Thursday, March 31, 2011

St. Patrick's Cathedal and the Church of the Holy Innocents

Pictures from Holy Innocents--the procession forming at the beginning of Mass and the Altar at the top; and from St. Patrick's--the stained glass for the Annunciation; the side altar for St. Bridget and an angel near the High Altar. All taken by my husband last Friday in NYC.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Reports and Pictures from the Mass at York Minster

Last week, I posted information about St. Margaret Clitherow and the great pilgrimage and Mass celebrating her in York. The New Liturgical Movement blog now has a post including pictures reporting on that occasion and The York Press filed this report. And more pictures here.

Mary I and Philip II & Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton

Via Tea at Trianon and Mary Tudor, Renaissance Queen, the story of a pearl and a portrait. My husband and I were in New York City when we heard about Elizabeth Taylor's death. The lights of Broadway were dimmed in her memory Friday, March 25th while we were nearby. At the time, however, we were celebrating the True Light come to the world, at a Pontifical Mass for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord at Holy Innocents on West 37th Street--after eating a delicious meal at Ginger's on Seventh Avenue. (I ordered the Braised Whole Fish with Scallions and Mushrooms!) Earlier in the day, we visited St. Patrick's Cathedral, where the statue of St. Patrick was still decorated with flowers for his feast.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Father and Son

Tobias Mathew was born in 1546, son of Sir John Mathew of Ross and died on March 29, 1628. In between those dates, he attended University College and Christ Church at the University of Oxford, taking his B.A. in 1564 and his M.A. in 1566. Attracting the kind attention of Queen Elizabeth I, he continued to rise along a university and clerical career: Public Orator in 1569, President of St. John's College in 1572; Dean of Christ Church in 1576 and then Vice Chancellor of the University in 1579. He then became Dean of Durham in 1579; Bishop of Durham in 1595 and finally Archbishop of York during the reign of James I in 1606.

In 1581, he was one of the debate opponents of St. Edmund Campion at Westminster and he published his argument in Piissimi et eminentissimi viri Tobiae Matthew, archiepiscopi olim Eboracencis concio apologetica adversus Campianam. As Archbishop of York he worked hard to convert recusants, to persuade them to conform to the established Church of England. Nevertheless, he fell out of James I's favor.

Ironically, then, his son Tobie Matthew born in October of 1577, became a Roman Catholic! Like his father he attended Christ Church, receiving his M.A. in 1597; then he studied at Gray's Inn and became a friend of Francis Bacon and a Member of Parliament. Active at both the Courts of Elizabeth and James, he traveled to Italy in 1604--there he met several Catholics and became a Catholic. He had promised his parents that he would not travel in Italy; evidently they were concerned about some attractions he would encounter there. Obviously, the conversion of the Archbishop of York's son was a serious matter. When he returned to England he was imprisoned and held in the Fleet Prison for six months as officials attempted to re-convert him. Eventually he was released and returned to the Continent where he studied for the priesthood in Rome, ordained by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine on May 20, 1614.

James I allowed him to return to England and he translated Bacon's Essays into Italian in 1617--then he was exiled again from 1619 to 1622, recalled thereafter to assist in the negotiations for the marriage of Charles to Maria Anna, the Infanta of Spain. James I sent him to Madrid, Spain and knighted him. Even though that marriage plan fell through, Charles I would marry Henrietta Maria after his accession, and Father Tobie Matthew was very much in that Catholic Queens' circle at Court.

When the Civil War started in 1640 he fled to Ghent and lived with the Jesuits there, dying in October of 1655. He completed other translations and wrote A Relation of the death of Troilo Severe, Baron of Rome (1620), A Missive of Consolation sent from Flanders to the Catholics of England (1647), and A True Historical Relation of the Conversion of Sir Tobie Matthew to the Holie Catholic Faith. There is some debate about whether or not he became a Jesuit.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Yet Another Musical Post

Last year I ordered a CD of translations and meditations by Blessed John Henry Newman from the Catholic Truth Society. The music was performed by the Schola Cantamus with narration by The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham. This month, the same artists have released a CD dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham!

According to the website:

Walsingham was England’s most important Marian Shrine from 1061 until the Reformation. Its 20th Century revival by both the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches has been of huge spiritual benefit to the many thousands of pilgrims who have visited and continue to visit the two shrines in Walsingham each year.

Our Lady wanted Walsingham to be a witness to the Incarnation of Our Lord, a central element of faith for all Christians. As Our Lady of Walsingham draws people of differing Christian denominations and other faiths on to common ground, Walsingham is an example of ecumenism at its finest.

To reflect this ecumenism, the music selected for this recording includes both ancient and modern, Latin and English, Catholic and Anglican. Once again, I am indebted to Archbishop Bernard Longley, who has taken time from his busy schedule to narrate this CD. I am equally indebted to the Administrators and staff of both shrines, and the members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, for their encouragement and participation in the production of this CD.

The shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham will celebrate its 950th anniversary this year! This CD will also surely benefit from the publicity around the first Ordinariate this Lent and Eastertide.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

James I and VI dies; Charles I succeeds

James I of England and Ireland, aka James VI of Scotland, died on March 27, 1625, a few days more than 22 years after his accession to the throne of England upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Her reputation had been at low ebb when she died, but the conflicts between James I and his Parliament and the scandals at his Court had made some Englishmen nostalgic for the reign of Good Queen Bess. His desire for peace and openness to negotiating with Catholic countries like Spain and France made him unpopular. The Puritan party in Parliament were scandalized by the lavish entertainments and James's attention to his male favorites at Court.

English Catholics, who had expected some amelioration of the recusancy and penal laws against them at the beginning of his reign, had continued to suffer persecution or prosecution. The disaster of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 led to many more restrictive laws controlling Catholics's activities at home and abroad. Nevertheless, James I's negotiations with Catholic countries meant that he again promised some easing of these laws; then the Puritans especially would attack the king's lack of zeal in protecting the Church of England and Protestantism.

As I note in Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, James left his heir, his second son Charles with an unfortunate dual legacy: conflict with Parliament, and firm belief in the Divine Right of Kings. At the time of his death, Charles' marriage to Henrietta Maria of France was negotiated and Charles married her upon his accession to the throne. Charles would continue the pattern of conflict with Parliament, dismissing, proroguing, and recalling them throughout the 24 or so years of his reign all the while maintaining his Royal prerogative.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thomas More's Friend

Sir Thomas Elyot, born around 1490, son of Sir Richard Elyot, died March 26, 1546. According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Volume III Renascence and Reformation:

Elyot had no university training. He was educated at home and, at a comparatively early age, had acquired a good knowledge of Latin, Greek and Italian. He says that, before he was twenty, he had read Galen and other medical writings with a “worshipful physician,” conjectured to have been Linacre.

His earliest work, The Boke of the Governour, the best known of his writings, made him famous and probably proved his introduction to the career as a diplomatic agent in which he spent the greater part of his life. It is a lengthy and exhaustive treatise on the education which those who are destined to govern ought to receive. It begins with a discussion of the various kinds of commonwealths, and sets forth the advantages of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. The author decides that monarchy is the best form of government; but it demands the appointment of subordinate rulers over the various parts of the kingdom who are to be the eyes, ears, hands and legs of the supreme ruler. They ought to be taken from the “estate called worshipful,” provided they have sufficient virtue and knowledge, but they must be carefully educated. It is the more necessary to insist upon this as education is not valued as it ought to be. Pride looks upon learning as a “notable reproach to a great gentleman,” and lords are apt to ask the price of tutors as they demand the qualification of cooks. . . .

Elyot’s reputation among his contemporaries rested on more than his Boke of the Governour. He wrote The Castel of Helth, full of prescriptions and remedies largely selected from Galen and other medical authorities of antiquity. His two tracts: A swete and devoute sermon of Holy Saynt Ciprian, of Mortalitie of Man and The Rules of a Christian lyfe made by Picus, erle of Mirandula, both translated into Englyshe, provided food for the soul. His translations from Latin and Greek into English, made at a time when all were anxious to share in classical learning, and only a few possessed a knowledge of the classical languages sufficient to enable them to share its benefits, were very popular and were reprinted over and over again. To this class belong: The Doctrine of Princes, made by the noble oratour Isocrates, and translated out of Greke in to Englishe; The Bankette of Science (a collection of sayings translated from the Fathers); The Education or Bringinge up of Children, translated out of Plutarche; The Image of Governance, compiled of the actes and sentences notable of the moste noble Emperour Alexander Severus, late translated out of Greke into Englyshe and others of a like kind. Henry VIII himself encouraged Elyot in the compilation on his Latin-English lexicon: The Dictionary of Syr T. Eliot, knyght, with its later title, Bibliotheca Eliotae. This dictionary and his translations continued to be appreciated in a wonderful manner for two generations at least. If Erasmus popularised the classical renascence for scholars, Elyot rendered it accessible to the mass of the people who had no acquaintance with the languages of antiquity.

Elyot was also a friend of Sir Thomas More, a friendship with did not help him at Court during the 1530's. He acknowledged that friendship but protested his loyalty to Henry VIII was greater. When he traveled on diplomatic missions to persuade Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor to be more positive about Henry VIII's annulment of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, he was accused of being lukewarm in his efforts. Although Elyot was involved in the suppression of the monasteries, but he did not benefit or receive any spoils. Like More, he was a proponent of education for women and he married one of Thomas More's students, Margaret Barrow. In 1540 he wrote The Defence of Good Women, espousing the view that an educated wife would be an excellent companion for her husband. Queen Zenobia of Palmyra in that book may represent Queen Katherine of Aragon, who was certainly well-educated and concerned for the education of the Princess Mary.

Elyot was on another diplomatic mission to the Court of the Holy Roman Emperor when Thomas More was tried, condemned and executed. He heard of his friend's death from Charles V, and was much distressed. Elyot did not profit at all from his work for Henry VIII because as a diplomat he bore the expenses of travel and hospitality. He had an estate in Carlton, Cambridgeshire and was buried in St. Peter's Church there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mass Setting in Honor of St. Ralph Sherwin

From the New Liturgical Movement comes the news that Jeffrey Ostrowski has written a Mass in honor of St. Ralph Sherwin. More here, including videos and downloads.

Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), where he also did graduate work in Musicology. A theorist, pianist, organist, music editor, conductor, and singer, Jeff is the director of Liturgical initiatives at Corpus Christi Watershed.

St. Ralph Sherwin was born on 19 October 1550 and received his M.A. from Exeter College, Oxford in 1574; became a Catholic in 1575 and studied for the priesthood at Douai, being ordained a priest on 23 March 1577. He went to England as a missionary priest in April, 1580; was arrest in November, 1580. Tortured in the Tower of London, he was tried in Westminster Hall with St. Edmund Campion on 20 November 1581. He, Campion and St. Alexander Briant were hung, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn Tree on 1 December 1581. His last words were "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, Esto Mihi Jesus"--Jesus, Jesus, Jesus--be to me a Jesus (a Saviour!).

Review Essay: Books about Beheaded Queens

From the UK comes this review essay by Father Alexander Lucie-Smith on several books about Queen Consorts in English history, including Anne Boleyn and Katherinie Howard. Of the later, Father Lucie-Smith says:

. . . Anne Boleyn’s cousin, Katherine Howard, has received much less attention from historians and from writers of fiction alike. Her story is undoubtedly the more tragic, as unlike Anne she was far less in control of her destiny, far less of a political player, indeed hardly a player at all, more a pawn: an unimportant girl who only became important when she caught the King’s eye. When she lost his favour, her large gaggle of relations were indecently swift to disown her. No one seems to have felt sorry for her. Because she was so obscure a figure before her brief marriage, we do not even know when she was born, and no authenticated image of her survives . . .

. . . Arrested in early November 1541, she was imprisoned in Syon House until February 10 1542, when she was taken to the Tower and executed three days later. She struggled when the barge arrived to collect her, knowing full well what the Tower meant. One of the least significant of Henry VIII’s victims, she perhaps commands the greatest sympathy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

450 Year Old 40 Part Mass Rediscovered, Recorded

Available for pre-order at (USA), it has been a big hit in Britain! This is a Renaissance Mass by Alessandro Striggio, recorded by Decca. The package includes a DVD and a bonus of Thomas Tallis's Spem in Alium, also written with 40 vocal parts.

According to the Decca website--
Born c.1536/7, Alessandro Striggio was the natural son and heir of a Mantuan nobleman and soldier. In 1559 he joined the court of Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici in Florence, where he was the highest-paid member of its musical establishment. His elevated social status allowing him a dual diplomatic-musical function, he divided his life between work for the Medici, and his family and court connection in Mantua. Seven books of his madrigals were published besides many others in anthologies and a few sacred pieces. Equally important is the occasional music he wrote for Medici marriages and their entertainments. His son, of the same name, would later provide the libretto for Monteverdi’s Orfeo.

Describing the Mass--
What is striking about Mass and motet is how successfully Striggio writes on such a large scale, with little or no precedent to guide him. His sense of drama is terrific, the ever-changing combinations of choirs cunningly judged and never predictable. The harmony is conservative (this is only 1560s Italy), but there is no lack of expressive touches: soprano suspensions at “gloria tua” (thy glory) in the Sanctus; the dark harmonies at the Last Judgement clause in the Credo (“And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead”). Striggio is careful not to over-use the full ensemble. In the Kyrie the five choirs are introduced in turn, allowing our ears to map out the aural geography before all five come together at the words “Glorificamus te” (we glorify you) in the Gloria, a magnificent moment. The Credo begins with a direct quotation of the opening of Ecce beatam, reserving the full ensemble for key textual moments. Predictably, one of these is “Et resurrexit tertia die” (And the third day he rose again). Less to be expected is the length and overt triumphalism of the tutti at “Et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam” (And I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church). Was Striggio emphasising Florentine doctrinal orthodoxy and fidelity to Rome at the behest of would-be Archduke Cosimo? Or was he expressing the resurgent self-confidence of the Roman Church as the Council of Trent drew towards completion, its work of reform accomplished and the faithful prepared for the fight-back against what had once seemed irresistible Protestant incursion?

The English Connection--
In the Spring of 1567, having completed his planned itinerary with the performance of his Mass before the French court, Striggio wrote to Cosimo to ask if he might visit England to meet the “virtuosi of the music profession there”. He was graciously received by Queen Elizabeth and D’ogni gratia et d’amor was written in commemoration of the visit. The madrigal celebrates Britain’s mythical foundation by Aphrodite, who came to England’s shores in the guise of a leopardess. It is an (apparently) affectionate tribute to the Virgin Queen, stressing her supposed marital eligibility.

and the influence on Thomas Tallis--
Spem in alium, Tallis’s masterwork, is simultaneously a tribute to Striggio and a determined effort to upstage him. It draws on several specifically Italian techniques to be found in Ecce beatam and the Mass, besides others from the nascent North-Italian (“Venetian”) multichoir tradition that was supposedly terra incognita to English musicians of the time: and all seamlessly fused with his own native idiom. Striggio deploys the forty parts of his Mass in five eight-part choirs; Tallis has four choirs of ten though, like Striggio, he sets them out in convenient clef-groupings, which gives the false impression of eight five-voice groups. Striggio avoids the intricacies of scholastic counterpoint; Tallis shows off his mastery by driving chains of fugal entries through the entire ensemble: and to do so with so many parts he is virtually forced to forge a harmonic idiom that embraces unprecedented types and degrees of dissonance, adding a captivating element of harmonic spice that contrasts sharply with Striggio’s Italianate suavity.

Yet another pre-order!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Execution of Thomas Cranmer

March 21, 1556--Gareth Russell posts more here.

Book Review: Saints and Scholars by Dom David Knowles

I like to trust an author, to explore his or her work, and read his or her oeuvre, as much as possible. This tendency has led me to read all the novels of authors Rumer Godden, Elena-Maria Vidal, Sigrid Undset, and investigate the detective novels (especially the ones with Harriet Vane), translations, plays, and Christian apologetics of Dorothy L. Sayers. When a new Eamon Duffy work is announced, I sign up for it too, along with his The Stripping of the Altars, The Voices of Morebath, Marking the Hours, and Fires of Faith. Ditto: Aidan Nichols. The same thing goes for musical performers: for years I collected every LP release by Frederica von Stade and then followed up with the CD re-releases and releases: Mozart, Monteverdi, Massenet, Mahler, Ravel, Rossini, Strauss--the composer didn't matter, the artist did. Stile Antico is a new favorite and I watch for their work. I think it's the distinctive voices I hear and respond to, written and vocal.

Among authors, Dom David Knowles, born Michael Clive Knowles, may be joining that fortunate pantheon. Of course, his books are probably all out of print, so finding copies might be just part of the adventure. Having read Bare Ruined Choirs, his abridged version of the third volume of his series on Monasticism in England and this book, I have his Evolution of Medieval Thought in queue and hope to pick up a copy of another collection of essays from Argosy Bookstore in NYC later this week.

This book, Saints and Scholars: Twenty-Five Medieval Portraits is a collection of biographies of monks, friars, and saints in England from the Anglo-Saxon era to the Tudor era--from Bede the Venerable to John Feckenham, the Last Abbot of Westminster. There are 25 portraits in 23 chapters. The word portrait is apt as Knowles surveys the person he is describing and then suddenly focuses on some particular feature. The narration and description flows along and then Knowles stops and shows us what made that person who he was, or otherwise provides some essential understanding of the situation.

Of St. John Houghton of the Carthusians of the Charterhouse in London he writes, "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." Then Knowles goes on to demonstrate how those members of the Charterhouse who followed St. John to death, either at the gallows or in prison, suffered all with detachment and holiness so inspiring that Henry and Cromwell had to make sure the last of them died in secret agony.

In the chapter on William More, the Prior of Worcester, he describes a visit of Princess Mary, the Countess of Salisbury, Margaret Pole, and the Countess' sons, including Lord Montague:

The imagination rests for a moment on the guest-hall at Worcester that year. England in 1526 must still have been a settled country with the future predictable, when Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell were still in private places, and the sword that was to divide kinsmen so sharply lay still sheathed. Yet the four visitors who sat there with the prior were all to know sorrow, and were all in their fashion to suffer, or to cause suffering, for their faith. The Countess and her elder son were to perish at the hands of the executioner, while the younger son was to die in exile haunted by the disaster that he had helped to cause. They must often have spoken of the absent brother, Reginald, also in part to be the cause of their fate, who was himself to die, a prince of the Church, on the same day as the little girl, his cousin, each of them alone in the new, harsh world which they had hoped to sweeten, but had only the more embittered.

Such inimitable style--elegaic and yet realistic; Knowles practices such balance in every chapter, as in this description of Bede the Venerable:

The quiet monk of Jarrow is also a human being. He is an Englishman, and the first Englishman to declare himself a lover of England not by patriotic phrases, but in his desire to tell how England became Christian and of the cloud of witnesses that had so quickly made this island an island of saints. He was, beyond this, a born presenter of character, a true brother of the poet of Beowulf and of the writers of the great sagas of the North. Half-a-dozen of the best stories in English history come from Bede--the martyrdom of St. Alban, the arrival of St. Augustine, the story of Cuthbert the shepherd boy or the hermit of Farne warmed by the seals, the story of Hilda and the poet Caedmon. And for character also: all that we know of the kings of Mercia and Northumbria, of Wilfred of York, of the abbots Benedict and Coelfrid, and of many others, comes from Bede. If you pick Bede's book up, it is hard to put down.

I say the same of this author and this book. Highly recommended--note: the author assumes the reader knows about English and monastic history.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Cuthbert and Durham Cathedral

The Catholic Herald features St. Cuthbert this week:

Cuthbert (c 634-687) was raised in the traditions of Celtic Christianity. Although he subscribed to Roman ways after the Synod of Whitby (664), he remained an exemplar of a less triumphal, more inward form of religion than that represented by the dominating personality of St Wilfrid, the Pope’s henchman.

“Above all,” wrote the Venerable Bede, “Cuthbert was afire with heavenly love, unassumingly patient, devoted to unceasing prayer, and kindly to all who came to him for comfort.”

* * * * *

From 875 to 883 Cuthbert’s corpse was taken on a series of peregrinations, no doubt with the aim of raising funds for the community established in his name. His cadaver was variously reported to be at the mouth of the Derwent, at Whithorn in Galloway and at Crayke near York.

Then for more than a century the body was at Chester-le-Street until it was again moved in 995, first to Ripon, then to Durham, where in 1194 it was accorded an honoured place in the new cathedral.

Cuthbert’s magnificent shrine was destroyed at the Reformation; his memory, however, has proved more durable.

Geoffrey Moorhouse described the destruction of the saint's shrine in his book The Last Office: 1539 and the Dissolution of a Monastery. Hilary Mantel of Wolf Hall fame summarizes the story in her Guardian Review:

In the dark winter days of 1539, Henry VIII's commissioners arrived to strip the shrine. They took away an emerald which in the previous century had been valued at more than £3,000, and dispatched the priceless Lindisfarne Gospels to distant London. St Bede's shrine was also at Durham, but when it was opened there was nothing to see. His bones were elsewhere, or had been distributed among the faithful. But the commissioners brought in a blacksmith to smash open Cuthbert's coffin, and "found him lying whole incorrupt with his face bare and his beard as if it had been a fortnight's growth, and all his vestments upon him as he was accustomed to say mass withall; and his meet wand of gold lying beside him there". One leg broken in the raid, the ancient saint was bundled into the vestry for a year or two, till he was re-entombed in plainer style. His emerald was never seen again. . . .

Later iconoclasts pulled down Cuthbert's statue and smashed his stained-glass life-story. In the reign of Edward VI, the dean was Robert Horne, who brought a wife "where never woman came before" - she had the holy water stoups lugged into the kitchens and used them for salting meat and fish. But today Cuthbert lies in state again in the cathedral. Moorhouse is an eloquent witness, wise and measured, to the getting-up and lying-down of his old bones.

Moorhouse's book was published in the USA as The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries. See my review here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a more sobering view of the legacy of St. Patrick in these days of trouble and healing in the Catholic Church of Ireland. The Archbishop of Birmingham spoke at a St. Patrick's Day parade celebrated Sunday, March 13 at St. Anne's parish in Birmingham.

To quote:

The Archbishop of Birmingham [said]: “Birmingham’s Irish festival and today’s parade take place at this time because next Thursday (17 March) is the Feast of St Patrick. So it is important that we recall the Patron Saint of Ireland and the significance of his faith in Jesus Christ both for his own mission and for the legacy that he left to the Irish people. This is particularly important during theses difficult days for the Irish nation and for the Church in Ireland. It is helpful to recall that so often from adversity good things can grow.

"As we begin the holy season of Lent we have a chance to reflect on what lies at the very heart of our Lord’s work and the mission that he has shared with us. We must first repent and believe the Good News so that we are able to share that Good News with others. This was also the first lesson that St Patrick learnt and it enabled him to preach the Gospel with such confidence.”

Archbishop Longley concluded: “Our own Catholic community in Birmingham has its roots in the witness and vision of Irish Catholics who made Birmingham their home in the nineteenth century and in the years that followed.
“Thank you for the friendships and partnerships that you have developed with other faith communities here in the city. May this St Patrick’s Day bring many blessings to you and through your prayers to all the citizens of Birmingham.”

Blessed John Henry Newman founded the first English Oratory of St Philip Neri at Maryvale, near Birmingham, in 1848. Fr Newman moved to Alcester Street, near the town centre, in February 1849, where he converted a disused gin distillery into a chapel and began his mission among the sick and poor of Birmingham.

Tip of the hat to Lead, Kindly Light. More on St. Patrick here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Gregory the Great

From Once I Was a Clever Boy, a post on Pope St. Gregory the Great, whose feast is celebrated on March 12th on the calendar for the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, commonly called the Traditional Latin Mass:

He must be accounted as one of the most influential of all the Popes, not merely because of the English mission sent under St Augustine in 596-7, but also because of his development of the Papal office in practical terms, his contribution to the liturgy and music of the Church and his writings as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church.

The image above is from the New Liturgical Movement website, and shows the pontiff flanked by his parents. On the current Roman Calendar for the Ordinary Form, his feast is on September 3rd.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Darkness of the Enlightenment--Brighter in England?

From The American Spectator comes this review of a new book about the Englightenment in France, focused on the philosophe salons that gathered twice a week at the home of Baron Holbach:

Now from Europe comes a candidate fifth horseman [reviewer Joseph A. Harriss refers to our current Four Horsemen of atheism: Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens]. Philipp Blom's A Wicked Company: The Forgotten Radicalism of the European Enlightenment (Basic Books, 361 pages, $29.95), is an erudite, detailed -- and tendentious -- account of the Paris literary salon where the wealthy Baron Paul Henri Thiry d'Holbach wined and dined some of the most passionate of the Enlightened. Blom, a German-born, Oxford-educated historian and novelist who lives in Vienna, is also author of a history of Europe from 1900 to 1914.

The forgotten radicalism he celebrates refers to the most anti-religion, anti-revelation, anti-God theorizing done during this period of ferment, when bold new thinking in science, mathematics, religion, and politics was in the air all over Europe. (The French called it the Siècle de Lumières, Germans the Aufklärung.) Blom gladly embraces the desolate world conceived at Holbach's intellectual bull sessions, "a world of ignorant necessity and without higher meaning, into which kindness and lust can inject a fleeting beauty."

Gathered on Thursdays and Sundays in Holbach's elegant town house across the Seine from the Louvre to enjoy multi-course meals -- 30 dishes often filled his groaning board -- were not only the French philosophes like Denis Diderot, creator of the famous Encyclopédie, the father of Romanticism Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the sharp-tongued opponent of tyranny, Voltaire. From the 1750s to the 1770s the salon was also a must for foreign visitors to Paris who wanted to make the avant-garde scene.

English historian Edward Gibbon dropped in occasionally, as did the skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume and his fellow Scot, the free-market economist Adam Smith.

Michael Burleigh reviews the same book for WSJ and the author posts the introduction on his website.

Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote a book about the Enlightenment a few years ago, emphasizing the positive effects of the English and American Enlightenments above the more deleterious influences of the French: Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments, described by the publishers as:

. . . an elegant, eminently readable work, [by] one of our most distinguished intellectual historians gives us a brilliant revisionist history. The Roads to Modernity reclaims the Enlightenment--an extraordinary time bursting with new ideas about human nature, politics, society, and religion--from historians who have downgraded its importance and from scholars who have given preeminence to the Enlightenment in France over concurrent movements in England and America. Contrasting the Enlightenments in the three nations, Himmelfarb demonstrates the primacy and wisdom of the British, exemplified in such thinkers as Adam Smith, David Hume, and Edmund Burke, as well as the unique and enduring contributions of the American Founders. It is their Enlightenments, she argues, that created a social ethic--humane, compassionate, and realistic--that still resonates strongly today, in America perhaps even more than in Europe. The Roads to Modernity is a remarkable and illuminating contribution to the history of ideas.

I read Himmelfarb's book when it came out and remember being a little skeptical about her argument, since I knew how anti-Catholic and intolerant of Catholics and the Church David Hume was. In his enlightenment version of English history, he was still as certain as his predecessors of British superiority and distinctiveness--he just left the Church of England and Protestant hegemony out of the picture. Of course, my study of the history of the Enlightenment has not been systematic and most autodidactic, but I have never found that much to applaud in either the lives or the thoughts of the philosophes of that era/school.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Worcester Ladymass

From Trio Mediaeval comes a new release, out this Tuesday, March 15, called A Worcester Ladymass. NPR is streaming the album until its release. ECM Records provides the background:

A Worcester Ladymass marks a welcome return for Oslo's Trio Mediaeval. It's their first new recording in four years (Folk Songs was recorded in February 2007), as well as the first of their discs since Stella Maris (2005) to incorporate the medieval sacred music for which their vocal sound seems so eminently suited. As England' s Daily telegraph observed, "The word 'mellifluous' might almost have been coined to describe the distinctively pure, cool sound of Trio Mediaeval's three female voices. It has an alluring quality all its own, which makes everything they sing - from the earliest polyphony to newly composed pieces which, to some extent, inhabit the same sound-world - wonderfully rewarding to listen to."

On their fifth ECM New Series album, Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Torunn Østrem Ossum present a reconstruction of a 13th century votive Mass to the Virgin Mary, based on manuscripts and fragments originating in an English Benedictine Abbey. As Nicky Losseff, the trio's medieval music editor, explains in the liner notes, "complex polyphonic music was important to the monks who lived at the Abbey of St Mary's, Worcester. Polyphony gave life to the otherwise 'plain' song of the liturgy. At Worcester, an unusual number of single leaves and fragments have survived. Through them, we have been left more than 100 songs, in many different musical styles: polyphony to adorn the movements of the Mass; the freely-composed, intricately-interweaving voices of motets; the stricter, declamatory tones of the conductus. All in all, it testifies to a thriving musical community. "

Singing this music today is more than `interpretation', as Anna Maria Friman emphasizes: "There is a lot of guesswork and individual intuition in medieval music performances. We feel that performing this music gives us freedom to let our imagination and ideas flow, as though we are creating contemporary music." The trio lays no claim to historical "authenticity" here: "It is impossible to know what this music would have sounded like in the middle ages and therefore impossible to recreate a mediaeval vocal sound."This can be a creative bonus: "We have chosen to use the lack of original information to inform our performance in the present." In the case of the Ladymass, this has sometimes necessitated the bridging of fragments with new music. Noting that the Worcester Mass lacked a Credo and a Benedicamus Domino, the singers invited Gavin Bryars, a supporter of the group since its earliest days, to compose the appropriate settings. Bryars proposed that his pieces be inserted into the Ladymass in such a way as to "maintain the same ethos, without any sense of incongruity", despite the fact that his compositions would sound audibly different from the surrounding sections. The old and the new, literally and conceptually, intermingle in the work of this vocal ensemble.

On the CD:
Salve sancta parens
Munda Maria
Sponsa rectoris omnium
O sponsa Dei electa
O Maria virgo pia
Benedicta / Virgo Dei genitrix
Credo (Gavin Bryars/2008)
Felix namque
Salve rosa florum
Grata iuvencula
Inviolata integra mater
De supernis sedibus
Dulciflua tua memoria
Agnus Dei
Beata viscera
Alma Dei genitrix
Benedicamus Domino (Gavin Bryars/2008)

The St. Mary's Abbey referred to in the notes is Evesham Abbey and it dated from Anglo-Saxon times, founded by St. Egwin between 700 and 710 A.D. The last Abbot, Philip Hawford, tried to negotiate use of the buildings for a university or some other facility to serve the community, but Cromwell and Henry refused and the buildings were razed. More about the Abbey here and here, including its connection to Simon de Montfort and the Barons War during the reign of Henry III.

You can be sure that I have pre-ordered this disc!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Lent and Our Lady of Walsingham

This Lent is a special season for those awaiting entrance to the Catholic Church this Easter for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. According to this blog, which updates the status of the Ordinariate regularly, as of this Ash Wednesday,

Research by The Tablet found that at least 600 laity are planning to join the ordinariate and latest predictions suggest they will be joined by up to 60 clergy. Among them is Fr Ian Hellyer, a father of eight, from Bovey Tracey in Devon. It has also emerged that a church in Euston has been offered to the ordinariate. A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said that St Anne’s, Laxton Place, which is currently closed, is being considered for the central London group. He added that a principal church for the Ordinariate had yet to be identified.

On her EWTN blog, Joanna Bogle reports:

On Ash Wednesday, as Lent begins, the groups entering the Ordinariate begin a “Eucharistic fast,” attending Mass each Sunday – and weekdays too of course if they wish – at their local Catholic parishes, but not receiving Holy Communion. Throughout Lent, there will be talks and instruction. Then, either on Holy Thursday or at the Easter Vigil, depending on local arrangements, they will be received into full Communion with the Catholic Church. The former Anglican clergy will then go on to be ordained as Catholic priests at Pentecost, and from then onwards, a new parish life will begin, taking up the threads of the old, but with a new dimension.

and concludes:

The ordinations of the former Anglican clergymen will make headlines at Pentecost, but, after that, things will appear to go quiet: and it is in the quietness that the real work will be done and the history written. The Anglican heritage is a great part of British life, and now it acquires a fresh dimension.

There is a lot of heartache involved in this – friends and members of families taking different paths as some join the Ordinariate and some do not. There is a sense of zest and enthusiasm among Ordinariate members, and also relief at a decision having been made and a project initiated. But there are also worries – financial, organisational, human. The last weeks have been a time of immense activity with all sorts of practical arrangements having to be made. Many more are still to be made.

Pray for the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. It has been placed under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. And it is happening as the great John Paul II is being beatified, whose message to the world when he began his pontificate could usefully be taken as a message for this project too: “Do not be afraid!”

It's that concept of the Anglican heritage, what Bogle also cites as the Anglican patrimony, that has the greatest historical implications. I presume it means taking what has been best from the traditions of the Church of England and incorporating them into the certain structure of the Catholic Church--it will be fascinating to watch. As William Oddie comments, it certainly includes the great hymns written by Anglo-Catholics, including the translations by John Mason Neale.

The Ordinariate Portal linked above includes prayers for the "Groups of Anglicans" coming into the Catholic Church this Easter, including this litany:

Our Lady of Walsingham: Pray for us as we claim your motherly care.

Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus: Pray for us as we place this work under your patronage.

Blessed John Henry Newman: Pray that Christ’s Heart may speak unto our hearts.

Saints & Martyrs of England,Wales, Scotland & Ireland: Pray for us and accompany us on our pilgrim way.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Henry Benedict Stuart Born--The Last Stuart Pretender

Henry Benedict Stuart, second son of the Old Pretender, James III (James Francis Edward Stuart) and Maria Klementyna Sobieska, was born on March 11, 1725 (NS) in Rome, where the Pretender lived after the failure of the Jacobite plots of 1715. The French Court of King Louis XV had not welcomed him as King Louis XIV had.

His mother left his father soon after Henry's birth, accusing him of infidelity and residing in a convent. They reconciled two years later, but Maria Klementyna died in 1735, ten years before her sons made the great attempt to retake the throne in 1745.

When that attempt failed, Henry returned to Rome and began his ecclesiastical career during the reign of Pope Benedict XIV, progressing through the minor orders while a Cardinal-Deacon in 1747 and the sub-deaconate in 1748 and then being ordained deacon and priest in 1748. He became the Cardinal-Bishop of Frascati, a diocese near Rome in 1761. He was quite wealthy with many properties and benefices, but he lost it all during the French Revolution and in support of Pope Pius VI, who was imprisoned by Napoleon and died in August of 1799. The College of Cardinals, with Cardinal Henry Stuart met in exile in Venice to elect Pope Pius VII in the contentious papal election of 1800.

In the meantime, when his brother Bonnie Prince Charlie died in 1788, the Cardinal had become the de facto Pretender, but he did not seek the throne and was not recognized by the Papacy, being called the Cardinal Duke of York. His priesthood and cardinalate really made it impossible for him to seriously be considered a candidate, anyway. While his brother had been roaming throughout Europe, even visiting England and renouncing his Catholicism (briefly) for any advantages in his attempt to regain the throne, Henry Cardinal York's path probably disappointed the Young Pretender, especially as he had no legitimate heirs.

After Napoleon's fall, the Cardinal Duke of York returned to Frascati and became Dean of the College of Cardinals in 1803. He died on July 13, 1807 when he was 82 years old. The line of the Pretenders was taken up by Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia who was the grandson of Charles II's favorite sister, Henrietta Anne, wife of Louis XIV's brother Philippe of France, Monsieur. Charles Emmanuel IV never actively sought the throne of England.

Some notes about minor orders: The minor orders, suppressed by Pope Paul VI in 1972 after the Second Vatican Council, were Acolyte, Exorcist, Lector and Ostiarus/Porter. They were called minor orders because they were not part of the Sacrament of Ordination and the seminarians who filled their ceremonial roles were not required to be celibate, yet. The Porter was the lowest office; the Acolyte the highest. Note that the Exorcist assisted only with the Rite of Exorcism that is part of the Sacrament of Baptism. Two minor orders survived the suppression as ministries, open to the laity: acolyte and reader, although I have never seen those ministries practiced as outlined in Pope Paul's decree. Note also that in the orders now dedicated to the celebration of the usus antiquior (for example the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) these minor orders and the sub-diaconate are permitted for their seminarians.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The King is Dead; Long Live the Queen

On March 8, 1702 (OS) William III died and his sister-in-law Anne succeeded him as Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His wife Mary died in 1694 after they came to the throne when Parliament deposed James II in 1689. The transition and the fact that none of Anne's children had survived meant that she began her reign as the last Stuart monarch. Anne's marriage to Prince George of Denmark, a Lutheran, had resulted in 18 pregnancies, 13 miscarriages and still births, and four babies who died before they were two years old! Their only surviving child, William the Duke of Gloucester had died in 1700 when he was eleven years old. What a load of sorrows to bear!

In 1701, Parliament passed the Act of Settlement that bypassed the claims of Anne's half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart, living in exile. Instead, it named the Electress Sophia of Hanover, James I's grand-daughter and Queen of Bohemia Elizabeth's youngest daughter.

In spite of being kind of a lame duck dynastic Queen, Anne proved to have a very eventful reign with the War of Spanish Secession (through 1714) and the Act of Union in 1706, creating Great Britain as major events. She was a loyal Anglican and approved of the Tory party, but with her reign the power and involvement of the Prime Minister and professional politicians increased, and the monarch became more of figurehead. As Queen, Anne revived the practice of the "King's/Queen's Touch", revealing a belief in healing connected to the Divine Right of Kings and God's providence in the succession -- Samuel Johnson who developed scrofula as a toddler was "touched" by Queen Anne on March 30, 1712. It did not clear up his condition, however, and he was left with scars from surgery. She was the last monarch in England to perform this ritual.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Before the Split

According to this Catholic Herald article St. Colette, a Poor Clare reformer who lived in the Picardy region of France from 1381 to 1447, found international praise--even from England:

In 1513 Henry VIII of England, then in his palmy Catholic days, compared her to “a diligent bee that gathers exquisite honey from the precious flowers of the most rare virtues”, and petitioned Pope Leo X that she should be canonised. This notion would eventually be fulfilled in 1807.

We should also remember that Pope Leo X named Henry VIII "Defender of the Faith" a few years later!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Lament for Our Lady of Walsingham

When I discussed the English Reformation and the revival of Catholicism in England with Al Kresta on February 28, I mentioned that the new Ordinariate's name, Our Lady of Walsingham, could not be more appropriate. Our Lady of Walsingham was a very popular pilgrimage site--Henry VIII visited it himself--destroyed during Henry's reign. The Guardian posted this lament for the shrine, written to mark its destruction.

As the blog article sets the stage for the poem:

"A Lament for Our Lady's Shrine at Walsingham" is not a narrative poem, except in glimpses of older, happier scenes. Their recollection underlines the sharp contrast with the present. The ballad works primarily by antithesis: tall, glittering towers now lying level with the ground, toads and serpents instead of pilgrims (palmers), nights instead of days, holy deeds turned to outrages (despites), hell instead of heaven. The ballad seems to be a work of literary craftsmanship, and it is sometimes attributed to the Earl of Arundel, Philip Howard. There is a strong impression that the speaker really witnessed, or wants to demonstrate he has really witnessed, the various scenes, and the description of former glory and present devastation is to some extent documentary."

A Lament for Our Lady's Shrine at Walsingham

In the wracks of Walsingham
Whom should I choose
But the Queen of Walsingham
to be my guide and muse.

Then, thou Prince of Walsingham,
Grant me to frame
Bitter plaints to rue thy wrong,
Bitter woe for thy name.

Bitter was it so to see
The seely sheep
Murdered by the ravenous wolves
While the shepherds did sleep.

Bitter was it, O to view
The sacred vine,
Whilst the gardeners played all close,
Rooted up by the swine.

Bitter, bitter, O to behold
The grass to grow
Where the walls of Walsingham
So stately did show.

Such were the worth of Walsingham
While she did stand,
Such are the wracks as now do show
Of that Holy Land.

Level, level, with the ground
The towers do lie,
Which, with their golden glittering tops,
Pierced once to the sky.

Where were gates are no gates now,
The ways unknown
Where the press of peers did pass
While her fame was blown.

Owls do scrike where the sweetest hymns
Lately were sung,
Toads and serpents hold their dens
Where the palmers did throng.

Weep, weep, O Walsingham,
Whose days are nights,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.

Sin is where Our Lady sat,
Heaven is turned to hell,
Satan sits where Our Lord did sway --
Walsingham, O farewell!

There are now two shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham, one Catholic, one Anglican (from the latter came three nuns who joined the Catholic Church on January 1, 2011), a shrine to Our Lady planned in Houston, Texas in the USA, and now the growing Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, so perhaps we can say, --Walsingham, Welcome Back!

Here is a link to a ballad describing the founding of the shrine.

Friday, March 4, 2011

English Martyrs' Relics Saved from Fire

Thanks to Father Zuhlsdorf via the Catholic Herald, here is news of a fire at a Marian shrine in England in the Lancaster diocese which also has relics of the English Reformation martyrs. The Blessed Sacrament and the relics were rescued from burning:

A collection of relics belonging Reformation martyrs have survived a fire at the Marian shrine of Ladyewell in Lancashire, which left the chapel burned out.The Burgess altar at which St Edmund Campion, St Edmund Arrowsmith and Blessed John Woodcock celebrated Mass, and other relics of the Reformation, were rescued from the flames of a small fire which broke out at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh, near Preston, last week.Fr Tom Hoole, the director of the Ladyewell Shrine and parish priest of St Mary’s Fernyhalgh, discovered the fire in the chapel in the morning at Ladyewell House and called the fire brigade.The rescue team was able to save the Blessed Sacrament at the priest’s instructions, as well as the relics and other religious artefacts. These have suffered from smoke damage.

is the shrine's website, with more detail about the shrine.

The Ladyewell Shrine has been the site of devotion since the 11th century, which became a devotion to Our Lady Queen of the Martyrs’ after the Reformation. The reliquary holds relics and memorabilia belonging to the English Martyrs. The shrine was kept open during penal times, with only a short five year gap, and was the site for pilgrimages despite not having had an apparition. St Mary’s Fernyhalgh was built much later than the shrine in the 18th century.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Convocation of 1559

Once I Was a Clever Boy reminds us of the Convocation of Bishops in England at the beginning of Elizabeth I's reign, demonstrating the effectiveness of Archbishop of Canterbury Reginald Cardinal Pole's rebuilding program during the reign of Mary I. As John Whitehead reminds us, the five articles they passed were in opposition to the direction Elizabeth I's government was taking, as they upheld the authority of the Pope, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and other Catholic doctrine:

(1) That in the Sacrament of the Altar, by virtue of the words of Christ duly spoken by the priest, is present realiter, under the kinds of bread and wine, the natural Body of Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary, and also his natural Blood.
(2) That after the consecration there remains not the substance of bread and wine, nor any other substance, but the substance of God and Man.
(3) That in the Mass is offered the true Body of Christ,and his true Blood, a propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead.
(4) That to Peter the Apostle, and his lawful successors in the Apostolic See, as Christ's Vicars, is given the supreme power of feeding and ruling the Church of Christ Militant, and confirming their brethren.
(5) That the authority of handling and defining concerning the things belonging to faith, sacraments, and discipline ecclesiastical, hath hitherto ever belonged, and ought to belong, only to the pastors of the Church; whom the Holy Ghost for this purpose hath set in the Church; and not to laymen.

When Parliament began to legislate the replacement of the Holy Mass with the Book of Common Prayer, Archbishop Heath of York, as he had promised/warned Elizabeth in a private audience on religious matters, objected:

True to his undertaking, Archbishop Heath spoke out firmly: "The unity of the Church of Christ doth depend upon the unity of Peter's authority. Therefore, by our leaping out of Peter's ship, we must needs be overwhelmed with the waters of schism, sects and divisions which spring only from this, that men will not be obedient to the Head Bishop of God."

The Archbishop asked the Lords whether they thought the Church of Rome was not of God, but a malignant Church, and then went on: "If you answer yes, then it will follow that we, the inhabitants of this realm, have not as yet received any benefit from Christ, for we have received no other gospel, no other doctrine, no other Faith, no other sacraments than were sent us from the Church of Rome."

Because of the unity of this Convocation of 1559, all but one of the bishops appointed during the reign of Mary I refused to swear the Oaths of Uniformity and Supremacy imposed by this Parliament at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign. For all of them, including Archbishop Heath, this meant removal from their see, exile, imprisonment, house arrest, or some sort of constraint.