Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Blogging Hiatus; AKA Vacation

Sorry for the blogging blankness the past few days. My husband and I are on vacation in a cabin in the Ozarks (in Missouri). The Eighth Day Books 25th Anniversary party was a tremendous event last Saturday night; more about it next week.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Archbishop Justin Welby on Baptism and Buddhism

From The Washington Post:

Some day, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge will become the leader of the Church of England.

First, he needed to become a Christian.

When the newest member of Great Britain’s royal family was christened on Wednesday, he didn’t just become the country’s newest Anglican, he also secured his place in line with all British monarchs as the future head of Church of England.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, administering the sacrament to the royal baby, capitalizing on the interest in the “hugely important moment” of George’s baptism in a well-timed YouTube video that explains the religious and political significance at play.

For Anglicans in Britain, church is sometimes synonymous with state. This means that the reigning monarch, today Queen Elizabeth, holds official roles as “Defender of the Faith” and “Supreme Governor of the Church of England.” As the future king, George will be responsible for a number of religious duties that are largely symbolic but also rich with history and theology. These duties date back to the 16th century with King Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church. The English Reformation lives.

Yeah, right: The English Reformation lives. More on that idea below.

But the Archbishop's theology of the Baptism seems to be lacking, because after emphasizing Baptism as the means for becoming part of the Christian family, mentioning the symbolism of the water and the Sign of the Cross, the next day he said that Prince George could easily become a Buddhist!

(Indeed, his comments about Baptism are not as clear as the Thirty-Nine Articles: "Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.")

From The Daily Mail:

The Archbishop of Canterbury says he has no objection to Prince George converting to Buddhism.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, speaking one day after he led the christening of the future Supreme Governor of the Church of England, said the prince is ‘perfectly entitled’ to change his religion should he so choose.

The remark is likely to alarm traditionalists. However, it is in keeping with Prince Charles’s oft-repeated claim that he wants to be seen as ‘Defender of Faiths’ instead of ‘Defender of the Faith’, to reflect Britain’s multicultural society.

The remarkable statement came just 24 hours after he conducted the young prince’s christening at the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace.

Indeed, the Archbishop had chosen in his address to urge George’s parents and godparents to help the future monarch ‘make sure he knows who Jesus is’, imploring: ‘Speak of him, read stories about him. Introduce him in prayer.’

His latest comments will concern many within the Church, who consider the Archbishop to be a leader who seeks to be ‘all things to all men’.

Isn't that last part part of the problem? At any rate, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Prince George can learn all about Jesus, how much Jesus loves him, what Jesus did to redeem him, how Jesus promises him eternal life--and then turn away from that love and grace and follow the Buddha?

So, to be clear:

"Your Grace, may Prince George decide to become a Buddhist and be the Head of the Anglican Church and the Defender of the Faith?"

"Of course . . ."

"Your Grace, may Prince George decide to become a Catholic and be the Head of the Anglican Church and Defender of the Faith?"

"No, of course not."

If the English Reformation lives, it lives only as Erastian Anti-Catholicism. All things to all men, except Catholics, of course--except for Confession. The Archbishop likes that.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Touchstone on Tolkien and Peter Jackson

I came to The Lord of the Rings trilogy late: my husband was surprised that I had never read it, probably about ten years ago. Then we enjoyed the trilogy of movies, even though we noticed that Peter Jackson did not always "follow the book" and left out much of the poetry and some of the spirituality, over-emphasizing the battles and even the tempting power of the Ring.

Donald T. Williams, Professor of English and Director of the School of Arts and Sciences at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, explains why Peter Jackson did not "get" much of the spirit of The Lord of the Rings in a Touchstone Magazine article, noting that Tolkien, following a long tradition in literature, created role models for us to follow that Jackson could not accept as realistic:

Literature, then, has the serious moral purpose of providing role models that help us form the ideals and aspirations we live by; it achieves that purpose through concrete images of virtue and vice. Great literature is also fun; as Horace said, it teaches and delights.

But it does teach. Where in history or experience will you find a better picture of wise counsel than Gandalf, of sacrificial service than Frodo, of loyal friendship than Sam Gamgee, of leadership than Aragorn, of single-minded devotion in love than Aragorn and Arwen, of personal integrity than Faramir? I would hate to have had to live my life without the example and the inspiration that those characters have provided along the way.

But he notes that Peter Jackson does not accept these models of virtue--they are too good to be true--and therefore, Jackson and his creative team introduce doubt and weakness where Tolkien depicts self-sacrifice, loyalty, love, and devotion:

Peter Jackson, by contrast, comes from a more modern tradition that is suspicious of such moral didacticism and is more focused on "realism" (though this realism is somewhat inconsistently pursued, one might think, when it leads to a rabbit-drawn sledge that can travel over dry ground and doesn't need snow, as in Jackson's The Hobbit). Jackson apparently thinks the characters Tolkien gave us are too simply good to be fully believable to modern audiences, and so he feels obligated to "complicate" them, to give them internal conflicts other than the ones they actually have, in the hopes that we will better be able to relate to them.

Or so his consistent changes to Tolkien's characters would suggest. By this process, Faramir's "I wouldn't pick this thing [the One Ring] up if I found it lying in the road" becomes "Tell my father I send him a powerful weapon!" By this process, Aragorn becomes ambivalent about taking up his kingship rather than devoted to his calling with fixed purpose. By this process, Arwen actually contemplates deserting Aragorn and going to the Grey Havens to escape from Middle Earth despite their earlier pact, and he thinks she would.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Prayers and More from the Tower of London

As a follow up to my post on the launch of The 1535 Society, here is a report from the event on Tuesday:

The Anglican Bishop and the Catholic Archbishop prayed, respectively, a prayer by St. Thomas More and a prayer for St. Thomas More's intercession:

O Lord, give us a mind
that is humble, quiet, peaceable,
patient and charitable,
and a taste of your Holy Spirit
in all our thoughts, words and deeds.
O Lord, give us a lively faith, a firm hope,
a fervent charity, a love of you.
Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation
and all dullness in prayer.
Give us fervour and delight in thinking of you,
your grace, and your tender compassion toward us.
Give us, good Lord,
the grace to work for
the things we pray for.

O God, who in martyrdom,
have brought true faith to its highest expression,
graciously grant that,
strengthened through the intercession of Saint Thomas More,
we may confirm by witness of our life
that faith we profess with our lips,
and our unity be ever deepened.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

They also issued a joint statement about the importance of The 1535 Society:

"We must never forget our past if we want to walk wisely into the future. That is why it is so important that we preserve this shrine to remind us of the dangers of religious intolerance and to recall men and women of faith to the primacy of love for God which leads to love of neighbour."

The Tower of London website has been updated with information about the restoration effort, and there's a series of photos of the event here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"The 1535 Society": Where Was St. Thomas More Held in the Tower of London?

According to this story in The Telegraph, Sir Richard Dannatt, Constable of the Tower of London, is launching a campaign to reburbish parts of the Tower in the name of religious freedom, focusing on the memory of St. Thomas More:

“Thomas More was a very intelligent, articulate man, a scholar and a personal friend of Henry VIII,” says Lord Dannatt, the former head of the Army who is now the Constable of the Tower.

“However, he could not support Henry’s divorce, nor the king’s decision to split from Rome and make himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. This was a man who stood up for what he believed, and who was willing to die for it.”

The cell is in the basement of a tower built in the 12th century. It is not usually open to the public, as the entrance is within a historic house now occupied by Lord Dannatt, as the man in charge of the Tower of London.

He is allowing me to spend the night in the cell in support of his campaign to focus attention on More and others who lost their lives “in pursuit of religious freedom” during that turbulent time.

The martyrs of both the Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions will be remembered on Tuesday morning, when the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Westminster meet in the cell to pray.

They will then walk to the nearby Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, where the headless body of More now lies. Since 1980, he has been recognised as a saint by both Anglicans and Catholics. . . .

The article describes how poorly the correspondent faired in the cell overnight, and includes a video. As the author notes, however, he was able to leave the cell after that one night for a hot shower and nice breakfast--Thomas More did not leave it except for his trial and then his execution. A special ecumenical service is being held today to launch "The 1535 Society", as both the Catholic Church and the Church of England honor St. Thomas More as a martyr (and St. John Fisher).

It was not until 1935 that Pope Pius XI canonised More, along with Cardinal John Fisher, who had also been kept in the Tower and executed. The Church of England has since recognised More as one of the Saints and Heroes of the Christian Church.

The traditions will meet in the cell on Tuesday when the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, prays with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols.

Choir members will also sing. “This is a very special ecumenical moment,” says Lord Dannatt, who will use it to begin the final phase of his appeal. So far he has raised £1.1 million. The first donation came from the Queen, who is expected to attend a service of thanksgiving in a year’s time, when the refurbishment is complete.

“The furniture in the Chapel Royal has been there for 50 years. A million visitors a year sit on it,” says Lord Dannatt. “The whole thing needs a lift as befits its status.”

Members of the 1535 Society will have the right to name some of the new furniture in the chapel and to attend the royal thanksgiving, as well as other exclusive events. The inaugural society dinner will be held in February.

Obviously, St. Thomas More was in a "nicer" cell in the Tower of London when he and his daughter Meg watched the protomartyrs leave the Tower for Tyburn on May 4, 1535 (the Carthusian priors whom More knew well among them), as depicted above by John Rogers Herbert of the Royal Academy. (Remember that he had been imprisoned in the Tower in April of 1534 and was writing devotional and meditative works like A Treatise on the Passion, A Treatise on the Blessed Body, A Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation, and De Tristitia Christi (The Sadness of Christ).)

The article emphasizes the cold and dampness of the cell and of course the removal of books, paper and pen from More's use, which I believe occurred early in 1535. I am a little confused by the Constable of the Tower's references to the coldness of the winter in 1535: if St. Thomas More and Margaret were in the Bell Tower on an upper floor, in a cell with a window, when they saw the martyrs leave on May 4, 1535, when was Thomas More moved to this smaller underground cell? If it was in June of 1535, he certainly did not spend the winter there. In fact, there is some controversy about exactly where he was held, according to this article from The Guardian 13 years ago:

Historians have demolished the claim that a small white-washed cell at the Tower of London, which opens to the public for the first time today, [the cell in which The Telegraph correspondent just spent the night, I presume] was the last prison of Sir Thomas More. To mark the millennium, Historic Royal Palaces, which manages the tower, will launch guided tours of the cell, and a display of historical material including the hairshirt worn by More, one of the most likeable figures in English history.

Visitors will be told the room is where More was held prisoner for 14 months, and that he walked from there to his death on Tower Green on July 6 1535. However the official Tower historian, Geoffrey Parnell, said: "There isn't a shred of evidence that More was ever held there." . . .

However Dr Parnell, and the historical researcher Stephen Priestley, an expert on early manuscripts, have been tracking More through reams of documents on Tower history, and can find no evidence that he was ever in the cell, though he was certainly in the Tower of London. "There is no evidence at all that he was held in the Bell Tower, and some reasons why he was not likely to have been," Dr Parnell said.

Mr Priestley said: "It is really very frustrating because there is so much documentation about his imprisonment, his letters, details of his visitors, details of his interrogation, and you would think one of them would mention where he was held. But there is nothing."

The mystery deepened when Mr Priestley found an inventory of prisoners, tower by tower, taken on the day of More's execution, which does not mention his name. It is known that he was a prisoner there, because an earlier inventory mentions the cost maintaining him and his servant. . . .

A Historic Royal Palaces spokeswoman admitted: "We cannot be 100% sure that More was held in the Bell Tower, but it seems very likely".

Dr Parnell said: "It is the sort of story that everyone wanted to believe, but I think they just made an inspired guess."

So the (now former) official historian of the Tower of London and the Constable of the Tower of London have differing views on how confident we can be of where St. Thomas More spent his last days on earth in 1535. Rather awkward.

Eighth Day Books: 25 Year Anniversary Celebration

 Eighth Day Books is celebrating its 25th anniversary this weekend, October 25th and 26th. In honor of its anniversary, this festschrift has been published by Eighth Day Press, to which I contributed a reflection. So I'll be there Saturday evening (10/26) at 7 p.m. to read from my reflection, enjoy some refreshments, and celebrate the greatest indepedent bookstore in the world: Eighth Day Books!

Timely . . . Timeless: 25 Years at Eighth Day Books will also be available on-line--but it's much better to be there in the bookstore, browse around, and buy a copy. There's a sale too--20% off new books and 35% off used books.

Did I mention I'll be baking a cake and contributing it to the refreshments?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Not Shakespeare's "Othello", nor Verdi's "Otello" . . .

. . . but Rossini's Otello was in our CD player this weekend, the digitally remastered version of Philips 1979 premiere recording with Jose Carreras, Frederica von Stade, and Samuel Ramey:

You do have to forget about Shakespeare's Othello, because as the liner notes in the CD state, Rossini's librettist turned the story into the usual tale of a secret marriage and animosity between rivals. Iago is not the great tempter of Otello, and Rodrigo has a much bigger role. Desdemona and Otello don't have any romantic duets at all--in fact, they sing only one duet and that is when Otello is preparing to kill Desdemona! This is not a tragedy, but an opera seria, and Rossini even wrote a comic--that is, happy--ending in which Otello and Desdemona are reconciled! (This recording ends with Otello killing Desdemona and then himself: no bacio, however.)

Here is the cover from the original LP release, which we also own:

Carreras appears in makeup as the Moor on the cover and in the booklet, and von Stade is also pictured in makeup and costume in the booklet, while the other singers are photographed in the recording studio. There was no stage production before the recording, however, as there had been of Massenet's Werther before von Stade and Carreras recorded it (at Covent Garden in 1980). In both recordings, however, Frederica von Stade was singing in her prime and with great dramatic fervour and affect. Years later, von Stade sang the aria "Assisa a' piè d'un salice" (The Willow Song) at a gala, and the harpist who accompanied her posted this on her blog about the experience!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Iconoclasm on the BBC (Radio 3)

At 12:45 p.m. Central Time TODAY, BBC 3 will broadcast an examination of the iconoclasm of the English Reformation and of the Civil War:

From the Dissolution of the monasteries to the Civil War, Diarmaid MacCulloch tells the dramatic story of iconoclasm and reformation in the English church.

A difficult and gradual process, the English Reformation eventually succeeded in denuding churches up and down the country of all their images - and (during the Civil War) even their organs. Word replaced image as the medium for worship. Looking at the white-washed churches of Wetherden and Bures in Suffolk, Diarmaid assesses the complex set of motivations which drove the iconoclasts to tear down statues, dismantle rood screens and smash stained glass. He examines the journal of William Dowsing, probably the most notorious iconoclast of the Civil War period, and other documents that shine a light on the complex motivations of Reformation iconoclasts.

Diarmaid's journey also takes him to Winchester Cathedral where the great rood screen was attacked (probably under Edward) and the stained glass later smashed by Cromwell's soldiers. Academic Philip Lindley and sculptor Richard Deacon help to explain the power of religious images and the corresponding fear they induced in iconoclasts.

Finally, the Reverend Canon Doctor Roland Riem of Winchester and artist Sophie Hacker talk about the place of images in today's churches and cathedrals. Diarmaid considers whether the fanaticism of the Reformation reformers bears any relation to the iconoclastic attacks we have witnessed in our own century. And Tabitha Barber, Tate Britain curator, reflects on the legacy of this iconoclastic movement: has the destructiveness of the Reformation made a lasting impact on the history of British Art?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

St. Philip Howard in the Tower of London

Today is the anniversary of St. Philip Howard's death in the Tower of London on Sunday of that year, October 19, 1595. He was canonized as a martyr saint by Pope Paul VI in 1970, along with 39 other martyrs, and in life, he was affected by two other martyrs: St. Edmund Campion, who influenced him without ever knowing it, I suppose, to return to his family's Catholic faith; and St. Robert Southwell, who served as Anne Howard's chaplain, and was also imprisoned in the Tower for a time. Reports are that St. Philip Howard's dog carried messages between them.

While in the Tower of London, as I mentioned yesterday on the Son Rise Morning Show, St. Philip Howard developed a tremendous regime of devotions, prayer, spiritual reading, and fasting/abstinence. He prayed the Divine Office, read the works of Louis of Granada, the Fathers of the Church (St. Jerome, for example), and Eusebius, whose history, he told St. Robert Southwell, was of comfort to him as it depicted the Church in "her infancy".

In 1588, when he was tried for having prayed for--specifically, having wanted a Mass offered in support of--the victory of the Spanish Armada, he began to fast three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. According to the source I'm using, The Other Face, a collection made by Philip Caraman, SJ, he would ask his servant to eat any meat offered to him when he was abstaining from meat, so that the guards would not know!

Like St. Robert Southwell--and like many of the educated noblemen of his day--St. Philip Howard wrote poetry. The famous Lament for Walsingham is attributed to him:

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

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

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

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

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

The magnificent book, Firmly I Believe and Truly: The Spiritual Tradition of Catholic England, also attributes another poem to him, "On the Joys of Heaven" while Father Caraman includes a poem titled "A Prisoner's Prayer" in his collection.

St. Philip Howard, pray for us!

Friday, October 18, 2013

St. Philip Howard on the Son Rise Morning Show

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of St. Philip Howard's birth into eternal life--his dies natalis as a martyr in chains--when he died in the Tower of London on October 19, 1595. I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning at 6:45 Central/7:45 Eastern to discuss this remarkable martyr of the English Reformation. Highlights of his life must include his radical conversion after hearing St. Edmund Campion and companions debate the Anglican divines in St. John Chapel in the Tower of London and his imprisonment in the Tower and the way he developed his devotional practices while in the Tower, praying, fasting, and preparing himself for the possible execution long-delayed, as he remained in the Tower at Her Majesty's pleasure.

In his Tower of London cell he inscribed the words: "Quanto plus afflictiones pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro".--The greater the afflictions for Christ in this world, the greater the glory with Christ in the next!

Long before Nathan Hale in the American Revolutionary War, he proclaimed such tremendous loyalty that he regretted having only one life to give, for his Faith, not for his country: "Tell Her Majesty if my religion be the cause for which I suffer, sorry I am that I have but one life to lose." (He had asked if he might see his wife and son before he died, being very ill, and "Good Queen Bess" said that he could--if he would renounce his Catholic Faith and attend an Anglican church service--and she would restore his rank, privileges, and freedom besides!)

More tomorrow about his devotional life in the Tower of London for ten years. Listen live today on EWTN radio or Sacred Heart radio, on the air or online.

St. Philip Howard, pray for us!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Martyrs are Controversial: The 522 Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War

Last Sunday, Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, celebrated Mass in Tarragona, Spain and announced the beatification of 522 martyrs. According to The Catholic Herald in the UK:

A Vatican official moved more than 500 Spanish Civil War martyrs closer to sainthood during a special beatification Mass in Tarragona, the archdiocese that suffered most under “the Red Terror.”
An estimated 20,000 people from throughout Spain as well as small contingents from Portugal and France attended a special outdoor Mass on Sunday celebrating the beatification of 522 members of Catholic religious orders as well as laypeople.

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, celebrated the Mass. Archbishop Jaume Pujol Balcells of Tarragona and Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid concelebrated.

The ceremony was held in Tarragona because nearly 150 people, including Auxiliary Bishop Manuel Borras Farre, and 66 diocesan priests, were murdered there during the war. Many of those who attended the Mass did not have a direct connection to those being beatified.

“This is a very special occasion in the history of the Church in Spain,” said Josep Maria Ibanez, 49, a resident of Sitges. “If you are Catholic, it is important to be here to show your support for the church and for those who were killed for their faith.”

The altar was set up on a large stage at the educational complex of Tarragona, not far from the city’s port facilities. In a televised message, Pope Francis urged those in attendance to join “from the heart” in the celebration to proclaim the beatified martyrs. The Pope said those martyrs were “Christians won over by Christ, disciples who have understood fully the path to that ‘love to the extreme limit’ that led Jesus to the Cross.”

He noted that Popes always tell people, “Imitate the martyrs.”

“It is always necessary to die a little in order to come out of ourselves, to leave behind our selfishness, our comfort, our laziness, our sadness, and to open ourselves to God, and to others, especially those most in need,” he said.

These beatifications do not come without controversy, however, since they were executed for their Catholic Faith during the Spanish Civil War--and the debate about Francisco Franco and that war looms over their martyrdoms, as The Telegraph notes:

Spain's Catholic Church has beatified 522 "martyrs", mostly clerics killed during the Spanish Civil War, prompting fury from Franco-era victims' groups who say the honour "legitimised" his dictatorship. . . .

Historians have estimated that about 500,000 people from both sides were killed in the 1936-1939 war. After Francisco Franco's victory, Nationalist forces executed some 50,000 Republicans. Franco's dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975.

Several thousand priests, monks and nuns were thought to have died at the hands of the Spanish republic's mainly left-wing defenders, among whom anti-Church sentiment was strong. . . .

The umbrella association of dozens of groups supporting Franco-era victims had written to [Pope Francis], saying: "Under the guise of a religious act, the (Catholic) hierarchy is committing a political act of pro-Franco affirmation."

The Platform for a Truth Commission added: "You should know that the Catholic Church backed Franco's military uprising against the Spanish Republic in 1936."

The Church "considered the war 'a crusade' by backing the generals who revolted, (and) legitimised the fascist dictatorship and the fierce repression that it afflicted on the Spanish," said the letter published Friday.

It has "forgotten the victims of Francoist repression", the letter said.

Some more progressive sections of the Spanish Catholic Church, a minority in Spain, also opposed the beatification, saying it would reopen the wounds of the past.

In addition to 515 Spaniards, three French, and a citizen each from Cuba, Colombia, the Philippines and Portugal were among those beatified, which is the last formal step before possible sainthood.

This reminds me of the controversy the beatification and canonization of the Catholic martyrs of the English Reformation provoked and can provoke. The memories of injustices in the past always provoke uncomfortable reaction--and the debate about the truth of the those events is the urgent matter of the controversy. Were the Catholics executed by successive monarchs in England merely traitors to the State, conspirators against the rule of law? Or were they targeted by a series of unjust and immoral laws that violated human freedom, a human freedom of religion that really did not exist in the sixteenth century? Were they executed because they were traitors or because they were Catholics? That argument about opening the wounds of the past was used against Pope Paul VI's 1970 canonization of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. ARCIC discussions between Anglican and Catholic theologians were underway; the Church had entered a new ecumenical age--is this a good time to bring up the past? Protestants in England could respond in kind (well, they already had in Oxford) celebrating the Marian Martyrs, already canonized in Foxe's Book of Martyrs!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cardinal William Allen, Vatican Librarian

Cardinal William Allen, founder of colleges and seminaries for English Catholics on the Continent in the 16th century, died on October 16, 1594. He was also responsible for the English translation of the Holy Bible, the Douai-Rheims version.

He attended Oriel College at Oxford and became a Fellow there. With the accession of Elizabeth I, he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. Therefore he had to leave England and went into exile on the Continent, joining other Catholics in Leuven in present-day Belgium.

Allen returned to England before ordination and began to work with Catholics, recognizing that the religious changes legislated by Parliament were not the will of the people. So he returned to the Continent and went to another town in Flanders, Mechelen. (When I visited Belgium many years ago, I had no idea of these connections!) There he was ordained in 1565--and never returned to England.

Allen founded the college and seminary in Douai for the training of English Catholic priests to return to their native land to serve the Catholic people. Allen also founded the English College in Rome for the same purpose.

He had to move the college at Douai to Rheims--all the while working on an English translation of the Holy Bible. First the New Testament was produced at Rheims in 1582; the Old Testament was delayed until 1609--published two years before King James's Authorized Version.

According to the website for the seminary of the diocese of Westminster, named Allen Hall in honor of the Cardinal:

In the consistory of August 7, 1587 Allen was created a Cardinal and by the end of that month he received the red hat and the title of Ss Silvestro e Martino ai Monti. He also received the title of Cardinal of England and was the first English cardinal after the protestant Reformation. On November 10, 1589, King Felipe II of Spain nominated him archbishop of Mechlin but he was never recognized apparently because of the state of destitution of the See and the unwillingness of the king to provide the archbishop with a fitting revenue. Cardinal Allen also participated in the conclave of 1590, and the newly elected Pope, Gregory XIV (1590-1591) named him prefect of the Vatican library and entrusted him, together with Cardinal Ascanio Colonna, with the revision of the Latin Vulgate. As Cardinal, Allen also later participated in the conclaves of 1591 and 1592.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Cardinal Allen wrote many works, theological and controversial:

The following is a list of his printed works: "Certain Brief Reasons concerning the Catholick Faith" (Douay, 1564); "A Defense and Declaration of the Catholike Churches Doctrine touching Purgatory, and Prayers of the Soules Departed" (Antwerp, 1565), re-edited by Father Bridgett in 1886; "A Treatise made in defense of the Lawful Power and Authoritie of the Preesthoode to remitte sinnes &c." (1578); "De Sacramentis" (Antwerp, 1565; Douay, 1603); "An Apology for the English Seminaries" (1581); "Apologia Martyrum" (1583); "Martyrium R. P. Edmundi Campiani, S.J." (1583); "An Answer to the Libel of English Justice" (Mons, 1584); "The Copie of a Letter written by M. Doctor Allen concerning the Yeelding up of the Citie of Daventrie, unto his Catholike Majestie, by Sir William Stanley Knight" (Antwerp, 1587), reprinted by the Chetham Society, 1851; "An Admonition to the Nobility and People of England and Ireland, concerning the present Warres made for the Execution of his Holines Sentence, by the highe and mightie Kinge Catholike of Spain, by the Cardinal of Englande" (1588); "A Declaration of the sentence and deposition of Elizabeth, the usurper and pretended Queene of England" (1588; reprinted London, 1842).

Those are Allen's uncontrovertible achievements; however, he also dabbled in political and diplomatic efforts--and as Blessed John Henry Newman opined, "to touch politics is to touch pitch". There his record is more controversial as he encouraged the excommunication of Elizabeth I, attempts to remove her from the throne, and the Spanish Armada. It was planned that he would follow the victorious Armada and become the Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury! When all these plans came to naught, Allen became a Librarian at the Vatican and helped found another English college in Spain. He died in Rome at the Venerable English College.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Tudor Church Music and the Carnegie Trust

According to the review in The Guardian:

Stile Antico never disappoints. This disc of Tudor church music, sung by the small, conductor-less ensemble, doubles as a well organised programme of Byrd, Tallis, Gibbons and others, and a condensed history of the early music revival in the first half of the last century. Until OUP published the 10-volume Tudor Church Music, between 1922 and 1929, little of this vocal repertoire was known. In a philanthropic gesture which transformed the musical landscape, the project was funded by the Carnegie UK Trust, which marks its centenary this year. Stile Antico honour the endeavour with their customary clean lines, pure tone and precise articulation. If all that sounds a bit efficient, I'm struggling to say only that it is music making at the highest level.

1. Ave verum corpus by William Byrd  
2. Mass for 5 Voices by William Byrd  
3. O clap your hands by Orlando Gibbons  
4. Almighty and everlasting God by Orlando Gibbons  
5. Nolo mortem peccatoris by Thomas Morley 
6. Salvator mundi by Thomas Tallis   
7. In jejunio et fletu by Thomas Tallis
8. O splendor gloriae by John Taverner
9. Portio mea by Robert White
10. Christe qui lux es IV by Robert White

You may listen to samples here. I bought my copy yesterday and enjoyed listening to it before and after Mass on Sunday.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Robert White was an

English composer, b. about 1530; d. Nov., 1574; was educated by his father, and graduated Mus. D., at Cambridge University, 13 Dec., 1560. In March, 1561, he succeeded Dr. Tye as organist and master of the choristers at Ely cathedral, continuing in that office till 1566. He accepted a similar post at Chester cathedral in 1566, and took part in the Whitsuntide pageants during the years 1567-69. Such was his repute as a choir trainer that in 1570 he was appointed organist and master of the choristers of Westminster Abbey. Though an avowed Catholic he retained his post at Westminster Abbey from 1570 until his death. It is worth recording that during the same period, under Elizabeth, the musical services of the Chapel Royal, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral were directed by three Catholics, namely Farrant, White, and Westcott. White made his will on 5 Nov., 1574, and in it he describes his father Robert White as still living. He left each of the choristers four pence. The high estimation in which he was held by his contemporaries may be judged by the distich which a pupil (in 1581) inscribed in the manuscript score of White's "Lamentations":
"Non ita moesta sonat plangentis verba prophetae
Quam sonat authoris musica moesta mei."

Fortunately quite a large number of White compositions have survived, and of these his Latin motets are sufficient to place him in the front rank of English composers of the Elizabethan epoch. His contrapuntal writing is very fine, though stilted. However, his "Lamentations", set for five voices, have a flavour far in advance of his period, as also his motet "Peccatum peccavit Jerusalem" and "Regina Coeli". It is to be observed that he wrote his English anthems ex officio, but his Latin services reveal the full genius of White, and give him a place with Tallis, Byrd, Shepherd, and Taverner. Strange to say, though he stood so high among mid-sixteenth century musicians, his compositions were almost utterly neglected till unearthed by Dr. Burney. In recent years he has come into his own, thanks to the zeal of Mr. Arkwright, Dr. Terry, and others. Dr. Earnest Walker regards White "fairly to be reckoned — even remembering that Palestrina and Lassus were contemporaries — as among the very greatest European composers of this time".

Indeed, the Oxford Camerata recorded a "lamentable" CD of White's Lamentations, with Palestrina's, de Lassus', and Thomas Tallis', too!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Pilgrimage of Grace Begins

The Pilgrimage of Grace began on October 13, 1536, after the failure of the Lincolnshire uprising earlier that month.

Robert Aske, barrister, led the uprising, which soon gathered a following of up to 40,000. Aske presented the peoples’ desires for an end to the suppression of the monasteries and other religious changes, referencing the protection of the Church promised in the Magna Carta! His pilgrim band/army far outnumbered Thomas Howard’s forces, but he wanted to negotiate a solution. Through Norfolk, Henry promised to convene a Parliament in York to address the issues if the rebels disbanded and returned to their homes. Aske also met with Henry in London. When another uprising broke the truce, Aske was arrested and tried.

David Knowles pays eloquent tribute to him in Bare Ruined Choirs: The Dissolution of the English Monasteries:

". . . he showed himself the most loyal and able contemporary champion and apologist of the Tudor religious, and his death cannot be allowed to pass without a memorial of words. He is indeed one of the few men of his age whom we recognize at once to have been utterly frank and single-minded . . ."

As Knowles continues, he describes how much Aske contributed to the progress of the Pilgrimage of Grace and yet demonstrates how aspects of Aske’s character led to its failure:

"Robert Aske, not Henry, was the true representative of all that was most characteristic and most sincere in England. [Yet] he failed because, when the call to build his tower had come suddenly upon him, he had not fully reckoned the cost."

Aske was not prepared to defy his king, to treat with Henry VIII as Henry VIII would treat with him, with force and deceit, and he was not prepared to defeat his king, to take him down if necessary:

"The leader of a rising should have been prepared, if need arose, to put his cause before his king; else it were better to have remained silent and hidden."

Aske thought he could trust his king to respond to the concerns of his people and to fulfill his promises. He did not want to use the force his army of pilgrims represented, and so, he failed.

Knowles concludes however:

"Of all leaders of revolts that have failed, Aske is one of the noblest. He was deceived and killed by the king whom he would gladly have served and whom he loved and trusted ‘not wisely but too well’."*

As Knowles’ memorial to Robert Aske makes clear, he was the better man in his dealings with Henry VIII because he was honorable and honest. Knowles further comments that only force could have stopped Henry VIII—but how far could that force go? If Aske had been willing to transform that group of pilgrims into an army, pitch battle against Thomas Howard, defeat him, then what? March to London and raise a siege on one of Henry VIII’s castles? Take the castle, capture Henry, and then execute him? Ultimately, this story demonstrates the limits even of military force.

Only Henry could have put the needs of his people above the needs of his power and responded to the Pilgrimage of Grace and Robert Aske as they deserved. In his mind, however, they deserved only punishment. He exacted brutal reprisals against the leaders of the uprising. Aske endured, not just the usual punishment of traitors, to be hung, drawn, and quartered, but the even more agonizing death of being hung from the battlements at York Castle, left to die of exposure and dehydration.

Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour, tried to speak up in defense of Aske, the Pilgrimage, and the monasteries, but Henry warned her that speaking up and interfering with his will had brought about the fall of her predecessor. Jane heeded his warning and was silent.

*David Knowles, Bare Ruined Choirs: The Dissolution of the English Monasteries. Cambridge: The University of Cambridge Press, 1967, pages 219-220. Another book I'd recommend is by Geoffrey Moorhouse: The Pilgrimage of Grace: The Rebellion that Shook Henry VIII's Throne.
I wrote about the Pilgrimage of Grace in its reaction to the Dissolution of the Monasteries for OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine in the November/December 2011 issue.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Queen Henrietta Maria and Her Dwarf

When I received this month's email from History Today, I noticed an article about Jeffery Hudson, a dwarf at the Court of Charles I by C. Northcote Parkinson--and recalled that Father George Rutler had also written an article about Jeffery, for Crisis Magazine.

Parkinson emphasizes Hudson's role at Court and in the Civil War:

When the Queen was with child in 1630, Jeffery was sent to fetch Madame Peronne, the midwife, from France. His ship was taken by a privateer, however, and the midwife came too late for the event; which was the birth, in fact, of Charles II. Jeffery seems to have been popular at Court ‘wanting nothing but humility,’ and was the subject of an anonymous poem ‘The New Yeere’s Gift’ printed in 1636. There followed Jeffereidos, a poem about his capture, possibly written by Davenant and published in 1638.

Before this, in 1637, the Queen’s dwarf appeared, with other English volunteers, at the Siege of Breda, during which campaign he came to be known as ‘Strenuous Jeffery’- although no bigger, seemingly, then when he first came to Court. We hear nothing of Jeffery during the next few years, the period leading up to the Civil War. On February 23rd, however, 1641/2, the Queen sailed for Holland with the object of raising money for the royal cause. She was successful in her mission and returned to England a year later with a man-of-war and eleven transports laden with ammunition and stores.

Her squadron was caught in a gale and her ladies gave up all hope of survival, but Henrietta Maria told them not to worry - ‘Queens of England are never drowned’. She came nearer to being shot after landing at Bridlington, her headquarters ashore being bombarded by a Parliamentary man-of-war. She reached York, nevertheless, and reported her arrival in a letter to the King dated March 20th, 1643. It is virtually certain that Jeffery was with her, and more than probable that he was now created Captain of Horse, perhaps to give him some status and pay.

History books have paid little attention to the part played by the Queen at this time. She played, in fact, a significant role, her first success being to provide the King with forty waggon-loads of arms and munitions, her second being to join him at Edgehill at the head of her cavalry, with 3,000 infantry and six cannon. ‘Her She Majesty Generalissima’ she gaily called herself, and was evidently adored by everyone. But the war went badly for Charles, and the Queen, again pregnant, was sent to Exeter for safety.

Following the battle of Marston Moor, fatal to the King’s cause, the Earl of Essex marched into the west country. Having given birth to a daughter, the Queen fled to Truro and eventually sailed for France from Falmouth. Jeffery was certainly with her during this adventure, and was under fire again when her ship was almost captured by a Parliamentary man-of-war. There is reason to suppose that Jeffery was his strenuous self on this occasion, making himself useful and expecting to be taken more seriously in future.

Father George Rutler emphasizes, first, the fascination such unusual stories and lives bring to the study of history, and second, that Jeffery Hudson was a convert to Catholicism in Henrietta Maria's Catholic Court:

A boy’s eyes may glaze over if he is made to memorize only names and dates, but tell him something odd about those names and dates and it will never be forgotten. Consider, as one case in point, the defeat of the Scots by Muslims at Teba near Malaga on their way to bury the heart of Robert the Bruce in Jerusalem. King Robert had been excommunicated by both Pope Clement V and Pope John XXII, and the burial of his heart in the Holy Land was to be a penitential gesture, entrusted to Sir James Douglas. When he was killed at Teba on August 25, 1330, the knight Keith of Glastone brought it back to Melrose Abbey in Scotland. Some 201 years earlier, the heart of Richard the Lionheart was buried in Rouen, embalmed with frankincense, as were his entrails which were entombed at Chalus, and the rest of his body at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou. The same John XXII who excommunicated the Bruce, had received favorably in 1320 the Declaration of Arbraoth, which contained many expressions anticipatory of our 1776 Declaration of Independence. Its reputed author, Abbot Bernard, may thus be called the Thomas Jefferson of Scotland. Or, more fittingly, Thomas Jefferson was the Abbot Bernard of the United States. Arbroath had a happier connection with the papacy than did Magna Carta, which Pope Innocent III called “a shameful and demeaning agreement forced upon the King by violence and fear.” At least the Pope could read the Latin document. In a recent interview on American television, British Prime Minister David Cameron was unable to translate the words “Magna Carta.” That does not speak well of his schooling at Eton and Oxford. Perhaps his father should have spent more time teaching him at home.

In the saga of Catholic curiosities, unique is the smallest known adult Catholic, Sir Jeffrey Hudson who as a man was eighteen inches tall. His parents and siblings were of average height. He was not a typical dwarf, inasmuch as he was perfectly proportioned in every way, only tiny—more of what is called vernacularly a midget, and technically a pituitary dwarf, conditioned by a lack of growth hormone. But his hypopituitarism was without precedent in England and his perfect and delicate miniature size distinguished him from the common Continental court dwarves of his day. As a possible portent, he was born on June 14, 1619 in England’s smallest county, Rutland, whose motto is “Multum in Parvo,” or, Much in Little as David Cameron might try to translate it. His father raised cattle, particularly bulls for baiting, for the Duke of Buckingham. When little Jeffrey failed to grow, he was taken in to the Buckingham household as a “rarity of nature.” He was seven years old and when King Charles I and his queen Henrietta Maria were entertained by the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham, the lavish banquet ended with a large pie out of which popped Jeffrey Hudson in a miniature suit of armor. This gave rise to a rumor that he had been baked in the pie, but this was not the case. The Queen was so delighted that the Buckinghams presented their rarity to her. The Queen kept a separate household at Denmark House in London, and Jeffrey joined it at the end of 1626, along with two disproportionate dwarfs and a Welsh giant. Jeffrey became favored for his wit and elegance, and Inigo Jones wrote costumed masques in which he took part. The French queen’s court was Catholic and housed so many priests that some objections were raised among Londoners who feared a conspiracy might be afoot. Jeffrey embraced Catholicism and kept his faith throughout his difficult life, regularly assisting at Low Masses which occasioned tasteless puns.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Faith of Our Fathers": a New DVD about the English Catholic Martyrs

From The New Liturgical Movement site: information about this new DVD from SaintAnt.com: Faith of Our Fathers: In Search of the English Martyrs, which is
a new film presented by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Nicholas Schofield, priests of the Dioceses of Southwark and Westminster respectively. In the course of the two-part film they travel throughout England visiting a number of historic sites of great significance in the story of the English Martyrs. This is a beautiful and highly-recommended film which contains fascinating insights into this turbulent period of Catholic history. One feels very drawn into the sense of exploration as the two priests set off on their journey, a pilgrimage in which they speak with evident devotion to the Martyrs. Starting off at the Westminster Diocesan Archives, where Fr Schofield is the Archivist, they go to the seminary at Allen Hall where Fr Stephen Wang speaks about St Thomas More who lived in a house on the site.

At Westminster Cathedral, the Master of Music, Martin Baker talks about the music of the reformation, pointing out that Byrd’s Mass for five voices, which was heard so publicly at the Cathedral on the occasion of Pope Benedict’s visit, would originally have been sung in secret by necessity. Archbishop Vincent Nichols talks of the inspiration of the English martyrs and his personal favourite, St John Fisher. He talks of the different type of courage required today to proclaim the Gospel in the face of public scorn.

Fr Schofield’s own parish in Uxbridge is the next stop, before the pair go to Stonor Park to see the priest holes and the hiding place of the secret printing press which St Edmund Campion used to produce Catholic literature such as the ‘Ten Reasons’ (a set of arguments against the validity of the Anglican Church which caused a huge controversy). Also shown is the 13th century chapel in which Mass has been celebrated continuously since the thirteenth century. The Stonors have lived at the house since this time and the current head of the family, Lord Camoys, speaks about the exclusion from society of young Catholics who were denied positions in government, law and industry: ‘The programme to annihilate Catholicism could hardly have been more thorough, but it didn’t work.’ . . .

The New Liturgical Movement features a trailer -- and here is another trailer. This looks like a very well produced project! Perhaps EWTN will broadcast it!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blessed John Henry Newman

I am nearly finished reading Edward Short's Newman and His Family and have found it remarkably insightful. To think that the leading Anglican, then Catholic religious intellectual of his age would have had so little influence on his family's religious life is astounding. His two brothers would not even follow him so far as having faith in common Christian truths like the divinity of Jesus Christ, the incarnate, suffering, risen Savior of the world, and his sisters surely could not follow him into the "one fold of the Redeemer" as he called the Catholic Church. Short demonstrates how Newman's family (his father John, mother Jemima, brothers Frank and Charles, sisters Harriett, Jemima, and Mary) all influenced him in different ways--and he certainly influenced them, but not in religious matters to the extent that they would even accept or countenance his conversion to Catholicism, much less that they would become Catholic!

If he did not influence his family to accept Christian doctrine and the Catholic Church, he has influenced many hundreds of people in his own time and ours. Since his beatification in 2010, you can see his influence spreading even more widely, especially since he was chosen as the spiritual patron of the Anglican Ordinariate--he is the patron saint of Anglican converts to Catholicism. Here are just two examples:

The Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman:

The Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman was founded in September, 2011 when a majority of the members of the Episcopal Church of The Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Dr. David L. Moyer, Rector of Good Shepherd from 1989 to 2011, gathered for Mass to mark a new beginning free from the disorder of the Episcopal Church.

We chose to continue as an Anglo-Catholic fellowship with Cardinal Newman as our Patron because he was a man who, from deep prayer and concentrated study, made a hard and costly journey from the Church of England to the Catholic Church in the mid 19th century. We identify with him because we too, as a former parish and as a present fellowship, have been on that path, making that journey.

We are people who have been led by God to spend years witnessing to “the faith once delivered to the saints,” and who have striven to “speak the truth in love” to the leaders of the Episcopal Church, whom we saw as being increasingly led by the spirit of the age, rather than being rooted in the revealed religion of historic Christianity and its sacred Tradition. This was a grave concern to us and for our children, and our children’s children.

The Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman has been founded as a community of Anglo-Catholic Christians who live in hope that their corporate vocation will ultimately be as part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Catholic Church.

It seems to me that the Fellowship is like Newman and his friends gathered in Littlemore at the College, praying and preparing for their future as Catholics!

And the Ordinariate parish in Orange County California, Blessed John Henry Newman Catholic Church:

Our future as a parish in Orange County revolves around two aspects: creating an Anglican Catholic community that nurtures, preserves, and grows our patrimony - which is ultimately the people - to help us on our way to heaven; and the second aspect is participating in the unity of Christians which Our Lord commanded (cf. St. John xvii). These are really two sides of the same coin. Our position as Anglicans in full communion with the Mother Church, who see Anglicanorum coetibus as the way for Anglicans to achieve the corporate unity our forefathers have longed sought, provides Bl. John's with a unique standpoint and capacity to participate in ecumenism in the Orange County area, both on a corporate level and to reach individuals. This necessarily requires Bl. John's to evangelize Orange County with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ through his Church here on earth. Our committment to the Catholic faith and the Anglican patrimony leads us to not only reach out to other Anglicans and Episcopalians in our area, but also to Protestant Christians and to non-Christians.

Our intention is grow spiritually and numerically, and as we grow, invest time, energy, talent and finances into the lives of parishioners and the community around us. Not only do we hope and pray for a physical location of our own one day, but also we hope to develop one of the finest musical programs in Orange County. We take very seriously the adage attributed to St. Augustine, “To sing is to pray twice." Likewise we hope to develop a Catholic school in the Anglican tradition using Scripture, Tradition and Reason to form students in the classical tradition in the best of Western Civilization. These hopes for Bl. John's in the future arise from our patron, Blessed John Henry Newman, who himself desired this to be how parish churches should be modeled.

So this parish is like Newman and his friends, established at the Oratory, teaching, worshipping, and working in Birmingham!

Like so many others with special devotion to Blessed John Henry Newman, I pray for the day he is raised to altars as a canonized saint, this feast day is on the Roman Calendar, and Catholic parishes, both Anglican Rite and Roman Rite, may be dedicated to his name:

Prayer for Canonization

Eternal Father, You led John Henry Newman to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counselor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he labored to build up your Kingdom.

Grant that through your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of the canonized saints'.

May you manifest your Servant's power of intercession by even extraordinary answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions in his name and in the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.


UPDATE: Choral Vespers from Westminster Cathedral will be broadcast tonight on BBC 3! We'll be able to listen to the recording of the broadcast for a week at that site. According to The New Liturgical Movement, the musical selections are:

Introit: Tout puissant (Poulenc)
Hymn: Iste confessor (Plainsong)
Psalms 14, 111 (Plainsong)
Canticle: Magna et mirabilia (Plainsong)
Responsory: Iustus Dominus (Plainsong)
Magnificat for Double Chorus, Op.164 (Stanford)
Motet: Iustorum animæ (Stanford)
Antiphon: Salve Regina (Poulenc)
Organ Voluntary: Præludium in E minor (Bruhns)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

London's National Portrait Gallery: Elizabeth I and Her People

Thanks to Elena Maria Vidal and her Tea at Trianon blog: She brought this new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery to my attention:

The reign of Elizabeth I from 1558-1603 was a time of extraordinary enterprise. New opportunities for creativity and wealth creation in this period saw the beginning of the rise of the so-called ‘middling sort’ or middle classes.

The changes that took place at this time dramatically shaped the future of England and Wales. The Church of England was securely established and over time much of the country embraced the Protestant faith. The known world was expanding through maritime exploration and trade, cities grew in size and population and the economy flourished and purpose built theatres opened to the public.

This exhibition explores the story of the Elizabethans from the Queen, the nobility and gentry to many other talented individuals such as explorers, soldiers, merchants, artists and writers.

The exhibition site includes a series of videos and a game: "Who do you think you were?"

BTW: according to the game, I think I was John Donne! Though well known for introspection, you have a romantic outlook and feel things deeply. A brilliant mind is at work beneath your sometimes sad expression.

Who do YOU think you were?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lepanto and the Feast of the Holy Rosary

White founts falling in the courts of the sun,
And the Soldan of Byzantium is smiling as they run;
There is laughter like the fountains in that face of all men feared,
It stirs the forest darkness, the darkness of his beard,
It curls the blood-red crescent, the crescent of his lips,
For the inmost sea of all the earth is shaken with his ships.
They have dared the white republics up the capes of Italy,
They have dashed the Adriatic round the Lion of the Sea,
And the Pope has cast his arms abroad for agony and loss,
And called the kings of Christendom for swords about the Cross,
The cold queen of England is looking in the glass;
The shadow of the Valois is yawning at the Mass;
From evening isles fantastical rings faint the Spanish gun,
And the Lord upon the Golden Horn is laughing in the sun.
              --G.K. Chesterton's "Lepanto"

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which was previously called "Our Lady of Victory" in thanksgiving for the victory of the combined naval forces of The Holy League against the Ottoman Turks in one of the great naval battles of the era.

Christopher Check has told this great story on a CD set from Ignatius Press, which includes a reading of G.K. Chesterton's poem, "Lepanto":

On October 7, 1571, the most important sea battle in history was fought near the mouth of what is today called the Gulf of Patras, then the Gulf of Lepanto. On one side were the war galleys of the Holy League and on the other, those of the Ottoman Turks, rowed by tens of thousands of Christian galley slaves. Although the battle decided the future of Europe, few Europeans, and even fewer European Americans, know the story, much less how close Western Europe came to suffering an Islamic conquest.

On October 7, 1911, English poet and theologian G.K. Chesterton honored the battle with what is perhaps the greatest ballad of the 20th century. He wrote this extraordinary poem while the postman impatiently waited for the copy. It was instantly popular and remained so for years. The ballad by the great GKC is no less inspiring today and is more timely than ever, as the West faces the growing threat of Islam.
Our Wichita branch of the American Chesterton Society is reading Chesterton's other great narrative poem, The Ballad of the White Horse, and an essential feature of our first meeting, which I'm sure we'll continue, was our reading the poem aloud. In addition to praying the Rosary on this feast, I think reading "Lepanto" aloud would be appropriate!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Art Under Attack" at Tate Britain: Under Attack

Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm opened this week at the Tate Britain, and reviews are not totally positive. Not having seen the exhibition of course, I can still see what the reviewers are concerned about: the exhibition equates the destruction of Catholic art and heritage with deconstructionist art:

From The Guardian:

Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm wants to make us think, but I found myself asking the wrong questions and drawing the wrong conclusions. The exhibition fumbles with ideas about "iconoclasm", or the deliberate destruction of art: can art vandalism be art? Is there a perverse humour or truth or beauty in a suffragette slashing Velázquez's Venus or the IRA blowing up Nelson's Pillar in Dublin?

But seeing the Chapmans' glib attacks on old art in the same show as that unforgettably moving Dead Christ, which resurfaced under the Mercers' Chapel in London in 1954, invites grim thoughts about what art is now. The Chapmans' disfiguring of portraits could only happen in a cynical moneyed art world that has no soul. They have the cash to buy oil paintings in order to trash them. Their clients find that kind of thing amusing.

I go back to the Dead Christ: a passionate work of art made to help ordinary people contemplate the biggest realities of life and death. The contrast damns the Chapmans to hell.

Tender depictions of the Virgin Mary and harrowing visions of the sufferings of Christ abound in the first few galleries of this show, in stone and wood and stained glass. All have been damaged, many almost beyond recognition. There are illuminated manuscripts with pages torn out. A painting of the inside of Canterbury Cathedral in 1657 looks innocuous until you see little Puritans patiently, precisely smashing out its stained glass windows.

These rooms offer a truly eye-opening revelation of how much great art was lost when the Protestant Word erased the Catholic image – sometimes literally, as when a painting of the Man of Sorrows had a Biblical text written over it.

But none of this has anything to do with the studiously ambivalent, pretentious way the rest of the show explores modern attacks on art. The casting down of Catholic art in the Reformation did not make that art more "interesting": it is loss, pure loss. Countless things have gone forever. Others survive as battered husks. Their destruction is tragic, to be mourned.

Metro publishes a similar review about how the exhibition confuses the viewer. The New York Times review is more positive but still a little ambivalent. The Guardian, which is the "media partner" of the exhibition, provides this slideshow of images. One of those images was featured on the cover of Eamon Duffy's great The Stripping of the Altars paperback edition.

Friday, October 4, 2013

More on the Christian Heritage Centre

Lord Alton, Lord Windsor and Jan Graffius, the curator of the Christian Heritage Centre collection at Stonyhurst were on EWTN Live last night and talked about their visit to Washington, DC, displaying some the relics and artefacts they hope to display soon in England. The World Over news show was really all about religious freedom and conscience protections last night, as Raymond Arroyo also interviewed the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have filed a class action law suit against the HHS Mandates.

The Christian Heritage Centre segment was highlighted by close ups of a small crucifix owned by St. Thomas More and also a book from the library at St. Omers, where Stonyhurst College began, with doodles by John Carroll and Charles Carroll. John Carroll was of course the first Catholic bishop in the United States--in Baltimore Maryland--and Charles Carroll of Carrollton was the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.

The Christian Heritage Centre does have a website and they are accepting donations to build the exhibition space needed to have these objects from English Catholic history from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The Catholic Herald writes about the visit of the three to Washington here:

Lord Nicholas Windsor is this week leading a group from Stonyhurst College, in Lancashire, on a trip to the USA to promote the Stonyhurst Christian Heritage Centre Project.

He is accompanied by Lord Alton of Liverpool, a life peer of the House of Lords, and Stonyhurst’s curator, Jan Graffius, who has with her a number of sacred artefacts from the Stonyhurst collection, including St Thomas More’s crucifix.

Lord Nicholas Windsor and Lord Alton are visiting Washington DC, Baltimore and Boston to promote their joint project and to considerably widen access to the extensive historic collection.
Earlier in the week the group attended morning Mass celebrated by the Archbishop Emeritus, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington DC yesterday. Cardinal McCarrick expressed his support for the Christian Heritage Centre project and said that by properly appreciating and understanding our past “we will be equipped to face the considerable challenges which confront us today and which will continue to face us in the future”.

But while we are remembering the Jesuits who collected these relics of the English martyrs and other artefacts, including relics of their own martyrs like St. Edmund Campion, since today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, let us not forget the Franciscan martyrs of the English Reformation. From Blessed John Forest to St. John Wall, they suffered and died for the Catholic faith England.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nicholas Windsor, Lord Alton, and Stonyhurst

From Crisis magazine comes this great story about the Catholic convert who lost his place in the royal succession of England (Lord Nicholas Windsor) and a plan for a "Museum of Christian Heritage to be located at the Jesuit estate Stonyhurst, the home of Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England."

The Jesuits at Stonyhurst have collected some marvelous artefacts, according to author Austin Ruse:

The story of this project begins in 1593 when English Catholics established a boy’s school at a place called St. Omers not far from Calais then subject to the Spanish crown. Catholic education was not legal at the time in England and so English boys were sent there for education and protection. Besides protecting English boys, the school became a protector of precious Catholic items like vestments, manuscripts, and relics that were endangered on English soil. Thus began what is now called the “oldest surviving museum collection in the English-speaking world.”

The first acquisition in the collection came in 1609 when they took possession of Henry VII’s cope and chasuble. The Jesuits have religiously added to this collection as they have traveled the world from that time. Some of the other remarkable items include a thorn from the Crown of Thorns, the rope that bound St. Edmund Campion at the time of his execution, and personal items belonging to St. Thomas More, Elizabeth of York, Mary Tudor, Mary Queen of Scots, James II and the Stuart Family including items belong to Bonnie Prince Charlie.

The Jesuits left France and set up shop at Stonyhurst where the first museum was begun in 1796. The Arundell Library was opened there in 1855 and housed such amazing artifacts as the Book of Hours that is said to have been handed by Mary, Queen of Scotts, to her chaplain on the scaffold just before her execution.

The foundation of this Christian Heritage Centre was inspired by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's visit to Scotland and England in 2010. Lord David Alton's website has more about the proposed display of these artefacts (from September 2011):

One year ago, at Westminster, Pope Benedict told English Catholics not to lose their identity; not to forget their Christian roots; to remember who they are; to pass on their beliefs to their children and to share their love of their Faith with their countrymen.Some flavour of that identity has memorably been revealed in the remarkable “Treasures From Heaven” (sic)* exhibition recently staged at the British Museum and sponsored by two significant Catholics, John Studzinski CBE and Michael Hintze. Both men have been honoured with Papal Knighthoods by the Holy See for their services to arts and culture.

*Treasures of Heaven is the correct title.

The queues which have formed at the British Museum underline the public appetite for sacred culture. I saw the same phenomenon during 2008, when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture and, at St.Francis Xavier’s church, and an exhibition was staged entitled “Held in Trust”. Around 30,000 people poured in to the magnificent setting of SFX to see some of the wonderful artefacts loaned by Stonyhurst College and by the Society of Jesus. Arising out of the “Held In Trust” exhibition, Stonyhurst College published a beautiful book, by the same name, detailing some of the Collections which they hold and which they want to house in a permanent Christian Heritage Centre.

As a lasting legacy of Pope Benedict’s historic State Visit, the College Governors and the Society of Jesus have made available a Grade Two listed site, close to the College, the Corn Mill Buildings, which would be developed into an exhibition and interpretive centre. John Cowdall, the Chairman of Governors, Andrew Johnson, Stonyhurst headmaster, and the outgoing Provincial, Fr.Michael Holman SJ are all to be warmly applauded for this initiative.

Open to visitors The Christian Heritage Centre will have a mission to tell the Catholic story to future generations. Much more than a museum, it will be an interactive and inspirational educational centre; a study and retreat centre; a major visitors’ attraction; and a place where the rising generation will be inspired by the sacrifices of the past. The Christian Heritage Centre will be administered by a free standing charitable Trust. Knowledge of those who went before – and the price which they paid for the religious liberties and freedoms which we enjoy today – will help and guide our young people as they face today’s challenges and aggressive militant secularism.

Lord Alton and Lord Nicholas Windsor visited the Catholic Information Center in Washington, DC last night for a reception--unfortunately, I cannot find a website established for the Christian Heritage Centre at Stonyhurst.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Martyrdom and Father Kapaun's Cause

A Vatican lawyer involved with the cause of Servant of God Emil Kapaun, who suffered and died in a Korean prison camp, visited Wichita, Kansas last week and commented on the progress of the cause. According to the Wichita Eagle, which ran a multi-part story about Father Kapaun and his heroism, Andrea Ambrosi offered warnings of delay and uncertainty:

Speaking with translation by Ohio-born aide Madeleine Kuns, he said a key decision the Vatican must make is whether Kapaun was martyred for standing up for his faith.

There is no doubt Kapaun was a hero, he said. But was he a martyr?

Ambrosi said he has analyzed more than 8,000 documents and testimonies, including from Korean War combat soldiers who saw Kapaun’s heroism. Ambrosi said that for the first time after years of study of Kapaun’s life, he now plans to propose Kapaun as a martyr in his report to the Vatican, a report he thinks will be completed in the next six months.

And that bit about martyrdom is important to the Vatican’s decision. But because the Vatican’s bar for martyrdom is so high, even his recommendation may not be enough to persuade church officials, Ambrosi said. If the church decides Kapaun was martyred – killed because he was a religious person defending his faith – it could significantly speed up the process to canonize Kapaun to full sainthood. But if the cardinals in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints decide Kapaun wasn’t a martyr, it could mean many years before Kapaun’s sainthood cause would advance.

Martyrdom was not always easy to prove in the case of the English Martyrs, either, as this site explains:

The cases of the English martyrs killed during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth (1534-1603) provide certain challenges from a documentary standpoint, making it very difficult to establish with certainty the fact of martyrdom.

First, the legal proscription of Catholicism in England from 1534 to emancipation in 1829 means that it was not always possible to carry out investigations into the causes of these martyrs. In the times when harboring a priest was a capital crime and even attending Mass punishable by a fine of 1600 shillings, carrying out these investigations under proper canonical form was simply not possible. Free and open inquiry into the cases of the English martyrs and access to the documentation regarding their deaths was not available until the restoration of the English hierarchy in 1850, by which time over three centuries had elapsed since the time of most of the martyrs.

Second, because the persecution of the Catholic Church in England was carried out under a fundamentally political program, those convicted and punished under the penal laws are often listed as cases of 'treason' or 'conspiracy' in the official records, which are often the only records. Though we know that the threat of Catholic conspiracies was extremely overblown and many "plots" were even fabricated (the Titus Oates Plot, for example), there were nevertheless certain Catholics who were involved in clandestine political activities. The result is that it is very difficult to tell the exact details when both organizing a political conspiracy and simply saying Mass are both classified as "treason" in the official record. Finally, in many cases, there was no official record kept whatsoever, making reconstructing events extremely difficult. . . .

This was particularly true in the case of those who opposed the dissolution of their monasteries:

A classic case of this last problem are the three Benedictine abbots of Glastonbury, Reading and Colchester, all put to death quietly for treason in 1539 and all of which lack any official documentation.

This, then, is a brief summary of some of the difficulties the restored Catholic hierarchy of England faced when it first began to push for the causes of the English martyrs. Despite the English Church's admirable desire to raise many of its heroic sons to the altars, the Sacred Congregation for Rites was characteristically slow-moving and skeptical of proceeding to beatification when so much documentary evidence was lacking. In fact, when the English hierarchy sent off the available documentation on 353 martyrs Rome in 1880, 76 applications were rejected for lack of sufficient historical evidence. These rejected martyrs are known as dilati, those whose cases are referred back to the Ordinary for insufficient evidence.

And some of those causes of the dilati are still waiting for more evidence.