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. 

27 June 2020

Sir Harry Trelawny (5)

Bad news: hitherto, I have shared with you an evidence-based story. Now, however, for some Conspiracy Theory. As if Coronavirus doesn't give us enough of that ...

So who were those "Catholic Authorities" in England who had objected to Sir Harry celebrating Holy Mass by virtue of his Anglican Orders; who adamantly refused him conditional Ordination? I have a candidate.

Step forward the handsome, elegant figure of Peter Augustine Baines, Bishop of Siga. You might have called him Bishop of Bath, because that is where the Western District was then centred. It included Wales and Cornwall. And, before he was made Vicar Apostolic, Baines had pastored the Mission there, appointed at the age of 31 ... suspirium, one imagines, puellarum. At 34, he was Vicar General of the Vicar Apostolic; in 1823, aged only 36, he was consecrated as coadjutor of the long-sick Bishop Collingridge. From 1829 until his death in 1843, he was Vicar Apostolic. If Sir Harry's 'problem' did receive consideration, it is, surely, inconceivable that Baines knew nothing about it.

Edward Norman, of the Ordinariate, in his The English Catholic Church in the Nineteenth Century, concludes his account of Baines with the phrase "He was a very great prelate". I am unsure how much irony there may be here! Baines certainly disagreed violently with a lot of people. Wiseman disliked his Liverpudlian accent, but everybody agreed that he was an excellent preacher. His portrait, reproduced in The English Vicars Apostolic of Fathers Schofield and Skinner, appears to show a Regency dandy. "[I]n the summer of 1826, Baines' health broke down and he was advised to spend the winter in a warmer climate" (yes! We've been there before!). So, from the end of August 1826 until December 1829, Baines was in Rome. He "made many friends, attended the most fashionable salons and enjoyed the special favour of Pope Leo XII, who paid him an annual pension, appointed him an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne and apparently considered raising him still further to the the Sacred College." But his Holiness died in February. His successor Pius VIII renewed the offer; Baines declined it. So perhaps Norman's summary does hit the nail upon the head!

Baines, however, was an 'Old Catholic'. He disliked what were to prove to be the dominating and defining devotional fashions of nineteenth century Catholicism: devotion to the Sacred Herart; and to the Immaculate Conception. And, poor fellow, the Austin Ivereigh of his day, he very much disliked converts, "condemning their lack of humility".

Imagine a man such as Bishop Baines handling the case of a convert layman who masqueraded as a priest and gave lectures on the doctrines of Holy Order and Sacramental validity.

So I wondered whether, during his three-year-plus gossipfest in the Eternal City, Baines might have set in motion processes which led to the little chat between Cardinal Odescalchi and Sir Harry Trelawny.

Brother priests reading this ... Fathers, I am grateful to you for your indulgence and your time  ... will be wondering "Who on earth did the old boy get to teach him how to say Mass?"

26 June 2020

Footnote: an Irish polymath

It must have been a big shock to everybody when the Church of Ireland Bishop of Ferns and Leuighlin, Dr Thomas Elrington, fell down dead in Liverpool when on the way to his Parliamentary duties at Westminster.

Mind you, this was in 1835, when an independant Irish legislature was still both a living memory and a realistic political aspiration; and the bigots of the Six Counties had not yet grabbed their grubby little statelet. The "Southern Unionists" had not yet been deserted to wither on Mr deValera's branch. Anglican (and, in some places, Methodist) communities still patchily thrived in parts of Ireland. Dr Elrington was a big fish in what was still a respectably fair-sized pool.

(I wonder why, after less than two years as Bishop of Limerick and Ardfert and Aghadoe, he had been translated to Ferns. Could it be anything to do with a greater ease in accessing Dublin, and his See, and the ferries to England?)

Elrington was by background a don. He had held chairs or lectureships in Theology, Natural Science, and (principally) Mathematics. (I find it easy to be sentimental about a culture like this, before the invention of our modern fad for highly specialised and compartmentalised industrial scholarship.) From 1811 to 1820, he had been Provost of Trinity College Dublin. (He is buried in TCD Chapel; I have not been able to discover on the Internet the text of the Latin inscription over his grave.)

Among his very many writings, The Validity of English Orders Established in Answer to the the Revd P Gandolphy's sermon on John X:1, 1818, was his second foray into the question of the Validity or Invalidity of Anglican Orders. When Canon Estcourt wrote his own 1873 treatise on the same subject, he still, apparently, found it necessary to deal with Elrington's book. (I will add, for those still interested in this subject, that those were the days when attacks on Anglican Orders by English RC controversialists still attempted to impugn the physical succession of Bloody Bess's episcopate ... the days of the Nag's Head Fable; and of 'doubts' about 'Barlow's consecration'. Anglican apologists like Elrington were accordingly led to believe that their main task was to settle these purely historical allegations. Even after Apostolicae curae had substantially shifted the goal-posts, Eric Mascall was still in 1955 able to make wicked fun out of the fact that its English RC defenders had profoundly different views about what that document actually meant; and a Jesuit who had written a book on the subject withdrew it in 1961, with the words "whereas three years ago I felt confident that I had found the key to the theological question and incidentally to the argument of Apostolicae curae -- which, it must be remembered, has been very variously interpreted, I no longer feel that confidence".)

When Sir Harry Trelawny had his long discussions with Cardinal Odescalchi in 1830, which ended in his acceptance of Conditional Ordination, he took with him ... and shared with his Eminence ... a handwritten translation into Italian of the main parts of Elrington's work. Odescalchi found it impressive (or was he just being polite and pastoral?).

I wonder whether Sir Harry made that translation himself.

Rather more interestingly, I wonder whether, in any of the other Reformation ecclesial communities, there was ever as much interest as there was was among some academic Anglicans, for arguing in favour of the Validity of their Orders.

However intangibly, there was, I feel, a certain je ne sais quoi about Anglicanism which distinguished it from bog-standard proddery.

25 June 2020

Sir Harry Trelawny (4)

So how was the problem of Sir Harry's Orders resolved? Fr Wilson tells us that "he was eventually received into the Church, and in 1830, at the age of seventy-four, was ordained priest by Cardinal Odescalchi, Vicar of Pope Gregory XVI". This, surely, is a suggestio falsi; Trelawny became a Catholic in 1810, whereas Wilson gives the impression (without actually telling an untruth) that both conversion and ordination came at the end of his life. And it is suppressio veri, in as far as there is no hint of the problem concerning Sir Harry's conviction that his Anglican Orders were valid. But in the 1950s, when Fr Wilson wrote, there was a tendency to provide Catholic narratives with the awkward bits sandpapered away (of course, it is possible that Wilson may not have known the full facts).

De Lisle's account, which he says he had from Sir Harry and Miss Trelawny the following year, is both circumstantial and credible: " ... going on a visit to Rome, he made the acquaintance of the late Cardinal Odescalchi ... Sir Harry told the Cardinal all his convictions, and explained his reasons for believing in the validity of Anglican Orders, and therefore, of his own priesthood. When the Cardinal had heard all he had to say, his Eminence replied that he had no idea there was so much to be adduced in favour of the orders of the Anglican Church, and that he could quite understand Sir Harry's strong feelings on the subject. Still he reprersented to Sir Harry that, as the custom of the Roman Catholic Church from the commencement of the schism had always been to re-ordain those of the Anglican clergy who returned to her communion, it was was clear that the question concerning their previous orders was a very delicate one, and one that was beset, at all events, with many grave doubts, that, consequently, it was not right in Sir Harry to continue to say Mass without submitting to a conditional re-ordination. Upon this Sir Harry replied to the Cardinal that from the first he had been ready to submit to a conditional re-ordination, but that the Catholic authorities in England would not hear of anything short of an absolute and unconditional rejection of his previous orders. The Cardinal, however, said that he took a different view of the matter, and was prepared to re-ordain Sir Harry with a tacit condition, the sacramental form, of course, remaining untouched. Sir Harry gave his full consent ..."

And so the deed was done, on Pentecost Sunday 1830.

A few years later, Odescalchi ordained Gioacchino Pecci to the priesthood. I think parish clergy may have here a possible new question for a Parish Quiz Evening: "What did Sir Harry Trelawny, and Pope Leo XIII, have in common?" (De Lisle says that Odescalchi was "reputed to be a very holy man"; indeed, his Eminence later resigned his Cardinal's hat and entered the Jesuit noviciate. His family had given Blessed pope Innocent XI to the Church.)

Readers will have noticed that these events resemble the way in which S John Henry Newman's own scruples about re-ordination were handled (Ker p 321).

To be continued.

24 June 2020

Dr William King

Alma Mater Oxonia celebrates each year, at Encaenia, in Wren's Sheldonian Theatre, the greatness of ... er ... herself. Mr Orator or the Professor of Poetry declaims the Creweian Oration, in Latin ...

O dear, I had better come clean ... sometime in the last generation the degenerate custom has arisen of the Orator first saying Insignissime Domine Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui? His lordship replies Licet. Thus do the b*****s get round it, and the Creweian is now delivered in English.

Shocking, yes. I remember Robert Graves delivering the Creweian with great aplomb in 1964, when he was Professor of Poetry. Every word in Latin, starting with a deft Horatian allusion (Ibam forte  -- agnoscitis, Academici, sermonis potius quam orationis exordium -- ibam forte via Madisonis ...) and incorporating the New York cops, twerling their nightsticks (bacula nocturna minaciter vibrantes) ... whatever nightsticks are. Don't ask me why they have to twerl them; at the moment, having got quite brown-skinned in this summer's Oxford sun, I am prudently self-isolating from American Plods. Perhaps they twerled their nightsticks because Graves, foolish fellow, unaware that the Amazonian Rain Forests are Sacred Places, referred to his friend Alexander Lenard (translator into Latin of Willie Ille Pu) as nunc pestilentes Brasiliae silvas incolentem, unicum in tanta vastitate urbanitatis exemplum.

Today is Encaenia Day. But, because of Coronavirus, ENCAENIA is OFF. So, to give you some compensation ... you are entitled to some fun ...   I offer you part of a rousing and fiery Latin speech made by Dr William King in April 1749, not at Encaenia but to celebrate the opening of the Radcliffe Library.

King's description (done memoriter) of the State of our Nation led up to an invitation to Prayer ... of sorts! King, and most of his audience, were Jacobites, and his notion of Prayer was a crashing and crushing climax of five paragraphs, five shattering onslaughts upon the Whig Ascendancy, implicit calls for the RETURN of Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Regent, each paragraph beginning REDEAT, each repetition of that word met by deafening roars of loyal applause. I will append three of them below. I am able to do so because of the humanitas, more decades ago than I care to tot up, of the late John Sparrow, a great Oxonian, sometime Warden of All Souls, bon viveur and bibliophile. In those early days when each college possessed just one amazingly slow neolithic photocopier, he kindly photocopied (and gave me that photocopy) his own first edition, luxuriously produced, of King's Oratio. The entire text is on the Internet now (Oratio in Theatro Sheldoniano Habita Idibus Aprilibus, MDCCXLIX).

It is sometimes wickedly asserted that Sparrow was a mindless conservative who spent his entire time at All Souls resisting change. This may not be accurate; it was possibly during his time as a Fellow that the College, a very satisfactorily endowed institution, updated its Statutes and abolished its entire undergraduate body, in the persons of its four Bible Clerks. It was a swapping, swapping mallard. The port is with you. Floreat Oxonia! Are you swallowing those cherry stones? No Herrenhausen! Vivat Rex! Would you like to look inside the Codrington Library before the Visigoths have it demolished? Could be your last chance to admire Codrington's statue ...

 .... ad ea [scilicet vota] confugiamus.

REDEAT (neque me fugit hoc verbum meum, quippe meum, ab inficetis et malevolis viris improbari; iterandum est tamen) REDEAT nobis Astraea nostra, aut quocunque nomine malit vocari ipsa Justitia; non quidem fabulosa illa, sed Christianissima virgo, si non genetrix, certe equidem custos virtutum omnium!

REDEAT simul magnus ille Genius Britanniae, (sive is sit nuncius, sive sit ipse spiritus dei) firmissimum libertatis et relligionis praesidium; amandetque procul (o procul!) a civibus nostris grassationes, caedes, rapinas, pestilentes annos, superbas dominationes, infames delatores, et mala omnia!

REDEAT, efficiatque, ut revirescat respublica, revocetur fides, firmetur pax, sanciantur leges justae, honestae salutares utiles, quae deterreant improbos, coerceant milites, faveant doctis, ignoscant imprudentibus, sublevent egenos, delectent omnes, omnes nunc demum a periculis litium ita liberando, ut nequis omnino unquam civis ingenuus, innocens, indemnatus vexetur, multetur, spolietur!

I fear I cannot translate these inflammatory words, because King specifically asked that "nequis, me invito, hanc orationem in sermonem patrium vertat". Less than four years after the '45, the Whigs, then as now such jolly fellows, were still hanging people. But in the years that followed, REDEAT was one of the commonest words to be engraved on Jacobite drinking glasses; and they often bore a portrait of the future King Charles III with the words REDEAT Magnus Ille Genius Britanniae.

23 June 2020

S John's Eve

"Thursday, June 23rd, was the Eve of S. John. The sober green workaday dress in which the church settles down to her daily duties after the bridal raptures of Pentecost, had been put away, and the altar was white and shining once again. Vespers were over in the Lady Chapel at S. Onesimus -- a faint reek of incense hung cloudily under the dim beams of the roof. A very short acolyte with a very long brass extinguisher snuffed out the candles, adding the faintly unpleasant yet sanctified odour of hot wax. The small congregation of elderly ladies rose up lingeringly from their devotions and slipped away in a series of deep genflections. Miss Climpson gathered up a quantity of little manuals, and groped for her gloves. In doing so, she dropped her office-book. It fell, annoyingly, behind the long kneeler, scattering as it went a small pentecostal shower of Easter cards, book-markers, sacred pictures, dried palms and Ave Marias into the dark corner behind the confessional.

" ... She crammed the papers back into the office-book, grasped her gloves and handbag, bowed to the Sanctuary, dropped her bag, picked it up this time in a kind of glow of martyrdom, bustled down the aisle and across the the church to the south door, where the sacristan stood, key in hand, waiting to let her out. As she went, she glanced up at the High Altar, unlit and lonely, with the tall candles like faint ghosts in the twilight of the apse. It had a grim and awful look, she thought, suddenly.

" ... She was glad to come out of the shadowy porch into the green glow of the June evening. She had felt a menace. Was it the thought of the stern Baptist, with his call to repentance? the prayer to speak the truth and boldly rebuke vice? Miss Climpson decided that she would hurry home and read the Epistle and Gospel -- curiously tender and comfortable for the festival of that harsh and uncompromising Saint. 'And I can tidy up these cards at the same time', she thought.

" ..,. The card of the Last Supper went in at the Prayer of Consecration; the Fra Angelico Annunciation had strayed out of the office for March 25 and was wandering among the Sundays after Trinity; the Sacred Heart with its French text belonged to Corpus Chisti; the  ..."

Dorothy Sayers, Unnatural Death, 1927. Sayers was, of course, a priest's daughter.

If I were doing a critical edition, and I had a fair wind of Housmanite textcrit doctrines behind me, I might have emended Pentecost to Paschaltide.

Notice the Anglo-Catholic usage of S. rather than St..

Do they all matter??

(1) Black lives matter.
(2) White lives matter.
(3) Gay lives matter.
(4) Unborn lives matter.
(5) Islamic lives matter.
(6) Jewish lives matter.
(7) Christian lives matter.
(8) Criminal lives matter.
(9) Women's lives matter.
(10) Men's lives matter.
(11) Trans lives matter.
(12) Cis lives matter.
(13) All human lives matter.

Which of these facile and laconic slogans would arouse the frenzied fury of our cultural gauleiters? Which of them would make the same exacting judges purr with happy approval?

Context for foreigners: English footballers have been playing with (1) on their shirts. On Saturday, a person of darker pigmentation killed three men of lighter pigmentation. Somebody is being urgently sought by Mr Plod for trailing through the sky a banner saying (2). The three men killed, according to rumour, were homosexualists.

22 June 2020

FOOTNOTE: Real Bastards

I recently mentioned the probability that Sir Harry Trelawny, the Sacerdotal Baronet, went to stay in Switzerland with Sir John St Aubyn, his philoprogenitive baronet neighbour from Cornwall. Philoprogenitive? I think, in his case, one might spell the word Phyloprogenitive. He had fifteen children, all of them out of wedlock.

This was the sort of thing the Georgian upper classes did; but not out of a mere mechanical passion for promiscuity. There was a technical reason. Suppose you had a son by an agreeable mistress, and you then decided not to bother to acquire a suitable wife. You now had a strong reason for avoiding marrying the mistress until she had passed the age of child bearing. Because, if you married her now, her next son, being legitimate, would be the automatic heir to your title and to all your entailed property, whereas your eldest, illegitimate, son would get nothing.

If you delay marriage until your lady has stopped having children, you can leave your eldest son, even though he is illegitimate (or even whichever son you may choose) as much of your property as you can rescue from the entail. (The title, of course, will either go to a cousin or become extinct, depending on circumstances.)

Sir John St Aubyn, at St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, and Lord Egremont, at Petworth in Sussex, both did this. As a bastard, you need suffer very little. Any stigma attached to your bastardy rather evaporated, and, after a tactful decade or two, the Crown granted you another baronetcy, or peerage, to compensate for the one you had been unable to inherit.

One group of people, however, did their best to ensure that your bastardy was permanently memorialised ... for all eternity. The hard men and cruel in Queen Victoria Street. The College of Heralds.

The undifferenced coat of arms of a family can only lawfully descend to the legitimate heir, the Head of the Family (don't be taken in by firms which offer you "your Family Coat of Arms" for £20; what they sell you will, almost certainly, at best be the Arms of the Head of some Family with the same surname as yours, to which Arms you are not entitled. Simply because you share a surname with someone, you are no more entitled to use his Arms than you are to live in his house, to eviscerate his bank account, or to sleep with his wife. Or he with yours ...)

So, as a bastard-made-good, off you went to the College to get your armorial situation regularised. And what the Kings of Arms granted you would be the Family Arms differenced, that is, with a change to the Arms to show that you are not the legitimate Head of the Family. And what they granted to bastards was very commonly the Family Arms within a Bordure Wavy.

So you can look out for this wavy border at Petworth or St Michael's Mount ... and probably in quite a number of other places.

I have a fantasy.

In these stately homes, each room is equipped with a Volunteer to keep an eye on the silver and to answer questions. Nice, retired, middle-class people, they are usually well primed with regard to Chippendale Commodes, but a bit vague about Heraldry.

In my fantasy, I will spot an example of some such differenced arms on some artefact and then go up to one of these volunteers and adopt the persona and traditionally-expected manner of an American Tourist. In my best and broadest "Boss Hogg" accent, and in tones loud enough to be heard in all the neighbouring rooms, I will observe "GEE, see here, a BORDURE WAVY! That means he was A REAL BASTARD!!"

I have not so far done this because of apprehensions about Matrimonial Disapproval.

21 June 2020

Sir Harry Trelawny (3)

"For a considerable time Sir Henry and his daughters  had lived in Brittany, at Saint-Pol-de-Leon-, and there had learned the 'True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin' of S Louis-Marie de Montfort, and also the Title 'Our Lady of Light', so beloved of the saint, for near their home there was a shrine, known in the Breton as INTRON VARIA AR SKLERDER, 'Our Lady of Light". Sic Wilson (the book entitled The True Devotion was not discovered until well after Sir Harry's death, so what enlightened the Trelawnys must have been the oral tradition of Montfort's Marian teaching). It is not clear to me when the "considerable time" of the Saint-Pol-de-Leon residence was. The first Napoleonic period came to an end in the spring of 1814 and soon, of course, there were the Hundred Days. A contemporary account laconically says "Resided at Plangeau near Geneva 1819". This may mean the residence there of another colourful, and hospitable, Cornish baronet, Sir John St Aubyn. But Wilson records that a priest from Brittany said the first Mass in the domestic chapel at Trelawne after it was restored in 1830 by Sir Harry's daughters as a Catholic Chapel (the Chapel had originally been built by the Bishop Trelawny who adhered to William of Orange in 1689). My own provisional assumption is that after a brief sojourn at Plangeau with his fellow baronet and that gentleman's second mistress, Trelawny made Saint-Pol-de-Leon his residence during the 1820s.

But what was the problem of sacramental theology which overshadowed Sir Harry's life as a Catholic? It was simply this. "He was so convinced of the genuineness of his previous orders [in the Church of England] that, notwithstanding the opposition of Catholics, he acted as a priest, never omitting the daily recitation of the divine office of the Breviary and the frequent celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This being objected to by some of our Catholic authorities in England, he retired into France where, either from the ignorance or connivance of those amongst whom he resided, he also constantly celebrated Mass. In this way he continued for many years ... a long period ..." Sic Ambrose de Lisle. "[W]hen he was afterwards residing in France and Italy, [he] retained the style and title of a clergyman, constantly saying Mass, and performing other priestly offices, with the full knowledge and consent if not with the approbation and license, of the French and Italian authorities, himself believing (as he constantly asserted) in the perfect goodness and Validity of the Ordinations in the Church of England; and holding, consequently, that it would have been sacrilege to have repeated ordination. This was the case for a considerable period of years ...". Sic F G Lee.

An Historical Survey of the County of Cornwall ... Volume II Part 1, by C S Gilbert (1820) contains a curious remark about Sir Harry's resignation of his Anglican benefice in 1804. "The resignation of his pastoral charge was a matter of deep regret to Sir Harry, who delights in the assiduous performance of the duties of his clerical office, and who never ceases to value his priesthood more than all the titles, honours, and possessions of the world." The words I have italicised read to me like a report of what Sir Harry had said either to Gilbert or to a reliable witness who passed the sentiments on. They strike me as the sort of profession one does not expect to hear from a Regency clergyman. This is not quite the urbane irony of Mr Tilney. We do not sense here the authentic tones of Mr Collins. Perhaps Georgian Anglicanism was not as universally torpid as the Evangelicals and the Ritualists -- or even Miss Jane Austen -- have led us to believe.

I think those words are the authentic utterance of this strange man's heart, and the key to his insistence upon the authenticity of the priesthood he believed he had received in the Church of England. When he was Vicar of Egloshayle (the 'quality' end of Wadebridge), a visitor (James Forbes) wrote: "I accompanied him to church where he performed the whole service with simplicity and devotion, and his discourse from the pulpit was such that I was no longer surprised several of the adjacent churches were almost forsaken, while he has been obliged to erect additional galleries in his, to accommodate the congregation. He has nothing studied in his manner or expression; he seems himself strongly to feel the divine truths he delivers, and makes a suitable impression on the minds of his attentive audience" (Royal Institution of Cornwall Journal 1983).

Ambrose de Lisle told us supra that Trelawny's insistence on behaving as if his Anglican ordination had made him a Catholic priest was "objected to by some of our Catholic authorities in England ...".  

In the next stage of this enquiry, I speculate upon who such 'authorities' might have been. And reveal how the matter was resolved.

20 June 2020

Additions to the Litany of our Lady

Tally Ho! When I'm Pope, I shall add

Haeresium Interemptrix, ora pro nobis.

But why do I have to wait that long ...

Cor Immaculatum

Perhaps it is not a good idea to be too disdainful about the Novus Ordo  Calendar simply because it places the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Saturday after the Sacred Heart, instead of on the (old) Octave Day of the Assumption (which is where Pius XII was to place it). In the 1938 Carmelite Rite ... the last edition of that Rite before the Conciliar period ... this was the date for the feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary. So, in places like Lanherne, where the pre-Conciliar Carmelite Rite is in use ... ... In any case, this year, at least, the Saturday after the Sacred Heart is free for a Votive of Mary's Heart (nudge nudge). In an 1879 Missal on my shelves, the Appendix provides a Feast of our Lady's Most Pure Heart on Sunday (Pentecost III, tomorrow); the collects, but not the readings, are the same as those of Pius XII. You will have noticed that neither the Carmelites nor the Js had changed Purissimi to Immaculati, despite the Definition of 1854. I wonder what the history of this alteration is. I argue below that the term 'immaculate' has more biblical, Hebraic, resonances than 'most pure'.

Pope Benedict (I hope you've said a prayer for his brother George) once observed, with his deft and agreeable irony, that "people from the Anglo-Saxon and German cultural world" tend to feel uneasy about devotion to the Immaculate Heart of our Blessed Lady. He goes on to point out that "In Biblical language, the Heart [Leb] indicates the centre of human life, the point where reason, will, and temperamentand sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matthew 5:8, the 'immaculate heart' is a heart which, with God's grace, has come to a perfect unity and therefore 'sees God'. To be 'devoted' to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat - 'your will be done' - the defining centre of one's whole life".

The liturgical celebration of Mary's Heart was, for quite a time, resisted and discouraged by the Roman authorities. It made its way, not by being forced downwards by centralising liturgical Authorities who Know Best, but by forcing its way upwards, from the plebs sancta Dei, the worshipping community.

This entire way of speaking, far from being a piece of sickly Southern-European sentimentality, is rooted from beginning to end in the Scriptures both of the Old and of the New Testaments. But this devotion did not generally arise as an academic response to Biblical texts and themes. The religious and the mediterranean peasants and priests among whom these usages flowered, were simply, instinctively, naturally, organically and healthily nurtured by the Christian and Biblical tradition. And the fact that their devotion is so congruous with Biblical themes is a pretty obvious guarantee of the wholesomeness of their religion.

Psalm 180:80 speaks of a heart which is (MT; LXX; Vg) tamim; amomos; immaculatum. This word frequently applies to sacrificial animals (BDB says "Exodus 12:5 and 40 times; Ezekiel 43:22 and 10 times"). We are not to offer what is faulty to YHWH, any more than we would give a defective animal to the King. Sacrifice is not a system for disposing of imperfect or moribund members of the flock! BDB goes on to say "sound, wholesome, unimpaired, innocent, having integrity: of God's way ... work ... Law ... etc.". So our Heart is to be good enough to offer to YHWH in sacrifice; as sound as His Torah and as His creative providence. It is because Mary's Heart is attuned to Him (Luke 1:38; 2:19; 2:51 ... how many more instances could Biblicists desire?) and to the needs of others (John 2:3), even before the Hour of the Lord's Glory (John 2:4), that the intercession of her heart mediates through shared obedience (John 2:5) the first Sign of the fullness of the Kingdom (John 2:11) - that Sign which is the arche, fount and source, of all his other signs (C K Barrett: a primary sign, because representative of the creative and transforming work of Jesus as a whole).

Perhaps there is significance in the Cleansing of the Temple which follows immediately in S John's narrative: because the Word has transformed Water (the Old Covenant) into Wine (the New), this definitive transformation now has to be actualised in the replacement of the Old Temple by the New.

19 June 2020

Sir Harry Trelawny (2)

All right-thinking people are avid students of events in the Diocese of Barchester; and I know that, for many, there are few more popular families in the Close than the Stanhopes. Dr Vesey Stanhope "held a prebendal stall in the diocese ... He had resided in Italy for twelve years. His first going there had been attributed to a sore throat; and that sore throat, though never repeated in any violent manner, had stood him in such stead, that it had enabled him to live in easy idleness ever since."

The satire is cruel; but it seems to have been true that many Regency gentry, not excluding the clerical, did indeed find that their health repeatedly drove them to warmer climes. Indeed, as late as the 1960s, it was said that you could find the entire bench of Church of England bishops by the shores of Lake Como on Low Sunday (currently, given the C of E's financial crisis, the Church Commissioners are, I am confident, busily negotiating cheap episcopal package deals at Ayia Napa).

And so it was with Sir Harry. He was wealthy enough not to need an income; the bishop who had ordained him collated him to a prebendal stall (canonry) in 1789; and he subsequently received, in succession, two livings which were in the gift of the Bishop of Exeter (Cornwall had not yet been split off into a Diocese of Truro). But an "act of parliament [was] passed obliging the clergy to a residence, which his health would not permit him to undertake to keep, having been more than once under the necessity of resorting to another climate for its restoration". He resigned his benefice in 1804 but retained his prebendal stall, which did not tie him down to residence. Which "other clime" he then sought is not clear, since all parts of the continent may not have been equally accessible, during the Buonapartist disorders, to English visitors (according to Wikipedia, Napoleon ordered, on 22 May 1803, the arrest of all British males between the agesof 18 and 60).

According to Our Lady of Light (1953) by Fr Cyril Wilson, Sir Harry "having come in contact with the Catholic Church, through giving constant hospitality to French emigre bishops and priests ... was eventually received into the Church." Contemporary evidence gives the date of his conversion as 1810, when he finally resigned his Stall. So his time spent with French clergy wouod have been in the first decade of the century.

As for the emigre French clergy, we shall consider one of them at a later stage in this enquiry. It is certainly true that after the Revolution very many French clergy had sought refuge in this country, followed in the 1790s by religious communities fleeing Flanders. The Channel Islands were stuffed with refugee clergy, and Bath was full of such emigres, some of whom made a very favourable impression upon the ton; the burial yard at Lanherne in Cornwall contains a couple of them who were sent there to chaplain the nuns (strange that Jane Austen never mentions all those interesting aliens). So Wilson's account does fit. It would be good to know where he got his information from. If anybody knows ...

"Lady Trelawny did not follow her husband's example in joining the Ch. of Rome." She was to die, in Trelawny House, in 1822, and is buried, with other Trelawnys, in the nearby parish Church of Pelynt. So it may be presumed that she did not accompany her husband in foreign travels. It appears that Sir Harry's household was managed by his eldest daughter Miss (Ann[e] Letitia [no relative]) Trelawny. She may have found that the arrangement suited her; readers will recall that Miss (Charlotte) Stanhope "had encouraged her mother in her idleness, in order that she herself might be mistress of the Stanhope household". But Miss Trelawny, unlike Miss Stanhope, was not a latitudinarian. According to Wilson, she had preceded her father into the Catholic Church; she seems to have been a robust Churchwoman.

So they all lived happily ever after ... except that after Sir Harry became a Catholic, a very grave sacramental problem arose which was not to be resolved for another two decades.

To be continued.

18 June 2020

Sir Harry Trelawny (1)

If you access the website of the National Portrait Galery with a name, you get immediate service! So, npgSir Harry Trelawny presents you with an engraving, "Taken from Life in London, 1777" of "Revd. Sir Harry Trelawney. Bart. & A.B." You will find a pious figure, wearing the sort of black-and-white clerical bands we sometimes associate with the Cure d'Ars; crowned with either a very comely wig or a very comely head of hair (does anybody have the expertise to tell me which?). Perhaps his most prominent feature is a large 'aquiline' nose.

At the top of the engraving are the words "Engraved for the Gospel Magazine". Indeed?! Can this be the same Sir Harry (sometimes "Sir Henry Trelawney") who, ultimately, is responsible for the 'Breton' shrine of our Lady of Light, in the improbable and unBreton surroundings of Clacton on Sea in Essex?

In 1777, Harry was about twenty one years old. He had succeeded as Seventh baronet to his father's (Restoration) baronetcy when he was about sixteen. He was educated at Plympton and Westminster School and had gone to Oxford's most aristocratic College, Christ Church, in 1773. A year before the engraving was made, he collected his A.B., in the happy days before (when was this?) Oxford mysteriously renamed it the B.A.. The following year, 1778, he was to marry Anna Browne, daughter of a Somersetshire vicar. He was, through and through, a member of the English and Anglican upper gentry ... an ancestor had been the Bishop of Exeter who, on the occasion of the Dutch Invasion, had deserted his King at a strategically apt moment. So what ... on earth ... is Sir Harry doing being engraved for a dissenting and 'evangelical' magazine?

The answer is to be found in the fact that on April 22 1777, he was ordained a Minister of the Presbyterian Church of West Looe in Cornwall ... just up the road from his large ancestral estates. He must have seemed quite a catch! He duly published his confession of Faith ... a sermon ... an address to "the united dissenting clergy of Devon" ...

Accounts sometimes describe him as an "ardent seeker after truth"; at any rate, he is recorded as having 'sought' his way into Unitarianism. But his ardent quest led him, in 1781, to be ordained in the Church of England (deacon and priest respectively at the Trinity and Michaelmas ordinations). We shall see that this Anglican priestly ordination was to be accounted by Sir Harry as the most significant event in his life.

It led, paradoxically, to his conversion to Catholicism ... and, I shall argue, very probably to a dispute with Bishop Baines, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, which was taken to the highest levels in the Catholic Church.
To be continued.

Trahison des clercs

I have just heard that Oriel College in this University has capitulated to the Stormtroopers and resolved to take down the statue of Rhodes.

I wonder if they will also remove the accompanying chronogram.

The Good News: H E Cardinal Allen is, for the time being, apparently safe. (He would have been Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor if the Armada had succeeded, and he also adorns the same Oxford facade; he was among the Learned and Catholic who had to flee Oxford under Bl**dy B*ss.).

17 June 2020

Episcopal Resignations, and the 'time limit'

It is commonly held that bishops "must" offer their resignations to the Roman Pontiff at the age of 75. I think this assumption (for that is what it is) needs to be reconsidered.

A starting-point must be found in the sacramental structure of the Church. We must discard the idea, which has, I think, grown during this pontificate, that a bishop is a district manager in a multinational corporation and is liable to dismissal. He is not. He is a Successor of the Apostles and the charismatic High Priest and sacramental organ of his local, that is, particular, Church. The only exemplifications of the Church Militant by divine institution are the Universal Church, gathered round Peter, and the particular Church gathered round her Bishop. Everything else is merely organisational and, in principle, transient.

It is to the credit of those who wrote the current Code of Canon Law that they understood this, at least to the extent of not making episcopal resignation automatic. Only a bishop can truly be the judge in this matter. I would only countenance a different approach in contexts of major ecclesiastical crisis, in which a primatial intervention may be necessary. The Arian crisis; the case of episcopal traditores after persecutions; the reforms of S Gregory VII; might be examples of this.

But the authors of the 1983 CIC in fact went further in their reticence than this. They did not make it mandatory for a bishop to resign, at 75 or at any othrr age. In Canon 401 para 1 (which has no antecedent in the 1917 Code) they said that a bishop is "asked" to offer his resignation. "Rogatur".

And there is more!

Para 2 says that a bishop who, through illness or another grave cause, has become 'minus aptus' to the exercise of his 'officium',"enixe rogatur" to offer his resignation. "enixe" means something like 'strenuously'. But in the previous paragraph, where the age of 75 appears, the adverb enixe  is absent. In other words, the 'request' that a bishop offer his resignation at 75 is not as strongly urged as the advice offered to very sick bishops.

If enixe, semantically, has any meaning, then the absence of the word must also have meaning. If enixe strengthens, then its absence weakens.

I would like to see an understanding that, whatever advice is politely given in Canon Law, the Apostolic status of a bishop and his own personal responsibility before God for the decision he makes, are not taken away.

16 June 2020

Bl**dy B*ss, Tacitus, and Liturgiam Authenticam

Many readers may not be admirers of the late Elizabeth Tudor, alias Bullen's Daughter. Perhaps I am not so myself. But I am moved to repeat this paragraph from a Times news item concerning an Elizabethan Court ms (a translation of Book 1 of the Annales) newly ascribed to the Lady concerned.

"Elizabeth retained Tacitus's celebrated brevity ... Dr Philo suspects that Tacitus's staccato style echoed Elizabeth's own. 'She follows the contours of the Latin syntax with remarkable commitment, even as the risk of obscuring the sense in English', he said.".

Happy memories of that very fine [no irony here] Magisterial document about how to translate Liturgical Latin, Liturgiam Authenticam!

Sir Ronald Syme. Over the moon. Would have been.

15 June 2020

The Rosary: alternative Mysteries??

When S John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to the Holy Rosary, some people with traditionalist instincts were not altogether full of approval. In fact, the history of the Rosary is not as neat and uniform as one might expect. My own unease arose simply from the fact that, by raising the tally of Aves above 150, he spoilt the original notion of the Rosary as a lay 'Psalter'.

But, rather than going into all that, I would like to point out three minor, but suggestive, facts about the 'Method' of saying the Rosary devised by S Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716).

(1) In the First Mystery; we are given
We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this first decade in honour of thy Incarnation in Mary's womb ...

In other words, it is not precisely the external Lucan picture of Gabriel Annuntiant that is in the forefront here; but the Reality of what has happened within Mary's body. Of course, these are two sides of the same coin; there is a fantastic pair of Tiepolos in the possession of the Duchess of Villahermosa (they went to the Met in 1996) showing Abraham prostrate before the theophanic 'Angels' of Genesis 18; and Gabriel himself prostrate in adoration before Whatever is within the womb of Mary Annuntiate.

(2) In the Second Mystery, the text reads
We offer thee, O Lord Jesus, this second decade in honour of the Visitation of thy holy Mother to her cousin Saint Elizabeth and of the Sanctification of Saint John the Baptist ....

The italics are mine, to draw your attention to the inclusion of the Mystery of S John's Sanctification before his birth, which is the reason why, alone of Saints except for our Lady, he is assigned a liturgical celebration of his Nativity. Without in any way undercutting the cultus of S Joseph, the Mighty Patriarch, I think we have lost something because the Mighty Prophet, S John Baptist, has been un peu side-lined. And, if you query my claim that he has been somewhat side-lined, try doing a statistical survey of how many males were named John in Medieval England; and how many were baptised Joseph in Victorian Ireland!

[So three cheers ... again! ... for the people in the CDF, fine fellows, who have given us a Preface of S John Baptist! Even if it has taken Rome 101 years so to honour S John after S Joseph's Preface was added to the Missal (done, like the Preface for the Departed, under Benedict XV).]

(3) In the Fourteenth Mystery, S Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort gives us
We offer thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, this fourteenth decade in honour of the Resurrection and triumphant Assumption of thy holy Mother into heaven ...

This time, my italics remind you of the common tradition of East and West that the Theotokos died and was raised before her Assumption. This has been rather overlooked in the West; my feeling is that the reductive nature of Pius XII's 'definition' may be to blame here.

I love a picture by Rubens (circa 1611, in the Hermitage; it once paid a visit to the Hermitage Rooms in Somerset House) which in its lower register shows the stone being rolled away from her tomb and the discovery being made that her body is absent; while some of the crowd are having their attention drawn upwards to the heavenly spectacle of Mary being raised to her Divine Redeemer, who waits to crown her. The entire Eschaton of the great Mother of God Mary most Holy on a single canvas!

In these details, S Louis-Marie shows us an earlier and (dare I say it) slightly less tight version of the Western Rosary tradition.

I hope, by the way, that he is declared a Doctor of the Church on the same day as S John Henry Newman!

14 June 2020

How long does NOW last??

The Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II is described, in its own Title, as de Ecclesia in mundo huius temporis.

How long is hoc hodiernum tempus to be deemed to last?

A few hundred Council Fathers were worried by the incorporation into a conciliar constitution of transient observations relating to a rapidly changing world: which is why, to satisfy such traditionalist pedantry, a long exculpatory Note is attached to that constitution's title. But - still - how long was their hodiernum tempus?

In the World outside the conciliar aula, that 1960s tempus passed quite quickly. The Beatles soon became what they are now, a delightful but retro taste. I recall the first of Ian Fleming's books to be made a film ... that distant decade when female parishioners told me that I resembled Sean Connery ... but, as the years passed after Dr No, the producers increasingly found Fleming's hodiernum tempus much too old-fashioned ... and commissioned new scripts. Among politicians, hoc hodiernum tempus was marked by the Cold War and fears that the Menace of World Communism would gobble up country after country until we had Soviet Commissars looking over our shoulders as we ordered our books up to Duke Humphrey or punted down the Cherwell. That tempus passed before the 1990s.

But perhaps hodierna tempora last longer in the Church? Did the hodiernum tempus Concilii Vaticani II end with the death of the last pope who was himself a Father of the Council - in 2005? (I presume that, long before then, the last conciliar diocesan bishop had retired upon reaching the retirement age). Or will hoc hodiernum tempus end when the last old gentlemen ... Kuengs and Ratzingers ... who were bright young periti of the Council, have passed to their (immensely varied but equally deserved) rewards? Or let us consider the Babes of the Council: those who ... despite the contraceptive frenzy of the time ... succeeded in getting conceived during the conciliar decade. They are already in middle age, tut-tutting in front of their mirrors over their white hairs and counting the wrinkles round their eyes. In a generation they will be retiring; a generation after that they will be as deadish as I shall be. Which of these landmarks might indicate the end of hoc hodiernum tempus?

And what about the Internet? Even the invention of printing had a lesser effect than this innovation.

A preoccupation with "the Council"is in fact a determination to live in the increasingly distant past.

This point seems to me so blindingly obvious that I almost feel ashamed to make it, lest you throw up your hands in boredom or despair and turn elsewhere in your computers.

I wonder how long it will be for the obvious to become obvious to the blind. 

13 June 2020


Gracious! It is rumoured that some of our Oxonian Natural Philosophers are about to come up with a vaccine against you-know-what. That will make the other university hopping mad, won't it? Not to mention the academy so cumbersomely named Cantabrigia Massachusettensium. I wonder if there will be priority of access to vaccines for those of us who matriculated in the Michaelmas term of 1960 for the Honour School of Litterae Humaniores ...

Not that you should think that such research is a new phenomenon here. Nathaniel Hodges, of Cardinal College in this University, is justly celebrated for his well-observed account of the Great Plague in the 1660s. His magnum opus Loimologia was even recently commended to us by Mrs Vice-Chancellor during our present little medical difficulty; but, weak-hearted woman that she is, she seemed to draw back from the full implementation of Dr Hodges' magisterially sage advice 
"that all Means of propagating the Plague may be removed, it is very wisely ordered by the Magistracy, to kill all Dogs, Cats, and other domestick Brutes, lest these creatures in their Passage from one Place to another should carry along with them the pestilential Infection"..

Ah, "this indefatigable and unsavoury Engine of Pollution" (sic ait John Sparrow). Man's oldest and filthiest Friend! Vale, Canis.

I'm 100% with the Doctor on this one. I gather that in the Bronx Tigers have been spreading Coronavirus. I like to think of my New York Friends marauding through their Streets [zeugmatriggerwarning] on Elephants and Tiger Shoots. It must look quite Raj. Spiffing good Shot, Carruthers!

Oops ... I appear to have caught from Dr Hodges the Habit of Giving all Nouns an upper Case initial Letter. It does seem so much more prescriptive, doesn't it? I wonder if Hitler became so terribly bossy because he used a Language that adhered to this Convention.

But Hodges appears to share Herr Hitler's Views about Tobacco:
"It remains that we now say somewhat concerning the Use of Tobacco, whose Vertues for this purpose are extreamly cried up by Diemebrooeck, and some others; but whether we regard the narcotick Quality of this American  Henbane; or the poisonous oil which exhales from it in Smoaking; or that prodigious Discharge of Spittle which it occasions, and whch Nature wants for many other important Occasions; or, lastly, the Exercise it gives to the Lungs in drawing it; besides the Aptitude of the pestilential Poison to be taken down along with it, and the Irksomeness of its Scent; I must confess my self at Uncertainties about it; though as to my self, I am its professed Enemy, and was accustomed to supply its Place as an Antidote with Sack.".

Ah ... no ... Hitler was not exactly a Sack Man, was he? I wonder, incidentally, if there may be just a Hint of a Smidgeon of a Dash of Irony in some of Dr Hodges' Observations: "it is certainly true, that during the late fatal Times, both the infected and the well found vast Benefit from [Sack] ..."

12 June 2020

Marie Stopes, snob, ageist, antisemite, Hitler-admirer, homophobe, eugenicist, and abortionist

Every cloud, however nasty, has a silver lining for somebody. So it is not surprising that the vested interests involved in the Abortion Industry have enthusiastically grasped, with both hands, the opportunity to propagate their own highly specialised ideology during the pandemic crisis. With thousands dying each day, what better time is there to add a few more thousand to the fires!

There is a lot to be said for keeping a firm grasp on where this particular ethical tradition comes from. So ... never forget Stopes! Does anybody know [ironytriggerwarning] of a statue of her which we could go and pull down?

This unappealing woman is still a heroine of that sinister movement which spans pre-War Eugenicism, 'Birth Control', and the current Age of Abortion Victrix. It is hardly surprising that she was also anti-Semitic. I wonder if Hitler ever read the gushing letter she sent him in August 1939. The poor fellow might have been too busy at just that moment to keep up to date with the correspondence he received from daft admirers. What a shame.

But I wonder how many people realise what a homophobic bigot she was.

Catholic moral teaching, of course, regards genital homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered. It enters a similarly negative judgement against contraceptive sex, even within Marriage. Not to mention  Masturbation and all those -philias. It has no specific bias against humans belonging to any 'orientation', simply against whatever is contra Naturam. At its best, it is dispassionate, logical, and avoids ranting. It loves the person, however frequent his/her lapses, whatever it feels it has to say about the sin.

But there is something profoundly weird about the Stopes. During 2018, the centenary year of the birth of the (homosexual) artist John Minton, an interesting exchange between the pair of them in the letter pages of the old Listener came to light and, hardly surprisingly,  attracted comment.

Writing about Oscar Wilde, Stopes talked of "the abnormal and filthy practices which he had been indulging with stable boys", and went on "one only has to look at the portrait of the gross middle-aged abnormal man in his forties beside the exquisite body and face of the young man in the early twenties ..."

It's all here, isn't it: the risible class preoccupations ('stable boys') ... Ageism ... antifattyism ... the facility with which she sprinkles the word 'abnormal' around ... but, in addition, I think she reveals something rather amusing about her own sexual preoccupations ... poor silly frustrated old woman.

Hardly surprising that Ruggles ... er ...

11 June 2020

Processions of the Blessed Sacrament

".... The three of us imprisoned there, an old mam, a youth and myself, could do nothing against the forty or fifty men assembled. I attempted to withdraw into myself, to say my prayers and to repeat as much of the offices of the breviary as I knew by heart ... But however much I tried, I could not escape from what was going on round me. I might shut my eyes, but I still saw men standing on the holy altar, hacking at the reredos or carrying away the image of our Lady. I could not close my ears to the sounds of hammering which now filled the church.

" ... the guardianship of the Blessed Sacrament is part of the priest's office; the two men with me realised as fully as I did that the Holy Sacrament must be defended against profanation. While we were conferring together, a man who appeared to be in charge, approached me and suggested that if I surrendered the monstrance, now locked in the safe, he would be willing for me to remove the Sacrament. I could make no terms with him. Seeing that we were preparing to defend the Sacrament at all costs, he consented to my demands and allowed me to carry It to a place of safety. ... after vesting I went to the altar and, opening the door of the tabernacle, took out the Sanctissimum.

"Outside the church were a number of people ... As I came from the little doorway of the Lady Chapel carrying the Holy Sacrament, I found them all on their knees lining the pathway through the churchyard, with lighted candles in their hands.

"I had passed from the noise and tumult of passion to a quiet world of faith.

"That night there was a service of reparation, when the Most Holy Sacrament was borne back to the church. All along the roadway from house to church were rows of people with bowed heads; as the procession passed slowly by they sang the hymn of S Thomas: Therefore we before him bending/ This great sacrament revere; words in which the summit of man's faith is reached. Never had I so realised the God-given quality of faith as on that night when, together with this company of people, I entered the dismantled church.

"During the week people were busy restoring the house of God; carpenters and masons were repairing the damage; other images were substituted for those carried off and the church made gay with many flowers; so that by Sunday it was fit for the offering of the Holy Sacrifice."