8 December 2023

Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei

 The Italian original of the following prayer received an Imprimatur from the Milan Curia on 11 Jun 1913.

O Virgin Immaculate and Queen of the Holy Rosary, Thou, in these times of dead faith and of triumphant impiety, hast wished to set thy place of Queen and of Mother upon the ancient land of Pompei, dwelling place of dead pagans. And from this place where the idols and the demons were worshipped, thou dost today, as Mother of the divine graces, scatter upon all the treasures of the mercies of heaven. I pray thee! From this throne where thou dost reign in mercy, turn, O Mary, your kindly eyes upon me also, and have mercy on me, who have so great a need of thy succour. Show thyself also to me as thou hast shown thyself to so many others, as true Mother of Mercy: Monstra te esse Matrem, as I with all my heart salute and invoke thee as my Sovereign and Queen of the Most Holy Rosary.

Salve Regina, Mater

7 December 2023


 So often one has a brilliant idea which, if one runs it to ground and digs it up, turns out to be totally illegitimate and wrong. I would like to share an idea of mine ... and if the philologically literate shoot it down in howls of mirth, I shall simply be grateful that my education is continuing. Honest!

As fanatical reders of this blog will know, the Catholic Church in Clacton on Sea, the town where my parents and I spent years when I was small, contains a beautiful Shrine of our Lady of Light. The Revd Cyril Wilson published a very useful (except for its lack of footnotes) little book in 1953 in which he gave a lot of the 'back-history' of that Shrine and that devotion ... which is Cornish and involves  S Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort. He gives the title of one Breton shrine as INTRON VARIA AR SKLERDER.

The first stage in my dodgy(?) hypothesis involves textual emendation. Yes; sneer if you must! My knowledge of the Breton language is minimal; but my little (2002) Breton Dictionary leads me to the belief that the N in INTRON is a typo. Without it, the word means Lady. So: ITRON. Yes??

From what I do know of the "Celtic" languages, in which weird things can happen to some consonants (not least M) in some positions in a word, I am convinced that VARIA is a 'mutated' form of MARIA.

But the word SKLERDER interests me most. That little dictionary suggests that SKLER- and SKLAER- carry the meaning LIGHT. I recall reading somewhere that, as far as Breton is concerned, a initial S may be etymologically insignificant.


When Pam and I spent quite alot of our time in Cornwall, we read (the whole of) the surviving Middle Cornish literature; I was constantly surprised by how much Middle Cornish vocab appears to be derived from highly 'evolved' late Latin terms (I'm not referring to medieval loan-words, which also proliferate whether via French or English). 

I think KLERDER is a corruption of CLARITATE. Readers will recall how often, in the Vulgate, terms with clarus for their root seem more popular than those from gloria.

While browsing around on the feast of All the Saints of England, I found myself looking at one of Canon Doble's calendars of Cornish saints. He lists, on November 4, S. Cleder Conf., and adds 'Clarus, P & M'. He cites in a footnote Baring-Gould, and adds the information that "S Clarus, P & M in Normandy, is honoured on 4 November (also on 18 July.) N.R. may have identified S Cleder with S Cleer."

Cleder, Clarus, Cleer ...

My case rests!! Is it a pure-bred fox, or ...

6 December 2023

The dangers of the Adonius

That great mass of fine Neo-Gothic buildings which you pass in the train or along the A27 just by Shoreham's exquisite Art Deco Airport, is dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God, and to S Nicolas, despite its local nickname Dracula's Castle. It is very punctilious about retaining a proper spelling of NICOLAS without the H. These things matter. Don't ask me Why ... but they do.

When the College Office Book was reissued in 1914, it contained two new English hymns for the Co-Patron, both in the Sapphic metre. The first was composed by the Wykehamist Adam Fox, Master at Lancing 1906-1918, subsequently Warden of Radley College, Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College and Professor of Poetry; finally Canon, Archdeacon, and Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey.

I had no success in urging upon my then colleagues the restoration of his hymn to regular use. It was the adonius at the end of this stanza

Teach us to honour Nicolas of Myra,

Foeman to error in the Church's Councils,

Lover of sailors, and above all other

     Lover of Children.

which raised their trembling eyebrows, poor poppets. 

The second hymn was by Athelstan Riley. In his hymn, the adonius was again the problem; in this case, the adonius which concludes the following stanza which, around the time of  'Princess Di's' demise, wrecked my passionate crusade to get it back into the repertoire:

Rouse thee, great goddess of th'Ephesian temple,

For, lo! the offspring of a greater Virgin

Armeth his servant to destroy thine oak tree

     Dumb, dead Diana. 

Fr Fox had kippers for brekker, lunch, and tea. Not many people know that. We live in a world rife with culpable ignorance.

He had wanted his memorial in Westminster Abbey to read "A Fox gone to Earth", but his executors had as little humour as my one-time colleagues.

Jocosity ... mere jocosity ... I do not really criticise or sneer at either Fr Fox's Executors or my former colleagues; or, indeed, at the People's Princess alias Queen of Hearts.


5 December 2023

ACTUOSA PARTICIPATIO ... bring it back ...

"Reding thought he never had been present at worship before, so absorbed was the attention, so intense was the devotion of the congregation. What particularly struck him was, that whereas in the Church of England the clergyman or the organ was everything and the people nothing except so far as the clerk is their representative, here it was just reversed. The priest hardly spoke, or at least audibly; but the whole congregation was as though one vast instrument or Panharmonicon, moving all together, and, what was most remarkable, as if self-moved. They did not seem to require anyone to prompt or direct them, though in the Litany the choir took the alternate parts. 

"The words were Latin, but everyone seemed to understand them thoroughly, and to be offering up his prayers to the Blessed Trinity, and the Incarnate Saviour, and the great Mother of God, and the glorified Saints, with hearts full in proportion to the energy of the sounds they uttered. 

"There was a little boy near him, and a poor woman, singing at the pitch of their voices. There was no mistaking it; Reding said to himself, 'This is a popular religion ... How wonderful ... that people call this worship formal and external; it seems to possess all classes, young and old, polished and vulgar, men and women indiscriminately; it is the working of one Spirit in all, making many one.'" 

4 December 2023

Benedictus XVI Revisited

 Pathetic ... but I discerned a suggestion of a tear as I looked through the Winter Number of  Mass of Ages, the free magazine of my country's Latin Mass Society. There were pictures of Pope Benedict. Memories; memories.

And how Anglican some of it is. The Pope is shown carrying a cross, of a type which will be most familiar to 'middle-of-the-road' Anglicans. At the extremity of each of the Cross's four arms, there is an emblem of one of the Four Evangelists. And in the middle, instead of the Figure of the Lord, there is the Lamb of God. Even today, there must be hundreds of Anglican churches where it was felt that a Crucifix would be too high church, too popish. So a cross such as I have just described found a place upon the altar instead. 

Not so extreme!!

Those interested in the niceties of liturgical garments will be interested to see Benedict wearing a fanon over his amice ... the fanon was a simple covering garment ... did it, perhaps, originally, protect the collar of the chasuble from a pontifical wig?

And the pallium ... Benedict XVI changed the colour of the crosses from black to the original papal red. Francis I promptly changed it back! 


And Anglicanism gets its elbow in again as Mass of Ages advertises a reprint of Enid Chadwick's My Book of the Church's Year.

Chadwick was an Anglican artist who did most of the artwork in the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham. This little book is a very fine example of where Anglo-Papalist popular art had got to in the 1930s. Children be ... er ... damned; you'll enjoy this little art-history gem yourself!

Joining the British Latin Mass Society is a splendid step you can take in these hard times to uphold the Faith. I beg you to do so ... or, if your membership has lapsed, to renew!

3 December 2023

Books and Voices

 It is such a natural and universal thing that we do not notice it; although Catherine Pickstock wrote a fine book on it. I mean: the essentially oral rather than literary nature of Liturgy (After writing. Blackwell 1998). Although we know that the officiant is, almost certainly, reading from a text, we accept as normative the fact that he doesn't keep on telling us this. Nor, usually, does he inform the addressee of his book-references, or belabour him with source-information.

Most readers will also be aware that, before the drastic reduction in the number of prefaces in the 'Gregorian Sacramentary' to about 10, many if not most Uses offered at least one preface for every single Mass. In the Corpus Praefationum (Brepols 1980), no fewer than four are provided for S Birinus alone.

S Birinus? He is a local saint who is currently in my mind because his festival is approaching. It used to be on December 3, but now it comes on December 5, and S Francis Xavier has sole possession of December 3. He ... Birinus ... set up his episcopium  at Dorchester on Thames, in the remains of a Roman town which sits astride the confluence of the Thames and the Thame, and the Roman road linking Calleva (Silchester) and Lactodurum (Towcester). 

It was in the Thames that S Birinus baptised King Cynegils of Wessex (635).

Incidentally ... or BTW ... the nut-cases who 'reformed' the Roman Rite in the 1960s chose to lay it down as an unbreakable rule that the Preface must never contain a request. Most earlier prefaces, however, did precisely that ... of the four prefaces for S Birinus, three contain requests. 

I give now the text (and a partial translation) of a Preface which seems to me to put a (red) 'literacy' toe inside an 'orality' door.

"VD ... aeterne Deus. Qui beatum Byrinum confessorem tuum nobis doctorem donare dignatus es, per quem a tenebris ignorantiae liberati, aeternae lucis fieri filii meruimus. Qui, quod ore docuit, exemplo monstravit, cuius vita moribus effulsit egregiis, atque miraculis illuxit. Quae etiam antiquis libris leguntur inscripta, etiam nova cotidie videntur in facto*. Cuius praesenti patrocinio gaudentes, tuam super nos praedicamus gratiam abundantur effusam. Per Christum."

[*Miracles read written in ancient books, even now are daily seen in deed.

A nice piece of Latin, yes? Deftly deployed alliteration?

The area had a significant Recusant population: Fr John Osman has beautified a tiny Victorian gothic church down by the river; you would need to travel far to find anything as lovely.

2 December 2023

Slaves and Togas

 So there I was, in the CODRINGTON LIBRARY, peering down at a Renaissancevolume, the Lumen Animae by Matthias Farinator. Not that I had theleast interest in that: I was more taken by its owner.

But I am jumping ahead rather. Why should I be in the splendid CODRINGTON LIBRARY of All Souls College? My quarry was Master Patrick Holyborton, Rector of Lifton in the Diocese of Exeter, whom I was researching and who had owned the book. You (and I) would probably spell his name Haliburton. And why am writing about him now, decades later?

two or three weeks ago, the Saturday Times Newspaper suggested some jolly, autumnal, walks; and it caught my eye that one such walk was Gullane and Dirleton, East Lothian. And Dirleton was the seat, centuries ago, of a minor boble family, the Haliburtons of Dirleton. Andso Dirleton was where Master Patrick came from! And I had never been there!

Well, I'm too old and ill now. But things stick with one. Master Patrick was a follower of the Ninth Earl of Douglas, who had to flee to England after his defeat by James II of Scots. After an advantageous marriage to an English heiress, Douglas found himself in the upper circles of Yorkist England, and was able to reward adherents ... such as Haliburton. And the volume (one of only two identified volumes from Haliburton's library) revealed that he had been Archdeacon of Totnes. This was new information: the records of the Diocese are rather lacunose at this point. The next Archdeacon was collated in 1491 ... so what happened to Master Patrick, who seems to go absent about thenfrom the Chapter records?

Here I had another spot of luck. An Exeter Cathedral inventory survives of 1506: and it lists "two sudaria of violet or purple colour, of the gift of Patrick Holyborton, which he brought (portavit) from the Holy Land Jerusalem". [I think sudaria means humeral veils.]

So that's where he was during the missing year.

And here was I, musing occasionally on the statue of SIR CHRISTOPHER CODDRINGTON, who was presiding over the whole splendid architectural extravaganza dressed like a member of the Roman elite.

CODRINGTON ... I don't think I 've mentioned this ... is currently under a bit of a shadow. His fortune was, we are informed, based on the Slave Trade. I'm not sure if his library still bears his name. Or, if it does, how much longer it will be allowed to do so. If you go to admire is Library, I hope you you will keep mentioning his name ...

BTW: It's only a (slightly long) Stone's throw to the Oriel statue of Rhodes, and his Chronogram.

1 December 2023

The Holy and Blessed Martyrs of Oxford

In the handlist of the English Martyrs, I have counted some 58 whose witness honours this (now apostate) University. Today is their combined liturgical commemoration; the day having been chosen because it was on December 1 1581 that three of them were martyred at Tyburn: S Edmund Campion, scholar and fellow of S John's College and Public Orator; S Ralph Sherwin, fellow of Exeter College; and S Alexander Briant, of Hart Hall, now represented by own college. 

[I think it right to regard this day as a Greater Double, or Second Class feast, because, since it was entered on the Calendars of some English dioceses, many Beati have been canonised.]

"We have no slight outfit for our opening warfare. Can we religiously suppose that the blood of our Martyrs, three centuries ago and since, shall never receive its recompense? Those priests, secular and regular, did they suffer for no end? or rather, for an end which is not yet accomplished? The long imprisonment, the fetid dungeon, the weary suspense, the tyrannous trial, the barbarous sentence, the savage execution, the rack, the gibbet the knife, the cauldron, the numberless tortures of those holy victims, O my God, are they to have no reward? Are Thy Martyrs to cry from under Thine altar for their loving vengeance on this guilty people, and to cry in vain? Shall they lose life, and not gain a better life for the children of those who persecuted them? Is this Thy way, O my God, righteous and true? Is it according to Thy promise, O King of Saints, if I may dare to talk to Thee of justice? ... And in that day of trial and desolation for England, when hearts were pierced through and through with Mary's woe, at the crucifixion of Thy body mystical, was not every tear that flowed, and every drop of blood that was shed, the seeds of a future harvest, when they who sowed in sorrow were to reap in joy?"

S John Henry Newman.

30 November 2023

A Little Latin Puzzle

"Ego omnipotenti Deo, qui unus et verus est, immolo quotidie, non taurorum carnes, nec hircorum sanguinem, sed immaculatum Agnum in altari; cuius carnem posteaquam omnis populus credentium manducaverit, Agnus qui sacrificatus est integer perseverat et vivus."

 I've put the most important words in red. If you suss those out, you've already done quite wel!!

Sometimes people like a bit of this as a break from a Crossword or a Sudoku. The above sentence, from today's Divine Office of S Andrew, was, I suspect, in the mind of S John Henry as he composed the last pages of his Second Spring sermon. 

He was, even in his Anglican days, an addict of the Traditional Roman Breviary.

S Andrew and the British Ordinariate

A very happy and holy Name Day to all those splendid people whose Patron Saint is S Andrew!

You don't need to be a Scotsman to have a devotion to S Andrew. His cultus is embedded also in the history of English Christianity in a way which goes back to the Roman origins of our Liturgy even before S Augustine had arrived off the shores of Kent. And it is most happily bound up with those heady days when England, after the Henrician schism, was reconciled to the See of S Andrew's brother.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, gives, for the most part, the same Sunday Collects, Epistles, and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V. But the Reading and Gospel for the Sunday Next Before Advent (taken, like most such Prayer Book material, from the medieval Sarum Rite) were, unlike the other Epistles and Gospels After Trinity, quite different from those in S Pius V's edition of the Roman Rite. Not because of some sort of Protestant jiggery-pokery; they are thoroughly respectable lections offered to us by our ancient Western Catholic Tradition; they go back to the earliest Roman lectionaries, the Comes of Wuerzburg and Murbach.

The old Gregorian Roman ... and the Prayer Book ... Gospel thus provided contains the John 6 account of the Miraculous Feeding, which is not only suitable as an eschatological meditation on the Messianic Banquet, but also gives prominence to S Andrew. I wonder if this is one reason why that pericope got selected; it was chosen at the time when the Sunday readings in the 'Green' seasons often reflected the themes of adjacent great festivals.  And S Andrew is, in the authentic ancient Roman Tradition, a very major solemnity indeed; an all-night vigil was held and the 'Leonine Sacramentary' offered three Masses in addition to the Vigil Mass; possibly because of S Andrew's closeness to S Peter?

The English Church, so laudably permeated by Romanita in its early days, perpetuated this superb  'Andreian' bias. The 'Leofric Missal', before it made its way to eleventh century Exeter and then, at the Reformation, to the Bodleian Library in this University, started its life as the working book of the Archbishops of Canterbury and has been thought by its (immensely painstaking) most recent editor (Henry Bradshaw Society 1999-2002) probably to have been copied from books brought from Rome to Canterbury by the Augustinian Mission. In its provision for the Consecration of Churches, this book appears to reflect a situation in which S Andrew is having a great many churches dedicated in his honour (i.e. it incorporates in the Consecration service a prayer specifically relating to just this one Saint). And in fact, the percentage of 'Andreian' churches in England is well above statistical expectation. After all, S Gregory the Great named his great monastery on the Caelian Hill (from which S Augustine and his fellows came) after S Andrew, and it was pretty certainly he who added S Andrew to the Libera nos [the Saint is absent from its pre-Gregorian form found in Stowe].

What a shame that the Novus Ordo has so very little respect for this 'Andreian' tradition: It actually makes it impossible to celebrate an External Solemnity on an adjacent Sunday ('Christ the King' does a pincer movement with Advent Sunday to put paid to any such possibility). 

Yet his Feast was the splendiferous, coruscating day in 1554 on which Parliament begged Good King Philip and Good Queen Mary to intercede with her kinsman, the Legate, and Cardinal Pole reconciled this Kingdom to the Unity of S Peter. Salve festa dies: it was also the day, in 1569, when Frs Peirson and Plumtree reconciled the diocese of Durham to Catholic Unity and sang High Mass in that amazing Cathedral.

Unity Day!! A day, surely, to gather ones right-thinking friends, at least in spirit; to stoke up the fire and to line the bottles up; nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus.

29 November 2023

Your Christmass List

 You could do worse than to put this book onto your Christmass list ... whether of Things you wish to receive or Things you wish to give.

APOLOGIA a Memoir, by Fr Aidan nichols, is precisely what it says on the tin. And it is precisely the book to read if you have been wondering what has happened to Fr Aidan during these dark days in which the agents of a questionable regime have been trying to destroy Catholicism.

Here, for a taster, is Father's account of how he himself discovered God when

" ... on a day trip from Interlaken to Geneva, in my thirteenth year, I went into the Russian church (a triumph--I later learned--of the revived Muskovite style, built by the Grand Duchess Anna Feodorovna, the sister-in-law of Alexander I) and gazed at the iconostasis. With the speed of a moment I took in the implications of the icons of Christ and his Mother and their veneration by a member of the faithful, who made a profound bow, then planted a kiss and by way of continued homage lit a taper. This was the incarnate Lord, the personal God made human in the Blessed Virgin--a notion that no account of compulsory church attendance at school had managed to instill."

I think I recall Chesterton ... can any verify or find this? ... suggesting that religious education in schools should be taken off the curriculum and replaced by the presence in each classroom of a statue, 'the Virgin and Child', to which each pupil should be taught to make a profound bow.

Moi, I remember how moved I was, aged about eleven, by the little rococo village churches in the Austrian Tyrol .

28 November 2023

Dubia addressed to Cardinal Roche

Dear Eminence

I would be grateful if you could some resolve some Dubia relating to the legislative document Traditionis Custodes.They concern the requirement that the lections be in the vernacular.

(1) When the congregation is linguistically very mixed, how is a celebrant to establish which vernacular he is to use?

(2) When a congregation is mixed and divided by political or cultural antipathies (for example, part Russin and part Ukrainan), how is a celebrant to proceed?

(3) When a congregation is predominantly of a vernacular which a celebrant does not himself even know well enough to read uncomprehendingly (ex. gr., Polish, Malayalam), how is that celebrant to proceed?

(4) It can be difficult to switch between languages differently structured. Latin, for example establishes its meaning through syntactical aggregations; English requires a speaker to group words ad sensum and at his own discretion. Your dicastery will have considered this problem scientifically by calling for vota on the problems concerned. Would it be possible for your dicastery to publish a representative selection of these vota, preferably in Latin?

Your Eminence's obedient Child and Servant

John Hunwicke