Monday, October 31, 2011

"Anonymous"? Conviction vs. Evidence

There is a new Elizabethan era movie out that boasts a very interactive and active website.

Allan Massie writes in The Telegraph:

What do Shakespeare, Keats and Dickens have in common, apart from being great writers, masters of the English language? The answer is pretty obvious. None of them went to university; to some extent all three were self-educated. Ben Jonson said that Shakespeare had “small Latin and less Greek”, and likewise I don’t think Dickens and Keats, despite the latter’s "Ode to a Grecian Urn", had much of either.

What’s the difference between them? Nobody, I think, has ever suggested Keats didn’t write that ode and others, or that Dickens wasn’t the author of Bleak House and Great Expectations. But Shakespeare – ah Shakespeare – there’s a whole industry devoted to trying to prove that somebody else wrote his plays. So here we go again, with a movie from Roland Emmerich, entitled Anonymous, which hands the authorship to Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

James Shapiro writes in a New York Times editorial: "In dramatizing this conspiracy, Mr. Emmerich has made a film for our time, in which claims based on conviction are as valid as those based on hard evidence. Indeed, Mr. Emmerich has treated fact-based arguments and the authorities who make them with suspicion." He also goes on to lament the fact that Shakespeare's plays become nothing more than political propaganda, that they are reduced to tools for traitors and clues for conspiracy theorists. Evidently, the whole point of Oxford's ruse of having the actor Shakespeare take credit for his work is that he needs protection for his support of Essex!

The director of the movie, Roland Emmerich, does believe in the conspiracy Anonymous proposes and responds to a question about Shakespeare scholars' reactions to his film: "They will say it's all crap and I will defend myself as eloquently as I can," he laughs. "I'm no professor, but I cannot believe that somebody who had nearly no education could write like this."

So on the one hand, a playwright with "nearly no education" could not have written the plays, but on the other hand, a director with "nearly no education" in the Elizabeth era can make judgments about the authorship of Shakespeare's plays! If Emmerich can be an autodidact then so could Shakespeare. That's why I really like Shapiro's phrase describing Emmerich's presentation of Looney's theory: "claims based on conviction are as valid as those based on hard evidence". The Shakepeare Birthplace Trust has developed its own website to counter these claims.

I've scanned some reviews on-line and the movie does not seemed to be that well-received, except for the production qualities of scenery and costume. Elizabeth I, her chief counselors the Cecils, Ben Jonson, Oxford and Essex--everyone sounds crooked and unreal. Elizabeth is no virgin and everything is a plot: "All Art is Political."

I am still curious about how the film depicts the religious conflict in Elizabethan England; if and how Oxford and Jonson's flirtations with Catholicism are dramatized. I'll be interested to read Steven D. Greydanus' review of the film, because he will be attuned to that aspect.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Shrines: St. Paul's Cathedral in London

As this timeline from the Cathedral website shows, St. Paul's has been an important part of English history since the 7th century. Christopher Wren's cathedral is the "fifth cathedral to have stood on the site since 604, and was built between 1675 and 1710, after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. This was the first cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope and the Crown took control of the Church's life", according to the website. That's a rather remarkable fact, that the Wren Cathedral was the first built after the English Reformation--almost 150 years after the dividing of England from the universal Catholic Church.

Old St Paul's was a medieval pilgrimage site because of the relics of St. Earconwald, Bishop of London in the 7th century. His relics and shrine were destroyed during the English Reformation, although there is a Chapel to St. Earconwald and St. Ethelberga (his sister), which features the third version of William Holman Hunt's Light of the World painting.

Now the shrines visited are the tombs of the Duke of Wellington, of Admiral Lord Nelson, and the great funeral effigy of John Donne.

St. Paul's is, of course, dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle and the Old Cathedral, which was destroyed during the Fire of London, once featured St. Paul's Cross, site of preaching and other public demonstrations. Reformers and Catholics preached at St. Paul's Cross during the Tudor era. The Puritans destroyed the cross and pulpit in 1643.

As a follow-up to my post earlier this week about the Occupy Wall Street/London encampment forcing the closure of St. Paul's, comes this news from The Guardian:

The canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, has resigned in protest at plans to forcibly remove protesters from its steps, saying he could not support the possibility of "violence in the name of the church".

Speculation grew in the last 24 hours that Fraser, a leading leftwing voice in the Church of England, would resign because he could not sanction the use of police or bailiffs against the hundreds of activists who have set up camp in the grounds of the cathedral in the past fortnight.

Just after 9am on Thursday, Fraser tweeted: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have handed in my notice at St Paul's Cathedral."

In a statement to the Guardian, Fraser, who was appointed canon in May 2009, confirmed his resignation, saying: "I resigned because I believe that the chapter has set on a course of action that could mean there will be violence in the name of the church."

He is expected to take part in a service at St Paul's on Friday afternoon, the first since the cathedral closed its doors a week ago for health and safety reasons.

Check the website if you're in London today--St. Paul's may be open after all!

For Reformation Sunday: Getting the Reformation Wrong

Subtitle: Correcting Some Misunderstandings, by James R. Payton, Jr. (purchased by the reviewer)

I am not among the targeted, intended audience for this book, for Professor Payton is writing to clear up misunderstandings among Protestants of their own history. Anglo-Catholics are also exempted, because he does not discuss the English Reformation except for a brief mention of Bucer in England during Edward VI's reign. Surprisingly, he does not include the Reformation in Scotland either, with John Knox and the Presbyterian Kirk. Today, many Protestant churches are celebrating Reformation Sunday or the Festival of the Reformation as an opportunity to look back on their inspiration. In his book, James R. Payton, Jr. recalls them to understand more of their history. He is Professor and Chair of History at Redeemer University College in Ontario.

Table of Contents:

1. The Medieval Call for Reform
2. The Renaissance: Friend or Foe?
3. Carried Along by Misunderstandings
4. Conflict Among the Reformers
5. What the Reformers meant by Sola Fide
6. What the Reformers meant by Sola Scriptura
7. How the Anabaptists Fit In
8. Reformation in Rome
9. Changing Direction: From the Reformation to Protestant Scholasticism
10. Was the Reformation a Success?
11. Is the Reformation a Norm?
12. The Reformation as Triumph and Tragedy
Name Index
Subject Index

According to the IVP website for the book:

Getting the Reformation wrong is a common problem. Most students of history know that Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the Wittenberg Church door and that John Calvin penned the Institutes of the Christian Religion. However, the Reformation did not unfold in the straightforward, monolithic fashion some may think. It was, in fact, quite a messy affair.
Using the most current Reformation scholarship, James R. Payton exposes, challenges and corrects some common misrepresentations of the Reformation. Getting the Reformation Wrong:
~places the Reformation in the context of medieval and Renaissance reform efforts
~analyzes conflicts among the Reformers
~corrects common misunderstandings of what the Reformers meant by sola fide and sola Scriptura
~examines how the Anabaptist movement fits in with the magisterial Reformation
~critiques the post-Reformational move to Protestant Scholasticism
~explores how the fresh perspective on the Reformation could make a difference in today's churches

Here is my review:

As I read Getting the Reformation Wrong: Correcting Some Misunderstandings by James R. Payton Jr. I kept thinking of Blessed John Henry Newman’s quotation from the Introduction to his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.” It is important to note that Blessed Newman does not say “To be deep in history is to become a Catholic.” Nevertheless, he presents an historical and doctrinal argument in the rest of the text of that volume that led him to become a Catholic. I don’t know how an Evangelical Protestant would or will respond to Payton’s argument, since I am a Catholic, but he certainly goes deep enough in history to perhaps unsettle some certainties he or she might hold. As I read his examination of some aspects of Reformation history, I began to think he did not go deep enough.

Payton’s argument boils down to: most Protestants today don’t know their history*; they might celebrate Reformation Sunday but they are repeating axiomatic myths and legends when they look back at the sixteenth century. Sometimes they don’t understand the Reformation founders’ teaching on the most basic elements of Lutheran or Reformed doctrine, like Sola Fide or Sola Scriptura. They have certainly forgotten about the divisions and arguments that from the sixteenth century on have led to 26,000 different Protestant communities all teaching the same Gospel. They might be getting the Reformation wrong also because they don’t understand the historical context or the effects of the Renaissance. He wants these readers to understand the complexity of Reformation history and yet remain secure in their Protestant, Lutheran or Reformed, beliefs.

Those readers might be disappointed, for example, to read how the Catholic Reformation and Counter-Reformation regained much of the territory gained by the Reformation. The Jesuits and other reform movements in the Catholic Church provided an apologetic and evangelistic method and unity that the Protestants could not match, as Payton admits. When Payton tallies the successes and failures of the reformers in the sixteenth century, the Jesuits are the only group that is successful. Although he accounts Martin Luther’s efforts to spread his doctrine of Sola Fide a success, all the other Reformers failed, according to their own standards. Payton recounts Desiderius Erasmus’ response to Martin Bucer who asked him why he had not left the Catholic Church since the Reformation movement’s method aligned so well with his humanist studies; Erasmus replied that he saw no greater holiness among the new Protestants than he saw among the Catholics—there was certainly no reason for him to leave the church of his youth. Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, and Bucer all failed to achieve the reform goals they set, while Zwingli and Oecolampadius died before they could achieve their goals—only the Catholics succeeded. The Jesuits won back many territories, especially in Eastern Europe, and the Popes successfully reformed morality in Rome. Payton goes pretty deep here and what he uncovers could be pretty upsetting to those who haven’t studied Church history. [Eastern European history is another area of Payton's research interests, according to his profile at Redeemer.]

Those readers would also be surprised to find out that the Reformers of the sixteenth century all revered and referenced the Fathers of the Church, the early successors of the Apostles. As Payton laments, Protestant scholars have neglected that heritage of the early Church—the Fathers, the Councils and the Creeds. Payton demonstrates that Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Bucer, and Calvin all cited the Fathers, Councils and Creeds—without ever citing, except in the case of the early Church Councils and Creeds defining Trinitarian and Christological doctrines, what the Reformers found so important in the Fathers. Payton also does not address those doctrines and disciplines of the early Church that the Reformers rejected and Protestants reject today that the Fathers teach: the Sacraments, the Sacramental Priesthood, the Episcopate, intercession of the saints in heaven, Salvation, grace and merit, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role—Payton does not go deep enough.

The other book I thought of as I read Getting the Reformation Wrong was Louis Bouyer’s classic The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism (1956). One thing that Payton never sufficiently addresses is Luther’s scholastic background and his authority, which is based on his academic achievement as a scholastic. Payton starts by setting up a dichotomy between late Medieval Catholic scholasticism (never really identifying the issue as nominalist scholasticism), which he identifies as decadent and ridiculous, and the Northern Renaissance Humanism that many other Reformers adopted, led by Erasmus, which he identifies as scriptural and based on Christian antiquity. Luther does not fit neatly into this scheme, however: Luther was a scholastic and a university professor. Payton does not address deeply enough the philosophical method behind Luther’s theology—nominalism. Payton does not seem to recognize the difference between scholastic realism and scholastic nominalism—between Aquinas and Ockham. The denial of universals, Bouyer notes, leads to subjectivity, for it is up to the individual mind to make the associations between individual ideas and truth. While Payton is a little uncomfortable with some of Luther’s methods—for instance, his way of attacking opponents, he does not reveal the scatological tone of these attacks in this discussion. Yet Payton seems to accept Luther’s claim to authority when accused of subjectivity: 'I am the smartest person here; I am the University Professor and I am right!'

Payton accomplishes much to address common misunderstandings of the Reformation many Protestants today may have about their own history. He does not address the English Reformation, nor the Reformation in Scotland nor the French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots. The latter may be understandable but leaving out Thomas Cranmer and the other theologians of the Church of England is an interesting choice. Perhaps the Via Media of Anglicanism is too difficult to include since the progress of the Reformation in England is so completely bound up with the supreme will of the monarch. (Here of course I thought of my own little book, Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation.) On the other hand, why not include John Knox and the Presbyterian Kirk? Surely Presbyterian history is very important to many Protestants today? Didn’t Knox successfully transplant the Reformed tradition to the British Isles?

Professor Payton's writing style is direct and yet often nuanced as he explains this history to his readers. The book is published by IVP Academic and therefore has all the usual supporting documentation. What would a Protestant reader take from this book to apply to her understanding of her church? A Catholic reader (me) appreciated the careful and mostly clear thinking demonstrated throughout this book, but found that the author did not or could not go deeply enough in history.

*Note: most Catholics today don’t know their history, either!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wow! The Glorious Revolution (Partially) Overthrown!

Yesterday, the BBC announced that the rules of succession for the UK's monarchy have been changed:

Sons and daughters of any future UK monarch will have equal right to the throne, after Commonwealth leaders agreed to change succession laws.

The leaders of the 16 Commonwealth countries where the Queen is head of state unanimously approved the changes at a summit in Perth, Australia.

It means a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would take precedence over younger brothers.

The ban on the monarch being married to a Roman Catholic was also lifted. . . .

On scrapping the ban on future monarchs marrying Roman Catholics, Mr Cameron said: "Let me be clear, the monarch must be in communion with the Church of England because he or she is the head of that Church. But it is simply wrong they should be denied the chance to marry a Catholic if they wish to do so. After all, they are already quite free to marry someone of any other faith."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the lifting of the ban but said it was "deeply disappointing" that Roman Catholics were still unable to ascend to the throne.

"It surely would have been possible to find a mechanism which would have protected the status of the Church of England without keeping in place an unjustifiable barrier on the grounds of religion in terms of the monarchy," he said.

"It is a missed opportunity not to ensure equality of all faiths when it comes to the issue of who can be head of state."

These rules are not applied retroactively, so Princess Anne still follows her younger brothers in the line of succession and any heir who married a Catholic is still out (unless the spouse has already become an Anglican). Earlier this year, the Church of England had blocked the change that now allows an heir to the throne to marry a Catholic:

Church leaders expressed concern that if a future heir to the throne married a Roman Catholic, their children would be required by canon law to be brought up in that faith.

This would result in the constitutionally problematic situation whereby the Supreme Governor of the Church of England was a Roman Catholic, and so ultimately answerable to a separate sovereign leader, the Pope, and the Vatican.

It's not clear what changed that cleared the way for this announcement. Perhaps someday Mary Beatrice of Modena will not be the "Last Catholic Queen (consort) of England"!

The Martyrs of Douai, 1577-1680

In the Archdiocese of Westminster in London, today is the feast of the Martyrs of Douai College which was transplanted from the Spanish Netherlands to London:

The English College at Douai was established by William Allen, later Cardinal, on Michaelmas Day, 29th September, 1568. It offered an opportunity to form clergy for England in accordance with the system laid down by the Council of Trent.

Originally it was intended as a college home for exiles from England, a place where they could continue their studies in a way no longer possible for Catholics at the English Universities. In time Allen recognised its potential as a place for training clergy ready for the return to England when 'the new religion' had run its course. The new priests, however, proved unwilling to wait for that event and quickly Douai College found itself dedicated very largely to the training of missionary priests.

Between 1577, the date of the martyrdom of St Cuthbert Mayne, the college's protomartyr, and 1680, the date of the execution of Thomas Thwing, the college's last martyr, one hundred and fifty eight college members, priests and layman, secular and religious, met with a martyr's death.

The College was suppressed in 1793, and the collegians imprisoned for thirteen months at Doullens, Picardy. They were released in November 1794, returning to Douai for only a few months before obtaining permission to return to England. They found their first refuge at Old Hall Green, Ware, and dedicated the new work of the college to St Edmund of Canterbury on his feast day, November 16th, 1794.

The webpage lists the martyrs by year--the class of 1588 was the largest: Nicholas Garlick, Robert Ludlam, Richard Sympson, William Dean, William Gunter, Robert Morton, Hugh More, Thomas Holford, James Claxton, Thomas Felton, Robert Wilcox, Edward Campion, Christopher Buxton, Ralph Crocket, Edward James, John Robinson, William Hartley, John Hewett, and Robert Leigh.

The bookends (just to switch metaphors) are St. Cuthbert Mayne and St. Thomas Thwing:

St. Cuthbert Mayne was the first Englishman prepared for the priesthood at Douai and he is the protomartyr of the English seminaries established on the Continent. Born in Devonshire, he was ordained an Anglican minister but became Catholic in the early 1570's while at Oxford. He returned to England in 1575, serving in Cornwall, and was arrested a year later. One of the charges against him was that he had an Agnus Dei, an image of Jesus as the Lamb of God, blessed by the pope. He was hung, drawn and quartered in Cornwall on November 29, 1577.

St. Thomas Thwing suffered during the Popish Plot hysteria in 1680. From 1664 to 1679 he served as a missionary priest in England. He and other members of Sir Thomas Gasciogne's household, including the master, were accused of a conspiracy to kill King Charles II and brought to London for trial. The others were acquited but he was found guilty and condemned; the King pardoned him but the House of Commons demanded his execution. Of course he was innocent of any charges of conspiracy; he was guilty of being a Catholic priest.

One could research each of the names on that list and read a common, yet individual pattern of vocation, service, suffering, and martyrdom. At the bottom of the list of names, there is a quote from William Allen, founder of Douai College--

"Joy in the Lord because the victory won by Christ's confessors predominates over earthly sorrow
at the grievousness of their suffering."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Jansen, Jansenism, and the Jesuits

Cornelius Jansen, the Bishop of Ypres and namesake of "Jansenism" was born on October 28, 1585 in Acquoy, now in Gelderland, the Netherlands.

One of the contributors on this blog compares Jansenism to "a certain kind of conservative Anglicanism":

In a nutshell, Jansenism was a religious and political movement, which developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mainly in France. It was a reaction against certain developments in the Catholic Church, Jesuit-inspired theology in particular and against Royal absolutism, of Lous XIV and Louis XV in particular.

This tendency within Catholicism was named after the Bishop of Ypres Cornelius Jansen, author of its founding text Augustinus, published in 1640. To begin with, Jansenism was a theological reflection centred on the problem of divine grace. It later became a political force, manifesting itself in different ways, touching moral theology, the relationship between faith and Christian life, the role of the clergy in society and various political issues.

The same author continues the discussion here. I have seen Jansenism refered to as "Catholic Calvinism" which is impossible, of course.

Jansenism divided Catholics in France between those who supported the Convent of Port Royal (including Blaise Pascal) and those who supported the Jesuits. Catholics in England in this period, being more concerned with staying alive, probably weren't as affected by this conflict. The Irish clergy were aware of the conflict, however, and certainly James II in exile in France experienced the divisions between Jesuits and Jansenists. He seemed to favor the more rigorous Jansenists while his Queen, Mary Beatrice of Modena was firmly on the Jesuits' side--at least according to Edward T. Corp in his book A Court in Exile: The Stuarts in France, 1688 - 1718.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

St. Paul's in The City Closed for Christmas?

Now this is very odd: the Cathedral of St. Paul's in the City of London is closed because the Occupy Wall Street protesters have mistaken its grounds for Wall Street! The protests even interfered with a private wedding:

London's landmark St Paul's Cathedral remained closed on Saturday because of hazards posed by hundreds of protesters encamped in front of it in a demonstration inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Dean Graeme Knowles, a senior cleric, wrote an open letter to protesters asking them to leave the square peacefully, which they have occupied since last Saturday after initially targeting the nearby London Stock Exchange.
"We have done this with a very heavy heart, but it is simply not possible to fulfil our day to day obligations to worshippers, visitors and pilgrims in current circumstances," Knowles said in a statement.

In The Catholic Herald, William Oddie asks an ever odder question: if the cathedral cannot open until after Christmas (if the protests go on so long), will it even matter? even to Anglicans?

The real question is, and I really don’t mean to be gratuitously discourteous or dismissive, what will it actually matter if St Paul’s is closed for such a long time? And (to pre-empt those inclined on these occasions to fall into their usual rut, accusing me of the usual ex-Anglican convert’s Newmanian dismissiveness of Anglican institutions) let me say that I would have asked exactly the same question had I still been an Anglican clergyman. Another way of asking the same question would be to say “what is any Anglican Cathedral actually for?” – though when it comes to St Paul’s, as we shall see, we have to ask the question with particular sharpness.

He goes on to direct his readers to the Cathedral website, where all the statements about the closure of St. Paul's come from the Dean of the Cathedral and one of its Canons.

On our trip to London several years ago, St. Paul's was the second great disappointment--the first time we went it was closed to visitors for an ordination; the second time we went, we really couldn't see anything because of construction inside! Many of the events that would be held in the Cathedral will have to be moved, of course. The shop and restaurant in the crypt will be closed and tourists, at least, will be very disappointed. Poor Christopher Wren!--no one may look about and see his monument (until further notice, at least).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

G.K. Chesterton and Alfred the Great

Alfred the Great, the King of Wessex, died on October 26, 899. He defended the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was a learned man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure. The Anglican Communion venerates him as a Christian hero, with a feast day of 26 October.

G.K. Chesterton wrote "The Ballad of the White Horse" to commemorate King Alfred's defeat of the Danes at the battle of Ethandun under the guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is an epic poem of 2,684 words in VIII books. Dale Ahlquist at the American Chesterton Society analyses the poem here:

Chesterton may have considered The Ballad of the White Horse his greatest literary accomplishment. I have two reasons for saying that. First of all, it is a masterpiece. But it was the only one of his works that he felt worthy enough to dedicate to his wife. The Ballad of the White Horse is one of the last great epic poems in the English language. It deserves a high place in literature. It is should be studied in depth and discussed at length and appreciated far and wide. But as is the case with most of Chesterton’s writings, too few of us have figured this out.The Ballad is the story of the English King Alfred, who fought the Danes in the year 878. But it is also the story of Christianity battling against the destructive forces of nihilism and heathenism, which is the battle we are still fighting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 25, 1970: Pope Paul VI and the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Pope Paul VI canonized the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales on October 25, 1970--although their Feast is celebrated in the dioceses of England and Wales on May 4 (since the year 2000) it's appropriate to remember that his action was not without controversy.

This document archived at EWTN describes some of the difficulty:

Some months before the Consistory the General Postulation, as well as the Vice-Postulation, had charged specialized agencies with following the whole national and provincial press of England and Wales, together with the European and American press, and sending it constantly everything that was published in connection with the Cause. At the same time it redoubled its efforts to obtain the widest and most accurate information not only on the attitude of English and Welsh Catholics, but above all on that of the Anglicans, with many of whose best qualified representatives there had long existed relations marked by sincere and brotherly frankness and a genuine spirit of mutual understanding and collaboration. The Hierarchy of England and Wales, in its turn, and in the first place Card. Godfrey's successor, His Eminence Card. Heenan, Vice-President of the Secretariat for the Union of Christians, made a point of establishing and maintaining exchanges of views with the competent authorities of the various Christian denominations in their country.
On the basis of this huge mass of material, it was established beyond al] shadow of doubt that at least 85 per cent of what had been printed in England and Wales, both on the Catholic and the non-Catholic side, far from being unfavourable to the Cause, was clearly in favour of it or at least showed great understanding for the opportuneness of the canonization. This applies to publications such as "Church Times", or the "Church of England Newspaper." and the most widely read English national papers such as "The Times", "The Guardian", "The Economist", "The Spectator" "The Daily Telegraph", "The Sunday Times" and many others.
On the other hand some foreign publications—including some well-known papers of protest—raised difficulties. It was at once clear, however, that these were based on insufficient knowledge of the complicated historical situation in which the Martyrs sacrificed their lives, and, to an even greater degree, of the present ecumenical situation in England. The latter calls for at least a minimum of concrete knowledge and cannot easily be understood by those who do not take the trouble to study it thoroughly Of course, everything possible has been done, by means of press conferences and other opportune methods, to eliminate this type of misunderstanding, generally most successfully.
A serious, serene and objective study of the whole situation led to the conclusion, therefore, that besides the numerous reasons clearly in favour of the canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs, there were no real ecumenical objections to it, on the contrary the canonization offered considerable advantages also from the genuinely ecumenical point of view.
It was precisely these ideas that His Holiness Paul VI expressed and explained in a masterly fashion in the address he delivered on the occasion of the Consistory on May 18th, 1970, in which he announced his intention to proceed with the solemn canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales on October 25th, 1970. In this address the Holy Father, besides pointing out, with serene frankness and great charity, the ecumenical value of this Cause, also laid particular stress on the fact that we need the example of these Martyrs particularly today not only because the Christian religion is still exposed to violent persecution in various parts of the world, but also because at a time when the theories of materialism and naturalism are constantly gaining ground and threatening to destroy the spiritual heritage of our civilization, the forty Martyrs—men and women from all walks of life—who did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives in obedience to the dictates of conscience and the divine will, stand out as noble witnesses to human dignity and freedom.
This declaration of the Sovereign Pontiff was received with practically unanimous approval, which showed how right the decision had been to proceed with the canonization. His address was given a great deal of attention and certainly contributed effectively to dispelling any doubts that may still have existed in certain quarters.

The New Liturgical Movement blog links information about Masses composed in honor of four of the forty: St. Ralph Sherwin, St. Edmund Arrowsmith, St. Edmund Jennings, and St. Anne Line.

Thomas Babington Macaulay on the Catholic Church

On the anniversary of Thomas Babington Macaulay's birthday on October 25 in 1800, it seems appropriate to quote his interesting words on the Catholic Church from a review of Ranke's History of the Popes:

There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may not improbably contain a population as large as that which now inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.

While Macaulay was definitely not a Catholic, he also commented approvingly on the Church's method of dealing with dissent. G.K. Chesterton analyzes Macaulay here:
Macaulay makes the foundation of the Victorian age in all its very English and unique elements: its praise of Puritan politics and abandonment of Puritan theology; its belief in a cautious but perpetual patching up of the Constitution; its admiration for industrial wealth. But above all he typifies the two things that really make the Victorian Age itself, the cheapness and narrowness of its conscious formulæ; the richness and humanity of its unconscious tradition. There were two Macaulays, a rational Macaulay who was generally wrong, and a romantic Macaulay who was almost invariably right. All that was small in him derives from the dull parliamentarism of men like Sir James Mackintosh; but all that was great in him has much more kinship with the festive antiquarianism of Sir Walter Scott.
He is the Whig historian of all Whig historians in England: certain of his nation's progress to reform and empire. Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome and his History of England are almost forgotten now, but at one time were standards of their genres. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Evelyn Waugh's Bitter Trial

Ignatius Press announces a new edition of A Bitter Trial, edited by Dom Alcuin Reid, with a Foreword by Joseph Pearce and an Afterword by Clare Asquith, Countess of Oxford:

English author Evelyn Waugh, most famous for his novel Brideshead Revisited, became a Roman Catholic in 1930. For the last decade of his life, however, Waugh experienced the changes being made to the Church's liturgy to be nothing short of "a bitter trial". In John Cardinal Heenan, Waugh found a sympathetic pastor and somewhat of a kindred spirit.
This volume brings together the personal correspondence between Waugh and Heenan during the 1960s, a trying period for many faithful Catholics. It begins with a 1962 article Waugh wrote for the Spectator followed by a response from then Archbishop Heenan, who at the time was a participant at the Second Vatican Council. These and the other writings included in this book paint a vivid picture of two prominent and loyal English Catholics who lamented the loss of Latin and the rupture of tradition that resulted from Vatican II.

In the light of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, many Catholics are looking again at the post-conciliar liturgical changes. To this "reform of the reform" of the liturgy now underway in the Roman Catholic Church, both Heenan and Waugh have much to contribute.

Alcuin Reid is a cleric of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, and a liturgical scholar and author. His principal work, The Organic Development of the Liturgy carries a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Joseph Pearce is a popular literary biographer whose works include The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde, Tolkien: Man and Myth, and The Quest for Shakespeare.
Clare Asquith, Countess of Oxford is the author of Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare.

Henry VIII's Rose Without a Thorn Dies; Jane Seymour, RIP

Henry VIII's "Rose without a thorn" and Edward VI's mother died in Hampton Court Palace on October 24, 1537.

Jane Seymour is the most enigmatic of Henry VIII's wives. She fulfilled her husband's great desire for a son and then died. Some authors cast her as a pawn of her family; some as an unsympathetic character who took advantage of her mistress' (Anne Boleyn's) fall. Although her brother Edward Seymour, as Lord Protector Somerset during her son's youthful reign would legislate a definitely Calvinist Reformation, she seems to have been sympathetic to Catholicism. Jane spoke up to Henry VIII about the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the Pilgrimage of Grace but then was silenced by Henry's threatening warning about the fate of her predecessor who dabbled in his religious policy.

Jane did restore the Princess Mary to the King's household--at the cost of the most terrible oaths Mary was forced to swear, denying her parents marriage's validity and accepting her own bastardy. Jane was never crowned Queen of England--perhaps after the outcome of the lavish coronation of Anne Boleyn, Henry wanted to wait and see how this wife would work out--but she was the one wife buried with him, in the St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle.

She died probably as the result of an infection after her difficult delivery of her son, who was baptized and proclaimed heir immediately. Princess Mary was the chief mourner at her funeral.

Earlier this year, a popular blog posted an re-examination of Jane Seymour's life and character. For all my interest in the Tudor dynasty, I have not championed one queen against another. I admit I favor Queen Katherine of Aragon's rights to defend her valid sacramental marriage and her daughter's rights to succeed to the throne, but more than anything, I am sympathetic to all Henry VIII's wives. They lived with a tyrant, after all!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blessed Thomas Thwing, Popish Plot Martyr (and his uncle)

According to this biography, today's martyr was

Born at Heworth Hall, near York, in 1635, he was the son of George Thwing, Esquire, of Kilton Castle, Brotton, and Heworth Hall, and was the nephew of the Catholic martyr Edward Thwing. His mother was Anne, sister of the Sir Thomas Gascoigne, of Barnbow Hall, Barwick in Elmet, Yorkshire. Thomas Thwing was educated at St Omer and at the English College, Douai, ordained a priest and sent from there to minister on the English mission in 1665, which he did for some 14 years. Until April 1668, he was chaplain at Carlton Hall, Carlton-juxta-Snaith, the seat of his cousins the Stapletons. He next opened a school at Quo-usque, the Stapletons' dower-house. When in 1677 Mary Ward's "Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary" began their foundation in the house given by his uncle Thomas Gascoigne at Dolebank, it was in some sense natural that Thwing become their chaplain, three of his sisters being of the community. It was there that he was arrested in the early part of 1679.

Notice his connection to Venerable Mary Ward and her Institute. She had come to Heworth in 1642 and died there in 1645 on January 30. Thwing was also connected to the Gascoignes and the Stapletons, great Catholic families in Yorkshire.

At the time of the Titus Oates scare, two servants, who had been discharged from Sir Thomas Gascoigne's service for dishonesty, sought vengeance and reward by revealing a supposed plot by Gascoigne and others to murder the king. At first the allegation made no mention of Thwing. Nevertheless, Gascoigne [pictured above left], Thwing and others were arrested on the night of July 7, 1679, at the Gascoigne's house, Barnbow Hall, and he remained for a year prisoner at York Castle. He was arraigned at York on March 17 with Mary Fenwick, Lady Tempest and Sir Miles Stapleton, but many jurors were challenged and this led to the trial being postponed to the summer assizes. He was brought to the bar on July 29 and Gascoigne's former servant Bolron testified against him. The prosecution played upon a list of Catholics which had been found the night of the arrest, in reality not conspirators but supporters of the new convent. Despite this Thwing was promptly found guilty on the very same evidence upon which his relatives had been acquitted, the sentence being pronounced separately from the felons and murderers found guilty at the same assizes, not out of consideration for his being a priest but because of his social status. Upon hearing it, he humbly bowed his head and said in Latin, "I am innocent." Thomas Thwing was beatified by Pope Pius XI on December 15, 1929.

The others were acquitted in what is known as the Barnbow Plot, named after the Hall, reported by Robert Bolron, and inspired by Titus Oates' Popish Plot:

Excited by the story of Oates' success and in revenge for his dismissal, Bolron conceived the idea of 'discovering' a Popish Plot at Barnbow. Having concocted what he thought might be a credible story he communicated, in the first place, with Mr Normanton, a clergyman of Water Fryston, who sent him to Mr Tindall, a justice of the peace, who referred him to Mr William Lowther, another justice. Growing bolder as he found himself taken seriously he determined to go to London, armed with a letter from Tindall to lay his story before the Privy Council. On the road, at Ware, he lost the letter, but coming to the Green Dragon in Bishophate Street he told his business to the landlord who took him to Sir Robert Clayton who introduced him to Lord Shaftesbury, President of the Council.

The story that Bolron told was this. Some time in 1675 he had overheard a conversation between Sir Thomas Gascoigne and Sir Miles Stapylton in which they discussed a plan to kill the king, the former repeating the steps he had taken for securing his property against forfeiture in case of failure and how he had sent £3000 to the Jesuits in London to aid the carrying out of the scheme.

Notice that Blessed Thomas Thwing's uncle was also a martyr, beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.  Edward Thwing was also born in Yorkshire. He went to Reims, France in the summer of 1583 to study for the priesthood and then went to the Jesuit community at Pont-a-Mousson, evidently intending to enter the order. But within two years, he was back at the English College. After completing his studies with a stay in Rome, he returned to France for his ordination in Laon on December 20, 1590. His return to England was delayed by health problems. In 1597, he was finally able to go to England but was captured by the Elizabethan authorities as soon as he arrived. He and a fellow priest, (Blessed) Robert Nutter, managed to escape from their prison, and eluded arrest for the next three years. In May of 1600, they were re-captured. On July 26, 1600, Father Thwing was executed at Lancaster by drawing and quartering, together with Father Nutter.

The Shrine that Survived: St. Edward the Confessor and Westminster Abbey

The shrine of St. Edward the Confessor (the saint in the center of the Wilton diptych at left) in Westminster Abbey survived iconoclasm and Civil War (barely) according to the Abbey's website:

Edward the Confessor, as he was known, had not been a particularly successful king, but his personal character and piety endeared him to his people. In appearance he is represented as tall, dignified and kindly with rosy cheeks and a long white beard. He was regarded as a saint long before he was officially canonized as Saint and Confessor by Pope Alexander III in 1161. A Confessor is a particular type of saint. The term applies to those who suffered for their faith and demonstrated their sanctity in the face of worldly temptations, but who were not martyrs.

On 13 October 1163 St Edward's body was transferred to a Shrine prepared for it. At this time the famous ring was taken off his finger and deposited with the Abbey relics (all the relics unfortunately disappeared at the dissolution of the monastery in 1540).

King Henry III (1207-1272) held Edward the Confessor in great veneration and decided to rebuild his Abbey in the magnificent new Gothic style. He erected a new and costly Shrine with workmen and mosaics from Italy, which was finished in 1269. Sick persons made pilgrimages to the Shrine and knelt in the recesses to pray for healing. A cult of St Edward had grown up and people regarded him as the patron saint of England. However, after Henry III's death the cult declined and St George eventually became recognised as patron saint of England.

The Benedictine monastery at Westminster was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540 and the Shrine despoiled. The Saint's body was buried in some obscure spot in the Abbey. Mary I restored the coffin to its place in 1557 and gave new jewels to replace the stolen ones. The fabric of the Shrine has suffered much during the centuries. However, the Confessor's coffin still lies in a cavity in the top part of the marble structure. The Shrine is regarded as the centre of the Abbey and five kings and four queens lie buried in his Chapel. Edward's wife Edith (died 1075) is buried near her husband's Shrine. On the western side of the Chapel is a stone screen with fourteen scenes of events, real and legendary, in the life of the Confessor. A special service is held every year on St Edward's Day (13 October).

Obviously, one reason the shrine survived is the church's connection to the royal family as the site of both coronation and burial:

Westminster Abbey has always enjoyed close links with the monarchy not least in its unbroken role as the coronation church since 1066.

Kings and queens have been significant benefactors of the Abbey, beginning with King Edgar (reigned 959–75) who gave the original monastic community at Westminster substantial lands covering most of what is now the West End of London. Almost a hundred years later King Edward (later Edward the Confessor) established his palace close to this monastic community and built for it a large stone church which became his own burial place. In the mid-thirteenth century Henry III rebuilt the Confessor’s church, providing the Gothic building we have today. Henry’s own burial here in 1272 established Westminster as the principal royal burial place for the next 500 years. Richard II, Henry V, Henry VII and Elizabeth I were all influential in shaping the Abbey’s history.

Westminster Abbey or - to use its formal name - the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster, is a ‘Royal Peculiar’. This means it is a free chapel of the Sovereign, exempt from any ecclesiastical jurisdiction other than that of the Sovereign. Royal Peculiars originated in Anglo-Saxon times and developed as a result of the unique relationship between the Norman and Plantagenet Kings and the English Church. In 1222 the Abbey was declared a Papal Peculiar, exempt from the jurisdiction of both the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It has been a Royal Peculiar since 1533 when the Ecclesiastical Licences Act, as confirmed by the Act of Supremacy of 1559, transferred to the Sovereign the jurisdiction which had previously been exercised by the Pope. Other Royal Peculiars include St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and the Chapels Royal.

When we visited London several years ago, we very disappointed that we had to pay admission to the Abbey church (and not just a nominal donation!) -- and then, after visiting a few of the royal tombs, found out that we could not see the tomb of the saint at all! There is a podcast available of a sermon on St. Edward the Confessor's feast day this year here.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blessed John Paul II and Calendars

Today in the diocese of Rome and throughout Poland, the Church celebrates the memorial of Blessed John Paul II. Blesseds are not automatically added to the General Roman Calendar--Blessed John Henry Newman's October 9 memorial is really to be celebrated only the dioceses of England and Wales, for instance. Of course, not all canonized saints are honored on the general Roman calendar, and sometimes there are  variations in the rank of the celebration of a particular saint on different calendars. For example, March 17, St. Patrick's feast day is a Memorial in the dioceses of the United States, but it's a Feast in Ireland!

So there's a General Roman Calendar and then various National Calendars. On July 1, England and Ireland honor St. Oliver Plunkett, while the United States honors Blessed Junipero Serra. The U.S. Bishops will look at requesting approval to add Blessed John Paul II's memorial to the U.S. calendar, according to this story in The National Catholic Register:

“Because blesseds are not normally inscribed on the universal calendar, it is left to the local authorities to suggest the inscription of the observance of a blessed on a diocesan, religious or national calendar,” the U.S. bishops’ conference said in an Oct. 18 press release.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree in April 2011 permitting the celebration of a Mass of Thanksgiving for Blessed John Paul II in local churches at the discretion of diocesan bishop during the year following the late Pope’s beatification. Pope John Paul II was beatified on May 1, 2011.

But beyond that year, the universal norms for the liturgical year and the calendar don’t allow the observance of memorials for blesseds unless they are designated on a particular local calendar.

One town that will probably really celebrate today is the Blessed's hometown, Wadowice, which the Register describes in this article.

I have sometimes wondered if Newman Centers at secular universities in the U.S. could ask for permission to celebrate Blessed John Henry Newman on October 9. If and when he is canonized, he will surely be a patron saint of higher education! Perhaps they should just ask forgiveness afterward. Our local Catholic university, Newman University, still celebrates "Cardinal Newman Day" around his birthday in February.

In the meantime, prayers for the intercession of the two Blesseds:

Blessed John Paul II:

O Blessed Trinity
We thank You for having graced the Church
with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,
to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness
is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life
and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will,
the graces we implore,
hoping that he will soon be numbered
among your saints.

Blessed John Henry Newman:

Eternal Father, You led John Henry Newman to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he laboured to build up your Kingdom.
Grant that through your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of the canonized saints.’
May you manifest your Servant’s power of intercession by even extraordinary answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions [name your intentions] in his name and in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Follow up on Saint Frideswide

I highlighted this saint and her shrine at the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford last Sunday. At that time, I mentioned that the Once I Was a Clever Boy blog featured news of celebration of her feast on Wednesday, October 19. John Whitehead has followed up on that announcement on his blog with this hymn to St. Frideswide:

It is sung to Handel's March from Judas Maccabeus - Hail the conquering hero comes - and also used for Thine be the Glory.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.
Child of royal parents, courted by a king,
Sought a crown of glory, spurned a wedding ring.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Powerful and peaceful, vowed to God alone,
Frideswide chose a heavenly, not an earthly throne.
Prayer and meditation raised her soul above
All this world's attraction; Jesus held herlove.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Algar of Leicester planned to do her wrong,
Sent his men to seize her, Frideswide's faith was strong -
In an instant blinded then his sight restored,
They knew both the wrath and mercy of the Lord.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Wonders of healing Frideswide's prayers obtained -
Crooked limbs were straightened, speech the dumb regained.
Through her intercession may the grace be ours

For God's use to offer all our gifts and powers

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

Light filled the city as she passed away
Journeyed through death's shadow into endless day,
There we hope to join her, by the truth set free,
Where we have our treasure, there our hearts shall be.

Frideswide our patron, clear our clouded sight;
Help dissolve our darkness, bring us God's own light.

I am reading a volume on the Elizabethan era by Lacey Baldwin Smith. He commented on how the remains of St. Frideswide were discovered when the remains of Peter Martyr Vermigli's first wife Catherine were returned to their resting place inside Christ Church, having been tossed out during Mary I's reign. Elizabeth told the canons of the cathedral to mix the bones together. Thus one of the canons wrote a much less reverent verse:

Papists and Protestants should now
In peace abide,
As here religion true and false
Lie side by side.

US and UK Ordinariate Updates

According to The Catholic Herald, the establishment of a US Personal Ordinariate for former Episcopalians is imminent: more here.

In the meantime, the Ordinariate Portal in the UK posts this presentation by Monsignor Andrew Burnham of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham made in Brighton recently. The presentation is titled "The Liturgical Patrimony of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Reform of the Reform". A brief quote:

How, then, do we establish a liturgical patrimony, a distinctive feel to the services we celebrate? We need to be careful of what has been called ‘effortless Anglican superiority’, the assumption that whatever we do is rather better than what others do. For one thing, our little groups usually have more to learn than they have to teach as they interact often with large and flourishing congregations. For another, in some dioceses there are so many ex-Anglican priests at work that, even if we were some kind of leaven, the lump had plenty of that kind of leaven already. And yet we do bring some gifts. Solemn Evensong and Benediction is widely recognised – not least by the Holy Father himself – as a gift that we are bringing. The marriage and funeral rites are similarly a gift: the marriage rite itself is a direct descendant of the mediæval marriage rite of England. We also bring a sense of the ‘solemn mass on Sundays’ (even if the numbering attending it in our Anglican days seldom reached three figures). The Catholic mass culture is a ‘low mass’ culture, and, in many parishes, however much singing is done, there is nothing that could be easily identified as a ‘solemn mass’ on Sundays. The new missal is tackling this, by integrating the priest’s singing part into the main text, and there are instructions, from time to time, about the importance of plainsong.

Read the rest here. Monsignor Burnham reports use of two Byrd Masses at sung solemn Mass in Oxford, thus the portrait above.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Review and Interview

Patti Maguire Armstrong is a speaker and the author of Catholic Truths for Our Children: A Parent's Guide (Scepter) and the children's book, Dear God, I Don't Get It! (Bezalel). She was also the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press's Amazing Grace book series. Her website is She interviewed me and reviewed Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation on Catholic Exchange last week:

Here's an excerpt:

Years ago, when I read a biography about St. Edmund Campion, a priest martyred in the aftermath of the English Reformation (yes, killing priests and other Catholics was equated with purification) it opened my eyes to my own lack of knowledge of what Catholics had to endure as a result of the English Reformation.

Stephanie Mann detailed this period in history in her book, Supremacy and Survival, How Catholics Endured the English Reformation. As a student of history, she explained that the book was thirty years in the making. Her reason for writing it, however, goes beyond her love of history to her love of the Catholic faith. Too often, this historic period is chronicled through a Protestant filter, playing down the heroism and truth of the Catholic players.

Mann writes that Protestants often interpret the English Reformation as a necessary step in the progress of liberal civilizations. But she points out that this reformation departs from those in Europe, beginning with Luther. Rather than theological differences, it was about power and personal desire. “The English Reformation was led by a king, not because of Church scandals or abuses, but because the pope would not grant him an annulment on his first marriage,” Mann states. “The Roman Catholic Church in England on the eve of Henry’s break from Rome was a strong community, with excellent lay involvement, efforts by bishops and theologians to improve the Church and remedy abuses, a vibrant monastic tradition, and a determined apologetic response–which included the king himself–against the continental Reformers.”

Please read the rest here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

St. Philip Howard: Affliction in This Life; Glory with Jesus in the Next

St. Philip Howard died in the Tower of London on October 19, 1595. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundell and Brighton features this biography:

St Philip, born 28 June 1557, was thirteenth Earl of Arundel. His father Thomas, IV Duke of Norfolk, was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth in 1572 for involvement in the affair of Mary, Queen of Scots. Philip Howard, baptised by the Archbishop of York in the Chapel of Whitehall Palace, had Philip of Spain as one of his godfathers.

Philip married Anne, daughter of Lord Dacre of Gilsland, when he was fourteen. He graduated at St John's College, Cambridge in 1574 and was about eighteen when he attended Queen Elizabeth's Court. Handsome, high-born, quick-witted and articulate, he neglected his wife and God but the turning point came in 1581 when he was present at a disputation in the Tower of London between a group of Catholic prisoners, Fr Edmund Campion, Jesuit, Fr Ralph Sherwin, Priests and others. These humble suffering Confessors awakened Philip's soul and he returned to Arundel to think about reconciliation with the Catholic Church, which he knew meant death.

His trial and imprisonment were totally at Queen Elizabeth's pleasure--the only treason he had committed was being reconciled to the Catholic Church.

Thereon began his long term of imprisonment, never knowing from day to day which would be his last. Each day he spent several hours in prayer and meditation; he was noted for his patience in suffering and courtesy to unkind keepers. Weakened by malnutrition and not without a suspicion of having been poisoned, he died on 19 October 1595. He was 39 years old and had spent the last eleven years of his life in the Tower of London.

Written on the step before the Shrine is this inscription: 'The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next'. This is a translation of the original Latin cut by St Philip over the fireplace in the Beauchamp Tower, which visitors to the Tower of London can still see: Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro. Arundell - 22 June 1587.

The Cathedral of Arundell and Brighton is named for St. Philip Howard. It had been named for St. Philip Neri before the canonization of today's saint in 1970. More about the cathedral here.

One of the most horrible aspects of his long imprisonment and then his imminent death is that when he asked permission to see the son with whom his wife was pregnant when St. Philip was imprisoned, Elizabeth I placed a condition on it. He would have to conform to the Church of England and deny his faith. "Good Queen Bess" indeed. After his death he was buried in St. Peter ad Vincula but was entombed at the cathedral after his canonization and his shrine is described here.

I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show today at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central to discuss this great saint with Brian Patrick.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

England and the Papacy, Part Two: Book Review

Continuing this review of relations between England and the Papacy, let's look at this very focused book, The Cardinal Protectors of England: Rome and the Tudors Before the Reformation by William E. Wilkie, published by Cambridge University Press in 1974.


Chapter 1. The beginnings of the cardinal protectorship of England, 1492-1514
--The cardinals in the Roman Curia
--Henry VII and the Papacy
--Francesco Todeshini Piccolomini
--The role of Adriano Catellesi
--The search for a protector: Galeotto della Rovere and Francesco Alidosi
--The career of Christopher Bainbridge

Chapter 2. The work of the cardinal protectors, 1492-1514
--England and Piccolomini
--Ireland and Piccolomini
--The protectorship in confusion

Chapter 3. The emergence of Giulio de' Medici, 1514-18
--The choice of Giulio de' Medici as protector
--De' Medici and the Anglo-French struggle for Tournai
--Scotland after Flodden and the cardinal protector of England

Chapter 4. The emergence of Lorenzo Campeggio, 1518-24
--Campeggio's first legations in England
--The alliance of England and the Papacy with Charles V
--Pope Adrian VI: de' Medici in eclipse
--De' Medici in triumph
--Campeggio, protector at last

Chapter 5. The routine work of cardinal protectors Giulio de' Medici (1514-23) and Lorenzo Campeggio (1524-8)
--De' Medici and papal provisions to English bishoprics
--The Irish church, de' Medici and Campeggio
--England, Campeggio, and Clement VII

Chapter 6. The end of an arrangement, 1528-34
--The divorce: Campeggio under pressure from pope, England and emperor
--Campeggio in England as legate and judge
--The protector of England in the company of Charles V
--The widening rift between England and the papacy

Chapter 7. Campeggio and the failure of reconciliation, 1534-9
--The last appeal to Charles V
--The failure of reconciliation with Henry VIII
--Campeggio and Pole

List of sources and select bibliography

First, a word about structure: as you might notice, Wilkie covers the same chronology in chapter 1 and 2 and chapter 5 overlaps with chapters 3 and 4. The first chapter or chapters contain the overview of the events, while the next chapters focus on particular themes and efforts during the particular protectorates. This does create some repetition. Chapters 6 and 7 get us into the King's Great Matter of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, considering the cardinal protector's involvement.

This is really history of diplomacy, as the cardinal protector's role was to present the positions of Henry VII and Henry VIII to the Roman Curia and to the Pope. The Cardinal Protector for England (and also of Venice, or France, or the Holy Roman Emperor, etc) also smoothed the path of the monarch's nominees for different bishoprics throughout England and, during the reign of Henry VIII, Thomas Wolsey's role as papal legate. Henry VII, who succeeded as King of England when he defeated Richard III on the battlefield, needed the approval and support of the papacy for dynastic legitimacy.

Two of the Cardinals Protector became popes (Piccolomini reigned as Pius III; de'Medici as Clement VII. Henry VIII expected that his former Cardinal Protector would grant him his wishes regarding his marriage and counted on his current Protector, Lorenzo Campeggio, to support his cause. In fact, the relationship between England and the Papacy had been running smoothly during the Tudor monarchy--that is, until Henry VIII wanted the Pope and his Protector to declare his marriage to Katherine of Aragon null and void. Diplomatic history is not really my cup of tea, but this is a model of research and scholarship and is essential for background to the ecclesiastical crisis of Henry VIII's Great Matter.

Monday, October 17, 2011

October 17, 1584: Welshman Richard Gwyn Executed

The Catholic Herald features St. Richard Gwyn as the Saint of the Week on its website:

Richard Gwyn (1537-1584) was a victim of Queen Elizabeth I’s persecution of Catholics, conducted with increasing intensity after 1581.

Born in Llanidloes in central Wales, Gwyn matriculated at Oxford before removing swiftly to Cambridge where, at St John’s, he lived by the charity of Dr Bullock, the college’s Catholic Master.

After the death of Queen Mary in 1558, however, Bullock refused to take the oath of supremacy administered by Elizabeth’s government and was ejected from the Mastership.

Gwyn fled to the continent, spending some time at Douai. Around 1562 he returned to Wales and for the next 16 years worked as a schoolmaster, mainly in Wrexham and Overton. He was much loved, not merely for his excellence and dedication as a teacher, but also for “other good partes known to be in him”. . . .

When his persecutors laid him in heavy shackles before the pulpit of a Protestant church in Wrexham Gwyn “so stirred his legs that with the noise of his irons the preacher’s voice could not be heard”.

Placed in the stocks as a punishment, he was taunted by an Anglican priest who claimed to possess the keys of the Church as surely as St Peter did. “There is this difference,” Gwyn riposted, “namely that, whereas Peter received the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the keys you received were obviously those of the beer cellar.”

Indicted for high treason, Gwyn was eventually condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered at the Beast Market in Wrexham in October 1584. “I have been a jesting fellow,” he told the crowd from the scaffold, “and if I have offended any that way, or by my songs, I beseech them for God’s sake to forgive me.”

The execution was hideously bungled, so that Gwyn remained conscious throughout his disembowelment. His last words, in Welsh, were: “Iesu, have mercy on me.”

It is clear that he did nothing to oppose the reign of Elizabeth I but practice his Catholic faith. For that he was harassed, mistreated, tortured, and brutally executed.

His relics are venerated and he is remembered at Wrexham Cathedral in North Wales, decicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary's Dowry has produced a documentary on his life and death, and the trailer is linked above. I have not seen the film, but it looks like Mary's Dowry includes many aspects of his story: the attack by the birds when Gwyn did break down and conform earlier on, the way he and his fellow Catholics make noise when carried into an Anglican services wearing fetters and chains, and how he beat his chest: "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" when he was hanged before being eviscerated and quartered.

England and the Papacy, Part One: Book Review

It is commonly asserted that the English never got along with the papacy--that there was a long history of conflict between the English state and the Popes. This fact is often used to explain the English Reformation as a natural development of history, occasioned finally and decisively by Henry VIII's marital crisis. These two books, however, The English Church & the Papacy in the Middle Ages, edited by C.H. Lawrence and The Cardinal Protectors of England: Rome and the Tudors before the Reformation by William E. Wilkie, may cast some doubt on that truism.

The first book was issued in 1965 and revised in 1999 by Sutton Publishing. Each chapter includes a Select Bibliography. The book does not offer biographies of the contributors. Contents:

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

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

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

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

The editor, in addition to providing the introduction, offers the chapter on the 13th century. With his background in the history of the monastic and mendicant movements, you'd expect him to include them in this chapter, and he matches your expectations.

W.A. Pantin, of course, is the author of The English Church in the Fourteenth Century, which is an essential book for knowledge of the Church in late medieval England, so his chapter is an excellent summary of the reform efforts in that century.

With the last chapter, we come into the period of Avignon Papacy, the Conciliar Movement, and the Tudor Dynasty, which sets up the transition to the William Wilkie book about the Cardinal Protectors, which I'll discuss tomorrow. I found  The English Church & the Papacy in the Middle Ages to have all the virtues and faults of a collection of essays by different authors: different writing styles, variations in points of view, etc., but all with the same high level of scholarship.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

St. Frideswide and Christ Church

St. Frideswidge is the patron saint of Oxford, but her relics at Christ Church Cathedral, where an earlier monastery stood before Thomas Wolsey founded his own college (Cardinal College, taken over by Henry VIII and renamed Christ Church), have not always been treated with the greatest respect, according to the changing religious fashions of the monarchy (according to the BBC):

The original monastery is thought to have been where Christ Church now stands, and in the 1980's archaeologists found evidence of a graveyard there dating back to the late 7th century.

Tradition has it that this is where St. Frideswide was buried, and in 1180 the prior of the (by then Augustinian) monastery had her bones disinterred, and laid with great ceremony in a reliquary which was displayed in a shrine to which pilgrims flocked, hoping for miracles. They were not disappointed.

A later shrine (1289) was broken up during the Reformation in the 1530's, but many pieces from it have been found over the past hundred years or so, and it has been reconstructed in Christ Church Cathedral. It stands in the Latin Chapel, in front of a wonderfully detailed stained glass window telling the story of her life, designed by Edward Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelite artist, in the 1850's.

As for her bones, they were dug up in the reign of Mary Tudor, and kept in two silk bags.

A few years later, when the Protestants were again in the ascendant, and the veneration of saints severely discouraged, St. Frideswide's relics were deliberately mixed up with the bones of another woman who had been buried only recently in the Cathedral, and they were re-interred together in "the upper part of the church towards the east".

This is where the shrine is now, but a little to the south of it, in the Lady Chapel, there is also a dark paving stone in the floor carved simply with the name Frideswide, and it is here that the anniversary of her death is commemorated on October 19th each year.

Here is some history of Christ Church, from the Cathedral website. According to Once I Was a Clever Boy, St. Frideswide will be honored this week on her feast day.