Monday, February 24, 2020

Saints Joan of Arc and Pope John Paul II on the Son Rise Morning Show

Just a reminder that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show today at about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern to talk with Matt Swaim about two more anniversaries celebrated this year: the 100th anniversary of the Canonization of St. Joan of Arc in Rome, Italy and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope St. John Paul II in Wadowice, Poland--both in May!

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here.

On Friday I noted that they had in common their status as national heroes: St. Joan for defending France against the English; St. John Paul for defending Poland against the Communists. One thing they do not have in common is how long it took for them to be canonized.


Joan of Arc was burned alive at the stake in 1431; she was rehabilitated in 1456; declared Venerable in 1904; beatified in 1909; canonized in 1920: 489 years after her death.

John Paul II died on April 2, 2005; at his funeral on April 6, there were cries of "Santo Subito"! [Make him a] saint soon! After his election, Pope Benedict XVI waived the five year waiting period before starting John Paul's cause in the diocese of Rome (not in Poland!). He was declared Venerable on December 19, 2007; beatified in Rome on May 1, 2011, and canonized on April 27, 2014: Nine (9) years after his death.

There's really no simple way to explain why it took more than 400 years for Joan of Arc to be declared a Saint by the Catholic Church: the path to canonization depends on the local diocese, the presence of a cult--Catholics asking for her to intercede for them, expressing devotion to her--and other factors (including money for research, travel, salaries, and experts). Joan gained a great champion in the mid nineteenth century, Félix Dupanloup, Bishop of Orléans from 1849 to 1878, who organized her cause, researched purported miracles, etc. Her spiritual popularity during World War I certainly hastened her cause in the early twentieth century.

Although the English had such a hand in trying her and bringing her to the stake, Joan of Arc (visionary) is on the Church of England Calendar of Saints on May 30. Please note that Joan was not canonized by the Catholic Church as a martyr, but as a confessor, as was Pope John Paul II.

John Paul II had an admirable record as pope, cardinal-bishop, and priest, with a reputation for personal holiness, devotion to Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger even ended his homily at John Paul's funeral with a statement of certainty that he was in heaven, while still praying for his soul:

None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing “urbi et orbi.” We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Those cries of "Santo Subito" in St. Peter's Square certainly hastened his cause!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Lenten Posting and A New Series on the Son Rise Morning Show

Today is Quinquagesima Sunday and I've made some of my plans for Lent.

I'm going to cut back on posting here and on my Facebook pages (personal and book) to exclusively Lenten and English Reformation martyr posts. There are at least 30 (thirty) English Reformation martyrs to remember this Lent (from February 26 to April 8, the Wednesday of Holy Week).

On Monday, March 2, I'll start a new series on the Son Rise Morning Show, offering reflections on sermons and meditations for Lent by St. John Henry Newman in The Tears of Christ: Meditations for Lent.

The book is available from the Augustine Institute and was edited by Christopher O. Blum.

The Tears of Christ is a companion volume to Waiting for Christ: Meditations for Advent and Christmas from the same publisher and editor, which I reviewed for the National Catholic Register in 2018.

To introduce the series, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show this week on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, February 27, at my usual time: about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern.

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here!

Anna Mitchell and I will select a sermon for each Monday's broadcast, and I'll preview it the Friday before. The sermons are all available on-line at the Newman Reader and I'll link the complete sermon from which Blum has excerpted paragraphs in the preview.

I'll be using this volume as part of my Lenten devotions along with listening to a CD I purchased from Aid to the Church in Need (UK): Catholic Meditations with Music for the Season of Lent from the Oxford Oratory:


In this thought-provoking CD, recorded at the Oxford Oratory, Father Jerome Bertram offers reflections for the season of Lent highlighting the importance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, and the spiritual rewards of the Lenten journey. The meditations are accompanied by responsories taken from the Matins of Lent.

Track listing:

1. Hymn: Ex more docti
2. The Season of Lent: Spring-Cleaning for the Soul, Part One
3. Responsory: Emendemus in melius, quae ignoranter peccavimus
4. The Season of Lent: Spring-Cleaning for the Soul, Part Two
5. Responsory: Pater, peccavi in cælum, et coram te
6. Prayer: Opening our Hearts to God. Part One
7. Responsory: Tribularer, si nescirem misericordias tuas, Domine
8. Prayer: Opening our Hearts to God, Part Two
9. Responsory: Derelinquat impius viam suam
10. Fasting, making space in our life, Part One
11 Responsory: Moyses, famulus Dei, jejunauit quadraginta diebus
12. Fasting, making space in our life, Part Two
13. Responsory: Frange esurienti panem tuum
14. Almsgiving: Showing Christ¹s love to the World, Part One
15. Responsory: Abscondite eleemosynam in sinu pauperum
16. Almsgiving: Showing Christ¹s love to the World, Part Two
17. Responsory: Angelis suis mandavit de te
18. The Rewards of Lent
19. Antiphon: Ave, Regina Caelorum

Father Jerome Bertram of the Oxford Oratory died on October 19, 2019. 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Three Poems by St. Robert Southwell

Today is the 425th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Robert Southwell at Tyburn in London.

CatholicCulture.org featured three poems by St. Robert Southwell on a recent podcast:

In this special, post-Valentine’s Day episode, we’ve compiled a selection of three poems by St. Robert Southwell.

Like St. Valentine, St. Robert Southwell was a martyr: an English Jesuit who served as a clandestine missionary in post-Reformation England. There he ministered in secret for six years before he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. After three years of imprisonment and torture, he was convicted of high treason and executed by being hanged, drawn, and quartered.

During his time in England, Southwell witnessed the executions of many other Catholics, including those of people he knew personally. It’s in this light, and in light of his own eventual martyrdom, that his poetry carries with it an especial gravity. At once horrified and inspired by the martyrdoms he witnessed, Southwell wrote this paradox into his poetry, as reflected in the poems selected for this episode.


The three poems are "The Burning Babe", "A Child My Choice", and "I Die Alive". These three poems are included in a new anthology from Cluny Media, Lyra Martyrum: The Poetry of the English Martyrs, 1503-1681, edited by Benedict Whalen of Hillsdale College.

Saint Robert Southwell, pray for us!

Preview: 100th Anniversaries for Sts. John of Arc and John Paul II

On Monday, February 24, I'll talk with either Matt Swaim (it might be his turn!) or Anna Mitchell about another set of anniversaries to be remembered in 2020: the 100th anniversary of the Canonization of St. Joan of Arc and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, now Pope St. John Paul II.

Both saints are national heroes: St. Joan of Arc in France; St. John Paul II in Poland.

The City of Rouen, where Joan of Arc was tried, convicted, condemned, and burned to death on May 30, 1431 is celebrating the 100th anniversary of her canonization with many events in this Year of Joan of Arc. Orleans, France, which she liberated on May 8, 1429, celebrates her every year with a festival from April 28 to May 8, but is also commemorating the anniversary, as is New Orleans, Louisiana, including a new production of Tchaikovsky's opera! In typical secular fashion, New Orleans celebrates its patron saint on her birthday, not her feast day.

Joan of Arc had been condemned as a heretic by a pro-English ecclesiastical court in 1431; a rehabilitation trial was held in Paris and she was declared innocent of all the charges on July 7, 1456. Her trial in Rouen had violated Canon Law in many ways: Joan's appeals to the Pope had been ignored; she'd not been held in the custody of cloistered nuns as she should have been, etc. Her mother was still alive and saw her daughter vindicated.

She was beatified in Rome on April 18, 1909 by Pope Saint Pius X; Pope Benedict XV issued his Papal Bull Divina Disponente and she was canonized in Rome on May 16, 1920. In the document, the pope refers to the evils of the First World War from which France was still recovering in 1920. The Treaty of Versailles had just come into effect; images of Joan of Arc had been carried into the trenches; the churches throughout France, the names of the dead from that war are inscribed in chapels, often with a statue of St. Joan of Arc near them. Her canonization was a great event for the French people, even after the official separation of Church and State in 1905.

The centenary of Pope St. John Paul II's birth as Karol Wojtyla on May 18, 1920 is being celebrated in Poland with great rejoicing and prayer: a nine month national novena was begun in 2019:

On the occasion of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the birth of Pope-Pole the national novena started in the newly built Shrine of John Paul II in Radzymin. Each month, on the 18th day, in the Shrine the prayers in the intention of families and our Homeland will be sent to God. The Shrine received over 3, 5 thousand intentions.

The national Novena through the intercession of the Saint John Paul II will end on May 18, 2020, exactly on the 100th anniversary of Karol Wojtyła’s birth.

According to the Catholic News Service, Pope Francis has contributed comments and analysis to a book (in Italian) about Pope St. John Paul II that declares him "The Great" (unofficially):

St. John Paul II taught the world that truly great faith and holiness dwell in "the normality of a person who lives in profound communion with Christ," Pope Francis said in a new book.

Precisely because he allowed people to see he was a human being -- whether skiing or praying, hiking or suffering -- "every gesture of his, every word, every choice he made always had a much deeper value and left a mark," Pope Francis told Father Luigi Maria Epicoco, author of the Italian book "San Giovanni Paolo Magno" ("St. John Paul the Great").

The book, published by Edizioni San Paolo and set for release Feb. 11, was written to mark the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul's birth May 18, 1920.

Much of the book is biographical information about the late pope, but each chapter includes Pope Francis' response to questions from Father Epicoco about his relationship with the late pope and observations about St. John Paul's spirituality, personality, events in his life and his teaching. 


I don't find any information about an English translation at the US website of Pauline Books & Media.

Pope Francis will also celebrate a Mass on May 17, 2020 at St. Peter's Basilica in celebration of Karol Wojtyla's birth and there's a national pilgrimage from Poland to Rome to attend. It's being celebrated on Sunday, May 17, the day before his birthday, so that more will attend. And it can't be just a coincidence that the Polish Bishops asked Pope Francis last year to declare Pope St. John Paul II a Doctor of the Church and a Patron of Europe.

More on these two saints and their anniversaries on Monday!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

My Lenten Thursday Nights

Every Thursday evening during Lent, I plan to attend the 5:30 p.m. Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and then go study Dante's Divine Comedy at the Spiritual Life Center (SLC). The series, An Introduction to the Divine Comedy, begins on February 27, the Thursday after Ash Wednesday (next Thursday):

Join us as we travel with Dante on this Lenten journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven as we seek to gain spiritual insights from the sinners and saints encountered along the way.

Written in the fourteenth century by Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy is arguably the greatest epic poem of all time—presenting Dante’s brilliant vision of the three realms of Christian afterlife: Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise.

We will be using Professor Anthony Esolen’s translation of the Comedy, and will have copies available for sale.


I'll take my copies Dorothy L. Sayers' translation and see how it goes. 

After a break for Holy Week, Easter and its Octave, I'll be back--Lord willing--at the SLC to attend the Catholic Culture Conference, with another program on Dante:

The Catholic Culture Conference is an opportunity for faithful Christians to come together for formation and fellowship. The program intends to promote Catholic values in personal and family life, as well as in society at large. 
 
The theme for the 2020 Catholic Culture Conference is “Dante and the End of Men”. The title plays off the title of a 2010 article which appeared in The Atlantic magazine. In her article “The End of Men” author Hanna Rosin tells the story of a culture which once gave respect, and even deference, to the role of men. According to Rosin, though, times have changed, and modern culture no longer needs men. Women can now do everything that men used to do, which makes them “equal” to men in most every way, and even preferential to men in most things.

One reason for this shift has been a denigration of all things authentically masculine, and a lowering of expectations for men. A culture which fosters true masculinity will hold men accountable for their behavior, look to them for leadership in faith and morals, and be able to count on them as trustworthy providers and protectors.

Dr. Jason Baxter of Wyoming Catholic College will give three talks on the theme of “Dante and the End of Men”; one focusing on men in each of the three stages of Dante’s pilgrimage: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. For additional insights on Catholic masculinity, Bo Bonner of Mercy College will present talks on St. Joseph.

The Culture Conference is open to all. Join us for a weekend of study, discussion, and culture-building.

Professor Baxter was here in December of 2017 and made a presentation at Eighth Day Books before his book was published.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

EDI's Seminar on Holiness


Before the Eighth Day Institute Symposium on Holiness in January, EDI held a two day Seminar on "Holiness in the Bible, the Fathers, the Liturgy, and Literature" at The Ladder, the institute's headquarters. Next Friday and Saturday, February 28 and 29, they are repeating the event and a friend and I are attending:

This four-session Seminar will be conducted in a Shared Inquiry format, the method of approaching texts used in the classrooms of St. John's College, Thomas Aquinas College, and other "great books" curriculum schools.

A good friend once said, "shared-inquiry is a way to read a book with more than one brain." This is an apt description, because one often discovers that a passage which proves difficult is illumined by someone else, and vice versa. Shared-inquiry facilitates a communal engagement with a given text so that we are informed and transformed together.

Seating is limited to first 12 registrants.

Readings include The Song of Songs from the Old Testament, selections from St. Maximus the Confessor (who was the patron saint of the Symposium in January), the Orthodox liturgy for the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, and Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation".

If you are in the Wichita area, please check it out here.

Monday, February 17, 2020

This Morning: 100th Anniversaries of Prohibition and Women's Suffrage


As I mentioned to Anna Mitchell when I sent her the link to the preview of the anniversaries of the 18th and 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, we'll probably focus more on Prohibition than on Women's Suffrage this morning during our segment on the Son Rise Morning Show at about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern. Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here!

I noted Friday in my preview that the Women's Suffrage movement was part of an overall Protestant reform agenda, which for a time included anti-slavery efforts, temperance and prohibition causes. While the Catholic Church--specifically the hierarchy in the United States--did not proclaim an official response to women's suffrage, some were opposed because of the anti-Catholic, eugenicist position of many in this pro-Protestant, pro-Anglo movement. Therefore, one on-line history of the long-term efforts to gain the vote for women states:

New England suffragists used the argument of “social housekeeping”—that women would clean up urban politics and social ills—to make a case for allowing women to vote in municipal elections. Frequently these campaigns for municipal suffrage drew on anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic bigotry. In Massachusetts, for example, anti-immigrant Republican men believed that native-born Protestant women would be more likely to vote than Catholic women, who would be discouraged from voting by their husbands. Thus, woman suffrage would save the state from “rum and Romanism” by diluting the Catholic vote and promoting the cause of temperance. Despite these appeals, the Republican Party as a whole did not support municipal suffrage for women. The Democratic Party, especially its Irish Catholic wing, which linked woman suffrage to nativism, temperance, and anti-family radicalism, also opposed enfranchising women.[13] (emphasis added)

So there's that linkage between women's suffrage, temperance, and anti-Catholicism.

The article that I cited on Friday, "Some Kind of Religious Freedom: National Prohibition and the Volstead Act' s exemption for the Religious Use of Wine" by Michael deHaven Newsom in Volume 70, Issue Three of the Brooklyn Law Review, notes that anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant (especially ant-Irish immigrant) view held sway throughout the history of the temperance and prohibition movements, and often in the history of the women's suffrage movement. Catholics were un-American and the only hope for American democracy and Protestant survival was for Catholics to assimilate and become Protestants. Lyman Beecher, the Presbyterian abolitionist and temperance promoter, whose son Henry Ward Beecher would also be a supporter of women's suffrage, was confident that Protestantism would triumph in this effort of assimilation:
Let the Catholics mingle with us as Americans and come with their children under the full action of our common schools and republican institutions, and the various powers of assimilation, and we are prepared cheerfully to abide the consequences. If in these circumstances the Protestant religion cannot stand before the Catholic, let it go down, and we will sound no alarm, and ask no aid, and make no complaint. It is no ecclesiastical quarrel to which we would call the attention of the American nation.
Lest anyone think that Beecher had somehow abandoned the cause of the Protestant Empire or had lost his faith in its anointed historical role, Beecher entertained no doubt but that if American Protestant political and religious leadership maintained a watchful eye by checking and regulating immigration, by instructing American Protestants as to the truth of Catholicism, by ensuring that the education of Protestant children never fell into the hands of Catholics, and by kindness and perseverance, that leadership would extend the light of evangelical Protestantism to Catholics, Protestantism would not "go down," but Catholicism would. (Newsom, p. 778)

As Newsom points out, Catholics did not want to assimilate and established the parochial school system and other programs and structures parallel to the (at that time) Protestant public school systems, etc. Newsom's article is detailed and long but well worth reading. He notes that the height of political anti-Catholicism came in the 1928 Presidential election, when Al Smith, the Catholic, Irish-American, Governor of New York ran as the Democrat Party candidate. Herbert Hoover was supported by the Prohibition movement and attacks against "rum and Romanism" focused on Smith's Catholicism. 

While the 19th Amendment is still part of the U.S. Constitution, the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment:

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

The 21st Amendment took effect December 5, 1933 after state convention approval and passage of the Blaine Act in Congress.

Image Credit: Official program of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Preview: 100th Anniversaries of Prohibition and Women's Suffrage

On Presidents Day, Monday, February 17, we'll continue our discussion of major anniversaries celebrated in 2020 on the Son Rise Morning Show. I'll be talking to either Anna Mitchell or Matt Swaim about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern.

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here!

One hundred years ago, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes" came into effect at 12:01 a.m. on January 17, 1920. On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which established that "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex", having been approved by the House of Representatives, the Senate, and 36 states, was officially adopted--in time for that year's Presidential election (Harding vs. Cox, Republican vs. Democrat; both from Ohio!) Harding won.

The causes of temperance and women's suffrage--and the abolition of slavery--were intertwined in various ways as part of a "women's rights movement" throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The women's rights movement was also a general social reform movement with other causes as this brief article on the website for Ken Burns' PBS documentary about the suffrage movement describes:

The enormous success of the temperance movement among native-born American women between 1874 and 1900 entwined the destiny of the suffrage movement with the temperance movement during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Founded in 1874, in the midst of one of the deepest economic depressions in American history, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) quickly became the largest women’s organization in the United States during the nineteenth century.

The WCTU drew on social traditions of Protestant women’s activism that had emerged in the decades between 1830 and 1860, when the separation between church and state transformed Protestant denominations into a set of competing voluntarist organizations. Serving as a pan-Protestant umbrella organization that acted independently of male ministerial authority, the WCTU became a “woman’s church” to many of its members, complete with ritual processions, symbolic regalia, and hierarchical lines of authority.

Both the temperance and the women's suffrage movements were led by Protestants and there were some divisions between Protestants and the Catholics on these issues. The WCTU definitely espoused nativist sentiments toward immigrants from Ireland and Europe, outraged that some non-Anglo, non-Protestant immigrant men could become citizens and vote when Anglo, Protestant, native-born women could not.

There was no official teaching or direction from the hierarchy on either issue, so Catholics could choose whether or not to support the movements, and to what degree to support them. In the matter of temperance and prohibition, however, the Church was definitely concerned to protect the production, purchase, and transportation of sacramental wine to be used at Mass. The 18th Amendment did not address this freedom of religion aspect of Prohibition, although it does include the words "for beverage purposes" (a possible distinction between drinking alcohol and using wine in religious services), so the Volstead Act had to carve out an exception to the rule. This article from the Brooklyn Law Review explains how this exemption extended to Jewish, Episcopalian, and Eastern Orthodox congregations, and the producers of this wine, who were licensed and regulated. The author also explains, in great detail, the theological reasons Evangelical Protestants developed such a fear of both alcoholic beverages and Catholicism. The Volstead Act exemption may have saved California's wine industry, as this article (not entirely accurate in its depiction of the Catholic Mass, however) notes.

There was Catholic concern about the abuse of alcohol but it was focused on temperance, not legal prohibition, as this brief history of the Catholic temperance movement describes:

Curiously, however, (perhaps in a nascent spirit of subsidiarity) the resulting Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America was a wholly moral movement, emphasizing personal reform and not wishing to be part of any legal schemes for prohibiting alcohol production:
Our motto is moral suasion. With prohibitory laws, restrictive license systems, and special legislation we have nothing whatever to do. [Emphasis added.] There is blended with our proposed plan of organization the attractive feature of mutual relief. Thus Temperance and Benevolence go hand in hand.
On the other hand, the Union flatly stated it would not oppose laws that shut down some gin mills.

The Union received many words of encouragement over the years from popes (Leo XIII and Pius X among them), but what’s clear from those words of greeting and from the Union’s own pronouncements is that Catholic temperance was aimed at minimizing consumption of spirits and not at banning either beer or wine. As St. Pius X stated it, the enemy was “the abuse of strong drink.” It’s worth noting that both Leo and Pius were happy consumers of Vin Mariani – basically Bordeaux wine infused with coca leaves (10 percent alcohol and 8.5 percent cocaine extract by volume), which promised to “tone and strengthen body and brain.” Leo allowed it to be promoted with his name and image.


More about Catholics and women's suffrage on Monday.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Death Comes for the Archbishop: Jean-Baptiste Lamy, RIP

Jean-Baptiste Lamy, the first Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, died on February 13, 1888. The New Mexico History website describes how he became the bishop of Santa Fe in 1853:

After the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo gave sovereignty of the territories of New Mexico and Arizona to the United States. New Mexico, as a territory of Spain and then of Mexico, had been since colonial times under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Durango, but after the treaty ecclesiastical authority was transferred to the Catholic Church of the United States. In May 1849 the Provincial Council of the Catholic Church in Baltimore petitioned to Rome for the establishment of a provisional diocese (Vicariate Apostolic) in New Mexico to be headed by Lamy. In July 1850 the Vatican responded and established the Vicariate of New Mexico, naming Lamy as Vicar. In November Lamy was consecrated in Cincinnati, and he appointed Father Machebeuf to be his Vicar-General.

Lamy left immediately for his new post, going by way of New Orleans with his sister and niece whom he left at the Ursuline convent in that city. Lamy continued by ship to Galveston where he met with Bishop Jean Marie Odin who assigned him jurisdiction of three more towns near El Paso: Isleta, Socorro, and San Elizario. Bishop Odin advised Lamy not to proceed to New Mexico but rather to go to France first and bring some young French priests back with him to replace the Hispanic clergy in New Mexico whose moral and pastoral qualities he questioned. While Lamy did not follow the bishop’s advice to go to France, it was the first evidence of a cultural divide between European and native-born clergy that was to arise many times in his career in New Mexico.

Machebeuf caught up with Lamy in San Antonio and they traveled together to El Paso and then to New Mexico. Upon his arrival in New Mexico in June 1851 Lamy appeared at first to receive a warm welcome with a large and enthusiastic turnout of the populace as he made his way north from El Paso to Santa Fe. Reaching Santa Fe in August, he was again warmly greeted, but then the Vicario Foraneo (Rural Dean, in charge of the Santa Fe pastorate), Juan Felipe Ortiz informed Lamy that he (Ortiz) and the New Mexican priests under him did not recognize Lamy as the Bishop of Santa Fe. . . .


Please read the rest there.

Paul Horgan wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Archbishop Lamy (he was named Archbishop on February 12, 1875), but Willa Cather's fictionalized biography of Lamy as Jean Marie Latour and Machebeuf as Joseph Vaillant is even more famous. At the end of the novel, Cather's narrator describes the Archbishop's death:

The Mother Superior and Magdalena and Bernard attended the sick man. There was little to do but to watch and pray, so peaceful and painless was his repose. Sometimes it was sleep, they knew from his relaxed features; then his face would assume personality, consciousness, even though his eyes did not open.

Toward the close of day, in the short twilight after the candles were lighted, the old Bishop seemed to become restless, moved a little, and began to murmur; it was in the French tongue, but Bernard, though he caught some words, could make nothing of them. He knelt beside the bed: “What is it, Father? I am here.”

He continued to murmur, to move his hands a little, and Magdalena thought he was trying to ask for something, or to tell them something. But in reality the Bishop was not there at all: he was standing in a tip-tilted green field among his native mountains, and he was trying to give consolation to a young man who was being torn in two before his eyes by the desire to go and the necessity to stay. He was trying to forge a new Will in that devout and exhausted priest; and the time was short, for the diligence for Paris was already rumbling down the mountain gorge.

When the Cathedral bell tolled just after dark, the Mexican population of Santa Fé fell upon their knees, and all American Catholics as well. Many others who did not kneel prayed in their hearts. Eusabio and the Tesuque boys went quietly away to tell their people; and the next morning the old Archbishop lay before the high altar in the church he had built.


My late husband Mark and I went to Santa Fe twice. Once in 1989, before we were married--separate hotel rooms, if you please--and again in 1993. We flew to Albuquerque and rented a car in 1989 but drove a rented van from Wichita to Taos (where we stayed) and Santa Fe with our first Westie Ruffis accompanying us in 1993. During both trips we visited Archbishop Lamy's great Romanesque Cathedral of St. Francis. Cather depicts Archbishop Latour's last sight of that cathedral:

Wrapped in his Indian blankets, the old Archbishop sat for a long while looking at the open, golden face of his Cathedral. How exactly young Molny, his French architect, had done what he wanted! Nothing sensational, simply honest building and good stone-cutting—good Midi-Romanesque of the plainest. And even now, in winter, when the acacia trees before the door were bare, how it was of the South, that church, how it sounded the note of the South!

No one but Molny and the Bishop had ever seemed to enjoy the beautiful site of that building—perhaps no one ever would. But these two had spent many an hour admiring it. The steep carnelian hills drew up so close behind the church that the individual pine trees thinly wooding their slopes were clearly visible. From the end of the street where the Bishop’s buggy stood, the tawny church seemed to start directly out of those rose-colored hills—with a purpose so strong that it was like action. Seen from this distance, the Cathedral lay against the pine-splashed slopes as against a curtain. When Bernard drove slowly nearer, the backbone of the hills sank gradually, and the towers rose clear into the blue air, while the body of the church still lay against the mountain.


We attended performances at the Santa Fe Opera during both vacations: Massenet's Cherubin in 1989; Handel's Xerxes in 1993--both starring Frederica von Stade. Mark and I often talked about going back to Santa Fe, but never did. We thought about staying at the Bishop's Lodge outside of Santa Fe, which includes a chapel built by Archbishop Lamy on its grounds. Sadly, the Lodge is closed now, undergoing some delayed renovations, and the chapel is becoming dilapidated (as of May 2019):

The historic chapel was established by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy in the 19th century. The rest of the expansive facility has been around since the 1920s, according to a bulletin published by the Santa Fe Historical Society in 1987. Lamy built the chapel on a property north of the city that he bought for $80 as a personal retreat in 1869, the same time period that the Catholic bishop oversaw the construction of what became the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

SFR showed pictures of the chapel as it stands today to Mac Watson, chair of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation and a frequent visitor of the chapel before the site was closed for renovation.

"The roof shingles are in terrible shape, and given the amount of rain and snow we've had this year, it is hard to think that a great deal of water has not gone through the roof and inflicted damage to the interior," Watson tells SFR. . . .


I don't find any other updates on-line but I hope the chapel is taken care of soon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Empress Eugenie and Lourdes

This morning on the Son Rise Morning Show, Anna Mitchell and I will talk about a fascinating aspect of the history of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes, France. (7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central: Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here!) Very appropriate for the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes!

The Empress Eugenie, the devout Catholic wife of Napoleon III, the last emperor of France, intervened at an important juncture in 1858. Their son, Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, was ill and the Empress Eugenie sent his governess to Lourdes to bring back some water from the spring at the shrine.

Local authorities had barricaded the shrine and forbidden access, enforced by fines or imprisonment. When Madame Bruat, the Prince Imperial's governess, was arrested at the shrine, she paid the fines of all those threatened with prison terms because they couldn't pay the fines. She took the water back to Biarritz, the Emperor's vacation home, and Louis Napoleon recovered.

Fans of The Song of Bernadette, the 1943 movie based on Franz Werfel's 1941 novel, will remember how the Empress Eugenie, portrayed by Patricia Morison, persuades the Emperor Napoleon III to intervene and order the grotto opened to the faithful. He did so on October 5, 1858. More about that story here.

After the fall of the Second French Empire in 1870, the Napoleons left France for exile in Chislehurst, England. The former Emperor died in 1873, and their son died in 1879. Still a devout Catholic, Eugenie built a monastery with a crypt for the family tomb, St. Michael's Abbey, in Farnborough, Hampshire with definite French Connections:

In 1880, the Empress Eugénie bought a house in Farnborough. Crushed by the loss of her husband Napoleon III in 1873 and the death in 1879 of her 23 year old son in the Zulu War, she built St Michael’s Abbey as a monastery and the Imperial Mausoleum.

Dom Fernand Cabrol, the prior of the French Abbey of Saint Pierre de Solesmes, had dreamed of a monastic foundation dedicated to liturgical studies. No suitable property or funding had been found, though the vicissitudes of the anti-clerical France of the 1890s made the thought of a house abroad increasingly attractive. Finally, in 1895, the Empress Eugénie invited these French Benedictines to England, and thus the daily round of work, prayer and study began.

Monsignor Ronald Knox was received into the Catholic Church here. In his memoirs he described the Abbey as "a little corner of England which is forever France, irreclaimably French."


The last French monk died in 1956, so it's more England now, but maintains its ties to the Abbey of Saint Pierre de Solesmes with its Gregorian Chant, liturgical studies, and Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite.

The former Empress died in Spain on July 11, 1920--so 2020 is the centenary of her death--and was interred in the family crypt at St. Michael's Abbey.

More about the Empress Eugenie--she had also influenced her husband to send the French troops to Rome in defense of Pope Pius IX and had even offered him refuge in Avignon!--here.

Monday, February 10, 2020

1870: Vatican I and the Siege of Paris


As previewed, I'll be talking to Anna Mitchell or Matt Swaim about the connection between the First Vatican Council and the Siege of Paris 150 years ago in 1870 this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern.

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here!

As The World Digital Library of the Library of Congress describes the Siege of Paris:

escription

The Franco-Prussian War was brought about by rising tensions between France and Prussia in the 1860s. France, under Emperor Napoleon III, was determined to check the growth of Prussian power and avenge what it saw as a series of diplomatic humiliations. Prussia, under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, believed that a Prussian-led war of the German states against France would be a decisive act leading to creation of a unified German empire. The conflict began on July 19, 1870, when France declared war. The French army proved woefully unprepared and suffered a disastrous defeat at the Battle of Sedan, leaving open the road to Paris. By September 19, the Germans had completely surrounded the city and begun a siege that was to last more than four months. Cut off from supplies from the countryside, the Parisians held out by eating dogs, cats, and even most of the animals in the Paris zoo. The trees on the Champs-Elysées and in parks were cut down and burned for fuel. On January 5, the German armies began a bombardment of the city, which lasted several hours each night for a period of 23 nights. About 12,000 shells fell on Paris neighborhoods, killing some 400 people. Paris surrendered on January 28, effectively ending the war. The French defeat was followed by a popular uprising and the establishment, in March 1871, of the Paris Commune, a revolutionary government formed in accordance with anarchist and socialist principles. The Commune was bloodily suppressed in May 1871 by French troops under the government of Adolphe Thiers. During the brief period in which the communards controlled Paris, they dismantled the imperial column in the Place Vendôme. The suppression of the Commune resulted in further extensive damage to the city, as the communards set fire to the Tuileries Palace, the Louvre, and other buildings, and as desperate fighting between the communards and counterrevolutionary forces destroyed or damaged many other structures.

The Second French Empire had fallen with the surrender of Emperor Napoleon III after defeat at the Battle of Sedan. The Third Republic, the Government of National Defense, continued fighting the Prussians and defending Paris until January of 1871. Then the Germans, as part of the Armistice negotiations, brought food and medicine and other supplies to the people of Paris. Under the Third Republic, from 1871-1940, Paris was restored yet again.

Tomorrow, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, we'll follow up with the story of how the Empress Eugenie, the Emperor Napoleon III's devoutly Catholic wife, played a role in the The Song of Bernadette--in real life and in the 1943 movie based on Franz Werfel's 1941 novel. Same time, same station.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Newman on Septuagesima Sunday

Today is Septuagesima Sunday, the first Sunday of the Carnival or Shrovetide season before Lent, observed on the calendars of the 1962 Missal. The old Missal illustration depicts the Gospel of the day in which Jesus tells the parable of the master who pays all the day laborers the same wage, whether they were hired early or late (Matthew 20:1-16).

In the first sermon published in Newman's Sermons on Subjects of the Day, "The Work of the Christian," he commented on this parable, determining at what stage of the day's work we have started in the vineyard:

Nor, secondly, can we argue that our work is shorter from the labourers' complaint, "These have wrought but one hour." For we are called, as is evident, in the world's evening, not in our own. We are called in our own morning, we are called from infancy. By the eleventh hour is not meant that Christians have little to do, but that the time is short; that it is the last time; that there is a "present distress;" that they have much to do in a little time; that "the night cometh when no man can work;" that their Lord is at hand, and that they have to wait for Him. "This I say, brethren," says St. Paul, "the time is short; it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away." [1 Cor. vii. 29-31.] It was otherwise with the Jews; they had a grant of this world; they entered the vineyard in the morning; they had time before them; they might reckon on the future. They were bid "go their way, eat their bread with joy, and drink their wine with a merry heart, and let their garments be always white, and let their head lack no ointment, and live joyfully with the wife whom they loved all the days of the life of their vanity: ... for that was their portion in this life, and in their labour which they took under the sun." [Eccles. ix. 7-9.] But it is otherwise with us. Earth and sky are ever failing; Christ is ever coming; Christians are ever lifting up their heads and looking out, and therefore it is the evening. We may not set our hearts on things present; we may not say to our soul, "Thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry:" [Luke xii. 19.] and therefore it is the evening. We may not think of home, or brethren, or sister, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or land; and therefore it is the evening [Mark x. 29.]. The evening is long and the day was short; for the first shall be last, and the last first. What seems vigorous perishes; what seems ever expiring is carried on; and this last age, though ever-failing, has lasted longer than the ages before it, and Christians have more time for a greater work than if they had been hired in the morning.

O may we ever bear in mind that we are not sent into this world to stand all the day idle, but to go forth to our work and to our labour until the evening! Until the evening, not in the evening only of life, but serving God from our youth, and not waiting till our years fail us. Until the evening, not in the daytime only, lest we begin to run well, but fall away before our course is ended. Let us "give glory to the Lord our God, before He cause darkness, and before our feet stumble upon the dark mountains;" [Jer. xiii. 16.] and, having turned to Him, let us see that our goodness be not "as the morning cloud, and as the early dew which passeth away." The end is the proof of the matter. When the sun shines, this earth pleases; but let us look towards that eventide and the cool of the day, when the Lord of the vineyard will walk amid the trees of His garden, and say unto His steward, "Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first." That evening will be the trial: when the heat, and fever, and noise of the noon-tide are over, and the light fades, and the prospect saddens, and the shades lengthen, and the busy world is still, and "the door shall be shut in the streets, and the daughters of music shall be brought low, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond-tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail," and "the pitcher shall be broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern;" then, when it is "vanity of vanities, all is vanity," and the Lord shall come, "who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,"—then shall we "discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not." [Mal. iii. 18.]

May that day and that hour ever be in our thoughts! When we rise, when we lie down; when we speak, when we are silent; when we act, and when we rest: whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, may we never forget that "for all these things God will bring us into judgment." [Eccles. xi. 9.] For "He cometh quickly, and His reward is with Him, to give every man according as His work shall be." [Rev. xxii. 12.]

"Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Blessed will they be then, and only they, who, with the Apostle, have ever had on their lips, and in their hearts, the question, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" [Acts ix. 6.] whose soul "hath broken out for the very fervent desire that it hath alway unto His judgments;" who have "made haste and prolonged not the time to keep His commandments;" [Ps. cxix. 20, 60.] who have not waited to be hired, nor run uncertainly, nor beaten the air, nor taken darkness for light, and light for darkness, nor contented themselves with knowing what is right, nor taken comfort in feeling what is good, nor prided themselves in their privileges, but set themselves vigorously to do God's will.

Let us turn from shadows of all kinds,—shadows of sense, or shadows of argument and disputation, or shadows addressed to our imagination and tastes. Let us attempt, through God's grace, to advance and sanctify the inward man. We cannot be wrong here. Whatever is right, whatever is wrong, in this perplexing world, we must be right in "doing justly, in loving mercy, in walking humbly with our God;" in denying our wills, in ruling our tongues, in softening and sweetening our tempers, in mortifying our lusts; in learning patience, meekness, purity, forgiveness of injuries, and continuance in well-doing.


Notice the emphasis on "shadows" in the last paragraph: the shadows and imaginings we must leave behind to enter into the truth.

Ancilla Press has issued another excellent seasonal devotional for Septuagesima:

Recover the ancient Catholic tradition of the pre-Lenten season with special devotions and prayers for the three Sundays before Ash Wednesday. Features two versions of the burial of the Alleluia; commemorations and prayers proper to Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima; Divine Office propers for the Patriarchs Adam, Noah, and Abraham; and devotions for Shrovetide and Mardi Gras, including instructions, reparations, and an examination of conscience.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Preview: Papal Infallibility and the Siege of Paris: 150 Years Ago


On Monday, February 10, we'll discuss two interconnected anniversaries on the Son Rise Morning Show: The dogmatic definition of Papal Infallibility at the First Vatican Council on July 18, 1870 and the Siege of Paris at the end of the Franco-Prussian War beginning on September 19, 1870.

The First Vatican Council was convened by Pope Pius IX (Blessed Pope Pius IX, whose feast is February 7) on December 8, 1869 (the feast of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the dogma Pope Pius IX had declared in 1854 via the Papal Bull Ineffabilis Deus). 

The purpose of the First Vatican Council was to clarify the Church's teaching about the Church itself. The bishops met, not in the Lateran Basilica like previous councils held in Rome, but in St. Peter's Basilica. As the bishops met in council, Pope Pius IX was already the "Prisoner of the Vatican", as Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia had conquered the Papal States. Troops from the French Empire, ruled by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III, protected the Pope in Rome, which had not yet been taken by the Italian revolutionaries.

Although the First Vatican Council is most famous for the proclamation of Papal Infallibility, there was another document issued, Dei Filius, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, on April 24, 1870. It has four chapters: 1. God, Creator of All Things; 2. Revelation; 3. Faith; 4. Faith and Reason. It begins (in translation):

The holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church believes and confesses that there is one, true, living God, Creator and Lord of heaven and earth, omnipotent, eternal, immense, incomprehensible, infinite in intellect and will, and in every perfection; who, although He is one, singular, altogether simple and unchangeable spiritual substance, must be proclaimed distinct in reality and essence from the world; most blessed in Himself and of Himself, and ineffably most high above all things which are or can be conceived outside Himself.

This sole true God by His goodness and "omnipotent power," not to increase His own beatitude, and not to add to, but to manifest His perfection by the blessings which He bestows on creatures, with most free volition, "immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal, namely angelic and mundane; and then the human creation, common as it were, composed of both spirit and body" [Lateran Council IV, can. 2 and 5]

But God protects and governs by His providence all things which He created, "reaching from end to end mightily and ordering all things sweetly" [cf. Wis 8:1]. For "all things are naked and open to His eyes" [Heb 4:13], even those which by the free action of creatures are in the future.

The document on the nature of the Church, which included the role of the Papacy, faced more opposition and therefore, Pope Pius IX decided the bishops should define only the role of the Pope in that document, which became known by its first words, Pastor Aeternus, defining Papal Infallibility as one of its topics. Pastor Aeternus was finally adopted on July 18, 1870 with two dissenting votes. One of those dissenting votes was cast by the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas: Edward Fitzgerald, whose family had left Ireland during the Irish Potato Famine! He was concerned--as was St. John Henry Newman in England--that the declared definition of the doctrine would hamper his efforts to evangelize. Like Newman, he agreed that the Pope exercised magisterial infallibility in declaring dogma in certain limited occasions; he just thought the public definition was inopportune. The other dissenter was Aloisio Riccio of Sicily. Both accepted the doctrine after it had been declared.

With two documents completed, and after the bishops had been in Rome for seven months, the bishops were to return to their home dioceses for a summer break and then come back to the Vatican for further consultations, taking up the document on the nature of the Church, for example, on the role of the bishops. That's when the Franco-Prussian war intervened.

Prussian troops were advancing in France quickly, so Napoleon III had to recall the French troops garrisoned in Civitavecchia in August of 1870. When the French were defeated at the Battle of Sedan at the beginning of September that year, the new Kingdom of Italy invaded Rome and took over the city, removing it from Papal jurisdiction. On September 20, 1870, Pope Pius IX suspended the First Vatican Council indefinitely. It was formally closed in 1960, before the Second Vatican Council convened.


So while the unification of Italy proceeded apace, so did the Franco-Prussian War, and the French were losing. Just as the Kingdom of Italy needed to take Rome to be unified, the Prussian-German nation needed to take Paris to be victorious. Thus, the Siege of Paris beginning on September 19, 1870.

More about that Monday!!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Raphael, Beethoven, and the Great Hunger


Please remember that I'll be talking to Anna Mitchell on the Son Rise Morning Show as we continue our series on the great historical events to be remembered this year : about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern. The next three topics:  the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, the 200th anniversary of the baptism/birth of Ludwig von Beethoven, and the 175th anniversary of the potato famine in Ireland.

We will discussion the Great Hunger more than the two great artists. 

BTW, my favorite Beethoven symphonies are the 3rd, the 5th, and the 7th, especially the second movement of the 7th, the Allegretto

Please listen live here; the podcast will be archived here!

Image CreditAn Irish Peasant Family Discovering the Blight of their Store by Cork artist Daniel MacDonald, c. 1847.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Venerable Francis Libermann, RIP

In my review of David W. Fagerberg's Liturgical Mysticism, I mentioned that in one chapter he highlighted the spirituality of Venerable Francis Libermann, who died on February 2, 1852. He was convert to Catholicism from Judaism and is known as the Second Founder of the Spiritan order:

Venerable Francis Libermann had a most remarkable journey of faith. He was born into an orthodox Jewish family in the Alsace region of France in 1802, and given the name Jacob.

Jacob Libermann’s father was a rabbi, and Jacob was preparing to become a rabbi himself when his studies led him to the New Testament and to Christianity.

He was baptized Francis Mary Paul, in 1826, at Christmas.

Soon he was studying for the Catholic priesthood, but violent attacks of epilepsy put his vocation on hold.
It was fifteen years before he was finally ordained, in 1841.

In 1848 Libermann brought personnel and a renewed Spiritual energy to the Spiritans that transformed the Congregation.

Those intervening years were a time of grace and of maturing, as Libermann became an advisor and confidant to many seminarians and others wanting to grow in the spiritual life. His own trials and painful experiences, as well as joys and perceived blessings, developed in him a great confidence in Providence and a sense of the Holy Spirit directing human affairs.

Professor Fagerberg quotes from the five volumes of spiritual letters the counsel he gave correspondents to embrace their cross and suffer with Jesus. Duquesne University has a selection of his letters online. He also offered other advice; for example to Louise des Loges, Libermann advised her in her discernment of a missionary vocation:

  • Libermann encourages Louise to open her heart to the Lord in perfect freedom and peace. "He who feeds even the smallest animals will provide what is necessary for those who desire to serve Him.
  • "She is not to rely on her own efforts, which lead nowhere. Rather, she is to "cling to Jesus," the "bridegroom of her soul" in the confidence that he provides "sweetness, love, and peace" for those who desire to serve him.
  • Her weaknesses do not prevent her from sharing in God's love. Rather "true self-knowledge brings with it an increase of love for God."
  • In the power of God's love Louise will "leap over" all the obstacles holding her back from following the "impulses of grace" and walk confidently in God's love.
Although Libermann was the founder of a missionary order, he never served as a missionary, but he wrote a rule for the Spiritan missionaries that is considered a great guide to missionary work. Father Libermann also wrote a book about the Gospel of St. John, translated as Jesus Through Jewish Eyes: A Spiritual Commentary on the Gospel of St. John by the Spiritans. Here is a commentary on that book, also published by the Spiritans.

He was declared Venerable in 1876 by Pope Pius IX.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Anniversary Preview: A Death, a Baptism, and a Famine

We'll continue our discussions of 2020 anniversaries on Monday, February 3 on the Son Rise Morning Show. The next three are: the 500th anniversary of the death of Raphael, the 200th anniversary of the baptism/birth of Ludwig von Beethoven, and the 175th anniversary of the potato famine in Ireland. I'll talk to either Anna Mitchell or Matt Swaim at about 7:50 am. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central.

Italy Magazine has a nicely illustrated story about many exhibitions in Italy and beyond commemorating Raphael's early death 500 years ago on April 6, 1520:

The artist Raffaello Sanzio—better known as Raphael—is one of the undisputed masters of the High Renaissance style in Italy. But when you realize that the artist died on his 37th birthday, the range and quantity of Raphael’s artistic achievements seem nothing short of astonishing.

2020 marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death, and, similar to museum exhibitions and celebrations surrounding Leonardo da Vinci’s anniversary in 2019, Raphael will be the star of the show this year.

In addition to his artistic talent, Raphael was known for his good looks, his popularity with the ladies, and his courtly manners—probably honed at the ducal palace of Urbino, where Raphael’s father was employed as a court painter.


The Phaidon website explains why Raphael achieved greatness in a great period of art history:

As Bette Talvacchia, distinguished professor of art history at Connecticut University writes in our updated Phaidon classic Raphael: "His art never fails to engage the viewer's imagination, whether through the mesmerizing, graceful beauty of his Madonnas, the perfection of his classicizing forms, or the inescapable pull of his narrative scenes." Or, as Gombrich puts it, “some of his best works give us a glimpse into a world more serene and harmonious than our own.”

Moreover his working practices gave rise to that perverse, yet unusually common quality found among those who really strive hard: he made his labours look effortless. As Gombrich puts it, “Raphael’s greatest paintings seem so effortless that one does not usually connect them with the idea of hard and relentless work.” . . .

More strikingly, when grouping figures together, Raphael managed to achieve a level of harmony unseen before; when decorating the Vatican with his frescos, he gave rooms both a diversity and an accord of imagery.

Before his death, on his birthday at the tender age of 37, he had bested his contemporaries in at least on regard. “Just as Michelangelo was found to have reached the highest peak in the mastery of the human body, Raphael was seen to have accomplished what the older generation had striven so hard to achieve: the perfect and harmonious composition of freely moving figures.”


We've paired up the anniversary of Raphael's death with the anniversary of Beethoven's birth, or more precisely, the anniversary of Beethoven's baptism, in Bonn:

Beethoven was born and raised in Bonn, the city on the Rhine. He was baptized Ludwig van Beethoven in Bonn’s St. Remigius Church on December 17, 1770; his birth date was very likely December 16. His parents were Johann and Maria Magdalena Leym née Keverich. Married in 1767, the couple had seven children, although only three survived infancy: Ludwig, Kaspar Karl (baptized April 8, 1774) and Nikolaus Johann (baptized October 2, 1776).

The celebration has already begun:

The anniversary year will officially begin on December 16, 2019. From that point until December 17, 2020, Bonn and the region will host various special projects alongside the main events like the "Beethoven-Bürgerfest" (people's party) and two phases of Bonn's Beethovenfest.

According to Christian Lorenz, artistic director of the Beethoven Anniversary Society, Ludwig van Beethoven's artistic approach means the composer should not only resonate with lovers of classical music.

"As an individual, ‘modern' artist, Beethoven targeted society, in fact humanity as a whole. His musical expression of a utopia where people live together in peace is appealing," Lorenz explained.

In Beethoven's own words: "Freedom, progress, is purpose in the art world as in universal creation."


The British Library explains Beethoven's accomplishments:

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is one of the most significant and influential composers of the western art music tradition. He was a ground-breaker, in all senses. He oversaw the transition of music from the Classical style, full of poise and balance, to the Romantic style, characterised by emotion and impact.

A prolific composer who wrote for wealthy patrons and also earned money from public concerts, he wrote nine symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, one opera, five piano concertos, and many chamber works including some ground-breaking string quartets. He could be a difficult and unsociable man, who felt bitter and isolated by the deafness which developed in his 20s; he never married.

He enjoyed great success and recognition in his lifetime. It is said that at the premiere of his Ninth, he could not hear the thunderous applause at the end, and had to be turned round to see the delighted audience reaction.


Virtually all his major works are standard repertoire pieces, familiar to musicians and listeners throughout the commercial world.

In 2027, the 200th anniversary of his death will also be celebrated in Bonn, Germany and Vienna, Austria, the city of his birth and the city where he died, respectively.

This year also marks the 175th anniversary of the beginning of the Irish Potato Famine.

The Irish Potato Famine Exhibition in Dublin describes some of the issues:

The Irish Potato Famine is also referred to as The Great Hunger, a period of mass death from starvation and disease between 1845 and 1852. This exhibition tells the story of what happened and why.

After centuries of British colonial rule, a large section of the Irish population lived in extreme poverty and depended on the potato as their main (and often their only) food source for survival.

Centuries of British invasions, land confiscations and anti-catholic laws had reduced the country and it's people to levels of poverty not seen in other parts of Europe.

At the same time, Britain was booming and in the throes of the industrial revolution. Ireland (forcibly) was part of the United Kingdom at this time and might have expected to benefit accordingly. But this was not to be. . . .

Massive humanitarian aid was required, and quickly. Instead the British Government chose piecemeal and slowly. Their overriding concern was not to disrupt market forces, and food continued to be exported to Britain as the Irish starved. They raised taxes and washed their hands of the crisis when it was still only half way through.

The Great Hunger devastated Ireland. At least a million died, perhaps even 1.5 million...we will never know the true figure. Millions more were forced to feel the country. The population of the island has never recovered. From a population of between 8 and 9 million in 1845, a steady decline ensued for the next century and a half as other European populations grew.

Queen Victoria's government wanted to make Ireland more like England: it instituted Poor Laws, Workhouses, and maintained the use of Ireland as the breadbasket of wheat and corn and grains for England's use and trade. Cecil Woodham-Smith's history of the famine, The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 is a classic view; she was born in Wales in a famous Irish family, the Fitzgerald's, but she married an Englishman. Her book is measured in its evaluation of British response to the Irish Potato Famine, and places blame on certain persons and policies, but Tim Pat Coogan's book, The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy,  accuses the British government of deliberate genocide. He is a Dublin-born Irish historian and journalist.

It is certainly a most controversial topic: when the PBS Masterpiece Theater program Victoria set an episode in the midst of the Famine, IrishCentral.com corrected some of the impressions given that the Queen had real sympathy and concern for the plight of the Catholic peasants in Ireland:

Many commended the episode for finally portraying the devastating horrors of the Irish famine on British TV screens for the first time. Much praise was heaped onto screenwriter Daisy Goodwin for not shying away from the rather unpalatable role played that the British landlords and government played in the disaster. However, the portrayal of Queen Victoria, quite commonly known as The Famine Queen throughout Ireland and who was depicted as berating her government ministers for not doing enough to help the Irish, did draw some criticism.

“There is no evidence that she had any real compassion for the Irish people in any way,” said historian Christine Kinealy, founding director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University.