21 March 2017

... has lost his maniple.

Devout persons who drop into Westminster Cathedral to pay their respects at the shrine of one of my favourite Saints, S John Southworth, will discover ... here's the good news first ... that there are some quite sweet little Prayer Cards now provided for use and for taking away. They contain a nice picture of the Saint vested for Mass. (I think the surname is or was pronounced Sutherth.)

The bad news is ... that, although the Saint is pictured on these cards as vested in alb, red stole, and red chasuble, he ... seems to have lost his maniple.

Medieval hagiographers would have undoubtedly had an account of how this happened; their stories would probably have ended with a spectacular miracle resulting in the supernatural restoration of the maniple. Inventive readers of this blog must surely be capable of some diverting inventions within the general conventions and dynamics of that genre. But what is to be done?

Traddies with large families might consider taking all their children into the Cathedral, equipped with red crayons or board-writers or loads of red paint, and settling them down with instructions to add maniples to all the cards. This would result in what Anglican Priestesses proudly call "Messy Church", and thus constitute an Ecumenical Gesture.

As an incorrigible classicist with an ungovernable imagination, I fear that what swept immediately into my mind was the demonstration by Aeschylus (apud Aristophanis Batrakhous, vv 1206 et sqq.) that pretty well all of Euripides' Prologues are susceptible to the conclusion lekuthion apolesen. Mutating the mutanda, it occurs to me that pretty well any statement about Papa Bergoglio or Cardinal Kasper or Cardinal Marx or the Rio Tinto, or any of the other Great Ones of the Bergoglian faction, could be reduced to bathos ... to even greater bathos ... by inserting the concluding phrase "... (has) lost his maniple". Oimoi peplegmetha!

'Terminal bathos' is surely the greatest gift made to mankind by satiric Aristophanic Old Comedy or, indeed, by classical Greek Civilisation as a whole, before it lost its oil-pot.

May that very great Saint and Priest and Martyr for Jesus, S John Southworth, pray for us and for the whole state of Christ's Church Militant here in earth, now in these years of her passion.

6 comments:

Anon. said...

I proposed it be rendered to even greater effect, "'e's lost 'is maniple."

(Like Arrius, the gentlemen in question often hope themselves to have spoken miraculously.)

Confitebor said...

The martyr priest St. John Southworth came of a family of recusant Catholics, the Southworths of Samlesbury in Lancashire, though it's apparently unclear where exactly St. John fits into the Samlesbury family. He seems to have been a grandson or perhaps a grandnephew of the stalwart recusant Sir John Southworth of Samlesbury (d.1595). Feeling the social and financial pressure of being Catholic when refusing to be Anglican meant heavy punitive fines, Sir John's son and heir Thomas abandoned the Catholic Church. Thomas' eldest son was named John, perhaps none other than the holy martyr who maybe did not agree with his father's decision to become an Anglican.

There's a large Southworth family in the United States who trace their descent from a Separatist "Pilgrim" named Edward Southworth, born circa 1590, who has been thought to be the same as Edward Southworth, born 1590, youngest son of Thomas Southworth of Samlesbury and thus perhaps a brother of St. John. The Pilgrim Edward Southworth went to Leiden, Holland, with his fellow Separatists, but died there -- had he lived, he no doubt would have accompanied his co-religionists to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Edward's widow Alice Carpenter remarried to William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth Colony. While the identification of the Pilgrim Edward with the Edward of the Samlesbury family is probable, it's not exactly proven -- and there was after all a cousin branch of the Southworths of Samlesbury in Wellam and Clarborough, Nottinghamshire, which included an Edward Southworth, born 1585, who may rather be the Pilgrim of Leiden, since it's known that several other Separatist families lived in the general vicinity of Wellam and Clarborough.

Be all that as it may, in America the Southworths have various spellings and pronunciations of their name, including Southward, Southard, and Southwell -- but they all trace back to Edward Southwouth, the Pilgrim of Leiden, who may or may not have been a younger Protestant brother of the Catholic martyr St. John Southworth. (I acquired this antiquarian trivia due to my mother's female-line descent from the Pilgrim of Leiden.)

Maureen Lash said...

Since he is also shown in the card holding a prop, might we not more generously surmise that he has removed his maniple to deliver a homily or give out the notices?

Simon Platt said...

I have some local knowledge.

I am from Preston. St John is a local hero, one of several local martyr saints (although his ministry took him far from home). There used to be a school here named after him; I know some people who went there. I used to go often to the church of St Mary and St John Southworth in Samlesbury. And, of course, there's the Southworth family who live just round the corner from me.

I've heard "Southworth" spoken many times; each time it has been pronounced with "south" and "worth" both enunciated, with definite "ow" and "w" sounds. And I had never once wondered about the pronunciation until today.

Of course, I wasn't around in the 17th century. I suppose things might have been different then.

jasoncpetty said...

There once was a servant of Hann'bal,
A Bolognan and quite puritan'cal,
Who, having his 'druthers,
Deprived poor Saint Sutherth
His rather unfash'nable maniple.

DeHereticoComburendo said...

I wish I could say that my first thought, like yours, was Aeschylus. In fact, having speed-read your post I foolishly assumed that the Saint’s actual maniple had been spirited away and my thoughts turned immediately to a Jonathan Creek-style mystery scenario: how had the maniple disappeared from beneath a sealed reliquary, with the expected “no sign of tampering”? Did the Japanese tourists who lingered, apparently bemused, in front of the grille briefly block the CCTV stream intentionally? Indeed, maybe the sleuth himself would make an appearance, solving the enigma in double-quick time, pausing only to sneer at the Filipinas fingering the statues and murmuring their devotions; and lecturing Cardinal Nichols that this kind of carry-on is what happens when you let superstition (i.e. Christianity) run riot.

Sadly, no. Only the facsimile maniple is missing. What an idiot! As a work colleague is fond of saying: “Assumption is the mother of all [bowdlerised version] mess-ups”.