As the Feast of S George is upon us, I venture to remind English Reverend Brethren in the Sacred Priesthood of the Proper Preface for Patrons authorised in 2020 by the CDF. It came originally from the Patis Missal of 1738, having been composed by Dr Laurent-Francois Boursier [I think he's buried somewhere called, er, Chardonnet). The SSPX used it in France, to which it had been granted by long-standing indult. It has been thought to have a whiff of Jansenism about it: I can't see why ... it seems to me intelligently biblical.
Some time ago, there was a proposal that there should be a Patron Saint of the United Kingdom. I found it strange that such an ephemeral institution as "the Yew Kay" should have a Patron.
All political arrangements are transient and flawed. And the Yew Kay more so than most. It had its genesis in the unwholesome imperatives of the whig agenda after the Dutch Invasion; it subsumed Ireland only in 1800; it then lost most of that island after little more than a century of bungled misrule; and this same Yew Kay retains only a questionable and fiercely debated hold over that part of our own island which Whiggery tried to rename North Britain.
It seems to me that a much more useful sense of identity is urged by the suggestion in Fr Aidan Nichols' The Realm that Christians should think of having a bipolar existence. We belong to a cultural construct which is 'at once internationalist as the Church of all nations, and yet patriotic'. And surely our priority must be S Paul's striking metaphor that our politeuma is from above: our real passports are issued neither by England nor by the Yew Kay, but in heaven.
That is why S George is such an totally ideal Patron for England. He's all the more 'ours' because he never even came here! Indeed, Provincia Brittannia had not even become Angleland when S George bore witness. He reminds us that faith in Christ, even unto death, is what takes priority ... by several thousand miles ... over all narrower loyalties.
According to lectio iv for the dioceses of England at Mattins today, S George was declared Protector of the Kingdom of England by that admirable Pontiff, Benedict XIV, at a time when, according to the constitutional assertion of the intruding Hannoverian Regime, there was no such thing as a kingdom either of England or of Scotland, because they had both been abolished in 1707 by the Act of Union!
This does rather set me wondering. The pontificate of Prospero Lambertini, 1740-1758, was a time when the Holy See recognised the exiled Stuart king de jure, James III, to be King of England. King James it was who formally nominated our Vicars Apostolic.
And King James (like his successor in 1766, King Charles III) had adopted, for his incognito title, Chevalier de S Georges.
Was that Holy Father deftly seeking heavenly assistance for our de jure liege lord Charles III?
If the Yew Kay were to have its own patron Saint, S Theodore would be my nominee: a Greek-speaking Syrian monk sent by a Pope of Rome to be Archbishop of Canterbury.