Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Image Source: The English Convent in Bruges, Belgium

On Monday this week on the Son Rise Morning Show, we discussed Father Henry Sebastian Bowden's "Mementoes" for two Catholic Martyrs, Blesseds John Shert and Thomas Ford. I used a portrait of Blessed Thomas Ford on my preview blog post, published on Friday, May 19, which I found on his Wikipedia page. Here's some information about its source, the English Convent in Bruges, Belgium. Professor Francis Young posted some comments on his blog after he visited that site on Carmersstraat 83/85, B-8000 Brugge in August, 2015:

The Priory of Nazareth of the Augustinian Canonesses Regular of St John Lateran, to give it its full title, was founded from St Monica’s Priory in Louvain in 1629 and, with the exception of the colleges for training secular priests at Rome and Valladolid, it is the only English Catholic religious house in Continental Europe, the sole survivor of dozens of communities founded in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries for the sons and daughters of recusants. Virtually all of the communities on the Continent went into ‘exile’ in England in the 1790s, fleeing the French Revolutionary armies (a notable exception was the Benedictine Priory of St Edmund at Douai in France, which was forced out by anti-Catholic laws as late as 1904 and is now located at Woolhampton, Berkshire). The Canonesses of the English Convent were no exception; what was exceptional was that the Bruges community, led by their redoubtable Prioress Mother Mary Augustina More (1732-1807) returned to the Low Countries after the Peace of Amiens in 1802 and have been there ever since.

I encourage you to read the rest of his post, which explains his interest in the community, the location of their exile in England, and of course, the connection to Saint Thomas More, ancestor of Mother Mary Augustina More. She was one of the daughters of Thomas More VIII and Catherine Gifford, a direct descendant in the male line of John More, St. Thomas More's only son. See this list of the descendants of the male and female lines of St. Thomas More and his first wife Joanna (Colt), beginning on page 10 for that generation of Mores.

On the English language version of the convent's website, you'll find a commentary on Saint Thomas More as one of their "Inspirers". On the French version, they cite two other sources of inspiration from the Devotio Moderna tradition, Gerard Grote and Thomas a Kempis.

As the pattern is for these English Catholic nuns in exile after the English Reformation, they had to return to England for refuge during the French Revolution--and were mostly welcomed with some sympathy for their plight. But as Professor Page points out, these nuns returned to the Continent.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Because the staff of the Son Rise Morning Show take the Memorial Day Holiday off, I will not discuss any of Father Henry Sebastian Bowden's "Mementoes" on Monday, May 29. The next Preview Post will be on Friday, June 2 and the next segment on Monday, June 5!

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