On Michaelmas Day this autumn, it will be 450 years since William Cardinal Allen founded a College at Douai in the Flanders, staffed by refugee scholars from Oxford and dedicated to the training of priests for the English Mission. I imagine there will be celebrations to commemorate this signifant occasion; we who were the "First Wave" of former Anglican clergy destined to the Ordinariate met for fellowship, fine food, and lectures in the London seminary called Allen Hall, and remember our meetings there with immense pleasure. I hope this means that we count in some little way as part of the Family of Cardinal Allen, because the professors and students of the College he established at Douai were compelled, at the time of the French Revolution, to flee the Continent and, after vicissitudes, some of them ended up on the site of S Thomas More's Chelsea house ... fittingly now called Allen Hall. And I, for one, deemed and deem it an enormous privilege to be grafted into Cardinal Allen's heritage and to honour the Martyrs who are proudly named on the walls of the refectory.
However, some of the students from the Douai foundation, whose families were Northerners, ended up not near London but near Durham and founded a great seminary there called Ushaw. I expect many readers will have watched the black-and-white video of High Mass in the Chapel there in 1960. There were only 400 students in the congregation for that Mass, a couple of years before the Council. 400 is not much to write home about, is it? Just 400! What a mercy the great renewal promised by the Council was only just around the corner ...
Sixty or so years after that High Mass was filmed, Ushaw finally closed down, needless to say, for lack of vocations. And, within a decade of 1960, that Extraordinary Form of worship was forbidden (not legally but de facto; we had to wait for the pontificate of Benedict XVI to be told that, legally, the Rite had not been and, theologically, could not be abolished and that the violent discontinuities of the post-Conciliar period were illegal; 'Establishment' violence; vis sine lege; ambitious episcopal bully-boys roaming the world pillaging and destroying).
1960: by 1970 many of those 400 students had, probably, lost their sense of vocation; those who remained were seduced or cajoled or forced to celebrate a deformed form of the Rite. How many of them, I wonder, abandoned the Sacred Priesthood in the decades that followed. The Smoke of Satan entered into Ushaw to such powerful effect that it smoked the seminarians out of the place.