Monday, August 31, 2020

This Morning: Saints Jones and Wall

Just a reminder that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to continue our series on the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. Anna Mitchell and I will discuss Saints John Jones and John Wall.

Please listen live here on the Sacred Heart Radio website; the podcast will be archived here; the segment will be repeated on Friday next week during the EWTN hour of the Son Rise Morning Show (from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. Eastern/5:00 to 6:00 a.m. Central).

And please note that next Monday we'll be taking a day off for Labor Day! We'll continue the series on September 14.

Although Saints Jones and Wall are the only Franciscans among the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, there are several Blessed Franciscan martyrs: Blessed John Forest during the reign of Henry VIII, Blessed Thomas Palaser during Elizabeth I's reign, and Blesseds Thomas Bullaker, Henry Heath, Francis Bell and John Woodcock in the Commonwealth Interregnum of 1642 to 1646. As the Order of Friars Minor in Great Britain website reminds us: "Several other Friars died in prison and many more suffered periods of imprisonment in serving the Catholic population of England during the penal years."

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Olivier's "Henry V" and the Tres Riches Heures

Tomorrow, August 31, will be the 598th anniversary of King Henry V's death at the Château de Vincennes east of Paris. His death came suddenly during his 1421-1422 campaign in France, having captured Drieux and Meaux.

Last week Turner Classic Movies broadcast Laurence Olivier's 1944 film of Shakespeare's Henry V, which I had never seen before. From the openly panorama of London with the transition to inside the Globe Theatre to the battle scenes filmed in Ireland, the conceit of Olivier's design of the movie was a great adaptation of the the Chorus' appeal to the audience:

. . . Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million,
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confin’d two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder;
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance.
Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ th’ receiving earth.
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

We're seeing on the scene what the Chorus wants the audience in the Globe to see in their imaginations, creating images in their minds. The gorgeous technicolor with all the reds, blues, greens, and golds (the Criterion website posts a trailer) was thrilling and added to the cinematic verisimilitude of the imaginary play: we don't have to use our imaginations because it's been put before us on the screen. Even though I've enjoyed the soundtrack to Kenneth Branagh's 1989 version for years, I know that Sir William Walton's work is considered classic. There are two suites from the film's score, one arranged by Sir Malcolm Sargent and the other by Muir Mathieson. I recognized the French folk song tune adapted by Canteloube, "Baïlèro".

But what I enjoyed most about the film was Olivier's use of Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry for the scenes in France. For example, in Act V, Scene I, Gower, Pistol, and Lewellen are in the English camp and Pistol is in a lean-to warming himself by the fire just as in the wintry scene for the month of February. The use of the colors, the interior settings, clothing, and landscape from the beautifully decorated Breviary created for John, the Duke of Berry, himself a minor character in the play, added to the storytelling magic of the film.

Although the battle scenes are not as naturalistic as those in Kenneth Branagh's film, they contrast greatly with the those Tres Riches Heures scenes. One way that Branagh's film and Doyle's score, in my opinion, surpasses Olivier and Walton is Doyle's Non Nobis Domine at the end of the battle of Agincourt. Walton's setting of Psalm 151:1 is a quick transition to the next scene but Doyle's builds to a beautiful choral and orchestral and cinematic climax.

But Olivier's Henry V, made during World War II, is a beautiful film and was a great achievement at its time--when you consider that the animation at the beginning of the film was not created digitally as it would be now! Perhaps a computer would create some more faked realistic movement of the flags, birds, and trees, but I believed that I was seeing London in 1600 with Shakespeare sitting on a stool in the Globe, ready with his manuscript to prompt a line and give some stage direction.

I hope to see it again soon.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Preview: Two Franciscan Martyrs of the Forty

We've been going through the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales chronologically in our series on the Son Rise Morning Show but on Monday, August 31, we'll deviate a little from that order because these two Franciscan martyrs are honored together on their order's sanctoral calendar each July 12 (with several blessed martyrs and other confessors of the order in England). In the list of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, they are known by their aliases as missionaries in England: Saints John Jones and John Wall. Among Franciscans, they are also known as Saint Godfrey or Geoffrey Maurice Jones and Saint Joachim of St Anna. (Anna Mitchell ought to appreciate that!)

You'll have to remember that the religious orders in England were suppressed by Henry VIII, some briefly restored during Mary I's reign, and those suppressed again by Elizabeth I.

The first of these two saints, Godfrey Maurice Jones (alias John Jones) began his religious life as a Franciscan during Mary I's reign and was martyred during Elizabeth I's. Born in Wales (thus one of the six Welsh martyrs among the 40), he joined the Franciscans in England during the reign of Mary I, then went into exile, completed his novitiate, was ordained and returned to England as a missionary priest:

Towards 1590 John was sent to the friary of Ara Coeli in Rome, the general headquarters of the Order. From there he wished to return to England to take part in the mission to care for faithful Catholics, who risked their livelihoods and often their lives to sustain their missionary priests. The priests themselves were subject to the gruesome death of hanging, drawing and quartering as traitors for the simple fact of exercising their priesthood. John begged an audience with the Pope and Clement VIII embraced him, gave him a solemn blessing and told him: “Go, because I believe you to be a true son of Saint Francis. Pray to God for me and for his holy Church."

In England John Jones exercised an heroic hidden ministry, animating the Catholic faith among recusants and prudently seeking to reconcile those who had submitted to Elizabeth's Church of England. The existence of a missionary priest in England was one of frequent moves, constant vigilance and continued flight from Elizabeth's vigilant secret services, supervised by William Cecil and Francis Walsingham.

And here's that man again, Richard Topcliffe:

Despite his care, John Jones was caught in late 1595 or early 1596 by Richard Topcliffe, who nurtured a cruel hatred for the Catholic faith and was sanctioned by the Queen to maintain a private torture chamber in his house for the Catholic priests he apprehended. John Jones was accused of being a spy and sent to the notorious Clink prison, from which we derive the expression “being in clink”. There he languished for nigh on two years awaiting trial. In prison Jones continued his ministry and converted many, including Saint John Rigby, who was himself martyred two years after John Jones (on 21st June 1600).

On 3rd July 1598 John Jones was finally brought to trial for having exercised his ministry as a Catholic priest in England. He was sentenced to hanging, drawing and quartering at Saint Thomas Watering, but was meanwhile imprisoned at Marshalsea prison. The Jesuit Henry Garnet recounts in a letter that on 12th July 1598 John was tied to a trellis and dragged to the place of his torment. He was held there for an hour before execution during which time Topcliffe harangued the crowd with his supposed crimes. Garnet recounts that the crowd was touched more by John's prayers than by the calumnies of his torturer and executioner. His remains were hung up on the road between Newington and Lambeth.

He shares his feast with a Popish Plot Martyr, St. John Wall. This website (Roman Catholic Saints) uses his name in religion (and St. John Jones's) to tell his story:

John Wall, in religion Father Joachim of St Anna, was the fourth son of Anthony Wall of Chingle (Singleton) Hall, Lancashire. He was born in 1620, and when very young, was sent to the English College at Douai. From there he proceeded to Rome, where he was raised to the priesthood in 1648. Several years later he returned to Douai and was clothed in the habit of St Francis in the convent of St Bonaventure. He made his solemn profession on January 1, 1652. So great was the estimation in which he was held by his brethren, that within a few months he was elected vicar of the convent, and soon after, master of novices.

In 1656 Father Joachim of St Anna joined the English mission, and for 12 years he labored on Worcestershire under the names of Francis Johnson or Webb, winning souls even more by his example than by his words. At Harvington to this day the memory of Blessed Father Johnson is cherished, and stories of his heroic zeal are recounted by the descendants of those who were privileged to know and love the glorious martyr.

Some of the charges raised against Father Wall when he was captured, were that he had said Mass, heard confessions, and received converts into the Church. He was accidentally found, in December 1678, at the house of a friend, Mr Finch of Rushock, and carried off by the sheriff's officer. He was committed to Worchester (sic) jail, and lay captive for five months, enduring patiently all the loneliness, suffering, and horrors of prison life, which at that time were scarcely less dreadful than death itself.

The Franciscan website makes his entanglement with the Popish Plot clear:
He remained there for 22 years ministering to the Catholics of the area. In 1678 he went to London to meet the Jesuit Claude de la Colombière, and the two spoke together of their desire for martyrdom. The context of this meeting was the renewed persecution that was unleashed in the wake of the incriminating lies of Titus Oates and his invented Catholic plot against King Charles II. 
Returning from this encounter, John was staying with a friend in Rushock Court. There he was mistaken for one of the so-called plotters, Francis Johnson, and arrested. . . . .
Back to the Roman Catholic Saints website:

One of Father Wall's brethren in religion, Father William Levison, has the privilege of seeing the martyr for the space of four or five hours on the day before his execution. Father William tells us:
"I heard his confession and communicated him, to his great joy and satisfaction. While in prison he carried himself like a true servant of his crucified Master, thirsting after nothing more than the shedding of his blood for the love of his God, which he performed with a courage and cheerfulness becoming a valiant soldier of Christ, to the great edification of all the Catholics, and admiration of all the Protestants."
Father Wall's martyrdom took place on Red Hill, overlooking the city of Worcester, on August 22, 1679. His head was kept in the convent at Douai until the French Revolution broke out and the community fled to England. What became of it, then, is not known.

Saint John Jones, pray for us!
Saint John Wall, pray for us!

Top image credit: Used by permission of the webmaster: A stained glass depiction of Franciscan Saints above the high altar [at the former Chilworth Friary of the Holy Ghost]: at the extreme left is Blessed John Jones, at the extreme right Blessed John Wall (also known as Joachim of St Anne), both of whom are now canonised Saints.

Monday, August 24, 2020

This Morning: The Martyrs of 1595

Just a reminder that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to continue our series on the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. Matt Swaim and I will discuss the Providential connections among Saints Robert Southwell, Henry Walpole, and Philip Howard!

Those connections make me think of a sentence from Saint John Henry Newman's famous meditation: "I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons." These saints forged a strong chain of faithfulness and fortitude.

Please listen live here on the Sacred Heart Radio website; the podcast will be archived here; the segment will be repeated on Friday next week during the EWTN hour of the Son Rise Morning Show (from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. Eastern/5:00 to 6:00 a.m. Central).

According to this website, St. Robert Southwell comported himself so bravely at his execution at Tyburn Tree that he was hanged until dead before being butchered:

Like many martyrs before him, Southwell drew the admiration of the crowds because he walked as though he whole being were filled with happiness at the prospect of being executed the next day. On the morrow, the tall, slight man of light brown hair and beard was taken to the Tyburn Tree, a gallows, where the custom was for the condemned to be drive underneath the gallows in a cart, a rope secured around his neck, and the cart driven from under him. According to the sentence, the culprit would hang until he was dead or cut down before reaching that point. [Southwell was to be hanged, eviscerated, and quartered.]

Standing in the cart, Father Southwell began preaching on Romans 14: "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord: or whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's... I am brought hither to perform the last act of this miserable life, and... I do most humbly desire at the hands of Almighty God for our Savior Jesus' sake, that He would vouchsafe to pardon and forgive all my sins...". He acknowledged that he was a Catholic priest and declared that he never intended harm or evil against the Queen, but always prayed for her. He end with "In manus tuas, Domine (into Your hands, Lord), I commend my spirit". Contrary to the sentence, he was dead before he was cut down and quartered (Benedictines, Delaney, Undset).

Other reports indicated that no one cheered when his severed head was displayed to the crowd. Indeed, Elizabeth's government recognized that Southwell's execution had had the opposite effect from what they desired--there was lull in executions of Catholic priests in London. 

After enduring a year of torture administered by Richard Topcliffe in the Tower of London Saint Henry Walpole was taken back to York to stand trial under the law that made it high treason for an Englishman simply to return home after receiving Holy Orders abroad. The man who had once aspired to be a lawyer defended himself ably, pointing out that the law only applied to priests who had not given themselves up to officials within three days of arrival. He himself had been arrested less than a day after landing in England, so he had not violated that law. The judges responded by demanding that he take the Oath of Supremacy, acknowledging the queen's complete authority in religion. He refused to do so and was convicted of high treason. 

On April 7, Walpole was dragged out of York to be executed along with another priest who was killed first (
Blessed Alexander Rawlins). Then the Jesuit climbed the ladder to the gallows and asked the onlookers to pray with him. After he finished the Our Father but before he could say the Hail Mary, the executioner pushed him away from the ladder; then he was taken down and dismembered. The Jesuits in England lost a promising young priest whom they had hoped would take the place of Father Southwell; they received another example of fidelity and courage. 

As this blog describes Saint Philip Howard's death, it came "by degrees" under the threat of execution and while suffering long imprisonment in the Tower of London:

By the time Robert Southwell was executed at Tyburn, Philip was dying by degrees, from the privations of his imprisonment. He appealed again to the Queen to allow him to see his wife and son. The Queen replied: if Philip would go but once to their church, not only would she grant his request, but he would be restored to his estates and honours with as much favour as she could show. Philip once more sadly declined the offer. Nothing could show more clearly that, as Robert Southwell had written, “your cause, by whatever name it may be disfigured, by whatever colour deformed in the eyes of men, is religion.”

The last night of his life was spent mainly in prayer; he died on Sunday 19th October 1595 at noon. He was thirty eight. The immediate cause of death was most probably dysentery, though rumours of poison were current at the time. They buried him in his father’s grave in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower. It was nearly thirty years before his widow could get his body removed to her home at West Horsley, and then to Arundel, to be laid in the family vault, the Fitzalan Chapel.

Saint Robert Southwell, pray for us!
Saint Henry Walpole, pray for us!
Saint Philip Howard, pray for us!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Preview: Three Martyred Saints in 1595

It's really kind of crazy of me to prepare to talk about three great martyrs in the time Matt Swaim and I will have on the Son Rise Morning Show this coming Monday, August 24. But it's also difficult to tell their stories and the connections among them in three separate segments. Saint Robert Southwell, SJ; Saint Henry Walpole, SJ; Saint Philip Howard--they all suffered martyrdom in 1595:

Saint Robert Southwell was hanged, drawn and quartered on February 15, 1595.

Saint Henry Walpole was hanged, drawn and quartered on April 7, 1595.

Saint Philip Howard died in the Tower of London ("martyr in chains") on October 19, 1595.

Southwell and Howard were connected because Southwell served Howard's wife, Anne (Dacre), as confessor and chaplain even after Howard was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. They shared incarceration in the Tower for a time, with Saint Philip Howard's dog as a go-between, carrying messages.

Walpole and Southwell were connected because the Jesuits hoped that Walpole could take Southwell's place in the Mission to England after Southwell was arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Both Walpole and Southwell endured torture at Richard Topcliffe's hands.Walpole was imprisoned in the Tower of London while Southwell and Howard were imprisoned there too in 1594 and 1595, but I've never read of any contact with him, even through a dog, by either Southwell or Howard.

Howard and Walpole also share the inspiration for their conversions and Walpole's vocation: Saint Edmund Campion.

Sir Philip Howard converted to Catholicism in 1584, influenced by the example of St. Edmund Campion in 1581; he was received by another Jesuit priest, Father William Weston. Howard was arrested while trying to leave England in 1585 and held in the Tower of London until his death, tried in 1588 for treason because of supposed prayers for the success of the Spanish Armada, and found guilty. No date for execution was ever set. He prayed and fasted and kept himself prepared for death. As a nobleman, he was never tortured, although separation from his wife and children (his son Thomas had been born after he was imprisoned) must have caused him great sorrow. Upon his conversion in 1584 he had become a devoted husband; he had neglected Anne while at Elizabeth I's Court before that. He carved a motto in one of the walls of his cell: Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro.” (“The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next.”)

Father Robert Southwell, after study and ordination on the Continent, returned to England in 1586; in 1589 he became Lady Anne Howard's chaplain. He wrote An Epistle of Comfort for Philip Howard, urging him to remain true to the Catholic faith. Arrested in 1592, Southwell was tortured by Richard Topcliffe in his home near the Gatehouse Prison for 40 hours and then moved to the Gatehouse for more torture and finally to the Tower of London at his father's insistence that he either be tried and executed or treated like a gentleman in prison, not "hurt, starving, covered with maggots and lice, to lie in his own filth." (His father Robert Southwell was the illegitimate son of Sir Richard Southwell, one of the men who accompanied Sir Richard Rich to Saint Thomas More's cell in the Tower of London to take away More's books and papers and pens!) Thus for three years out of ten of Howard's years in the Tower, Southwell was held in solitary confinement; his father was allowed to provide for his needs, and he had a Bible, a Breviary, and the works of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux--but Richard Topcliffe was still supervising his incarceration.

Father Henry Walpole was converted and inspired by Saint Edmund Campion's martyrdom on December 1, 1581, as some of the blood of the martyr splashed on his sleeve. He had been studying a Gray's Inn for a legal career, but left England to study for the priesthood and join the Society of Jesus. When he arrived in England in December of 1593, he was almost immediately arrested. By the end of February, 1594 he was moved from York to the Tower of London, where he endured torture at the hands of Richard Topcliffe. I don't know if Southwell and Howard knew of Walpole's imprisonment and torture as he was both tracked and hanged by the wrists for hours by Topcliffe. Topcliffe carefully spread out this torture over 14 months, even though Walpole had already confessed that he was Jesuit and had come to England to serve Catholics. He carved his name in the wall of his cell along with a litany of saints' names: Peter, Paul, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Gregory the Great.

These three men, being well educated gentlemen, were also poets, although Robert Southwell would have to be considered the best poet among them. Henry Walpole was inspired not only to study for the priesthood by Campion's martyrdom, but wrote a poem about him, "Why do I use my paper, ink, and pen" which William Byrd set to music. A poem about the destruction of the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham is attributed to Philip Howard. You might want to listen to this long but informative podcast from featuring more English martyr poets.

I'll provide some details about their martyrdoms in 1595 on Monday, August 24.

Saint Robert Southwell, pray for us!
Saint Henry Walpole, pray for us!
Saint Philip Howard, pray for us!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Book Review: Martz on More

I purchased this book used; it had previously been a community college library book and the library had rebound the paperback as a hardback, trimming the front and back covers off and affixing them to the hardback binding. I really appreciated that rebinding because the original proportions of the paperback (127 x 179 mm or 5" x 7.05") would have made it rather awkward to read--and it was still strange with long columns of type.

As YaleBooks in the UK, Europe and Overseas notes, this book was published in 1972:

Recent writings about Thomas More have questioned his integrity and motivation and have challenged the long-held view of him as a humane, wise, and heroic "man for all seasons." This new book responds to these revisionist studies by closely and persuasively analyzing More's writings as well as Holbein's portraits of More and his family.

Louis L. Martz chaired the publication of the Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More from 1963 to 1997 and was the Sterling Professor Emeritus of English at Yale University; he retired from Yale in 1984 and died in 2001.

One of the "recent writings" Martz was responding to in 1992 was Richard C. Marius' 1983 biography of Thomas More, in which he judged More according to 20th century moral standards--an historicist approach (he did the same thing with Martin Luther in 1999)--positing that 20th century moral standards are superior to 16th because we've "progressed" and therefore "improved".

Marius also co-edited three works in the Yale Edition during Martz's tenure:Volume 6, Parts I & II: A Dialogue Concerning Heresies; Volume 7: Letter to Bugenhagen, Supplication of Souls, Letter Against Frith; Volume 8, Parts I-III: The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer. So Martz was contending in print against a scholar he had hired to complete a 34-year project (and one he'd worked on past retirement from teaching). And since Marius was casting More as a violent and vituperative opponent of Tyndale and other reformers, there's the irony that Marius had edited those editions of More's controversial works against Tyndale and the other reformers under Martz's chairmanship.

Martz was also responding G.R. Elton's comments about More and the prosecution of heretics.

Chapter 1, "The Search for the Inner Man" deals with those matters pretty effectively. Martz notes that John Milton used similar rhetorical methods against his opponents and that Saint Augustine of Hippo attacked the Pelagians and the Manicheans in a similar way. Writing argumentative propaganda has its own rules and rhetorical style: "More and Milton and other devout humanists are using their command of good Latin and colloquial English as weapons against what they regard as deadly enemies of truth . . ." and they do what they must "to drive these evildoers out of the temple." (p. 21) Martz comments that it's not fair to say that Milton or St. Augustine or St. Thomas More displayed their true selves in their controversial works. And he notes from More's Apology that he was aware that sometimes he had gone too far--did Luther or Tyndale ever admit as much? (my question!)

Regarding the prosecution of heretics, Martz notes that Thomas Cromwell had heretics investigated and prosecuted too--and many more than More, comparing More's three out of six cases of religious heresy that led to burning at the stake in three years to Cromwell's 65 cases of religious treason that led to hanging, drawing, and quartering. As he concludes:

It is difficult therefore to argue that Thomas More's prosecution of those he suspected of heresy was any more severe than Thomas Cromwell's prosecution of those he suspected of treason. For both it was a grim matter of quelling what they, for different reasons, saw as sedition. Let us lay aside, then, this ancient and unfounded charge against More.

In some ways I think that Eamon Duffy--whose study of Saint John Henry Newman I so disagreed with--answers these issues better in the first part of Reformation Divided: "Thomas More and Heresy". Nonetheless, Martz presents good arguments to contradict Marius and Elton.

Inter alia, Martz offers an interpretation of the differences between the Holbein sketches and portraits of More: the official final version of the individual study and the family portrait in the sketch and in the Rowland Lockey version. In his comparison of the finished portrait in the Frick collection and the sketch featured on the the cover of the book he notes the Frick version shows control and resolution; the sketch openness and vulnerability. In the contrast between the Holbein sketch of the group portrait and the Lockey version, Martz notes the change of occasion: in Holbein's sketch the family is about to pray from the Breviary; in the Lockey version they are reading scholarly, humanist works (Seneca and Boethius).

The next three chapters, "The Order of the Heart", "The Last Letters and A Dialogue of Comfort", and "De Tristitia: Last Address to the World and to the Self" seem to search for the The Inner Man of Thomas More through his literary style and how he adapted it to the purpose of his work written either in Latin or in English. Martz identifies More's style as Augustinian, based upon the methods of Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose City of God More discoursed upon when he was 23 years old in 1501. Martz emphasizes More's use of digression, repetition, and irony; his awareness of his audience and his search for truth for both himself and the audience. Martz comments, for example, that when engaging Tyndale on the subject of the doctrine of justification by faith (alone), More interrupts Tyndale's "relentless logic" (p. 37) with "an Augustinian manner" and in "an Augustinian view of life and religion--a view that sees, not a church of "elects" who cannot fall to damnation, however they may slip, but a church of fallen people, any one of whom has yet available the hope of redemption." (p. 38). A more realistic, humane, and common sense view of Christians in this life.

That certainly reveals More as presenting a thoroughly Catholic balance of how to think about God's justice and mercy and to maintain faith in forgiveness and absolution, hope in repentance and redemption. As Martz continues in these three chapters, he demonstrates how More found that same balance in the Dialogue of Comfort, his meditations on the Passion of Christ, in The Sadness of Christ, and during his time in the Tower of London. If that conviction was in Thomas More's heart, no wonder he could be so merry on Tower Hill when mounting the scaffold.

Monday, August 17, 2020

This Morning: Saints Eustace White and John Boste

Just a reminder that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central to continue our series on the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. Anna Mitchell and I will discuss Saints Eustace White and John Boste.

Please listen live here on the Sacred Heart Radio website; the podcast will be archived here; the segment will be repeated on Friday next week during the EWTN hour of the Son Rise Morning Show (from 6:00 to 7:00 a.m. Eastern/5:00 to 6:00 a.m. Central).

Saint Eustace was hanged, drawn, and quartered on the same day as Saints Swithun WellsEdmund Gennings, and Polydore Plasden (December 10, 1591) but at a different location, Tyburn Tree.

Saint John was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Durham, County Durham, in northeast England on July 24, 1594.

Both men had suffered torture, perhaps both at the hands of Richard Topcliffe: we know that Topcliffe visited Saint Eustace White while he was hanged by the wrists in Bridewell prison. Saint John Boste was tortured on The Rack in the Tower of London.

Saint Alexander Briant, who was born 464 years ago today on August 17, 1556, had endured similar torture in 1581 before his death at Tyburn on December 1, 1581. He was 25 years old. Boste was 32 when he was executed; White was about 50.

We are almost half-way through the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales and have more great stories to tell in August, September, October--and even the beginning of November:

8/24: Southwell, Walpole, and Howard (1595 connections)
8/31: Two Franciscans: John Jones (1598) and John Wall (1679)
9/7: Labor Day Break
9/14: Rigby (1600) and Line (1601) (laity)
9/21: Owen (1606) and Garnet, SJ (1608) (Gunpowder Plot)
9/28: Roberts, OSB (1610)  and Almond (1612)
10/5: Arrowsmith, SJ (Lancashire Recusant Family) (1628)
10/12: Barlow (1641) and Roe ( (OSB) (1642)
10/19: Morse (1645) and Southworth (1654) (Plague Priests)
10/26: Evans and Lewis, SJ (Popish Plot) (1679)
11/2: Kemble, Lloyd, and Plessington (Popish Plot) (1679)

Saint Eustace White, pray for us!
Saint John Boste, pray for us!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Preview: Saints Eustace White and John Boste

On Monday, August 17, Anna Mitchell and I will continue our Son Rise Morning Show series on the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales. We'll talk about two more Elizabethan era martyrs, Saint Eustace White and Saint John Boste. Usual time: 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central.

Saint Eustace was hanged, drawn, and quartered on the same day as Saints Swithun Wells, Edmund Gennings, and Polydore Plasden (December 10, 1591) but at a different location, Tyburn Tree.

Saint John was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Durham, County Durham, in northeast England on July 24, 1594.

St. Eustace White was a convert to Catholicism--his anti-Catholic father cursed him and White endured permanent estrangement from his family. In 1584 Eustace began studies for the priesthood in Rheims, France and Rome, Italy, and was ordained at the Venerable English College in Rome in 1588. In November 1588 he returned to the west of England to minister to covert Catholics. The Church was going through a period of persecution in England, made even worse by the unsuccessful attack of the Armada from Catholic Spain. Arrested in Blandford, Dorset, England on 1 September 1591 for the crime of being a priest. He was lodged in Bridewell prison in London, and repeatedly tortured. 

He endured the torture technique developed by Richard Topcliffe and used on St. Robert Southwell and others, being hanged by the wrists. As he wrote to Fr. Henry Garnet, SJ from prison:
"The morrow after Simon and Jude's day I was hanged at the wall from the ground, my manacles fast locked into a staple as high as I could reach upon a stool: the stool taken away where I hanged from a little after 8 o'clock in the morning until after 4 in the afternoon, without any ease or comfort at all, saving that Topcliffe came in and told me that the Spaniards were come into Southwark by our means: 'For lo, do you not hear the drums' (for then the drums played in honour of the Lord Mayor). The next day after also I was hanged up an hour or two: such is the malicious minds of our adversaries." 
According to Bishop Richard Challoner, who compiled reports of many of the martyrs in his Memoirs of Missionary Priests, Saint Eustace told Richard Topcliffe that he prayed for him--and Topcliffe did not appreciate the prayers of one he regarded as a traitor. Challoner also notes that because the date of White's execution is the same as the martyrs' on Grays Inn Road, some reports placed him at that All Saints Day Mass in Saint Swithun Wells' home--but he was arrested and held separately.

Blessed Brian Lacey, a layman, suffered with him at Tyburn Tree.

Saint John Boste was born in northwestern England, and could be considered a revert in a way because he was born in a Catholic family, conformed at least outwardly to the Church of England to study at Oxford and become a Fellow of Queen's College, and then returned to the Catholic Church. He, too, endured torture in London but Topcliffe's name isn't included in the reports of his torture on rack and being hanged by the wrists, which left him crippled and bent over. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Priest and martyr, b. of good Catholic family at Dufton, in Westmoreland, about 1544; d. at Durham, 24 July, 1594. He studied at Queen's College, Oxford, 1569-72, became a Fellow, and was received into the Church at Brome, in Suffolk, in 1576. Resigning his Fellowship in 1580, he went to Reims, where he was ordained priest, 4 March, 1581, and in April was sent to England. He landed at Hartlepool and became a most zealous missioner, so that the persecutors made extraordinary efforts to capture him. At last, after many narrow escapes, he was taken to Waterhouses, the house of William Claxton, near Durham, betrayed by one Eglesfield [or Ecclesfield], 5 July, 1593. The place is still visited by Catholics. From Durham he was conveyed to London, showing himself throughout "resolute, bold, joyful, and pleasant", although terribly racked in the Tower. Sent back to Durham for the July Assizes, 1594, he behaved with undaunted courage and resolution, and induced his fellow-martyr, Bl. George Swalwell [or Swallowell], a convert minister, who had recanted through fear, to repent of his cowardice, absolving him publicly in court. He suffered at Dryburn, outside Durham. He recited the Angelus while mounting the ladder, and was executed with extraordinary brutality; for he was scarcely turned off the ladder when he was cut down, so that he stood on his feet, and in that posture was cruelly butchered alive. An account of his trial and execution was written by an eye-witness, [Blessed] Christopher Robinson, who suffered martyrdom shortly afterwards at Carlisle.

As I mentioned last week, these priests were executed because they were Catholic priests who had returned to England. The authorities tortured them to find out where they had said Mass, who had sheltered them, how they'd arrived in England, etc. 

Saint Eustace White, pray for us!
Saint John Boste, pray for us!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Syon Abbey: Foundation, Suppression, Exile, Return and Decline

This book, which I purchased, tells the story of Syon Abbey. As the publisher Gracewing describes it and the author:
The 25th Day of November the house of Syon was suppressed into the King’s hands, and the ladies and brethren put out, which was the most virtuous house of religion that was in England.
So wrote the chronicler Charles Wriothesley in 1539. But the story of Syon Abbey did not end with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Founded by Henry V in 1415, England’s only house of the Bridgettine Order had been one of the richest monasteries of medieval England. Now the community went underground; they returned briefly under Queen Mary, only to leave again with the accession of Elizabeth. They were to spend more that half a century ‘wandering’ - through the Netherlands and France, an exodus that brought them, in 1594, to Lisbon in Portugal. Here they remained until 1861, when circumstances at last allowed them a return home to England. They settled in Devon, where the remaining sisters now live in retirement.

The history of Syon Abbey is an inspiring story of faith and fortitude, of an enclosed, contemplative community that found itself living through persecution and martyrdom, wars and revolutions, fire and earthquake, over six centuries of unbroken tradition and unyielding faith. This book celebrates the sexcentenary of that community in 2015.

E A Jones is Associate Professor of Medieval English Literature and Culture at the University of Exeter and director of the research project ‘The English monastic experience, 15th-21st centuries: Syon at 600’.

I have to admit that at the end of the book I thought: what Henry VIII was not able to do in the Sixteenth Century, the Sixties in the Twentieth Century were able to do. Henry VIII suppressed the Bridgettine Order in England and sent the nuns and brothers into exile but they survived. Changes in society and perhaps some of the "reforms" dictated by the Second Vatican Council led to a precipitous drop in vocations and to the closure of their last convent with the last three Bridgettine nuns moving into retirement in 2011. But it really all started with the suppression by Henry VIII, followed by the second suppression of the order in England by Elizabeth I.

Through their exile Syon Abbey struggled to fulfill St. Bridget of Sweden's vision for their community, especially after the Council of Trent mandated changes to their Liturgy of the Hours and the leadership of the Abbess, and they lost part of their structure when vocations to the male part of their dual monastery dried up while they were in Lisbon. The exiled Bridgettines wandered through Belgium (the Spanish Netherlands/the Low Countries) and France for a time as wars and insurrections made life unstable there and then moved to Lisbon. Professor Jones notes, however, that after they'd left Belgium more Catholic exiles established monasteries there and the Bridgettines were relatively isolated from the core Catholic community in the North. The Bridgettines survived the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon but the Napoleonic wars and great unrest in Portugal led to their eventual return to England.

Even back in England, however, they wandered, trying to find the perfect place and a message of outreach from their cloister, choosing prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory. The Bridgettine Order's unique structure and charism didn't seem to survive the renewal of consecrated life urged by the Second Vatican Council. That section in the last chapter confused me: instead of returning to Saint Bridget of Sweden's original vision of a dual monastery with an Abbess in charge of both houses, male and female, with the male house serving the spiritual needs of the nuns and the nuns devoted to prayer and meditation on the Passion of Our Lord, why did Syon Abbey focus on modernizing, abandoning Latin, simplifying, adapting to contemporary fashions? It seemed to me they lost much of what made them unique. Jones comments, however, that vocations were slowing down before the changes made in response to Perfectae Caritatis and Ecclesiae Sanctae (Pope Paul VI's encyclical letter)--and they'd long lost the brotherhood. But the two pictures on page 126, showing the community in 1961 and then in 1982, poignantly depict the decline in numbers and the increase in age of the nuns of Syon Abbey.

But those are last thoughts. The beginnings of Syon Abbey in England under Henry V in 1415, the growth and influence of the Abbey through the priests and brothers and its relatively short golden age are also part of the story. Syon Abbey's library, the publication of devotional works by the priest-brothers in the 1520's and 1530's, the fame of those priest-brothers, including Richard Reynolds, William Bonde, and Richard Whitford, made it one of the most important Abbeys in England. It was a site of pilgrimage and maintained Royal favor throughout the divisions of the Wars of the Roses and the changes of dynasty from Lancaster to York to Tudor. Then comes the King's Matter, the Oaths of Succession and Supremacy, conflict among the priests and brothers, the martyrdom of Richard Reynolds, and dissolution of the monastery, exile, brief return during the reign of Mary I, and exile again under Elizabeth I.

Professor E.A. or Eddie Jones tells this story very well; he is scholar much dedicated to understanding medieval religious life but he writes this comprehensive general history of Syon Abbey with a narrative style accessible to the general reader. He narrates their sometimes complicated struggles to survive and remain faithful to their foundress and their charism clearly and sympathetically. Well-illustrated, documented, and presented by Gracewing too.

Foreword by Sr. Anne Smith, abbess of Syon 1976-2011
Outline Chronology
Prologue (Mass at the closure of Syon Abbey on August 6, 2011)
Chapter 1. Beginnings
Chapter 2. Medieval Syon
Chapter 3. The Road to Exile
Chapter 4. Wanderings
Chapter 5. Lisbon
Chapter 6. Return
Chapter 7. The Final Century
Suggestions for Further Reading

Seal of Syon Abbey (Public Domain)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Robert Southey: The Three Bears and Sir Thomas More

“In the name of God,” I exclaimed, “who are you, and wherefore are you come?” 
“Be not alarmed,” he replied.  “Your reason, which has shown you the possibility of such an appearance as you now witness, must have convinced you also that it would never be permitted for an evil end.  Examine my features well, and see if you do not recognise them.  Hans Holbein was excellent at a likeness.” 
I had now for the first time in my life a distinct sense of that sort of porcupinish motion over the whole scalp which is so frequently described by the Latin poets.  It was considerably allayed by the benignity of his countenance and the manner of his speech, and after looking him steadily in the face I ventured to say, for the likeness had previously struck me, “Is it Sir Thomas More?” 
“The same,” he made answer, and lifting up his chin, displayed a circle round the neck brighter in colour than the ruby.  “The marks of martyrdom,” he continued, “are our insignia of honour.  Fisher and I have the purple collar, as Friar Forrest and Cranmer have the robe of fire.” 
A mingled feeling of fear and veneration kept me silent, till I perceived by his look that he expected and encouraged me to speak; and collecting my spirits as well as I could, I asked him wherefore he had thought proper to appear, and why to me rather than to any other person?--from Sir Thomas More, or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society

Today is the anniversary in 1774 of the birth of Robert Southey, the Romantic Poet who at first embraced the spirit of the French Revolution and then like William Wordsworth and other Lake Poets became more conservative: from Radical to Tory! As the Poetry Foundation notes:

Of his fellow Romantics he was perhaps the most versatile, as well as one of the most prolific. As poet—and eventually poet laureate—he produced epics, romances, and metrical tales, ballads, plays, monodramas, odes, eclogues, sonnets, and miscellaneous lyrics. His prose works include histories, biographies, essays, reviews, translations, travelogues, semi-fictional journalism, polemical dialogues, and a farraginous work of fiction, autobiography, anecdote, and omnium-gatherum that defies classification. His bent was inherently encyclopedic; and, while his writings lack both moral profundity (as distinct from moral fervor) and “natural magic,” they compensate by their vigor and abundance for their dearth of genius. Coleridge rightly called him the complete man of letters.

Among those encyclopedic works are two wonderful inventions: the story of The Three Bears and his imaginary dialogue with Sir Thomas More, cited above.

Southey wrote a narrative version of a well-known fairy story and published it in his 1837 volume, The Doctor. Instead of  girl named Goldilocks entering the three bears's house, "an impudent, bad old woman . . . set[s] about helping herself" and says wicked words when the chairs, porridge, and beds don't suit her.

Of Sir Thomas More, or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, the Poetry Foundation opines:

More’s historical Catholicism, in fact, gets in the way—Southey turns him into an embryonic Protestant—and the fiction of a visitation by and dialogue with a ghost becomes bizarre after the first encounter and irritating after the second or third. The work has often been praised for its limpid prose style. But that style is generally at its best in the numerous descriptive and anecdotal digressions—about local scenery, local legends, or Southey’s library holdings—interspersed with the more portentous dialogues, rather than in the dialogues themselves.

Southey died on March 21, 1843, having been appointed Poet Laureate of England in 1813; William Wordsworth succeeded him the next month.

"Love You More" Photo copyright Stephanie A. Mann, February 14, 2015.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

130 Years Ago Today: Saint John Henry Newman

Saint John Henry Newman died on August 11, 1890.

Note, however, that his feast is celebrated on October 9, the anniversary of his coming in to the one fold of Christ. The great follower of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare of Assisi is celebrated on August 11 and she is a very popular saint! Since his canonization last year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has not added his feast as an optional memorial to the Liturgical/Sanctoral Calendar (Saint Denis, Bishop, and Companions, Martyrs and Saint John Leonardi, Priest are currently the optional memorials to the Weekday this year).

Newman had been in failing health since the end of 1889; he was nearly blind (having memorized two votive Masses so he could offer Mass privately) and had indeed said Mass the last time on Christmas day that year. Unable to read the Breviary, he prayed the Rosary unless another Oratorian read the Office to/with him.

Two days before Newman died his niece Grace Longford, the only child of his estranged sister Harriett visited him. Newman had not seen her since she was three years old, because Harriet had cut off all contact with him after he became a Catholic on October 9, 1845. 

Adds a certain human poignancy to his feast day, doesn't it? reminding us of all he sacrificed for the truth: Friends, family, reputation, livelihood, and home.

The Newman Reader offers a collection of contemporary press comments on Newman's death. One highlight is from the The Times of London:

A great man has passed away; a great link with the with past has been broken. Thus enviably closes a most noteworthy life; a life that in itself sums up in the best and most attractive way one side of the religious life of the century. At ninety years of age, full of years, full of honour, but not of honours, in the obscurity of his almost private home, the great man receives the last summons and quietly obeys. A most interesting chapter of our history closes his death, and a life which bears strange testimony to the permanence of certain types in human nature becomes a part of the past. Once more the world is reminded of the degree in which respect and love still attach to the saintly life, when it is coupled with one or another kind of intellectual leadership. Cardinal NEWMAN is literally the last of his generation. Many of his old friends and colleagues he has long survived; others have but lately passed away; but he, to all appearance the most fragile of all, has remained till now. . . .

The writer of this meditation on Newman's life and death was not only thinking of the past--he was looking to the future! And we are fortunate to know the answer: Yes!

Will NEWMAN'S memory survive in the estimation of his country? Will his books maintain it? That is a question which may be asked today, but which the future only can answer. Of one thing we may be sure, that the memory of his pure and noble life, untouched by worldliness, unsoured by any trace of fanaticism, will endure, and that whether Rome canonizes him or not he will be canonized in the thoughts of pious people of many creeds in England. The saint and the poet in him will survive. "Lead, kindly Light," is already something better than a classic; the life at Littlemore and at Edgbaston will engrave itself deep into the memory of all to whom religion and lofty human character are dear.

Several other press notices mentioned "Lead, kindly Light" in their praise of Newman's legacy:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’ encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on;
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on;
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.

So long Thy pow’r has blest me, sure it still
Wilt lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Speaking of poetry, the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti wrote a sonnet titled Cardinal Newman on the occasion of his death:

"In the grave, whither thou goest."

O weary Champion of the Cross, lie still:
  Sleep thou at length the all-embracing sleep:
  Long was thy sowing day, rest now and reap:
Thy fast was long, feast now thy spirit's fill.
Yea, take thy fill of love, because thy will
  Chose love not in the shallows but the deep:
  Thy tides were springtides, set against the neap
Of calmer souls: thy flood rebuked their rill.
Now night has come to thee--please God, of rest:
  So some time must it come to every man;
  To first and last, where many last are first.
Now fixed and finished thine eternal plan,
  Thy best has done its best, thy worst its worst:
Thy best its best, please God, thy best its best.

Thirty years ago, Pope St. John Paul II wrote an official letter to the Archbishop of Birmingham, Maurice Couve de Murville, remarking on the centenary of Newman's death:

At the approach of the first Centenary of the death of John Henry Newman and in response to your kind invitation, I gladly associate myself with the celebrations that mark this event in England and indeed in many countries throughout the world. The memory of the great Cardinal’s noble life and his copious writings seem to touch the minds and hearts of many people today with a freshness and relevance that has scarcely faded with the passing of a century.

The Centenary year coincides with the beginning of a period of profound change in world events. This period has begun with new prospects for genuine freedom and signs of a renewed awareness of the need to build life, both individual and social, on the solid foundation of unfailing respect for the human person and his inalienable God-given dignity. To all searching minds in this present historical context, Newman’s voice speaks with a timely message.

Newman’s long life shows him to have been an ardent disciple of truth. The unfolding of his career confirms the single-heartedness of his aims as expressed in the following words which he made his own: "My desire hath been to have Truth for my chiefest friend, and no enemy but error" (J. H. Newman
The Via Media, London 1911, vol. 1, pp. XII-XIII). In periods of trial and suffering he persevered with confidence, knowing that time was on the side of truth.

Newman’s quest for the truth led him to search for a voice that would speak to him the authority of the living Christ. His example holds a lasting appeal for all sincere scholars and disciples of truth. He urges them to keep asking the deeper, more basic questions about the meaning of life and of all human history; not to be content with a partial response to the great mystery that is man himself; to have the intellectual honesty and moral courage to accept the light of truth, no matter what personal sacrifice it may involve. Above all, Newman is a magnificent guide for all those who perceive that the key, the focal point and the goal of all human history is to be found in Christ (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes, 10) and in union with him in that community of faith, hope and charity, which is his holy Church, through which he communicates truth and grace to all (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 8).

That same year, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger made a presentation in Rome commenting on Newman's influence in his life and especially on Newman's presentation of conscience and authority:

Newman had become a convert as a man of conscience; it was his conscience that led him out of the old ties and securities into the world of Catholicism, which was difficult and strange for him. But this way of conscience is everything except a way of self-sufficient subjectivity: it is a way of obedience to objective truth.

The second step in Newman's lifelong journey of conversion was overcoming the subjective evangelical position in favour of an understanding of Christendom based on the objectivity of dogma. In this connection I find a formulation from one of his early sermons to be especially significant today:
"True Christendom is shown... in obedience and not through a state of consciousness. Thus, the whole duty and work of a Christian is made up of these two parts, Faith and Obedience; "looking unto Jesus' (Heb 2: 9)... and acting according to His will.... I conceive that we are in danger, in this day, of insisting on neither of these as we ought; regarding all true and careful consideration of the Object of faith as barren orthodoxy, technical subtlety... and... making the test of our being religious to consist in our having what is called a spiritual state of heart...".
In this context some sentences from The Arians of the Fourth Century, which may sound rather astonishing at first, seem important to me: " detect and to approve the principle on which... peace is grounded in Scripture; to submit to the dictation of truth, as such, as a primary authority in matters of political and private conduct; to understand... zeal to be prior in the succession of Christian graces to benevolence".

Throughout the last day of his 2010 visit to Scotland and England (September 19), Pope Benedict XVI commented on various aspects of Newman's life during the Beatification Mass and at each of the concluding events.

Saint John Henry Newman, pray for us!

From the propers for his feast in the Catholic Dioceses of England and Wales on October 9:

O God, who bestowed on the Priest Blessed John Henry Newman the grace to follow your kindly light and find peace in your Church; graciously grant that, through his intercession and example, we may be led out of shadows and images into the fulness of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.