Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. --Meditation Number XVII, from John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

It tolls for thee, John Donne (March 31, 1631)--and it tolls for Anne Hyde, the Duchess of York (March 31, 1671) and her nephew Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, former governor of New York(1701-1708), deserter of James II (March 31, 1723)! Obviously, a mixture of Old and New (calendars, that is!). Of the three, I will focus on John Donne, Dean of St. Paul's, poet, pamphleter, Anglican preacher and former Catholic:

John Donne was born in Bread Street, London in 1572 to a prosperous Roman Catholic family - a precarious thing at a time when anti-Catholic sentiment was rife in England. His father, John Donne, was a well-to-do ironmonger and citizen of London. Donne's father died suddenly in 1576, and left the three children to be raised by their mother, Elizabeth, who was the daughter of epigrammatist and playwright John Heywood and a relative of Sir Thomas More.

Donne's first teachers were Jesuits. At the age of 11, Donne and his younger brother Henry were entered at Hart Hall, University of Oxford, where Donne studied for three years. He spent the next three years at the University of Cambridge, but took no degree at either university because he would not take the Oath of Supremacy required at graduation. He was admitted to study law as a member of Thavies Inn (1591) and Lincoln's Inn (1592), and it seemed natural that Donne should embark upon a legal or diplomatic career.

In 1593, Donne's brother Henry died of a fever in prison after being arrested for giving sanctuary to a proscribed Catholic priest. This made Donne begin to question his faith.

Donne also made the bad decision of clandestinely marrying his employer's niece in 1601 and spent time in jail. He was not able to gain any preferment from James I, even though he wrote two anti-Catholic pamphlets, and therefore became a minister in the Church of England in 1615.

Donne reluctantly entered the ministry and was appointed a Royal Chaplain later that year. In 1616, he was appointed Reader in Divinity at Lincoln's Inn (Cambridge had conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on him two years earlier). Donne's style, full of elaborate metaphors and religious symbolism, his flair for drama, his wide learning and his quick wit soon established him as one of the greatest preachers of the era.

Then his wife died in 1617, just as the couple had gained some security. He was appointed Dean of St. Paul's in the City of London in 1621 and remained there until his death. Donne prepared for his death by having his portrait painted wearing a shroud. The portrait was used to create his monument. Of all the Metaphysical Poets (as Samuel Johnson disparagingly called them), Donne is my favorite. The wit of his conceits in his secular poetry and the depth of his devotion in his religious poetry are both delightful and stirring.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Manning as Newman's Equal, from CTS

The Catholic Truth Society in the U.K. has published this new pocket-sized biography of Henry Cardinal Manning, who followed Blessed John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church and with whom Newman had some disagreements, shall we say. The author, Russell Sparkes, posted a two-part consideration of why Cardinal Manning should be of equal importance, in quite different ways, to Cardinal Newman:

Part One:

Like many English Catholics, I suspect, I was both proud and delighted when the Pope beatified Cardinal Newman during his visit to Britain in September 2010. But at the same time I was also saddened by the thought of another Englishman, now almost totally neglected, whom I believe to be at least as worthy of this great honour as Newman.

This was Henry Manning, along with Newman one of the two “convert cardinals” who shaped the English Catholic Church into the form we know it today. Born a Protestant, and regarded as one of the most promising young clergymen in the Church of England, Manning was received into the Catholic Church in 1851. He became priest soon after, and to general surprise was appointed Archbishop of Westminster on Pope Pius IX’s personal insistence in 1865. He was a close contemporary of Newman’s, dying just a year after him in January 1892. Yet while books and articles about Newman continue to pour off the press, Manning’s great works, and indeed his name, are largely forgotten today. To those who knew them both in the flesh it was very different; Newman died a relatively obscure figure, while after Manning’s death the crowds thronged his funeral procession through the streets of London in a way that had been seen only once before for the funeral of the Duke of Wellington 40 years earlier.

Part Two:

In the last half of his article, Russell Sparkes points out that although Cardinal Manning was not a theologian to compare with Newman, the former’s vision of the holy calling of the priest makes him a model to follow even today.

One of the first sermons he gave as a young priest describes the standards that he always lived by, and which he expected from other priests:

“The mind of Christ must be transfused into our own. There must be somewhat of the same intense love of perishing sinners, of the same patient endurance of moral evil, and unwearied striving to bring the impenitent to God … What a mission, Brethren, is ours!”

Sounds intriguing! I would take issue about the "obscurity" of Newman's death and funeral. The London Times eulogized him, 14 bishops were present at his funeral Mass, and 15,000 people lined the streets of Birmingham as his cortege carred him to Rednal. It was in Birmingham, not in London--but it was not obscure!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The End of the Anglican Communion?

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is resigning, of course you know. And now comes news that the Anglican Communion, of which the AofC kind of leads, is breaking up. Williams had backed a Covenant to hold the Communion together in spite of the fact that it is breaking up over doctrinal and moral issues: the Covenant didn't really address any of the issues. The BBC has the news here:

The Church of England cannot sign up to a plan aimed at preventing the global Anglican Church from splitting up after half its 44 dioceses voted against it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury backed the Anglican Covenant in a bid to ensure divisive issues - such as gay bishops - did not cause the Communion to split.

A vote by the diocesan synod of Lincoln meant 22 dioceses had opposed the plan.

The covenant had already been rejected by conservative global Church leaders, whom it was intended to placate.

So his own bishops and dioceses in Great Britain would not support Williams' plan. William Oddie, who blogs at The Catholic Herald, pointed out that Rowan Williams' failure as AofC was pre-ordained by the establishment of the Church of England:

All Archbishops of Canterbury fail, quite simply because the Church of England isn’t a Church at all, it’s a theme park: you wander about and choose the rides you want to go on. It’s not there to change you but to reflect what you already are. It has no consistent theology; it has a portfolio of theologies, each one inconsistent with the others. We all know that.

Oddie comments that Archbishop Williams has not lived up to the expectations created by all those who called him a great theologian. He has not applied a consistent theological position to his leadership of the Church of England and/or the Anglican Communion, according to Mr. Oddie.

I don't feel qualified to comment on all the Archbishop's theological efforts--I've read one book of his, on St. Theresa of Avila, for whom he did not seem to have that much sympathy. But I agree with William Oddie on the Church of England: since it is a political construct, a compromise handled by the Tudor sovereigns and successive Parliaments, it has never functioned as a universal church, but as a national establishment--and the foundations of that establishment have certainly weakened over the years. I write that while acknowledging that it has members who believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World and follow orthodox Catholic doctrine, sometimes in spite of their Church. Some of those members are being welcomed into the Catholic Church through Pope Benedict XVI's Personal Ordinariate structure, and some of them are coming in one by one. Like Blessed John Henry Newman and so many of the converts that followed him, they recognize the Truth: their Church does not have the authority to proclaim some central teachings as the sina qua non of communion. Certainly, it was Baptism in the nineteenth century with the Hampden and the Gorham cases. Lately, it has been the issue of women's ordination, which really led those opposed to re-examine the true meaning of priesthood, and recognize its absence in their church and its presence in the Catholic Church (and in the Orthodox Church, too).

Three Falls and Final Perseverance: Blessed John Hambley

For good reason, of course, I often emphasize the great endurance and fortitude of the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales after the Reformation and during the Recusancy era. But today's martyr, Blessed John Hambley, gave in thrice, renouncing his Catholic faith--one time at great cost to the Catholic laity who had protected him:

English martyr (suffered 1587), born and educated in Cornwall, and converted by reading one of Father Persons' books in 1582. After his course at Reims (1583-1585), he returned and worked for a year in the Western Counties. Betrayed and captured about Easter, 1586, he was tried and condemned at Taunton. He saved his life for the moment by denying his faith, then managed to break prison, and fled to Salisbury. Next August, however, the Protestant bishop there, in his hatred of the ancient Faith, resolved to search the houses of Catholics on the eve of the Assumption, suspecting that he might thus catch a priest, and in fact Hambley was recaptured. Being now in a worse plight that ever, his fears increased; he again offered conformity, and this time he gave up the names of most of his Catholic friends. Next Easter he was tried again, and again made offers of conformity. Yet after this third fall he managed to recover himself, and suffered near Salisbury "standing to it manfully, and inveighing much against his former fault". How he got the grace of final perseverance was a matter of much speculation. One contemporary, Father Warford, believed it was due to his guardian angel, but another, Father Gerard, with great probability, tells us that his strength came from a fellow-prisoner, Thomas Pilchard, afterwards himself a martyr.

Some Notes:

~Since he "fell three times" I cannot help but think of the three falls of Jesus that occur in the traditional Stations of the Cross, especially since Blessed John Hambley's third fall came after Easter (thus the illustration above)!
~In 1582, he might have read Father Parsons' "A Brief Discourse Containing Certain Reasons Why Catholics Refuse to Go to [the Established] Church" or "The First Book of the Christian Exercise, Appertaining to Resolution".
~The Bishop of Salisbury in 1587 was John Piers. According to that wikipedia article, Piers had work to do in Salisbury: "At Salisbury, by command of the Queen, he brought the ritual and statutes of his cathedral into conformity with the spirit of the Reformation, with changes away from Catholic practice." He was appointed in 1571, more than ten years after the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity, and Catholic practices remained in Salisbury!
~Remember that we just read about Blessed Thomas Pilchard and his incredible sufferings as a martyr, on March 21.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blessed Christopher Wharton, 1600 in York

Blessed Christopher Wharton is one of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1987:

Born at Middleton [or Myddelton], Yorkshire, before 1546; martyred at York, 28 March, 1600. He was the second son of Henry Wharton of Wharton and Agnes Warcop, and younger brother of Thomas, first Lord Wharton. He was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he graduated M.A., 3 February, 1564, and afterwards became a fellow. In 1583 he entered the English College at Reims to study for the priesthood (28 July). He was ordained priest in the following year 31 March, but continued his studies after ordination till 1586, when on 21 May he left Reims in company with Ven. Edward Burden [now Blessed Edward Burden]. No details of his missionary labours have been preserved; but at his trial Baron Savile, the judge, incidentally remarked that he had known him at Oxford some years after 1596. He was finally arrested in 1599 at the house of Eleanor Hunt, a widow, who was arrested with him and confined in York castle. There, with other Catholic prisoners, he was forcibly taken to hear Protestant sermons. He was brought to trial together with Mrs. Hunt at the Lent Assizes 1600, and both were condemned, the former for high treason, the latter for felony. Both refused life and liberty at the price of conformity, and the martyr suffered with great constancy, while Eleanor Hunt was allowed to linger in prison till she died. Dr. Worthington, writing of Ven. [Blessed] Christopher Wharton, specially commends his "humility, fervent charity, and other great virtues".

Note the gap between 1564 and 1583 while the future martyr was serving as fellow at Trinity College: what might have been happening in his studies and his life that moved him to leave Oxford and travel to Reims? Did he, like St. Edmund Campion before him and Blessed John Henry Newman after him, study the Fathers of the Church? This site notes that he was "influenced by others" and thus became a Catholic. Both he and those "others" were already taking incredible chances, as it was an act of treason against Queen Elizabeth I, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, to proselytize or convert. Then he left home and began the life of the hunted, persecuted Catholic missionary priest.

The Myddlelton Grange Retreat House linked above has a relic of the martyr: his skull. Its progress to the Retreat House is described thus:

His severed head was put on one of the gates of York, but was rescued by Catholics, who kept it safe in Knaresborough. Later, this area was served by Benedictine priests who eventually took the skull into safe keeping at Downside Abbey near Bath. 402 years after his death, Blessed Christopher’s skull was returned to this place by the Abbot of Downside, at the dedication of the chapel of St. Mary & St. Margaret Clitheroe.

Prayer to Blessed Christopher Wharton

Loving and Merciful God,
you raise up men and women in every age
to give witness to your love.
Through the intercession of Blessed Christopher Wharton,
priest and martyr,
may I learn more each day of your great love for me,
and in so doing,
may I never be afraid to offer the same witness of love
to my sisters and brothers.
By the prayers of this holy martyr,
grant my heartfelt prayer…
(here add your personal petition or prayer…),
and open my heart that I may recognise my sanctity as your child.
Through Christ our Lord.

Jesus, Prince of Martyrs, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Holy Martyrs of Yorkshire, pray for us.
Blessed Christopher Wharton, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book Review: History In His Hands

Subtitle: A Christian Narrative of the West

By Brennan Pursell, author of The Spanish Match, Benedict of Bavaria, and The Winter King.

From the publisher:

Most professional historians write history as though God either does not exist or doesn’t matter. History in His Hands offers a radically different approach. Brennan Pursell, Harvard-trained historian and author of Benedict of Bavaria, shows how God’s directing hand ensures that history—and each person in history—has significance. We can discover the difference that God’s presence makes in several key issues in human history: time, space, war and peace, wealth and poverty, and human love and hatred.

As we discover that all of us share an identity as God’s creation, Dr. Pursell also challenges us to cease thinking in terms of radically distinct historical periods, whether ancient, medieval, or modern, and recognize how all people who have ever lived are part of the same story.

Finally, Dr. Pursell invites us to recognize how, for all the achievements of our own day, we remain as flawed as ever, and in need of recognizing God as the source of our existence and the shaper of our destinies.

I think an informed reader will get the most out of this book--one who already knows the outlines of the history of Western Civilization, even if it is based upon college-level textbooks that may take an anti-religious or a-religious view of history. A well-read and well-informed reader who has studied that history with a Christian worldview will also benefit greatly from reading this book and one who has studied Christopher Dawson will be almost completely satisfied with Pursell's work in this book. It is not a traditional history text--no footnotes, no index, no apparatus like maps and tables, and the table of contents doesn't even include page numbers (!), just an excellent select bibliography and a very clear teaching voice. This is a book to be read aloud. The style is so lucid and the narrative so direct. (Now how many history books do you ever say that of!)

I have a few minor arguments with Professor Pursell's interpretations (for example: the second son theory of the Crusades has been debunked, I thought {see page 125}). His chapter on the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and Napoleon is excellent; he correctly traces the secularization of Western Culture to those historical landmarks. On the other hand, he barely mentions the American Revolution and the founding of the United States--the US just pops up fully formed like a mythical goddess during the section on the "Struggle for Freedom" in Chapter 9. In the last chapter, Pursell takes a prophetic stance, rationally analyzing the post-modern, post-human zeitgeist of the cultural elite.

Overall, Pursell completely debunks the Whig, progressive, "we're so much more advanced now" view of history while also introducing an element of mystery: why do some things happen? what is God's purpose in certain events of history? Since history IS in God's Hands, Pursell opens up this survey of western civ history to meditation and wonder. Highly recommended.


Introduction: God Matters (The Secular Narrative+Augustine and the Christian Narrative+Finding Truth in History)

1. God and Man (God, the Alpha, Love, and Reason + Cosmos and Earth + Adam and Eve + Suffering and Death + The Omega + Human "Prehistory" + Paleo- to Neolithic)

2. The Gift of Civilization (Babel + The "First" Civilizations + Mesopotamian Diversity + Unity in the Nile Valley + Around the World + Israel)

3. The Greeks Thought of Everything (In and Out of Ignorance + Archaic and Classical Poleis + The Birth of Western Philosophy + Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle + The Greek Legacy + The Hellenistic World)

4. The Romans Did Everything (Splendor and Squalor + From Republic to Principate + Western Convergence + Jesus of Nazareth + The Resurrection and the Church)

5. The West Diversifies (The Roman Imperial Temptation + the Growth of Christianity + Loving God as One + Rome's Miracle + The Empire Shatters + The Germanic Age in the West, 500-900 + Islam: Another Separation? + The Franks and the Lure of Empire + A New Era Comes)

6. Christendom Consolidates (The Feudal Age + For Better and for Worse: Church, State, and Warfare + The Crux of Centralization + The Papal Monarchy and the Church + A Christian Culture + Feudal Heights + Life Lived in Common + The Burden of Living)

7. A Tear in the Heart (Humanism and the Italian Renaissance + The Old Word and the New + Luther's Reformation + More Protestantisms + The Catholic "Counter-Reformation"? + Wars of Religion?)

8. Christendom Repudicated (New Worlds on Earth and Heaven? + The Scientific Revolution + The Eighteenth-Century Enlightenment -- Writers, Wits, and Renegades + The Coming of the French Revolution + Napoleon, The Revolution in Person)

9. The Perils of Wealth (A Century of Progress? + Still the Christian West + The Struggle for Freedom)

10. Slaughter and Surfeit (A Century of War: World War I and its Offspring + Number Two, and Then Some + Twentieth-Century Surfeit + Twenty-First Century Civilization Barbarism)

11. The Third Millennium A.D. (Post Modernity + The West in the Third Millennium A.D.)


Select Bibliography

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Annunciation of Our Lord or Lady Day

Please note that I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning to help with the Spring Membership Drive at Sacred Heart Radio, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Brian Patrick and I will discuss these themes of the Annunciation as Lady Day in England at the beginning of the New Year (while England was on the Julian Calendar and remained so after the proclamation of the Gregorian calendar). EWTN Radio will be carrying a "best of" the Son Rise Morning Show, but you could hear the live show here (no podcasts). And, if you enjoy listening to the Son Rise Morning Show, I certainly recommend that you support Sacred Heart Radio as much as you can!

This year, because the Fifth Sunday of Lent (in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite, Passion Sunday) took precedence over the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, the feast is celebrated today. On his blog last year, Gareth Russell reminded us that this day was celebrated as Lady Day in England and marked the beginning of the new year:

For many centuries, March 25th was often known by people in England as "Lady Day," in honour of Our Lady, the Virgin Mary, rather than by its longer title of "Feast of the Annunciation." Many people do not know that until 1752, the British New Year actually started on Lady Day, rather than January 1st. The reasons for this were twofold - firstly, the conception of Jesus Christ in human form was felt by Christians to mark the beginning of a new era in human history and it was therefore considered appropriate to start the new year on March 25th, out of respect for Christ. Secondly, Lady Day usually falls very close to the Equinox, when the length of day and night is roughly equal, marking the end of the winter and the beginning of spring - hence another reason to celebrate the new year in March, rather than in the dark, depressing and often hunger-filled month of January.

The English reverence for Mary at the beginning of the year certainly reminds me of England as Mary's Dowry.

When Great Britain finally adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, the New Year began on January 1.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Church of the English Martyrs, York

Since we are remembering St. Margaret Clitherow today, and have featured some other Catholic Martyrs of York recently, it only seems right to highlight the parish church in York dedicated to the English Martyrs.

The Parish of the English Martyrs is part of the Middlesbrough Diocese and yesterday, March 24, was the last stop on a pilgrimage in honor of St. Margaret Clitherow:

[The pilgrimage] will commence at 1.30pm with a Solemn Mass in the Church of St Wilfrid, which is close to York Minster. Following Mass, the procession will set off from outside St Wilfrid's at around 3pm, and will pass through The Shambles and over Ouse Bridge to the Church of the English Martyrs where, at about 4pm, there will be veneration of the relic of St Margaret followed by Benediction. Bishop Terence Drainey will be presiding at the Mass, which will be celebrated by Fr Michael Brown. The Rudgate Singers will provide the musical setting, which will be a modern one: Missa Summi et Aeterni Sacerdotis by Jeffrey Ostrowski. This may be unfamiliar to many people, but I don't think anyone will be disappointed. There will also be music by Victoria, Bruckner, Scarlatti, De Wael (another modern composer) and Gombert. During the veneration of the relic, the congregation will be invited to sing Faith of Our Fathers, Firmly I Believe and Truely (sic), and God of Mercy and Compassion. For Benediction the Rudgate Singers will sing the Perosi version of the O Salutaris, Bruckner's Tantum Ergo and Allegri's Adoremus. The Recessional will be the Worcester version of Laudes Regiae.

Here is a flickr series of pictures of the church, with this excellent detail about its history: "The mission began in 1881, with worship in a room in St. Mary's Court, off Blossom Street. In 1889 the congregation moved to 17 Blossom Street, where it occupied theupper story of a school building. This served until the present church and presbytery were built in Dalton Terrace (church opened on 4 May 1932). The architects were Williams & Jopling of Hull, who at the same time built St Vincent de Paul, Hull, to a very similar design, but smaller. The church and presbytery were built at a cost of about £12,000; the church seated 520 people.There are two parish halls; the small hall was built first, and the large hall later (inthe 1950s).The sanctuary was reordered by Weightman and Bullen in 1967, when the high altar, altar rails and pulpit were removed. A new forward altar was introduced, with parquet flooring to the chancel and seating around the apse, and a new terrazzo floor in the nave alleys."

The Pearl of York: St. Margaret Clitherow

She was pressed to death on Good Friday in 1586. The reason for this unique form of execution is that St. Margaret Clitherow refused to plead at her trial, to avoid her family having to testify against or for her. She was accused of harboring priests and protecting them, and she certainly had broken the law. Her husband was Anglican and paid fines on her behalf since she did not attend the Church of England. She did have Catholic priests in their home to teach her children and other Catholic children--remember that many in the north of England remained true to the Catholic Faith--and provided a hiding place. When these activities were discovered, St. Margaret was arrested and put on trial. Because she would not plead the judge proclaimed this sentence:

You must return from whence you came, and there, in the lowest part of the prison, be stripped naked, laid down, your back on the ground, and as much weight laid upon you as you are able to bear, and so to continue for three days without meat or drink, and on the third day to be pressed to death, your hands and feet tied to posts, and a sharp stone under your back. . . . [except that they did not prolong her torture to force her to plead in the trial against her, but proceeded with an execution by pressing or crushing]

Ten days were allowed to pass between her sentencing and execution. On the day of her execution she was calm and forgiving. When asked to pray for the Queen, she asked God to turn Her Majesty to the Catholic faith. They placed the board upon her and the hired executioners placed the huge stones upon her. Within a quarter of an hour she was dead. The sheriffs left the body under the door from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. They then buried her body in some waste ground, where they hoped it would never be found.

Last year I published this review of a book that considered her martyrdom and her sufferings as a Catholic in Elizabethan York in the context of the debate between Catholics about what relief from recusancy fines they could obtain by some outward indications of conformity. (The Trials of Margaret Clitherow: Persecution, Martyrdom and the Politics of Sanctity in Elizabethan Englandby Peter Lake and Michael Questier).

Earlier this year, one of the bloggers for The Catholic Herald presented the notion that St. Margaret Clitherow should be included among the eminent Britons honoured by a postage stamp.

St. Margaret Clitherow shares a feast day with St. Margaret Ward and St. Anne Line, on August 30 in the dioceses of England.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What are You Working on this Weekend?

I have two projects to work on this weekend, in addition to yard work, housework, shopping, and walking two demanding terriers! I'm working on a more expanded article on Blessed John Henry Newman and Conscience's rights and responsibilities, and an article to provide context for the two historical movies out now: one on the persecution of Catholics in 20th century Mexico and the other on the genocide of the Vendee during the French Revolution.

I'll let you know when they appear in print or on-line. Also, I hope you have a subscription to OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine, because I am going to have an article in the next issue (May/June) on the two types of saints in the Catholic Church--Martyrs and Confessors!

I am also thinking of joining this project in April, promoted by the Catholic Writers Guild, 30K for Christ, to write 30,000 words in April!

So what are you working on this weekend?

March 24, 1829: The Emancipation of Catholics

In my previous post today I recounted the death of Elizabeth I, Queen of England and Ireland. When she died, Elizabeth left in place a series of penal and recusancy laws aimed at punishing Catholics and discouraging Catholicism in England and Ireland. In one of those great ironies of history, 226 years later, on March 24 in 1829, the English Parliament passed the Catholic Relief Act, undoing her Parliament's laws. This Act of Parliament actually went into force on April 13, 1829:

Whereas by various Acts of Parliament, certain Restraints and Disabilities are imposed on the Roman Catholic subjects of His Majesty, to which other subjects of His Majesty are not liable: and whereas it is expedient that such restraints and disabilities shall be from henceforth discontinued: and whereas by various Acts certain Oaths and certain Declarations, commonly called the Declaration against Transubstantiation, and the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as practised in the Church of Rome, are or may be required to be taken, made and subscribed by the subjects of His Majesty, as qualifications for sitting and voting in Parliament, and for the enjoyment of certain offices, franchises, and civil rights; Be it Enacted by The King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, that from and after the commencement of this Act, all such parts of the said Acts as require the said Declarations, or either of them, to be made or subscribed by any of His Majesty’s Subjects as a qualification for sitting and voting in Parliament, or for the exercise or enjoyment of any office, franchise, or civil right, be and the same are (save as hereinafter provided and excepted) hereby Repealed.

If you read through just a few of the speeches given by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords (which included the Anglican Bishops) to encourage the reading and the passage of this bill, you can certainly see how contentious this issue was in Parliament--the crux of the issue being that since Catholic attorney Daniel O'Connell had won a seat in Parliament, the King's Government in England feared an uprising in Ireland if he was not allowed to take his seat, since he was Catholic--for fear that Emancipation, removing all the penal laws, would in fact encourage the growth and spread of Popery and weaken the Church of England. Robert Peel worked on passing the Emancipation Bill in the House of Commons. Since both Wellington and Peel were Tories and were previously opposed to Catholic Emancipation, they were regarded as traitors--Welllington threatened to resign to force King George IV to give his Royal Assent to the Act.

Of course, this being a matter of politics, someone had to lose in the deal. The poorer landowners were disenfranchised as only a male with property worth 10 pounds per year could vote (the minimum had been 2 pounds per year) and the Irish still had to pay taxes to support the Church of Ireland (which led to the Tithe Wars). Most of the burden for electing O'Connell and forcing the government to acknowledge the danger of not letting him take his seat had been borne by the peasants of Ireland. The middle class Catholics of England truly benefitted from the removal of restrictions on their livelihood and political representation, although they still could not attend at Oxford or Cambridge because an oath to uphold the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England was a graduation requirement.

The act also sought to limit the growth of monasteries and the presence of Jesuits in England:

And whereas Jesuits and members of other religious orders, communities or societies, of the church of Rome, bound by monastic or religious vows, are resident within the United Kingdom; and it is expedient to make provision for the gradual suppression and final prohibition of the same therein; Be it therefore Enacted, That every Jesuit, and every member of any other religious order, community or society of the church of Rome, bound by monastic or religious vows, who at the time of the commencement of this Act shall be within the United Kingdom, shall within Six calendar months after the commencement of this Act, deliver to the clerk of the peace of the county or place where such person shall reside, or his deputy, a notice or statement, in the form and containing the particulars set forth in the Schedule to this Act annexed; which notice or statement, such clerk of the peace, or his deputy, is hereby required to preserve and register amongst the other records of such county or place, for which no fee shall be payable, and a copy of which said notice or statement shall be by such clerk of the peace, or his deputy, forthwith transmitted to the chief secretary of the Lord Lieutenant, or other Chief Governor or Governors of Ireland, if such person shall reside in Ireland, or if in Great Britain, to one of His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State; and in case any person shall offend in the premises, he shall forfeit and pay to His Majesty, for every calendar month during which he shall remain in the United Kingdom without having delivered such notice or statement as is hereinbefore required, the sum of Fifty pounds.

And be it further Enacted, That in case any Jesuit, or member of any such religious order, community or society as aforesaid, shall after the commencement of this Act, within any part of the United Kingdom, admit any person to become a regular Ecclesiastic or brother or member of any such religious order, community or society, or be aiding or consenting thereto, or shall administer or cause to be administered, or be aiding or assisting in the administering or taking any oath, vow or engagement, purporting or intended to bind the person taking the same to the rules, ordinances or ceremonies of such religious order, community or society, every person offending in the premises in England or Ireland, shall be deemed guilty of a Misdemeanor, and in Scotland shall be punished by fine and imprisonment.

And be it further Enacted, That in case any person shall after the commencement of this Act, within any part of this United Kingdom, be admitted or become a Jesuit or brother or member of any other such religious order, community or society as aforesaid, such person shall be deemed and taken to be guilty of a Misdemeanor, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be sentenced and ordered to be banished from the United Kingdom for the term of his natural life.
These latter clauses were in reaction to the restoration of the Jesuit order in England earlier that year--they were never in effect.

March 24, 1603: The Death of Elizabeth I

Accounts of the last days of Elizabeth I in March 1603 are rather chilling, as the painting by Paul Delaroche depicts. Becoming ill at Richmond Palace she refused the attendance of her physicians and she would not rest in bed but stood for hours, sometimes sitting down, but not resting or sleeping. Her ladies-in-waiting spread cushions on the floor and she laid on them four days. As Delaroche shows, her attendants were frantic with concern and stress.

Finally she was too weak to protest or refuse, even to speak, so they were able to move her to her bed. Richard Whitgift the Archbishop of Canterbury visited her bedside to prepare her for death. At some point she made some sign that James VI of Scotland should succeed her. The last Tudor monarch finally fell into a deep sleep on March 23 and died early the morning of March 24,1603.

Some fans of Elizabeth I, as some websites I've visited demonstrate, forget the contemporary mixture of reactions to her death. Certainly, since she reigned for almost 45 years, she was the only Queen many of her people had known. But her reputation had declined: the wars in Ireland and with Spain had taken their toll and her courtiers were weary of her later moods of melancholy and paranoia. The prospect of a new King with a family at Court led many to welcome the change in dynasty and rule occasioned by her death. Now, of course, with the two Elizabeth movies (anti-Catholic and manipulative as they are) and all the books written about her leadership and management skills, Elizbeth's reputation is very high, while James I's has ebbed. Disappointment with his reign led to a contemporary re-evaluation of her reign in the seventeeenth century, too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blessed Edmund Sykes, Martyr at York

Today, another martyr in York during the reign of Elizabeth I: Blessed Edmund Sykes's story demonstrates both weakness and renewed strength, as he briefly lapsed while ill and in prison:

Born at Leeds; martyred at York Tyburn 23 March, 1586-7; was a student at the College at Reims where he was ordained 21 Feb., 1581, and sent to the English Mission on 5 June following. He laboured in his native Yorkshire with such zeal and sacrifice, that his strength failed. Arthur Webster, an apostate, took advantage of his illness to betray him, and he was committed to the York Kidcot by the Council of the North. In his weakness he consented to be present at the heretical service but he refused to repeat the act and remained a prisoner. After confinement for about six months, he was again brought before the Council and sentenced to banishment. On 23 Aug., 1585, he was transferred to the Castle of Kingston-upon-Hull, and within a week shipped beyond the seas. He made his way to Rome, where he was entertained at the English College for nine days from 15 April, 1586, his purpose being to atone for his lapse by the pilgrimage, and he also entertained some thoughts of entering religion. There he understood that it was God's will that he should return to the English mission, and reaching Reims on 10 June, he left again for England on 16. After about six months he was betrayed by his brother, to whose house in Wath he had resorted, and was sent a close prisoner to York Castle by the Council. He was arraigned at the Lent Assizes, condemned as a traitor on the score of his priesthood, and on 23 March, 1586-7 was drawn on the hurdle from the castle yard to York Tyburn, where he suffered the death penalty. [My emphasis: why did his brother betray him? Opposition to Catholicism? Fear for his own life and his family's well-being?]

A parish is dedicated to him at Leeds, although the website does not indicate any shrine to the martyr. The Diocese of Leeds announced ten amalgamated parishes in June of 2010, I suppose reflecting either a priest shortage or population shifts. Please note that one of the parishes has been dedicated to Blessed John Henry Newman (might be the first?).

Blessed Edmund Sykes is among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

St. Nicholas Owen, Redux

Because of the Julian/Gregorian calendar confusions of 16th and 17th century Europe, and their intermingling with Catholic v. Protestant conflicts at the same time, dates can be a problem for a historian and a reader. I wrote about St. Nicholas Owen on March 2 this year, but The Catholic Herald has featured him on-line this week for his martyrdom's anniversary on March 22. Since he is such a great martyr, here's a link to their post and a quotation:

Nicholas Owen (c 1550-1606) was one of four sons of Walter Owen, a carpenter who lived in Oxford. Inheriting his father’s skill, he came to specialise in the construction of concealed priest-holes in country houses. Many Catholics on the run owed their lives to him.

“I verily think,” noted Fr John Gerard, “that no one can be said to have done more good of all those who laboured in the English vineyard.

“He was the immediate occasion of saving many hundreds of persons, both ecclesiastical and secular, which had been lost and forfeited many times over if the priests had been taken in their houses.”

Owen is first encountered in 1581 in connection with the martyrdom of Edmund Campion, whose servant he may have been. At all events, he maintained Campion’s innocence of treason with such force that he himself was imprisoned.

He must have been tough to survive the appalling conditions, which killed one of his fellow prisoners. Yet he was a small man who walked with a pronounced limp after a pack horse fell on top of him and broke his leg.

St. Nicholas Owen suffered to keep the missionary priests safe while he lived and he gave his life for their safety, too. St. Nicholas Owen, Pray for Us.

Charles I's Court Painter: Anthony Van Dyke

Anthony Van Dyke was born on March 22, 1599 in Antwerp. In 1632, he visited England for the second time and soon became Charles I's official court and portrait painter, developing a flattering style that influenced later painters like Kneller and Lely. In 2009, the Tate Britain held an exhibition titled "Van Dyck and Britain":

Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641) was the greatest painter in seventeenth-century Britain. Though trained in Flanders, he had a huge impact on British cultural life as the principal painter at King Charles I’s ostensibly elegant court, where his impact was similar to that of Hans Holbein at the court of Henry VIII.

Van Dyck was born and trained in the great art centre of Antwerp. He made a brief visit to London in 1620-21 before returning in 1632 to King Charles I’s court. Intensely ambitious and hugely productive, he re-invented portrait-painting in Britain, retaining his pre-eminence until his premature death at the age of 42. Working in a period of intense political ferment during the run-up to the British Civil War, van Dyck portrayed many of the leading characters of the period. His iconic portraits of King Charles I have shaped our view of the Stuart monarchy, while the compositions he used influenced many future generations of British painters.

This visually sumptuous exhibition brings together some of the finest and most magnificent paintings that van Dyck produced during his years in Britain. It also reveals his continuing visual legacy through portraits by artists from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, including Sir Joshua Reynolds and John Singer Sargent. Featuring loans from The Royal Collection and The National Trust, this exhibition explores the context of van Dyck’s key English works, examining his innovative approach to painting the British elite. It also looks at his use of costume and his luscious, sparkling depiction of the rich fabrics of the period, and how his art was itself influenced by more local British painting.

Of his style and method of portraying the royal family, the exhibition notes:

These royal portraits show van Dyck's ability to mix fantasy and reality in the representation of kingship. Charles I relied upon van Dyck to provide the idealising portraits that would bolster his public image. These paintings embodied the kings view of divine rule and of Neoplatonic ideas about the self-regulation of the passions. The portraits suggest a happy, settled ruling family at the head of a nation at ease with itself and with its king.

Of course, we know that wasn't so:

It was all an illusion. 'Loving rule' may have been implied by the portraits of the king and queen, the image of Cupid and Psyche, or the masques in which the royal couple participated at court. In fact, Charless relationship with Parliament had broken down, leaving him increasingly isolated. There was fear of Catholic conspiracies and discontent that the Protestant king had taken a Catholic wife.

Charles I's favor to a foreign and Catholic painter just compounded the Parliamentary view that Charles was too Catholic: the Puritans could point to his use of a Catholic artist as another cause of their discontent with the king's rule.

Van Dyke died in London before the English Civil War began.

Several of his paintings are in the National Gallery in London. Although Queen Henrietta Maria's chapel with its baroque Catholic paintings was ransacked and destroyed, the Royal collection gathered by Charles, including all the Royal Portraits seemed to have survived.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Last Cardinal Protector of England

On March 21, 1534 Lorenzo Cardinal Campeggio was deprived of his bishopric in Salisbury by the English Parliament. He had stripped of its revenues the year before and dismissed as Cardinal Protector of England by Henry VIII in May of 1531. Cardinal Campeggio had been named Cardinal Protector in 1523 and received the see of Salisbury in 1524. From 1527 on, he had been involved in the King's Great Matter, and both Henry VIII and Thomas Cardinal Wolsey had depended on him to get that annulment of Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The next year (1528), at Wolsey's request, he was sent to England to form, jointly with Wolsey, a court to try the so-called divorce suit of Henry VIII. (For a complete account of the case see article HENRY VIII.) Here we need only refer to Campeggio's conduct in it. He did his best to escape the responsibility which the pope thrust upon him, for he knew well the difficulties both of law and fact connected with the case; and he thoroughly realized, from his intimate acquaintance with Henry and Charles (Catherine's nephew), that, whichever way it was decided, a great nation would be lost to the Church. His instructions were to proceed with extreme slowness and caution; to bring about if possible the reconciliation of Henry with Catherine; and under no circumstances to come to a final decision. In spite of all Wolsey's wiles and the bribes held out to him by the king, he refused to express any opinion and adhered strictly to the orders which he had received. He did, indeed, try his best to induce Catherine to enter a convent, but when she with much spirit declined to do so, he praised her conduct. In the trial (June-July, 1529), it should be noted, Campeggio treated Wolsey as a subordinate and as the king's advocate rather than as a judge. On the last day (23 July), when everyone expected the final decision, he boldly adjourned the court. Some days later the news arrived that Catherine's appeal had already been received in Rome and that the case was reserved to the Holy See. On his way back to Italy Campeggio was detained at Dover, while his baggage was searched by the king's officials in the hope of finding the decretal Bull defining the law of the divorce. But the prudent legate had already destroyed the document, and the search only proved that he left the country poorer than when he had entered it.

So thus he lost his title as Bishop of Salisbury, having disappointed Henry VIII. I reviewed this book last year, which described the office of the Cardinal Protector and its occupants during the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII: The Cardinal Protectors of England: Rome and the Tudors Before the Reformation by William E. Wilkie, published by Cambridge University Press in 1974.

Not for the Faint of Heart: Blesseds Thomas Pilchard and Matthew Flathers

The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the life and death of Blessed Thomas Pilchard or Pilcher, incuding among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1987:

He was born at Battle, Sussex, 1557; died at Dorchester, 21 March 1586-7. He became a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, in 1576, and took the degree of M.A., in 1579, resigning his fellowship the following year. He arrived at Reims 20 November, 1581, and was ordained priest at Laon, March, 1583, and was sent on the mission. He was arrested soon after, and banished; but returned almost immediately. He was again arrested early in March, 1586-7, and imprisoned in Dorchester Gaol, and in the fortnight between committal to prison and condemnation converted thirty persons. He was so cruelly drawn upon the hurdle that he was fainting when he came to the place of execution. When the rope was cut, being still alive he stood erect under the scaffold. The executioner, a cook, carried out the sentence so clumsily that the victim, turning to the sheriff, exclaimed "Is this then your justice, Mr. Sheriff?" According to another account "the priest raised himself and putting out his hands cast forward his own bowels, crying 'Miserere mei'". Father William Warford, a contemporary of Blessed Thomas Pilchard, says: "There was not a priest in the whole West of England, who, to my knowledge, was his equal in virtue."

The Catholic Encyclopedia records another brutal execution on March 21, in 1607, of Blessed Matthew Flathers in York:

An English priest and martyr; b. probably c. 1580 at Weston, Yorkshire, England; d. at York, 21 March, 1607. He was educated at Douai, and ordained at Arras, 25 March, 1606. Three months later he was sent to English mission, but was discovered almost immediately by the emissaries of the Government, who, after the Gunpowder Plot, had redoubled their vigilance in hunting down the priests of the proscribed religion. He was brought to trial, under the statute of 27 Elizabeth, on the charge of receiving orders abroad, and condemned to death. By an act of unusual clemency, this sentence was commuted to banishment for life; but after a brief exile, the undaunted priest returned to England in order to fulfil his mission, and, after ministering for a short time to his oppressed coreligionists in Yorkshire was again apprehended. Brought to trial at York on the charge of being ordained abroad and exercising priestly functions in England, Flathers was offered his life on condition that he take the recently enacted Oath of Allegiance. On his refusal, he was condemned to death and taken to the common place of execution outside Micklegate Bar, York. The usual punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering seems to have been carried out in a peculiarly brutal manner, and eyewitnesses relate how the tragic spectacle excited the commiseration of the crowds of Protestant spectators.

Remember that hanging, drawing and quartering was live vivisection: a fumbling, inept executioner could prolong the suffering. It was a mercy if the hangman allowed the victim to die while hanging, or at least be unconscious.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Downton Abbey and Henry VIII

I just started watching the PBS Masterpiece Theatre series Downton Abbey during its second season. The building in which the show is filmed is obviously not an abbey, but it could be on former abbey land. That means that sometime in the sixteenth century, a noble bought the land and buildings from Henry VIII through his Vice Regent in Spiritual's Court of Augmentations. Monsignor Owen Campion of the Our Sunday Visitor newspaper recently reflected on that background in the power context of Henry VIII's reign:

Bringing into line the nobility and the religious communities, such as monasteries and convents that literally were sprinkled across the map of England, was something else. The monarch was not almighty.

Nobles owned, and often occupied, vast tracts of land. Untold thousands of people depended on them. For generations, nobles had developed ties with the people living on their lands or working for them. (Admittedly, not every circumstance was happy.)

The nobles inevitably were rich. The king needed revenues from taxes. Nobles sat in Parliament, in the House of Lords. The king needed their political support, especially in a matter then so revolutionary as breaking religious bonds with the pope.

Then there was the reality of the monasteries. The abbeys and convents were more than houses of prayer. They were magnets for local towns and regions. In them were schools. Often, there were hospitals, at least as such were known in the 16th century. In the monasteries, the poor found relief. They were centers of worship and devotion. Finally, many abbots sat in Parliament.

If unchecked, the monasteries very likely could frustrate the king as he sought to change religion in England.

So, he instituted a policy to dissolve the monasteries. It was an amazing, stupendous undertaking, as if Congress today ordered the closing of every college and university in this country. Brute force played a role. Resistance varied. For example, among the first martyrs of those days were Carthusians from an abbey. They would not acknowledge the king’s order separating the Church from Rome, so they were executed. . . .

As a result, the king in a relatively short period of time had at his disposal huge areas of land, once occupied by the monasteries, along with everything that the monasteries had owned.

A few of the monasteries were kept as Anglican churches, although the monks were expelled. Westminster Abbey is an example.

In many other cases, the king simply seized whatever had belonged to monasteries as his own. Then, on some occasions, he gave the land to nobles whom he wished to placate. Some real-life English nobles today own and occupy land once the site of a Catholic abbey.

In another OSV publication last year, I also wrote about the dissolution of the monasteries, in the November/December issue of The Catholic Answer Magazine: "Henry VIII's Achievement".

Promotional Investments and Returns

Promoting one's book is sometimes a matter of investment without really knowing what the return will be. For example, I've invested my time and effort recently into two articles for the on-line magazine, the Catholic Exchange. I receive no payment from them but hope that they drive traffic to this blog and to my publisher's website. Perhaps a few readers will order a copy of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation. The first article was on the HHS Mandate/Henry VIII connections noted by various pundits and the second on Blessed John Henry Newman's famous clarication on conscience ("Conscience has rights because it has duties.") in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk.

I've also submitted and had appear a three part series on the celebration of the Catholic Mass in England during the sixteenth century on this blog. One of the blogmasters has asked me to become a regular contributor there, periodically/monthly submitting a post for publication. (Perhaps a sequel with information on the seventeenth century, with notes about the embassy chapels in London?) Here is the first part, here the second, and here the third on Pray the Mass: Teaching the Beauty of the Catholic Mass.

While I'm working on my second book, I am still trying to find markets and connections for the first book, and for me, on-line blogs and print magazines (like OSV's The Catholic Answer) are the venues most readily available. As I spoke last year at the Catholic Writers Guild Live Conference, each author--particularly a part-time author--has to decide what she can and can't do to promote her book or her message. As I attempt to promote my book and at the same time increase knowledge of the history of the English Reformation and the Catholic Martyrs, that's what I'm doing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thomas Ken, Non-juror and Former Bishop of Bath and Wells

Thomas Ken died on March 19, 1711 at Longleat House, as the guest of Thomas Thynne, 1st Viscount Weymouth. Ken had lived there with an annual pension since he had refused to foreswear his oath of loyalty to King James II in 1691, becoming a non-juror. The irony of his refusal to swear an oath of loyalty to King William III and Queen Mary II is that he had been one of the seven bishops who had refused to publish and proclaim James II's Declaration of Indulgence in 1688. As the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Thomas Ken was a thorough-going High Church Anglican without a shred of Anglo-Catholic sympathy for the Roman Catholic Church.

Along with the other bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was arrested by James II and placed the Tower of London and charged with rebellion and sedition. At their trial, the bishops were acquitted; a real blow to James's plans. Yet, Ken had sworn an oath to James as the rightful king and he did not accept the parliamentary arrangements that brought James' son-in-law and "ungrateful" daughter to the throne.

According to this site,

He was born in 1637 and reared by his half-sister Anne and her husband the well-known angler Izaak Walton. He became a clergyman and served for a year at the Hague as chaplain to Mary, Princess of England and Queen of Holland, niece of King Charles II of England and wife of the Dutch King William of Orange. During this year he publicly rebuked King William for his treatment of his wife the said Mary, which may be why he was chaplain there for only a year. Upon his return to England, he was made Royal Chaplain to King Charles. The King had a mistress, Nell Gwyn, and for his convenience wished to lodge her in his chaplain's residence. Thomas sent the King a sharp refusal, saying that it was not suitable that the Royal Chaplain should double as the Royal Pimp. Charles admired his honesty and bluntness, and when the bishopric of Bath and Wells became available soon after, he declared, "None shall have it but that little man who refused lodging to poor Nellie!" Ken was accordingly made a bishop. When Charles was on his deathbed, it was Ken whom he asked to be with him and prepare him for death.

(Nevertheless he was asked to leave the room and some point when Charles II was received into the Catholic Church, according to reports.)

Today, he is best known for several hymns that he wrote, such as those beginning:

Awake my soul, and with the sun
thy daily course of duty run.
Cast off dull sloth, and joyful rise
to pay thy morning sacrifice.


All praise to thee, who safe hast kept
and hast refreshed me while I slept!
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless life partake.


All praise to thee, my God, this night
for all the blessings of the light.
Keep me, oh keep me, King of Kings,
beneath Thine own almighty wings.


Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

One of my favorite movie moments of all time is connected with that last hymn--at the end of Shenandoah(1965), when the congregation starts singing it as Boy, the youngest son of the James Stewart character, Charlie Anderson, limps into the church.

Thomas Ken is honored on the calendar of the Episcopalian Church of the USA on March 21st.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

G.E.M. Anscombe

Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe was born March 18, 1919. Julianne Wiley wrote a great article about her and it appeared in the Christmastide 2010 issue of Voices, the seasonal journal of Women for Faith and Family.

To quote:

Here’s an odd thing: a British bishop and a professor have reported that, in two different papal audiences with Pope John Paul II, as soon as they happened to mention their connection with Oxford University, Pope John Paul immediately leaned forward with an enthusiastic nod and asked, “Do you know Professor Anscombe?”

Do you know Professor Anscombe? No? Me neither, for far too long. Who is she?

Elizabeth Anscombe’s writings provided the intellectual background for key moral teaching found in documents of the Second Vatican Council like Gaudium et Spes (§27), encyclicals like Veritatis Splendor (§80), and even the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§§2297-98). The American Catholic Philosophers Association awarded her the Aquinas Medal for her enormous contribution to ethical thought.

In the last homily he gave before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger lamented that modern life is ruled by a “dictatorship of relativism” — an idea that echoes the pioneering work of Elizabeth Anscombe. Mary Warnock, a historian and an unbeliever, said in her survey of women philosophers for the past four centuries — that is, the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries — that Elizabeth Anscombe was “the undoubted giant among women philosophers”. Donald Davidson, the influential American philosopher, went even further — in his opinion Elizabeth Anscombe did the most important work on the ethical theory of action and intention, since Aristotle.

Popes. Encyclicals. Aristotle. “Giant among women”. Wow.

So who was this wonder-woman? To some, she was G.E.M. Anscombe, a great analytical philosopher. To her students, she was Miss Anscombe — though she was married to fellow-philosopher Peter Geach. “Miss” Anscombe, the exhilarating teacher. To some, she was Elizabeth, devoted friend. And to some, no doubt, she was “that awful Anscombe woman”, “the Dragon Lady of Oxford”, the oddball Catholic mother of seven. All in all, she was possibly one of the most holy and courageous women you have never met.

Wikipedia also offers a survey of her life and work. She became the colleague and literary executor for Wittgenstein, who admired her intellect but really could not understand her love of family and faith in Jesus.

Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Grandmother of Lady Jane Grey

Henry VIII's sister Mary was born on March 18, 1496. She was the fifth child of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. More here. Her life's story is romantic, I suppose, because she married for love after marrying for the state. Mary, the Dowager Queen of France and the Duchess of Suffolk sided with Katherine of Aragon during the crisis of the King's Great Matter, but died in 1533, before the denouement.

Henry VIII, in spite of his early disapproval of Mary and Charles Brandon marrying without his permission, chose to name her heirs in the succession, after his children of course, ignoring the primogeniture claims of his elder sister Margaret's heirs. Mary's daughter Frances married Henry Grey, the Marquess of Dorset and their daughter Jane was chosen by Edward VI to thwart his half-sister Mary's accession to the throne upon his death. But that's another story, told elsewhere.

Charles Major told the love story of Mary and Charles Brandon in the late nineteenth century novel, When Knighthood was in Flower which was made into a movie twice: the silent 1923 version with Marion Davies and the 1953 Walt Disney version with Glynis Johns and Richard Todd, titled "The Sword and the Rose."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Shield of St. Patrick

I bind this day to me forever by
power of faith Christ's incarnation,
his baptism in the Jordan river,
his death on the cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spiced tomb,
his riding up the heavenly way,
his coming at the day of doom I bind
unto myself today.

I bind unto myself today the power of
God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to harken to my need,
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward,
the Word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the name,
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three,
of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
praise to the God of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord!

This English version of the Shield or Breastplate of St. Patrick was created by Cecil Frances Alexander, an Anglican hymnist much influenced by the Oxford Movement and particularly by John Keble. More about her here. More about St. Patrick here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Radio Interviews and Radio Stations

I spoke to Kris McGregor of Inside the Pages on KVSS, Spirit Catholic Radio in Omaha, and she also loaded our interview on her great website Discerning Hearts, with this introduction:

The wonderfully intrepid Stephanie Mann joins us once again to discuss “Supremacy and Survival: How Catholic Endured the English Reformation”. The lessons of the past have much to teach us today, especially those experienced in England during the times of the Tudors and Stuarts. Religious liberty was the issue then, and is the issue today in many places throughout the world…even in the U.S. It’s not just about freedom of speech, it’s about the freedom of religion. What will they be writing about 500 years from now about the Catholics in America? Interesting…

Also, while my husband and I were in Ohio this week, I drove from Columbus (where Mark was in meetings) to Cincinnati to meet Matt Swaim and Annie Mitchell of the Son Rise Morning Show at Sacred Heart Radio! Brian Patrick was out of town that afternoon, so we did not meet. Annie showed me around the retreat center where Sacred Heart Radio has its studios. The retreat center, Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, was formerly the seminary for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and was filled with great artwork, some of it from closed parishes. After the tour, which included the statue of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pictured above, in the center's library (that's Anne standing beneath it), she drove me to downtown Cincy to meet Matt and his little baby Zeke at Moerlein Lager House, which has just opened--next to The Great American Ballpark and not far from the Paul Brown Stadium on the bank of the Ohio River. Kentucky's right across the way and the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge will get you there.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blessed John Amias and Blessed Robert Dalby

On March 16, 1589, these two priests suffered being hung, drawn and quartered in York.

Robert Dalby was from Hemingbrough in the East Riding of Yorkshire and lived at first as a Protestant minister. Becoming a Catholic, he entered the English College at Rheims on 30 September 1586 to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest at Châlons on 16 April 1588. It was on 25 August that year that he set out for England. He was arrested almost immediately upon landing at Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast and imprisoned in York Castle.

There is some doubt about the early life of Blessed John Amias. One story is that he was indeed John Amias or Amyas, born at Wakefield in Yorkshire, England, where he married and raised a family, exercising the trade of cloth-merchant. On the death of his wife, he divided his property among his children and left for the Continent to become a priest. There is also a possibility that he was really William Anne (surname), youngest son of John and Katherine Anne, of Frickley near Wakefield.

Regardless of his actual name, on 22 June 1580, a widower calling himself "John Amias" entered the English College at Rheims to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in Rheim Cathedral on 25 March 1581. On 5 June of that year Amias set out for Paris and then England, as a missionary, in the company of another priest, Edmund Sykes. Of his missionary life we know little. Towards the end of 1588 he was seized at the house of a Mr. Murton at Melling in Lancashire and imprisoned in York Castle.

Yorkshire, as I've commented before on this blog and in Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation, was one of those districts of England where recusancy and Catholicism was particularly strong. This History of York describes the Catholic Resistance during Elizabeth I's reign, providing some details of the trouble the queen had in asserting her authority.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blessed William Hart, A Martyr with Connections

From this account, taken from the old Catholic Encyclopedia, Blessed William Hart travelled widely to fulfill his vocation as priest after returning to the Catholic faith. The Catholic college and seminary had to move from Douai to Reims because of religious wars in the Spanish Netherlands (where Douai then was). He has that fascinating connection to St. Margaret Clitherow and her household. The Trappes scholarship was established at Lincoln College by Joyce or Jocosa Frankland, who also established fellowships at Brasenose College, where she is remembered in one of the College Graces:

Qui nos creavit, redemit et pavit, sit benedictus in aeternum. Deus, exaudi orationem nostrum. Agimus tibi gratias, Pater caelestis, pro Gulielmo Smyth episcopo, et Ricardo Sutton milite, Fundatoribus nostris; pro Alexandro Nowel, Jocosa Frankland, Gulielmo Hulme, Elizabetha Morley, Mauritio Platnauer aliisque benefactoribus nostris; humiliter te precantes ut eorum numerum benignissime adaugeas.

Ecclesiam Catholicam, et populum Christianum custodi. Haereses et errores omnes extirpa. Elizabetham Reginam nostram et subditos eius defende. Pacem da et conserva, per Christum Dominum nostrum.

(May he who hath created, redeemed and provided for us be blessed forever. Hear our prayer, Lord. We give thee thanks, Heavenly Father, for William Smyth, Bishop and Richard Sutton, Knight, our Founders. For Alexander Nowel, Joyce Frankland, Elizabeth Morley, Maurice Platnauer and for our other benefactors, humbly beseeching thee that thou wilt add to their number in goodness.

Safeguard the catholic Church and all Christian people. Root out all heretical waverings. Defend Elizabeth our Queen and her subjects. Grant peace and preserve it, through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

The other martyr mentioned in this entry is Blessed William Lacy who was executed on August 22, 1582 in York. He also had been held in irons. Being held in irons was a form of torture leading to weakness and open sores. Since both priests were held in the underground dungeon, that certainly meant they were neglected, left in filth and darkness, without adequate food and water.

Born at Wells, 1558; suffered at York, 15 March, 1583. Elected Trappes Scholar at Lincoln College, Oxford, 25 May, 1571, he supplicated B.A., 18 June, 1574. The same year he followed the rector, John Bridgewater, to Douai. He accompanied the college to Reims, and returned thither after a severe operation at Namur, 22 November, 1578. He took the college oath at the English College, Rome, 23 April, 1579, whence he was ordained priest. On 26 March, 1581, he left Rome, arriving at Reims 13 May, and resuming his journey 22 May. On reaching England he laboured in Yorkshire. He was present at the Mass at which Blessed William Lacy was captured, and only escaped by standing up to his chin in the muddy moat of York Castle. Betrayed by an apostate on Christmas Day, 1582, and throne into an underground dungeon, he was put into double irons. After examination before the Dean of York and the Council of the North, he was arraigned at the Lent Assizes.

From the unprofessional account of his trial, which states that he was arraigned on two counts, we may be fairly certain that he was on trial on three, namely: (1) under 13 Eliz. c. 2 for having brought papal writings, to wit his certificate of ordination, into the realm; (2) under 13 Eliz. c. 3. for having gone abroad without royal license; and (3) under 23 Eliz. c. 1. for having reconciled John Wright and one Couling. On what counts he was found guilty does not clearly appear, but he was certainly guilty of the second.

So this brief entry, properly read, reveals a great deal about Blessed William Hart's endurance and faithfulness in pursuing his vocation and serving the Catholic minority in England. Like all of the Catholic martyrs of this era, his story is both unique and the same: the same pattern of exile, danger, torture, and death but with individual details that are so wonderful to contemplate.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Anglicans in Rome

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams visited Pope Benedict XVI last weekend in Rome: here a couple of reports. First from the Archbishop's official website:

Archbishop Rowan Williams and Pope Benedict XVI will lead evening prayer together at the Church of San Gregorio Magno al Celio on Saturday 10 March, as part of a visit to Rome by the Archbishop this weekend.

After a private meeting earlier in the day, the Archbishop and the Pope will travel to San Gregorio to join the resident monastic Community there for Vespers (evening prayer), during which the Archbishop and the Pope will each deliver a homily, and light candles together in the Chapel of St Gregory the Great.

The occasion forms part of the celebrations of the 1,000th anniversary of the Camaldolese (Benedictine) monastic family, who invited the Archbishop to travel to Rome to join the celebrations in recognition of the close connection of San Gregorio with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. The ancient Roman monastery on the Caelian Hill which bears the name of Pope St Gregory the Great was the place from which Gregory (himself a monk) sent St Augustine of Canterbury and a party of fellow Benedictine monks to Britain in the late 590s.

You might remember that both Pope Benedict and the Archbishop commented upon that crucial link between Rome and England, between the Papacy (or at least the Bishop of Rome) and Christianity in England during the vespers at Westminster Abbey in September of 2010. The Archbishop of Canterbury also spoke at the same church, San Gregorio Magno al Celio, on Sunday, March 11 on the virtues of monasticism.

And from the Vatican News website, some background on the church and the Camaldolese order along with Pope Benedict's homily.

Also in the news re: Anglicans in Rome--the Pope has invited the Choir of Westminster Abbey to sing along with the Choir of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. News and reaction here--this is a first. The Sistine Chapel Choir has NEVER had another choir sing with it:

The two choirs will sing at First Vespers in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls on June 28 and together again the next morning in the Vatican basilica during the papal Mass.

Note also that the Sistine Choir will sing at Westminster Abbey in May this year! According to the Westminster Abbey news website, this all began at those Vespers in 2010. The effects of Papal Visit in September 2010 continue to manifest.