Monday, April 30, 2012

Regnans in Excelsis

April 30th is the Memorial of Pope St. Pius V (1504 to 1572) who was elected pope in 1566. He was certainly a great reformer pope, implementing the program of the Council of Trent, naming St. Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church, and working to protect and aid the poor.

In 1570 he issued the Bull "Regnans in Excelsis" at the urging of Cardinal Allen and Father Robert Parsons, SJ to excommunicate Elizabeth I of England and release Catholics in England from loyalty to her as queen. The Bull might have supported the Northern Rebellions in 1569 and 1570 to rally more Catholics to the effort, but it came too late--after Elizabeth had defeated the rebels. After its issue, Elizabeth and Parliament passed more and more strict recusancy laws as English Catholic priests returned from exile (after preparation and ordination in Douai, Rome or Vallidolid as described in the series of posts this week) and Catholics continued to remain true to the ancient faith.

The next year, however, Pope Pius was more successful in forming the alliance between Spain and Venice which led to the October 7, 1571 victory over the Turks in the great naval battle of Lepanto. He then instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory, now called Our Lady of the Rosary.
In his biography of St. Edmund Campion, Evelyn Waugh discussed that Papal Bull and whether Pope Saint Pius V had made a strategic error in issuing it, according to this website:

Reflecting upon the mysterious and very consequential decision which had been made ten years earlier (in 1570) by the sainted Dominican Pope Pius V, namely, to promulgate on Corpus Christi Day (25 May 1570) the Bull of Elizabeth’s Excommunication and Deposition (Regnans in Excelsis), Evelyn Waugh posed an important question, and with great humility:

Had he [Pope Pius V], perhaps, in those withdrawn, exalted hours before his crucifix, learned something that was hidden from the statesmen of his time and the succeeding generations of historians [who acutely criticized him for his act]; [had he] seen through and beyond the present and the immediate future [e.g., the October 1571 Battle of Lepanto!]; [had he] understood that there was no easy way of reconciliation, but that it was only through blood and hatred and derision that the faith was one day to return to England?[20]

Waugh shows a heart and a humility for this great Dominican Pope despite the manifold, “learned and prudent” criticisms against his Bull of Excommunication and Deposition. Waugh, then says, once again with a supernatural perspective:

It is possible that one of his more worldly predecessors [as Pope] might have acted differently, or at another season, but it was the pride and slight embarrassment of the Church that, as has happened from time to time in her history, the See of Peter was at this moment occupied by a Saint.[21]


His contemporaries and the vast majority of subsequent historians regarded the Pope’s action as ill-judged. It has been represented as a gesture of mediaevalism, futile in an age of new, vigorous nationalism, and its author as an ineffectual and deluded champion [like a Don Quixote], stumbling through the mists, in the ill-fitting, antiquated armour of Gregory [VII] and Innocent [III]; a disastrous figure, provoking instead of a few buffets for Sancho Panza the bloody ruin of English Catholicism.[22]

Waugh’s own artfully ironic description of Saint Pius V’s scoffers shows the depth of his own vision and Faith; and he truly tries to understand the Pope’s deeper reasons and motives:

Pius contemplated only the abiding, abstract principles that lay behind the phantasmagoric changes of human affairs. He prayed earnestly about the situation in England, and saw it with complete clarity; it was a question [a quaestio disputata] that admitted of no doubt whatever. Elizabeth was illegitimate by birth, she had violated her [Catholic] coronation oath, deposed her [Catholic] bishops, issued a heretical Prayer Book and forbidden her subjects the comfort of the sacraments. No honourable Catholic could be expected to obey her.[23]

A Martyr of Valladolid

BLESSED William SOUTHERNE was born in Ketton, near Darlington, in the County of Durham; he was seminarian in Douai, and after later the College of St. Alban in VALLADOLID, where he was ordained a priest. For fourteen years he worked for the re-conversion of the English, mainly in Northumberland. Condemned for being a priest, he was stripped, hung, drawn and quartered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on the 30th of April 1618. Pope John Paul II beatified him, on the 22nd of November 1987.
He refused to swear James I's Oath of Allegiance, of course.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Shrine Post: Preparing for Feast of Martyrs of England and Wales

In preparation for the Feast of the Martyrs of England and Wales, which honors the 40 Martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI, the 85 Martyrs Beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II, and the other martyrs beatified by previous popes (Leo XIII, Pius XII), here is a link to a shrine in the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire for two of the Carthusian martyrs, St. John Houghton of the London Charterhouse and St. Robert Lawrence of the Beauvale Priory. The site is the source of the print featured above, depicting the five Protomartyrs of the English Reformation: the three Carthusian Priors (the third is St. Augustine Webster), Blessed John Haile, parish vicar from Isleworth, and St. Richard Reynolds, from the Brigittine House of Syon. The church has a Beauvale Society to organize pilgrimages in honor of the two saints featured in the shrine. One may also visit the ruins of Beauvale (beautiful valley) Priory through the English Heritage program. Here's another shrine, at St. Mark's in Mansfield, also honoring those two Carthusian martyrs. More about the Catholic Martyrs of England and Wales this Friday, May 4.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Penelope Knox Fitzgerald, RIP (April 28, 2000)

Penelope Fitzgerald was a late bloomer as a published author. Just after she died in 2000, a biography of her father and her uncles was reissued: The Knox Brothers. Richard Eder reviewed the book in The New York Times several months after her death. He situated his review in the context of her development as a writer:

Fitzgerald died last spring at 83, leaving a group of short stories that will come out in the fall. Meanwhile a new edition of the family biography, ''The Knox Brothers,'' has been published by Counterpoint, partly revised by the author in collaboration with her longtime American editor, Christopher Carduff. The original version appeared in the United States a quarter-century ago, well before the novels that would gradually win attention. It sold only a few thousand copies and received little notice.
          It is well worth notice; both for itself and for the light it casts on an author's evolution -- particularly such a late evolution -- into what she would become. In its own right ''The Knox Brothers'' is a lively account of two generations of a remarkable English family straddling the divide between late Victorian and Edwardian. Edmund Knox, Fitzgerald's grandfather, was a staunch Church of England clergyman, a Low Church doctrinal conservative with a social conscience that led him to resign the rural parish where his children blissfully grew up for a gritty slum outside Birmingham. His energy and devotion led to eventual elevation as Bishop of Manchester. Fitzgerald portrays a man whose stern rectitude was joined to the conviction that fun was essential and that children should be very happy (the late in late Victorian: think Lewis Carroll). By and large his were.
         Happiness, at least, was their inheritance; so was intellectual ardor, combativeness and a moral energy that propelled them onto the world at eccentric, sometimes painful angles. Edmund Knox (nicknamed Evoe), Fitzgerald's father, was a journalist who rose to be the editor of Punch, a post well paid and refulgent. Its incumbent was known, part seriously, as King of Fleet Street.

         Dillwyn, known as Dilly, was a Cambridge Greek scholar co-opted from his lifelong passion into an almost lifelong post as cryptographer for the intelligence services, at first in the famously cryptic Room 40 and in World War II at Bletchley Park. There he played an important role (Fitzgerald tries but fails quite to explain it) in cracking the Nazi's Enigma codes. The two brothers were unbelievers, mild and truculent respectively, thus putting them at odds with the bishop. And also with their younger brothers, Wilfred and Ronald, Anglican clergymen both, until Ronald converted and became a celebrated Roman Catholic priest, apologist and translator of a Catholic Bible. That put them at odds with one another as well; and in the case of Ronald, with their father, who cut him out of his will.

The Guardian reviewed her oeuvre in her obituary:

The novelist and biographer Penelope Fitzgerald, who has died aged 83, was one of the most distinctive and elegant voices in contemporary British fiction. Her novels, spare, immaculate masterpieces (few of them exceed 200 pages), divide into two sections; an earlier group loosely based on her own experiences, and a later group, in which she moves to other countries and periods. In 1979, she won the Booker Prize for her novel Offshore.
"Reading a Penelope Fitzgerald novel," observed Sebastian Faulks, "is like being taken for a ride in a peculiar kind of car. Everything is of top quality - the engine, the coachwork and the interior all fill you with confidence. Then, after a mile or so, someone throws the steering-wheel out of the window." . . .
What is striking is the accuracy of her observation, the aesthetically satisfying precision with which, stylistically, the arrow goes straight into the centre of the gold. The economy with which she achieved her effects - "I always feel the reader is very insulted by being told too much," she said - and her ability to combine a microscopic with a panoramic perspective, made most other contemporary novels appear flatulent and over-written. Fitzgerald has been compared in her qualities of social comedy and irony to Jane Austen. The comparison is just in many ways, but ultimately unsatisfactory, for she had a metaphysical quality which is less apparent in Jane Austen - and Jane Austen was not the only novelist of that period by whom she was influenced. She spoke with enthusiasm of the way in which Sir Walter Scott mixed up fictional and real characters, and this is reflected in the appearance of the dying Gramsci, in Innocence, and of Fichte, Goethe and Schlegel in The Blue Flower.

She was named one of the Fifty Greatest British Writers since 1945 by The London Times in 2008.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Father Robert Abercromby, Anne of Denmark's Catholic Chaplain

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913, Father Robert Abercromby was:

A Jesuit missionary in Scotland in the time of the persecutions, born 1532; died at Braunsberg, in Prussia, 27 April, 1613. He was brought into prominence chiefly by the fact that he converted the Queen of James I of England, when that monarch was as yet James VI of Scotland. The Queen was Anne of Denmark, and her father, an ardent Lutheran, has stipulated that she should have the right to practice her own religion in Scotland, and for that purpose sent with her a chaplain named John Lering who, however, shortly after his arrival, became a Calvinist. The Queen, who abhorred Calvinism, asked some of the Catholic nobles for advice, and it was suggested to call Father Abercromby, who, with some other Jesuits, was secretly working among the Scotch Catholics and winning many illustrious converts to the Church. Though brought up a Lutheran, Queen Anne had in her youth lived with a niece of the Emperor Charles V, and not only knew something of the Faith, but had frequently been present at Mass with her former friend. Abercromby was introduced into the palace, instructed the Queen in the Catholic religion, and received her into the Church. This was about the year 1600. As to the date there is some controversy. Andrew Lang, who merely quotes MacQuhirrie as to the fact of the conversion, without mentioning Abercromby, puts it as occurring in 1598. Intelligence of it at last came to the ears of the King, who, instead of being angry, warned her to keep it secret, as her conversion might imperil his crown. He even went as far as to appoint Abercromby Superintendent of the Royal Falconry, in order that he might remain near the Queen. Up to the time that James succeeded to the crown of England, Father Abercromby remained at the Scottish Court, celebrating Mass in secret, and giving Holy Communion nine or ten times to his neophyte. When the King and Queen were crowned sovereigns of Great Britain, Anne gave proof of her sincerity by absolutely refusing to receive the Protestant sacrament, declaring that she preferred to forfeit her crown rather than take part in what she considered a sacrilegious profanation. Of this, Lang, in his "History of Scotland", says nothing. She made several ineffectual attempts to convert the King. Abercromby remained in Scotland for some time, but as a price of 10,000 crowns was put upon his head he came to England, only to find that the King's kindly dispositions toward him had undergone a change. The alleged discovery of a Gunpowder Plot in 1605, and the attempts made to implicate the Jesuits in the conspiracy had excited in the mind of the King feelings of bitter hostility to the Society. He ordered a strict search to be made for Abercromby, who consequently left the country and betook himself to Braunsberg, in Eastern Prussia, where he died, in his eighty-first year.

Abercromby was born in Scotland, studied in Rome, and served in Poland:

He was born and educated in Scotland, and studied in the Collegium Romanum in Rome, where on 19 August 1563 he became a Jesuit. From 1564 he lived in Braunsberg (then in Royal Prussia), now Braniewo in Poland) where he was professor of grammar in the biggest Polish Jesuit collegium and a novice master. In 1565 he was ordained a priest. In Braniewo he was in constant contact with Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius. He was considered a good priest, but learning Polish was difficult for him, and he had some problems with the finances of the school. Due to these problems he was permitted to leave Poland in 1580, when he met the Scottish king for the first time. In September 1580 he went back to Poland - from 1580 to 1587 he performed similar tasks in Kraków, Poznań and Wilno. In 1587 he left Poland and went back to Scotland. During the journey to Scotland in 1580 and during his second stay there he was organizing transports of Scottish youths to be trained in Polish schools.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Something Cromwell and the Court of Augmentations Missed

Furness Abbey was the second richest monastery in 16th century England when Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's Vicar in Spiritual Matters, targeted it and the other large monasteries for dissolution. Cromwell and his official Commissioners would be very disappointed to learn that they really missed something: the grave of an earlier abbot containing great treasure. That grave was recently discovered and more investigation is planned to date the abbot and possibly identify him. The UK's Guardian and Daily Mail have both run stories on this recent find, accessed during some repairs to the ruined abbey. From The Daily Mail: :

For something like seven centuries he had lain undisturbed.
He – or at least his remains – survived Henry VIII’s destruction of his abbey in 1537, eluded the grave-robbers that followed, and avoided discovery by Victorian archaeologists.
Even deep excavations and the underpinning of the crumbling building in the 1930s failed to unearth him.
But the abbot who headed Britain’s second richest and most powerful Cistercian monastery may soon be unmasked – along with the identity, perhaps, of one of the site’s ghosts.

Furness Abbey is part of the English Heritage program and it costs you about four pounds to visit it today. It was "voluntarily" surrendered in 1537, ahead of the suppression of most of the major monasteries, because some of its monks had been involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Roger Pele was its last abbot.

The treasures buried with this abbot are the elaborate head of his crozier and his ring. From The Guardian:

The crozier is unusual and the first to be excavated in this country for 50 years. It has a central gilded silver plaque which shows the archangel Michael slaying a dragon with his sword.
The ring – quite large, probably for a man with big or chubby fingers – is likely to have been given to the abbot on his consecration. "It is an unusual ring," said Harrison. "The bezel is a pyramid shape and is pointed – it would stick in to your finger. You would have felt it when you wore it and it might have been a reminder of the piety of the office."

Estimates currently date his burial from 1350 to 1500, so he could be one of these men:

* John of Cockerham, elected 1303, died 1347 (fn. 238)

* Alexander of Walton, elected 1347, died 1367 (fn. 239)
John of Cokan', elected 1367 (fn. 240)
* John of Bolton, occurs 1389, 1404 (fn. 241)
William of Dalton, occurs 1407, died 1416-7 (fn. 242)
Robert, elected c. 1417, occurs 1441 (fn. 243)
[Thomas or William Woodward] (fn. 244)
John Turner, occurs 1443-60 (fn. 245)
Lawrence, occurs 1461-91 (fn. 246)
Thomas Chamber, elected 1491, occurs 1496 (fn. 247)

(Image source: wikipedia commons)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Martyrs on the Isle of Wight

The Catholic Church of St. Mary's, Ride, on the Isle of Wight notes that 2004 "mark[ed] the 75th anniversary of the Beatification of the 136 English and Welsh martyrs [by Pope Pius XI in 1929]who gave their lives so heroically at the time of the Reformation and in the subsequent penal days. Two of the martyrs are particularly remembered on the Isle of Wight where they were executed in 1586. Blessed Robert Anderton and Blessed William Marsden had never intended to set foot on the Island. It was only by a freak storm at sea that their ship took shelter at Cowes. They were betrayed when they were heard praying, "O Lord thy Will be done! But if we are to die, suffer us to die for Thy cause in our own country. Let us not be remembered as the first seminarians who have perished in the waters". Of all the iniquitous laws against Catholics, Statute "27 Elizabeth" was the most ferocious as it made it high treason for a priest ordained abroad to set foot in England. There was generous financial reward for reporting papists so it was no surprise when on disembarking at Cowes they were immediately arrested and sent to Winchester for trial at the Spring Assizes.

Their story however starts when they first met at Rivington Grammer School near Chorley in Lancashire. The two young men immediately became friends. They became almost inseparable. They were to pray, study, travel and ultimate die together as martyrs for Christ. From Lancashire they went to Oxford to continue their education and were enrolled at Brasenose College in 1578. It is recorded that both were "unassuming but full of life and spirits and they were remarkable for their piety, devotion and zeal for all things sacred." (Pollen, Acts 82) They set off together in July 1580 for Douai College near Rheims and offered themselves to Almighty God in the Holy Priesthood. This seminary in France was the venue for many young Englishmen (such as Robert Anderton and William Marsden) who wished to study for the priesthood and return to offer Mass and spread the Faith in their native homeland. It was founded in 1568 by Cardinal William Allen. English Catholics liked to think of Douai as an "Oxford over the water" until happier days should return to the Dowry of Mary. . . .
Read the rest here.

Note that there is an Ordinariate group based at St. Mary's Ride, with a former Anglican minister, now an ordained Catholic priest!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 16th Century Lion's Den

Another title from the Institute of Jesuit Sources--I can certainly recommend their processing and quick delivery if you are interested in their publications:

Into the Lion's Den by Robert E. Scully, SJ vividly tells the story of the Jesuit mission to England and Wales from its beginning in 1580 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. This endeavor was to be filled not only with hope and daring but also with fear and danger, as Edmund Campion, Robert Persons, and Ralph Emerson found out after they landed in England in June 1580 and as their successors were also to learn in the ensuing years.

In the context of the religious and political backgrounds of the times the mission was organized and launched, and carried on its work, often in clandestine ministries. Two special characteristics of the work are for the first time highlighted here, the unique challenges and opportunities of ministry in wales and the indispensable role of the Elizabethan Catholic women in sustaining the Jesuits and the seminary priests and the larger Catholic community. Differences of outlook, strategy and circumstances between the Jesuits and the other Catholic clergy and religious orders sometimes contributed to a house divided. But ever present were the realities of persecution and prison, exile and execution as the Elizabethan government exerted all its power to thwart Jesuit efforts.

In the end, those heroic efforts, the Jesuit organizational structure and spiritual vision that undergirded them, and the crucial support of the men and women who shared in those efforts helped to ensure the survival of a tenacious and resilient Catholic community.

Father Scully's style is clear and his narrative comprehensive. He effectively outlines the progress of the Jesuit mission to England and devotes a chapter to their efforts in Wales. I'll post a full review soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Which Earl Was Which?

[Image source: Attribution: Nabokov at en.wikipedia] The WSJ has this review of a volume of Philip Larkin's poetry ("What Will Survive of Us") with a close-up of the tomb of Richard Fitzalan, the Tenth Earl of Arundel. But the cutline says "ETERNAL BOND | A detail (above) of the tomb of the 13th Earl of Arundel (ca. 1307-76) and his second countess, Eleanor (1318-1372), in Chichester Cathedral. The sculpture is the subject of Larkin's 1956 poem 'An Arundel Tomb.'" When I looked up Chichester Cathedral, web sources stated that the Fitzalan Arundel in the tomb was the 10th Earl of Arundel, so I began to wonder. I wondered even more when other sources called Richard Fitzalan the 3rd Earl of Arundel. Also, sometimes St. Philip Howard is referred to as the 13th Earl of Arundel (Arundel Castle's website does). I think the confusion comes from the different creations of the Earldom, as illustrated by this wikipedia entry--there are Fitzalan Earls, Howard Earls, and Norfolk Earls. Also, when a Fitzalan backed the wrong side in a rebellion (as Richard's son Richard did in 1397 against Richard II), the title would be forfeit until restored. St. Philip Howard's title was forfeit to Queen Elizabeth I and restored to his son under James I.

At any rate, here is the poem the photo illustrates, "An Arundel Tomb" by Philip Larkin:

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd—
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would not guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the glass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-riddled ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigured them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.

William Shakespeare, RIP--for sure!--and the Feast of St. George

William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon died this day, April 23, 1616; and there are suggestions that he was born on the same day in 1564. Current reports indicate that the Cobb portrait at the left may be contemporary. Nice lace.

My local district of the Kansas Authors Club held a meeting in which we reviewed what we think we might really know about Shakespeare. The presenter stymied some of the participants by using a quiz in which the correct answer for some questions, instead of being either True or False was either maybe or we don't know.

The question of whether Shakespeare was a Catholic or not came up--and some in the meeting scoffed at the thought. In Supremacy and Survival, I introduce the subject. I don't go as far as Clare Asquith that the plays served as secret code for Catholics but it is demonstrably true from the reading of the plays that Shakespeare presents Catholicism in a much more favorable light than one would expect from the Elizabethan and Jacobean era. His presentation of Katherine of Aragon in Henry VIII, his rewriting of King John, the purgatorial theme of Hamlet, the good friar in Romeo and Juliet, his contribution to Sir Thomas More, etc convince me that Shakespeare's plays reflect the lingering attraction to Catholic teaching and practice in England during his lifetime. He might have been a Church Papist: outwardly conforming; inwardly holding on to the Old Faith.

This author summarizes my view very well:

One possible explanation for this apparent inconsistency may lie in the fact that the English Reformation was still in progress during Shakespeare’s lifetime. England remained Catholic in spirit and practice long after 1534, with parts of Lancashire still practicing the “old faith” openly. It is possible that the post-Reformation Holy Trinity Church in Warwickshire was sufficiently traditional to allow a Catholic-sympathizer like Shakespeare to participate. If the Church of England authorities knew of the poet’s Stratford affiliation, then the fact that Shakespeare’s nonattendance at Puritan-leaning London parishes went unpunished could be explained.

The most promising avenue for appreciating Shakespeare’s Catholicity lies not in biography but rather in the recognition of his Catholic imagination, readily discoverable in his plays. Through metaphor, the poet enlarges the sensibilities through an encounter with inspired meaning. Reformed theology had posited an irreparable break between the divine and the human, whereas the Catholic imagination seeks and finds the divine in broken humanity, bridging the gap between nature and grace.
The presenter at our meeting highlighted the saint's day on which Shakespeare died (was born?) as a particularly important aspect of Shakespeare's "Englishness"--St. George's Day. He had been the patron saint of England since the 13th century, but of course the 16th century Reformation ended the celebrations of his defeat of the dragon, although Henry VIII had certainly enjoyed the masques and festivities connected with the feast. April 23 was his accession day and St. George was his hero. He held a chapter of the Order of the Garter every year to remember that day and his patron as a Knight of the Garter. The Order was founded by King Edward III in 1338. The motto is Honi soit qui mal y pense (Shame on him who thinks this evil), and the current queen, Elizabeth II, appoints both men and women to its ranks.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The British Library and the St. Cuthbert Gospel

I heard this interview on NPR Friday morning:

How much would you pay for a very rare book?

The British Library in London has just paid about $14 million to purchase Europe's oldest intact book, known as the St. Cuthbert Gospel. It's a copy of the Gospel of St. John, thought to have been produced in northeastern England sometime during the seventh century.

Claire Breay is the curator of medieval and early modern manuscripts at the British Library. She says the book's beautifully decorated red leather cover is a wonderful example of Anglo-Saxon leather work, and the inside is astonishingly well-preserved. "The text is beautifully clearly written, looks almost as if it were written yesterday," she says.

But me being me, Claire Breay's statements at the end really caught my ear:

"Eventually they settled in Durham," Breay says. "And then after the Norman conquest [of 1066], with the foundation of a new Norman cathedral in Durham and the creation of a new shrine for St. Cuthbert, the coffin was opened in 1104, and the book was discovered intact inside the coffin."

The story doesn't end there. By the early 17th century, the book was in private hands, and in 1769 it was donated to a Jesuit community in Belgium. "And they have owned the manuscript for almost 250 years, until it's been bought now by the British Library as the result of the largest fundraising campaign that we've ever held," Breay says.

The book had been on loan from the Jesuits since 1979, but Breay says the purchase means the British Library will now be able to invest public money in long-term preservation and interpretation of the Gospel.

"One of the things we really want to achieve through having it in public ownership is to raise awareness of the importance of this book," she says. "Because for a book that is so important, it isn't really very well known."

Notice that the story conveniently skips over quite of chunk of time: the time filled by the English Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the destruction of shrines, the destruction of St. Cuthbert's tomb in Durham Cathedral, the outlawing of Catholicism in England . . .

In the on-air interview (comments not included on-line), she seemed to blame the private ownership of the Jesuits for the lack of knowledge of the treasure that is the St. Cuthbert Gospel. As I've posted several times in the last year or so on various exhibits in England on saints, relics, religious art, and shrines, part of that lack of knowledge also is due to England forgetting its Catholic Christian past. If the monastery at Durham hadn't been dissolved, and the tomb of St. Cuthbert not destroyed, and Catholicism not temporarily suppressed in England, the Gospel of St. Cuthbert would have been a public treasure all these hundreds of years.

Oh well, as my late father used to say: "If dog, rabbit." (Excuses, excuses.)

You can see (kind of rough) images of the St. Cuthbert Gospel here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The State of England, 1509

Since Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty, died on April 21, 1509, his 18 year old son, Henry, succeeded him on this date. His wedding with Catherine of Aragon and their coronations would follow on June 11 and June 23, respectively.
A recent popular history of the Tudor dynasty (The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer) passes quickly over Henry VII as not being as interesting as the subsequent Tudors. He does not even merit his own chapter! I think that is an error, in part because Henry VII’s desire to protect the Tudor succession certainly established the policy and pattern of imprisoning and/or executing any rivals or threats that Henry VIII and his heirs would follow. But now, a new biography of Henry VII redresses that neglect.
David Knowles, in his study of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Bare Ruined Choirs, establishes the significance of Henry VII’s reign—and the succession of Henry VIII as taking full advantage of certain trends—on a much more profound level:

". . . the minds of the early Tudor age found security in two pillars of strength. The one was the common law of the land, tangible, acknowledged by all, and applied by experts taken from their midst. The other was the command of the sovereign, drawing its strength from his claim of obedience in conscience."
Knowles points out that the authority of the sovereign had hitherto been limited or countered by the Church and canon law, by natural and divine law, and by the very limitations of centralized government – but:
"At the end of the fifteenth century all these limiting factors had vanished or diminished; all that was now wanting was a king with sufficient intelligence, tact, and self-assurance to supply his subjects with the governance they desired and with the sense of security they needed. A firm government that did not outrage too violently the proprieties of common law and the material interests of the propertied classes could draw on a limitless fund of loyalty and submission."*
With Thomas Wolsey’s help as Chancellor, Henry VIII fulfilled that model early in his reign, earning trust and obedience from the propertied classes. One of the economic aspects of the English Reformation is that with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII was able to distribute wealth to members of that class, binding them more surely to him in loyalty and submission.
Knowles comments that such a generalization about the intellectual and cultural milieu of late fifteenth century England shares the usual burden of generalization—that there are exceptions. If he is accurate in his depiction of the situation, however, it goes a long way to explaining why so many of the ruling class went along with Henry VIII in his commandeering of the Church as a part of the State. As long as it did not violate the common law as it affected them, they saw no reason to protest.

*David Knowles, Bare Ruined Choirs: The Dissolution of the Monasteries (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1976), page 6.

The Non-Juror Schism in the Church of England

On April 21, 1689 (new style) William and Mary of Orange were crowned King and Queen of England at Westminster Abbey. William Sancroft, the Archbishop of Canterbury, refused to participate and so the Bishop of London, Henry Compton, presided. Note that Compton was one of the Immortal Seven who invited William of Orange to invade England. William was ready, having already begun to assemble an army.

When William of Orange and Mary (James II’s eldest daughter) replaced James II on the throne of England, their accession provoked the non-juror crisis in the Church of England. It became schism when the non-juring bishops ordained another bishop. They are called non-jurors because they refused the swear oaths of loyalty to the new monarchs. William and Mary had been invited to England to forestall James II’s efforts promoting tolerance and Catholicism. William and his invading army landed on November 5, 1688, a propitious date to James' enemies since it commemorated the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot discovery, 100 years after the failure of Spanish Armada, another religiously-driven invasion. The non-juring bishops had not thought of William actually becoming king, but Parliament deposed James II, declaring that his flight from England was an abdication; the revolutionary settlement of 1688, summed up in the term “The Glorious Revolution” placed William and Mary on the throne.

Ironically, five of the seven non-jurors had clashed with James in 1688 when they refused to read his Declaration of Tolerance from their pulpits. The king had them arrested and charged with seditious libel; when they were acquitted it was a great blow to his plans for religious tolerance in England.

In 1689, these non-jurors could not reconcile taking a new oath to William and Mary while still being bound by their oath to James II. Refusing to take the oath meant they were removed from their sees—a real blow to the High Church movement in the Church of England—leaving the way clear for more latitudinarian Low/Broad Church bishops to take their places.

The non-juring bishops were (the first five were James’ opponents in 1688):
--William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury
--Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells (great hymnist)
--John Lake, Bishop of Chichester
--Francis Turner, Bishop of Ely
--Thomas White, Bishop of Peterborough
--Thomas Cartwright, Bishop of Chester
--Robert Frampton, Bishop of Gloucester
--William Lloyd, Bishop of Norwich
--William Thomas, Bishop of Worcester

Some 400 other Anglican clergy joined them. Although the non-jurors supported the goal of restoring James II and his heirs, they were usually not active in supporting the Jacobite invasions of the Pretenders.

Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, (pictured above) attended Charles II’s deathbed, leaving the room briefly at the urging of James, then Duke of York. Father John Huddleston received Charles into the Catholic Church and gave him Holy Communion. When the Bishop returned, he began to offer the Anglican sacraments to the king, and Charles refused. Ken is most famous as a writer of hymns, especially the chorus, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow.”

The accession of the first Hanoverian king, George I would provoke another set of non-jurors in 1714. The death of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) aka King Charles III in 1788 effectively ended the non-juror schism as the bishops and priests who succeeded the first non-jurors swore allegiance to King George III rather than to Henry Benedict Stuart, a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Three Martyrs at Tyburn: April 20, 1602

Thomas Tichborne (born at Hartley, Hampshire, 1567; executed at Tyburn, London, 20 April 1602) was an English Roman Catholic priest. He is a Catholic martyr, beatified in 1987.

He was educated at Reims (1584–87) and Rome, where he was ordained on Ascension Day, 17 May 1592. Returning to England on 10 March 1594, he worked in Hampshire. There he escaped apprehension by the authorities until the early part of 1597.

He was sent a prisoner to the Gatehouse in London, but in the autumn of 1598 was helped to escape by his brother, Nicholas Tichborne, and Thomas Hackshot, who were both executed shortly afterwards. Betrayed by Atkinson, an apostate priest, he was re-arrested and on 17 April 1602, was brought to trial with Robert Watkinson (a young Yorkshire man who had been educated at Rome and ordained priest at Douai a month before) and James Duckett, a London bookseller (see yesterday's post). On 20 April he was executed with Watkinson and Francis Page, S.J. Tichborne was in the last stages of consumption when he was executed. Whether he was related to Chidiock Tichborne, one of the Babington Plot conspirators, I cannot tell.

Blessed Robert Watkinson was born in 1579 at Hemingborough, Yorkshire; he left England and studied at Douai, France, and then Rome in preparation for his ordination in 1602 in Arras, France. Sent home to work for the reconversion of England, he was arrested almost immediately and executed at Tyburn. Robert was hanged, drawn, and quartered on April 20, with Blessed Francis Page and Blessed Thomas Tichborne. He was beatified in 1929.

And here is the account of Blessed Francis Page's life and death--please note that he was the priest St. Anne Line was arrested for aiding:

Francis Page (portrait above) was born in Antwerp of well-to-do English Protestant parents. As a young man he embarked on a lawyer’s career and went to London to study law. He fell in love with the daughter of the Catholic lawyer for whom he served as a clerk, but she refused to marry him until he became a Catholic. His Catholic roommate had, as his confessor, Fr John Gerald, a Jesuit priest. So it was to Fr Gerald that Francis went for instruction. The more he studied religion, the more he felt drawn to the priesthood. Much to his fiancee’s sorrow, Francis called off the marriage as he began to think of the priesthood. When Fr Gerald was arrested and transferred to the Tower of London, Francis would stand outside the prison everyday just to get a glimpse of the priest and for his blessing. His suspicious actions led to a brief arrest and after his release, Francis decided to follow the call and joined the English College in Rheims, France. He was ordained in 1600.

Fr Page returned to London and was active in his priestly ministry for a year. He narrowly escaped arrest on one occasion just as he was about to celebrate Mass. He barely had time to remove his vestments, hid them, took a seat among the people who had come for Mass, when the priest hunters rushed in. The owner of the house who was hosting the mass helped him escape but she herself was arrested and later executed for harbouring a priest.

Two Martyrs at Tyburn: April 20, 1586

Blessed Richard Sargeant:

English martyr, executed at Tyburn, 20 April, 1586. He was probably a younger son of Thomas Sergeant of Stone, Gloucestershire, by Katherine, daughter of John Tyre of Hardwick. He took his degree at Oxford (20 Feb., 1570-1), and arrived at the English College, Reims, on 25 July, 1581. He was ordained subdeacon at Reims (4 April, 1582), deacon at Soissons (9 June, 1582), and priest at Laon (7 April, 1583). He said his first Mass on 21 April, and left for England on 10 September. He was indicted at the Old Bailey (17 April, 1586) as Richard lea alias Longe. With him was condemned and suffered Blessed William Thomson, a native of Blackburn, Lancashire, who arrived at the English College, Reims, on 28 May, 1583, and was ordained priest in the Reims cathedral (31 March, 1583-4). Thomson was arrested in the house of Roger Line, husband of the martyr St. Anne Line in Bishopsgate St. Without, while saying Mass. Both were executed merely for being priests and coming into the realm. Roger Line and Anne's brother William Heigham were arrested and exiled. Anne Line would go on to manage a safe house in London for Father John Gerard, SJ.

Blessed William Thomson:

William Thomson was born in Blackburn and educated at the local grammar school before going to Rheims where he was ordained in 1584. For the next two precarious years he worked in the London area where he lived secretly in a house in Bishopsgate St. Without owned by Roger and Anne Line (who was herself later martyred and subsequently canonised as one of the forty martyrs). Here he was arrested and was executed at Tyburn for being a Catholic priest on April 20th 1586.

These two martyrs are among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Two Lancaster Martyrs, April 20, 1584

Blessed James Bell: Priest and martyr, b. at Warrington in Lancashire, England, probably about 1520; d. 20 April, 1584. For the little known of him we depend on the account published four years after his death by Bridgewater in his "Concertatio" (1588), and derived from a manuscript which was kept at Douay when Challoner wrote his "Missionary Priests" in 1741, and is now in the Westminster Diocesan Archives. A few further details were collected by Challoner, and others are supplied by the State Papers. Having studied at Oxford he was ordained priest in Mary's reign, but unfortunately conformed to the established Church under Elizabeth, and according to the Douay manuscript "ministered their bare few sacraments about 20 years in diverse places of England". Finally deterred by conscience from the cure of souls and reduced to destitution, he sought a small readership as a bare subsistence. To obtain this he approached the patron's wife, a Catholic lady, who induced him to be reconciled to the Church. After some time he was allowed to resume priestly functions, and for two years devoted himself to arduous missionary labours. He was at length apprehended (17 January 1583-84) and, having confessed his priesthood, was arraigned at Manchester Quarter-Sessions held during the same month, and sent for trial at Lancaster Assizes in March. When condemned and sentenced he said to the Judge: "I beg your Lordship would add to the sentence that my lips and the tops of my fingers may be cut off, for having sworn and subscribed to the articles of heretics contrary both to my conscience and to God's Truth". He spent that night in prayer and on the following day was hanged and quartered together with Blessed John Finch, a layman, 20 April, 1584.

Blessed John Finch: A martyr, b. about 1548; d. 20 April, 1584. He was a yeoman of Eccleston, Lancashire, and a member of a well-known old Catholic family, but he appears to have been brought up in schism. When he was twenty years old he went to London where he spent nearly a year with some cousins at Inner Temple. While there he was forcibly struck by the contrast between Protestantism and Catholicism in practice and determined to lead a Catholic life. Failing to find advancement in London he returned to Lancashire where he was reconciled to Catholic Church. He then married and settled down, his house becoming a centre of missionary work, he himself harbouring priests and aiding them in every way, besides acting as catechist. His zeal drew on him the hostility of the authorities, and at Christmas, 1581, he was entrapped into bringing a priest, George Ostliffe, to a place where both were apprehended. It was given out that Finch, having betrayed the priest and other Catholics, had taken refuge with the Earl of Derby, but in fact, he was kept in the earl's house as a prisoner, sometimes tortured and sometimes bribed in order to pervert him and induce him to give information. This failing, he was removed to the Fleet prison at Manchester and afterwards to the House of Correction. When he refused to go to the Protestant church he was dragged there by the feet, his head beating on the stones. For many months he lay in a damp dungeon, ill-fed and ill-treated, desiring always that he might be brought to trial and martyrdom. After three years' imprisonment, he was sent to be tried at Lancaster. There he was brought to trial with three priests on 18 April, 1584. He was found guilty and, 20 April, having spent the night in converting some condemned felons, he suffered with Ven. James Bell at Lancaster. The cause of his beatification with those of the other English Martyrs was introduced by decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, 4 Dec., 1886.

They were both beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929.

The Nun of Kent and England's "Period of Terror"

April 20 is quite a day for executions during the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Every ten minutes this morning, I will have a new post on those executed that day in different years. Elizabeth Barton and her companions have not been canonized or beatified, but their deaths began the bloodletting of the English Reformation:

On April 20, 1534, Elizabeth Barton, the Nun of Kent, was executed at Tyburn, London, along with monks and priests named as her co-conspirators.

Born in 1506, Elizabeth Barton had been regarded as a visionary; as a Benedictine in Canterbury, she had been visited by both Henry VIII and his Chancellor, Thomas Wolsey, Cardinal Archbishop of York. Before Henry VIII broke away from Rome and arranged the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Barton's visions and prophecies had pleased him and he thought her Godly.

Barton's visions changed, however, and she even said that Henry would "no longer be king of this realm . . . and should die a villian's death" if he proceeded along his chosen path. Those are dangerous words, even if you say they are inspired by God. As Henry and Thomas Cromwell proceeded against Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More, they investigated how much credence Fisher and More placed in the Nun of Kent's words. Those who were opposed to Henry's "Reformation" believed in Barton's prophesies, and she was still very popular--delaying Henry's actions against her.

In 1553, Barton, her parish priest, Richard Masters and monks from the Benedictine Abbey at Canterbury including Edward Bocking were arrested and brought before the Star Chamber. Henry's new Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer examined Barton and she confessed that she had fabricated the visions and prophecies. John Fisher was also charged in connection with this conspiracy against the King of England's religious and marital policies. Thomas More was not implicated. Without any trial, Elizabeth Barton, her parish priest and the monks were attainted traitors by Parliament and sentenced to death (including Richard Risby, warden of the Observant friary at Canterbury, Edward Bocking, Benedictine of Christ Church, Canterbury, Hugh Rich, warden of the Observant friary at Richmond, John Dering, B.D. (Oxon.), Benedictine of Christ Church, Canterbury, Henry Gold, M.A. (Oxon.), parson of St. Mary; Aldermanbury, London, and vicar of Hayes, Middlesex).

I was browsing through Father Philip Hughes' A Popular History of the Reformation, in the old Doubleday Image paperback edition (95 cents). [There were several pages of book descriptions at the back of the book, including everything from Summa Contra Gentiles to Marie de Chapdelaine.] I read the two chapters he dedicated to the English Reformation.

Father Hughes provides an excellent chronological narrative of events, describing the influence of the Lutheran Reformation in England before Henry VIII's Break from Rome. He then traces the events leading up to the Break, the Reformation Parliament and "the deed of blood" that was a turning point:

The deed of blood was the condemnation by attainder (i.e., by an act of Parliament, without any trial) and the execution at Tyburn of "the Nun of Kent" and four priests condemned as her accomplices. "We now enter on a period which is happily unique in the annals of England, a period of terror. It lasts from [1534 to 1540]. --quoting H.A.L. Fisher's History of England from the Accession of Henry VII to the Death of Henry VIII (1918).

I was impressed by the quotation Father Hughes selected and the use of the term "period of terror" like the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. As Father Hughes goes on to comment by April 20, 1534 Sir Thomas More and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester are imprisoned--even though they escaped being included in the attainder because of their contact with Elizabeth Barton.

Between 1534 and 1540, the king's terror did rage and the list of victims is long: The Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London, executed and starved to death; the Observant Franciscan Friars of Greenwich; More and Fisher; the rebels from the Pilgrimage of Grace, the abbots of Colchester, Reading, and Glastonbury, Anne Boleyn, the Knights of Malta, Catholic "traitors" and Protestant "heretics"--even Thomas Cromwell, Vice-Regent and Earl of Essex! I might extend the period of terror to 1541 or 1542 to include Margaret Pole, her family and Catherine Howard. Henry VIII had certainly terrorized the bishops in Convocation to get his way and his actions were definitely intimidating to many at his Court and in his family (his wife and daughter certainly experienced the threats and intimidation!).

So what changed after 1540? Henry had his male heir, of course, and diplomatic events turned his attention away from asserting his will over his subjects in religious matters. The opposition was gone and he might have regretted Cromwell's death since it removed such a loyal head from his service. The bishops and Parliament had done all he wanted . . . perhaps Henry had just won. On the other hand, he continued to enforce his supremacy and control for the sake of his son and heir--just think of the Howard family!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blessed James Duckett, Layman Martyred for His Faith

James Duckett was an English Catholic layman and martyr (died 1601).

Born at Gilfortrigs in the parish of Skelsmergh in Westmorland at an unknown date, he became a bookseller and publisher in London. Brought up a Protestant, he was lent a Catholic book by a friend when serving his apprenticeship in London and decided to become a Catholic. Earlier he had twice been imprisoned for not attending the Protestant services, and was obliged to compound for his apprenticeship and leave his master.

He was received into the Catholic Church by an old priest named Weekes who was imprisoned in the Gatehouse at Westminster. Two or three years later, about 1590, he married a Catholic widow, but out of his twelve years of married life, nine were spent in prison for his new faith.

He was active in propagating Catholic literature. He was finally betrayed by Peter Bullock, a bookbinder, who acted in order to obtain his own release from prison. Duckett's house was searched on 4 March 1601 and Catholic books found. For this he was at once thrown into Newgate.

At the trial, Bullock testified that he had bound various Catholic books for Duckett and he admitted this, but denied other false accusations in a self-possessed manner. The jury found him not guilty; but the judge, Sir John Popham, the Lord Chief Justice, browbeat the jury, which reversed its verdict and Duckett was found guilty of felony. Despite the betrayal of Duckett, Bullock was taken to his death at Tyburn in the same cart as Duckett on 19 April 1601.

James Duckett's son was the John Duckett who later became Prior of the English Carthusians at Nieuwpoort in Flanders. He related that on the way to Tyburn his father was handed a cup of wine, which he drank, and told his wife to drink to Peter Bullock and to forgive him. When she declined, he chided her gently until she did. On arrival at Tyburn Tree James kissed and embraced Bullock, beseeching him to die in the Catholic faith, without success.

At the same trial three priests, Thomas Tichborne, Robert Watkinson, and Francis Page, were condemned to death. For some reason their execution was remanded to the following day.

James Duckett was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.

From the accounts I've read, it's not completely clear what he was charged with and found guilty of--was it his conversion (which was an act of treason)? did he have some Papal documents? Catholic books were not in themselves illegal, but pointed to his being Catholic, probably attending Mass illegally, especially since he did not attend Church of England services. He was hung because he was a Catholic, not because of anything he did, at least anything produced as evidence in a court of law. That's why the judge had to browbeat the jury to find Blessed James Duckett guilty of a felony. What happened to Duckett's Catholic wife? She was now twice-widowed and might have been rounded up for recusancy. At least two other lay martyr's I've posted about (St. Swithun Wells, for example) left wives who endured grave troubles with the law because of their recusany. Mrs. Wells (her first name is unknown) died in prison after her death sentence was commuted.

More on the three priests--and several others--tomorrow. April 20 is a big day for executions and martyrs in Tudor England.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Was Robert Bellarmine Ahead of His Time?

So asks this book review essay by John M. Vella in the on-line version of Homiletic & Pastoral Review:

Empire of Souls: Robert Bellarmine and the Christian Commonwealth. By Stefania Tutino (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 416 pp. ISBN 978-0-19974-053-6.
On Temporal and Spiritual Authority. By Robert Bellarmine. Edited, translated and with an introduction by Stefania Tutino (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2012), 500 pp. PB: ISBN 978-0-86597-717-4.

In Empire of Souls, Stefania Tutino offers a fresh perspective on the central role Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) played in the development of post-Reformation Catholicism, and its relationship to the early modern state. Tutino compliments her study with a newly published collection of writings, never before translated into English, that she believes best represents Bellarmine’s political theology. These two impressive scholarly achievements go beyond the standard story of a reactionary crusader battling anti-papal princes, and protesting Protestants, typical of most traditional studies. Rather, Bellarmine is portrayed sympathetically as a controversial figure whose political theology was too liberal, or better yet, Whiggish, for some members of the Roman Curia who doubted his commitment to papal supremacy. Yet, his sophisticated defense of papal spiritual authority was influential enough to provoke many critical responses from across Europe. For Tutino, Bellarmine was not only the central figure in the debate over the proper relationship between Church and state in early modern Europe; his vision of the papacy still resonates today, perhaps more than it did during his lifetime.

However, his relevance in our day should not diminish in our minds how preeminent he was in his time. Before he began teaching at the Roman College in 1576, Bellarmine established a reputation as a distinguished scholar and preacher at Louvain, where he lectured on Aquinas at the Jesuit College. While there, he would counsel apologists to master the core of Catholic theology. He followed his own advice when he wrote his three-volume, Disputationes de controversies Christianae fidei (or Controversiae for short), by weaving contemporary controversies into the larger fabric of the faith, presenting a comprehensive understanding of Christian doctrine. He re-imagined the Catholic Church as a res publica Christiana, a theo-political organism that enveloped into itself all Christian commonwealths without violating their temporal jurisdiction. This concept of Christian empire was a reconstruction of medieval Christendom with the pope as its spiritual head. Tutino believes this expansive vision of the Catholic Church as an empire of souls was a notable departure from the theological approaches of Bellarmine’s contemporaries. . . .

This is the William Barclay referrred to later in the review essay, not to be confused with the other William Barclay from Scotland.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Blesssed Henry Heath, OFM

Henry Heath was born to Anglican parents in Peterborough. He undertook university studies in Cambridge where he was noted for his piety and perspicacity in religious matters. After gaining his degree he was appointed University Librarian which gave him the opportunity to read Catholic and Protestant authors on the matters of greatest concern to his faith. His reading of the Church Fathers led him to seek reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

He then moved to London and on to Douai in Flanders. There he met the friars of the Province of England who had opened St. Bonaventure College and Friary there in 1618. He asked to join the friars. The founder of the college and Provincial Commissary John Gennings, was understandably wary about accepting him. Henry was a recent convert and the English secret service was apt to use pretend converts to gain information on those training for the mission. Henry convinced Gennings of the authenticity of his faith and so was admitted to the novitiate in 1623 or 1624 at the age of 24. He was given the name Paul of St. Magadelene. His penitential life of fasting and extended contemplation gained him the respect of his confreres and he was known for his devotion to the crucified Jesus and his holy Mother. He was ordained a priest and became in turn Guardian, Novice Master, a lecturer in theology known for his Scotism, then Provincial Commissary of Flanders where he promoted the Recollect reform.

When persecution broke out once more in England, after the defeat of Charles I in the English Civil War, he asked to return home to support his suffering brothers and compatriots. At London he was mistaken for a criminal and arrested but when it was discovered that he was a priest he was condemned to death and confined in Newgate prison. There he continued to give consolation to his Catholic compatriots and heard confessions until on 17th April 1643 he was led to Tyburn and hanged. As he was led to the scaffold the prayer heard on his lips was: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit”.

Henry Heath was beatified along with 84 other martyrs of England and Wales on 22nd November 1987 by Pope John Paul II.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review: St. Robert Southwell and Henry Garnet by Philip Caraman, SJ

From The Institute of Jesuit Studies in St. Louis, MO (The Rome of the West!):
Saint Robert Southwell and Henry Garnet: A Study in Friendship by Philip Caraman, SJ--

This character study attempts to enter into the mind and heart of a brilliant, attractive, and astonishingly brave Elizabethan Jesuit, Robert Southwell, who was also a poet, a master of prose, and a martyr. He had a remarkable capacity for friendship, a subject on which he dwelt in his verse, his prose works, his meditations, and his letters. Among his dearest friends was Henry Garnet, a fellow Jesuit. Together they shared mortal dangers and a common ideal of religious commitment, both often described and expressed in their letters. Southwell's poems form a considerable part of this book, and they are often set in the framework of Garnet's letters, many of which were written to Claudio Aquaviva, superior general of the Jesuits and also a friend of them both. Robert Southwell's mother had been a playmate of Queen Elizabeth I; Sir Robert Cecil was his cousin. Yet as an English Jesuit priest he suffered torture for three years and in 1595 was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. A few years later, in 1606, in St. Paul's Churchyard in London, Garnet suffered the same death for the same commitment.

This is a miniature masterpiece of biography and insight. With tremendous sympathy and delicacy, Caraman enters into the relationship between these two men: how they complemented one another in their mission to set up the network for missionary priests in London and throughout the countryside. Garnet was the superior, yet he accorded Southwell much of the credit and the leadership of their efforts because of Southwell's gentle, empathetic appeal to both priests and laity. When Southwell was finally arrested, Garnett was briefly lost emotionally and psychologically. He asked to be replaced as the Jesuit Superior in England, but Aquaviva gently told him that his experience and skill were too valuable. Caraman highlights the loneliness of both men as they travelled separately about England and their letters to Aquaviva in Rome were one of their (dangerous) ways of reaching out to let the Jesuit community know what they were accomplishing.

Caraman's description of Southwell's three years of captivity and torture is riveting and his account of Southwell's trial is dramatic and gripping. The sequel to this book would be Caraman's Henry Garnett and the Gunpowder Plot. This book ends with Southwell's execution and Garnett's reactions and his efforts to continue the mission.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Oh, They Built the Ship Titanic to Sail the Ocean Blue

On this centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, it's appropriate to remember the Catholic priests who stayed on board to help the "anxious passengers", as Our Sunday Visitor's April 15 issue features them. One of the three priests has an Oxford/Oxford Movement connection:

Father Thomas Roussel Davids Byles, 42, came from a prominent family in England and was the son of a Congregationalist minister. While at Oxford, he was received into the Church of England. Originally intending to become an Anglican priest, he converted to Catholicism in 1894 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1902. . . .

On April 14, the day that would end with the accident, Father Byles celebrated Mass twice — once for second-class passengers and a later one for third-class passengers.

Most third-class passengers were immigrants to America, mainly from Ireland, so they would have understood English. Many others, however, were from continental Europe. Father Byles preached his third-class homily in English and French, and Father Peruschitz followed with a sermon in German and Hungarian. According to a newspaper report at the time, both priests preached about “the necessity of man having a lifeboat in the shape of religious consolation at hand in case of a spiritual shipwreck.”

When the collision with the iceberg came, Father Byles returned to third-class cabins. Survivors recall that he pointed third-class passengers to exits from lower decks or into the boats. He heard confessions. He prayed with anxious passengers.

According to newspaper reports, Father Byles too was offered a seat in a departing lifeboat, but he refused to leave the other passengers. He died with the ship and his body was never recovered.

A memorial to Father Byles was erected at his parish in Chipping Ongar, Essex, England, St. Helen's.

Here's more about Father Byles from a Titanic website! And BBC News has a story with pictures of the parish church.

Secretary of State, "Revert" and Catholic Colonizer George Calvert

George Calvert, James I's Secretary of State, First Lord Baltimore, founder of Avalon and Maryland colonies, and pioneer in religious freedom, died on the 15th of April 1652. In Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation [(c) 2007, Stephanie Mann], I compare and contrast the Catholic and Anglican lives of Calvert and John Donne, Dean of Saint Paul's. Both were raised in Catholic households; both conformed to the establishment Church of England--but while John Donne remained an Anglican, Lord Baltimore reverted:

George Calvert’s family was harassed into conformity to the Church of England when he was a child. Although his father attended official services, his mother never did, so the Yorkshire authorities not only meddled with their Sunday worship but determined what books they could own and what servants they could hire. Additionally, their children’s Catholic education had to end, so George and his brother came under Protestant tutelage. When he was twelve years old, Calvert conformed to the Church of England.

He was a protégé of Sir Robert Cecil who was principal secretary to Elizabeth I and James I. Calvert attended Oxford and earned his B.A. in 1597 and M.A. in 1605. Becoming private secretary to Cecil, he went on to hold several government posts, each more important than the last: Clerk of the Crown, Clerk of the Privy Council, ambassador to the Court of France, and finally Secretary of State for James I.

After working to support the Spanish alliance James I desired, including the marriage of the Prince of Wales to the Infanta of Spain, Calvert's professional life fell apart when those plans were scuttled. He left Court and in 1624 or 1625 declared himself a Catholic. Surprisingly, he still received honors from James I and Charles I:

Because of his loyal service to James I, however, his conversion did not necessarily leave him a ruined man. James was grateful to his erstwhile secretary, and made him a peer in Ireland as the First Baron Baltimore of Baltimore Manor in County Longford. Although James died a few weeks after this decision, the new king, Charles I, upheld Calvert’s peerage and role on the Privy Council.

As the first Baron Baltimore, Calvert still had influence and access to the court. He also could pursue economic ventures, especially his project to colonize the New World in the name of England and the cause of religious toleration. Although he died before that project could succeed, he left his son, Cecil Calvert, the vision and the means to accomplish it during the reign of Charles I . . .

The story of Lord Baltimore shows that Catholics could be loyal to faith and their country. But it was a complicated task. Before his conversion, Calvert had conformed to the official church. James I and Charles I both accepted him as a Catholic, honoring him and even exempting him from the harassment of searches and travel restrictions his parents had experienced, but that was because of his avowed and demonstrated willingness to serve them.

I then go on to show how Cecil Calvert, the Second Lord Baltimore achieved his father's goals in Maryland after his father died, the difficulties the colony faced, and the final takeover by William and Mary after the Glorious Revolution. John G. Krugler's triple biography, English and Catholic: The Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century was my main source for this story.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Another Easter Hymn from John Mason Neale

John Mason Neale also translated this hymn from St. John of Damascus, one the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church:

Come, ye faithful, raise the strain
of triumphant gladness!
God hath brought his Israel
into joy from sadness:
loosed from Pharoah's bitter yoke
Jacob's sons and daughters,
led them with unmoistened foot
through the Red Sea waters.

'Tis the spring of souls today:
Christ hath burst his prison,
and from three days' sleep in death
as a sun hath risen;
all the winter of our sins,
long and dark, is flying
from his light, to whom we give
laud and praise undying.

Now the queen of seasons, bright
with the day of splendor,
with the royal feast of feasts,
comes its joy to render;
comes to glad Jerusalem,
who with true affection
welcomes in unwearied strains
Jesus' resurrection.

Neither might the gates of death,
nor the tomb's dark portal,
nor the watchers, nor the seal
hold thee as a mortal:
but today amidst the twelve
thou didst stand, bestowing
that thy peace which evermore
passeth human knowing.

Alleluia now we cry
to our King Immortal,
who triumphant burst the bars
of the tomb's dark portal;
alleluia, with the Son
God the Father praising;
alleluia yet again
to the Spirit raising.

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13: Rochester (1590) and York (1642)

These two sets of priests were executed during the reigns of Elizabeth I and Charles I under the same law that made it illegal for Catholic priests to be in England:

Blessed Francis Dickinson or Dickenson was born in Otley and christened at Otley Parish Church on 28th October 1564. Nothing is known of his early life, but in 1582, at the age of 17, he entered the English College in Rheims. He was ordained at Soissons on 18th March 1589 and returned to England in November of that year. He was captured along with another priest (Blessed Miles Gerard). Upon refusing to swear allegiance to the Queen Francis was sent to London and committed to Bridewell Prison.

During this time he was tortured in an attempt to obtain a self-incriminating confession. The date and place of his trial are unknown, however, he was taken to Rochester and there hanged, drawn and quartered on 13th April 1590. Francis had been a priest for just over one year and, at the age of 25, was one of the youngest Douai martyrs. Blessed Francis is venerated at Our Lady and All Saints Catholic Church in Otley (along with another martyr from that area, Blessed Matthew Flathers).

Blessed Miles Gerard born about 1550 at Wigan; executed at Rochester 13 April, 1590. Sprung perhaps from the Gerards of Ince, he was, about 1576, tutor to the children of Squire Edward Tyldesley, at Morleys, Lancashire. Thence in 1579 he went to the seminaries of Douai and Reims, where he was ordained 7 April, 1583, and then stayed on as professor until 31 August, 1589 (O.S.), when he started for England with five companions. At Dunkirk the sailors refused to take more than two passengers; so the missioners tossed for precedence, and Gerard and Francis Dicconson, the eldest (it seems) and youngest of the party, won. Though bound for London, they were driven out of their course into Dover harbour, where they were examined and arrested on suspicion (24 November, N.S.). A contemporary newsletter says that they were wrecked, and escaped the sea only to fall into the hands of persecutors on shore, but this is not consistent with the official records. These show that the prisoners at first gave feigned names and ambiguous answers, but soon thought it better to confess all. After many tortures in the worst London prisons under the infamous Topcliffe, they were condemned as traitors, and "taken to Rochester, where they were hanged and quartered", says Father John Curry, S.J., writing shortly afterwards, "and gave a splendid testimony to the Catholic Faith".

Blessed John Lockwood was the eldest son of Christopher Lockwood, of Sowerby, Yorkshire, by Clare, eldest daughter of Christopher Lascelles, of Sowerby and Brackenborough Castle, Yorkshire. With the second son, Francis, he arrived at Reims on 4 November 1579, and was sent to Douai College to study philosophy.

Francis was ordained in 1587, but John entered the English College, Rome, on 4 October 1595,and was ordained priest on 26 January 1597. He was sent on the English mission, 20 April 1598.

After suffering imprisonment he was banished in 1610, but returned, and was again taken and condemned to death, but reprieved. He was finally captured at Wood End, Gatenby, the residence of Bridget Gatenby, and executed with Edmund Catherick.

Catherick was born in Lancastershire in 1605 and was descended from the Catholic family of Catherick of Carlton, North Yorkshire and Stanwick, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Educated at Douai College, he was ordained in the same institution, and about 1635 went out to the English mission where he began his seven years' ministry which closed with his death. During this time he was known under the alias Huddleston, which was probably his mother's maiden name.

Apprehended in the North Riding, near Watlas, Catherick was brought by pursuivants to York for arrainment as a Catholic priest illegally present in England and was condemned to death together with Father John Lockwood.

King Charles I signed their death warrants reluctantly and witnessed their executions at York.

All four of these martyrs are listed among the Blessed Martyrs of Douai.

The Octave of Easter: Each Day a "Day of Resurrection"

Just like Christmas, Easter is not just a day--it is a season of the Church's Liturgical Year. There are forty days between Easter and the Ascension and ten more until Pentecost. Liturgically, each day in the Octave of Easter is Easter Sunday, and so the hymnology of the Easter Season warrants some posts. And just as I did last Christmas, I'll focus on John Mason Neale's hymns and translations. He translated this hymn from the Greek by Saint John of Damascus, the great defender of Icons:

The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over, with hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light;
And listening to His accents, may hear, so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and, hearing, may raise the victor strain.

Now let the heavens be joyful! Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen, our joy that hath no end.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Byrd and Tallis Team Up Again

The April 2012 issue of the BBC Music Magazine features this compact disc of Sacred Choral Music of William Byrd and Thomas Tallis performed by The Cardinall's Musik conducted by Andrew Carwood. The Cardinall's Musick is on a 2012 tour to perform all of Byrd's Latin Music, according to their website. You might note that they plan to follow the liturgical year through their performance dates. On March 30, for instance, they performed in Oxford at St. Barnabas church in Jericho, which I visited during my Oxford Experience class on the Oxford Movement a few years ago:

This concert is part of The Cardinall’s Musick’s 2012 Byrd Tour. Here, Byrd’s solemn lenten music is delivered with impeccable craftsmanship and heartfelt expression in a programme which features the Mass for four voices, Propers for Easter, Haec dies [a 6 1591], Holy Saturday Vespers, In exituu Israel, Angelus Domini, Mane vobiscum, Post dies Octo and Deus in adjutorium. The atmosphere and acoustic of St Barnabas in Jericho are perfect for this penitential seasonal music.

For more information, here is an interview with Andrew Carwood in The Tablet. Here's a quote to get you thinking: "It's like Shostakovich in Russia." Here you can read my post on Catholic Exchange about "The Fascinating Mr. Willliam Byrd".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kidnapped by Pirates and Martyred at Tyburn

Blessed George Gervase: Priest and martyr, born at Boscham, Suffolk, England, 1571; died at Tyburn, 11 April, 1608. His mother's name was Shelly, and both his father's and mother's families had been long established in the County of Suffolk. Losing both parents in boyhood, he was kidnapped by pirates and carried off beyond seas, remaining in captivity over twelve years. He lost his religion during that period; but, when at last he was able to return to England, and found that his brother Henry had become a voluntary exile in Flanders in order to be able to practise his religion, George followed him there, and was soon reconciled with the Church. He entered the English College at Douai in 1595, and was ordained priest in 1603. He at once went to the English mission. He laboured very successfully for over two years, but was arrested in June, 1606, and banished with several other clergy. He then made a pilgrimage to Rome, and there endeavoured to enter the Society of Jesus, but, not being admitted for some unknown reason, he returned to Douai, where he received the Benedictine habit. His brother Henry had obtained for him a comfortable living near Lille, being anxious to preserve him from the persecution then raging in England. But George was determined to labour for the conversion of his native land, and succeeded in returning to his native England, but was soon arrested and incarcerated. Refusing to take the new oath of allegiance on account of its infringing on spiritual matters where Catholics were concerned, he was tried, convicted of the offense of merely being a priest, under the statute 27 Elizabeth, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. Some authorities say he did not receive the Benedictine habit until a short time before his death from Father Augustine Bradshaw.

Father George Leo Haydock

George Haydock was born on April 11, 1774 in Cottam, Lancashire. His parents were George and Anne (Cottam) Haydock--he and his father were named for Blessed George Haydock, who was martyred in 1584 on 12 February with four other Catholic priests.

George's eldest brother James (1765-1809) became a priest and died while caring for his congregation during a plague; his older brother Thomas (1772-1859) became a publisher of Catholic books, including the Haydock Bible; and his sister Margaret became an Augustinian nun.

George studied first at Mowbreck Hall, Wesham and then at Douai, escaping from France in 1793 when Great Britain declared war against France. He resumed his seminary studies at Crook Hall in County Durham two years before his ordination in 1798. After remaining at Crook Hall until 1803 as a professor, he was assigned to a poor parish in Ugthorpe in Yorkshire, former home of Blessed Nicholas Postgate, Popish Plot martyr, where he worked on a commentary for a new edition of Catholic English translation of the Holy Bible, the Douai-Rheims Bible. His brother Thomas published it, starting in 1811--the Haydock Bible.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Father Haydock ran into some trouble at his next assignment in July, 1816 to

the mission of Whitby, whence he was removed on 22 September, 1830, to the mission at Westby Hall, Lancashire, owing to a misunderstanding with his superiors. On 19 August, 1831, he was forbidden to say Mass by Bishop Penswick, whereupon he retired for the succeeding eight years to the Tagg, devoting himself to study. In 1832 he twice appealed to the Propaganda, but both his letters were intercepted and sent to the bishop; after his third appeal in 1838, his faculties were restored on 18 November, 1839, and he was appointed to the mission at Penrith where he spent his last ten years. Father Haydock's chief publication was a new edition of the English translation of the Latin Vulgate first published at Reims in 1582, and at Douai in 1609; Bishop Challoner's text of 1750 was the basis of the work, but in the New Testament Dr. Troy's edition of 1794 is largely followed. The notes are partly original, partly selected from other writers, those on the New Testament not having been compiled by Father Haydock. The edition appeared in Manchester, 1812-14; Dublin, 1812-13; Edinburgh and Dublin, 1845-8; New York, 1852-6. The other works published by Father Haydock are: "The Tree of Life; or the One Church of God from Adam until the 19th or 58th century" (Manchester, 1809); "Prayers before and after Mass proper for Country Congregations" (York, 1822); "A Key to the Roman Catholic Office" (Whitby, 1823); "A Collection of Catholic Hymns" (York, 1823); "Method of Sanctifying the Sabbath Days" (York, 1824).

The Haydock Bible was very popular and became a bestseller in England and in its American edition, published by Eugene Cummiskey of Philadelphia in 1823 to 1825. This wikipedia article contains details about different revisions and editions through the years after Haydock's death.

Here's a sample from the Introduction to the Letter of St. James:

The seven following Epistles have been called Catholic or general, not being addressed to any particular Church or person, if we except the Second and Third of St. John. They are called also Canonical, having been received by the Church as part of the canon of the New Testament, and as writings of divine authority. It is a matter of fact allowed by every one, that five of these epistles, to wit, this of St. James, the Second of St. Peter, the Second and Third of St. John, that of St. Jude, as also the Epistle of St. Paul to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John, were doubted of , and not received always and every where in the three first ages[centuries], till the canon and catalogue of Scripture books was examined by tradition, and determined by the authority of the Catholic Church, the supreme judge of all controversies in matters of faith and religion, according to the appointment of our Saviour, Christ, expressed in many places in the holy Scriptures. But I could never learn upon what grounds they who deny the Catholic Church and General Councils to be of an infallible authority, and who deny Christ's promises to guide his Church in all truth to the end of the world, can be certain which Scriptures or writings are canonical, and which are not. I could never understand what construction to put on the sixth of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England. We there meet with this declaration: In, or by the name of the holy Scripture, we understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church. These I have mentioned were certainly for some time doubted of; they are still doubted of by some of the late reformers: Luther, the great doctor of the reformation, is not ashamed to say that this epistle of St. James is no better than straw, and unworthy of an apostle. These writings therefore, according to the said declaration, ought not to be accounted and received as canonical; and yet before the end of the said sixth article, it is again declared, that all the books of the Old and New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive and account canonical. And in all New Testaments of the Church of England, all these are received for canonical in the same manner as the four gospels, without any remark or advertisement to the contrary. --- The first of the seven epistles was written by St. James, surnamed the lesser, and James of Alpheus, (Matthew x. 3.) one of the twelve apostles, called the brother of our Lord, (Galatians i. 19.) who was made bishop of Jerusalem. His mother is thought to have been Mary, sister to the blessed Virgin Mary, and to have been married first to Alpheus, and afterwards to Cleophas; to have had four sons, James, Joseph, Simon, (or Simeon) and Jude, the author of the last of these epistles. All these four being cousins-german, are called brothers of our Lord, Matthew xiii. 55. How great a veneration the Jews themselves had for this apostle and bishop of Jerusalem, see not only Hegisippus apud Eusebius, lib. ii. hist. chap. 23. and St. Jerome de viris illustribus, also the same St. Jerome in Galatians i. 19. (tom. iv, p. 237, lib. 1. contra Jovin. tom. iv, part 2, p. 182.) but even Josephus, (lib. xxviii. Jewish Antiquities, chap. 8.) where he calls him the brother of Jesus, surnamed the Christ. This epistle was written about the year 62.[A.D. 62.] The chief contents are: 1. To shew that faith without good works will not save a man, as St. Augustine observed, lib. de fid. et oper. chap. iv.; 2. He exhorts them to patience, to beg true wisdom, and the divine grace; 3. He condemns the vices of the tongue; 4. He gives admonitions against pride, vanity, ambition, &c.; 5. To resist their disorderly lusts and desires, which are the occasions and causes of sin, and not Almighty God; 6. He publisheth the sacrament of anointing the sick with oil; 7. He recommends prayer, &c.

Here is a link to St. Catherines RC Church in Penrith.