13 September 2021


A Times book review by Andrew Taylor (on Simon Thurley's Palaces of Revolution) observes

"It is difficult to forget Sir John Denham, Charles II's first Surveyor of the King's Works, when you know that that, increasingly incapacitated physically and mentally by tertiary syphilis, he informed his royal master that he was the Holy Ghost."

Golly, that must have been quite a Surprise.


Joshua said...

You must know the tale - John XXIII had a startling habit of going walkabout (as we say Down Under), and on one occasion rang the doorbell of the Convent of Santo Spirito, which was answered by the youngest novice. Great was her surprise to see the Pope making an unexpected house call! So of course she left him waiting in the parlour and ran to tell Mother. When Mother arrived in the parlour, all flustered at this astonishing visitation, she announced forthwith, "Holy Father, I am the Superior of the Holy Ghost!" - to which he replied, "I'm so pleased to meet you - I'm only the Vicar of Christ!"

Colin Spinks said...

pronoun confusion?! dixit eum Spiritum Sanctum esse or dixit se Spiritum Sanctum esse? This Holy Ghost chap gets around, doesn't he?

PM said...

He was also supposed to have said (citation needed, as they say on Wikipedia), in reply to being asked how many people worked in the Vatican, 'about half'.