23 April 2023

Our National Patron?

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.



Matthew F Kluk said...

Saint George for Merry England!

Moritz Gruber said...

I don't think that such ephemeral facts as a political-juridical merge with Scotland leads to a "there is no Kingdom of England" situation, quite apart from discussions who its legitimate ruler is.

One other thing, England really does enjoy a rather heavy load of high-classed proper saints, right? Wasn't it that St. George and St. Augustine and St. Thomas all are of first class at your place? Aren't there additional second-class fests of St. Alban your protomartyr, of St. Gregory who commissioned St. Augustine and St. Theodore or so, of St. Edward? Probably now of St. Thomas More and of St. John Henry as well?

Sounds awesome, as the Americans say.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Dear Herr Gruber,

What fun. And Alban, Anselm, Boniface and Cuthbert, not to mention Ethelburga, Ethedreda, Helena and Margaret Pole. One could of course go on, but your point well-made. You are intriguingly not American, from your syntax, but equally not German or Swiss, as many saints there, so perhaps Canadian?

To our host I would say - Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, should perhaps be invoked mostly as patron of the poor benighted Church of England, whose present surviving administrative structure he created at the Synod of Hertford (churchwardens, deaneries, archdeaconries, etc), one of the greatest holders of that office. His influence in the re-established Catholic church lesser, but worthy indeed of our devotion nonetheless.

Colin Spinks said...

Patron Saint of the UK? Sounds like a case for St Jude!

Moritz Gruber said...

Dear Josephus,

I am German, as you seem to have guessed. We've got a first-class of St. Michael who is first-class anyway (in the Novus Ordo, they seem to have all forgotten about him, even if national patrons do have their solemnities, so there's only the Three Archangels' Feast), and a second-class of (that same) St. Boniface and St. Peter Canisius each, and that is it. But in Bavaria, we've got a first-class feast of Our Lady, Patroness of the Country, whom we fondly call "duchess of Bavaria" in at least one song. Speaking of her, I forgot Our Lady of Walsingham for England.

We do have a lot of saints, I add in order not to be misunderstood... but not so many of them have a claim on patronage on the country as a whole, or on a more-than-major double feast (to use the very old rankings).

There's a nice "pro aliquibus locis" for "St.-Blessed-or-whatever" Charlemagne in Aachen, though. (He was canonized by an archbishop-elector as a saint on the authority of an antipope, but the Church subsequently at least tacitly allowed his cult, which probably actually makes him a Blessed, but who knows.)