24 June 2016

You never know ...

 ... how the bad, the poor, and the indifferent may result in the good, even the very good.

Let's take the monstrously and hideously bad.

~ Adolf Hitler's National Socialism. You may not find this easy to believe, but until the 1930s, Oxford Classics was pretty run down. But the persecution of German Jewry meant that, before long, Oxford was crammed with the cream of the Classics Faculties of German Universities. Since then, it has never lost its hegemony among the World's Classics Faculties. When I came up in 1960, it was still possible to benefit from the brilliance of Edward Frankel ... who ran a seminar on Catullus LXIV and who commented on one of his predecessors in the Corpus Chair of Latin " ... a man viz a remarkable instinct for ze improbable" (Robinson Ellis; the analysis/condemnation is absolutely bang on).

~ Now let's move on to ... the monstrously and hideously bad: the Enlightenment and its apotheosis in the French Revolution and the imitators it spawned. In 1797, a revolutionary government, the 'Cisalpine Republic', was set up in a Brescia 'liberated' from la Serenissima Reppublica. As one does, it suppressed the Religious Houses and did a Henry VIII on religious endowments. One of the communities to suffer was the Brixian House of the Order of Preachers. Unused and derelict for a century, it contained a superb Lady Altar piece in pietra dura by Francis Corbarelli and his sons, paid for by the Rosary Confraternity. When its contents were finally dispersed, Fr Keogh of the Brompton Oratory bought the Altar piece and re-erected it in all its splendour, just across the road from the Racine Restaurant.

It was the altar at which, by the very kind permission of the Provost, I said my first Mass after being received into Full Communion with the See of S Peter. I could never have afforded to go to Brescia ...

~ Pope John XXII was, one has to admit, sadly unorthodox on aspects of the Beatific Vision. But he was responsible for the cult of the Blessed Sacrament in the Latin Church ... for the ringing of the Angelus ... the Anima Christi ... and other goodies which make him a strong candidate for the title Godfather of Counter-Reformation Catholicism. When we make a tally of the fruits of the Avignon Papacy, who knows ...

~ So: your great grandchildren may look back in wonder at the pontificate of Francis I and all the good things that came out of it. Take the long view!

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