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."

10 June 2020

Even Woker?


             BLACK LIVES


White Rose Day

Well, the white roses seem a trifle late this year. But that is no reason for failing to wish my readers a very Happy White Rose Day, on this Anniversary of the Birth Day of our late Sovereign liege Lord King James VIII and III ... our longest reigning de jure monarch. And the last King of England to whom the Holy See accorded the right to nominate our Catholic bishops ... so I suppose that those admirable Vicars Apostolic, Petres and Talbots and Stonors, including Bishop Challoner, who were nominated between 1701 and 1766 and look down at us from their portraits in their bands and wigs and 'Gallican' blue cassocks, were named by him. 

I am sure they all rejoice, and deem it mightily suitable, that the old Bavarian Embassy Chapel in Warwick Street is now in Ordinariate hands. And very appropriate that the Crowns of these Three Kingdoms are destined eventually favente Numine to devolve de jure upon the princely House of Liechtenstein, where Vaduz Cathedral is reported to enjoy a very good level of Churchmanship under a quite Advanced Archbishop.

Then let us rejoice
With heart and voice
There doth one Stuart remain;
And all sing the tune
On the Tenth Day of June
That the King shall enjoy his own again.

A toast consueto more, this evening, to the Monarch? Go on! Unless there's a water shortage!

9 June 2020

Johnson, Get Your Knee Off Our Necks

They've got us prone and at their mercy. I don't think the Christophobic bullies will easily or willingly give this up.

While great unhindered crowds of the Wokefascisti run riot, seven people worshipping together can be arrested.

The elite do their traditional on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand act, but they are very happy to have the churches locked. When it comes to Knees on Necks and squashed windpipes, padlocked church doors are what an interested analyst should contemplate, not just the actions of one murderous American plod.

There are suggestions that Vincent Nichols has been insufficiently assertive. I think this view is mistaken, as well as unfair. He has been quite steely in the diplomatic way that he does so skilfully. My own opinion is that he has judged and balanced things rather well.

But I think it is possible that we may be moving into a new situation, the thematic structure of which will be the vivid contrast between demonstrating and destroying mobs, and the ban on the public offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I would like to imagine a situation in which the hierarchy told the government exactly when and how they are going to reinstate public worship, beginning in their own cathedrals, and said: "If that is against your laws, you know where you can find us to arrest us.

"We already have our own ancestral memories of being banned from worshipping by your predecessors; of being arrested; and even of worse. 

"Non possumus sine Dominico."

8 June 2020


Well, we are into the Season in Ordinary T... ... no, let us not go down that path, consecrated as it is to the inculcation of Dreariness. Neither let us call the next twenty-odd Sundays "after Pentecost", even though that was, I admit, the old Anglo-Saxon custom and the habit of the Byzantines and of the Missal of S Pius V. We of God's own Ordinariates call them the Sundays after Trinity ... how evocative that phrase is of parochial English summer Sundays as I knew them in the 1960s, of the poppies red around the ripening cornfields, of the smell of baking hay, of putting ones cassock back on after a drowsy and vinous afternoon and, as the ringers started up for Evensong, strolling back across to church to dive into a 'Sarum' surplice and to flip the red silk of an MA hood over ones head and Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us ... down to Illumina quaesumus Domine tenebras nostras ... or however it is that Cranmer translated that old Roman collect.

Cranmer also preserved the Sarum custom, prevalent all over Northern Europe, of calling these Sundays post Trinitatem. I have always felt that 'After Pentecost' has an activism subliminally within it; as if we are thinking all the time about what the Holy Ghost is inspiring us to do next. After Trinity, however, suggests adoration. The exquisite Reading at Mass in Northern Europe on Trinity Sunday (continued throughout this 'Trinity Week' in Northern Europe, and preserved in the Book of Common Prayer) was Revelation 4, with its tremendously, ecstatically, 'doxological' conclusion. One feels in need of a rest, a pause, a silence, after reading it! How exhausting it must have been, to be a Seer!

And the Athanasian Creed, ordered to be used on Sunday morning, said: fides Catholica haec est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur ... ita ut Trinitas in unitate veneranda sit. I never could even begin to understand those clergy, poor things, who disliked having to "think of something to say" on Trinity Sunday.

And consider the logic of the proper Preface of the Trinity, which Tradition encourages us to use on all these Sundays. What we believe of the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit is the ground for our adoration of the majesty of the undivided Godhead; a majesty which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim praise; who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying Holy Holy Holy. The mystery of the true and everlasting Godhead and the distinction in persons and the unity in essence and the equality in majesty are the object of the worship which we are privileged to offer, in eternity but already here in time, with all the company of heaven.

And on Saturday evenings we prepare for Sunday in the words of the ancient Office Hymn which John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale translated as  
O Trinity of blessed light,
O Unity of princely might,
The fiery sun goes now his way; 
Shed thou within our hearts thy ray. 

To thee our morning song of praise,
To thee our evening prayer we raise, 
Thy glory suppliant we adore 
For ever and for evermore. 

All laud to God the Father be; 
All praise, eternal Son, to thee; 
All glory, as is ever meet, 
To God the holy Paraclete.

7 June 2020

The Trinity Preface

We now return to the Trinity Preface during all these Sundays post Trinitatem: we shall know it quite well by December! Whence cometh it?

There are phrases from the Trinity Sunday preface within the Stowe Missal. This is a liturgical book scribed in the 790s, but copied undoubtedly from a much earlier source (for example, it lacks evidence of the Gregorian changes, such as the moving of the Pater Noster to a place immediately after the Roman Canon and before the Fraction). It may have been the book of an itinerant priest in South-West Ireland, or one who could not afford a large Mass-book (it only has one Epistle and Gospel, but is clearly meant for all-the-year use since it has the seasonal paragraphs of the Communicantes). And the Preface in this rite goes as follows:
" ... through Christ our Lord: who with thine only begotten Son and the Holy Ghost art one God and immortal God and incorruptible and immovable God and invisible and faithful God [much more like this up to:] good and holy God, not singulariter of one person but of the one substance of the Trinity; Thee we believe, Thee we bless; Thee we adore [etc.]."

This faintly reminds me of the same place in the Anaphora of S John Chrysostom:
" ...For thou art God ineffable, incomprehensible,invisible, inconceivable, ever being as Thou art, Thou and thine only-begotten Son and thy Holy Spirit [etc.]."
Is this simply a generic similarity, of Christians toto orbe divisi thinking the same way in the same context, or is there a textual link? I strongly incline to the former possibility.

The preface of the Trinity, in more or less its present form, is in the Gelasian Sacramentary, for use on the Sunday after Pentecost. Is it from a source like this that Alcuin borrowed it for the Sunday Mass of the little book which I am sure (pace G G Willis) he put together for priests minimally equipped during the Carolingian period?

A brief look at the manuscript evidence suggests to me that the rubric directing this Preface to be used on the Sundays after Trinity (aka after the Octave of Pentecost) first appears in Sarum Missals early in the 14th century ... as one might expect. It is also in the Westminster and Hereford Missals; was it universal in the later English Middle Ages?

We then have a gap until Pope Clement XIII made it the Green Sunday (and Advent etc.) Preface in the Missale Romanum in 1759. Had there been continuity anywhere in this custom between the Tridentine curtailing of local rites, and the 18th century ... or did it just occur to the pope quite spontaneously that it was a good idea to make the Trinity Preface the all-purpose Sunday Preface? After all, Sunday commemorates the Creation, the Resurrection, the advent of the Spirit ...

6 June 2020

Dorothy Sayers and the Wars of the Enclitics (2)

So Greeby was murdered for his Platonic enclitics. Or perhaps he wasn't. At the time Sayers wrote Murder at Pentecost, John Dewar Denniston was reading systematically through the whole of Greek Classical Literature to perfect his maximum opus: The Greek Particles published in 1934. I wonder if Sayers knew what he was working on, and, with a tactful variatio, is alluding to it.

Denniston was a mighty scholar. In our day, academe has arranged its wagons into a fortified corral; it is manned by in vitro life-forms generated in PhD manufactories; dominated by a culture of five-papers-a-year. Denniston's was a broader era when teachers hopped back and forth between posts in Oxbridge and jobs in Public Schools or Whitehall, and the Detective Fiction novel was a literary form enjoyed and respected by the Intelligentsia (some of whom, indeed, such as 'Michael Innes', wrote it).

Denniston was a very serious practicioner of the art of Prose Composition: i.e. putting passages of English into Latin or Greek. He rightly believed that you haven't really understood a language until you have become expert at writing it yourself. He was particularly attached to Greek Prose Compo, and formed a group of Oxford College tutors who not only taught the undergraduates this art, but practised it among themselves. In 1949, they published Some Oxford Compositions. Another member of this group, Maurice Bowra, who wrote an obituary of Denniston for the British Academy in 1949, wrote that "He excelled at Greek Prose and was equally accomplished in the Platonic and the Demosthenic manners. ... the first produced more dazzling results in versions from Shelley and Meredith and Dorothy Sayers ... for every word and every phrase he found an equivalent at once exact and exciting, and the final result was itself an accomplished piece of art. For example, in translating a piece of Dorothy Sayers he had to deal with something which was undeniably conversational but had none the less a literary distinction ..." Bowra then quotes the passage from chapter 3 of the Bellona Club which begins "Well, Felicity ...", and  gives four lines from Denniston's Greek version; and comments "This called for something in Plato's most dashing manner, and got it in Denniston's version ... This is certainly Plato, but it is also Miss Dorothy Sayers".

Agatha Christie did a fair bit of damage to the prestige of 'Detective Fiction', with her mechanical denouements, her superficial cardboard characters, her wooden style, and her lack of intellectual depth. Sayers, on the other hand, gives witty and penetrating expositions of life and culture between the Wars; the bohemian underworld and the Left Book Club; rich widows and their gigolos in seaside grand hotels; the advertising industry; women's colleges in the decade after "women got their degrees at Oxford"; exploitative Lesbian relationships; the fad for 'Spiritualism"; the Abdication Crisis  ... And she can contrive the most diverting genre-confusions: has anybody else ever realised the erotic potential of the Oxford Degree Ceremony?

I do urge any readers who have a curiosity about the Thirties and have not yet met Dorothy Sayers, to do so. She was so good a writer of English prose that the best brains in Oxford used her books for their most mind-stretching intellectual exercises. Her own style was honed and polished by her studies in the Greek, Latin, and English Classics, her love of French, and her adventures translating Dante.

And she was an extraordinarily able apologist for orthodox Christian belief. She took no prisoners.

Don't be put off by Media "adaptations". As with Narnia, so with Sayers: adaptations are devised by non-Christian subliterates with the motive of excising anything which lies outside their own poverty zones.

5 June 2020

Dorothy L Sayers and the Murder of the Master of Pentecost (1)

When  Dr Greeby, the Master of Pentecost College in this University, was murdered in (note this date) 1933, an undergraduate summarised the actualite thus:

" ... he was returning to his house from delivering his too-well-known lecture on Plato's use of the Enclitics. The whole school of Litterae Humaniores will naturally be under suspicion, but ... I really didn't murder the Master. His lectures were -- if I may say so -- dull, but not to that point exasperating."

"That is a very impudent observation, Mr Radcott," said the Professor severely, "and in execrable taste ... Poor dear Greeby! Such a loss to classical scholarship!".

The dry-as-dust tedium of some Oxford Classics changed very soon after this date; we ... rightly ... attribute much of the transformation to the influx into English academe of the cream of German Jewish scholarship in the secessio doctorum  from Hitlerite Germany; a secessio which the great Eduard Fraenkel himself compared to the flight of the scholars from the Library at Alexandria under Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II.

But I feel there might, in more recent years, have been an additional factor.

When I was in teaching, it fascinated me to be told how boring, according, at least, to the students, the teaching had been in those other subjects which they had been compelled to study ... mainly, the sciences. I put this tedium down to the fact that those who taught such subjects were under no pressure to make their subjects alluring or even entertaining. Their subjects were compulsory. They had no Darwinian self-interest in seducing the young people into enjoying scientific studies. So, once the students were given the luxury of opting for their three favourite subjects, the labs didn't see many of them for dust, dry or otherwise.

Tedium is the ultimately unforgivable sin in Education.

We Classicists, on the other hand, knew that, unless we displayed our subject with unashamed meretriciousness, cavorting outrageously and ultra-vulgar in our showmanship, the customers would  decline to opt for Latin and Greek, and we would be out of a job. After all, even in 1933 Radcott had 'cut' Dr Greeby's last ante mortem lecture in favour of an engagement with a punt. No wonder Mgr Knox when schoolmastering at Shrewsbury composed his witty piece on The Greek Particles and devised neat little tricks to lure his fascinated pupils into composing Alcaic stanzas without even realising they were doing so.

I still get former pupils reminding me "Father, do you remember when you ..." (I usually don't).

This is what comes into my mind whenever there are yet more calls, since "this country so badly needs more scientists and engineers", for the Young to be peremptorily volentes nolentes compelled to study such subjects.

My Plans For Educational Reform? Sack tedious paedagogues in whatever subjects they are flaunting their disgusting and shameless tedium. Employ even more Greatsmen and Greatswomen in the Treasury and the Foreign Office. Start the tinies on Latin at the age of six; Greek at seven. Close down the PPE Faculty.

Then Britain will be great and glorious again. Rule, Britannia ...

4 June 2020


On 4 June 1944, Rome was liberated (I'm not quite sure which regiment of the British Army achieved this ... probably the Honourable Artillery Company). Immediately, some enterprising cleric at the Church of S Maria in Porticu clearly got to work and produced, in English ("To the Catholics of England"), a tiny booklet about the prayers for the Conversion of England customary in that Church. It bears the Imprimi potest of Joseph Forcellati, Rector Generalis, Romae, 17 iulii 1944.

It explains that our late Sovereign liege Lord King Henry IX, King (by the Grace of God) of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, when he was merely His Royal Highness the Duke of York, was created a Cardinal by Pope Benedict XIV, 5 July 1747 (less than a year after the return of HRH the Prince Regent from 'the '45'), and was assigned the Diaconal Title of this Church (raised the following year to a Presbyteral Title). The booklet goes on to inform us that he had a great devotion to our Lady under this title; and enacted that her feast be celebrated with the sumptousness of Sacred Music, the richness of Sacred Vestments and Altar Ornaments, and with the splendour of Church liturgy.  Then, with the use of inverted commas but without any indication who or what is being quoted, it goes on
"' he endowed the Shrine with a perpetual legacy for the celebration of a Mass on every Saturday, at 11.00 a.m., followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the offering of prayers for the return of the separatist brethren of England to the Catholic Church, the true Flock'".

Incidentally, the Feast of our Lady in Porticu is in the old Supplementum for England and Wales as to be observed in Wales on July 17 with the Mass Quae est ista. What is the Welsh connexion?

It seems to me endearing that His Majesty, embarking upon an ecclesiastical career after the failure of arms, lacking now any power to assist their bodies, was yet mindful of the souls of the people of this Kingdom.

After recording that Pope Leo XIII presided over a triduum in this Church in 1868, the panphlet gives the texts of two prayers, without indicating whether either or both was composed by His Most Eminent Majesty, Defender of the Faith, or by His Holiness.

It would be jolly to get some light on this.

The first prayer begins "O Holy Virgin Mary, thou who hast for so many centuries revealed to our souls the sweet attraction of Divine Maternity ..."

The second begins "Give thy servants, o Lord, your [sic] celestial help ..."

It offers this invocation:
Romanae Portus Securitatis, Ora pro nobis.

Did you know that His Majesty participated in the Consecration of the eventual Clement XIV, the pope who suppressed the Jesuits? Small world!

Delens vetusta

Like all right-thinking people, I deplore the intrusion of the Feast of the Lord's High Priesthood into Thursday of the former Octave of Pentecost, because it pushes still further back any rapprochement between the Calendars of the two forms of the Roman Rite.

But the OF propers for this new Feast have an interesting fearure. They appear to favour the view called 'Supersessionist', the doctrine hardwired into the liturgical texts of the last two millennia that the New Covenant fulfills, supersedes, the old (Et antiquum documentum novo cedat ritui).

These new texts employ Hebrews 10:5-10 (a document Cardinal Kasper, for obvious reasons, is said to dislike); and include in one of the hymns the phrase "delens vetusta".

I wonder if this phrase survives into the German translation.

3 June 2020

Tradition under threat

A few days ago, the Congregation for Divine Worship published Latin Propers for S Faustina, who is now an optional memorial in the "Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite", for use by anybody in the world who still uses that sweet archaic liturgy, picturequely encrusted as it is with the venerable cobwebs of the 1960s.

My first reaction was to wonder if interdicasterial warfare has broken out. At this moment, an Office in the CDF is preparing propers for the 'newer' Saints to be used in the NNR ('New Normal Rite'; what we called, pre-pandemic, 'the Extraordinary Form'). "CDW is determined to snow them under with even more work", I thought. But then I noticed something very strange about these new propers. 'Uncanny' is not too strong a term. You may shiver as you read the next bit.

I can't see any mistakes in the new texts.

For decades, since, I think, the 1980s, I have been eagerly enjoying new propers issuing from Rome ... they are great fun, because, sooner or later, you find the multiple mistakes in them. This has become a venerable and much-loved Tradition. Sometimes there are elementary III Form howlers in basic Latin Grammar. Sometimes there are mere typos. Often, both. Each time I noticed one, it was like meeting an old friend in one of those old places called "restaurants" in which we used to be convivial together before the Pandemic struck and the CBCEW ordered that all the restaurants should be closed and locked up (or am I getting a bit confused here?).

As well as being a break with Tradition, these new propers for S Faustina seem to me nothing less than a disloyal attack on PF himself. Correct grammar and accurate texts are ... I must be blunt about this ... Rigid. They are also Pharisaical. Could anybody deny that they are Neo-Pelagian? If Austin Ivereigh fails to go public on this, I shall think very much the worse of him.

PF's policy has, from the start, been clear. He wants people to "Make a Mess" (hagan lio). He himself has bravely and paradigmatically led the way by endlessly creating his own top-quality Messes. But what quality of Messes shall we now have in the Catholic Church if Mgr Grotti (who, I can reveal, has long been responsible for inserting the errors into new liturgical texts) has been head-hunted by the Grauniad Newspaper?

Frankly (is that an appropriate adverb to use during this pontificate?), all the dicasteries should, as we English say, "Do Their Bit" (I'm sure bishop Roche will be able to explain that concept to his boss).

CDW is Letting the Side Down (I'm sure etc.etc..)

They must Play the Game and Keep a Straight Bat (I'm etc. etc..)

1 June 2020


One of the problems about the scholarly study of the past is that those following different disciplines do not always talk to each other. When they take an interest in the same text or object, they are so often asking different questions. With regard to the Christian papyrus containing the prayer to our Lady usually known as Sub Tuum Praesidium, those interested in Christian dogma will ask different questions from the queries of palaeographers (experts in handwriting). That is why an editor who, being a submissive and credulous slave of Liberal Dogma, is terrified of discovering Theotokos, "Mother of God", on an early piece of writing, will desire to find different things than a palaeographer, who ... simply looks at the handwriting. Holistic studies of the same text are rarer than you and I would hope.

Of course, dating a papyrus only gives you the latest possible date of the original composition of the text it contains. That text might have been composed a thousand years before somebody made this particular copy. This is why it ultimately proves little even if (as has indeed happened!) somebody argues that the papyrus is 600 years later than everybody hitherto thought!

What exactly is this papyrus sheet with (what most writers have deemed to be) our earliest text of Sub tuum Praesidium? To begin with, it is a stand-alone sheet of papyrus; that is to say, it is not part of a scroll, or a page torn from a codex (book). It contains one text-formula, giving the text from beginning to end. There are no concluding words from a lost previous section; no sign the first part of a now missing next section, no random break in the middle. And nothing on the back (so it is not likely to be part of a codex).

Secondly ... have a look at this papyrus on your computer in a moment ... it has been folded. You can see the fold across the middle. and you can identify where the papyrus has been worn by the balancing, symmetrical pieces of damage on the top and bottom halves. I'll tell you what it uncannily reminds me of. I carry in my trouser pocket a printed copy of the timetable for the Number 35 buses into and from central Oxford. It is folded up. But, being in my pocket, it gets a lot of wear. Especially, along the lines where it is folded. It wears, it rubs away. Every month or two I replace with a new timetable. It is clear to me that this is exactly what has happened to the papyrus. But why?

There is a recognised type of Christian papyrus text: to categorise it, papyrologists use the term amulet. It is a written prayer-text carried around on one's person.

Thirdly: do you recognise this text: "O Marie, concue sans peche, priez pour nous qui avons recours a vous"? I wonder how many of you carry it around in your pocket or on your person? Have you ever wondered what would be the third century Koine Greek for nous avons recours?

Bang on! Holed in one (just as our younger son did on a never-to-be-forgotten day on the third green at Parknasilla in the County Kerry). I knew I could rely on you.

KATAPHEUGOMEN. The fourth word on the papyrus!

Yes; when you carry around your Miraculous Medal, with its inscription referring to Mary's Immaculate Purity, and your recourse to her help, you are in a direct line from the first owner of the papyrus now kept in the John Rylands Library in Manchester; and, earlier than him or her, all the other Christian people whose copies have not survived the chances of History and whose names we are unlikely ever to know..

[Subversive footnote ... that 'Museum of the Bible in America, funded, I think, by a wealthy evangelical Green family ... had they been offered this interesting papyrus for sale ... would they ...]