Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Belloc and Mary Ward

Anna Mitchell and I will talk about what Hilaire Belloc wrote about James I and Ferdinand II on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning about 7:50 a.m. Eastern/6:50 a.m. Central. 

Whenever I find a Doubleday Image Book (unless I already have a copy of the particular title) I buy it. It's so wonderful to see the list of books published at the back and to read the clear typeface Doubleday used for these inexpensive paperbacks! It'd be great to find a copy of Belloc's Characters with that elegant script title!

By the way, in case you missed it, here's my latest blog post at the National Catholic Register, describing Pope Benedict XVI's personal connection with and great appreciation of Venerable Mary Ward, founder, educator, and recusant Catholic!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Belloc on King James I of England and Emperor Ferdinand II

It's time again to remind you that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show tomorrow with Anna Mitchell to continue our discussion of chapters in Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation. Tomorrow: James I of England and Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor. Listen live here tomorrow a little after 6:45 a.m. Central/7:45 a.m. Eastern.

At the beginning of the chapter on James I, Belloc states:

James I of England struck at the beginning of the seventeenth century the note which was henceforward to affect all modern life so profoundly. That note was the independence of nations — as lay societies — from the moral judgment of the Church. Henry IV of France, his con- temporary, was the symbol (as we saw in the last chapter) of the fact that the Reformation would not be successful in its attempt to overwhelm our civilization. In France, after a furious struggle in which the leaders of the nation had half of them gone Protestant and engaged in fierce civil wars against the other half, the nation as a whole had come down on the right side of the hedge, mainly through the energy of the city of Paris. But in France also the new nationalist spirit was rising, and we shall see later what a height it reached under Louis XIV, Henry IV's grandson, before the end of the century. 

James I of England stands for that nationalist principle which, in the succeeding three hundred years, completely conquered. 

Today, everyone, for the moment, accepts the principle that the nation is sovereign and lay, completely independent of every international control. The modern nation gives no obedience to any defined international moral authority — such as had been the Catholic Church with the Papacy for its supreme Judge during all the centuries when our European civilization was being built up. The modern nation is not only completely independent, but admits no religious definition. Any citizen who prefers his allegiance to a religious body to his allegiance to the nation is regarded as a traitor. Religions of all kinds are regarded as the private affair of individuals. When the citizens differ among themselves upon religion it is the duty of the State to keep the peace between them but not to affirm itself the guardian of any one set of doctrines. The sacred thing to which everybody must adhere, the one doctrine against which no one may protest on pain of heresy, is the doctrine of patriotism and the right of the nation to its complete independence. There is, thus, no common law binding all nations.

Belloc calls this "absolute nationalism". He notes that absolute nationalism and the Divine Right of Kings, which James I upheld so resolutely in both religious and secular matters, are the same thing--nothing has any authority over the State.

James I, like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I before him, had an adviser and counselor, who helped him rule England:

James came into England from Scotland with little knowledge of English ways, he talked with so strong a Scottish accent that it was not easy to understand him, and he brought with him a group of Scottish companions highly unpopular in England. It must be remembered that Scotland had been the hereditary enemy of England for centuries, and was still regarded as an alien nation. James depended more and more upon this statesman, Robert Cecil, who not only had the very highest talents as a states- man but was privy to all the secrets of the governing class around the King. He held firmly in hand a universal spy system and was adept, as his father had been, not only at discovering plots against the Crown, but at creating them by the use of secret agents and at nursing and fomenting them when they had started. 

Now it was Robert Cecil's prime object to prevent a Catholic reaction. The whole policy of his family and tradition was the gradual imposition, by force and trickery, of the new religion upon the English people. They had so far succeeded that, when James thus came to the throne in 1603, quite half the English were opposed to their ancient Faith. Most of that half were, no doubt, indifferent to religion, as were many on the other side also; but in 1603 quite half England was, upon the whole, anti-Catholic; and it was Robert Cecil's business to make all England anti-Catholic in time; or, at any rate, if that should be impossible, to make so large a proportion of England anti-Catholic as to render the full return of the Faith out of the question. Whether he invented the Gunpowder Plot or not will always be disputed. There is no positive proof that he did; all that we know for certain is that he knew all about it just after it was started, and nursed it carefully. Gunpowder was then a Government monopoly, and yet the conspirators brought it openly across the Thames in large quantities, and all their movements were known. Cecil exposed the plot just at the right moment to produce the most effect; and it is from that date (1606) that the tide turns and that England tends to become more and more a Protestant country. 

Belloc credits James with the attempt, at least, of maintaining peace, but that his goal to uphold the Divine Right of Kings during his reign has had greater lasting influence:

However, above everything else in the eyes of James I, the complete independence of the English Crown must be preserved. And it could only be preserved by supporting and continuing the Protestant policy of his predecessors. He stood for Divine Right. He watered and nourished that plant until it took firm root, and since his day has spread its doctrines everywhere, so that to-day (under another name) it is quite undisputed— with the consequences which we see around us.

Nationalism is also one of the themes in Belloc's chapter on Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, and King of Bohemia:

The Emperor Ferdinand. II represents in the great religious struggle of the seventeenth century the strength of the Catholic reaction; that is, what is generally called the Counter Reformation. If he had only represented that, however, his partial success and partial failure would be less interesting than they are. He also represents another feature which had come into the struggle and strongly affected it everywhere — Nationalism. 

Everywhere in Christendom the particular interests of princes, cities, districts, nations and even of races or groups of culture, were at issue with the general interests of united Christendom. One main aspect of the Reformation, therefore, is the effort of the religious revolutionaries to assert local independence politically against authorities superior to themselves, and ultimately of course against the supreme moral authority of the Church throughout Europe.

Nevertheless, Ferdinand II, as a devout Catholic, did all he could re restore Catholicism throughout the kingdoms he ruled:

Ferdinand II is a character who, after a hundred years of religious division among Germans, undertakes to re- establish Catholicism everywhere in his dominions from the Alps to the Baltic, and from beyond the Rhine to the frontiers of Poland. He is the character who undertakes, as head of the German states, Emperor over them all, and individually the possessor of the largest amount of land as a private prince, to undo what the Reformation had done in nearly the whole of north Germany, and partly in the centre of Germany. 

Had Ferdinand II triumphed the old religion would probably have been re-established not only in Germany, but, sooner or later, in most of Europe. Nothing would have remained of the religious revolution save the small populations of Scandinavia, of England and of Scotland, and no one can say how long these remnants could have stayed out ; for there was a considerable Catholic minority in Scotland and in Scandinavia, and a very large one in England, as late as the beginning of Ferdinand's effort, that is from 1620-30. Even if England, Scotland and Scandinavia had remained strongly independent Protestant Governments, they would have counted little compared with the vastly greater numbers and wealth of the German Empire, France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, and Poland. The Protestants all put together would not have commanded one tenth of the men and money commanded by the Catholics, had Ferdinand succeeded in establishing a United Catholic German Empire. 

But in his effort to restore Catholicism universally, on the Continent at least, Ferdinand II was also considering the power of his hereditary house, the house of Hapsburg; and it was this duality of aim which was at bottom the cause of his partial failure. 

Catholic France, France under King Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu, saw that if Ferdinand II succeeded in his aims, French power would be threatened. So the French joined forces with the Protestants in the Thirty Years War.

Belloc admires Ferdinand, saying that he had:

the highest courage and the fullest tenacity of purpose but also the greatest devotion to religion and the finest personal character. He had, besides, what is of supreme value in governing men — sympathy with the masses and the humblest of his people. Anyone could approach him at any time. The population of his hereditary dominions was by the time of his death firmly bound to him with the bond of real affection.

But the Thirty Years War devastated Germany, resulted in French hegemony and Europe, and left the Holy Roman Empire as divided between Protestant and Catholic as it was before it began.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Humphrey Arundell and the Prayer Book Rebellion


Humphrey Arundell, leader of the Prayer Book Rebellion, was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn Tree on January 27, 1550. As this website states,

Humphrey was born in 1512 or 1513. His uncle was Sir John Arundell of Lanherne, one of the richest and most powerful men in Cornwall. The Arundell family were also very faithful Catholics. Humphrey married Elizabeth Fulford and together they had three children. By 1537, both of Humphrey’s parents had died and he took over the family home at Helland, near Bodmin.

Although he had been a loyal military servant of the Crown, the imposition of Archbishop Cranmer's ENGLISH Book of Common Prayer was not acceptable to Arundell and many in Cornwall:

Although Humphrey was a member of the ruling class he was also upset about the religious changes happening in Cornwall. In June 1549, Humphrey and a man called John Winslade (sometimes spelled Wynslade) gathered an army of over 3,000 Cornish people at Castle Canyke, near Bodmin. Humphrey made a list of complaints about the religious changes and sent it to the English government. He was particularly frustrated about the new English language Prayer Book and church service, because some Cornish people could not understand English.

They preferred the Mass in Latin to the new service in English:

The English government refused to listen to Humphrey’s complaints. By this time, people in Devon had also gathered an army to resist the religious changes. Although Humphrey had not wanted to fight, he was left with no choice. Humphrey’s army quickly captured St Michael’s Mount, Trematon Castle and Plymouth. The Cornish and Devon armies joined together and surrounded Exeter for five weeks. The English government became so worried they brought foreign soldiers from Germany and Italy to fight against Humphrey’s army.

Arundell's army was defeated and he was eventually captured, brought to London, tried, sentenced, and executed as a traitor.

More about the Prayer Book Rebellion here. Humphrey's cousin, Thomas Arundell of Wardour Castle, would be executed a little more two years later because Edward VI's government did not trust the Arundell's of Cornwall, suspecting Thomas's older brother John on complicity with the Prayer Book Rebellion and general rejection of religious change. John survived to thrive during the reign of Mary I but Thomas did not:

Arundell had not hitherto been closely linked with the ex-Protector, and indeed was thought by Cavendish, Wolsey’s servant and biographer, to have been the Earl of Warwick’s ‘chief counsellor’ in Somerset’s overthrow in the autumn of 1549. The imperial ambassador likewise considered him a ‘prime mover’ in uniting the Council against the Protector, who had refused to allow him to enter the service of Princess Mary; after Somerset’s fall Arundell, an open Catholic, was accepted by Mary into her service. The interrogatories prepared for the duke in 1551 implied no great trust between him and Arundell but one of the questions, ‘By how many noblemen and others would Sir Thomas Arundell be assisted?’, probably provides the clue to Arundell’s arrest. He was allied by birth and marriage to some of the greatest in the land and could have been dangerous. Whether, as was alleged at his trial on 28 Jan. 1552, he had plotted against Warwick while in the Tower cannot be known, but he can hardly have been guilty of the second charge, of conspiring with Somerset at Syon house on 2 Oct. 1551, two days before his release from the Tower. Arundell pleaded not guilty and the jury was reluctant to convict, but after a night without food, fire or light it found him guilty of felony, not guilty of treason. He was condemned to be hanged, but in the event was beheaded, on Tower Hill, on 26 Feb. 1552. His death was noted on the list of Members in use during the last session of the Parliament of 1547, but no attempt seems to have been made to replace him. His attainder was confirmed by Act (5 and 6 Edw. VI, no.37) and his possessions were forfeited to the crown.

Image credit: St. Michael's Mount painted by British painter James Webb in the 1890s.

Friday, January 26, 2018

General Charles George Gordon and Gerontius

General Charles George Gordon died at the siege of Khartoum on January 26, 1885.

Before his death, he had given a copy of Newman's Dream of Gerontius to a newspaper correspondent who brought it back to England. Newman, who had been following the news reports of the efforts of reach Khartoum, was impressed when he learned of Gordon's appreciation of his poem and saw his copy of it:

The Cardinal, in his reply, wrote: "Your letter and its contents took away my breath. I was deeply moved to find that a book of mine had been in General Gordon's hands, and that the description of a soul preparing for death." 

According to this edition of the Dream of Gerontius:

The story of General Charles George Gordon,"Chinese Gordon," one of the heroes of the nineteenth century, has passed into history, and every enthusiastic boy or girl ought to know it by heart. Gordon was the type of the valiant soldier who carried the love and fear of God everywhere. He, besieged by pagan hordes, died, in 1884, the death of a martyr to duty. This man was only one of those who found consolation in "The Dream of Gerontius" at the very hour of death. General Gordon's copy of the poem—a small duodecimo—was presented to the late Mr. Frank Power, correspondent of the London Times. The latter sent it home to his sister in Dublin. Deep pencil-marks had been drawn under lines all bearing on death and prayer. For instance: "Pray for me, O my friends"; "'Tis death, O loving friends, your prayers,—'tis he"; "So pray for me, my friends, who have not strength to pray"; "Use well the interval"; "Prepare to meet thy God"; "Now that the hour is come, my fear is fled." Later Power met the fate of a hero. The last words that Gordon underlined before he gave him the book were:

"Farewell, but not forever, brother dear;
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow."


I wonder how General Gordon would have reacted to hearing Dame Janet Baker singing that farewell to the Soul of Gerontius in Elgar's oratorio!

It's fascinating how many people in his own time appreciated this poem--including Gladstone, who was blamed by both Queen Victoria and many in England for not sending reinforcements to Gordon earlier--even though their Protestant/Anglican doctrines rejected the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and prayer for the dead!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

St. Swithun Wells and the Conversion of St. Paul


Today is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Acts 9:1-22:
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" He said, "Who are you, sir?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."  The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.

And Acts 22: 2-16:
Paul addressed the people in these words: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and  delivering them to prison. Even the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify on my behalf. For from them I even received letters to the brothers and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment those there as well." On that journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' I replied, 'Who are you, sir?' And he said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.' My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me. I asked, 'What shall I do, sir?' The Lord answered me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.' Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light, I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.

On December 10, 1591, St. Swithun Wells was executed. Before he died, he said to Richard Topcliffe, Elizabeth I's chief pursuivant and bloody torturer: "I pray God make you a Paul of a Saul, of a bloody persecutor one of the Catholic Church's children."

Alas, 'twas not to be.

Image: "Illumination depicting Paul's conversion, from Livre d'Heures d'Étienne Chevalier (c. 1450–1460), a book of hours by Jean Fouquet now in the Château de Chantilly".

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

James Collinson, PRB, RIP


James Collinson was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (the PRB), who died on January 24, 1881. He was a follower of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement and almost married Christina Rossetti. Collinson left the PRB, as this website contends, over religious issues. He was a convert to Catholicism--but returned to the Church of England when he was going to marry Christina--who then returned to the Catholic Church and even studied for the priesthood as a Jesuit at Stonyhurst. He left his seminary studies and married, and continued to paint religious subjects and what are termed genre studies. The same website provides many details about Collinson's life and works.

His painting of the "Renunciation of St. Elizabeth of Hungary" probably represents his Pre-Raphaelite period best:


The bright colors, the architectural and textual detail, the dramatic scene and scale, and religious subject are all PRB traits.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Assassination of James Stewart, Earl of Moray


James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh and Woodhouselee shot James Stewart, Earl of Moray and Regent for James VI of Scotland on the 23rd of January, 1570 in Linlithgow, Scotland. This stained glass window (courtesy of Wikipedia commons) is in St. Giles Kirk/Cathedral and was financed by George Philip Stuart, the 14th earl of Moray as part of a Victorian restoration in the 1880s. It depicts the assassination of Stewart by Hamilton as he fired his brass match-lock carbine with a rifled barrel from the house of John Hamilton, the Archbishop of St. Andrews. James Hamilton went into exile, but the Hamilton family suffered for this crime. Archbishop Hamilton, who was great supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots, was eventually hanged for being an accessory to murder. He was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton, the First Earl of Arran. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Placed in childhood with the Benedictines of Kilwinning, he acquired, through James V, the abbacy of Paisley, which he held from the age of fourteen till his death. It is doubtful whether he ever actually entered the order. After studying in Glasgow he entered the University of Paris. Then he received holy Orders, and returned to Scotland in 1543. His half-brother James, second Earl of Arran, being then regent during Mary Stuart's minority, Hamilton was speedily promoted to important offices of state, becoming privy seal, and later, high treasurer. Knox's "Historie" gives evidence of the hopes entertained by the reformers of winning him over, but he soon showed himself a strong partisan of Cardinal Beaton and the Catholic party, and was instrumental in overcoming the Protestant sympathy of Arran and reconciling him with the cardinal. In 1544 Hamilton was appointed Bishop of Dunkeld, and after the assassination of Beaton, succeeded that prelate not only as metropolitan, but also as the prominent opponent of nascent Protestantism. By the assembling of ecclesiastical councils in 1549, 1552 and 1559, the archbishop took an important part in the framing of statutes for the much-needed reformation of the clergy and religious instruction of the laity. When the packed parliament of 1560 voted the overthrow of Catholicism and the adoption of the Protestant "Confession of Faith", Hamilton was the leading dissentient. He has been accused of making too feeble a protest, but his correspondence with Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow, then in Paris, shows that he regarded the matter as one of less serious import than events proved. When the Abbey of Paisley was wrecked by the reforming mob in that same year, Hamilton narrowly escaped with his life.

The Abbey of Paisley is now a Church of Scotland church. Because he continued practicing the Catholic faith, saying Mass, etc, Hamilton was imprisoned in 1563, but Mary, Queen of Scots, had him released:

He baptized with solemn rites, in December, 1566, the infant prince James, afterwards James VI. The opposition of the Protestant party to the use of Catholic ceremonies, upon which Mary was determined, had delayed the baptism for six months. The queen having restored the archbishop's consistorial jurisdiction, which the parliament of 1560 had abolished, he took his seat in the assembly of 1567. In the troubles which beset the hapless Mary, Hamilton was the queen's constant supporter. After the ruin of her hopes at Langside, and her flight into England, which he had done his utmost to prevent, he was compelled to seek his own safety in Dumbarton Castle, but in 1571 that stronghold was cast down and Hamilton taken prisoner. He was carried to Stirling, and three days after his capture, was hanged there in his pontifical vestments on the common gibbet. No record remains of any formal trial; he was put to death on the strength of his previous forfeiture as a traitor on the fall of Mary. Though a man of wisdom and moderation, possessed of many sterling qualities, and a valiant champion of the Catholic cause, Hamilton was not free from grave irregularities in his private life, as records of legitimation of his natural children testify.

In spite of these "irregularities in his private life", and his lack of foresight into what was going to happen when Catholicism in Scotland was made illegal, the Catholic Encyclopedia entry concludes: 

Hamilton was a munificent benefactor to his cathedral city; he completed and endowed St. Mary's College, strengthened the castle, erected other buildings, and constructed as many as fourteen bridges in the neighbourhood. He was the last Catholic metropolitan of the pre-Reformation Church in Scotland.

He published two works defending the teachings of the Catholic Church, including Archbishop Hamilton's Catechism.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Elizabethan and Caroline Martyrs in 1586 and 1642

Today is the anniversary of the execution of King Louis XVI in 1793--Requiem Masses are being held throughout Paris and France (even in Quebec, Canada!) But in England on this date in 1586 and 1642, four Catholic priests were executed:

~Blessed Edward Stransham, priest and martyr--A native of Oxford, born about 1554, earning his BA from St. John's College in 1575-76. Then he went to Douai in 1577 and Reims in 1578. Because he was ill he returned to England to recuperate; then went back to Reims in 1579; ordained in 1580. In 1581 he returned to England as a missionary priest, but was still suffering from consumption; he left England in 1583, bringing 12 Oxford converts with him to Reims. After a stay in Paris, he returned to England and was arrested while saying Mass in London in 1585 and executed at Tyburn on January 21, 1586. He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. His companion in martyrdom was:

~Blessed Nicholas Wheeler (or Woodfen), priest and martyr--Born at Leominster in 1550, he studied for the priesthood in Reims, after ordination he returned to England with Edward Stransham, and was executed with him at Tyburn in 1586. He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987.

In 1586, Blessed William Freeman witnessed the executions of Stransham and Wheeler. He became a Catholic, went to Reims, was ordained and returned to England as a missionary priest. He was hung, drawn, and quartered for that crime on 13 August 1595 in Warwick, after spending some time in Stratford-on-Avon.

Notice, however, that the time Fathers Stransham and Wheeler spent in England was relatively short. Although Stransham traveled back and forth between England and the Continent because of his health (how poorly he must have fared in prison while waiting trial and execution!), he and Wheeler received no second chances once finally captured--during some periods of Elizabeth I's reign, that was the common practice: capture, torture (if some plot was suspected), trial, execution.

~Saint Alban Roe, OSB, priest and martyr--Born in Suffolk in 1583, after his conversion to Catholicism, he became Benedictine and was ordained; he was arrested several times during his ministry, and exiled and imprisoned for seventeen years. He was executed at Tyburn in 1642. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Blessed Paul VI. With him suffered:

~Blessed Thomas Green (Reynolds), priest and martyr--Born under the name Green, he trained at Rheims, Valladolid and Seville; exiled from England once, he returned and spent fourteen years imprisoned until his execution at Tyburn in 1642 at the age of 80. He was beatified by Pius XI in 1929.

Unlike Blesseds Stransham and Wheeler, St. Alban Roe and Blessed Thomas Green ministering during the Stuart dynasty received different treatment. They were captured, imprisoned, and exiled, sent back to the Continent--then they returned. Their long final imprisonments were spent in relative "freedom". St. Alban Roe was allowed to leave his cell in the Fleet prison, minister to Catholics, and return at night for lock-up. In 1641 he was transferred to close confinement within the strict Newgate prison and was finally tried in 1642 and found guilty of treason under the statute 27 Eliz c.2 for being a priest. [The authorities really didn't know what to do with him and at trial Roe perplexed the judge so much that he suspended his sentence of execution!] Just before his death, Alban asked the sheriff if his life would be spared if he renounced his Catholic religion and became an Anglican. The sheriff swore he would be spared if he did. Alban then said to all: “See, then, what the crime is for which I am to die, and whether my religion be not my only treason... I wish I had a thousand lives; then would I sacrifice them all for so worthy a cause.” 

This blog post provides some more images of St. Alban Roe, describing the symbols in the painting above.

His companion, Blessed Thomas Reynolds (Green) had also been exiled in 1606, during the reign of James I--after the Gunpowder Plot!--but had returned to England to serve Catholics until he was arrested in 1628. He spent fourteen years in prison before his trial and execution. Why the long prison sentences, the relative freedom, the delay in trial and execution? Because Charles I was reigning without Parliament! "When he finally had to recall Parliament and the Long Parliament convened, however, the hangings began again in earnest (20 between 1641 and 1646 including Fr. Alban [and Fr. Reynolds])" Ampleforth Abbey notes.

Think of the cold these men endured those January mornings. After all dangers of their missionary efforts, the discomforts of imprisonment, and the anticipation of the horrendously painful and humiliating death they were about to undergo, they were shivering with cold. The hurdles they were tied to, on their backs, bumped and jostled on frozen ground. St. John Roberts, executed in December of 1610, managed to joke about the cold: when someone said he should be wearing a cap, he asked "are you afraid I'll catch a cold?"; when he arrived at the scaffold he saw the fire (which would actually be used to burn his guts) and said "I see you have prepared a hot breakfast for us!" It's clear that the demeanor and steadiness of these four men moved the crowds to empathy--and at least in one case we know of, conversion. This 
site notes that Blessed Thomas Reynolds said "I dare look death in the face" when offered a blindfold. And this site has more details about the demeanor of the two priests executed on January 21, 1642:

Reynolds told Roe of his fears of dying. Roe replied with powerfully comforting words.

The two were told to get ready for the trip to the Tyburn Hill gallows on January 21, 1642 (January 31 in the reformed calendar). “Well, how do you find yourself now?” the monk asked his aged companion. “In very good heart,” Reynolds replied. “Blessed be God for it, and glad I am to have for my comrade in death a man of your undaunted courage.”

Having mounted the gallows, Reynolds stated that he forgave his enemies; and he moved the sheriff deeply by praying that he (the sheriff) would merit the “grace to be a glorious saint in heaven.”

Roe, in his turn, greeted the people cheerily. “Well, here’s a jolly company!” he exclaimed with a fine contempt for death. He told bystanders that his religion was the sole cause of his death. If he should reject Catholicism even now, he said, he would be released. His last word of conversation was a joking remark made to one of his prison turnkeys.

The two priests had already absolved each other. Now they recited the psalm “Miserere” alternately. As the traps were sprung and their bodies fell, each called out “Jesus!” 


The stories of the English Catholic martyrs--like all the Church's martyrs from Apostolic times until today--never cease to inspire!

Eustace Chapuys, RIP

Eustace Chapuys, the former Imperial Ambassador to the Court of St. James in England for Charles V, died on January 21, 1556 in Louvain. He had been at the English Court from 1529 until 1545, through all of Henry VIII's marriage (he left two years before Henry died):

Catherine of Aragon (1509-1533)
Anne Boleyn (1533-1536)
Jane Seymour (1536-1537)
Anne of Cleves (1540)
Katherine Howard (1540-1542)
Katherine Parr (1543-1547)

Amberley Publishing offers this survey of Chapuys' life and career in England:

The reports and despatches of Eustace Chapuys, Spanish Ambassador to Henry VIII's court from 1529 to 1545, have been instrumental in shaping our modern interpretations of Henry VIII and his wives. As a result of his personal relationships with several of Henry's queens, and Henry himself, his writings were filled with colourful anecdotes, salacious gossip, and personal and insightful observations of the key players at court, thus offering the single most continuous portrait of the central decades of Henry's reign. Beginning with Chapuys' arrival in England, in the middle of Henry VIII's divorce from Katherine of Aragon, this book progresses through the episodic reigns of each of Henry's queens. Chapuys tirelessly defended Katherine and later her daughter, Mary Tudor, the future Mary I. He remained as ambassador through the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, and reported on each and every one of Henry's subsequent wives - Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Katharine Parr - as well as that most notorious of ministers Thomas Cromwell. He retired in 1545, close to the end of Henry VIII's reign. In approaching the period through Chapuys' letters, Lauren Mackay provides a fresh perspective on Henry, his court and the Tudor period in general.

We know that he was good friend and supporter of Catherine of Aragon (since his master was her nephew). He visited her before her death and continued to assist her daughter. But did he therefore hate and disparage Anne Boleyn. Lauren Mackay wrote for History Today:

Cromwell’s involvement in Anne’s downfall became an obsession for one man, imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys, but not for the reasons we might expect. Chapuys only actually met Anne once [in April 1535], but Anne fascinated the ambassador, whose reports have given us some of the most enduring and emotional scenes of her remarkable yet short reign. But Chapuys’ presence in Anne’s life has been given a more sinister aspect than it deserves. If we are to believe popular 18th-century historians, Chapuys was a gossip who loathed Anne and worked tirelessly to destroy her and even celebrated her death. If you believe such gossip, then this play would have its villain. But this wasn’t the case.

Countless letters and reports flew around and across Europe between ambassadors and monarchs, detailing Anne’s very public affair with Henry. Chapuys was perhaps the most prolific of these writers. He reported to his employer, Charles V, as well as his confidantes, Mary of Hungary, governess of the Lowlands, and other diplomatic colleagues, sometimes two or three times a day. It may be surprising to learn, however, that some of the most vitriolic reports about Anne’s appearance and scandalous behaviour were not written by Chapuys, but by French, Venetian and Spanish embassies. Judging from these reports, Anne was a favourite target of rumour-mongering and was generally most harshly judged by the English people and throughout Europe.

But perhaps it is an anonymous, unsigned report found among imperial documents and erroneously attributed to Chapuys (who always signed his letters) that has done the most damage. Referring to Anne’s coronation in 1533, the writer said: “The crown became her very ill, and a wart disfigured her very much. She wore a violet velvet mantle, with a high ruff (goulgiel) of gold thread and pearls, which concealed a swelling she has, resembling gotre (sic)”. It is a harsh report to be sure, but they were not Chapuys’ words.

Please read the rest there.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Henry VIII's Last Victim, Henry Howard


Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, Henry VIII's Last Victim (according to Jessie Childs) was beheaded on January 19, 1547. His father, Thomas Howard, the Third Duke of Norfolk, was also in the Tower awaiting execution. Henry VIII's death on January 28 saved him from the ax.

Henry Howard was a poet and contemporary of Thomas Wyatt who survived the Tower during the Anne Boleyn purge and died on October 11, 1542. Of his late friend, Howard wrote:

Wyatt resteth here, that quick could never rest;
Whose heavenly gifts increased by disdain,
And virtue sank the deeper in his breast;
Such profit he of envy could obtain.

A head, where wisdom mysteries did frame,
Whose hammers beat still in that lively brain
As on a stith, where some work of fame
Was daily wrought, to turn to Britain’s gain.

A visage, stern and mild; where both did grow,
Vice to condemn, in virtues to rejoice;
Amid great storms whom grace assured so,
To live upright and smile at fortune’s choice.

A hand that taught what might be said in rhyme;
That reft Chaucer the glory of his wit;
A mark the which (unperfited, for time)
Some may approach, but never none shall hit.

A tongue that served in foreign realms his king;
Whose courteous talk to virtue did enflame
Each noble heart; a worthy guide to bring
Our English youth, by travail unto fame.

An eye whose judgment no affect could blind,
Friends to allure, and foes to reconcile;
Whose piercing look did represent a mind
With virtue fraught, reposed, void of guile.

A heart where dread yet never so impressed
To hide the thought that might the truth avaunce;
In neither fortune lift, nor so repressed,
To swell in wealth, nor yield unto mischance.

A valiant corps, where force and beauty met,
Happy, alas! too happy, but for foes,
Lived, and ran the race that nature set;
Of manhood’s shape, where she the mold did lose.

But to the heavens that simple soul is fled,
Which left with such, as covet Christ to know
Witness of faith that never shall be dead:
Sent for our health, but not received so.

Thus, for our guilt, this jewel have we lost;
The earth his bones, the heavens possess his ghost.
Amen.


Henry Howard's son and grandson would also be imprisoned and would die in the Tower during the reign of ElizabethI: Thomas Howard by decollation; Philip Howard of dysentery.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Meriol Trevor and Blessed John Henry Newman

Meriol Trevor was one of the most prolific Catholic writers of the twentieth century. She was a convert to Catholicism and a devotee of Blessed John Henry Newman, author of a two-volume biography and other books about this great man and saint.

Several years ago Ignatius Press published her historical novel about Newman, Shadows and Images. Last summer, Ignatius published another historical novel Trevor wrote about Newman, Lights in a Dark Town, aimed a "young adult" readers.

Dr. Kelly Scott Franklin reviews the novel for The Catholic World Report and calls for a  revival of Trevor's fiction:

Newly reprinted by Ignatius Press, Trevor’s 1964 work of historical fiction tells a hopeful story of the power of God to overcome spiritual darkness. Even a single Christian, through the power of God’s grace, can bring light and transformation to his portion of the earthly realm. Each of us has a mission in our own place and time, and the story dramatizes Christ’s instruction in the Gospel of Matthew: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

For Meriol Trevor’s protagonist Emmeline, England is a far cry from her home in the sunny climes of Southern Europe. But after her father’s death, Emmeline, along with her mother, must return to England to live cheaply in the industrial town of Birmingham. Its poverty and grime appall, and the Erles’ own straitened circumstances seem to leave them with no friends and dim prospects for the future.

But it is 1849, and something wonderful has occurred in this squalid factory town: John Henry Newman has just founded an Oratory of priests in the heart of the industrial district. With her new friends Daniel and Lizzie, Emmeline finds herself caught up into the great Father’s orbit, as he ministers to the laborers and the poor of the city of Birmingham.


Please read the rest there. Sounds like Meriol Trevor anticipated the words of Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010, when he beatified Newman (my bold emphasis!):

While it is John Henry Newman’s intellectual legacy that has understandably received most attention in the vast literature devoted to his life and work, I prefer on this occasion to conclude with a brief reflection on his life as a priest, a pastor of souls. The warmth and humanity underlying his appreciation of the pastoral ministry is beautifully expressed in another of his famous sermons: “Had Angels been your priests, my brethren, they could not have condoled with you, sympathized with you, have had compassion on you, felt tenderly for you, and made allowances for you, as we can; they could not have been your patterns and guides, and have led you on from your old selves into a new life, as they can who come from the midst of you” (“Men, not Angels: the Priests of the Gospel”, Discourses to Mixed Congregations, 3). He lived out that profoundly human vision of priestly ministry in his devoted care for the people of Birmingham during the years that he spent at the Oratory he founded, visiting the sick and the poor, comforting the bereaved, caring for those in prison. No wonder that on his death so many thousands of people lined the local streets as his body was taken to its place of burial not half a mile from here. One hundred and twenty years later, great crowds have assembled once again to rejoice in the Church’s solemn recognition of the outstanding holiness of this much-loved father of souls.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

God our Father, you granted to your servant Blessed John Henry Newman wonderful gifts of nature and of grace, that he should be a spiritual light in the darkness of this world, an eloquent herald of the Gospel, and a devoted servant of the one Church of Christ.

With confidence in his heavenly intercession, we make the following petition: [here make your petition]

For his insight into the mysteries of the kingdom, his zealous defense of the teachings of the Church, and his priestly love for each of your children, we pray that he may soon be numbered among the Saints.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Meriol Trevor, rest in peace--I pray that you are in Heaven with Newman, joining in the praise of God:

Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise;
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways!
(The Dream of Gerontius).

Cecil's Reign of Terror; Henry IV's Assassin

Just a reminder that Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, looking at what he thinks of the characters of William Cecil, Lord Burghley and King Henry IV of France this morning on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live here about 6:50 a.m. Central time/7:50 a.m. Eastern time.


Belloc writes about the persecution of Catholic during Cecil's tenure:

Meanwhile, of course, open persecution of the Catholic Faith in England could, on the pretext of the recent rebellion, be launched. The old nobility, at the head of which was the Duke of Norfolk, were humbled, and the young Duke himself— though an ardent Protestant— was lured into a position where Cecil, feigning the deepest friendship for him, could bring him to the scaffold — which he did. From that moment, 1572, Cecil was supreme. He was at the height of his great powers, a man just over fifty, and completely dominating the sickly and chafing Queen, in whose name he acted. 

The persecution grew more intense, until it was what I have called it— a reign of terror. But all the time Cecil, working hard upon the natural patriotism of England and insisting that he was only preserving the integrity and independence of the realm, maintained that the shocking executions and universal system of suppression and secret police work were not religious in motive, but only political. He kept to his formula, "that no man suffered for religion, but only for treason."

Cecil had to know that was not true.

Belloc does not point this out, but there's a great irony that Elizabeth, against whom no plot ever came close to succeeding, reigned into her old age; she may have angered both the Catholics and the Puritans, but she died of natural causes. Henry IV may not have pleased either the Catholics nor the Huguenots with his tolerant Edict of Nantes, but he was assassinated by a madman who had been rejected by two religious orders, including the Jesuits--Francois Ravaillac, who stabbed the king in his carriage on Rue de la Ferronnerie. He was tortured and butchered even more brutally than any of the priests found guilty of being Catholic priests, hearing confessions, and saying Mass.

In the meantime:

So, while in England Catholics were persecuted to the death — though still some half of the population — in France the Protestants — though but a small minority outside the noble class — were given all these advantages. They could practice their religion, of course, but, what was much more important politically, they could and did hold these strong places independently, whence they could make war against the Crown and threaten the mass of their fellow-citizens. They had, in particular, among these strong towns that of La Rochelle, an important seaport on the Bay of Biscay, which was as though in England at that time (it was towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth) the Catholics had been allowed to hold Portsmouth and, say, Chester, York, Leicester and a number of other walled towns in the kingdom. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Belloc's Views of Cecil and Henry IV of France


Anna Mitchell and I will continue our discussion of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, looking at what he thinks of the characters of William Cecil, Lord Burghley and King Henry IV of France tomorrow on the Son Rise Morning Show. Listen live here about 6:50 a.m. Central time/7:50 a.m. Eastern time.

After what Belloc said about Elizabeth I, you won't be surprised by his first comments about William Cecil, Lord Burghley (and his son):

William Cecil, who is better known as. Lord Burghley, the title he took after clinching his great success in the middle of his career, was the author of Protestant England. One might almost call him the creator of modern England as a whole, for he stands at the root of the Church of England — the typical central religious institution following on the English Reformation; and it was under his rule that the seeds were sown of all that later developed into what is now the English political and social system. 

It has often been remarked that England, more than any other European country, is cut off from her past. When England became Protestant she became a new thing and the old Catholic England of the thousand years before the Reformation is, to the Englishman after the Reformation, a foreign country. Now, the true artisan of that prodigious change was William Cecil, Lord Burghley. 

Thomas Cromwell was the man who achieved the breach with Rome and who launched England out onto the beginning of the adventure, but William Cecil was the man who by his own genius and that of his son Robert - did the essential work of changing England from a Catholic to a Protestant country. It was he who eradicated the Faith from the English mind, it was he who prevented the succour of Catholic England by the power of Catholic Europe outside; it was he who instituted and maintained a reign of terror, the long endurance of which at last crushed out the Mass from English soil.

Of course, this is the greatest sad thing Belloc could think of ever happening, the eradication of the Catholic Mass in England:

(Illustration of the Sarum Rite 1400)

(Page from a Missal of the Sarum Rite)

(A Pontifical Mass in the Sarum Rite: Note the Schola)

As Belloc continues to analyze Cecil's character, he addresses Cecil's motives:

He was without joy, and one may fairly say without religion. His motive was not hatred of the Catholic Church such as we find in Cranmer or in his own servant and head spy, Walsingham, the chief of his intelligence department. He destroyed the Church in England because he desired to confirm his own wealth and that of the clique of which he was the head, the new millionaires who had risen upon the booty of the monasteries, the bishoprics and all the rest. 

He himself was not, oddly enough, a direct thief of Church land; the huge fortune of the Cecils which has kept them an important family even to this day came from the betrayal of colleagues, the enjoyment of lucrative posts, and all that can be done by unscrupulous men in power to their own enrichment. The lands they held were largely Church lands, but at second hand. The Cecils had no considerable grant that I can remember out of the original loot. Yet were they, and William Cecil their founder, the typical and representative heads of all that new wealth which arose on the ruins of religion in England.

Belloc notes that Cecil used patriotism, love of country, to make it clear that Catholicism was not English:

His subtlety in gradually derailing England from her Catholic course was amazing. He found in these first years of his power a country the whole bulk of which was still entirely Catholic, in practice, daily habit and tradition. He could not challenge directly a force of that kind, but he undermined it; he played the card of national feeling; he relied upon Philip of Spain, the chief Catholic champion, to plead with the Pope that the new English Church was, after all, tolerable and that the schism might not be permanent. 

Meanwhile he prevented any direct action on the part of the Pope in England and he prevented a Nuncio from landing. Though the first laws had been passed making the worship in all the parish churches that of the new Anglican Establishment, yet the authorities winked at a large amount of toleration, going slowly in order to do their work more thoroughly later on. Men would take Communion in the Anglican form, and later take it in the Catholic form from the hands of the same parish priest; and Cecil boasted that no man suffered on account of his religion, only for treason to the State. 

Throughout his life he continued to play that card of national feeling as the strongest he had in his game against Rome. 

And as Belloc concludes, Cecil succeeded in both separating England from Catholicism and weakening Catholicism on the Continent as a political and cultural influence:

Thus was the great work which William Cecil had set out to do in England and Europe accomplished. On this account the whole of that decisive period in English history should properly be called "The Reign of the Cecils." It was they who introduced James I (just as they had introduced Elizabeth) to the throne; it was they who guided and shepherded the nation into the new paths. 

Such was William Cecil; one of the greatest and certainly one of the vilest of men that ever lived. His work has outlived him and his associates by many hundred years.

With the chapter on Henry IV of France, Belloc makes a transition to a new century and a new view of the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism: on the Continent and in France:

With the opening of the seventeenth century the Reformation enters its second phase. Its first had been a universal struggle to determine whether the Faith should be retained by all Europe or lost by all Europe. The struggle had been accompanied in Spain by violent repressions, in the Germanies by local conflicts, compromises and conferences, in France by violent civil war. 

In England the Faith had been worsted by the consistent pressure against it of government, and with the loss of England (and Scotland under English power) the chance of a complete victory for Catholicism was lost. It was lost by 1606. 

Henceforward we have in all Europe a second phase more political and less religious than the first: a division of Europe into two parts: Catholic and Protestant, which gradually crystallized and became permanent. 

France fell after its exhausting civil war on to the Catholic side: but not thoroughly. The weakened combatants had ended by a compromise. 

Henry IV of France was the typical figure of the compromise. He is symbolic of the way in which the great religious struggle of the seventeenth century in Europe was going to end. 

Belloc offers little insight into Henry IV's character or personality as he catches us up on the history of the French Civil Wars of Religion, including the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the fall of Valois, and Henry of Navarre of the House of Bourbon's ultimate compromise:

With the death of the last Valois, Henry of Navarre was legitimate King of France. He had the powerful Huguenot army at his service and, because he had hereditary right on his side, though still a Protestant, numbers of the Catholic gentry joined Mm as well. The action of Paris in preferring religion to hereditary right was odious to them; but Paris held out and formed the centre of resistance to the Bourbon. 

Up to this point it had seemed probable that Henry of Navarre would make good his right to the succession, and that France would have a Protestant King. If that should take place all the Protestant leaders (who were quite half the nobility of the country) would have received a great accession of power; a general loot of Church lands would certainly have begun after the pattern of what had happened in England, and probably the Faith would ultimately have been lost to France. Had France gone Protestant, the centre of gravity in Europe, from being with the Catholic culture, would have passed to the Protestant culture. 

(Entrance of Henry IV in Paris, 22 March 1594)

What saved the situation was the continued tenacity of the people of Paris. Although Henry of Navarre was still victorious they were determined not to give way; and, though they were subjected to a most horrible famine, they refused to yield. 

At last it was Henry of Navarre himself who gave way. He may or may not have used the famous words, " Paris is worth the Mass!" but these words certainly expressed his sentiments. He himself, like most of his rank in those days, had no real religion. The Huguenot preachers, whom he had to listen to, bored him intensely; he was a very loose liver [Le Vert Galant!], much attached to his pleasures; the very opposite of a Puritan. He had the virtues of a soldier with no real faith in any doctrine. He judged that it would be better, after all, to accept the religion of the bulk of his subjects as, unless he did so, he might never be allowed to reign in peace. 

This decision of Henry of Navarre to become Catholic was, as I have said, the first act of the great compromise by which Europe ultimately settled down into two opposing cultures — Catholic and Protestant. It marked the victory of popular Catholicism in France and the end of the chances — which once had stood so high — of Protestantism capturing that country. 

But the thing was not a Catholic victory by any means; it was what I have called it, a compromise. Henry's old comrades in arms retained their violent opposition to Catholicism; his right hand man, Sully, who worked his finances and was even more avaricious than most of the Huguenot set, was an example in point; and on all sides the Huguenots retained great political power. 

The new King further favoured them (with the object of retaining their support and reigning peaceably) by issuing an Edict known to history as the "Edict of Nantes." Under this arrangement a very large measure of toleration and something a good deal more than toleration was granted to the Huguenots. They were to be allowed to hold a certain number of strong towns and to garrison them and govern them independently, and thus form a sort of kingdom within the kingdom. 

As Belloc notes, Protestants were allowed some measure of freedom of worship in France but the Catholics none in England. So he concludes:

France was not, at his death, a fully Catholic country : on the contrary, it had become, through his action, a country in which a powerful anti-Catholic faction, counting many of the richest families in the kingdom, was tolerated and held important strongholds, as well as having the right to combine and put up effective resistance to the mass of the nation. 

The ultimate result of thus establishing a dualism of religion was a current of French opinion which in the course of two more generations began to shift from Protestantism to a skeptical form of anti-Catholicism. But still, take it for all in all, the Catholic culture of France had been saved by Henry of Bourbon's abjuration. And that King, known to history as "Henri Quatre" had, though not intending to do so, saved the civilization of the country and of Europe — though hardly.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Diana Rigg as the Duchess of Buccleuch?

I watched the first episode of the second season of Victoria on PBS last night, tuning in a little late and was shocked to see Diana Rigg (primarily because I barely recognized her). Then I discovered that she was playing Charlotte Anne Montagu Douglas Scott, Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Queen Victoria's Mistress of Robes from 1841 to 1846 during Sir Robert Peel's second administration. Why the producers of Victoria chose to cast Diana Rigg, who is 80, to play the role of a woman who is 30 (Charlotte Anne was born in 1811) boggles the mind. The real Duchess of Buccleuch was a young wife and mother of four, who would have a daughter, the Lady Victoria Alexandrina Montagu Douglas Scott, while serving Queen Victoria (mother and child pictured together at left)--Queen Victoria was Lady Victoria's Godmother.

Changing the Duchess' age throws the dynamic of their relationship off and in the context of the theme of the episode as Queen Victoria was learning how to juggle being a wife, monarch, and mother--there was quite a dispute about who would open the boxes (documents from the Prime Minister) to review--an actress portraying a slightly older young wife  and mother with noble duties would have been more appropriate.

Queen Victoria liked the Duchess and found her "an agreeable, sensible, clever little person." One thing that Queen Victoria probably thought contradicted that notion of being sensible was that the Duchess of Buccleuch became a "Roman" Catholic in 1860, 14 years after leaving the queen's household. The Duchess's brother, an Anglican minister, the Reverend Lord Charles Thynne, had became a Catholic in 1853. Lord Charles and Charlotte Anne's brother, the Reverend Lord John Thynne, was prominent High Church Anglican, so these "defections" would have been particularly difficult for him to accept. More about him at the Westminster Abbey website.

The Duchess and Cecil, the Marchioness of Lothian, became partners in charity and support for Catholic causes because Cecil, waiting until her husband died, became a Catholic in 1851 and her brother-in-law, another Anglican minister, the Reverend Lord Henry Kerr, "poped" in 1852. Cecil's sons, Lord Ralph Kerr and Lord Walter Kerr, and her daughters.

The Duchess of Buccleuch particularly supported the former nursing partner of Florence Nightingale, Frances Margaret Taylor in her life as Sister Mary Magdalen of the Sacred Heart, foundress of the religious order, the Poor Servants of the Mother of God. Taylor was also a convert to Catholicism.

Although she probably never reconciled with her former lady's "crossing the Tiber", Queen Victoria sent condolences when the Duchess of Buccleuch died on March 28, 1895, as this obit from The Tablet describes.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Thomas Stapleton's Life and Works

I've finished reading the first of my three books of 2018 this January: Father Marvin O'Connell's Thomas Stapleton and the Counter Reformation.

Contents:
Preface
Abbreviations
1. The Counter Reformation
2. The Man
3. The Work
4. The Quarrel over Justification
5. The Ghost of Pelagius
6. Sola Fides
7. The New Ecclesiastical Polity
8. The Oath of Supremacy
9. The Bishop and the Abbot
10. The Counterblast
Bibliographical Note
Index

Although unlike St. Thomas More--whom he admired and about whom he wrote in a triple biography of his patrons (St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and More)--Thomas Stapleton was an trained and ordained theologian and priest, in a way he is a successor to More. He wrote extensive and exhaustive controversial works, works that are still as little known as More's were in the last century. O'Connell notes that there are only two copies of some of Stapleton's works, which comprise around five million words in Latin and one million in English. The Catholic Encyclopedia lists the following titles:

His first works were translations: Ven. Bede's "History of the Church in England" (Antwerp, 1556), the "Apology of Staphylus" (Antwerp, 1565), and Hosius on "The Expresse Word of God" (1567). His original works were very numerous: "A Fortress of the Faith" (Antwerp); "A Return of Untruths" (Antwerp, 1566); "A Counterblast to M. Horne's vain blast" (Louvain, 1567); "Orationes funebres" (Antwerp, 1577); "Principiorum fidei doctrinalium demonstratio" (Paris, 1578); "Speculum pravitatis hæreticæ" (Douai, 1580); "De universa justificationis doctrina" (Paris, 1582); "Tres Thomæ" (Douai, 1588); "Promptuarium morale" in two parts (Antwerp, 1591, 1592); "Promptuarium Catholicum in Evangelia Dominicalia" (Cologne, 1592); "Promptuarium Catholicum in Evangelia Ferialia" (Cologne, 1594) and "Promptuarium Catholicum in Evangelia Festorum" (Cologne, 1592); "Relectio scholastica" (Antwerp, 1592); "Authoritatis Ecclesiasticæ circa S. Scripturarum approbationem defensio" (Antwerp, 1592); "Apologia pro rege Philippo II" (Constance, 1592), published under the punning pseudonym of Didymus Veridicus Henfildanus, i.e. Thomas the Stable-toned [truth-speaking] Henfieldite. "Antidota Evangelica", "Antidota Apostolica contra nostri Temporis Hæreses" (both at Antwerp, 1595); "Antidota Apostolica in Epistolam Pauli ad Romanos" (Antwerp, 1595); "Triplicatio inchoata" (Antwerp, 1596); "Antidota Apostolica in duas Epistolas ad Corinthios" (Antwerp, 1598); "Orationes catecheticæ" (Antwerp, 1598); "Vere admiranda, seu de Magnitudine Romanæ Ecclesiæ" (Antwerp, 1599); "Orationes academicæ miscellaneæ" (Antwerp, 1602); "Oratio academica" (Mainz, 1608). All his works were republished in four folio volumes in Paris in 1620, with an autobiography of the author in Latin verse and Henry Holland's "Vita Thomæ Stapletoni".

Like St. Thomas More, Stapleton uses many rhetorical devices to argue with his Anglican and Protestant opponents, including incredulous questions and accusations of inconsistency and illogical reasoning. O'Connell doesn't make this suggestion in his study of Stapleton but I thought of it when reading some of the excerpts from his works, especially when answering Bishop Horne or Jewell. 

O'Connell introduces his study with a chapter discussing the proper dating of the Counter Reformation (in his bibliographical note he mentions that the Counter Reformation has "yet to find its historian", since this was published before he had written his own study of the era): he focuses on the abdication of Charles V and the succession of Philip II to the throne of Spain in 1555. Although Philip II always looked after Spain's concerns first, he did much to assist the Jesuits, including the English exiles, and other defenders of the Catholic faith in the Church's efforts to respond to the Protestant Reformation. O'Connell also hails the election of the first of the Counter Reformation popes, Paul IV in 1555 as support for his dating of the era: "The day of the simoniacal pope, the militarist pope, and the dilettante pope had ended." (p. 15) He continues with sketches of succeeding popes, concluding with Clement VIII (1592-1605).

Then O'Connell provides a chapter on Stapleton's life, which is summarized thusly as in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Controversialist, born at Henfield, Sussex, July, 1535; died at Louvain, 12 Oct., 1598. He was the son of William Stapleton, one of the Stapletons of Carlton, Yorkshire. He was educated at the Free School, Canterbury, at Winchester, and at New College, Oxford, where he became a fellow, 18 Jan., 1553. On Elizabeth's accession he left England rather than conform to the new religion, going first to Louvain, and afterwards to Paris, to study theology. In 1563, being in England, he was summoned by the Anglican bishop Barlow to repudiate the pope's authority, but refused and was deprived of the prebend of Woodhorne in Chichester Cathedral, conferred on him in 1558. He then retired to Louvain with his father and other relatives. In 1568 he joined Allen at Douai and took a great part in founding the English college there, both by lecturing and by devoting to its support his salary as lecturer in theology at Anchin College.

His talents were so remarkable that he was soon appointed public professor of divinity, and canon of St. Amatus; and together with Allen he completed the degree of D.D. on 10 July, 1571. In 1584 he resigned these preferments to enter the Society of Jesus, but did not complete his novitiate, and returned to Douai. Philip II appointed him professor of Scripture at Louvain in 1590, to which office a canonry in St. Peter's Church was annexed; and soon after he was made dean of Hilverenbeeck in the Diocese of Boisle-Duc. The emoluments of these offices were all spent in relieving necessitous English Catholics. Meanwhile his fame as a theologian had spread to Rome and Pope Clement VIII thought so much of his theological writings that he caused them to be read aloud at his table. Twice he invited Stapleton to Rome in vain, but his offer to make him prothonotary Apostolic in January, 1597, was accepted. It was generally believed that he would be created cardinal, a suggestion which was disapproved of by Father Agazzari, S. J., rector of the English College, and obstacles were put in the way of his journey to Rome (Eley, "Certaine Briefe Notes", p. 254). He accordingly remained at Louvain till his death in the following year. He left his books and manuscripts (now lost) to the English College at Douai. An original painting of Stapleton is preserved at Douai Abbey, Woolhampton, England.

Except for that 1563 visit to England, Stapleton lived as an exile and tried to help restore Catholicism in England, not by being a missionary priest, but by educating seminarians and writing apologetic and polemic works. He had some conflict with Father Robert Persons when that Jesuit leader thought that Stapleton was siding with Jesuit opponents, but Stapleton's time was mostly taken up with study, teaching, and writing--and charity to Englishmen in exile. Not a very exciting life.

After providing an overview of Protestant and Catholic views of justification, O'Connell highlights the crucial efforts of the Council of Trent's 1547 definition of the traditional Christian teaching about justification, providing Catholic theologians for a ground for discussion. Stapleton thought the doctrine on justification was the crucial issue of the Protestant Reformation and the chief error of the heretic beliefs of Protestants, influencing their attacks on the Sacraments, good works, prayer, the saints, etc. Stapleton did not want to waste time defending Catholics from charges of abuse or corruption, because he thought the central issue to discuss was justification. He wrote against Lutheran, Anglican, and Calvinist teachings on justification, defending the Catholic view.

O'Connell also highlights Stapleton's defense of John Feckenham, the last Abbot of Westminster, in his controversy with Robert Horne, the Anglican Bishop of Winchester, over the Oath of Supremacy, which Feckenham refused to take under Elizabeth I. O'Connell provides trenchant biographical sketches of Feckenham and Horne and then addresses Stapleton's arguments with Horne over the queen's supremacy and control of the Church of England. He contended that Horne and other Protestants who served as Anglican bishops had betrayed their own beliefs about authority in the Church: they said it was the Holy Bible, but they had sworn loyalty to Elizabeth, who could dispose bishops, decide the order of worship, and demand certain vestments be worn. Horne tried to argue that there was a clear division of civil and ecclesiastical control, but Stapleton mocked those attempts in view of what Elizabeth had already done in having laymen in Parliament define the doctrine of the Church of England, etc.

O'Connell ends his study of Thomas Stapleton's life and works and his efforts to defend Catholic teaching on justification and authority with that controversy. In a way, his bibliographical note provides the summary of Stapleton's efforts and how little we know of them today. Like Allen and Persons, Stapleton was probably too sanguine about the restoration of Catholicism in England, hoping that Spanish action could win the day, backed up by excellent apologetics and clear teaching of the truth.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Leanda de Lisle on the White King, Charles I

For the Waterstones blog, Leanda de Lisle writes about her latest book: White King: Charles I - Traitor, Murderer, Martyr:

Myth has an insidious way of working into way into history. Stories that ring true, that appeal to our prejudices, become ‘fact’. Sometimes they are rooted in contemporary propaganda, the old lies giving a veneer of respectability to the new. But they are also nurtured by attitudes hard-wired into us over centuries.

In my Tudor books I described how our patterns of thought have distorted the reputations of historical figures, particularly women. But in the case of my latest book,
White King, a biography of Charles I, there was still more to do. The character of the king and the women around him have been so maligned that readers have turned away from one the most dramatic reigns in British history: a tale of court glamour and political populism, of misogyny and religious violence, that speaks to our time.

The title of this book
– White King – is drawn from a sobriquet used by Charles’s contemporaries, and was inspired by the story that he was crowned in white. It is a sobriquet that is unfamiliar today. I hope it inspires curiosity and encourages readers to approach the biography of this damned monarch with an open mind.

Charles the Martyr, and Charles the Murderer, lauded by his friends, and condemned by his enemies, is now largely forgotten, but in popular memory something just as extreme remains. He is pinned to the pages of history as a failed king, executed at the hands of his own subjects, and now preserved like some exotic, but desiccated insect. In many accounts it seems that Charles was doomed almost from birth, his character immutable.

We like to believe we have turned our back on our old prejudices, but the way we remember him shows they lie just below the surface, still influencing the way we think.

Please read the rest there

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Newman, Wu, and Stapleton

I'm juggling three books right now: one by Father Marvin O'Connell, Thomas Stapleton and the Counter-Reformation; John H.C. Wu's Chinese Humanism and Christian Spirituality, and Edward Short's collection of essays, presentations, and reviews, Newman and History. I'll provide reviews soon.

I'm reading the book on Thomas Stapleton because I just read Father O'Connell's history of the Counter Reformation and because of this comment in his obituary:

Nevertheless, about his own artistic accomplishments he was humble. He particularly liked to tell a story about proudly presenting his mother with his first published book, on the 16th-century English Catholic theologian Thomas Stapleton. His mother told him that she planned to read it during Lent. “After finishing the first chapter,” Father O’Connell said, “she let me know that she had changed her mind. She’d decided not to read my book and to give up chocolate instead.”

So far, it's as excellent as I expected--but I haven't had any chocolate lately anyway.

Father John Hardon, SJ included John C.H. Wu in his Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan so when I saw that Angelico Press had published his book comparing Chinese philosophy to St. Therese of Lisieux and other aspects of Catholic Christian spirituality, I asked Warren at Eighth Day Books to get a copy for me:

In the essays collected here, John C. H. Wu (1899–1986), the prominent 20th-century scholar of both Chinese and western law, philosophy, literature, and spirituality, illustrates with striking originality the harmonious synthesis of Chinese humanism (especially the wisdom of the ancient sages) with Christian spirituality as articulated in the Bible and the writings of the saints, mystics, and such modern spiritual writers as Thérèse of Lisieux. They display the depth and breadth of Wu’s thought, which led him to the conclusion that the wisdom in all of China’s traditions—especially Confucian thought, Taoism, and Buddhism—points to universal truths that originate from, and are fulfilled in, Christ, and that the “marriage” of the East and the West in Christ is the key to a future concordant understanding.

More about John C.H. Wu's fascinating life here.

One question I have as I read about the spirit of Chinese humanism is what has so many decades of Communism and totalitarianism--including forced abortions and other horrors--done to this spirit? 


Following the advice of Professor J.J. Scarisbrick in his introduction, I'm dipping into Newman and History by reading some of the shorter entries. The one so far that has been most fascinating is a discussion of the conversions of Blessed John Henry Newman and C.S. Lewis (and why Lewis did not become a Catholic). The key is the definition of "conversion".

What are you reading, readers?