannot even tell
When door and darkness closes
The park a Jew encloses,
Where even the Law of Moses
Will let you steal a smell;

“The brilliant smell of water,
The brave smell of a stone,
The smell of dew and thunder
And old bones buried under,
Are things in which they blunder
And err, if left alone.

“The wind from winter forests,
The scent of scentless flowers,
The breath of bride’s adorning,
The smell of snare and warning,
The smell of Sunday morning,
God gave to us for ours.”


. . . . . .

“And Quoodle here discloses
All things that Quoodle can;
They haven’t got no noses,
They haven’t got no noses,
And goodness only knowses
The Noselessness of Man.”

Notice that Lady Brett does have a noses: "she could smell hawthorn or the sea as far off as a dog can smell his dinner." No wonder Quoodle follows her around in Lord Ivywood's mansion.

More about the design of the cover here. Do you think the dog on the cover could look like "a swaggering little Major waddling down to his Club"?

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Last Carthusian; Giles and Cecily (More) Heron

In July, we had a cluster of English Catholic martyrs at the end of the month. The anniversaries of Supremacy, Recusant, and Popish Plot martyrs are spread throughout August, with some unique stories (the Feltons, father and son; St. John Kemble's pipe; a martyr who had witnessed another priest's martyrdom (NOT Walpole and Campion); etc). Today's beatified martyr and his companions represent, in a way, some tidying up in the last years of Henry VIII's reign: the last Carthusian, the last Carmelite, and one more connection to Thomas More.

From my research, I don't think anyone knows why Blessed William Horne survived all his Carthusian brothers until August 4, 1540, but for some reason he was kept alive while the others starved to death. Refusing to abandon his religious habit, he was not attainted till 1540, when he was hanged, disemboweled, and quartered at Tyburn on August 4, 1540 along with five other Catholics: the two laymen Robert Bird and Giles Heron, Friar Lawrence Cook, Carmelite Prior of Doncaster, the Benedictine monk, Dom Thomas Epson, and (probably) the secular priest William Bird, Rector of Fittleton and Vicar of Bradford, Wiltshire. Blessed William Horne must have been inspired by the memory of St. John Houghton, to remain so true. As David Knowles wrote of Houghton in his book Saints and Scholars "In . . . John Houghton, the strict monastic life brought to blossom for the last time on English soil a character of the rarest strength and beauty--a last flowering, a winter rose, of English medieval monachism. . . . the picture that emerges is of a man capable not only of inspiring devoted attachment, but of forming in others a calm judgment and a heroic constancy equal to his own." Loving Jesus, remaining true to his vows, Horne was faithful to his master's pattern of life and death. More about the Carthusian martyrs here (well-illustrated!)

His companions are also interesting: the Carmelite friar represented the last of his order in Henry VIII's England. Thirty-six Carmelite monasteries in England were destroyed or sold to private owners; and a score of others in Scotland and Ireland. In 1539 the famous Carmelite library in London suffered a similar fate. Friar Cook had supported the Pilgrimage of Grace and had been kept in Beauchamp Tower--where Blessed Thomas Abell had also been held in great destitution for almost seven years before his execution--for two years after his arrest in 1538. The last active friar of the Carmelite order, George Rayner, died "in chains" during Elizabeth I's reign--what must it have been like to be the last? The last Carthusian, having seen his fellows starve and die; the last Carmelite, having seen his order destroyed in his own country?

With Giles Heron, we have a connection to St. Thomas More; he was one of More's wards and married More's daughter Cecily:

Giles Heron’s father had served both Henry VII and Henry VIII as treasurer of the chamber. He was still a minor at his father’s death and in March 1523 his wardship was granted to Sir Thomas More, then under treasurer of the Exchequer. In July 1525 he obtained livery of an inheritance in south-eastern England, his chief residence being at Hackney: shortly afterwards he and William Dauntesey, the son of another royal official, each married one of More’s daughters.

There are only occasional references to Heron in More’s letters, and he was probably not so close to his father-in-law as was William Roper; when More was chancellor Heron is said to have refused a settlement in a chancery case, hoping for a favourable decision, only to have More finally make a ‘flat decree against him’. Yet there is no reason to regard Heron as unsympathetic to More’s ideals: his fate indeed implies the contrary. It was doubtless More who, as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, secured the election of both Heron and Dauntesey for Thetford in 1529, the first Parliament to which that borough is known to have returned, although they must also have enjoyed the support of the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, himself a duchy official and the patron of William Roper at Bramber. Nothing is known of Heron’s role in the Commons. Cromwell did not include him with Dauntesey, Roper and two others of the More circle (all three bracketed as ‘of Chelsea’) on a list compiled in the spring of 1533 and thought to be of Members opposed to the bill in restraint of appeals. On the contrary, what little is known of Heron’s career outside Parliament at this time suggests that he remained in royal favour: in 1532 he sold his messuage of Alderbrook in Wanstead, Essex, to the King and in the same year, as an esquire of the body, he and three of his brothers were pardoned offences against the forest laws. He was presumably returned again to the Parliament of 1536, in accordance with the King’s request for the re-election of the previous Members, and he was on the Middlesex grand jury which found a true bill against Anne Boleyn; for the next three years, however, nothing is known of his activities.

Heron had been involved in a number of disputes over lands and with his tenants, dependants and relatives, including one with his brother Christopher and another with Robert Dormer over lands which had belonged to Heron’s brother-in-law John Dynham. When recording Heron’s sale of Rycote in Oxfordshire to Sir John Williams, Leland was to describe him as ‘wise in words, but foolish in deeds’; the sale was confirmed by a private Act (31 Hen. VIII, c.19). It was a dispute with a tenant, one Lyons, whom Heron had expelled from his farm, which led to his downfall. In 1539 Lyons, seeking revenge, appears to have informed Cromwell of certain treasonable words or deeds attributed to Heron and to have tried to get others to confirm them. In February of that year Heron had to find three recognizances of 500 marks each for his appearance before the Council when called to answer charges: at this time he can hardly have been suspected of treason but in May he was ‘in trouble’ in the Fleet and in July he was sent to the Tower as a suspected traitor. Cromwell’s memoranda include a number of references to Heron and from these it appears that Lyons was the only witness against him. It was perhaps because he could not easily have secured a conviction on this evidence that Cromwell had a bill of attainder introduced into the Lords on 3 May 1540 which passed through all its stages in both Houses in six days (32 Hen. VIII, c.58). The minister’s own fall delayed the execution until Aug. 1540, when Heron was hanged at Tyburn.

Lyons’s malice did not stop there, for it was at his instance that in the month following Heron’s death three of his brothers were examined by the Council with regard to their share in his treason: all were found innocent and were dismissed. Two of them, Christopher and John, were servants of (Sir) Ralph Sadler, a neighbour of the Herons to whom Giles Heron’s schoolboy sons had appealed for help during their father’s imprisonment. In July 1554 Queen Mary restored to Thomas Heron, the elder of these sons, part of his father’s lands.


Blessed William Horne was included with the other Carthusians to be beatified, but the others executed on August 4, 1540 have been passed over for some reason. The Center for Thomas More Studies notes that Giles and Cecily had three children, but does not have a date for her death. She lost both her father and her husband to charges of treason. She suffered greatly for the faith, too.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How Medieval! Venerating St. Cuthbert

News from The Catholic Herald about a Catholic shrine in an Anglican Cathedral:

Relics of one of Britain’s earliest saints, St Cuthbert, have gone on display in Durham Cathedral.

The centrepiece of the permanent exhibition at the cathedral – which was built in his honour – is an oak coffin, made in Lindisfarne in AD 698, 11 years after Cuthbert’s death. Other exhibits include the saint’s pectoral cross – Cuthbert was called back from his hermit’s cell to become a bishop – and his ivory comb.

Cuthbert’s body and relics were carried by Lindisfarne’s monks when they fled inland to escape Viking raids. They eventually settled in Durham, which became a place of pilgrimage. Although his shrine was destroyed in the Reformation, his relics survived, and his remains were finally reburied in the cathedral in 1899.


The BBC notes that St. Cuthbert's shrine could help save the Cathedral:

Many cathedrals across the UK are suffering financial pressures with some facing closure.

Durham Cathedral's Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett said the £7.50 admission fee for the Treasures of St Cuthbert exhibition would "keep the cathedral open for everybody".

He said: "These things are different in different parts of the country. It depends on your visitor mix.

"We want to keep the cathedral there for the whole community, but also be able to balance the books."


More about the shrine at the Durham Cathedral website, including this detail about Cromwell's commissioners preparing to destroy the shrine:

He found Cuthbert “lying whole with his face bare and his beard as if it had a fortnight’s growth.”

The goldsmith shouted out “Alas, I have broken one of his legs”

Dr Henley called out “throw down the bones”

But the goldsmith replied that he could not do so because the bones were kept together by skin and tissue.

Dr Ley went to the feretory to see for himself, and then told Dr Henley in Latin:

“He was lying whole”

Dr Henley did not believe this and repeated “Cast down the bones,”

“If you do not believe me, come up and see for yourself,” Dr Ley said.

At which point Dr Henley came up and handled him and saw that he was indeed un-decayed.

The commissioners then ordered the monks to move the body to the vestry until the King decided what should be done.


Which just goes to show that some grave robbers have a conscience! Nevertheless, the commissioners knew what to do with the jewels and gold of the shrine.