31 December 2020

The Circumcision?

The Sarum Missal, like our earlier Leofric Missal, labeled this day as In die Circumcisionis Domini, rather than calling it the actual Feast of ....  The Roman dialect of the Roman Rite historically referred to it as simply the Octave Day of Christmas. 

Sarum/Leofric barely mentioned the Circumcision (only in the Gospel and [Leofric] obiter in a Preface). The theme of the Mass was simply what they called an iterata Solemnitas of Christmas Day. Sarum, despite its enthusiasm for Sequences, fails to mention the Circumcision in its quite lengthy Sequence. The theology that is hinted at is the carnale Commercium whereby His assumption of Flesh and our incorporation into His Divinity are a wondrous exchange (remember the Antiphon in the Divine Office: "O wonderful exhange! The Creator of the human race, taking an ensoulled body, deigned to be born of a Virgin; and, proceeding as a Man without Seed, granted unto us his Godhead." And recall the Christmas Collect which the priest at Mass whispers daily as he mingles wine and water ... almost certainly a felicitous composition by S Leo himself.)

The Mass in the Gregorian Sacramentary and the Missal of S Pius V, celebrated by the Pontiff in Sancta Maria ad Martyres (Agrippa's old foundation of the Pantheon) or, after Gregory IV, in her Basilica trans Tiberim, concentrates on Mary as Theotokos.  It is a fitting liturgical custom to take a subsidiary element in a Major festival and to give it a fuller expression nearby; I believe that Byzantium concentrates on our Lady on December 26.

To use January 1 to concentrate on the Lord's Circumcision is an example of the 'historicisation' of the Calendar and, I suspect, a medieval instinct. This does not make it reprehensible. But it does make it rather awkward to sweep a lot of much older liturgical material right away from January 1, replacing it with expressions of the fashions of a later age.

Which is exactly what Cranmer did. As Dom Gregory Dix loved to explain, the Reformers, in their endearing desire to be 'biblical', often revealed themselves as Very Medieval Men! So, in 1549, into the Anglican Divine Office came Genesis 17 and Deuteronomy 10; Romans 2 and Colossians 2. The Epistle became Romans 4. And this was to be the Collect:

Almyghtie God, whiche madeste thy blessed sonne to be circumcised and obedyente to the law for man; graunt us the true circumcision of thy spirite, that our hertes, and al our membres, being mortifyed from al worldy and carnal lustes, may in al thinges obey thy blessed wil; through the same ...

What is the advantage of celebrating the Circumcision? It reminds us that God became a male Man, fully endowed even with those bodily members which Victorian males did not always discuss in front of the Ladies, nor the Ladies in front of the Gentlemen. It reminds us that He was and is, like His Mother and His Apostles, a Jew; it brings before us great swathes of Biblical teaching about Circumcision and Covenant. It commemorates the Lord's first blood-shedding for our Salvation.

Could it go into the Missal as a Votive? I think not, because the convention is that we do not have votives of events in the lives of our Lord and His Mother.

I suggest that it could enter the Liturgy, possibly in a later edition of the Ordinariate Rite, on January 2 as an optional alternative to the celebration that day of our Redeemer's most precious Name. 

30 December 2020

D*m Whiggery.

Well, I spent time today watching the goings-on in the House of Commons. Because we are a 'democracy', our current regime actually allowed them nearly six hours to discuss a piece of legislation which is as significant in its innumerable lacunae as it is in its actual text. 

Not many speakers gave much historical context. Two who did ... 'Knights of the Shires' as we call them ... Sir William Cash and Sir Bernard Jenkins ... commended this legislation (I can't recall their precise words) for being in the spirit of the Dutch Invasion of 1688. Months ago, silly little Rees Mogg made a similar admission. 

Nice to know that even people seen as being on the 'traditional' side of politics are in favour of welcoming a foreign invader with enthusiastic courtesy. Hardly surprising that so many membrs of our 'Establishment' in 1939 were on the lists of potential collaborators. When Field Marshal von Rundstedt disembarked at Lyme Regis, he would have been surrounded at dinner that evening by the Great and the Good, all hurriedly Making their Name with the new order. Best of all, we can rejoice that the Conservative benches still now include Members who regard Treason as really a rather jolly sort of lark. At least, as long as it's in a slightly distanced area of History.

I can think of two good reasons for us being 'out of Europe':

(1) The attempt of Europe, some years ago, to write a Constitution with a Preface including a historical survey of Common European Values which leap-frogged all the way from ancient Greece and Rome to the 'Enlightenment'. As in 1984, real History was to disappear down the little tube which consigned it to oblivion ... the Real History in this case being a millennium-and-more of Christianity.

(2) Two Eastern European countries, members of the EU, keep getting ganged-up on by the rest because they try to retain a few shreds of Christendom in their national cultures. Had we remained in the EU, our de facto regime would probably have joined the bullies and kept voting against them. 

So perhaps it is best for us to be off their backs. 

Good luck to both of them.

God bless Christendom.

29 December 2020

Attendite ad Abraham patrem vestrum ... but only for hellenists REVISED

Mike Sheil has triumphed gloriously!! See the thread. The inscription is a nice example of the collapse of Koine Greek in terms of spellings and verb forms. I expect there are people who could date it quite precisely from the philology. (I've always been thankful that Margaret Hubbard suggested I buy the Eighth Edition of Liddell and Scott because of the Byzantine material it retained.)



Attendite ad Abraham patrem vestrum, et ad Saram, quae peperit vos: quia unum vocavi eum. Moved by this morning's first Lectio from Isaias, I offer a Christmastide puzzle for hellenists. The raw materrial ... a photograph ... is in the Mailonline for yesterday, Tuesday.

Recently excavated is a Byzantine church in Gethsemane. Within it is a Greek floor inscription which, we are told, has been translated 

For the memory and repose of the lovers of Christ + God who have received the sacrifice of Abraham accept the offerings of your servants and give them remission of sins + Amen

Sadly, I am not an epigrapher. The only sequence I have been able to discern securely (?!) in the Mailonline photograph, is:

 ... ho theos ho prosdexamenos ten thus{i}an tou Abraam ...

I presume we have here an allusion to the Sacrifice of Isaac, type of the Sacrifice of Christ, offered on the Hill identified with the Hill of Calvary, up which, presumably, pilgrims were about to climb from Gethsemane.

Texts and comments???.



28 December 2020

KILLER DOCTORS ... How many does one need?

On Christmas Eve, the Beeb, with her reliable sense of what is singularly inappropriate, provided a programme before breakfast on "Assisted Dying" (which is what we now call Euthanasia in order to make it sound more 'human').

The point at which the shiver went down my spine was the statement that Two Doctors woild have to sign pieces of paper, for the killing to be legal.

A safeguard?

When this depraved and murderous Kingdom democratically allowed Abortion, Two Doctors featured in the regulations. Abortion was not, in fact, legalised; it remained illegal except in certain limited circumstances. These were: danger to life; to mental health. So Two Doctors had each to sign a form, to guarantee that one of these risks applied. Pregnancy might kill Ms X; or Ms X is mentally sick. Or both.

The figures currently running tell us that some 600 pregnant women daily are medically guaranteed to be in danger of their lives or to be mentally sick. Two Doctors examine each of them extremely carefully and certify this by signing on the dotted line.

Except that they don't. Not long ago it came to light that, in a medical practice one Doctor would sign large numbers of such forms in batches, leaving the patients' names for his/her colleague to fill in as and when needed. As Obersturmbannfuehrer Adolph 'banality-of-evil' Eichmann could suavely have explained, it is smart little details like this which can help a killing machine to function that bit more smoothly.

The evidence about these goings-on was clear. The British Crown Prosecution Service, however, announced that it "would not be in the public interest" to prosecute the killers.

This seems to me unfair discrimination against ordinary, normal killers without medical qualifications.

27 December 2020

Dictionary Makers

After some of my recent philological excursions, learned readers pointed out to me that languages evolve and change. Indeed; I believe one of my pieces admitted that "correct pronunciations" are simply what the makers of Dictionaries recorded at particular times. I might have gone on to say that, if we were to take seriously the Latin origins of some of the words I dealt with, we might be compelled to ... pronounce them in "incorrect" ways!! 

Take cervical. Thus is the word commonly and 'correctly' pronounced, especially by the proculoptical classes. I suspect they do it for a wrong reason: by false analogy with tropical and topical. But these are Greek borrowings, where the recessive emphasis might be said to be protected by the Greek as it used to be pronounced by Englishnen in the 1920s. In Latin, cervice has a long I in the middle of it ... Pedantry might suggest pronouncing this word as the Latin suggests, just to show how far one is above the profanum vulgus ...

Once I was in discussion with a bright young couple Universitatis Dunelmensis who kept referring to something ... this was an informal conversation: we were not shouting at each other ... apparently called c'meen-er g'day-liker. It took me some time to realise that they were referring to the collection of Hebridean poetry called Carmina Gadelica.

Once, I was talking to a help-line somewhere in the Indian sub-continent about a computer problem. I simply could not understand what the woman was saying. I had to keep asking her to repeat ... to go slower ..."I am very old; could you speak louder" ... Eventally, with a rather strange giggle, she gave me a different telephone number to use. When I tried it, it turned out to be Alcoholics Anonymous.

Once, in hospital, a Glaswegian nurse came up and said to me (this is what I worked out subsequently) "wi' y'gi'us so'o'y' wi". I simply could not make out what she meant. After she had repeated the same unchanged succession of sounds four times, I took to smiling at her in a compliant if fatuous way. She went off ... a minute or two later, another nurse came up and rather definitely said "My colleague tells me that you are refusing to give a urine sample." ["Will you give us some of your wee"; 'Wee' apparently being Gaelic for Urine.]

My philological preferences are mainly, I will concede, the product of my on-going struggle to understand and to be understood in a linguistically fluid milieu.

26 December 2020


Is there still a present you need to send to a liturgically-minded friend or colleague? If so, I commend the book of this name (CSM), by R J Urquhart, pubd T and T Clark.

It is exacltly what it claims: "A careful Conjecture". For, while it is clear from the Sarum service books, most of the time, what they did solemnly in Salisbury Cathedral, what happened in humbler places and contexts, where Sarum was used in a status declivior, is not. A widely cast net enables Mr Urquhart to give you as much information as is humanly possible. 

Readers of this blog will have read herein, several times, something like the following:

"Lots of books will tell you that S Pius V permitted the continued use of medieval rites having a prescription of more than 200 years. This is erroneous. It is so erroneous as to be pretty well the opposite of the truth. He gave NO such permission to anybody."

If you have any book that says this, I ORDER YOU to fetch it at once and put big question-marks against such assertions. THEY ARE CONTRAFACTUAL

What S Pius did do ... well, if you're not a regular reader of this blog, or if you sometimes forget the wisdom I so generously share, or ... worst of all  ... if you don't regard me as a reliable authority, then you need to get CSM instantly and to read carefully Urquhart's explanation of Quo primum. TAKE IMMEDIATE STEPS ...

One detail in CSM seems to me arguable. The Compiler, footnoting 'Reid', suggests that it might be contrary to the mind of the Church actually to celebrate Sarum. But in a letter dated 10 December 2013 (Prot. N. 39/2011L) Archbishop Pozzoli, writing from the then Ecclesia Dei Commission propria manu, says

In relation to your first question, this Dicastery confirms that the Use of Sarum, whilst no longer in regular use, has never been formally abrogated.

In relation to your second question, it is the judgement of this Pontifical Commission that any celebration of the liturgy according to the Use of Sarum is to be carried out under the responsibility  and supervision of the Ordinary.

Interesting, yes? Suggestive, yes? 

PLEASE take my commendation seriously. This is a massively important book which needs all the support it can get in this age when publishers are naturally nervous about publishing things which might bring them narrow profits. PLEASE don't put it off ... ... PLEASE ...



25 December 2020

Mary Mother of God

Once upon a time, a thousand years ago in the great basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople, high up on the ceiling near the Altar, was an enormous picture of a Palestinian teenager, that selfsame Girl who is such a lead-player in the Christmass celebrations. There she stood orans, Mediatrix of All Graces, as we Westerners would say, her hands raised in prayer, and in front of her womb, in a round circle, a painting of her Divine Son - his hand lifted in blessing. That image of Mary was called Platytera tou kosmou, the Woman Wider than the Universe. Mary was Great with Child; her Child was Almighty God. She contained the One whom the heaven of heavens is too narrow to hold. Can a foot be larger than the boot or an oyster greater than the shell? For Christians, apparently, Very Often. Mary's slender womb enthroned within it the Maker of the Universe, the God who is greater than all the galaxies that stream across the firmament. The tummy of a Girl was wider than creation.

Then on the crisp night air came the squeal of the newly born baby. It came from the cave that was both a stable and a birth-place. That stable in Bethlehem, as C S Lewis memorably explains in The Last Battle, 'had something in it that was bigger than our entire world'. The stable, like Mary, was great with child; very great, for that Child is God. And what is true of the womb of the Mother of God, and what is true of that stable at Bethlehem, is also the great truth of the Sacrament of the Altar. Bread becomes God Almighty; little round disks of unleavened bread are recreated by the Maker of the World to be Himself. As Mary's Baby was bigger than all creation, than all the stars and clouds and mass of it, so the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is bigger than the Kosmos.

As you made your Christmass communion, glorious and loving Infinity came to make His dwelling in your poor body; so that, as you walked or drove home for the rest of Christmass, you were platyteroi tou Kosmou: broader than the Universe.

24 December 2020

Ecce Agnus Dei; Ecce.

"She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes"

"I need not to tell you who this 'she' or who this 'Him'. The day rises with it in its wings. This day wrote it with the first ray of the morning sun upon the posts of the world. The Angels sung it in their choirs, the morning stars together in their courses. The Virgin Mother, the Eternal Son. The most blessed among women, the fairest of the sons of men. The woman clothed with the sun, the sun compassed with a woman. She the Gate of Heaven, He the King of Glory that came forth. She the Mother of the everlasting God: He the God without a mother; God blessed for evermore. Great persons as ever met upon a day.

"Yet as great as the persons, and great as the day, the great lesson of them both is to be little, to think and make little of ourselves; seeing the infinite greatness in this day become so little, Eternity a Child, the rays of glory wrapt in rags, Heaven crowded into the corner of a stable, and He that is everywhere want a room.

"It is Christmas time, and let us keep open house for Him; let His rags be our Christmas raiment, His manger our Christmas cheer, his stable our Christmas great chamber, hall, dining room. We must clothe with Him, and feed with Him, and lodge with Him at this feast.

He is now ready by and by to give himself to eat; you may see Him wrapped ready in the swaddling clothes of His Blessed Sacrament; you may behold Him laid upon the Altar as in His manger. Do but make room for Him
     and we will bring Him forth,
          and you shall look upon Him,
                and handle Him,
                    and feed upon Him;
bring we only the rags of a rent and torn and broken and contrite heart, the white linen cloths of pure intentions and honest affections to swathe Him in, wrap Him up fast, and lay Him close to our souls and bosoms.

It is a day of mysteries: it is a mysterious business that we are about;
     Christ wrapped up;
          Christ in the Sacrament;
               Christ in a mystery;
let us be content to let it go so, believe, admire and adore it."

Mark Frank, STP, Master of Pembroke College Cambridge (1613-1664), Chaplain and Censor Librorum to His Grace Archbishop Sheldon. From the Second Sermon for Christmas Day.

22 December 2020

Philology: a strange stress shift?

I keep hearing such things as ...

mandatory pronounced mandatory

formidable pronounced formidable.

pastoral pronounced pastoral. 

adversary pronounced adversary.

integral pronounced integral.

efficacy pronounced efficacy ... this last example recently afforded some comedy. There is an 'Andrew Marr' who does an interview programme on the Beeb (he has never been exactly the sparkiest match in the box, despite an expensive private education in Scotland and a first at Cambridge in English) and who pronounced it thus; and admitted that ... he had never met the word before!! The Imperial don he was interviewing (about Covid vaccines) pronounced it correctly; so did the First Minister of Scotland ... but Marr stuck, poor fellow, to his guns.

Is there a widespread unease with regard to words in which the stress seems "too far back" for the oral comfort of many otherwise apparently healthy and even admirable folk?

If the dear ancient county of Westmorland still existed, I bet they'd be pronouncing it Westmorland, as I believe people do in some American place of the same name. So could the phenomenon which puzzles me be an Americanism?

I remember being puzzled some years ago when I was dealing with an early sixteenth century will. The property concerned was called Westmanton. But the scribed copy of Dame Thomasina Percival's will read it as Westpinton. 

-man- and -pin- are, on the face of things, really rather different-sounding syllables. But the penny then dropped in my mind. The placename must have been pronounced Westmanton, Westm'nt'n, which left the London scribe uncertain how to spell the unstressed middle syllable.

So what is the modern problem about English polysyllabic words with an early stress? Is there a parallel mutation in any other modern languages? Is it really that, for some reason, early stress has come to feel awkward to mis-shapen modern mouths? 

I don't think so.

On my theory, it is the result, in a semi-educated society, of an over-mastering fetich for orthography. This is what leads the fluvial peasantry North of Oxford to think that the river Cherwell (first syllable correctly rhyming with car, as in Berkshire), should be pronounced so that the first syllable rhymes with fur. Similarly, I suggest, individuals who have been more accustomed to meeting  'formidable' and 'mandatory' in print than they have been to hearing them in spoken discourse, feel a compulsion to 'regularise' the middle vowel. They have heard the words so rarely that, when they do need to use them, they don't know how most people in the past (which, of course, is what the dictionaries are recording) have pronounced them.

Should I call this 'schwaphobia'? Or, as one learned reader informs me, "Spelling Pronunciation"?

Or is it something else I haven't thought of?



PS: A Latin word which has suffered the same ruthless treatment on fallible modern tongues: musicians seem invariably to mispronounce Carmina (as in Carmina Burana) as cameeena.

21 December 2020


It seems to me that I am quite often expected to hold two contradictory views simultaneously.


A news bulletin not long ago had, for its first item, a report about the Secretary General of the UN, who had made a speech in which he criticised Humanity for "making War" on Nature. (My immediate reaction was to wonder why he couldn't tell Nature to stop making war on Humanity ... or, at least, ask her politely what her terms are for an armistice.)

The second item in the same bulletin was about the war against the Coronavirus. The implication throughout was that this is good war to be fighting.

There was no suggestion that these two attitudes stand in any sort of contradiction to each other: is it good, or is it bad, to be at war with Nature?

Perhaps there are nuances here which are beyond me. Perhaps the goodness or badness of fighting Nature depends upon other considerations. I don't know, because I have never heard anybody explaining the matter.

Perhaps, indeed, the sword is light, sharp, and easily available, by which we can cut though this Gordian knot. But how come, that I am the only person ... as far as I know ... who has this problem? Am I uniquely stupid? 

Surely, even those who are laughing loudest at my obvious stupidity, cannot refuse to admit that we have here at least a prima facie contradiction.


I gather that the new vernacular Italian translation of the Novus Ordo disregards the explicit orders of Pope Benedict that "... pro multis ..." should be translated literally ("for many"). Apparently, it continues, with the connivance of the Italian bishops and of PF,  to translate it as if it meant "for all people".

There can be no objection to this sort of language on theological principle. The Authentic Form of the Roman Liturgy has the priest, at the Offertory, raising the Chalice and asking the Father to accept it "pro totius mundi salute". The meaning of such phrases in orthodox Catholicism is that the Salvation by Christ's Blood is available, without exception, to all who approach God in Faith and ask for it. Just as Warburton's Seeded Loaf is available for anybody, for the whole world, to go and buy in Waitrose's.

But, being suspicious, my apprehension is that the desire to mistranslate the Verba Domini over the Chalice arises from some form of Universalism.

Be that as it may, the Contradiction I sense here is that many of the sort of people who would prefer "for All" are also the sort of people who would raise their hands in horror at any suggestion that the Jewish people need to be saved through the Blood of Jesus. No, they cry, Israel has its Covenant and they need nothing more. Christians who try to proselytise Jews are very badly mistaken. Indeed, they are anti-semites.

But, in that case, surely the Verba Donini need to be further amended ... the Lord, surely, needs even more of their wise and gracious help from the Italian Bishops' Conference and from PF. The essential formula must be yet further improved so that it reads "This is the Chalice of my Blood, of the New and Everlasting Covenant, the Mystery of Faith, which will be shed for you and for all people except of course the Jews, for the remission of sins".

Again, elucidation of my own personal problem concerning self-contradiction may be easy. But, in that case, why does nobody ever offer explanations? Why are the cognoscenti so mean-minded to simple souls like me who just want help?

A final point applying to both of the instances above: in each case, the Thoughtpolice expect, indeed, peremptorily demand, that we should accept and assert both of the apparently contradictory statements simultaneously and with equally extreme vehemence.  

Perhaps we have here another example of PF's peronista enthusiam for self-contradiction? 




20 December 2020

I think ...

 ... I am now ... hereby ... closing down some trains of discussion on the threads.

The LORD will come from the East

Auctoritas, I believe, has more pull with a Traditional mind than mere Power. So I am going to ask:

How can one apply the the principle of auctoritas to the question of whether or not the eucharistic celebrant should face the people ... or deliberately not do so? I feel there are particular principles which have to be taken together.

The celebrant should face the East. This has enormous auctoritas, both in the archaeological evidence for the 'Orientation' [Eastfacingness] of church buildings and in early Christian writings. I will refrain from mentioning the enormous amount of learned 'Patrimony' literature establishing this, from the time when our 'Ritualists' were arguing for the 'Eastward Position' as against the then fashionable 'North End' custom. More recently, liturgists such as Michael 'Patrimony' Moreton re-established this truth, followed by Roman Catholics such as Cardinal Ratzinger and Dr Lang.

What I find very weakly evidenced - if it is at all - is the idea that it is important for priest and people to face in the same direction. 'Traddies' often overlook the fact that facing in the same direction is is not necessarily the same as facing East. Because ...
(1) some buildings, notably but not only the Roman basilicas, are specifically designed so that, by facing East, the celebrant thereby faces where the congregation has gathered. The rules of the Missal of S Pius V explicitly provide for what the priest does in such circumstances. The immemorial usage of the Urbs itself has great auctoritas, and so does the traditional praxis to which the Missal of S Pius V bears witness.
(2) some churches, particularly when built in confined urban spaces, are not built along an East-West axis.
Some 'traddies' try to get round the problem by cheerfully referring to something they are pleased to term 'the ritual East', as though it is at our disposal to pretend that East is wherever it is convenient for us to pretend that it is. I regard this as wholly frivolous. More important: early writers who emphasise the need to face East write about the need to face the Lord who comes to us from the East, and about the rising sun as his great Ikon. I do not think they would be impressed by a notion that East is wherever my whimsy takes me. The notion subverts any possibility of words meaning anything. Was it the Red Queen in Alice who said that she could make words mean whatever she wished them to mean? Just as many 'trendies' have what seems to me a sad fetich for always facing the people, some 'traddies' seem to me to have an equally unfortunate fetich for invariably having their backs to the people. I suspect that neither fetich would have been comprehensible, either to Easterners or Westerners, in the first Christian millennium.

But, unlike Kevin and Sharon, they did know where the EAST was.

Another principle with great auctoritas is the idea of the One Altar. Byzantine churches by prescriptive custom only have one altar (although they can consult practicality by adding parekklesiai; I regard the side altars in the side chapels of Latin churches as in effect parekklesiai too). This principle is bound up with important concepts such as the unity of God's people round his one altar celebrating his one sacrifice. To have an (unused) old altar up against the East wall, and another for actual use in front of it for the priest to stand behind, I regard as profoundly wrong, for theological as well as aesthetic reasons.

Where a church is Eastward facing and has an altar at the East end, the matter is perfectly clear. It is quite improper to move it or stand behind it. If the old altar has been shifted forward, it should be moved back. If an altar for versus populum has been placed in front of it, it should be got rid of. If it was made of wood, a parish bonfire would be a reverent way of disposing of a piece of furniture which has, remember, known the August Sacrifice.

Where a church is designed so that the sanctuary is at the West end, and the architect has structured the sanctuary so that the priest can thereby face East only by facing the people, my own view, which is not going to make me universally popular, is that he should do just that. I think not only of the Roman basilicas but, for example, of the Oratory and Blackfriars Churches in Oxford. As I mentioned, the ritus servandus in the Missal of S Pius V provides very explicitly for the celebration of Mass versus populum, and in my view ... not that anyone is likely to ask for it! ... this is what auctoritas suggests should be done. Versus Orientem rules OK.

But what about the Blackfriars' Church in Oxford? There the principle of One Altar is disastrously vitiated; a small modern table stands in front of the old majestic High Altar. Dunno. What do you think? My own gut feeling is ... go with the flow of the building as it is actually built; remove the little modern table, celebrate facing West, with the congregation facing West too ... although I would have to admit that the ancient Fathers would have had paroxysms if they could have seen both priest and people with their backs all turned in unison away from the East, away from the direction from which the Lord promises his Epiphany.

As regards churches built to face neither East nor West ... such as the Brompton Orsatory and Westminster Cathedral ... again, dunno. I am sure that the principle of One Altar should apply, so dump any coffee tables. Thank the Lord that the Brompton Fathers never messed around with their sanctuary and that Vin has restored the One Altar at Westminster. Again, my own, purely personal but quite strong, gut instinct is to go with the flow of the building as it was actually designed, and to celebrate with ones back to the people. But this is not facing East and does not have a great weight of auctoritas behind it.

18 December 2020

Wives and Mistresses

Which fictional character irritated his sister-in-law by wishing his wife to contiue to use her Maiden Name, because, so he claimed,  it would give him "the illusion that one has a Mistress as well as a Wife, which is obviously gratifying"?

17 December 2020

Alchemy and Hugs and Infantilising the Elderly

I just heard a journalist describing (with some emphasis) a Coronavirus Vaccine as "Literally liquid gold." Were he confronted with real liquid gold, how would he ... having neutered the word 'literally' ... describe it? Do we then move on to "really literally", for a decade or so, until that in turn needs reinforcement? And why do these public voices now, increasingly, refer to "fellow colleagues"? The evisceration of real words means that endless reinforcement mumble mumble mumble you know what I was going on to say.

But what is most in my mind at the moment is the habit among our rarely more-than-semi-educated journalists of constantly talking about 'hugs'. 

In their strange world, Coronavirus has meant that, because of 'distancing', I and millions of other poor old people of my age are sitting in loneliness longing to be able to 'hug' their grandchildren or 'be hugged' by them. You try counting how often this offensive trope is paraded on the TV screen by some dim cutie.

There are all sorts of things I would love to feel easy doing ... strolling into Blackwells to see what new books there are ... listening to a paper in a symposium ... accepting invitations to go and preach or lecture or conduct retreats ... finding a country church unlocked and poking around inside to unearth the story of that community ... borrowing a cottage for a fortnight on an interesting coastline, or taking a midweek weekend in a hotel ... checking something in the Patrologia in Bodley ... sauntering into a good cafe for a good coffee and a good pastry ... a quick Guinness (Beamish would be a real treat) in a friendly passing pub ... Saltimbocca alla Romana in our local Italian ... checking whether 'our' Cornish choughs nested this year in the blow-hole near ... ...

But, well ... 'comorbidities' ... I am overweight and diabetic (it's the pastries and the veal) and, even if our de facto regime allowed them, such pleasures would be attenuated by the fear that the waiters or the choughs might infect me with you-know-what. 

And I missed the fortnight on Lake Garda at the 'Roman Forum' Conference ... Verdi in the open air at Verona as the July sky darkens ...

Yes; God has been very good to me. And even under Covid, my life is a million times more pleasurable and fulfilled than that of so many others whose suffering is very real. I accept the way things are with, I hope, very thankful and grateful resignation to the unmerited goodness of God. 

But the absence of Hugs is the least of my deprivations..

Our grandchildren are intelligent, nuanced, witty, perceptive, and affectionate, and we have greatly missed being able to take advantage of occasional lunches with the very admirable grandson who has just finished his first term at the University ... how we had looked forward to having him Up!

But Hugs? The journalistic trope that we senilities just live and long for hugs?? This is the degree of contempt which the self-assured TV voices, as they stumble ungrammatically through their six-fillers-per-sentence illiterate woffle, feel for us over-seventy-fives.

It brings on my Fr Jack Hegarty mood. I feel like throwing something at the TV screen.

But I suppose that would simply provide objective evidence of my senile decrepitude. I would be dragged off to hospital where each day would start with a bright and youthful female voice saying "Come along, John, sit up straight and take your pills, there's a good boy  ..."

Heaven knows, this fallen world is full of different forms of abuse, all of them reprehensible. But the ruthless infantilisation of us, the defenceless elderly, is well up among the front runners.

16 December 2020


There is a Western custom of having a look at the Annunciation (and often also the Visitation) in the run-up to Christmas. The instinct for this is an obvious one, and led to the special celebration of our Lady in the Ambrosian Rite on the last (sixth) Sunday of Advent. For, although in one sense it is rational to make the Annunciation precede the Nativity by nine months, in another sense the mind naturally groups together events which are inextricably bound together, and wishes to revisit the Annunciation while its thoughts are occupied with the ventura sollemnia of the Birth. I will attempt the briefest summary of some things the Roman Tradition has to offer.


The December Ember days, originally apparently associated with the Olive Harvest, were soon transformed into preparations for Christmass. The old mass for the Wednesday in the week before Advent IV, beginning Rorate, has the Annunciation for its theme (the Friday mass commemorates the Visitation). Slightly adapted, this became, in the Old Rite, the Advent Votive of our Lady.

Appendix pro aliquibus locis

The old nineteenth century Supplement under this name has a feast Expectatio Partus BMV on December 18. It combines Advent elements (such as the Rorate introit) with things from March 25. Incidentally, England was one of the very many countries where it was on the local calendar, back in the days when the Holy See had granted a Calendar for England and before it replaced it with different Calendars for the respective RC dioceses (I wonder when that was?).

This feast, which one might have assumed to be an agreeable piece of Hispanic baroquery, is in fact quite old; it is said to date back to the Xth Council of Toledo in 656, when the Spanish bishops ordered a Feast of the Annunciation just before Christmas. This was partly because of its inherent thematic suitability, partly because the feast on March 25 is either overshadowed by Lenten themes or (when transferred) confuses the days after Low Sunday. The Spanish feast had an Octave leading up to Christmas itself, during which there was a daily High Mass attended by expectant women.

"THE RORATE MASS"A beautiful custom arose in Germany and Eastern Europe of saying an Advent Votive Mass of our Lady in the darkness just before dawn, entirely by candlelight. As well as being very ancient and very suitable to the few days before Christmass, it also comes round about the time (in the Northern hemisphere) of our shortest day. It thus has pastoral potential just when the human frame and psyche need to be cheered up by the prospect of lengthening days and the return of Light.

15 December 2020

Our Lady of Candelaria

The Internet, not long ago, had an interesting piece on A Certain Cardinal; it revealed that he still Basks in the Favour of PF! Papa subito?? It seems only yesterday ... but it was at least five years ago ... that the Rorate blog had a video of this selfsame cardinal worshipping the pagan goddess Pachamama (although it did not reveal whether he went all the way and performed the all-important traditional sacrifice of llama foetuses).

I had thought that, after the spread of Christianity in Latin America, this goddess, mother of both the Sun and the Moon (gosh, I bet the midwife needed to stitch her up after that!!), had her cult replaced by that of our blessed Lady the Mother of God sub titulo Candelaria. 

 Before I became too aged to travel as far as Texas, I had the privilege of spending time at our Lady of the Atonement, the splendid Fr Phillips' splendid creation and a marvellous expression of Anglican Rite Catholicism. From there, I was taken to see the superbly restored and beautified Cathedral in San Antonio, with its beautiful Shrine of our Lady of Candelaria. I have rarely seen anything so lovely. I believe the reason for the shrine and the devotion is that early San Antonio was colonised by sons of the Canary Isles, where this devotion was and is strong.

I can recommend it to the Certain Cardinal. If he could row back from Pachamama and try to recover a devotion to our Lady, he could seek permission to celebrate Pontifical High Mass in either the Extraordinary Form or the Anglican Use at the Shrine of our Lady of Candelaria in the Lone Star State.

I'm sure he would find this a much more joyous business that all that grim and gloomy syncretism!

Beata Maria de Candelaria Deipara Virgo et Mater Laetitiae, ora pro nobis.

14 December 2020

A National Treasure?

There is much grief among the luvvy classes about the death of one of their own, a woman who acted under the name Barbara Windsor.

She never did me any harm, and I have no motive to disparage her. However, she did sleep with a great many men; they did include murderous members of London East End gangs; and she had five abortions.

I am a sinner who have probably misused the graces offered me much more than she misused the graces offered by God to her. And I cannot know what transactions occurred between herself and God before she breathed her last.

But is she really so exemplary? 

Some years ago, the Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley, was reconciled to the Church. For some reason, this infuriated the Meejah classes. I remember one of them writing about how preposterous was the idea that if a man with a purple ribbon round his neck murmured some words, sins as heinous as those committed by Hindley could be washed away. He opined (I quote) that she should rot for ever in Hell. Because there are people, sensitive and thoughtful folk, who do not believe that a loving God could ever shut somebody up for ever in Hell, but who ... if helped along by a few leading questions ... are very happy to supply names of some who are most certainly in the Hell which a loving God could never allow to exist.

Such opinions as that about Hindley were not expressed by stuffy old moralists. We stuffy old moralists believed, and believe, that Sin is awe-fully offensive to a loving God; and yet that any sin, however horrible, can be washed away with a liitle water and a few words in Baptism; or a murmured admission and an Absolution in a Confessional.

I suspect that, for luvvies, for the Meejah, sins like the sins which they cheerfully commit or might commit themselves cannot really matter so very much ... cannot even require Baptism or Absolution ... indeed, that it is thoroughly bad manners even to call them 'sins' ... but that the sins of a Hindley or a Hitler are unforgiveable.

In my view, Barbara Windsor was no more, and no less, a National Treasure than were the five children she killed. I shall pray for the repose of her soul.

13 December 2020

The Mikado?

 I just love the phrase "President Elect". It has such a very English, GilbertandSullivan, feel to it. I think our transpontine friends are very lucky to have one. And he says such divinely funny things ... "Steel your Spines", for example. He is a poppet. 

You will guess, rightly, that I have been watching him a bit on video clips. Let me explain why.

Not along ago, I did rather join in with those other wicked souls who were laughing about the fact that the President Elect, "A devout Catholic", thought Psalmist was pronounced Palmist (instead of Sah-mist, as the rest of us, and our dictionaries, believe). One reader rebuked me for mocking somebody who had a speech impediment. So, I watched ... and listened ... to find any evidence that he cannot pronounce words with an initial S sound. I have to say that I discovered he has no problems at all with initial Ss. After all, many much younger men might have had trouble negotiating a phrase of such allusive complexity as "Steel your Spines". So I plead not guilty.

The survey, however, did convince me that, as my maternal Grandmother (now, I very much fear, deceased) would have put it, "He hasn't got much up top". And I got to wondering if this had any relevance to the question of giving him, or refusing him, Holy Communion ... a subject currently in the news. Reports are circulating about the words of Archbishops Chaput and Aquila. I have tentatively wondered if it can sometimes, in matters like this, be pastorally right to take account of somebody's low intelligence, ostensible decrepitude, deteriorating mental condition, or impaired grasp of realities.

Take Rex Mottram, for example, in Brideshead Revisited. He has proposed himself as a convert because he wishes to marry an aristocratic Catholic. Father Mowbray, given the task of instructing him, complains:

"'I wasn't happy about him. He seemed to have no sense of reality, but I knew he was coming under a steady Catholic influence, so I was willing to receive him. One has to take chances sometimes -- with semi-imbeciles, for instance. You never know quite how much they have understood. As long as you know there's someone to keep an eye on them, you take the chance.' ... 

"'Poor Rex,' said Lady Marchmain. 'You know, I think it makes him rather lovable. You must treat him like an idiot child, Father Mowbray.'"

When someone is extremely mentally confused, might it be right to give them the benefit of the doubt out of pastoral oikonomia?

Of course, I do realise that the question of Scandalum has also to be taken into account.


12 December 2020

Working towards an Octave ...

The nearly total abolition of Octaves in the post-Conciliar "reforms" went against all natural human instincts, as well as Biblical precedent. Having a great festival ... and then putting on green vestments the next morning as if nothing has happened ... is upsetting as well as counterintuitive. Those who worship according to Byzantine and other rites can bear witness that, among themselves, a great festival lingers in the liturgical mind until a 'leave-taking'.

Surely, it is interesting that the Octave of the Immaculate Conception has been gradually, imperceptibly, with snail-like tread but non sine numine, creeping back. On December 9, there was S John Didacus Cuauhtlatoatzin, the Visionary of Guadalupe, in the Novus Ordo. By the legislation of March this year, he may be observed also in the Vetus Ordo. On December 10, our Lady of Loreto has for many decades been in the Appendix pro aliquibus locis of the old Rite. And today, Dececember 12, there is our Lady of Guadalupe in the Novus Ordo. These celebrations help to keep the Theotokos in mind for half an Octave!

Those of us who are Vetus women or men (as opposed to merely veteres) should remember that the EF department of the CDF expects us, on such days, to use Communia and not to 'adapt' the Novus Ordo texts until they have been revised for the Old Rite.

This is wise. Let me give you an example of a problematic Novus Ordo text.

The Novus Ordo texts provided a few years ago by the CDW for our Lady of Guadalupe give a good example of the need for care. The Collect has an EH (Elementary Howler) in its Latin: 'quaereant' must a mistake for 'quaerant'. And, elegantly matching this mendosa Latinitas, there is an iffy political allusion: to the opening and programmatic two words of S Paul VI's Encyclical Populorum Progressio

I don't want to overstate the case against this sort of phraseology or that Encyclical. And I'm sure you don't either. We are all moderate men and women. But I do sense, in both, a danger that the Faith, and the Church, may be demoted from being  God's Saving Truth, and His Ark of Salvation, into being valued for the contribution they can make to secular aims, however laudable. Our Patrimonial C S Lewis perceived and warned against this error back in 1941. See my post of October 29; or Screwtape Letter VII near the end.

My comments, of course, do not apply to the old Propers for our Lady of Guadalupe, which lack EHs and do not refer to the encyclicals of S Montini! These 'old' propers are presumably those authorised by Leo XIII (Benedict XIV had granted earlier propers which I have not seen). Readers will be reassured to know that the Propers in the Ordinariate's Divine Worship Missal are translations of the Leo XIII texts!

Footnote: My comments relate to the texts as published in Notitiae. It may be that EHs have been corrected in subsequent publications. Perhaps somebody could let me know?! On the feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as the EH in the Collect, there are (at least!) these errors in the Lectio: last paragraph, ella should be illa and mirabant should be mirabantur. In the antepenultimate paragraph, accipere should be acciperes.

10 December 2020

Have I taken your knee? GET UP!

A few days ago, footie teams here in Blighty were again allowed to have spectators watching them. As if ... er ...

One of the teams which played is now in the news. Before the game began, the players all genuflected, which, I gather, is called Taking the Knee and is an "anti-racist" quasi-sacramental rite. [Giggle giggle ... I heard you say that this would make it very hard for PF to be a professional footballer ... one can't take you anywhere ...] 

And some spectators ... it is probably offensive for me even to mention this ... BOOED!!

And ... worse even than that ... climax of horrors ... one OR MORE of them shouted out ... horror warning ... racist offense warning ... shouted out ... yes, you want to know what he shouted ... what racially offensive innuendo, what obscene and wounding slander ... "Sieg Heil", perhaps, or a nostalgic snatch from the Horst Wessel Song? Right ... I'll tell you ... are you sitting comfortably? Is your defibrillator ready? Is its battery still working? ... what he (or they) shouted was

     "GET UP!"


Back in the seventies, in our second, inner-city slum, curacy, there were lots of supporters of this particular club. They did have a bit of a reputation for putting themselves around, dear little fellows that they were. Not an underpass went unhonoured by their graffiti. Their chant was "Nobody likes us we don't care"; asyndeton, I grant you, but expressing a couple of truths nonetheless. Their Victorian origins were to be found in the working-class docklands of East London where their opponents were supporters of rival clubs based in rival business firms. Thus the youthful working classes fought out their proxy wars ... cemented their group identities ... and, thank goodness, expended their surplus energy. 

Of course, the anti-racism campaigning classes and their [genuine Maoist jargon now coming up] Running Dogs are in a mighty frenzy about all this. I imagine that Inspector Knacker of the Yard and his Boys in Blue are at this very moment Leaving No Stone Unturned to identify the miscreants. Dame Cressida, I am sure, sweet old lady, is "concerned".

But why should our good plain English yobs have outlandish Americanisms foisted upon them? I have been told that Black Lives Matter is a rather iffy organisation ... but even if it isn't, why should young white working-class Londoners, needing for their happiness nothing more than weak Australian beer and a little harmless disorder, be forced to watch these daft alien rituals being enacted upon their own footie grounds? Isn't America big enough?


The traditional form of our beloved Roman Rite can give us some guidance here. On certain penitential days, the deacon, generally an undercover BLM agent, intones "Flectamus genua", and the subdeacon laudably countermands his Wokish boss by shouting  



9 December 2020

Fr Ratisbonne

I found the middle reading of the Breviary Office for the Feast of the Manifestatio  of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, vastly interesting. An entire Lectio devoted to one single convert! And what a sense of exuberant joy in the City of Rome because of that one conversion. "Christiana dogmata edoctus, paucis post diebus, communi Urbis laetitia, sacro baptismate lustratus est." This communal glee must still have been part of Roman chatter when S John Henry Newman was there: the account of it gives a new dimension to the life of our great Patron, and his background.

Neither the event, nor its description in the Breviary Office, give any evidence for Anti-semitism. An anti-semitic mindset, surely, would resent such a conversion. Anti-Semites, surely, would resist having a Jewish banker thrust prominently among them. Anti-semites would resent the speed of his reception (no sense here of long-drawn-out Rites for the Christian Initiation of Adults ... "Well; perhaps next Easter we might ... er ..."). No evidence of reticence about accepting his sacerdotal vocation or his desire to set up, in company with his priestly brother, the religious communities for men and women, dedicated to Our Lady of Sion, and devoted to the Conversion of the Jews. Not a sign of papal disapproval.

So much joy, just for one Jew!! One Jew matters. I have heard it said, of the Holocaust, that perhaps "only" 200,000 Jews were murdered. What a disgusting, truly horrible, obscenity. One Jew matters; in the sight of God, matters infinitely and absolutely.This is the settled teaching of the Church: Anti-semitism has no place in the Catholic Church.

But there is bad news. The website of the Congregation and the Sisters tell us this:

"In accord with the theological thinking of their time, our founders felt that, out of love for their people, they were 'sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel' and called to seek the conversion of the Jews in order to hasten the accomplishment of the promises made to Israel.

"Today, the Church has given new orientations concerning our relations with the Jewish people in  its declaration Nostra Aetate and in other documents that followed. Because of this and in obedience to the directives of the Church, we no longer seek to convert the Jews, but rather a better understanding of the place and role of the people of Israel in salvation history as well as their relationship with the Church."

Readers will know that I am unwilling to discern any formal teaching of error in the formal documents of Vatican II. Indeed, the words I have cited above give a disgracefiully and dishonestly perverted account of the Document they mention.

But there can be no question that the Enemy was at work among significant players and factions in that Council, and has been hard at work ever since. The "Spirit of Vatican II", the "Smoke of Satan", is a Spirit of Apostasy, and a gross deceit upon the People of God.

And what about the physical properties which the Ratisbonne brothers were able settle upn their followers? Misappropriated, now, to purposes which those Founders would have repudiated.


Theft, to go with the Idolatry, the Mendacity, the Adultery, so successfully encouraged in the Church of the last half-century.

8 December 2020


A Sermon I once preached for the Immaculate Conception; at Pusey House, Oxford.
On May 13, 1917 .… Yes, if I were Jeremy Paxman and that were a Starter Question, you would all by now laudably have pressed your buzzers. But I wonder how many of you recall the first words which that Lady ‘brighter than the sun’ said to those three Portuguese peasant children, nearly a hundred years ago. They were ‘Do not be afraid’. ‘Afraid’ is what frail humans so often feel when confronted by evidences of divine power; the Lord himself said it on His Easter Morning: me phobeisthe. But I like to indulge myself an idiosyncratic fantasy that Our Lady, when she appeared on that stony, arid field at Cova da Iria - although I imagine she spoke to Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta in some Portuguese dialect - was really addressing England; Protestant England with its underlying anti-Catholic bigotry (‘scratch an Englishman...’) even when it is overlaid by the broader anti-Christian secularism of our own age. (When the 1928 Prayer Book came before Parliament, someone asked an atheist MP why he was so keen to vote against it, and he explained ‘But I am a Protestant atheist’.) And such English, I put it to you, are scared, dead scared, scared out of their wits, by the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. Have you noticed that there's a certain sort of churchperson who twitches rhythmically at the very phrase 'Mother of God'. If you explain that Jesus is God and so his mother Mary is the Mother of God, they give you that sort of sideways look that implies they know you're playing some sort of Jesuitical trick on them, but they can't quite spot the catch. Well, of course, there is a catch; it is that they don't live with a real faith that Jesus is God. As Newman once analysed it, liberal protestants demote our Lord Jesus Christ into the slot reserved for Mary (I am butchering Newman's elegant periods into journalese so I will call it "Top Creature Slot") and then they're puzzled when we Catholics situate Mary in exactly that place. 'Romanism is not idolatry unless Arianism is orthodoxy', Newman observed.

So what - if they can't completely avoid talking about Mary - do liberal protestants call her? 'The mother of Jesus’; 'the Virgin'; and - get this - 'the Madonna'. As if it's safer to refer to her in Italian than to use the Prayer Book phrase 'Our Lady'. So let's keep her, they feel, in an Art History context - the Madonna ... weird, really, isn't it: you wouldn't, probably, refer to the Head of an academic institution as ‘the Il Principale’ or the 'il prevosto'; or to our beloved Prime Minister as ‘the Il Duce’. Or perhaps she will be called 'the bee vee', as if it sanitises and makes her safe to turn her into an English acronym.

In a sermon I preached nearly half a century ago, at the Mattins of Christmass Day in the year of my diaconate, I said that the Incarnation meant that God was in the belly of a Palestinian peasant girl who is Queen of Heaven. Critics fell into three categories: those who disliked my phrase because of its physicality and because it placed the origins of our faith among foreigners (surely Mary must have been a middle-class Englishwoman and if not a member of the WI then at least of the Young Wives); those who didn't like the phrase Queen of Heaven; and those who disliked both.

'The Immaculate Conception'. It's a lovely rolling phrase, isn't it (we classicists might analyse its rhythm as a trochaic dimeter). And it's a phrase, too, that can scare people silly. Is it sometimes the physicality – again, of conception - that disturbs them; conception, a process that occurs a little way south of the tummy button? Not the sort of thing the fastidious want to have dragged in front of their noses. C S Lewis points out that the devils too are fastidious in their horror at the flesh: Screwtape refers to a human as 'this animal, this thing begotten in a bed'. Or perhaps people are scared of the word 'Immaculate'; perhaps it suggests foreign religion - little old Irish women clutching their rosaries or Spanish ladies in black making their five successive First Saturday communions in honour of the Immaculate Heart (a devotion which Cardinal Ratzinger with his gentle irony once called 'surprising for people from the Anglo-Saxon and German cultural worlds'). But 'immaculate' is a completely biblical concept in its Hebrew and Greek equivalents: it means spotless; and only what is without blemish is truly for God (for example, a spotless sacrificial lamb). Because: Mary is to be wholly for God, is to give God his body, to give God his endowment of genes, to give God the food of her breast: so Mary by God's gift is to be the Immaculate, the one without blemish, the one in whom the Divine likeness has never been marred.

It is because Mary alone in the roots of her being is unmarked by sin that Mary alone is truly and wholly free. In our hearts, too, we should make her free and 'fear not'; she is never to be locked up in the tourist industry as a statue of doubtful taste carried in processions by foreign peasants for the English to photograph from within their coaches; Mary is not to be detained at the pleasure of the Heritage business in a Merry England; she is not to be 'the Madonna' of the Art Historians imprisoned in glossy coffee­ table books.

If Mary is the Mother of God Incarnate, she is our Mother too, because we are in Christ, limbs of his body by our baptismal incorporation. Mary comes to us this day, and what would a true mother bring to hungry children except food; food for her children in exsilio; food packed for our journey. Mary comes to this place and to this moment of time; Mary comes, bright with all the beauties known by men and angels; Mary comes to set upon our lips the blessed fruit of her womb Jesus.

7 December 2020

Leo XIII??

A really big Thank You to all those who enabled me to track down the Breviary propers for the Feast of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. I am truly grateful.

At Mattins, this hymn was is used:

Tutela praesens omnium, 

Salveto Mater Numinis;

Intacta in Hevae filiis,

Tu foeda munda pectora.


5. Numisma quos ornat tuum,

Fove benigno lumine;

Virtus sit inter proelia

Aegisque in hostes praepotens.


Sit flentibus solatium, 

10. Aegris levamen artubus,

In mortis hora, fulgidae

Aeternitatis sponsio.


Iesu, tuam qui finiens

Matrem dedisti servulis,

15. Precante Matre, filiis

Largire coeli gaudia. Amen.


Ever a schoolmaster, I will point out the importance of distinguishing your short a from your long a. In line 4, getting this wrong would make all the difference between asking our Lady to clean our defiled hearts, and asking her to to defile our clean hearts. Grammar matters!

I think there is a good chance that this hymn was written by that consummate Latinist, Papa Pecci., otherwise known as Pope Leo XIII. (We need another Pope Leo ... it would establish a fine precedent if Leo XIV were a person one of whose baptismal names had been Leo ... )

It was, indeed, Leo XIII who granted the Mass and Office "ad singulos Episcopos ac Religiosas familias petentes". The SRC had decided that this would be kosher, on the grounds that the Liturgy already took note of Devout Objects such as the Rosary and the Carmelite scapular.

But why might Leo himself be the poet? In lines 2/3, Mater Numinis /Intacta reminds us of Intacta Mater Luminis in Te dicimus praeconio, which Dom Alselmo Lentini intelligently surmised was composed by Pope Leo. Mind you, that didn't stop Dom Anselmo from emending 'numen' out of his text, crying "sapit Mythologiam"! Pope Leo got the line from Praeclara custos virginum, a seventeenth century hymn probably originally composed for the Feast of the Purity of the BVM. In that hymn also (now attached to the Immaculate Conception) Dom Anselmo bowdlerised the text!

It might occur to you to wonder whether Tutela was written by the same classicising poet who wrote Praeclara. Nice one! He had included the remarkable line "syrtes dolosas amove", which Dom Anselmo failed to emend (he could have explained "nimis sapit catillos tectonicos"). I prefer my Leo hypothesis because I can't find Tutela in the Thesaurus but mostly because the Miraculous Medal was not in circulation in the seventeenth century!

Tutela contains other matters of interest: not least the sense, not common in Christian Latin, of finiens in the sense of 'dying' (line 13). And there is the highly unusual final stanza which is not-at-all a Trinitarian doxology. But most readers will, I suspect, raise an eyebrow at Aegis. Originally, of course, the Aegis was the shield of Jove or of Minerva, with Medusa's head fixed on to it to apotrepein enemies ( we don't want to go into the use of it in Ovid's Remedium Amoris, do we?). 

I believe our Lady suggested that the Medal should be worn around the neck. Suitably apotropaic!



5 December 2020

For Classicists only

Like the youngest columnist in Private Eye, I am Extremely Angry. 


For some years now, I have been distracted by the way people on TV and Radio pronounce names like Odysseus which end in -eus. (And their habit is even followed by professional Classicists).

They make the final syllable into two syllables. Thus, confronted by Odysseus, they pronounce him odd-iss-ee-uss (instead of odd-iss-ewss). (The only exception appears to be Zeus: I have never heard him called Zee-uss ... I wonder why not).

Finally, something snapped within me. I'd better chexk, I thought, that what I have always assumed to be the 'correct' pronunciation is not just some idiosyncrasy of my own. 

So I settled down with the Metamorphoses. Entering it by means of the Index nominum, I checked the nominative forms of a gaggle of such names. Perseus, Neleus, Prometheus ... there are dozens of them. I knew, of course, that in the accusative, genitive, dative, the final syllable divides up, but I was confining myself to the nominative because it is the nominative form of Greek and Latin proper names which is  taken over into English. 

No; this was not my personal idiosyncrasy: the metre reveals that Perseus was always per-sewss, two syllables, never per-see-uss. What I had picked up from my schoolmasters ... and the way it was pronounced in my undergraduate days sixty years ago ... was correct (this also applies, incidentally, to the vocative).

I quick foray into Flaccus and Maro confirmed matters. From Maro I moved up the River Mincio to that most exquisite of all lakes, to Catullus and to Pietro Bembo, his Eminence, the Great Humanist, the Poet of Lake Garda, friend of Reginald Pole (who got his cardinal's hat on the same day and, while in flight from Tudor's assassins, also sojourned by Lake Garda). 

But, of course, these names are really Greek. So I ended up checking through Homer. Here again, -eus is just one syllable.

I have read my 'Allen' and I am aware that a diphthong is two vowel sounds which the ancients ran together; but, surely, they did not pronounce them as two distinct syllables. Otherwise, they would hardly have scanned them as one united sound. Or am I philologically naive?

Here is what I would like to know: when did the modern pronunciation of the diphthong -eu- as two separate syllables arise?

My own current provisional theory is something that I have mentioned before: the consequences of semi-clerks being more familiar with words as phenomena upon a page than as something one hears or utters. I could go on to make elderly remarks about the disintegration of the beautiful old concept of the Respublica litterarum.


Currently, our new up-to-the-minute hurricanes are named from the Greek Alphabet. We've recently had ETA. But the Weatherfloosies pronounced it ETTA, with a short E. Di Immortales! The letter was only invented, to supplement Epsilon, because the need was felt for a letter specifically meaning long E rather than short E. When we get to the end of the alphabet, we shall, I'm sure, have to listen to the sisterhood prosing on about Hurricane o-MEEE-ga. (And what will they make of the Hebrew Alphabet?)

I bet the Plague would have been sussed by now if we had enjoyed the services of those superb physicians Sir Lambda Munu and Sir Omicron Pi (or, for that matter, Dame Rho Sigma).

But instead ... they give us Mr Hancock, who isn't in the Greek Alphabet. Every time he appears on screen, I hear in my mind's ear the special music in the early St Trinian's films which signals the approach of the spiv Harry (George Cole).

4 December 2020

Groins and minds since the Fall

Has Human Nature changed? Did humans never, before today, suffer from sexual temptation? Are Fornication, Adultery, Sodomy, problems only of our own unique and spectacularly sui generis age? What did the New Testament writers mean when they talked about porneia, moikheia, malakia? Is there something crashingly new about the capacity or incapacity of modern human beings (whether with or without Grace) to resist temptation? What is supposed to be so different about our groins and minds compared with the groins and minds of every other human generation since the Fall? What has so privileged us that we are (apparently) free to claim exemption from the Divine Commands, entolai, which were considered to bind former generations since the dawn of history?

What is different about our age; what does set it apart from all previous ages?

Not, surely, human sexual organs or the human minds which have to cope with them. The only change is the spread of the curse, the heresy, of thinking that humans have a Right to Autonomy, free from obligations to God or even to the age-old genetic and social inheritance of our long history as a species; "free", in S Paul's terrifying phrase, "from Righteousness". In other words, the amoral individualistic wickedness of the Enlightenment Chicken is at last come home to roost and to befoul its roosting place. And it is phenomenally dirty.

You will remember C S Lewis's fictional snapshot (1943) of an atheist 'freethinker', a Professor Churchwood, "an old dear. All his lectures were devoted to proving the impossibility of ethics, though in private life he'd walked ten miles rather than leave a penny debt unpaid. But all the same ... was there a single doctrine practised at Belbury* which hadn't been preached by some lecturer at Edgestow? Oh, of course, they never thought that anyone would act on their theories! No one was more astonished than they when what they'd been talking about for years suddenly took on reality. But it was their own child coming back to them: grown up and unrecognisable, but their own. ... Trahison des clercs. None of us is quite innocent." 

And try putting that together with blessed Edward Bouverie Pusey's perceptive and prophetic analysis in the 1830s (unpublished Papers in the archives of Pusey House): "We must bend our minds and conform them to the teaching of Holy Scripture, or men will end in bending Holy Scripture to their own minds, and when it will not bend, will part with it. For a time a person or a generation may go on with this discrepancy unsettled; and a person of strong faith will go on to the end undisturbed, satisfied on this or any other point, that there is some way of settling it, though he knows not of it, yet ... for a Church, wherein men of every sort are gathered, it is a dangerous state to take a direction in any respect varying from Holy Scripture."

And finally, from Dorothy Leigh Sayers, an Anglican scholar whose genius is insufficiently recognised or remembered, in a paper she read at Oxford in 1947: "Right down to the nineteenth century, our public affairs were mostly managed, and our books and journals were for the most part written, by people brought up in homes, and trained in places, where [the Scholastic] tradition was still alive in the memory and almost in the blood. Just so, many people today who are atheist or agnostic in religion, are governed in their conduct by a code of Christian ethics which is so rooted that it never occurs to them to question it. But one cannot live on capital for ever. However firmly a tradition is rooted, if it is never watered, though it dies hard, yet in the end it dies."

That is precisely where we have got to now. We woz warned.

Pusey is forgotten; Lewis has been safely neutered into a writer of kiddie fantasies; Sayers into a yet another of all those female manufacturers of whodunnits. And the Smoke of Satan is still puffing through that widening crack into the Catholic Church herself. We need all those brilliant and incisive Anglican prophets redivivi.


*The first syllable ('Bel' is, I presume, a LXX/Vg transcription of Ba'al) indicates the significance of this fictional placename.

3 December 2020

What's in a name? (2)

I really do think that there should be some sort of insurance arrangements, so that people who give a lot of money to Oxford in order to have their names perpetuated here, can at least have the reassurance that their heirs will get the money back as soon as intellectual fashion demands the damnatio memoriae of the Benefactors.

Even at the Reformation, this fascist Tyranny of Names was not yet around to make such totalitarian demands. Corpus Christi College retained its name . Whitefriars' Entry now leads only to the 'bus station, but keeps its name. In London, Paternoster Row was not renamed just because rosaries went out of fashion. Setting aside excesses in Ireland after the War of Independance, the closest parallel I can think of to this craze for obliterating the names of Unpersons is Stalin's Russia (remember those photographs with increasing numbers of Stalin's associates airbrushed out?). And, of course, German cities with Jewish names obliterated.

I think that this enthusiasm for purifying townscapes of politically incorrect names, generation after generation, is the surest indication that a country has lost any sense of social cohesion and has turned into a Banana Republic.

When Waugh's Mr Scott-King visited Neutralia, he learned that the "Hotel 22nd March was the name, derived from some forgotten event in the Marshal's rise to power, by which the chief hotel of the place was momentarily graced. It had had as many offcial names in its time as the square in which it stood -- the Royal, the Reform, the October Revolution, the Empire, the President Coolidge, the Duchess of Windsor ..." Neutralia, you see, had "suffered every conceivable ill the body politic is heir to. Dynastic wars, foreign invasions, disputed successions, revolting colonies, endemic syphilis, impoverished soil, masonic intrigues, revolutions, restorations, cabals, pronunciamentos, liberations, constitutions, coups d'etat, dictatorshps, assassinations, agrarian reforms, popular elections, foreign interventions, repudiations of loans, inflations of currency, trades unions, massacres, arson, atheism, secret societies ..."

And the Official Guide explained to Scott-King the historical sites they were passing: "Here the anarchists shot General Cardenas. Here the syndico-radicals shot the auxiliary bishop. Here the Agrarian League buried alive ten Teaching Brothers. Here the bimetallists committed unspeakable atrocities on the wife of Senator Mendoza ...".

The transpontines have just renamed a part of their capital city "Black Lives Matter Square". But our own journey thither is going at an ever accelerating speed, yes, here in the United Bananas.

2 December 2020

What's in a Name? (1)

If you stand by the traffic lights at the corner of Parks Road and South Parks Road and look East, you will see, on your left, the Radcliffe Science Library. It is built in the style that rampaged throgh Oxford in the 1930s: squared rubble in small blocks with ashlar dressings. It is sometimes called Cotswold-Manorial, because of its claimed similarities with the vernaculat architectural styles of the Cotswolds, a mountain range a few miles West of the Railway Station.

But now it has stopped being the Radcliffe Science Library. With a touch of Circe's wand, it has become the centre of Reuben College ... a new 'Graduate College' designed to collect money off wealthy New Englanders whose daughters want to spend a few years in Oxford. I know no more about the Reuben Brothers than you can discover yourself from Wikipaedia. 

The proposed new 'college' had the 'holding name' Parks College. It is presumed that the Reuben Brothers have made a financial contribution.

Immediately opposite is the Rhodes Building, built in exactly the same Thirties architectural style ... except that, like so very many Cotswold Manor Houses and barns, it has a classicising portico and dome.

Cecil Rhodes, now fashionably an object of scornful detestation, gave a lot of money to endow his Rhodes Scholars, young men from America, Germany, and several parts of the Empire. In our undergraduate days, you could always recognise them from their uniform of three-piece tweed suit, neatly rolled umbrella, and copy of The Times newspaper.

I wonder how much longer the Rhodes building can cling on to the name of Rhodes. Quite possibly, even as I write, it has already lost it.

I wonder how long Reuben College will bear that name, before the dim and woke youth bully their wet and timorous elders into suppressing all memory of the 'Founders'.  

To be finished tomorrow.

1 December 2020

Yet another great Feast!

 ... that is, of the Martyres Oxonienses. I began by wondering if Oxford is a unique educational establishment in having specific liturgical recognition of those of its members who subsequently achieved the  corona Martyrii ... almost as one achieves the possiblity ... vocation? ... of entering into a particular commemoration simply by being referri in matriculam huius Universitatis.

But then I remembered the commemoration of the Martyres Duacenses

And so I fell to musing on how nearly coterminous these two august categories are! 

Pietas inclines me to think, in particular, of S Alexander Briant, of the Aula Cervina in this University ... and of Douay College! He made the journey to Tyburn this very day in 1581, in company with two other Douay lads, Ss Edmund Campion (Scholar and Fellow of S John's College; and Orator) and Ralph Sherwin (Fellow of Exeter College).

Decus Angliae, Decus almae Universitatis, orate pro nobis!

30 November 2020


A mighty feast of a mighty intercessor et rector: today, in 1554, that great Englishman of the Blood Royal, Reginald Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterrbury and Legate of the Holy See, absolved the Lords and Commons of this Kingdom from Heresy and Schism.

More later.

29 November 2020


So whence cometh the addition of the word one into the formula? It is present in the old, bad, ICEL rendering. But it has an earlier history than that, as Sons and Daughters of the Anglican Patrimony will be clamouring to explain. And that is why one is present in the Ordinariate Divine Worship Missal (which, incidentally, will not be affected by George's decree).

I think English worshippers will first have met it on Whit-Sunday morning n 1549. They heard, at the end of the perpetual memorial pro Rege near the start of The Supper of the Lorde and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Masse. "... Through Jesus Christe oure Lorde, who with thee, and the holy ghoste, liveth and reigneth, ever one God, worlde without ende. Amen."

In fact, the literate but combustible Cranmer did 'the 1549 book' in a great hurry, and there are a lot of different versions of this formula. Most often, however, he simply wrote "liveth and reigneth etc.." leaving the rest to the celebrant (these "etc" collects stayed thus until 1662). In fact, a few seconds earlier, in the Pentecost collect, the bemused congregations will have heard " ...who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unitie of the same spirite, one God, worlde without ende."

That Whit-Sunday experience of  Cranmer's incomparable prose led, of course, directly into the Western Rebellion and the consequent Tudor genocide. But that is not today's story.

Why did he add one or Ever one God? Perhaps we should remember the Athanasian Creed, thus translated by Cranmer: "So the father is God, the sonne God: and the holye gost God. And yet they are not three Goddes: but one God". After the enumeration of the Three Persons, perhaps Cranmer felt it appropriate to make clear that "the whole three persones: be coeternall together and coequall."

We should remember that the unLatinate would not have the grammatical number and case of Deus to guide them into realising that it is 'in agreement with' the antecedent qui. 

I do have a further suggestion.

Cranmer had a genius for being able to recall in English, not only the sense, but also the sounds of his Latin originals. Vere dignum et iustum est became It is very meet and right ... And monosyllabic God is less euphonious, and less easy to sing to the traditional notes, than ever one God.

None of this affects me personally. I do not say the Novus Ordo, either in Latin or in English. But there is one final oddity about George's decree which I will share with you. 

" ... in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God ..."

As I wrote a few moments ago, we, the Latinate, know what Deus refers back to, bcause of things like case, gender, number, drilled into us early in life. But there may yet be people without our educational advantages ... people in remote peripheral places beyond the reach of World Beating education and m'tutor ... little gatherings of whitewashed cabins at the ends of muddy tracks ... where the only visitor is ever the green An Phost van ... the rich peat smoke rising from the chimneys ... the sort of spot that is for ever quintessentially Cork or Kerry or Kensington ...

In such idyllic spots, the unLatinate peasantry, ungrammared though simple and  wholesome, may be misled by George and his "Holy Spirit God" into thinking that "God" qualifies, not "Your Son", but "Holy Spirit".

I think we may be in a slightly Oops situation ...

28 November 2020

ADVENT SUNDAY = LITURGICAL CHANGE (This needs a little Latin) (1)

Well, that's how it was in the 1960s. The Congregation for Divine Worship keeps this venerable tradition going, and, tomorrow, Advent Sunday (as we call it in the Patrimony), a new decree comes to us from the CDW via those always reliable messengers, the CBCEW.

It come with a Rationale signed by +George Stack, who I know must be Irish because, in the name George, the minuscule r is written majuscule R, more Hibernico. I am very pro-Irish.

It concerns the way we end Collects in vernacular forms of the Roman Rite. The basic Latin is:

Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Archbishop George describes this as 'doxological', which I don't think is quite right, But we'll let that pass.

The point of the Decree is that, in the hitherto English ICEL translation of this formula, the Deus is translated "one God". From today henceforth, the "one" is to be omitted.

A paragraph explains the reason for this. Sadly, as a Convert, I often don't quite understand the finer and richer points of Catholic Theology. The CDW point seems to be that the hitherto rendering suggests that "Jesus ... is one god among many". Because I don't understand this, we'll let it pass. But I will remind you that I have a great admiration for the S John Paul era document Liturgiam authenticam. And the new CDW requirement follows that document in conforming the English translation verbatim et litteratim to the Latin. So I can hardly be too critical of that, can I?

Apparently, foreigners don't add "one" to their vernaculars. But ... some of you will be squealing ... we're leaving the EU ...

I'll finish this tomorrow. But one completely non-ironic query: Jungmann says (with scant evidence) that the deus entered the formula in the late Middle Ages. George Stack says that the "doxological phrase was coined in Africa during the fourth century as a means to combat the Arian heresy". Does anyony have the facts about this?

27 November 2020

More Lovely

Poor old gentleman. "Palmist", indeed!

Does he ever visit "Pie-chiatrists"? 

Has he got a Pew-donym"?

Were his electoral adventures monitored by Peff-ologists"?

Hardly any wonder that he has problems understanding the teaching of the Church about "Abortion"? Do you think he knows what "Abortion" is? Or does he confuse the female body with Polish soup?

Betcha, he's never read Wodehouse's Psmith ("the P is silent") books.

God bless, er, America.

Is his pset psarrot infected with Pitta-cosis??

Lock him up.

Strike them down, O lord, and lay them low (2)

According to the ancient Carmelite dialect of the Roma Rite, the Devotion for the Recovery of Terra Sancta does not begin until after the Elevation of the Chalice; and it is done, not a prostratis, but ab utroque choro genuflexo alternatim. It is used, roughly, at conventual Masses during Advent and Gesimatide, but not during Eastertide or certain penitential days. The texts (1621) are quite differen from those of Sarum. I give a translated summary here, but enough to enable anybody who cares to, to put the devotion together again. 

The Psalm is the majestic and haunting Laetatus sum in his quae dicta sunt mihi. 

After Gloria Patri ... Kyrie ... Pater ...

V  O Lord, save the King

R And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.

V O Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance.

R And govern them and lift them up for ever.

V Peace be within thy walls.

R And plenteousness within thy palaces.

V O Lord, hear our prayer  ...   V The Lord be with you ...

Let us pray. 

 Three prayers follow; 

(1) We beseech thee, O Lord, hear the prayers of thy Church: that, all adversities and errors being put down, she may serve thee in untroubled freedom.

(2) We beseech thee, O Lord, shatter the pride of our enemies both seen and unseen, and with the strength of thy right hand lay their defiance low.

(3) is 'God, from whom all holy desires ...', which those of the Patrimony will recognise; it came into the Anglican Divine Office as the memoria perpetua pro pace at Evensong, from the Sarum Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

All three are in the 'Gregorian' Sacramentary; that is, in the great compendious Prayer-hoard of the Latin Church. When a  particular need arose, those were the days when a clerk dived into that immense resource and found some hard-hitting  and suitable formulae. This was the time before the advent of Liturgical Committees and Commissions and all the other clever-clever dreary layabouts, who respond to "new" needs by sitting down with a pencil and trying to devise fancy and 'relevant' formulae. 

These three old prayers have a penetrating directness about them ... destructis has resonances of pulling a building right down to the ground; elide suggests crushing and shattering; prosterne brings to mind a picture of our enemies flattened with their proud noses well down in the mud. 

Perhaps this is the sort of robust euchological spirit we are going to need as we enter upon this new period of ever more tyrannous oppression.

26 November 2020

Strike them down, Lord, and lay them low. (1)

The Leonine Prayers at the foot of the Altar after Mass represent a distictively nineteenth century way of dealing with a perceived need to seek urgent divine interventions in particular necessities. And, of course, there was always the possibility of saying a Votive or of adding additional Votive 'commemorations' to the proper prayers of the Day. (Not to mention the possibilities offered by the Litany form ... how very flexible our Western Liturgy has been.) 

But there was once a practice which brought such ad hoc impetrations into the very heart of the Liturgy itself. Surviving texts look rather like responses to the occupation of Terra Sancta by Islamic forces. And, in terms of liturgical logic, they may not be a million miles away from the motive ascribed by Canon Arthur Couratin to the inclusion of Intercessions in the Byzantine Anaphora at the point they now occupy there; i.e., we secure the Presence of Almighty God upon the Altar so that we can then make use of It to tell Him what we want.

Thus, at Sarum. on certain days, the community was prostrate after the Santus; then, after the Libera nos and before the Pax ...; Psalms 78, 66, and 20 were recited 'in prostratione'; followed by Kyrie ... and Pater ..., versicles and responses; and three collects expressing this intention: ut Terram quam Unigenitus Filius tuus proprio sanguine consecravit, de manibus inimicorum crucis Christi eripiens, restituas cultui Christiano ...

A second part of this will describe the ancient Carmelite devotions.

In the splendid  Altar-ready Sarum Missal produced this year by a learned and devout priest, you will find this provision on pages 330-331. I also gratefully thank Gregory diPippo for setting me on this track.

Psalms are numbered according to the Vulgate. 

25 November 2020


I think ... you could evidentially falsify this if you want to be a spoil-sport ... that the leader of our current de facto regime here in Blighty has recently abandoned two of his favourite 'hot air' rhetorical phrases, World-Class and World-Beating.

A pity. I loved them. They gave me a warm sense of familiarity, and they always had the capacity to set my mind wandering. "World-Beating Health Service" ... Really? Is it quite as bad as that? And then I would construct fantasies of Bojo gazing into camera with that direct, mesmerising look of utterly convincing frank sincerity, and mouthing phrases like:

"Our World-Class radio-active dumps."

"Our World-Beating criminal classes."

"Our World-Class utterly terrible books on Churchill." 

"Our World-Beating National Hypocrisy."

"Our World-Beating Russian Oligarchs."

Et similia.

24 November 2020


The news about the successful  Oxford University Corona vaccine seems to be a matter of considerable rejoicing, except among American providers who had been planning to sell their own vaccines at eight times the price. 

At this very same moment, the University of Cambridge (of Cambridgeshire in Anglia) has informed the Tab Plods that it has lost the diaries of Charles Darwin. Or it thinks it must have done. Some time within the last two decades. If anybody remembers spotting someone, during that period, walking off with ... ...  

There must be a sermon somewhere in this. Or ... better ... a limerick?



Our present head of regime has launched a whole flotilla ... at least a thousand ships ... of important new 'green' initiatives.

Why do I say a thousand?

Because the Media claim that this is all the result of the powerful influence of his current maitresse en titre

Very probably. I suspect that the Slaves of Clio, when they come write up this period, may indeed categorise the lady (purely in the political sense) as a Lady Castlemaine rather than as a Nell Gwynne. When he tires of her, I wonder if he will give her a dukedom for his parting gift. 

As he moves on, perhaps he will honour his progeny by her with the authentically Norman French surname ffitzbojo.


Last Saturday, The Times, once regarded as the organ of the Btitish Establishment and occasionally referred to as The Thunderer, contained a review by one of its retained columnists referring, obiter et iocose, to the head of regime ... a 'Conservative' politician ... as a "sex maniac". I wonder if this is a first ...

The latest scandal in which he has been involved, refusing to sack a senior female minister found to have broken the Ministerial Code, led one civil servant to comment: "We've always been used in this country to a 'good chap' system of government; that people will do the right thing in the end. This shows that Johnson doesn't play by those rules."

23 November 2020

SLAVERY ... Queries

(1) ... I put this forward ... no agenda ... just out of curiosity ... Which Saints do we know to have been slave-owners? Saint Philemon, I seem to recall, is on the Byzantine Calendar. And I have one or two other totally tentative enquiries:

(2) Why is there no splendid, eye-catching, monument to those coastal inhabitants of South-West England, whose villages were raided by Algerian Corsairs and who were kidnapped and sold into slavery? (I would nominate Carn Brae, the First and Last Hill, overlooking Land's End; it would be a help to the flagging Cornish tourist industry. It could sell cheap replica Arab currency from the Slavery period, together with other tawdry trinkets of the sort that the lower orders rather enjoy. 'Escape from Your Arab Slaver' games based loosely on the Monopoly principle would be a big hit. Children could be given 'Arab slave manacle' sets to play with. 'Slaver Whips' might interest those with exotic tastes. Wealthier and transpontine tourists would willingly purchase models of Arab slaving ships. Internet games enabling one to target and sink incoming corsairs ... etc. etc..)

(3) Is there a monument near Lepanto commemorating the glorious liberation of the Christian (and other) galley slaves exploited by the Turks? Where could I find video-clips of Mr Erdogan apologising for the galley-slave system? (What a shame Papa Montini, such a silly man, gave those Lepanto banners back to Brother Turk: they could have featured in a Lepanto Liberation Shrine.)

(4) I feel pretty sure the Incas and the Aztecs will have had slaves. Did slaves number among those who were flayed alive and viventes had their hearts cut out? What monuments exist commemorating the admirable elimination by Catholic Spain of these horrible indigenous cultures, resulting in the liberation of their slaves?

(5) What massive international studies are on hand into the African chieftains who enslaved members of 'lesser' tribes, and sold them on to the dealers, who then disposed of them to European slave traders? What are the Slavery connections of the Benin Bronzes culture? When will the bronzes be melted down and the bronze used for a great Monument erected to British sailors who lost their lives in putting down the slave trade?

(6) What stage has been reached in the campaign to have Washington (and Washington) renamed? Are there any countries so politically incorrect as to have portraits of Slaver Washington on their wretched currencies? Could we have him postumously tried for treason, and his remains hung up at Tyburn? Why don't we have annual celebrations of this infamous man's demise, centred on bonfires made up of cherry trees and with Washington effigies on top ... processions ... street parties ... on the day of his death?