7 July 2020

Communion in the hand? Why I am Infuriated (1)

Well, y'know, I started writing this in a state of fury. Y'see, I thought I'd better read the 1969 decree Memoriale Domini of the Liturgy dicastery, all about the methods of receiving Holy Communion. But ... could I find the actual text anywhere on the internet? Answer: No! So in the end ... I hate doing this because it always seems to end up with lots of tedious scrolling up and down ... I turned to Acta Apostolicae Sedis 1969 pp 541sqq, and read quickly through it (it's not very long) right down to the last line. That last line consists of the great name, the name above (or rather, below) all other names ... that of the Worshipful Grand Master of Liturgy himself, H Bugnini. (Even in this blog, I bet there are readers so ignorant that they weren't aware that 'Annibale' starts with an H. Now you know.)

Of course, for those of you, megatraddies, who refuse any and every piece of liturgical legislation later than the Council of Laodicea oops I meant Vatican II, Memoriale Domini  is out-of-court. 1969 is well after the Council; well after the cut-off point of 1962 as appointed by Benedict XVI in Summorum Pontificum. So you will not be AT ALL interested in the facts that (1) it orders Communion in the mouth to be retained (servari debet, non solum quia in tradito plurium saeculorum more innotitur, sed praesertim quia Christifidelium reverentiam erga Eucharistiam significat); (2) it leaves the door a few millimetres ajar for exceptions to be made; and (3) it preserves the right of faithful Christians to receive in the mouth even where permission has been given for optional reception in the hand. For you hardline Extraordinary Form traditionalists, none of this has any relevance at all. That is why I have not just explained it with such care.

But for keen post-Concilar types, Bugniniphiles; Tablet readers; many Bishops; the clear directive here is that a layperson who wishes to reive in os must be allowed to do so. And these safeguards have been iterated since 1969. Bugnini locutus est, causa finita est, as S Augustine put it after he sacked his girl-friend. Obedience is important! Bow, bow, before his daughter-in-law elect!!

I shall delete unread any comments offered before I have completed this post in a day or two.

6 July 2020

Departed Worlds??? (1)

A Patrimonial friend once passed on to me a dear little volume called Euchologium Anglicanum; and, if that very title isn't an echo of an Anglican culture which has passed away, what is? It was printed in 1963. Could one imagine, in 2015, such a name being given to such a book anywhere in this solar system? But stay: let me tell you how it came into existence, and what it contains.

John Eyre Winstanley Wallis, sometime Scholar of Brasenose College in this University, and from 1945 Canon Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral (d.1957), had begun to compose devotions for use after the Third Collect at Sunday Evensong in his Cathedral. "It seemed to me that the early Sacramentaries supplied the very models that I wanted, Christian but not technical. I set to work first to translate prayers from these, but I was driven in time to write prayers."

And at the beginning of 1957, Wallis proposed to a friend (and undergraduate contemporary), F C Geary, Fellow of Corpus 1928-1952, that he, Geary, provide Latin versions to accompany the English prayers Wallis had been "driven ... to write": "The Latin ... will be used mainly by the Vicar and his educated laity at their prayer desks, where the work of engaging the mind with the heart in its devotions is very greatly assisted by the use of Latin ...". In his Foreward, Geary remarks that Wallis's own English compositions were "based ... on the language and rhythms of the early Sacramentaries, which from long study were familiar to him".

If all that doesn't bring tears to your eyes, O ye hard of heart, nothing will. It conjures up a picture in which the parson knows the Roman Sacramentaries and his 'educated laity' understand how Latin would enrich their life of private prayer; a picture in which gentle and scholarly priests make their way across the Cathedral Close as formidably learned spinster ladies critically dissect last Sunday's sermons after collating manuscripts in the Chapter Library. Whatever happened to all that? Is it not a Departed World??? And, while that world had its lacunae, are we the better off or the worse off for its demise? For those of us with age and memories, it is perhaps suggestive ... and chilling ... to think how different the 1970s were from the 1950s. Yes ... you see what I mean! Just suppose the 1960s had never happened! And Euchologium Anglicanum wasn't the only little book to be published in 1963, was it ... ? But more of that later.

You want to know about F C Geary? You want to read examples of these prayers? And so you shall!

5 July 2020

Three Emigre French clergy

At the beginning of May in 1619, a Carmelite House was founded at Antwerp for exiled English recusant ladies. The community in 1794 transferred to Lanherne in Cornwall. If you discount a recent hiatus of three or four years, there are four centuries of Carmelite continuity now represented at Lanherne.

During one of my early visits there, "We'll put out the five kilo chasuble" said Reverend Mother through the grille. "It dates from when the House was opened in Antwerp in 1619. But we'll also put out a lighter chasuble in case it's too much for you."

Of course, I wore the five kilo chasuble, its embroidery a heavy riot of baroque cornucopias. How could one resist such a challenge? After Mass, as I left the Chapel, and looked at the gravestones surrounding the first millenium crucifix outside the door, this inscription caught my eye: Beneath is interred the Rev Louis Dourlen Chaplain of Lanherne formerly priest of the Diocese of St Omers and Canon of Arras Cathedral 1839. Aged 85.

It suddenly dawned upon me that M le Chanoine would very probably have worn that five kilo chasuble; the penny dropped that he must have been a gentleman clergyman who had left France during its Revolutionary troubles. I later discovered (George Oliver, Collections, page 287) that Dourlen joined, for a while, the considerable community (unmentioned by Jane Austen) of French emigres in Bath. There, "he was much respected and esteemed for his integrity and polished manners"; he was gout-ridden but never wore spectacles! I suppose he was in his thirties when Arras Cathedral was declared the Temple of Reason and, presumably, he lost the stipends of his canonry (so it is no surprise that, according to a Guide to Regency Bath, he was available to give French lessons!). The Cathedral was subsequently demolished.

I have recently written about an Abbe Chauvel, whose life was interwoven with the activities of the Catholic Trelawnys. Tentatively, I wonder if he may be the cleric listed as "A Pannece. Chauvel (Jean), ex-vicaire; y exerce. Insoumis, peu eclaire, sans moyens, tres pieux" (E Sevestre, Le clerge Breton en 1801 d'apres les enquetes prefectorales de l'an IX et l'an X conservees aux archives nationales). Peu eclaire! what an accolade! Faxit Deus ...

There were some 5,000 emigre clergy from France in this country after the Revolution, including thirty bishops. They were organised by the Bishop of Saint Pol de Leon, Jean Francois de la Marche, who had escaped to England in the spring of 1791. He played a big role in organising the emigre clergy of London; Sir Harry Trelawny could have known him in London before the bishop's death in 1806. But, although Wilson records that Trelawny spent "a considerable time" in Saint Pol de Leon, it is not easy to see how he could have done this at the same time as while de la Marche was resident in his See.

These clergy ... confessores Fidei in the old sense ... had lived through the days when the ambiguities of the Oath, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and of the Concordat tried the consciences of the Clerus Gallicanus; the despoiling of the Church in the Hiberian and Italian peninsulars; the period in 1799 when "the last pope" died, a lonely prisoner of the triumphant and invincible French revolutionary regime ... the pope at whose death the long history of the Catholic Church came, manifestly, unmistakably, definitively, to its end: and the gates of Hell prevailed, as the Enemy had always known they certainly would.

As people say, the rumours of the Catholic Church's demise were much exaggerated. Pius VI did, after all, have a successor, and Bonaparte was, happily, ultimately vincible. There are no historical inevitables except the Church's indefectibility.

Ambiguities; ruptures; continuities. The Church Militant always has, in her institutions, even in the Papacy, a tension between continuita interiore and appearances of discontinuity.

Does her life really change much?

4 July 2020

The New Normal

Well, in these kingdoms our rulers, gracious and sympathetic persons, are permitting layfolk to attend the Sacraments from now onwards (provided pastors jump through a large number of ingenious hoops). Similar things may be happening in other lands.

Personally, given PF's insistent claim to be opposed to something he has been pleased to call "clericalism", I am surprised that he has been so happy about a situation in which the clergy have been able, indeed, encouraged, to offer the August Sacrifice daily in their homes, while the Holy People of God have been  forced to undergo a "Eucharistic Fast". He is even reported to have described Lombard clergy who, in breach of the de facto Interdict, have ministered to their people, as "adolescent". I shall never understand this remarkable man or his ever-more-bulging lexicon of insults. Having once insulted grandmothers, what is his strategy in now insulting adolescents? Is it simply his innate Argentinian sense of fair play?

But life has not stood still during these last months. It is no secret that many clergy have been spending their lock-down time teaching themselves the Old Rite. And others have been streaming celebrations of the Old Rite from their churches, thereby making it easy for the even moderately curious lay person to sample it ... painlessly ...

I think we should pray for priests and people in this new situation; for the enrichment of both; thanking God for these new opportunities to reappropriate the authentic liturgical patrimony of the Latin Churches; begging Him that it may bear a rich fruit.

"Eucharistic Fast" is a concept some of us have experienced before. When the Ordinariates were erected, it was somehow decided (no sign of it in Anglicanorum coetibus) that incoming Anglicans should be required to spend a non-sacramental few weeks between leaving the Church of England on Shrove Tuesday and being received into Full Communion. Playful people referred to it as "detox"!

No explanation of the theology or purpose of this policy was ever given. At a clergy meeting with our Anglican 'flying bishops' together with a RC bishop, I publicly asked where this idea came from. In a very embarrassing moment, the Anglican bishops pointed at the RC bishop ... and he pointed at them!! Afterwards, I was quietly told that the insistence upon this came from somewhere within the CBCEW.

3 July 2020

Silly Question ...

Exactly where is it laid down that Holy Communion in the Extraordinary Form must be given in os? My 1912 Rituale makes clear that communicants must be kneeling and that men and women should be separate, but I can't find in os.

Fr Michael Melrose of S Giles, Reading

I inherited a fine collection of liturgical books from Father; in one of them was this old prayer card.


offered for the first time to the honour
and propitiation
of Almighty God
the Most August Sacrifice of the Mass
for the Peace of Holy Church
a blessing on all his friends and for
himself the gift of apostolic and
priestly charity.
JULY 3rd, 1972*


Father was a shy and bookish and devout priest deeply loved and trusted by his people. I have very little doubt that he would have been with us in the Ordinariate. His predecessor, Blessed John Eynon, was a Benedictine monk (probably) of Reading Abbey and pp of S Giles, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered  together with Abbot Faringdon, on November 15, 1539.

* By 1972, I presume that the Church of England had invented "the Petertide Ordinations". They did this not so much out of an exuberant affection for the See of Rome as out of a desire to get a full academic year in before the main ordinations. Trinity Sunday, drat it, was inconveniently situated. They even had the nerve to reposition the Ember Week. Thus ordinati were deprived of the joy of reading Isaiah 6 (both in the C of E Lectionary and the Old Roman Breviary) at Mattins on the morning of their ordination and on its subsequent anniversaries.

Fr Melrose presumably said his first Mass on the Monday after being priested on the Sunday.

2 July 2020


There is some discussion on the Internet ... again! ... about the phrase 'Mystery of Faith', in the Institution Narrative of the Roman Rite.

I published the following in August last year. In my view, it explains exactly what the phrase is taken to mean, and why it was inserted into the Words of Consecration of the Chalice. So I've sharpened it up a bit and now I reoffer it to you.

A striking characteristic of the Roman Institution Narrative is its determination to gather in whatever can be found in Scripture ... and, by that, we mean the Hebrew Scriptures as well as what we call the New Testament. Too often even Catholics, who should know better, fail to comprehend the Scriptures holistically as a single narrative of Salvation History in which everything relates to everything.

(1) So we say that the Lord took hunc praeclarum calicem ["this excellent chalice"]. This phrase is gathered into the Last Supper Narrative from Psalm 22:5 [The Lord is my shepherd...]. A dreary 'Enlightenment' approach might tediously discuss the date and authorship of the psalm, and would implicitly ignore the Eucharistic reference, obvious to any Catholic or Orthodox, of calix meus quam praeclarus est. But we are Catholics.

(2) The words about the Lord lifting his eyes to heaven ... you will have noticed that these are gathered into the Institution Narrative from the Feedings of the 5,000 and the 4,000 recorded in Scripture, which we recognise as Eucharistic anticipations.

(3) Our Covenant is not only the  Covenant [Testament] which lies at the heart of the 'Old Testament'; it is also 'New' (I Corinthians 11:25), and additionally 'Eternal' (Psalm 110:9; Ecclus.17:12; 45: 15: etc.).So "New" and "Eternal" are gathered into the story of the Last Supper.

(4) The most puzzlement is caused by the words Mysterium Fidei. Jungmann rightly dismisses as "poetry, not history" the theory that these were words originally spoken by the Deacon. Baseless myths, however, die hard and after Vatican II it became yet another silly (and illegal) fad to give these words to the Deacon.

I am quite sure that the phrase was gathered into the Consecration of the Chalice from I Timothy 3:9, which talks about the deacons "holding the Mystery of Faith". Since the Deacon was commonly regarded as having a special responsibility for the Chalice (at High Mass he still joins the Priest in offering the Chalice), "holding the Mystery of Faith" was taken to be equivalent to "holding the Chalice".

So "Mystery of Faith" in the Roman rite means the Chalice of the Lord's Blood.

So, just as "this excellent chalice" and "lifting up His eyes to heaven" and "New" Covenant and "Eternal' were gathered into the Institution Narrative from elsewhere in Holy Scripture, so also the Apostle's words about the Deacons "holding" [ekhontas] the "Mystery of Faith" were understood as referring to the Chalice and gathered into the account of the Last Supper.

The Next Conclave

A couple of years ago, to cheer myself up a bit, I drafted this piece, so as to have it at the ready in case something interesting happened. It then went on hold. But, since the admirable Ed Pentin has a book coming out marking up the odds on the front runners, I have decided to put this humble piece before you now.

I think I am among many who feel that the method of electing a Roman Pontiff has become disfunctional to the point of being calamitous.

The electorate ... the College of Cardinals ... Purpurati Patres ... once consisted, theologically, of the clerus of the Holy Roman Church. Although a man might be Primate of some great regional See, he took part in this election qua being the presbyter of a Roman titular Church ... or the Deacon of one of its Deaconries (remember that in the earlier centuries the Roman Deacons were very powerful men) ... or the Bishop of one of the suburbicarian bishoprics.

In formal terms, this system was structurally corrupted in the latter part of the twentieth century. S John XXIII decreed that all the members of this body should receive episcopal consecration; which sends out precisely the wrong message. (Benedict XVI only half-heartedly retreated from this mistake when he laudably restored the practice of the Cardinal Deacons wearing dalmatics.) And some of the Oriental Patriarchs were made members of the Order of Cardinal Bishops, again corrupting its essential character as part of the clerus Romanus. But perhaps these are pedantic details compared with the practical change brought about by the great increase in the numbers of this electorate.

No longer was the Sacred College a small group of perhaps twenty or twenty-four members who knew each other. In the sixteenth century (with another hike in the twentieth century) it became a large body in which forceful men with a flair for organisation, or a group who had plotted their tactics in advance of the Conclave, could ... organise matters. PF has stopped the Consistories at which, before this pontificate, the Cardinals could discuss matters together with Parrhesia. There are natural suspicions that he has done this because he wishes to restrict, in any way he can, the possibilities for realistic interaction between the members of the next Conclave. He wants a compliant assembly in which sharp men can fix another coup.

Nescioquis dicet: "But a long Conclave would be disastrous. Anything rather than that!"

Oh Yeah? Prospero Lambertini was so fortunately elected pope on 17 August 1740; his predecessor had died on the 8th of February. That is an interregnum of some six months. Was this disastrous? Does the Catholic Church cease to exist when she "has no visible Head"? Of course not. Given the august and Petrine Majesty, the God-given Primacy, of the Roman See, a long interregnum in that See might indeed weaken the Church Universal (some readers may feel that a good long inerregnum would, however, be prefereable to another disordered pontificate ... I couldn't possibly comment). But we surely need to believe that the Church, in all its essential functions, continues to exist during a papal interregnum. And, after the death of Clement IV in 1268, it was two years, nine months, and two days before Blessed Gregory IX was elected. And how do we juggle with the Great Western Schism and the adage Papa dubius Papa nullus? Moreover, during the earlier period known as the Pornocracy, although there was a formal succession of popes, they were men of infamous, depraved, and murderous natures; it is hard to resist the conclusion that the Universal Church was indeed deprived of the genuine exercise of the Petrine Ministry. A characteristic mode of papal succession in that period became the murder of one's predecessor. Unsurprisingly, it is still a matter of academic uncertainty which of those blood-stained Pontiffs is to be deemed "validly" to have secured the cathedra Petri.

In my view, the first sign that things are going well in the next Conclave will be ... if it turns out to be a very long one.

Why are Popes nowadays elected so rapidly? It is, surely, a function of the maudlin and sickly Personality Cult which has deformed and unbalanced the Catholic Church especially since the 1930s. Even when the Roman Pontiff was still the 'Prisoner in the Vatican', Eugenio Pacelli invented, as Cardinal Secretary of State, the idea of a quasi-papal travelling circus framing himself ... from which he acquired the nicknames Il Vice-Papa, Il Cardinale volante. This phenomenon, so demeaning to the Local Churches, created a situation in which, at the next Conclave, he was elected pope on (was it?) the third ballot. And that is more or less where we are now. Adoring, febrile mobs jostle as they await the white smoke, while, inside the Sistine Chapel, the electors convince themselves that, once it is clear which way the ballots seem to be tending, it will Look Better to the Customers if matters are made pretty unanimous pretty quickly. Hence, the almost inevitability, nowadays, of the Two or Three Day Conclave.

If we had, say, a two-month Conclave, the crowds of excited tourists and giggling nuns might just possibly have thinned out a bit.

The modern two-day Conclave easily feeds into the gross and embarrassing superstition that popes are chosen by God Himself (probably God the Holy Spirit). When John Paul I was elected, I remember Cardinal Hume making a characteristically foolish remark: "For my part, he was God's Candidate". While the inscrutable designs of Providence are indeed beyond our reckoning, in human terms it did seem to me almost funny when 'God's Candidate' was so decisively snatched from us a mere month later. Despite Joseph Ratzinger's gently ironic but firm dismissal of this sort of nonsense, from here it was a straight line of development to today and to the pernicious errors of Bergoglianism. A central feature of this phenomenon is: the Pontiff is surrounded by cronies and sycophants determined to assure the world that he is the Voice of God, the Mouthpiece of the Spirit. And, possibly blasphemously, references to the "Holy Spirit" and to his close associate "the God of Surprises" are used to shortcut the normal and wholesome (if often lengthy) processes by which the Petrine See had, over centuries, functioned within the Church and served the great good of the Church.

If I had anything to do with Conclave arrangements, I would fix things so that the food got better and better within the Conclave as its weeks lengthened into months. And the wine became ever more plentiful. After two months, I would transfer the whole Conclave, lock, stock, and barrel, to Lake Garda and borrow some houris from PF's Islamic chums ... 'Ecumenical Feminae Probatae' they could be  called.

So much is so wrong that it is hard to be very optimistic about the next Conclave. But, for me, the longer it takes, the more I will, in my subjective, fallible way, suspect that, possibly, just some of Their Eminences may have smuggled in their rosaries.

1 July 2020

The Visitation and the Precious Blood

How very ruthless of the post-Conciliar 'reforms': Westminster Cathedral, overnight, lost its Patronal Festival when the 'reformers' reduced July 1 from a Double of the First Class to a feria on the almost sacrilegiously flippant grounds that the Precious Blood would get a perfectly adequate 'covering' by being merely added to the title of Corpus Christi. Maestissimi homunculi. Thus a gorgeous piece of B Pius IX liturgy disappeared: the Solemn Festival he had placed on the calendar to commemorate his return to the City after the Roman Revolution of 1848. (There is nothing vulgar, incidentally, about doing that sort of thing to the calendar, or, if there is, it is simply the vulgarity of an incarnational religion. Byzantine calendars are richly and very appropriately peppered with such observances related to events in Christian history.)

Good news, however: the Ordinariate Church South of the River, Precious Blood Southwark, keeps its patronal festival on the proper day, today.

Incidentally, on the same occasion B Pius IX also raised our Lady's Visitation from a Greater Double to a Double of the Second Class. Urban VI had fitted that festivity onto July 2 as a prayer for Unity. It was the first day available after the Octave of S John, and had long been, among Byzantines, the Feast of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe of the Theotokos in the great Basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople. All that, even the Ecumenical relevance of it, was treated in the post-Conciliar 'reforms' as so much extravagance to be shovelled away: and so the Visitation had a more 'logical' date discovered for it.

B Pius IX's original date for the Precious Blood had been the First Sunday in July. It was the reforms of S Pius X that shifted the Festival onto July 1. S Pius X's liturgists felt, in my view rightly, that too many of the old Roman Sunday Masses were unused on their Sundays year after year because so many much newer feasts were permanently anchored on "the xth Sunday of such-a-month". S Pius X's change did not, of course, mean that the Precious Blood never fell upon a Sunday; it meant that it only fell on a Sunday once every six or seven years. And, with a pastoral flexibility which characterised papal liturgical interventions before the fateful, deplorable collaborazione between Pius XII and Hannibal, S Pius X still allowed, for pastoral reasons, all the Masses on the First Sunday of July to be of the Precious Blood even when July 1 fell on a weekday.

For those of us who so wisely use 'the Old Breviary' today has superb Office Hymns (their authors, sadly, unknown). The one provided for Lauds relates particularly well to the old English devotion to the Five Wounds. The English Catholic Hymn Book gives the Vespers hymn Festivis resonent in translation; a great majestic hymn in striding all-conquering Asclepiads, a monument to the triumphant Counter- Reformation and the rediscovery of Catholic self-confidence under B Pius IX. Anyone who's interested in its metre will find an article of mine at 19 March 2019. (Viva viva Gesu, of course, appears in modern hymnals as 'Glory be to Jesus'.)

During the Month of the Precious Blood, perhaps the Litany authorised by S John XXIII could be dusted off and given an airing ... I wonder if any Byzantine poet has ever composed a Paracletic Canon in honour of the Precious and Life-giving Blood of our Most Holy Redeemer.

30 June 2020

FOOTNOTE: A Peripatetic Shrine

That story about Mrs de Bary wandering England wondering where to deposit her Statue, her Devotion, and her Association ... does it remind you ever so slightly of those stories in medieval hagiography about chapels being requested and then not being built in quite exactly the right place, so that supernatural means had to put-things-right? As at Walsingham, for example? Possibly stories like that of Mrs de Bary lie behind those narrative patterns.

Mrs de Bary (1835-1913) was not, of course, born as a de Bary. She was born as a Mostyn ... there! That made you sit up, didn't it: The Mostyns of Flintshire! Those of you who have joined in the Latin Summer School which I run and which used to happen at Holywell and Pantasaph in Flintshire might have noticed all those Mostyn graves in that extensive Catholic burial ground beside the church at Pantasaph. You may even have drunk in the Mostyn Arms ... or do I mean the Talacre Arms? The Mostyns were a recusant family; and a baronetcy family.

Mary Pauline Mostyn, who became Mrs de Bary in 1862, was a daughter of Sir Edward, the seventh baronet. Her nephew was one Francis Mostyn, Vicar Apostolic (these very rare and delightfully exotic butterflies survived in the woodlands and meadows of Wales for nearly half a century after they became so sadly extinct in England) from 1895; Bishop of Menevia from 1898; and (second) Archbishop of Cardiff 1921-1939. (It surely made the Welsh Anglicans, who were being disestablished at that time, hopping mad that the papists got in first with an Archbishop for Wales ... and, in Francis Mostyn, even a Welsh-speaking Archbishop!)

Mrs de Bary must have felt quite at home when her husband rented Trelawne, an old estate where somebody had recently built a Catholic Chapel, because at her own paternal ancestral home at Talacre, the family had built, in 1829, the year of Catholic Emancipation, a chapel to our Lady of Mount Carmel. This dedication was probably inspired by the fact that earlier Mostyn ladies had been at the English Carmel in Antwerp in the 1620s (you will remember that, after fleeing the French army, these nuns ended up at Lanherne in Cornwall, where a young community has now recovered the authentic Carmelite life). Indeed, Mother Mary Mostyn became the very holy superior of a daughter foundation at Lierre. Those were the family traditions with which Mrs de Bary grew up.

So why, in 1895, did she not seek advice from her almost-episcopal nephew about where to settle our Lady of Light? Did she ever consider taking our Lady of Light to her home country of North Wales? Perhaps she did. Perhaps, when she left Cornwall in 1894, she had no idea that the young man was just about to acquire a mitre. But there may have been positive reasons why she went to Cardinal Vaughan for help and advice.

Vaughan, like the Mostyns, came from an old recusant gentry family in the Welsh borders. Members of it were Out with the Prince Regent in 1745-6 ... saw service under the King's Most Catholic Majesty of Spain ... all that sort of thing. A thoroughly admirable family! And they were from the same circles as the Mostyns. Mrs de Bary may have felt that the opportunity of seeking help from somebody of the same background as herself, whom, indeed, she may just possibly have known, was too good to miss. Anyway, we have seen that Vaughan's advice resulted in Mrs de Bary, and our Lady of Light, settling in Clacton.

But, again, difficulties! Why? Possibly her friend the Cardinal was not as reliable as she had hoped in the provision of clergy to serve her Shrine. Perhaps she failed to appreciate our Essex marshes (I am myself an Essex Man in whose veins the proud if pessimistic blood of the Marshwiggles still runs).

Or was it ... I hesitate to suggest this ... that in Clacton there was very little in the way of gentle or of Catholic social life? I have no idea where she ended up (she lived until 1913), but it may have been somewhere less far from the centre of things than Clacton was, both socially and geographically.

Does anybody know? She had a companion called Mrs Agnes St John.

29 June 2020


On May 14, 1893, the coadjutor bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Graham, "solemnly inaugurated the festival of  ... 'Our Lady of Light, Spouse of the Holy Ghost', recently granted by Rome; the feast to be kept on the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension"*. In that year, May 14 was the Sunday after Ascension.

Here is what the heading to this post means. Intron is Breton for Lady (current orthography omits the first of the Ns). Varia is for Maria. Sklerder (modern orthography: sklaerder [masc] or sklaerded [fem]) means Light; clarity. In the Cornish Language, the word (inferred in 1938 by Nance from Breton and Welsh, but the root is in Tregear), is clerder; in Welsh, claerder [masc]. (Does this come from the Latin clarus/claritas via middle English and old French; or is it a really old Latin importation like ecclesia or molina, which slipped directly into the "Celtic" dialects in the Roman period and then evolved? Some philologist out there must know ...)

Are you sitting comfortably, or have I discombobulated you already? Either way, I'll begin.

Once upon a time there was an old Cornish baronet called the Reverend Sir Henry Trelawny ... whose story I have recounted on this blog over these last few days.

His daughters had converted their Cornish domestic chapel into a Catholic chapel; but, after his death in 1834, his heir, I gather, returned it to Anglican worship, The daughters, fortified by their Father's 'last wishes', built a Chapel on the estate for our Lady of Light (opened in 1843, October 6). There the devotion flourished. But as that Catholic generation died out, the position of the shrine became precarious until one Richard de Bary rented the property (from 1876 to 1894). The new Chapel was restored and a beautiful statue, in the style later to be popularised by the cultus of our Lady of Fatima, was placed within it. This brings us up to Bishop Graham (vide supra; de Bary had died in 1891).

Difficulties ensued; Mrs de Bary had to take the statue away, and Cardinal Vaughan suggested that Clacton on Sea in Essex (then within his diocese of Westminster) would be a good place for the Shrine and the devotion. And so, if you visit the Catholic church in that faintly brash seaside resort, you will find this 'Breton' shrine with its fine statue still in existence (sadly, the church's Sanctuary was wreckovated in the late 1990s; see my May 10 post  headed "The A G Swannell Library"). A good statue of S Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort is near the Lady Chapel. Nothing could be more fitting. So:


 ... which is Breton for Our Lady of Light, Pray for us. Practise saying it!! Do so for the rest of the day!!!

In Cornwall, the name Sklerder survives: it is what Sir Henry and his daughters renamed their ancestral estate. Further West in Cornwall, the Mother Foundress of the Anglican 'Franciscan Servants of Jesus and Mary' had a vision of our Lady of Light in the Anglo-Catholic village of St Hilary; she recorded that in the 1920s, 'friends' of Mother still invoked our Lady under this title. A statue of our Lady of Light followed that Anglican community to Posbury St Francis in Devon ... last autumn, the convent site was sold off, and what has become of the (Anglican) statue, I do not know.

Another thing I do not know: What exactly did Rome grant in 1893 for liturgical use on the Sunday Before Pentecost? A perfunctory computer search through the indexes of Acta Sanctae Sedis didn't give me any joy.

When Clacton's District Council acquired a Grant of Arms in 1938, the Motto was Lux Salubritas Felicitas (the arms also incorporate the Scallop shell of pilgrimage) ... how very apt ...

*Some, but not most, information is taken from Fr C Wilson's Our Lady of Light, 1953. The Internet will give you interesting information about this particular devotion to our Lady in other parts of the world.

28 June 2020

Sir Harry Trelawny (6)

When Miss Trelawny and her sister had restored the domestic chapel at Trelawne as a Catholic chapel, the first Mass there in 1830 was celebrated by "the Abbe Chauvel". I have wondered whether the fact that the Chapel had not been used for Catholic worship until 1830 might be connected with the passing of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829. Under the previous legislation, the Catholic Relief Act of 1791, it had been required that places for Catholic worship should go through an elaborate process of registration before use; and the Act imposed similar formalities upon those desiring to officiate in such buildings. There could have been legal problems in this for Sir Harry or, indeed, other Catholic clergy (section V). Could it be that, by 1830, Section XXV of the 1829 Act, which seems to exempt 'private houses' from such regulation, eliminated such problems with regard to a domestic chapel?

In 1834, Sir Harry died at Levano on the shores of Lake Maggiore; where he was buried. It appears that his male heir was not a Catholic, because "after their father's death, [his daughters] strove to overcome every obstacle to fulfil his last wish, the erection of a chapel on the estate dedicated to Our Lady of Light. It was his constant wish that Our Blessed Lady would bring to his beloved Cornwall that light of Faith that he himself had received. The chapel was built overlooking Talland Bay, and was opened on October 6th 1843."

But let us go back to the Abbe Chauvel. I think he must have been a Breton priest, because, "near [the Trelawny] home [at Saint-Pol-de-Leon], there was a shrine, known in Breton as 'INTRON VARIA AR SKLERDER'. 'Our Lady of Light'. This chapel had been rebuilt and blessed on August 5th 1837, by the Abbe Chauvel." So the Catholic Trelawnys were still keeping in touch with Chauvel after Sir Harry's death; it would be interesting to know what part in the Trelawny story had been played by this priest who was so well placed to take ship from the harbour at Saint-Pol-de-Leon across to Looe. He sounds like a family friend.

Miss Trelawny died in 1860. A family called de Bary rented the estate, renamed Sclerder, from 1876 until 1894; Mrs de Bary procured a statue for the Chapel, and, after her husband's death, eventually found a new home for the Shrine and the devotion and the statue at Clacton on sea in Essex. At some point, a staue of S Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort was very suitably placed nearby within the Church. As far as I am aware, it is still a Shrine to our Lady of Light, with a daily Rosary.

Intron Varia ar Sklerder, pedit evidomp!

 Quotations (" ") are  from Fr Cyril Wilson. Later, I will reprint a former post which takes the story through the twentieth century.