Friday, July 30, 2021

Henry VIII in Late July, 1540: Matching and Dispatching

On July 28, 1540, Henry VIII matched up Thomas Cromwell and Sir Walter Hungerford to be executed on Tower Hill while he married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard at Oatlands Palace after having his fourth marriage, to Anne of Cleves, declared null and void by Thomas Cranmer.

On July 30, 1840, Henry VIII matched up three Catholic supporters of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, and three Zwinglian supporters of Thomas Cromwell, to be executed at Smithfield. The Catholics were hanged, drawn, and quartered; the Zwinglians were burned alive at the stake.

The chronicler Edward Hall described the event, obviously more sympathetic to one group than the other:

The thirtie daie of July, were drawen on herdelles out of the Tower to Smithfield, Robert Barnes Doctor in Diuinitee, Thomas Garard, and Wyllyam Jerome Bachelers in Diuinitee, Powell, Fetherston and Abell. The firste three were drawen to a stake, there before set up, and were hanged, hedded, and quartered. Here ye must note, that the first three, wer menne that professed the Gospell of Jesu Christ, and were Preachers thereof … [the first three] were detestable and abhominable Heretickes, and … had taught many heresies, the nomber whereof was to greate in the atteindor to be recited, so that there is not one alleged … in deede at their deathe, they asked the Sherifes, wherefore they were condempned, who answered, thei could not tell: but if I maie saie the truthe, moste menne said it was for Preachyng, against the Doctryne of Stephen Gardiner Bishoppe of Wynchester, who chiefly procured this their death … but greate pitie it was, that suche learned menne should bee cast awaie, without examinaction, neither knowyng what was laied to their charge, nor never called to answere.

The laste three … were put to death for Treason, and in their attaindor, is speciall mencion made of their offences, whiche was for the deniyng of the kynge ssupremacie, and affirmyng that his Mariage with the Lady Katheryne was good: These with other were the treasons, that thei wer attainted of, and suffered death for.

The problem, of course, with Hall's bias is that both groups were judged by Henry VIII to have betrayed him: Hall's heroes had defied his will for the Church of England and the Six Articles he was supporting at that time, as least, as a way to dispel dissent; the three Catholics by having defended his first wife Catherine of Aragon, crowned and anointed as his queen, who had suffered imprisonment for a long time--three wives had come and gone--that is, six years. Thomas Abell had time to carve a bell in the wall of his cell!

Thomas Abell, Richard Fetherston, and Edward Powell had all been chaplains and defenders of Queen Catherine of Aragon--very learned men; graduates of the University of Oxford. Thomas Abell had written 
Invicta veritas. An answere, That by no manner of law, it may be lawfull for the most noble King of England, King Henry the eight to be divorced from the queens grace, his lawfull and very wife. B.L. in 1532 and had also been implicated in the Nun of Kent cause celebre. Richard Fetherston had also written against Henry's divorce of Catherine in Contra divortium Henrici et Catharinae, Liber unus although no copy of the text survives. He also tutored the Princess Mary. Henry VIII had favored Edward Powell for his works against Lutheran doctrines in earlier days, but then Powell ran afoul of Henry's changing policies and desires to cast aside Catherine of Aragon. You may read more about them and their trials in Bede Camm's book on the martyrs beatified by Pope Leo XIII.

The Zwinglians Robert Barnes, Thomas Garrett, and William Jerome were also taken to Smithfield that day. Robert Barnes had attended the University of Cambridge and had "hung out" at the White Horse Inn with other Lutheran minded students and masters. While Thomas Cromwell was in power, they had preached against the Catholic Bishop, Stephen Gardiner, but once Cromwell fell and was executed on July 28, 1540, they lost their protector and were sentenced to death.

Both the Catholics and the Zwinglians were sentenced to death without trial. Bills of Attainder condemned the Catholics as Traitors and the Zwinglians as Heretics. Three hurdles dragged the men to Smithfield from the Tower; each hurdle held a traitor and a heretic. At Smithfield, the traitors were hung, cut down and butchered while alive, their bodies quartered and their heads cut for display; the heretics were burnt alive at the stake. A poem titled, "The Metynge of Doctor Barnes and Dr. Powell at Paradise Gate and of theyre communicacion bothe drawen to Smithfylde fro the Towar" described the juxtaposition of the Catholic and the Protestant that day.

As the Executed Today website sums it up:

The one thing that couldn’t possibly be confused in the day’s proceedings was that matters of the faith were matters of state, and in them Henry would brook heterodoxy of neither the liberal nor conservative variety.

“Good Lord! How do these people live?” exclaimed a foreign observer (cited here). “Here are the papists hanged, there are the anti-papists burnt!”

Catherine's former chaplains were beatified by Pope Leo XIII; the Zwinglian preachers were honored by John Foxe in his Acts and Monuments. And remember that Catherine Howard would be beheaded, matched up with Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, without even celebrating her second wedding anniversary, on February 13, 1542.

Blessed Thomas Abell, pray for us!
Blessed Richard Fetherston, pray for us!
Blessed Edward Powell, pray for us!

Image credit (Public Domain): "Barnes and his Fellow-Prisoners Seeking Forgiveness", from an 1887 edition of Foxe's Book of Martyrs, illustrated by Kronheim.

Image credit (book cover): The Queen's Champion by John Lander

Monday, July 26, 2021

Devotion to St. Anne in Pre-Reformation England

In the Catholic Church, today is the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the maternal grandparents of Jesus Christ (Mary's parents) as named in the Protoevangelicum of St. James. On the 1970 Roman Calendar, they are honored together; on the 1962 Roman Calendar, they are honored separately--St. Anne today and St. Joachim on August 16. In the Church of England, Sts. Anne and Joachim are also commemorated today. In some Eastern Orthodox Churches, St. Anne is honored on September 9th in connection to the birth of the Theotokos (devotion to St. Anne began earlier in the East than in the West).

England developed devotion to St. Anne in the early Middle Ages as this study demonstrates:

By 1300 at least five important English monastic foundations were also claiming to have relics of Anne, and dozens of additional shrines, altars, and chapels had been dedicated to her, both in England and on the Continent.

Liturgical commemorations of Anne in the West seem to have followed a similar course of development, except that monastic houses in England played a more central role. The story of Joachim and Anne received at least passing mention in the liturgy for one of the oldest annual feasts of Mary, the Nativity of the Virgin (September 8 in Western calendars), which was included in the Sacramentary of Gelasius (c. 700) and firmly established in Anglo-Saxon England by the ninth or tenth century. Anne's role tended to take on more importance when an annual feast was added to celebrate the Conception of the Virgin (observed exactly nine months earlier - i.e., December 8). There is good evidence that the Conception was being commemorated at Winchester, Exeter, and Canterbury before the Norman Conquest, and this feast day was revived in the twelfth century through the efforts of Benedictine writers like Eadmer of Canterbury and Anselm of Bury, although it became generally established in England only after 1328 (when it was made obligatory for the whole Province of Canterbury) and was not clearly mandated for the Church as a whole until 1476 (when Pope Sixtus IV confirmed the Council of Basel's ruling on the matter). England also preceded most of the Continent in instituting a separate feast day for Anne herself (July 26). The date traditionally associated with the adoption of this feast is 1382, the year in which Pope Urban VI authorized its celebration throughout England, but it was already being celebrated in the twelfth century in some of the great English monastic churches, most notably those at Worcester and Evesham.

The great flowering of Anne's cult among the laity occurred between about 1300 and the Council of Trent in the mid sixteenth century. By 1540 there were at least 40 medieval churches and chapels under her patronage in England, the majority of which had been dedicated or rededicated to her during the previous two centuries. She also had major shrines at Buxton (Derbyshire) and Wood-Plumpton (Lancashire), and was frequently chosen by prosperous laymen and women as patron saint of their guilds and recipient of special bequests and offerings. As Gail Gibson has shown, such devotion to her seems to have been unusually strong in East Anglia. . . .

Please read the rest there. You may find information about the shrine at Buxton in Derbyshire here.

According to Peter Stiles in the Encylopedia of the Bible and Its Reception vol. 2 published by Walter de Gruyter in Berlin/New York 2009, which I accessed on

John Lydgate (ca. 1370–1451) wrote two poems in honour of St. Anne. A Praise of St. Anne and An Invocation to Seynte Anne are significant contributions to the range of English poems on Anne between the 13th and the early 16th centuries, as are poems by Lydgate’s contemporaries, John Audelay and Osbern Bokenham. Bokenham’s Life of St. Anne is an extensive treatment of her life, one of thirteen the Augustinian friar wrote about female saints. Anne appears in several medieval plays, including the N-Town cycle and the Digby manuscript play of Candelmas Day and the killing of the children of Israel, which is set within the communal celebration of Saint Anne’s Day.

Saint Anne, pray for us!
Saint Joachim, pray for us!
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!

And of course, I can't forget Saint Anne Line! Pray for us!

Image credit (public domain): Icon of St. Anne and the Theotokos (15th Century)

Saturday, July 24, 2021

St. John Boste, the Mass, and Psalms 114 and 42

I apologize for the lack of blogging (if anyone noticed!) but I've not been feeling well this week. 

Also, I admit that the Motu Proprio Pope Francis issued last Friday really shocked me as it has many who love the Traditional Latin Mass of the centuries (just as I love the Novus Ordo, the Sacrifice of the Mass I've attended most of life as a Catholic)--particularly because so many of the priest-martyrs of the English Reformation from the Elizabethan era forward celebrated essentially this form of the Mass, having learned it in Rome, and Prague, Rheims, Douai, Vallidolid, after Pope St. Pius V promulgated the 1570 Roman Missal. 

One of those priests suffered horrendous torture and martyrdom on July 24, 1594: Saint John Boste. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

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.  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.

You may read about the intensive search for Father John Boste here in John Hungerford Pollen's edition of Unpublished Documents Relating to the English Martyrs, published by the Catholic Record Society in 1908, starting on page 63. You might notice that one of those questioned during the search for John Boste was his brother Lancelot who had a copy of a document written by Blessed William Hart, executed in 1583! 

Another website points out that Saint John Boste was dedicated to celebrating the Mass as the center of his mission to Catholics during the 12 years of his service:

He travelled widely in the northern counties, and he and anyone sheltering him, indeed anyone just hearing Mass, risked death. Nevertheless he maintained his ministry for 12 years, which was a tribute both to his stamina and his faith, for most of his fellow priests were taken within days of landing in Britain. It was said of him that 'if he missed to say Mass one day, it was not his will'.

It further states:

Months of cruel imprisonment in the Tower of London followed. He was racked 17 times, but betrayed no one, and he persisted in his devotion to the Mass.

As the West Durham Catholic Parishes blog notes, Father Boste openly admitted his priesthood at his trial, while emphasizing that being priest did not mean he was a traitor or plotter against Elizabeth I in anyway:

“I am a priest of the holy Catholic church: and I came, though unworthy, according to St. Paul, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, whereof I am not ashamed, and to administer the sacraments to my beloved countrymen….. All this I needs must confess, and I am not ashamed of it, but do greatly rejoice that I have done so.” He denied working to politically undermine the queen, saying: “My function is to invade souls, not to meddle in temporal invasions”.

In addition to praying the Angelus (his execution was thus at about 6:00 p.m.), St. John Boste prayed Psalm 114:

Dilexi. The prayer of a just man in affliction, with a lively confidence in God. Alleluia.

I have loved, because the Lord will hear the voice of my prayer.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me: and in my days I will call upon him. 
The sorrows of death have encompassed me: and the perils of hell have found me. I met with trouble and sorrow: 
And I called upon the name of the Lord. O Lord, deliver my soul. 
The Lord is merciful and just, and our God sheweth mercy.

The Lord is the keeper of little ones: I was little and he delivered me. 
Turn, O my soul, into thy rest: for the Lord hath been bountiful to thee. 
For he hath delivered my soul from death: my eyes from tears, my feet from falling. 
I will please the Lord in the land of the living.

It's impossible for me to read that psalm and not think of Psalm 42, prayed by the priest, the servers, and the congregation (in pecto) at the beginning of the Mass of the 1962 Roman Missal:

Judica me, Deus. The prophet aspireth after the temple and altar of God.
A psalm for David. 

Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. 
For thou art God my strength: why hast thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me? 
Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles. 
And I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth. 
To thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?
Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

Praying that psalm at the two Traditional Latin Masses I've attended since Friday, July 16 (I wanted to attend a third but had to leave just as Mass started because I felt ill), helped me again understand and accept that God is always Good and He loves me.

Most Precious Blood of Jesus, save us!
Saint John Boste, pray for us!

Friday, July 16, 2021

Preview: One of 29 Venerable English Martyrs on the Son Rise Morning Show

In 1886, Pope Leo XIII beatified 54 martyrs, including Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher, later canonized in 1935, and 11 others who were canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI; he also declared 29 English Catholic martyrs to be Venerable (several of these martyrs had died in chains, that is, is prison or because of their treatment in prison). These Venerable Martyrs were not included among those beatified in 1895, 1929, or 1987. 

The stages of a Cause for Canonization in the Catholic Church are indicated by the title granted the proposed saint along the way: 1) Servant of God; 2) Venerable; 3) Blessed; and 4) Saint. For example, Archbishop Sheen is still at the Venerable, although the miracle needed for his Beatification was approved a couple of years ago; Chaplain Emil Kapaun of my home diocese is a Servant of God.

On Monday, July 19, I'll tell the story of one of these martyrs, the Observant Franciscan, Venerable Anthony Brookby, on the Son Rise Morning Show--at my usual time, 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern. Please listen live here on EWTN Radio's website or on your local EWTN radio affiliate.

Venerable Anthony Brookby was strangled to death, secretly in prison, 484 years ago on July 19, 1537 after enduring horrible torture in Newgate Prison. He had been Professor of Divinity at Magdalen College, Oxford, teaching theology and well-versed in Latin, Greek and Hebrew (signs that he was a Christian humanist in the mold of Bishop John Fisher, Erasmus, More and others). So how did he end up a martyr? Because he, like others in his house, opposed Henry VIII's actions in the King's Great Matter--and he remonstrated with Henry publicly in his sermons.

The Observant Franciscans had one of their friaries next door to the Tudor palace on the Thames, the Palace of Placentia, also known as Greenwich Palace (pictured above), now the location of the Royal Navy College and the Greenwich Observatory (up the hill!) Their chapel served almost as the Royal parish although there was a chapel in the palace, some ruins of which were discovered in 2005:

The friars' church was used for royal baptisms and marriages. Henry VIII was christened probably in this church (1491), and certainly his brother Edmund (1498). The marriage of Henry and Catherine took place at Greenwich, probably in the friars' church (1509). The Princess Mary was christened here 20 February, 1515-16, and the Princess Elizabeth 8 September, 1533.

Henry VIII admired the Observant Friars at Greenwich as much as he admired Bishop John Fisher (which we know didn't mean much once Henry had a certain goal in mind!):

Henry VIII, in 1513, wrote from his palace of Greenwich to Leo X that he could not sufficiently commend the Observant Friars' strict adherence to poverty, their sincerity, charity and devotion. No Order battled more assiduously against vice, and none were more active in keeping Christ's fold.

Remember that it was Pope Leo X who named Henry VIII "Defender of the Faith" in 1521 after the king wrote his book defending the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church against Martin Luther's teachings.

When the validity of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon first became an issue, the Observant Franciscans were all on her side, that is, convinced that their Sacramental Marriage was valid and the papal dispensation issued by Pope Julius II in 1503 proved it. One of the friars even preached against the king's desire to have that marriage declared null in Henry's--and Anne Boleyn's--presence at Greenwich in 1532 (on Easter Sunday)!

Therefore, Henry VIII really wanted to force the Observant Friars to accept his new queen and title as Supreme Head and Governor of the Church in England in 1534:

On 15 June the visitors tried to induce the Greenwich friars to adopt the same procedure [to entrust the decision for all the friars to the decision of a few friars], 'specially to the intent that if the discreets should refuse to consent, it were better after our minds to strain a few than a multitude.' The friars, however, 'stiffly affirmed that where the matter concerned particularly every one of their souls, they would answer particularly every man for himself.' After further discussion, the visitors were compelled to examine each friar separately, and each refused to accept the articles, especially that which denied the papal authority. In answer to all the arguments of the visitors they declared that 'they had professed St. Francis' religion, and in the observance thereof they would live and die.'

Reaction was swift to that refusal:

On 17 June two cart-loads of friars drove through London to the Tower, (fn. 52) and it is possible that some of the Greenwich Observants were among them. On or before 11 August the friars were expelled from their convent (fn. 53) (though they seem to have made some kind of submission (fn. 54) ) and distributed in different places, generally in houses of the Grey Friars, where, wrote Chapuys to Charles V, 'they were locked up in chains and treated worse than they could be in prison.' (fn. 55) Some, such as John Forest, were actually in prison in London. (fn. 56) Two of them, inclosed in a poor lodging at the Grey Friars, Stamford, and treated as prisoners, were ' in meetly good case as the world at this time requireth,' and sent to London for their little belongings, including a new Psalter, a pair of socks, a penner and inkhorn. (fn. 57) But the severity of their treatment is shown by the fact that out of 140 Observant Friars thirty-one soon died, (fn. 58) and this does not account for all the deaths. Thomas Bourchier, who was a member of the Greenwich friary in the reign of Mary, gives details of several martyrdoms which probably belong to this time, though the writer assigns them to 1537. (fn. 59) On 19 July Anthony Brdrbe [Brookby], formerly of Magdalen College, Oxford, a distinguished scholar, who had been imprisoned and tortured to such an extent that ' for twenty-five days he could not turn in bed or lift his hands to his mouth,' was strangled with his own cord. (fn. 60) On 27 July Thomas Cortt, who had been imprisoned for a sermon against the king in the church of St. Lawrence, London, died in Newgate. (fn. 61) On 3 August Thomas Belchiam, a young priest, who had composed a book against the king, one copy of which he left in the hands of his brethren at Greenwich, died of starvation in Newgate. (fn. 62) No mention of these three friars occurs in extant contemporary authorities, but Bourchier's account representing the tradition of the Order is probably substantially correct, though the names may be misspelt.

The secrecy of their imprisonment, torture, and deaths reminds me of the sufferings several of the Carthusians endured, harassed for a time and then imprisoned and left to die of dehydration and starvation. 

Venerable Anthony Brookby and others among the Observant Franciscans suffered and died because, as Henry VIII himself had said, they were "active in keeping Christ's fold", urging him not to divide the Church and set himself up as the Caesar-Pope of England and calling on him to repent and return to the Church and his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. They were bold and brave!

Venerable Anthony Brookby, pray for us!

Image Credit (public domain): A sketch of Greenwich Palace, published in The Gentleman's Magazine in 1840 (earlier published by W. Bristow in 1797)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

July 14: "National Apostasy" and John Keble

In the Church of England, today is the feast day of John Keble, Tractarian, pastor, and poet. He was born on April 25, 1792 and died on March 29, 1866--so obviously his feast is not celebrated on the date of his death. The date chosen for his memorial in the Church of England is the anniversary of his "National Apostasy" sermon, delivered in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in 1833. John Henry Newman always considered that date the beginning of the Oxford Movement. As this biography on the Project Canterbury website describes that event:

The text of the sermon was i Sam. xii. 23: 'As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.' The preacher's aim was to draw public attention to the grave and pressing dangers that threatened the Church both from State interference with her liberties, and from the widespread decay of religious convictions. At such a time it was the duty of all who valued the cause of the Apostolic Church to devote themselves to its defence. 'Surely,' said the preacher, 'it will be no unworthy principle if any man is more circumspect in his behaviour, more watchful and fearful of himself, more earnest in his petitions for spiritual aid, from a dread of disparaging the holy name of the English Church in her hour of peril, by his own personal fault and negligence. . . . There may be, as far as he knows, but a very few to sympathize with him. He may have to wait long, and very likely pass out of this world, before he see any abatement in the triumph of disorder and irreligion. But if he be consistent, he possesses to the utmost the personal consolations of a good Christian; and as a true Churchman, he has the encouragement which no other cause in the world can impart in the same degree; he is calmly, soberly, demonstrably sure that, sooner or later, his will be the winning side, and that the victory will be complete, universal, eternal.'

The sermon was published on July 22, under the title National Apostasy. It does not seem to have excited much attention at the time. One of the two judges before whom it was preached is said to have remarked that it was 'an appropriate discourse.' Dr. Pusey, we are told, considered 'some passages rather too pointed.' But there were others who had a truer realization of its significance. To Newman's judgment, already quoted, may be added the words of Dr. J. B. Mozley, one of the ablest of the Tractarians, and one of the deepest thinkers of his time: 'I cannot help thinking it a kind of exordium of a great revolution--shall I call it?--coming on, whether rapidly or slowly we cannot tell, but at any rate most surely.'

Mozley's comment about "a great revolution" matches one of the other great historical events we remember this day: the Storming of the Bastille in 1789, usually identified as the beginning of the French Revolution--Bastille Day.

In Chapter 1 of the Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Newman remembers his high regard for Keble:

The true and primary author of it, however, as is usual with great motive-powers, was out of sight. Having carried off as a mere boy the highest honours of the University, he had turned from the admiration which haunted his steps, and sought for a better and holier satisfaction in pastoral work in the country. Need I say that I am speaking of John Keble? The first time that I was in a room with him was on occasion of my election to a fellowship at Oriel, when I was sent for into the Tower, to shake hands with the Provost and Fellows. How is that hour fixed in my memory after the changes of forty-two years, forty-two this very day on which I write! I have lately had a letter in my hands, which I sent at the time to my great friend, John William Bowden, with whom I passed almost exclusively my Under-graduate years. "I had to hasten to the Tower," I say to him, "to receive the congratulations of all the Fellows. I bore it till Keble took my hand, and then felt so abashed and unworthy of the honour done me, that I seemed desirous of quite sinking into the ground." His had been the first name which I had heard spoken of, with reverence rather than admiration, when I came up to Oxford. When one day I was walking in High Street with my dear earliest friend just mentioned, with what eagerness did he cry out, "There's Keble!" and with what awe did I look at him! Then at another time I heard a Master of Arts of my college give an account how he had just then had occasion to introduce himself on some business to Keble, and how gentle, courteous, and unaffected Keble had been, so as almost to put him out of countenance. Then too it was reported, truly or falsely, how a rising man of brilliant reputation, the present Dean of St. Paul's, Dr. Milman, admired and loved him, adding, that somehow he was strangely unlike any one else. However, at the time when I was elected Fellow of Oriel he was not in residence, and he was shy of me for years in consequence of the marks which I bore upon me of the evangelical and liberal schools. At least so I have ever thought. Hurrell Froude brought us together about 1828: it is one of the sayings preserved in his Remains,—"Do you know the story of the murderer who had done one good thing in his life? Well; if I was ever asked what good deed I had ever done, I should say that I had brought Keble and Newman to understand each other."

Newman continued to hold Keble in high regard, even after his conversion: In Newman and His Contemporaries, Edward Short quotes a letter Newman wrote to his sister Jemima as he considered becoming an Oratorian that he thought St. Philip Neri and John Keble very similar. The saint and his erstwhile friend shared the same "extreme hatred of humbug, playfulness [Keble and Neri were playful], nay, oddity, tender love for others, and severity" (p. 65). Keble could have become the kind of saint that Neri was, Newman thought. Based on his love and admiration to Neri that is high praise indeed.

After Newman left the Oxford Movement, Oxford, and the Church of England and became a Catholic on October 9, 1845, Newman and Keble did not see each other for years. As this EWTN document notes:

Newman called to see Keble in his vicarage at Hursely on September 12, 1865. They did not recognize each other. "How mysterious that first sight of friends is! For when I came to contemplate him, it was the old face and manner, but the first effect and impression was different."1 Newman was taken aback to discover that Pusey was also paying a visit. "As we three sat together at one table, I had as painful thoughts as ever I recollect, though it was pain, not acute, but heavy. There were three old men, who had worked vigorously in their prime."

Until Keble died, Newman hoped that he would join him in the "one true fold of Christ", the Catholic Church. Newman believed that Keble had many tendencies toward the Catholic Church: his piety, devotion to Mary and the saints, his liturgical and Sacramental emphasis, his desire for apostolic authority--but Keble remained in the Church of England, to Newman's pain and sorrow.

Image Credit (Public Domain): Portrait of John Keble

Thomas Wolsey's Predecessor at York: Christopher Cardinal Bainbridge, RIP

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Christopher Cardinal Bainbridge, Henry VIII's man in Rome and Thomas Wolsey's predecessor in the Archdiocese of York, died on this date in 1514:

Archbishop of York, and Cardinal, b. at Hilton, near Appleby, in Westmoreland, probably 1464; d. at Rome, 14 July, 1514. He proceeded to Oxford, entering Queen's College, of which he became provost in or before 1495, being about that time admitted LL.D.; he became later a liberal benefactor to his college. He held a number of benefices, including the treasurership of the Diocese of London, on Henry VII's presentation, and Master of the Rolls, a post he held till his elevation to the See of Durham, which took place in 1507, nominated thereto by the king, who restored the temporalities of the see to him. He was consecrated on 12 December. This see he held but a short while, being translated to York the next year by a papal Bull dated 20 September, 1508. In 1509 he was sent by Henry VIII as his ambassador to Rome. Julius II created him a cardinal on 10 March, 1511, giving him the title of St. Praxedis, in reward for negotiating Henry's adherence to the pope as against France, for which country he felt a strong antipathy all his life. As cardinal he was commissioned by Julius to lead a military expedition against Ferrara, which he successfully besieged. He endeavoured to secure from Pope Leo X the bestowal on Henry of the title of "Most Christian King" which Louis of France had forfeited by waging war against the pope; but the peace of 1514 made this project abortive. Bainbridge was poisoned by an Italian priest named Rinaldo de Modena, who acted as his steward or bursar, in revenge for a blow which the cardinal, a man of violent temper, had given him. It was hinted that the crime was perpetrated at the instigation of Silvestri de Gigli, Bishop of Worcester, the resident English ambassador at Rome, but de Giglis exonerated himself. Bainbridge was buried in the English Hospice, now known as the English College, Rome. He was a stout upholder of Henry's interests at the Curia.

According to the blog of the Archives of the Venerable English College in Rome:

Bainbridge had other responsibilities. Most notably, for our purposes, he acted as Warden of the English Hospice from 1510, though his trusty secretaries William Burbanke and Richard Pace (c.1483–1536) did much of the day-to-day work. He served in the Roman Rota, the papal court of appeal, and in 1513 became Cardinal Protector of the Cistercian Order.

Dr. Nicholas Schofield offers some insights into the circumstances of his death:

Accounts differ as to the motivation of this crime: some say that Rinaldo was seeking revenge after the cardinal had struck him during an argument, others that he was hired by Gigli. Such rivals had much to gain from the cardinal’s demise: Gigli replaced him as Warden of the Hospice and Wolsey as Cardinal Archbishop of York.

Bainbridge’s Requiem was celebrated in the Hospice chapel, where he was buried; initially his splendid tomb was placed before the High Altar before being moved to the side. It has experienced the ravages of time – when Nicholas Wiseman first saw the chapel in 1818, he described the richly effigied tomb as ‘shattered and defaced’. Its presence takes us back to the days of the Hospice, when the Catholic King of England sent a prelate as his Ambassador to Rome.

The Hospice was ransacked during Charles V's siege of Rome and after Henry VIII's break from Rome was no longer the English Hospice at all. As the VEC History explains:

By the time of the Reformation, the Hospice was badly run and in decline. Church authorities decided to turn it into a seminary. The first six students came from Douai in 1577 and attended lectures at the Jesuit-run Collegio Romano, precursor of the Gregorian University. The following year all the students signed the Missionary Oath in the Liber Ruber, the historic book which to this day records the names and details of every student in the College. The first to sign was St Ralph Sherwin, who swore to return to England “hodie quam cras” (today rather than tomorrow). Pope Gregory XIII issued the bull of foundation of the English College on 1 May 1579, celebrated as Founders’ Day. But the new College got off to a shaky start with acerbic disputes between students and the College authorities which were in time resolved.

Bainbridge’s story also reminds us of a time when Italian priests served as bishops for England. Silvestri de Gigli succeeded his uncle Giovanni de Gigli as Bishop of Worcester in 1498; when Silvestri died in 1521, Girolamo De Ghinucci succeeded him in 1522 and was deprived of his bishopric in 1535 by Henry VIII. For a time, the future Pope Clement VII (Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici) served as apostolic administrator between Gigli and Ghinucci. Hugh Latimer replaced Ghinucci as Henry VIII's choice.

Image Credit (public domain): a 19th century portrait of Bainbridge by  G. Francisi.

Monday, July 12, 2021

John Finnis and Shakespeare and Catholicism

After posting about Dr. Neil Younger's article about Catholics and crypto-Catholics in Elizabeth I's regime, I found several presentations by Professor John Finnis about Shakespeare's connection to one of those Catholics in both Elizabeth's and James I's reign: Edward Somerset, the 4th Earl of Worcester, whom Elizabeth said had "reconciled what she believed impossible, a stiff papist to a good subject." Finnis and his frequent collaborator in these Shakespeare and Catholicism researches, Patrick H. Martin, identifies Worcester, and Worcester's secretary William Sterrell, as important figures in the Appellant controversy, an attempt to procure some leniency for Catholics in exchange for a vow against certain powers of the pope to depose monarchs, and Worcester specifically as a patron of two plays, A Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It.

In October of 2010, he presented three lectures on "Shakespeare's Patriotic Resistance" at Princeton University in the Charles E. Test Distinguished Lecture Series and you may find those lectures here, with the general thesis that we may find Shakespeare's arguments for the overthrow of the Tudor or Stuart regime because they are not fit to rule--in spite of their claims to rule based on their legitimate succession--and should be replaced that rulers who are fit to rule, as Richmond (Henry VII) replaced Richard III and Bolingbroke (Henry IV) replaced Richard II. Both usurpations were dramatized by Shakespeare.

In 2012, he spoke on Australian ABC's "Philosopher's Zone" on "Shakespeare, Identity, and Religion": Listen to that conversation with David Rutledge here.

In 2014, he spoke in the Catholic Culture Series at the University of Notre Dame on "Shakespeare and the Four Last Things":

The series began with an illuminating lecture by renowned professor of law and Center research fellow John Finnis on “Shakespeare and the Four Last Things,” where he examined Catholic themes in Richard III, Henry VIII, and the poem “The Phoenix and the Turtle.” While English Catholics of Shakespeare’s day were persecuted for their faith, Finnis argued that Shakespeare still managed to raise several theological and ethical questions in his work that were unique to Catholics at the time. In Richard III, for example, Shakespeare presents a world where one’s personal judgment corresponds to the divine judgment after death—an idea contrary to the Calvinistic view of predestination. “Conscience is massively a part of the Catholic self-understanding of the world,” Finnis argued. Meanwhile, in “The Phoenix and the Turtle,” Shakespeare calls for prayer for the dead birds of the title—figures that represented prominent Catholic martyrs of the time. Finnis concluded that, viewed through the lens of Shakespeare’s contemporary Catholic audience, one can see these Catholic values clearly at work in his writing.

You may find that presentation here.

Professor John Finnis has had a remarkable academic career, as noted at the website for Princeton presentations

John M. Finnis is Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford, Biolchini Family Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, and adjunct Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Known for his work in moral, political and legal theory, as well as constitutional law, Professor Finnis teaches courses in Jurisprudence, in the Social, Political, and Legal Theory of Thomas Aquinas, and in the Social, Political and Legal Theory of Shakespeare. He joined the Notre Dame Law School faculty in 1995. He has served as associate in law at the University of California at Berkeley (1965-66), as professor of law at the University of Malawi (Africa) (1976-78), and as the Huber Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the Boston College Law School (1993-94). He is admitted to the English Bar (Gray’s Inn). His service has included the Linacre Centre for Health Care Ethics (governor since 1981), the Catholic Bishops’ Joint Committee on Bioethical Issues (1981-88), the International Theological Commission (1986-92), the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (1990-95), and the Pontifical Academy Pro Vita (2001- present). He has published widely in law, legal theory, moral and political philosophy, moral theology, and the history of the late Elizabethan era. His published works include Fundamentals of Ethics, Moral Absolutes: Tradition, Revision and Truth, and Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory. A five-volume edition of The Collected Essays of John Finnis will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2011. At that time, the second edition of his widely heralded book Natural Law and Natural Rights will be released, also by Oxford University Press. He earned his LL.B. from Adelaide University in 1961 and his doctorate from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar in 1965.

Fascinating, if complicated and rather repetitive (the same tropes of the "Phoenix and the Turtle", William Sterrill's activity, etc come up in nearly each set of presentations) material, offered for your consideration.

Image Credit (Public Domain): Portrait of Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester signed "Gilbertus Jackson" and dated 1621.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Book Review: Pope Benedict XVI and the Benedict Option

Our Eighth Day Institute (EDI) has worked several times with Rod Dreher, who has also praised the glories of Eighth Day Books here in Wichita. He's the author of The Benedict Option and Live Not By Lies. He appreciates the small community spirit of EDI and our efforts toward "the renewal of culture through faith and learning." Thinking about his encouragement to Christians to nurture our faith and culture in small communities (like our parishes, for example?) led me to purchase and read this book (also recommended by a good friend), published by Wipf & Stock's Pickwick Publications:

How ought the church respond to the rise of a post-Christian secular age? Should it retreat? What is the mission of the church in this context? Joseph Ratzinger's eucharistic ecclesiology provides a model for living the relation between communion and mission, a model that provides a sound image for conceiving of and imagining the church's engagement with modernity and the embodiment of missionary communion. Ratzinger's vision, deeply influenced by St. Benedict's and St. Augustine's responses to the problems of their day, offers a theologically and liturgically grounded vision of missionary communion that transcends politics. In light of our creation by, from, and for the triune God, authentic responses to the present dis-integration of reason and community require the witness and invitation of the church as a community for the world. Ratzinger argues that right worship can and does habituate Christians and equip churches to respond to the existential questions confronting modern persons, many of whom seem partially paralyzed by the anxieties of life without truth and communion. Might the witness of communion for mission lived by the new ecclesial movements, especially the Focolare, offer an example of how Ratzinger's creative minorities can successfully evangelize this secular age?

I am not a theologian; I'm just an adult educated and formed Catholic who admires Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, so I admit I had to look up words and transcribe some Greek, etc. I was interested in Ratzinger's response to the Second Vatican Council and its implementation, especially in his doubts about Gaudium et Spes, which George Weigel also analyzed in his The Irony of Modern Catholic History as being perhaps too optimistic about how the Catholic Church and the modern world of the 1960's could get along together for the common good and evangelization. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI had been there during the meetings of the Second Vatican Council. He based his view of the mission of the Church to evangelize in the Modern World on his theological studies of the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, Christology (the Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity), and Ecclesiology and the Eucharist. Brumfield proposes that Pope Benedict thinks that smaller movements, "creative minorities" will do more for the Church's mission of evangelization than relying upon large-scale programs and processes.

Like Alasdair MacIntyre in the oft-quoted conclusion of After Virtue, Pope Benedict XVI looks for another, perhaps not so different, Saint Benedict of Nursia, who will retire from the world to learn the founding principles and the Good News of the Kingdom Jesus preached, and which He told the Apostles to share with the world, and then present the Gospel to the community around him. Really, Pope Benedict is looking for many Benedicts, people like Chiara Lubich of Focolare, or the FOCUS missionaries who train and prepare to go to college and university campuses and evangelize or even re-evangelize the Catholic students, etc.

The structure of the book is that after a historical analysis of the historical and metaphysical situation of the Church before and after the Second Vatican Council and Ratzinger's response to it, first Brumfield explains Ratzinger's/Benedict's theology: Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial, Augustinian, Bonaventuran, and Eucharistic, and what that means for evangelization and mission (Parts 1 and 2). Then he examines criticisms of Benedict's theology by Miroslav Volf, Joseph Komonchak, and Mary Ehle, with response and analysis. Finally, Brumfield demonstrates how Chiara Lubich's "creative minority" the Focolare exemplifies Pope Benedict's view of how these small groups, formed in and by the teachings of Jesus and His Church, enriched and strengthened by the Sacraments and then reaching out to the people around them, exemplifying the Love of Christ in practical, meaningful ways (Part 3)

The weakest part of the book for me--revealing thus my weakness--was the section on the criticisms from the three theologians listed above. I don't know their works but trusted Brumfield's presentation of their commentaries. They almost seemed to me to be taking certain teachings out of context and disagreeing with Benedict to disagree--especially when Brumfield responds to them.

I found this a rewarding and challenging book to read.

Table of Contents (with subtitles)


Part 1
1. From Metaphysics to Modernity
    1.1 From Metaphysics to Facts, and from Facts to Progress
    1.2 An Anti-Modern Modern Church
    1.3 The Council's Response: Coming Out of the Ghetto
2. Post-Conciliar Crisis and Ratzinger's Response
    2.1 The Controversy of Gaudium et Spes
    2.2 Ratzinger and the Analogy of Being
        2.2.1 Early Influences: Przywara; Sohngen: Bonaventure as Klassiker der Analogia Fidei; The Role of Bonaventure: Ratzinger's HabilitationRatzinger in the Festschrift
        2.2.2 Ratzinger's Appraisal of Gaudium et Spes: Post-Conciliar Crisis; Analogia Entis and Analogia Fidei; Logos and Dialogos
        2.2.3 Towards a Life in Communion and for the World

Part 2
3. Being as Relation: Communion in the Trinity
    3.1 The Divine "Communio Personarum"
        3.1.1 The Son of the Father
        3.1.2 The Spirit of Love
    3.2 Person as Relation
        3.2.1 Divine Personhood
        3.2.2 Divine Persons and Human Persons
4. Communio Ecclesiology
    4.1 Origins of the Church
        4.1.1 What the Church is Not
        4.1.2 Jesus and the Church
    4.2 The Church as the Body of Christ
        4.2.1 Communion in the Incarnate Son
        4.2.2 The Eucharist Makes the Church
        4.2.3 Eucharist and Episcopacy
5. Eucharist and Mission
    5.1 Communion and Mission
        5.1.1 Abrahamic Origins
        5.1.2 Gathered around Jesus and Sent by Jesus
        5.1.3 Communion is Missionary
    5.2 Liturgy and Mission in Ratzinger
        5.2.1 Worship in the Old Covenant
        5.2.2 Jesus and the New Worship
    5.3 Becoming Eucharist

Part 3
6. Questions and Critiques
    6.1 [Miroslav] Volf's Critique: The Ecclesiological Implications of Person as Relation
        6.1.1 Volf's Trinitarian Approach
        6.1.2 Volf's Personal Problem
        6.1.3 Volf on Ratzinger's Christological Anthropology
    6.2 [Joseph] Komonchak's Critique
        6.2.1 Komonchak's  Ecclesiological Method
        6.2.2 Komonchak: Local Church and Church Catholic
        6.2.3 Ratzinger's Neglect of the Humanity of the Church
    6.3 [Mary] Ehle's Missiological Critique
        6.3.1 Ehle's Perspective
        6.3.2 Ehle of Ratzinger's Mission of Communion
    6.4 Summary of the Critiques
7. Response and Analysis
    7.1. [Ralph] Del Colle's Trinitarian Response
        7.1.1 The Dominance of the One or the Agency of the Three?
        7.1.2 The Role of the Spirit in Ratzinger's Christology
    7.2 Ratzinger's Intercultural Ecclesiality
        7.2.1 Coming to Terms with "Culture"
        7.2.2 Church: Not a Naked Faith and Not a Classical Cultural Agent
    7.3 An Embodied Communion and a Performance of Caritas
        7.3.1 Ratzinger's Augustianism and Embodied Ecclesiology
        7.3.2 Concrete Love in Ratzinger's Mission of Communion
8. Communion and Mission Made Concrete in the Movements
    8.1 The Need for Concrete Communion
    8.2 Communion and Mission Embodied in the Movements
    8.3 The Example of the Focolare
        8.3.1 Chiara Lubich and the Focolare: Concrete Unity
        8.3.2 Lubich and Ratzinger: Jesus in the Midst as Concrete Communion for Missions: Unity Modeled After the Trinity; The Ecclesiological Dimension of Jesus in Our Midst; Jesus in Our Midst and the Mission of the Church
        8.3.3 The Concrete Effects of a Mission that Flows from Unity: Recognition of the Evangelical Effectiveness of Unity in the Movements; [Living Sacrifice] (in Greek) and the Cry of Jesus Crucified and Forsaken
9. Conclusion

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Protestants, Puritans, Catholics, and Crypto-Catholics at Elizabeth I's Court

I found this article, by Dr. Neil Younger, Lecturer in History at the Open University, most fascinating for the questions he raises about Queen Elizabeth I's regime and the officials she consulted with throughout her reign. "How Protestant was the Elizabethan Regime?" was published in The English Historical Review, Volume 133, Issue 564, October 2018, pages 1060–1092, and is available now (free) for download as a .pdf:

Recent historiography on the Elizabethan regime has argued that it was strongly dominated by convinced Protestants, most prominently Lord Burghley, the earl of Leicester and Sir Francis Walsingham. This article argues that this consensus glosses over many important political figures whose religion was much more conservative, who were often sympathetic to Catholics and in several cases were probably essentially Catholic themselves. These individuals, although prominent at the time, have been seriously neglected by historians, often because of the nature of the archival record. The article surveys the prominence of such men throughout the reign, examining their religious inclinations. It goes on to assess the extent of their influence on the politics of the period, arguing that they were capable of mounting major political initiatives, and indeed scored several important successes against more strongly Protestant policies. Likewise, it argues that very often forward Protestant policies met with failure, in which the conservatives’ influence can often be detected. Finally, it discusses some of the consequences of these findings, proposing a more complex picture of Elizabethan politics, in which religious division and indeed conflict was a significant factor, and arguing that the Elizabethan regime should therefore be seen as a much less united and univocal entity than is often assumed.

Younger describes the accepted historiography of Queen Elizabeth's council and councilors, identifies the Catholic and Protestant factions throughout her reign, their major issues and projects, whether they succeeded or failed, and provides examples of those Elizabeth kept at her Court in spite of their Catholic associations. 

For instance, he points out that Sir John Fortescue, pictured above, was "a fixture at court throughout the reign. . . . He was the son of Sir Adrian Fortescue, executed in 1539 and regarded as a Catholic martyr, and the stepson of Thomas Parry. Sir John conformed, but Catholicism remained strong within his family. His brother Anthony was convicted of high treason for engaging in Catholic conspiracies against Elizabeth, and later went into exile. John Fortescue sent his sons to the strongly Catholic-leaning Gloucester Hall, Oxford; one of them, Francis, ‘declared himself a Catholic’, sheltered a Jesuit at his house and had links with the Gunpowder plotters. Two of Sir John’s grand-daughters became nuns in the Spanish Netherlands."

Younger points out some even more interesting connections to Catholic priests, Catholic plots and plotters in the life and career of Sir Christopher Hatton, Elizabeth I's "mouton"!

I appreciated the narrative and the distinctions Younger makes throughout the article. But the most intriguing question comes near the end:

There are also a number of important broader consequences relating to the religious climate within England as a whole. If there were defenders (or non-persecutors) of Catholics at the highest level, this changes our picture of the condition of English Catholicism. The tendency has sometimes been to see Catholics as powerless victims of the regime, yet their ability to call upon support from privy councillors and other powerful people qualifies this. We can see Catholics or their representatives as political actors, not merely as oppositional commentators or hapless victims of state oppression. Such a reframing also contributes towards a more sophisticated analysis of the important and neglected question of how and why it was that some Catholics suffered terribly under Elizabeth, while others survived and prospered.

Why indeed? Is it just a matter of the degree to which some Catholics compromised? or some Catholics refused to compromise? Was it the service they provided and their personal demonstrations of loyalty to the Queen that made the difference? These are good questions.

If you are interested in the article, I encourage you to access it and download it as soon as possible--who knows when it will go behind the paywall!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Preview: Praying for the Intercession of St. Thomas More on the Son Rise Morning Show

Today, July 5, is the anniversary of St. Thomas More writing to his daughter Margaret as he prepared for death, he hoped, on the next day:

I cumber you, good Margaret, much, but I would be sorry, if it should be any longer than tomorrow, for it is Saint Thomas' Even and the Utes [Octave] of Saint Peter and therefore tomorrow long I to go to God, it were a day very meet and convenient for me.

He also commended her for her display of affection after his trial on July 1:

I never liked your manner toward me better than when you kissed me last for I love when daughterly love and dear charity hath not leisure to look to worldly courtesy.

Fare well my dear child and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends that we may merrily meet in heaven. I thank you for your great cost.

Tomorrow, on the 486th anniversary of his beheading on Tower Hill, I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at 6:20 a.m. Central/7:20 a.m. Eastern (a little earlier than my usual time), probably with Anna Mitchell to discuss St. Thomas More as an intercessor and patron. You may listen live here on EWTN or on your local EWTN affiliate. UPDATE: I'll be on the air later in the hour: at about 6:50 a.m. Central/7:50 a.m. Eastern!!

This is the fulfillment of the plan I announced two weeks ago:

I've also been preparing for their feast by arranging a couple of interviews on the Son Rise Morning Show--one on St. John Fisher tomorrow June 22, on their shared feast (the anniversary of his martyrdom in 1535) and one on St. Thomas More on July 6, the anniversary of his martyrdom the same year. We're going to focus on each of them, not just as the great models of faithfulness they were on earth, but also on their heavenly role as intercessors.

Unlike St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More has been considered, officially and unofficially, the patron saint and intercessor for several groups. (I say unlike St. John Fisher because the only patronage I found listed for him is the Diocese of Rochester in England, which is a Church of England diocese and therefore I doubt that designation!)

St. Thomas More is the patron saint of adopted children, civil servants, court clerks, lawyers, politicians, stepparents, and widowers. These patronages reflect his dedication to both family and the service of the government.

More was not an adopted child, of course, but in addition to the four children he had with his first wife, he adopted his second wife's daughter and brought two other girls into his household, one of whom (Anne Cresacre) married his son John, and other (Margaret Giggs) married the family's tutor, Giles Heron, as this website explains:

In 1505, St. Thomas More married Jane Colt. Theirs was a happy marriage, but it came to an early end when she died six years later. Their marriage had produced four children.

To the surprise of many among his friends and family, St. Thomas More quickly remarried after the death of his first wife. Within 30 days he was wedded again, to a wealthy widow named Alice Middleton. He was of the strong opinion that his children needed a mother to care for them. Many disliked Alice, but, nonetheless, St. Thomas More’s friend and fellow Renaissance man Erasmus of Rotterdam described the marriage as a happy one.

St. Thomas More also opened his home to three other young girls as well. In addition to Alice’s daughter from her first marriage, St. Thomas More became a foster father to two other girls, including Margaret Giggs — the only member of his family present at his execution. 

Thus his patronage of adopted children and stepparents. Although he did remarry soon after Jane's death--to provide his young children with a stepmother, he is an appropriate patron for widowers.

On October 31, 2000, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter Issued Motu Proprio Proclaiming St. Thomas More Patron of Statesmen and Politicians. In Latin, the title is E SANCTI THOMAE MORI:

There are many reasons for proclaiming Thomas More Patron of statesmen and people in public life. Among these is the need felt by the world of politics and public administration for credible role models able to indicate the path of truth at a time in history when difficult challenges and crucial responsibilities are increasing. Today in fact strongly innovative economic forces are reshaping social structures; on the other hand, scientific achievements in the area of biotechnology underline the need to defend human life at all its different stages, while the promises of a new society — successfully presented to a bewildered public opinion — urgently demand clear political decisions in favour of the family, young people, the elderly and the marginalized.

In this context, it is helpful to turn to the example of Saint Thomas More, who distinguished himself by his constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions precisely in his intention to serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice. His life teaches us that government is above all an exercise of virtue. Unwavering in this rigorous moral stance, this English statesman placed his own public activity at the service of the person, especially if that person was weak or poor; he dealt with social controversies with a superb sense of fairness; he was vigorously committed to favouring and defending the family; he supported the all-round education of the young. His profound detachment from honours and wealth, his serene and joyful humility, his balanced knowledge of human nature and of the vanity of success, his certainty of judgement rooted in faith: these all gave him that confident inner strength that sustained him in adversity and in the face of death. His sanctity shone forth in his martyrdom, but it had been prepared by an entire life of work devoted to God and neighbour.

As the patron saint of lawyers, there are several guilds and organizations named for St. Thomas More and one lawyer has written a spiritual guide for lawyers inspired by More (Seeking More: A Catholic Lawyer's Guide Based On The Life And Writings Of Saint Thomas More) while I reviewed a book written by two lawyers (Inside the Mind of Thomas More) for the National Catholic Register just three years ago. Here is a prayer of intercession to Thomas More for lawyers:

Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints:

Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul.

Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen.

I would offer one more reason to ask St. Thomas More's intercession: praying for the grace to prepare well for a holy and happy death. St. Joseph, of course, is The Patron of a Happy Death, but More used the 14 months he was in the Tower of London to pray, do penance, and meditate on Jesus' Passion in preparation for his own death, either by natural causes or execution. He told Thomas Cromwell during one of their interrogations regarding the Oath of Succession that he had no interest at all in worldly things anymore because he was preparing for death. He wrote one last prayer after his trial and conviction (in the margins of his prayer book). An excerpt:

O glorious God, all sinful fear, all sinful sorrow and pensiveness, all sinful hope, all sinful mirth and gladness take from me. And on the other side, concerning such fear, such sorrow, such heaviness, such comfort, consolation, and gladness as shall be profitable for my soul: Fac mecum secundum magnam bonitatem tuam Domine. [Deal with me according to your great goodness, O Lord. (Psalm 118:124)]

Good Lord, give me the grace, in all my fear and agony, to have recourse to that great fear and wonderful agony that Thou, my sweet Saviour, hadst at the Mount of Olivet before Thy most bitter passion, and in the meditation thereof to conceive ghostly comfort and consolation profitable for my soul.

Almighty God, take from me all vain-glorious minds, all appetites of mine own praise, all envy, covetise, gluttony, sloth, and lechery, all wrathful affections, all appetite of revenging, all desire or delight of other folk's harm, all pleasure in provoking any person to wrath and anger, all delight of exprobation or insultation against any person in their affliction and calamity.

And give me, good Lord, an humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind, tender, and pitiful mind with all my works, and all my words, and all my thoughts, to have a taste of Thy holy, blessed Spirit.

Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity, a love to the good Lord incomparable above the love to myself; and that I love nothing to Thy displeasure, but everything in an order to Thee.

Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with Thee, not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wretched world, nor so much for the avoiding of the pains of purgatory, nor of the pains of hell neither, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of heaven in respect of mine own commodity, as even, for a very love to Thee. . . .


Saint Thomas More, pray for us!

Image Credit (Public Domain): Margaret More Roper and St. Thomas More (John Cassell, from "Cassell's Illustrated History of England, Volume 2", 1865)

Image Credit ((C) Stephanie A. Mann, 2021): Detail of Stained Glass Window in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Colwich, Kansas, taken by +Mark U. Mann, August 20, 2016) All Rights Reserved.