Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Series Post #4: St. David's in Wales

According to the timeline on the website for the Cathedral of St. David's in Wales:

1538: Bishop [William] Barlow strips St Davids shrine of its jewels and confiscates the relics of St David and St Justinian in order to counteract "superstition".(sic)

According to the homepage on the same website, they need 150,000 BPS to restore the medieval shrine of St. David!

In the 12th century Pope Calixtus II declared St Davids Cathedral to be a place of pilgrimage. It was at this time that the medieval shrine was constructed and situated in the presbytery, close to the High Altar. Pope Calixtus II also stated that the Shrine was so important that two pilgrimages to St Davids were equivalent to one to Rome, three were equivalent to one to Jerusalem. Since then the path of pilgrimage has been trodden by hundreds of thousands of individuals. The destruction of the Shrine during the Reformation caused a steep decline in this important religious practice. However throughout the periods of religious and political turmoil, pilgrims have continued to visit the site.

The restoration of the Shrine will return the relics of St David to their rightful place in the Cathedral. It will offer visitors and pilgrims an opportunity to pray at the Shrine and to give thanks to God for the example of St David. With the restoration of the Shrine it is hoped that St Davids Cathedral will once again become the most important place of pilgrimage in Wales.

This website describes the career and answers questions about William Barlow who destroyed that shrine:

What of the man and his achievements? The date of his birth is unknown but he died in 1568. He became an Augustinian Canon of St. Osyth Priory in Essex. He wrote many tracts such as "Burying of the Mass" and had very strong reforming views which got him into trouble in the early years of Henry VIII's reign. He then rose to be a prominent member of the Augustinian Order becoming Prior of Haverfordwest by 1534, acted as Chaplain to Henry VIII, and had led an embassy to Scotland on behalf of the King. In 1536 he was consecrated Bishop of St. Asaph followed by St. David's in the same year, being the the first Protestant Bishop to be appointed by the King and not elected. During the reign of Edward VI he was appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells He fled to the Continent after a short term of imprisonment under Queen Mary only to return under Elizabeth to be made Bishop of Chichester.

He was the only Bishop who played a part in the consecration of Mathew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559 who had been consecrated under the traditional forms of the Roman Church. Considered to be a distinguished father of the Protestant Church. What of his five daughters? They all married Bishops.

Of course, 150,000 BPS won't restore medieval grandeur and jewels!

Thinking of Wales recalls Tintern Abbey and William Wordsworth. I hope to see it some day!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Busy Day at Smithfield: Henry VIII Executes Catholics and Protestants

On July 30, 1540, two different sets of martyrs set off for Smithfield for execution. There were three Catholics, who had refused to swear Henry VIII's Oaths of Succession and Supremacy, and there were three Protestants--more properly, Zwinglians--who refused to accept the definition of Christian sacramental doctrine outlined in Henry VIII's Six Articles.

Thomas Abel, Richard Fetherston, and Edward Powell had all been chaplains and defenders of Queen Catherine of Aragon--very learned men; graduates of the University of Oxford. Thomas Abel had written Invicta veritas. An answere, That by no manner of law, it may be lawfull for the most noble King of England, King Henry the eight to be divorced from the queens grace, his lawfull and very wife. B.L. in 1532 and had also been implicated in the Nun of Kent cause celebre. Richard Fetherston had also written against Henry's divorce of Catherine in Contra divortium Henrici et Catharinae, Liber unus although no copy of the text survives. He also tutored the Princess Mary. Henry VIII had favored Edward Powell for his works against Lutheran doctrines in earlier days, but then Powell ran afoul of Henry's changing policies and desires to cast aside Catherine of Aragon.

The Zwinglians Robert Barnes, Thomas Garrett, and William Jerome were also taken to Smithfield that day. Robert Barnes had attended the University of Cambridge and had "hung out" at the White Horse Inn with other Lutheran minded students and masters. While Thomas Cromwell was in power, they had preached against the Catholic Bishop, Stephen Gardiner, but once Cromwell fell and was executed on July 28, 1540, they lost their protector and were sentenced to death.

Both the Catholics and the Zwinglians were sentenced to death without trial. Bills of Attainder condemned the Catholics as Traitors and the Zwinglians as Heretics. Three hurdles dragged the men to Smithfield from the Tower; each hurdle held a traitor and a heretic. At Smithfield, the traitors were hung, cut down and butchered while alive, their bodies quartered and their heads cut for display; the heretics were burnt alive at the stake. A poem titled, "The Metynge of Doctor Barnes and Dr. Powell at Paradise Gate and of theyre communicacion bothe drawen to Smithfylde fro the Towar" described the juxtaposition of the Catholic and the Protestant that day.

This day demonstrates Henry VIII's equal opportunity injustice; he sentenced both those who refused to swear the oaths he demanded and those who refused to obey the religious doctrine he required. The Catholics certainly knew the dangerous route they were taking -- defending Catherine against the king's wishes and refusing the oaths. By 1540, the pattern of execution for those offenses was well established. The Zwinglians were probably caught off guard by Cromwell's sudden fall; on the leading edge of Protestant thinking and theology, they lost their protector and were caught up in the strange factional divisions Henry countenanced in the later years of his reign. (See chapter 2 in Supremacy and Survival, in the section titled, "Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Cranmer, and Henry's Reformation" for more insight into that period.)

Catherine's former chaplains were beatitified by Pope Leo XIII; the Zwinglian preachers were honored by John Foxe in his Acts and Monuments.

(Thomas Abel carved the bell in the wall of his cell in the Tower of London--it is obviously a pun on his last name. What a hallmark of grace under pressure!)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Warren Carroll, RIP

Warren Carroll, founder and first president of Christendom College, died last Sunday. According to the obituary the college published, he was a great teacher:

Before his retirement, Carroll was one of the few teachers that every student had in common. For most, the memories of hearing Carroll’s interpretation and telling of history during History of Western Civilization I and II are unforgettable. There were the heroes: Constantine, Pelayo, Isabel of Spain, Athanasius, Don Juan of Austria, Our Lady of Fatima, Philip II, and Charlemagne; and the villains: Thomas Cranmer, Luther, Cecil, Lenin, Rasputin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Queen Elizabeth I, Pope Alexander VI, Arius, Theodora, and Justinian.

His explanations of the historic D-Day invasions; the complications of Watergate and the Vietnam War; the Battle of Lepanto; the Crusades; the Inquisition; Henry II kneeling for three days in the snow before Gregory VII; the story of Charles the Fat and Charles the Bald; the missionary work of Matteo Ricci; the great theological battle over “homoousios vs homoiousios;” and the Robber Council of Ephesus could never be surpassed. And then there are the memorable phrases: “History can be summed up in five words: Truth exists. The Incarnation happened,” “You can never bribe a pope,” and “One man can make a difference.”

I know him only from his books:

His love of teaching history naturally spilled over into writing history: 1917: Red Banners White Mantle, Isabel of Spain, Our Lady of Guadalupe, The Rise and Fall of the Communist Revolution, The Last Crusade, and The Guillotine and the Cross.

Carroll is also known for his major work, the multi-volume History of Christendom. Five volumes have been published to date; together they present a narrative account of European and Catholic history from antiquity through the year 1815. The series is noteworthy for its frank Catholic understanding of crucial historical events, from the Crusades to the French Revolution.

(I wonder if he had worked enough on the sixth volume that someone at Christendom can finish it!)

Note that he died on July 17--which is usually the memorial of the Blessed Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne. He wrote about them here.

Eternal rest grant unto Dr. Warren Carroll, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

More here.

July 29, 1573: John Caius, RIP

John Caius, second founder of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, died on July 29, 1573 at age 62. He was a Catholic and served as physician for Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I until being dismissed by the latter because of his Catholicism in 1568.

On the college website a history of Caius College, as it is usually known, provides a rather mixed portrait of the former John Keys (he adopted the classical spelling of his name after travel in Italy). It is excerpted from Professor Christopher Brooke's History of Gonville and Caius College :

In the early 1530s Gonville Hall was still a tiny community, not at all well off — though by now boasting a complete court, the nucleus of what is now Gonville Court, with chapel, hall, library and chambers for fellows and students to live in in small groups of 2,3 or 4 to a chamber. The young fellows included some who were to become leaders of the protestant cause in the early days of the reformation, notably Nicholas Shaxton, later bishop of Salisbury. It also included a young man called John Caius, who went off to Padua in 1539 to study Greek and Medicine. Richard Nykke, the conservative catholic bishop of Norwich, thought Gonville Hall was a hotbed of protestants: ‘I hear of no clerk that hath commen out lately’ of Gonville Hall ‘but savoureth of the frying pan, though he speak never so holily’. But it seems clear that the small community harboured a wide variety of different viewpoints — and as Caius travelled round Europe he met Catholics in Padua and protestants in Zurich — the naturalist Conrad Gessner of Zurich came to be one of his closest friends — and he cared little for religious controversy; he became in fact one of that hidden minority who believed in religious toleration. The specialists in the sixteenth century tend to tell us there weren't such people, but there clearly were.

In the mid–1540s he came back to England and set up a medical practice in the City of London, where there were rich men and women who could afford large fees — and pay them. Legend later had it that he was a royal physician: fortunately not, for sixteenth century royalty was notorious for not paying its debts. At the south end of Hall, above High Table, you may see displayed John Caius and his friends. On either side of him Joan Trapps, a friend and probably a grateful patient, and her husband Robert, a leading City alderman of the 1540s and 50s. To their left, Joyce Frankland, their daughter and heiress, one of our greatest benefactors. To the right, Caius’s chosen successor as master, Thomas Legge — also a believer in religious toleration and a much more genial character than Caius. But I am going ahead too fast.

Caius’s tastes were an extraordinary mixture of conservative and avant–garde. He was a brilliant classical scholar of the high renaissance, but that led him to excessive devotion to classical texts. He was a leader in medical thought who organised dissections and serious study of several kinds — yet regarded the text of the Greek Physician Galen with fundamentalist awe. When he revisited Cambridge in the late 1550s he looked back with enormous nostalgia to his student days, when all was peace and dedicated study, and students were respectful to their seniors — or so he thought. At the same time he wanted to build the tiny, struggling, half–dead little college into a great foundation worthy of the humanist ideals of the age. He was a cosmopolitan figure, and appropriately won the right to refound the College in 1557 from the most cosmopolitan of our sovereigns — Philip and Mary, King and Queen (according to our foundation charter) of England, Spain, France, the two Sicilies, Jerusalem and Ireland — and dukes and counts here and there besides. He doubled our endowment and built Caius Court — and would be remembered with unmitigated affection if he had not unfortunately accepted the office of master in 1559. In the years that followed intolerant protestants took the place of intolerant catholics in many high places in Cambridge — and the tolerance of John Caius allowed them into the fellowship. Once there, they grumbled at the master’s conservative tastes: he was not (so far as we can tell) a Roman Catholic in theology, in which he had little interest; but he preserved books and vestments — actually rather a prudent course, one might have thought (and as others thought) amid the bewildering religious changes of the age — you never knew when they might not be wanted. Unfortunately Caius was difficult man. He clearly could exercise charm among friends and equals; but he was peremptory and tyrannical to fellows who disagreed with him — the more contumacious he expelled from the college, the lesser criminals he put in the stocks in the hall. His close friend Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, had to be called in to make the peace — and even so the young Turks delated Caius to the vice-chancellor and the master of Trinity and others who had a bonfire made in the court of the vestments and other ancient treasures. Yet nothing is more characteristic of John Caius than his determined generosity: while the young fellows barked at his heels, he went steadily on, building Caius Court and increasing the endowment of the College. After a stormy mastership he found peace at last in the College chapel in 1573, aged only 62 — it says 63 on his tomb, but that means in his 63rd year.

More about Christopher Brooke here; you might note that Dom David Knowles was a great influence on him. I enjoyed Brooke's The Age of the Cloister.

Speaking of "religious toleration", read the "guy fawkes" sermon notes linked on this page from the Chapel! It washes any distinctions down to nothing--except for fundamentalism, which is the great evil.

You might also remember that Harold Abrahams, whose story was told(?) in Chariots of Fire, attended Caius College. He became a Catholic in 1934--is that funeral service at the beginning and end of the movie a Catholic Mass? I don't remember.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gerard Manley Hopkins

On July 28, 1844, Gerard Manley Hopkins was born. Hopkins attended Balliol College at the University of Oxford from 1863 to 1867, achieving a double-first degree. He joined the Catholic Church under the guidance of Father John Henry Newman and entered the Society of Jesus after teaching briefly at Newman's Oratory School. Hopkin's conversion created divisions in his family and his parents visited him for the first time in years when he was on his deathbed. He died of typhoid fever on June 8, 1889.

Hopkins is justly famous now for poetry no one really understood when he wrote it because he had developed a poetic metric, sprung rhythm, that adapted the rules of classical rhythmic structures, and he experimented with the form of the sonnet.

Ron Hansen wrote an excellent novel about Hopkins and his poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland" titled Exiles. Hopkins had given up poetry, but was moved by the deaths of the German nuns, driven into exile and danger by Bismarck's kulturkampf. Paul Mariani wrote the most current biography of Hopkins and Image provides an on-line interview. Mariani had written biographies of William Carlos Williams and Robert Lowell, among others, and was asked if he took a different approach with Hopkins than before:

You hear people you respect saying things like, yes, he was a good poet, though in spite of being a Jesuit. But you can’t separate Hopkins from the fact that he was profoundly shaped by the Jesuit experience and the luminous, searing imagination of Ignatius Loyola. Of course he was most profoundly shaped by his love for Christ, the only one who finally mattered, but that would take a book in itself. For years it was the literary critics I followed, listened and deferred to and argued with. Then, after publishing my biography of Hart Crane, and seeing how profoundly Hopkins had touched our great American orphic prophet as early as the late 1920s, how Crane had copied out as many of Hopkins’ poems by hand as he had time for, before returning his copy of the poems back to its owner, Yvor Winters, I came to see that I would have to undergo the same trial by fire that Hopkins had undergone, if I were ever to understand how he had come to write a wind-fiery masterpiece like The Wreck of the Deutschland. This would mean doing the full thirty-day Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola, something every Jesuit undertakes at least twice in his life as a Jesuit. It’s not a matter of reading the text, any more than reading a book on physical exercise is going to make you fit. Rather, it’s a matter of subjecting yourself to the experience of the Exercises, meditating on the grandeur of God’s creation, the self-willed song that pulls you away from the song of creation—Lucifer’s “it’s all about me, anyway,” his countering with his Song of Myself and the glorious aroma of his own armpits rather than the sense of one’s sweating self. It’s a matter of the heart in hiding, dove-winged, beginning to fly back to its dove cote and home. It’s this, and much more. In any event, after making the long retreat in silence in the winter of 2000 on Cape Ann, where T.S. Eliot recalled the long fogs, the cries and whispers of the sea buoys, I came away with a new understanding of what had changed Hopkins from the bright, Anglican Oxford undergrad who had listened carefully to George Herbert and John Donne, into the Jesuit poet reinvented by his encounters with Ignatius, Aquinas, Dante, John of the Cross, Duns Scotus, Edmund Campion, and the cries of a gaunt six-foot German nun perishing in the frigid waters off the English coast.

Note that Mariani wrote a book about completing the Exercises.

One of my favorite poems by Hopkins is The Windhover:

(Just make sure you read it aloud!)

To Christ Our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,--the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.

It is so magnificent, how Hopkins catches the swooping and speed of the bird at the beginning (with the gerund forms--morning, riding, rolling, striding, wimpling, gliding, even hiding), and then depicts the harshness of the suffering at the end (with the hard consonants--gall, gash, gold). His poetic method expresses the moment precisely.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday to You, Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc was born on July 27, 1870 and died on July 16, 1953. I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning to talk about this great Catholic writer at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central. (Note that July 27 is Matt Swaim's birthday, too. Matt is the producer of the Son Rise Morning Show, broadcasting on the EWTN Radio Network from Cincinnati, Ohio!)

Belloc (Joseph Hilaire Pierre Rene) was born in France; his father was French, his mother English. After his father's death, his mother brought him and his sister Marie to England, where he attended the Oratory School in Birmingham founded by Blessed John Henry Newman. He then served in the French military as required and returned to attend Balliol College at Oxford. He was president of the Oxford Union Debating Society and hoped for a fellowship at All Souls. Belloc married Elodie Hogan in 1896 and they had five children before her death in 1914, one of whom, Louis, died in World War I. Belloc became British citizen in 1902.

Frederick Wilhelmson, author of a study of Belloc titled Hilaire Belloc: No Alienated Man, A Study in Christian Integration, pubished by Sheed and Ward in 1953, commented on his energy and vigor in another essay:

At my last count, Hilaire Belloc wrote 153 books. The business has to do with vigor, an enormous lust for life, and a willingness to make mistakes. Belloc did not give a damn for what anybody thought of him. He wrote his life of King James II in a hotel on the edge of the Sahara in ten days: “It is full of howlers and is the fruit of liberty.” He walked to Rome as a young man, coming in upon the Appian Way on a mule drawn cart — but with his feet dragging on the road so his vow would not be broken.

His vigor was legendary, and I have mentioned as well his lust for life. Belloc — and this is a key to understanding his role as a Catholic apologist — was a man totally at home in this world, but one who knew it was an illusion to be so at home. There was not a trace of Manicheanism in him, and he called puritanism, in his biography of Louis XIV, an “evil out of the pit”, meaning the pit of hell. A mountain climber, he was even more a sailor. His Hills and the Sea and The Cruise of the Nona are classics. If The Path to Rome is the work of a young genius, rollicking and rolling his way over mountain and valley toward the Eternal City, The Four Men, on the contrary, called by its author “A Farrago”, was penned in solitude mixed with melancholy. Grizzlebeard, the Poet, and the Sailor are all extensions of Myself, and Myself is Belloc. Only when life is lived close to the senses, when the intelligence is engaged immediately on what is yielded to man through the body, is the paradox of sadness in created beauty brought home in all its delicacy and inexorableness. Page after page of Belloc’s writing is troubled by a deep and troubled gravity, heightened by his profound communion with the things of his world: English inns; old oak‑burnished and sturdy; rich Burgundy and other wines” that port of theirs” at the “George” drunk by the fire with which he began this book; the sea and ships that sail — but, please, “no abomination of an engine”; the smell of the tides. These loves run through Belloc’s essays, recurring themes testifying to a vision movingly poetic in its classic simplicity. His eyes are fixed on the primal things that always nourished the human spirit, on the things at hand.

Unfortunately, Wilhelmson's book is hard to find (fortunately for me, I bought a used copy several years ago!). When Belloc ran for Parliament in 1906, his campaign manager told him not to mention his Catholicism--so Belloc proclaimed during one of his speeches: "Gentlemen, I am a Catholic. As far as possible, I go to Mass every day. This (taking a rosary out of his pocket) is a rosary. As far as possible, I kneel down and tell these beads every day. If you reject me on account of my religion, I shall thank God that he has spared me the indignity of being your representative." I think that story exemplifies Wilhelmson's argument in his book as well as his note that "Belloc did not give a damn for what anybody thought of him".

In honor of his birth, let us raise a glass of fine Burgundy (rouge, bien sur!), since, as Belloc wrote:

Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
There’s always laughter and good red wine.
At least I’ve always found it so.
Benedicamus Domino!

You can hear a recording of him singing for a radio program here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Two Hymns of the Catholic Restoration in England

Father Frederick William Faber wrote, among other hymns, "Faith of Our Fathers". In the current issue of Voices, Helen Hull Hitchcock describes how she grew up singing that hymn as a Protestant, not realizing that the martyrs described were the Catholic martyrs of England!
Faith of Our Fathers

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whenever we hear that glorious Word!

Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.


Faith of our fathers, Mary’s prayers
Shall win our country back to Thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.


Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach Thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.


Reading about that hymn and singing it lately at Mass on Sunday, reminded me of another hymn I read about during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to England in September 2010: "God Bless Our Pope" which begins with the fascinating line "Full in the panting heart of Rome". Nicholas Wiseman, the first Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster wrote the hymn:

Full in the panting heart of Rome,
Beneath th'apostle's crowning dome,
From pilgrims' lips that kiss the ground,
Breathes in all tongues only one sound:

'God bless our Pope, God bless our Pope,
God bless our Pope, the great, the good.'

The golden roof, the marble walls,
The Vatican's majestic halls,
The note redouble, till it fills
With echoes sweet the seven hills:[Refrain]

Then surging through each hallowed gate,
Where martyrs glory, in peace, await,
It sweeps beyond the solemn plain,
Peals over Alps, across the main:[Refrain]

From torrid south to frozen north,
That wave harmonious stretches forth,
Yet strikes no chord more true to Rome's,
Than rings within our hearts and homes:[Refrain]

Quite an example of that triumphal tone that caused trouble when Wiseman prepared to return to England for the re-establishment of the hierarchy in 1850! New lyrics were written for that visit to England last year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Two Great Collections Edited by Philip Caraman

Philip Caraman, SJ was one of the great Catholic historians of the 20th century. He specialized in the study of the Reformation era, producing many books about the martyrs. He served a vice-postulator for the cause of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. He also edited two collections of primary sources (and seems to have planned a third, according to the introduction to the second).

The Other Face: Catholic Life under Elizabeth I and The Years of Siege: Catholic Life from James I to Cromwell are goldmines of eyewitness accounts, letters, court reports, poetry and saints' lives. In the first book, 30 chapters contain excerpts on topics ranging from "The English Nuns", "The New Priests", "Practice and Belief", "At Prayer", and chilling depictions of Prison, Torture, Trial, and The Gallows. Caraman also provides excellent indexes, biographical notes, and sources.

The second book is shorter: 18 chapters contain details about "The Mood of Catholics", "The Catholic Household", Martyrs, Priests, "The Popes and England" and other topics. The same excellent resources are very helpful.

I am very sorry that Father Caraman (evidently) did not complete the next volume, in which he proposed to cover the reigns of Charles II and James II, including the Popish Plot, which he calls "the Oates Conspiracy". I highly recommend them both if you can find used copies or find them in a library.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Series Post #3: The Eve of St. James

Since tomorrow is the Feast of St. James I've chosen Malmesbury Abbey for today's Sunday shrine post. The saint honored there was St. Aldhelm who wrote about St. James's missionary journeys to Spain. Compostela in Spain is of course the great site of pilgrimage to honor St. James.

Malmesbury Abbey is in Wiltshire England; it was founded as a Benedictine house in 676 A.D. by Aldhelm, a scholar and poet who was a nephew of the king of Wessex, Ine. Until its suppression in 1539 by Henry VIII, it was known as a great site of learning with an excellent library. The 12th century English historian William of Malmesbury was a monk there. He wrote his Gesta Regum Anglorum based on the Venerable Bede's model for historical writing.

The last Abbot of Malmesbury, Robert Selwyn or Frampton, surrendered with 21 monks on December 15, 1539 and they all received generous pensions. The abbey church became the parish church when Henry VIII sold the lands and buildings to one William Stumpe. During the English Civil War both Royalist and Roundhead armies occupied Malmesbury. The parish there now is very open (extremely broad church perhaps?) and well-staffed, according to the website linked above, but only uses part of the abbey complex.

St. Aldhelm was not only the Abbot of Malmesbury but also the first Bishop of Sherborne, a see which was later transferred to Salisbury, from 705 to 709 A.D. He was a poet, a writer of letters, scholarly treastises, and religious instruction. St. Aldhelm is also honored at Salisbury Cathedral.

More and more here.

Malmesbury is also famous for Elmer, the 11th century "Flying Monk"!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More about the Catholic Shakespeare

The National Catholic Register recently featured two on-line stories about the Portsmouth Institute Conference held in June this year. The subject was Shakespeare's Catholicism. (My husband and I had thought about attending the 2010 conference, all about Blessed John Henry Newman, but my father's health was too uncertain at the time. It was a good thing we did not book flights, hotel, and the conference because we would had to cancel everything, since he died during the week before the conference.)

The first article was titled "Shakespeare: Closet Catholic? The Portsmouth Abbey conference considers clues of ‘papist’ playwright theory."

The author references the work of Father Peter Milward, SJ:

Scholars like Jesuit Father Peter Milward, a professor of English Literature at Japan’s Sophia University for most of his priestly life, have labored for decades to penetrate Shakespeare’s cleverly disguised critique of the monarchy’s near-totalitarian effort to identify and suppress Catholic resistance.

Father Milward, who delivered the conference’s keynote address, contended there was enough evidence to establish that Shakespeare was a Catholic. Some scholars, however, merely proposed that his plays provided rich commentary on the religious controversies of his day.

The second article, "Shakespeare's Secret Faith: A literary sleuth unmasks looks at the Bard’s Catholicity", continued the emphasis on Father Milward:

Father Milward began to explore the complex religious controversies of Shakespeare’s day and suspected that the playwright employed rich themes and word play to move beyond the plays’ surface reality to the truth of things. In this way, the Bard could protect himself and his legacy from the crown’s aggressive persecution of Catholic “traitors” — known as “recusants.”
“When a country that was almost entirely Catholic is forced to take on a new religion in just 50 years, it gives people a bad conscience. They are forced to say that they believe what they don’t believe. Shakespeare wrote about that,” noted Father Milward.

The priest was recently in the United States to give a keynote address at the Portsmouth Institute’s “The Catholic Shakespeare,” a conference held at Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island that attracted British and American Shakespeare scholars.

More about the conference and the speakers here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Newman Renaissance

The National Catholic Register proclaims a Newman Renaissance in the USA, referring to Blessed John Henry Newman:

To the casual observer, there is little connection between a 19th-century convert from London named John Newman and the Catholic culture of 21st-century United States.

Yet, across the American landscape, the life of Newman, now Blessed Cardinal Newman, as of September 2010, has touched off a cultural fire that shows no signs of dying out.

This “Newman Renaissance” lighting up American art and education burns especially bright in the efforts of four organizations: Corpus Christi Watershed, the Cardinal Newman Society, the National Institute for Newman Studies and the Newman Connection.

Corpus Christi Watershed has worked with the Birmingham Oratory to produce a series of "documentary shorts providing online tours of the Oratory, including the Cardinal’s Room and Library as well as the parish church and its chapels."

My husband and I met at the St. Paul's Parish/Newman Center on the campus of Wichita State University--and we just recently attended a great fundraiser for the center--so we know the Newman renaissance on secular university campuses is essential. The Newman Connection is providing a social network presence on the web to assist those centers and share best practices.

The website of The National Institute for Newman Studies proclaims its raison d'etre:

In an effort to enhance and extend the reach of John Henry Newman's life, thought, and spirituality, a study and research institute has been developed to bring his teachings to the community of Newman scholars as well as to today's pluralistic and diverse society. Located in the heart of Pittsburgh's cultural and university center, The National Institute for Newman Studies serves as North America's definitive resource of information on John Henry Newman.

And finally, The Cardinal Newman Society is a controversial organization, and I think that is a good thing. It was founded in 1993:

The mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.

The Society seeks to fulfill its mission by assisting and supporting education that is faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church; producing and disseminating research and publications on developments and best practices in Catholic higher education; advising students, alumni, trustees, campus officials, faculty and others engaged in renewing and strengthening the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities and Church-affiliated ministries at non-Catholic colleges and universities; and studying and promoting the work of our patron, John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially as it relates to Catholic higher education and the unity of faith and reason.

At the end of the Register article, the writer Dan Lord asks,

The question still remaining to be answered is: Why is Cardinal Newman, as opposed to some other holy man or woman of the Church, surfacing as the new model for Catholics in America? Certainly he was known by his contemporaries as a lover and collector of books, as a brilliant writer, and as a man with a passion for higher education, and all of the Americans involved with the organizations that have been founded in his honor readily acknowledge their attraction to these facets of Newman’s life.

The answer to that question is found in Newman's search for Truth and his joy in finding Him.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Review: A Tudor Dynasty's Rise and Fall

Robert Hutchinson's House of Treason: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty tells the story of the Howard family. The synopsis from Orion Publishing certainly uses some salacious key words:

King-makers - Conspirators - Criminals - Nobles - Seducers

The Howard family - the Dukes of Norfolk - were the wealthiest and most powerful aristocrats in Tudor England, regarding themselves as the true power behind the throne. They were certainly extraordinarily influential, with two Howard women marrying Henry VIII - Anne Boleyn and the fifteen-year-old Catherine Howard. But in the treacherous world of the Tudor court no faction could afford to rest on its laurels. The Howards consolidated their power with an awesome web of schemes and conspiracies but even they could not always hold their enemies at bay. This was a family whose history is marked by treason, beheadings and incarceration - a dynasty whose pride and ambition secured only their downfall.
Sex, greed and treachery at the heart of a Tudor regime.

Isn't it interesting that the sanctity of Philip Howard isn't included in the promotional blurb? Hutchinson describes his journey from proud noble to humble Christian very effectively, but the publisher leaves that out?

King-makers - Conspirators - Criminals - Nobles - Seducers- Saints


Sex, greed, sacrificial holiness, and treachery at the heart of a Tudor regime.

Sex sells better than holiness, I guess.

As the synopsis accurately states, the Howard family was certainly one of the most important noble families in England, but Hutchinson aptly describes the difficulty of staying on the right side of any of the Tudor monarchs. The Howard family definitely started out at a great disadvantage, since they had fought for Richard III! The factions at the Tudor Court and the desire for power, influence, and wealth are the sources of the drama involved, especially during the reign of Henry VIII, as Thomas Howard struggled against first Wolsey and then Cromwell for years and then the Seymour family at the end of his life to influence the king and maintain his favor. Even after his first two great rivals had fallen, Howard and his son found themselves out of favor and sentenced to death under Henry VIII's elastic definition of treason. Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey was executed, but his father survived simply because Henry VIII died before signing the death warrant.

Surrey's son also ventures too near the throne, dealing with Mary of Scotland and threatening Elizabeth's shaky hold on power; he is also executed. In the next generation, Philip Howard endures imprisonment and death when he returns to the Catholic Church after hearing Edmund Campion speak. The next generation holds on, in spite of one Howard's suspected Catholicism, during Elizabeth I's reign and the Howard family is secure, for a time, when James VI of Scotland comes to the throne.

The book (I have the paperback edition) is wonderfully documented, with two sets of color plates, a family tree, a chronology, list of dramatis personae, list of the Howard family homes, notes, a bibliography and an excellent index.

Highly recommended for easy scholarship and readability.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grateful but Jealous

John Whitehead, on his Once I Was a Clever Boy blog, posted a great travelogue about his recent visit to London, describing the environs of St. Paul's. At the conclusion, he notes, "The actual distance travelled was slight but it took in a huge amount of historical interest. I definitely want to go back and explore more of the City of London, which I have to admit, is something I have hitherto failed to do."

I am very grateful to him for such a well-prepared, informative, and linked post--but I'm a little jealous too, because I wish I could be there!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Fall of Queen Jane Dudley

On July 19, 1553, the "Nine Days Queen" lost her throne. Mary Tudor had thwarted Northumberland's attempt to change the succession and insure the continuation of Edward VI's Calvinist Reformation in England. Although usually called Lady Jane Grey, I believe that since the young, militant Protestant had married Northumberland's younger son she should be known as queen by her married name.

Leanda de Lisle published a splendid study of the three Grey sisters and their respective claims on the throne of England--and what those claims cost them. The title is a little bit of a misnomer, as two of the three Grey sisters had no desire to be Queen of England at all, but I learned a lot from The Sisters Who Would be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor Tragedy and reviewed it favorably on

Along with her first book: "After Elizabeth" (and its very long subtitle), Leanda de Lisle has written this book, focused on the Grey sisters to explore the complex issues of succession in the Tudor Dynasty. After all, so many of Henry VIII's decisions and actions were all directed at ensuring orderly succession after his death. When the only surviving child of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon was a daughter, he feared rebellion and civil war if Mary succeeded him. Therefore, he turned heaven and earth upside down to marry Anne Boleyn, young and promising a son, separating England from the universal Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope, risking war with the Holy Roman Empire, and incurring excommunication. Once he had his son (having to get rid of another disappointing wife), he then violated the principle of primogeniture and settled the succession, with Parliament's consent on the heirs of, not his eldest sister, Margaret, but his favorite sister Mary: the Greys, who would follow his son and daughters if they died without issue.

Ironically, this left only women to succeed Edward VI if he died without issue: his sisters Mary and Elizabeth and their relatives Frances, Jane, Katherine and Mary.

Then both Edward VI and Elizabeth I contravened Henry's will: Edward by naming Jane Grey his heir and Elizabeth by naming Mary, Queen of Scots as hers. (Mary I regretted the inevitability of Elizabeth's succession but did not try to thwart it.) Edward made his decision based on religious principle, since Jane was an Evangelical like him. Elizabeth made her decision based on primogeniture and Mary's royal person, since Mary, Queen of Scots, after all, was a Catholic--and many in her court dreaded another queen and a Catholic on the throne.

Leanda de Lisle traces this sometimes confusing web of succession, with the plots of attempted coups and subterfuges of secret marriages as clearly as possible (with name changes and so many Mary's and Catherine's). She corrects many erroneous interpretations (of Lady Jane Grey as victim or of her mother Frances as an evil woman, etc) effectively, and demonstrates Elizabeth I's cruelty to Katherine and Mary, imprisoning and separating them from their well-beloved husbands and Katherine from one of her sons. The book is very well illustrated too, with excellent family trees for the Tudors and the Greys, et al. One irony of the family trees in my copy was that Jane's name was nearly always in the gutter of the spread!

Mary Tudor, Renaissance Queen, told the story of Lady Jane Dudley and Mary Tudor in daily installments last year. I've linked the post about Jane's fall and Mary's triumph.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jane Austen and Her "History of England"

Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817. (Her memorial gravestone at Winchester Cathedral is pictured at left.) As a young girl, she wrote The History of England
from the reign of Henry the 4th to the death of Charles the 1st
. She indicated that it was "By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian" and "N.B. There will be very few Dates in this History." The date of this work is "Saturday Nov: 26th. 1791".

She deals with the Tudors in several swift, opinionated paragraphs (emphasis, for no real reason but whimsy, added):

Henry the 8th
It would be an affront to my Readers were I to suppose that they were not as well acquainted with the particulars of this King's reign as I am myself. It will therefore be saving them the task of reading again what they have read before, & myself the trouble of writing what I do not perfectly recollect, by giving only a slight sketch of the principal Events which marked his reign. Among these may be ranked Cardinal Wolsey's telling the father Abbot of Leicester Abbey that "he was come to lay his bones among them," the reformation in Religion, & the King's riding through the streets of London with Anna Bullen. It is however but Justice, & my Duty to declare that this amiable Woman was entirely innocent of the Crimes with which she was accused, of which her Beauty, her Elegance, & her Sprightliness were sufficient proofs, not to mention her solemn protestations of Innocence, the weakness of the Charges against her, & the King's Character, all of which add some confirmation, tho' perhaps but slight ones when in comparison with those before alledged in her favour. Tho' I do not profess giving many dates, yet as I think it proper to give some & shall of course make choice of those which it is most necessary for the Reader to know, I think it right to inform him that her letter to the King was dated on the 6th of May. The Crimes & Cruelties of this Prince, were too numerous to be mentioned, (as this history I trust has fully shewn;) & nothing can be said in his vindication, but that his abolishing Religious Houses & leaving them to the ruinous depredations of time has been of infinite use to the landscape of England in general, which probably was a principal motive for his doing it, since otherwise why should a Man who was of no Religion himself be at so much trouble to abolish one which had for ages been established in the Kingdom. His Majesty's 5th wife was the Duke of Norfolk's Neice who, tho' universally acquitted of the crimes for which she was beheaded, has been by many people supposed to have led an abandoned life before her Marriage — Of this however I have many doubts, since she was a relation of that noble Duke of Norfolk who was so warm in the Queen of Scotland's cause, & who at last fell a victim to it. The King's last wife contrived to survive him, but with difficulty effected it. He was succeeded by his only son Edward.

Edward the 6th
As this prince was only nine years old at the time of his Father's death, he was considered by many people as too young to govern, & the late King happening to be of the same opinion, his mother's Brother the Duke of Somerset was chosen Protector of the realm during his minority. This Man was on the whole of a very amiable Character, & is somewhat of a favourite with me, tho' I would by no means pretend to affirm that he was equal to those first of Men Robert Earl of Essex, Delamere, or Gilpin. He was beheaded, of which he might with reason have been proud, had he known that such was the death of Mary Queen of Scotland; but as it was impossible that he should be conscious of what had never happened, it does not appear that he felt particularly delighted with the manner of it. After his decease the Duke of Northumberland had the care of the King & the Kingdom, & performed his trust of both so well that the King died & the Kingdom was left to his daughter in law the Lady Jane Grey, who has been already mentioned as reading Greek. Whether she really understood that language or whether such a study proceeded only from an excess of vanity for which I beleive she was always rather remarkable, is uncertain. Whatever might be the cause, she preserved the same appearance of knowledge, & contempt of what was generally esteemed pleasure, during the whole of her Life, for she declared herself displeased with being appointed Queen, and while conducting to the scaffold, she wrote a sentence in latin & another in Greek on seeing the dead Body of her Husband accidentally passing that way.

This woman had the good luck of being advanced to the throne of England, inspite of the superior pretensions, Merit & Beauty of her Cousins Mary Queen of Scotland & Jane Grey. Nor can I pity the Kingdom for the misfortunes they experienced during her Reign, since they fully deserved them, for having allowed her to succeed her Brother — which was a double peice of folly, since they might have foreseen that as she died without Children, she would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth. Many were the people who fell martyrs to the protestant Religion during her reign; I suppose not fewer than a dozen. She married Philip King of Spain who in her Sister's reign for [sic] famous for building the Armadas. She died without issue, & then the dreadful moment came in which the destroyer of all comfort, the deceitful Betrayer of trust reposed in her, & the Murderess of her Cousin succeeded to the Throne. —

It was the peculiar misfortune of this Woman to have bad Ministers —— Since wicked as she herself was, she could not have committed such extensive Mischeif, had not those vile & abandoned Men connived at, & encouraged her in her Crimes. I know that it has by many people been asserted & beleived that Lord Burleigh, Sir Francis Walsingham, & the rest of those who filled the cheif Offices of State were deserving, experienced, & able Ministers. But oh! how blinded such Writers & such Readers must be to true Merit, to Merit despised, neglected & defamed, if they can persist in such opinions when they reflect that these Men, these boasted Men were such Scandals to their Country & their Sex as to allow & assist their Queen in confining for the space of nineteen Years, a Woman who if the claims of Relationship & Merit were of no avail, yet as a Queen & as one who condescended to place confidence in her, had every reason to expect Assistance & protection; and at length in allowing Elizabeth to bring this amiable Woman to an untimely, unmerited, and scandalous Death. Can any one if he reflects but for a moment on this blot, this ever-lasting blot upon their Understanding & their Character, allow any praise to Lord Burleigh or Sir Francis Walsingham? Oh! what must this bewitching Princess whose only freind was then the Duke of Norfolk, and whose only ones are now Mr Whitaker, Mrs Lefroy, Mrs Knight & myself, who was abandoned by her Son, confined by her Cousin, abused, reproached & vilified by all, what must not her most noble mind have suffered when informed that Elizabeth had given orders for her Death! Yet she bore it with a most unshaken fortitude, firm in her mind; Constant in her Religion; & prepared herself to meet the cruel fate to which she was doomed, with a magnanimity that could alone proceed from conscious Innocence. And yet could you Reader have beleived it possible that some hardened & zealous Protestants have even abused her for that Steadfastness in the Catholic Religion which reflected on her so much credit? But this is a striking proof of their narrow souls & prejudiced Judgements who accuse her. She was executed in the Great Hall at Fotheringay Castle (sacred Place!) on Wednesday the 8th of February — 1586 —— to the everlasting Reproach of Elizabeth, her Ministers, and of England in general. It may not be unnecessary before I entirely conclude my account of this ill-fated Queen, to observe that she had been accused of several crimes during the time of her reigning in Scotland, of which I now most seriously do assure my Reader that she was entirely innocent; having never been guilty of anything more than Imprudencies into which she was betrayed by the openness of her Heart, her Youth, & her Education. Having I trust by this assurance entirely done away every Suspicion & every doubt which might have arisen in the Reader's mind, from what other Historians have written of her, I shall proceed to mention the remaining Events that marked Elizabeth's reign. It was about this time that Sir Francis Drake the first English Navigator who sailed round the World, lived, to be the ornament of his Country & his profession. Yet great as he was, & justly celebrated as a Sailor, I cannot help foreseeing that he will be equalled in this or the next Century by one who tho' now but young, already promises to answer all the ardent & sanguine expectations of his Relations & Freinds, amongst whom I may class the amiable Lady to whom this work is dedicated, & my no less amiable Self.

Though of a different profession, and shining in a different sphere of Life, yet equally conspicuous in the Character of an Earl, as Drake was in that of a Sailor, was Robert Devereux Lord Essex. This unfortunate young Man was not unlike in Character to that equally unfortunate one Frederic Delamere. The simile may be carried still farther, & Elizabeth the torment of Essex may be compared to the Emmeline of Delamere. It would be endless to recount the misfortunes of this noble & gallant Earl. It is sufficient to say that he was beheaded on the 25th of Feb:ry, after having been Lord Leuitenant of Ireland, after having clapped his hand on his Sword, and after performing many other services to his Country. Elizabeth did not long survive his loss, & died so miserable that were it not an injury to the memory of Mary I should pity her.

Obviously, Mary, Queen of Scots was the real heroine of this section of the history! Which is of course, most of it because she discusses James I and Charles I but briefly, and without many dates.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Series Post #2: Winchester and St. Swithun

The Winchester Cathedral website includes the image at the left, a statue representing Ecclesia, the Church: "Thought to represent Ecclesia (the Church), this exquisite female statue, with its elegant flowing garments, is a superb example of English 13th-century sculpture. It was dug up from the Cathedral grounds headless, armless and weather beaten, and now graces the Retrochoir at the far end of the Cathedral. " --It obviously would have been destroyed at some point during the English Reformation. After Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell ordered the destruction of shrines, Edward VI's Protector and Parliament ordered a more complete destruction of saints' images and statues, and those two iconoclastic efforts are evident in Winchester Cathedral, even though many beautiful vestiges of the great medieval abbey church remain or have been restored.

Winchester's fame on the pilgrimage trail was the Shrine of St. Swithun. The website describes the Medieval and Reformation periods thusly:

A thriving medieval Cathedral
The Norman Cathedral flourished.
William Rufus, William the Conqueror’s son, was buried here in 1100.

You can still see the remains of its great monastery, St Swithun’s Priory. These include the 14th-century Pilgrims’ Hall where visitors stayed, and the site of the monks’ dormitory, now a tranquil garden.

Sumptuous works of art were commissioned. A glorious new font celebrating the work of St Nicholas was installed. In the 12th century, a magnificent illuminated Bible was made for the monks to use in their daily worship. You can still see the Winchester Bible in the Cathedral Library.

In the centuries that followed, wealthy and powerful bishops put their stamp on the Norman cathedral. They remodelled it with soaring gothic arches the 14th century, making it even more ornate in the 15th and 16th centuries.

They also commissioned their own chapels, where priests would say daily masses over their tombs to speed their souls into heaven. These fine chantry chapels remain one of the great glories of our Cathedral.

A new Church of England
The dissolution of England’s monasteries during the 1530s under Henry VIII, in his dispute with the Catholic church of Rome, was a catastrophic upheaval. All were swept away. A few, including Winchester, were re-founded as cathedrals.

After nearly 600 years, Winchester’s great Benedictine monastery, St Swithun’s Priory, had come to an end. The shrine of its patron saint was ransacked under cover of darkness, and its cloister demolished.

In the 1550s, Roman Catholicism was briefly revived by Henry’s daughter Mary Tudor
, who married her Spanish husband in the Cathedral. But from then on, the reformed Church of England held sway.

It brought with it a new prayer book written in English so all could understand, and a new pattern of worship based on Mattins, Holy Communion and Evensong. These great Anglican services still form the basis of our worship in today.

I think those paragraphs contain an interesting mixture of regret and triumph; sorrow at the material losses of the dissolution of the monasteries and the shrine; yet confidence that something better developed. "Ransacked under the cover of darkness": sounds sneaky and reflects contemporary concern that the people would not be happy with the changes taking place. "A new prayer book written in English so all could understand". Only if all understand English--rather "insular" I think. And what does everyone understand: the words or the mystery of faith? It's difficult to write history in a few short paragraphs, however, I know. Tomorrow's post, remembering Jane Austen (buried in Winchester Cathedral) will provide another example of that difficulty--with a very different solution!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"1536 and All That"

Reading 1536: The Year that Changed Henry VIII was rather frustrating. Suzannah Lipscomb organizes the book with a repetitive structure: each part and each chapter followed a pattern of summary, exposition, summary. "Here is what I am going to tell you; I'm telling you now; This is what I told you." I tired of the repetition and the feeling of deja vu.

In her introduction she discusses her concern about the word "change" and locating the cause of the change in one year. As I read the book I could see why--at the same time she argues that Henry VIII changed and that the events of 1536 made him change, she keeps describing how much he stayed the same and how these changes had been building since early in his reign. He wanted his way before 1536 and he wanted his way after 1536. What changed was the lengths to which Henry would go to get his way--but that potential had been present before 1536 as Thomas More famously warned Thomas Cromwell.

He believed in the divine right of kings before 1536; with Cromwell's help he was able to bolster that belief by taking the title of Supreme Head and Governor of the Church in England and proclaiming England an Empire (himself its Emperor)--and those actions date to 1534. Probably more crucial than anything that happened in 1536 was his reading of Tyndale's argument in The Obedience of a Christian Man that the King and not the Pope should control the church in his own territory. Anne Boleyn gave him that book well before 1536.

He used his power to execute those who threatened his divine supremacy before 1536; he continued to do so after 1536: what changed was the legality of the methods he used as he relied upon Acts of Attainder and a rather adaptable definition of treason, but even those tendencies were present in the execution of his father's former counselors and the Earl of Buckingham and the executions of Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent and her confessors in 1534. The pattern was already there.

He was destined for a career in the Church before his elder brother Arthur died and he regarded himself as a devout Catholic and a good hand with theology before 1536--reading the Bible and determining the Pope had to have been wrong to grant the dispensation so he could marry Catherine of Aragon; he continued this interest in theology as the Supreme Head and Governor of the Church in England with the proclamations he made about religious doctrine, church discipline, and worship. He thought he was a Catholic before 1536 and he continued to after 1536, but he had been dissenting from Catholic teaching for a long time.

It's tempting to look at 1536 and the events of those twelve months (the fall at the tournament; the written attack by Reginald Pole; Anne Boleyn's miscarriage, arrest, trial, and execution; the death of Henry Fitzroy, and the Pilgrimage of Grace) as a source for a radical change in behavior. I think rather that there was a development of Henry's characteristic behavior dating from 1534, the beginning of his "reign of terror" against anyone who opposed him. That's when the Act of Supremacy and the Act of Succession, crucial to determining who was for and who was against Henry, were passed. Elizabeth Barton was attainted and executed in 1534. Bishop Fisher and Thomas More were imprisoned in 1534. The Treasons Act was passed in 1534. If any year changed Henry VIII, it was 1534--or rather, Henry VIII changed most radically that year and the behaviors he'd developed continued to determine his reaction to opposition and difficulty.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The End of a Rebellion

James Scott, the First Duke of Monmouth, Charles II's favorite illegitimate son, was executed on July 15, 1685. He had been captured after his defeat at the Battle of Sedgmoor, as he was leading the first of many Stuart attempts to take the throne after Charles II died. (Only one succeeded, of course: William of Orange's invasion on November 5, 1688.)

He had been the prime candidate for succession to the throne for the Whigs in the Exclusionist Crisis of 1679. After the fraud of the Popish Plot had been discovered, the real Rye House Plot of 1683 to assassinate both Charles II and James, the Duke of York forced Monmouth to leave England. When his father died, Monmouth invaded to wrest the crown from Catholic James II, landing at Lyme Regis and proclaiming himself "James II". After his capture, he was Attainted a traitor by Parliament and set for execution.

Unfortunately, executioners in England weren't what they had been. The Tudor monarchs had kept them in good practice and even knew where to get specialists for certain jobs (e.g., the swordsman from Calais for Anne Boleyn)--although there had been some shortages at times of practiced axemen because of issues of supply and demand (e.g., the inept execution of Blessed Margaret Pole at the Tower when there was so much to do in the north of England in the aftermath of the Pilgrimage of Grace). Jack Ketch was singularly inept and might have taken as many as EIGHT blows to sever Monmouth's head--the official count is FIVE. Poor Monmouth suffered horribly and his cries of agony were terrifying. Guards had to protect Ketch after the execution as the crowds were so enraged. And this after Monmouth had paid him in gold to do a good job, reminding him of the very bad job he'd done on Lord Russell after the Rye House Plot. Perhaps that reminder made him nervous.

Ketch was replaced as executioner for a time but recalled when his successor was hanged. (Gallows humor, anyone?)

James Scott was married, but following his father's example, was not faithful to his wife. Anne Scott, a wealthy Scottish heiress and he were married in 1663 and had eight children, four of whom survived infancy. His widow remarried: Charles Cornwallis, 3rd Baron Cornwallis. Monmouth also had children with his mistress, Eleanor Needham. In John Dryden's satiric and allegorical poem Absalom and Achitophel, Monmouth is Absalom, Charles II is King David, and Lord Shaftesbury, leader of the Exclusionist Whigs, is Achitophel.

Another important aspect of this story is that James II's army had many Roman Catholic officers. As he began his efforts to extend not just toleration but freedom of religion in England through his Declaration of Indulgence, James referenced the loyalty of these Catholic soldiers. He argued that their service should not be rewarded by the Test Act which would require their loss of rank and pay.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Oxford Movement and Anglican Patrimony

Apropos of the anniversary of the beginning of the Oxford Movement, Monsignor Andrew Burnham recently discussed the influence of that Movement on the Anglican Patrimony of prayer and worship. The New Liturgical Movement blog documents his presentation at the Anglican Use Conference in Texas.

He begins by mentioning the Oxford Movement:

The vigorous discussion of ‘Anglican Patrimony’, a phrase used by Pope Benedict XVI in Anglicanorum cœtibus, has established two things for sure. One is that it is not only a liturgical tradition which former Anglicans bring into the Catholic Church: there is a sense in which ‘patrimony’ is far wider than that, and includes a whole cultural mindset and experience which is no less real for being hard to define. The other thing that the discussion has established is that, whatever it is, ‘Anglican Patrimony’ certainly does include a liturgical tradition, a tradition which is powerfully Benedictine, in its continued celebration of the public office, often within buildings that were abbeys and priories. It is also a tradition which, somewhat self-consciously, has adopted the Eucharist as its mainstay. This we all owe to the Oxford Fathers as much as to the Twentieth Century Liturgical Movement, which has influenced us all.

And toward the end he also invokes the Oxford Movement:

As you will see, these three issues – the Sarum Use, the Anglican and English Missals, the contemporary versions of Anglican liturgy – take us back into the early history of the Oxford Movement. There were strong arguments then for restoring the Sarum Use. There were strong arguments then for aligning faith and practice with the contemporary Catholic Church. There were strong arguments then too for attending loyally to the agreed Anglican texts and for seeking to revise them to strengthen their ability to convey Catholic teaching. The working party began work with the last two of these three issues dominant in the minds of its English members.

The Oxford Movement's emphasis on the universal catholic church, of which they thought the Church of England was a branch, the via media led them to seek for those apostolic connections. Their study of the Fathers of the Church led Newman and others to join the Catholic Church while those who remained developed a higher ritualistic celebration of the Paschal Mystery, as I've discussed before, here and here for example.

More coverage of the Anglican Use Conference here. Image: photo taken inside Dorchester Abbey, renovated by a Tractarian/Ritualist Anglo-Catholic vicar in the 19th century.

July 14, 1833: The Beginning of the Oxford Movement

John Henry Newman always dated the beginning of the Oxford Movement from John Keble's sermon in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin from this date. He preached on the "National Apostacy" urging a renewal of the Church of England. Keble's sermon, focused on the Parliamentary proposal to suppress ten bishoprics in Ireland, expressed the concern that the secular Government had too much control over the Church of England. He was particularly concerned that these Anglican bishops in Catholic Ireland were being treated as mere government officials.

As Keble proclaimed, "Under the guise of charity and tolerance we are come almost to this pass, that no difference, in matters of faith, is to disqualify for our approbation and confidence, whether in public or domestic life. . . . The point really to be considered is, whether, according to the coolest estimate, the fashionable liberality of the generation be not ascribable, in a great measure, to the same tempter which led the Jews voluntarily to set about degrading themselves to a level with the idolatrous Gentiles? And, if it be true anywhere, that such enactments are forced on the Legislature by public opinion, is APOSTASY too hard a word to describe the temper of that nation?"

Keble's outcry inspired first the Hadleigh Conference and then the Tracts for the Times, written by Keble, John Henry Newman, E.B. Pusey of Christ Church, Richard Hurrell Froud, and others. The Tracts were then supplemented, or perhaps even surpassed, by Newman's popular sermons from the pulpit at St. Mary the Virgin, sermons so popular that even the University's rescheduling of the evening meal could not dissuade students from attending. I say that the sermons may have surpassed the Tracts because they presented the content of Christian doctrine so persuasively that they were a demonstrated argument for the apostolic authority of the Church of England. Excerpts from Keble's National Apostasy sermon, the Tracts, Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons, and other works by members of the Oxford Movement are presented in a volume by Canterbury Press, Firmly I Believe: An Oxford Movement Reader. Ignatius Press offers a one volume collection of Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons.

Remember that Newman had just been on that trip to Italy and recovered from serious illness: he thought he had been saved by God for some work to do in England--and here it was, fulfilling his desire to serve:

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that
Thou Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

(The picture above is of the pulpit in St. Mary the Virgin, taken on a visit there several years ago.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Catholic Writers Guild Conference

The Catholic Writers Guild Conference is just a few weeks away! I'll be attending and presenting, participating in a rapid fire reading, and signing my book at the Catholic Writers Guild booth:

Catholic Writers to Convene August Conference in Valley Forge

Valley Forge, PA--The third annual Catholic Writers’ Conference LIVE will take place August 3-5, 2011, at the Scanticon Hotel Valley Forge in King of Prussia, PA. Sponsored by the Catholic Writer’s Guild (CWG) and the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN), it will be held in conjunction with CMN’s annual retailer trade show. The Catholic Writers Conference LIVE provides Catholic authors with a prime opportunity to meet and share their faith with editors, publishers, fellow writers, and bookstore owners from across the globe. CWG President Ann Margaret Lewis said this year's conference will, “focus on marketing and selling one’s written work.”

Highlights of the conference include:
• Over 30 sessions taught by professionals in writing, marketing, blogging and publishing
• Pitch Sessions where writers may meet privately with representatives from four publishers
• One-on-one coaching sessions. For $35 an author can have a 30 minute private consultation with a specialist who will review their manuscript and guide them toward publication.
• Rapid-fire readings. Published authors will each have five minutes to read a selection from one of their books. A mass book sale and signing will follow.

Lewis says the conference comes at a modest cost. “Registration for the jam packed three days is only $90 for CWG members or $100 for non-members. And we have a special price of $42 for students. Our conference allows you to connect personally with Catholic publishers and retailers, to show your work, learn the craft and network.”

The Catholic Writers Guild, a religious non-profit organization, sponsors both this live conference in August and an online conference in February to further its mission of promoting Catholic literature. “Our conferences are totally focused on encouraging faithful Catholics to share genuine Catholic culture and faith in their writing no matter what genre,” says Lewis. “These events are integral to our mission of ‘creating a rebirth of Catholic arts and letters.” More information here.

The Last Stuart Pretender Dies

Henry Benedict Stuart, second son of the Old Pretender, James III (James Francis Edward Stuart) and Maria Klementyna Sobieska, died on July 13, 1807. He 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.

In 1803, the Cardinal Duke of York returned to Frascati and became Dean of the College of Cardinals. 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. The Cardinal, his mother, his father, and his brother are all buried in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. (There is a separate memorial for Maria Klementyna Sobieska.) The inscription reads:


(To James III, son of King James II of Great Britain, to Charles Edward and to Henry, Dean of the Cardinal Fathers, sons of James III, the last of the Royal House of Stuart. 1819). More about the monument here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's Sixth Wife

On July 12, 1543, Henry VIII married for the sixth and last time--and his bride was Catherine Parr. This was her third of four marriages, as she married Thomas Seymour after Henry's death in 1547. She had previously been married to Edward Borough and John Neville, Lord Latimer. While married to John Neville she was held hostage in Yorkshire during the Pilgrimage of Grace. His death left her a wealthy widow. Henry VIII noticed her in the household of his daughter Mary. Although she was interested in wedding Thomas Seymour, she thought it prudent to accept the king's proposal!

As Queen Consort of England and Ireland after her marriage to Henry, she served as Regent during his 1544 campaign in France. She certainly helped heal the relationships between Henry and his two daughters, and both of them admired her. To Elizabeth, she was a motherly figure, while to Mary, close to her in age, she was a friend. Henry relied on her for the education of his son and heir.

Catherine had definite evangelical religious leanings. Her book Lamentations of a Sinner reflects her belief in justification by faith alone--it was written after Henry VIII's death. Stephen Gardiner, the Bishop of Winchester attempted to highlight her heretical beliefs to Henry VIII in 1546, almost convincing the king to have her arrested. She convinced him that she discussed religious matters only to distract him from his pain and worries--which might indicate a certain reservation in her dedication to evangelicalism as she was not willing to claim those beliefs and suffer for them. But it was a close call: she might have gone the way of Anne Askew, whom Sir Thomas Wriothesley and Sir Richard Rich tortured in the Tower.

She did not long survive Henry; after his death she married Thomas Seymour, became pregnant, and then died in childbirth. Their marital union was marred by his infatuation with the Princess Elizabeth, whom she had so nurtured and loved.

Linda Porter has written a new biography, due out in paperback this December (which I'll wait for). St. Martin's Press provides an excerpt here.

More Franciscan Martyrs of the Recusant And Popish Plot Era

The blesseds honored on the Franciscan calendar today are:

Blessed Arthur (Francis) Bell (1590 – 1643): Arthur Bell was born at Temple Broughton in Worcestershire on 13th August 1590 and brought up in a Catholic family. After beginning his education at his mother Dorothy's knee, he was sent for its continuation to his maternal uncle, a gentleman in Suffolk. At the age of 24 he went to Saint Omer to study with the Jesuits who then sent him on to Valladolid in Spain. There he was ordained a priest on 14th April 1618.
He discovered the Franciscans through a friend from Oxford who had joined the friars. Inspired by his life of penitence and simplicity, Arthur sought entry to the Franciscans and on 9th August 1618 was vested with the Franciscan habit, given the name Francis and sent to the newly erected College of St. Bonaventure in Douai to join his compatriots. There he became Guardian and later a Provincial Definitor. In 1632 he became Minister Provincial and attended the Toledo General Chapter in 1633, where the German and Belgian Provinces, including the newly restored Province of England, passed the strict General Constitutions that would govern them until the late 19th Century.
He returned to England in 1634 and spent nine years working to consolidate the presence of the friars and sustain the faith of his fellow Catholics. He was captured on 7th November 1643 in Hertford. He was tried before Parliament in a trial that lasted from 22nd November to the 8th December. Condemned, he was imprisoned in Newgate prison from where he was taken for execution at Tyburn just three days later. The serenity with which Arthur faced his death convinced his executioner to abjure his Anglicanism and reconcile to the Catholic Church.
Arthur Bell was beatified along with 129 other martyrs of England and Wales on 22nd November 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

Blessed John (Martin) Woodcock (1603 – 1646): John Woodcock was born to a “Church Papist” Anglican Father in 1603 at Woodcock Hall in Lancashire. He was sent to Saint Omer to study with the Jesuits there and after finishing his humanities studies he was sent to Rome to complete his theological formation. There he no doubt met the Irish Franciscans who took over at the College of St. Isidore in the same year. He asked to enter the Capuchins but was dismissed from their novitiate after a few months, perhaps because of precarious health. He wandered around Europe aimlessly for three years until he arrived in Douai. There his desire to be a Franciscan was realised when he entered the novitiate of the Friars Minor in 1631. He was given the name Martin of St. Felix and made great progress both in his studies and in sanctity. He was ordained a priest just four years later in 1635. he went to England on the mission but, after a few years, was forced to return on account of his ill health.
His medics sent him to the baths at Spa to recuperate and he there met the Observant General Commissary. He begged permission to return to England where his co-religionists were suffering renewed persecution in the Puritan-led Commonwealth. The Commissary gave him permission and John set out, landing in Newcastle in 1644. He went to his paternal home, but his father, scared for the safety of his son since many would have known that he had spent years abroad and studied for the priesthood, sent him away. The soldiers of the local garrison had, however, already been informed of his arrival and he was arrested immediately and imprisoned in Lancaster Castle, where he lived for two years. He was martyred on 7th August 1646, hanged at Bomber-Bridge while he exhorted the crowd to understand why he had been condemned. John Woodcock was beatified along with 129 other martyrs of England and Wales on 22nd November 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

Blessed Charles Meehan-Mahoney (1639 – 1679): Charles was born in Ireland between 1639 and 1640. It is not known when he joined the Irish Province but, like several other Irish friars of the time, he completed his formation with the English friars in their college at Douai. In 1679 he was aboard a ship bound for Ireland which was forced to put into port in Wales. He came ashore at precisely the wrong time, since England and Wales were engulfed in the anti-Catholic hysteria aroused by Titus Oates's invented Papist Plot. Charles searched for a passage to Ireland, but, suspected of being a Catholic and a priest, he was arrested and in June 1678, imprisoned in Denbigh gaol. He was tried in Spring 1679 and was condemned to be killed at Ruthin. The sentence was carried out on 12th August. He died saying: “Since God has pleased to give me the grace of martyrdom, blessed be his Holy Name.”
Charles Meehan was beatified along with 129 other martyrs of England and Wales on 22nd November 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

The Franciscan Martyrs of the Recusant and Popish Plot Eras

Often when we consider the priest-martyrs of the English Reformation era, we think of the Jesuits: Saints Edmund Campion, Robert Southwell, Henry Walpole, etc. But the Franciscans, who had been the major mendicant order in England before Henry VIII's break from Rome, also had a group of martyrs. This site provides detail about the two martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI:

Saint John (Godfrey) Jones 1530? - 1598: John Jones was born to a Catholic family in Clymag Faur in the county of Canaervon in Wales around the year 1530. In his youth Queen Mary Tudor accomplished the restoration of the Catholic Church after the brief reign of Edward VI had taken the Church of England into the Calvinist fold. Mary's accession had allowed the English friars who had fled into exile to Flanders and Scotland to return and in April 1555 the friary at Greenwich, in which Mary and Elizabeth had been baptised, was reopened. John joined the friary and took the name Godfrey Maurice, becoming known for his piety. At Mary's untimely death in 1558, however, her half-sister Elizabeth assumed the throne and it was not long before Catholics were once more persecuted in England. John Jones, although still a novice was forced to flee to France. The English Observant Franciscans fled to a friary in Pontoise where John was professed and trained. He was probably ordained a priest at Rheims, where there was another friary of the exiled English Province.

Towards 1590 John was sent to the friary of Ara Coeli in Rome, the General headquarters of the Order. From there he wished to return to England to take part in the mission to care for faithful Catholics, who risked their livelihoods and often their lives to sustain their missionary priests. The priests themselves were subject to the dreadful death of hanging, drawing and quartering as traitors for the simple fact of exercising their priesthood. John begged an audience with the Pope and Clement VIII embraced him, gave him a solemn blessing and told him: “Go, because I believe you to be a true son of Saint Francis. Pray to God for me and for his holy Church."

In England John Jones exercised an heroic hidden ministry, animating the Catholic faith among recusants and prudently seeking to reconcile those who had submitted to Elizabeth's Church of England. The existence of a missionary priest in England was one of frequent moves, constant vigilance and continued flight from Elizabeth's vigilant secret services, supervised by William Cecil and Francis Walsingham.

Despite his care, John Jones was caught in late 1595 or early 1596 by Richard Topcliffe, who nurtured a cruel hatred for the Catholic faith and was sanctioned by the Queen to maintain a private torture chamber in his house for the Catholic priests he apprehended. John Jones was accused of being a spy and sent to the notorious Clink prison, from which we derive the expression “being in clink”. There he languished for nigh on two years awaiting trial. In prison Jones continued his ministry and converted many, including Saint John Rigby, who was himself martyred two years after John Jones (on 21st June 1600). On 3rd July 1598 John Jones was finally brought to trial for having exercised his ministry as a Catholic priest in England. He was sentenced to hanging, drawing and quartering at Saint Thomas Watering, but was meanwhile imprisoned at Marshalsea prison. The Jesuit Henry Garnet recounts in a letter that on 12th July 1598 John was tied to a trellis and dragged to the place of his torment. He was held there for an hour before execution during which time Topcliffe harangued the crowd with his supposed crimes. Garnet recounts that the crowd was touched more by John's prayers than by the calumnies of his torturer and executioner. His remains were hung up on the road between Newington and Lambeth.

With John Wall and 38 other English martyrs, John Jones was beatified by Pius XI on 15th December 1929 and canonised by Paul VI on 25th October 1970.

Saint John (Joachim) Wall (1620 – 1679): John Wall was born in 1620, probably at Chingle Hall, near Preston in Lancashire. As a young man he entered the English College in Douai where he was taught by the famous Dr. Kellison. In 1641 he transferred to the English College in Rome, where he was ordained a priest in 1645. After a brief spell as a missionary in England he returned to Douai and asked to enter the Franciscan College of St. Bonaventure which John Gennings had erected there in his restoration of the Franciscan Province of England. In January 1651 he was accepted into the Order and took the name Joachim of St. Anne. Five friars from that friary had already been martyred.

John Joachim, although only 6 months professed was appointed Guardian of the college and later Master of Novices. In 1656 he assumed the false name Francis Webb and re-entered England as a missionary in Worcestershire. He remained there for 22 years ministering to the Catholics of the area. In 1678 he went to London to meet the Jesuit Claude de la Colombière, and the two spoke together of their desire for martyrdom. The context of this meeting was the renewed persecution that was unleashed in the wake of the murderous lies of Titus Oates and his invented Catholic plot against King Charles II.

Returning from this encounter, John was staying with a friend in Rushock Court. There he was mistaken for one of the so-called plotters, Francis Johnson, and arrested. When he refused to swear to the religious supremacy of the King, he was imprisoned for five months of dreadful suffering. At the end of this time, on 25th April 1679, he was condemned to death for high treason, since he was a priest who had been ordained abroad and returned to exercise his ministry in contravention to the Elizabethan anti-Catholic laws. He argued in vain that Charles II's amnesty of 1660 should have covered him, as indeed it should. Instead he was sent to London to be interrogated by Oates, Bedloe, Dugdale and Pranse. He was found innocent of the accusation of complicity in the “Papist Plot” but because of his priestly ordination and ministry, his death sentence was nevertheless confirmed and he was sent back to Worcester, where he was hanged on 22nd August 1679.

His fellow friar William Leveson, whose own brother Francis Leveson would himself be martyred at the age of 34 in 1680, looked after John Wall in his last days in prison. He recounted the condemnation and death of the martyr in a letter. John Wall's body was buried in the cemetery of the church of St. Oswald in Worcester, and his head returned to Douai, where it was venerated as a holy relic.

Along with John Jones and 38 other English martyrs John Wall was beatified by Pius XI on 15th December 1929 and canonised by Paul VI on 25th October 1970.

Note that St. John Wall had been able to work for 22 years in England before the Popish Plot's anti-Catholic hysteria. Worcestershire authorities had not been diligent about finding the Franciscan, or the Providence of God and his Guardian Angel had been protecting him--or a little of both. See the next post for details on the beati honored on this day.