Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Meeting King Henry IX on the Grand Tour

So if you were an English lord on the Grand Tour, and you've already heard the Sistine Chapel choir sing Palestrina and Victoria, and you wanted to hear the latest and greatest music being performed in churches in and around Rome, you might run into the Cardinal Pretender himself, Henry Benedict Stuart, James II's grandson and Bonnie Prince Charlie's younger brother. At least, that's what Peter Leech says:

“Mainstream academic music texts will often tell you that anything interesting, as far as sacred music in eighteenth-century Rome is concerned, more or less came to an end with the death of Alessandro Scarlatti in 1725. They also tend to make claims about many of his colleagues and successors being slavish imitators of the Palestrina style who did nothing to advance sacred music in a city apparently dominated by Papal conservatism.

“Whilst it is undoubtedly true that in the Sistine Chapel the
stile antico prevailed until the end of the 1700s (and indeed in Rome’s four Papal basilicas), outside the immediate boundaries of the Vatican, in many important parish churches, sacred music was anything but conservative and, in the hands of leading composers, reached new heights of expressive power with distinctly modern and, in the wider European sense, ‘classical’ flavours.

“One such church was San Lorenzo in Damaso, attached to the Cancelleria, the palace of the Vice-Chancellor of the Roman Church. In the early eighteenth century the Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo was Pietro Ottoboni, famous patron of Arcangelo Corelli. From 1763 this church came under the protection of Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart (1725-1807), who had been elevated to the sacred purple in 1747. [when he was 22 years old!]

“Henry, the brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie and grandson of King James II of England, was devout, sincere and musically trained. He spent lavishly on sacred music at San Lorenzo, where composers such as Giovanni Battista Costanzi and Sebastiano Bolis enjoyed particular favour."

On the website for Toccata Classics, which has released a CD of music by composers employed by Cardinal Stuart, Leech provides more background into his process of discovery:

My interest in Roman sacred music of the eighteenth century had for many years been confined to composers active before 1760, such as Alessandro and Domenico Scarlatti, Pietro Paolo Bencini and Giuseppe Pitoni. The second half of the century had never been a major concern until 2011, when I started looking at music manuscripts in the vast Santini collection in Münster. I was intrigued to come across the dedication page of a Mass setting with its composer, Sebastiano Bolis, described as maestro di cappella, at San Lorenzo in Damaso, to Cardinal Henry Benedict Stuart, the grandson of King James II of England, brother of Bonnie Prince Charlie and last in the direct line of Jacobite succession.

Cardinal Henry, whose artistic patronage has been documented in books on eighteenth-century painting, sculpture and poetry, was well known to me through my work on the cultural life of the British Catholic community at home and abroad, but I was hitherto unaware of his musical patronage after he was made a Cardinal in 1747 by Pope Benedict XIV. It was a subject entirely untouched by modern scholarship.

One thing naturally led to another. I found several Bolis works in the Santini collection carrying the same dedicatory descriptions, and further searches revealed works by Bolis in the catalogues of various Roman parish church archives, and, significantly, in at least one British source.


Peter Leech's interest in this era of sacred music is also reflected on an earlier release with another choral group he founded, Harmonia Sacra.

If you were an English Catholic gentleman completing your education abroad, you might be a little careful about meeting the Cardinal Pretender, but once the Old Pretender, Henry's father James Francis Edward Stuart--James III to Jacobite supporters--died on January 1, 1766, the Holy See recognized the Hanoverian dynasty as the rightful kings of England, the danger may have lessened. Henry Cardinal Stuart never pressed his claim to the throne after his clerical career and his devotion to his religious duties developed, anyway.

Monday, April 16, 2018

English Artists and Catholic Art in the Eighteenth Century

William Hogarth's commission for St. Mary's Redcliffe in Bristol in the mid-eighteenth century was indeed unusual. As Clare Haynes wrote in her 2006 study, Pictures and Popery: Art and Religion in England, 1660-1760, English artists faced a dilemma. Their ideal and example of great art came from Catholic artists, sponsored by the Catholic Church: Raphael and Michelangelo were their heroes, but Raphael and Michelangelo had created such great works of art for the Vatican! It was all Papist and smacked of Popery--yet many English artists yearned to create magnificent public art, religious and/or historical. As Haynes notes, there's a mixture of straightforward aesthetic appreciation mixed with distaste of the subject matter and its source.

She offers the example of "The Last Communion of St. Jerome" by Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri), the Italian Baroque painter. It was considered to be one of the greatest works of art in the world, but it presented the "exaltation of that vile shriveling passion of beggarly modern devotion" and superstition, according to Lord Shaftesbury. He admired it and hated it at the same time.

Charles I (as Prince of Wales) had obtained Raphael's Cartoons for the series of tapestries commissioned by Pope Leo X--who had declared Henry VIII the "Defender of the Faith" in 1521--for the Sistine Chapel. The seven cartoons of the full set of ten were among those artworks NOT offered for sale after Charles I was beheaded. The purpose of the tapestries was to tell the life stories of St. Peter and St. Paul and to emphasize St. Peter as the Pope and head of the Catholic Church. They were popular and on public display until King George III moved them to Buckingham Palace in 1763; Queen Victoria lent to them to the Victoria and Albert Museum where they are today.

But English artists wanted to show that they were capable of this scale of work and the compositional technique. They wanted English patrons to support them rather than importing copies of works they'd seen when on the Grand Tour of Catholic Europe. An English Gentleman needed to visit the St. Peter's and other Catholic churches in Rome on the Grand Tour to see the great art of the Renaissance and the Baroque. Like John Henry Newman in the 19th century, they were often perplexed about how to respond to what they were seeing--the relics of the Roman Republic and Empire AND the greatness of the Roman Papacy in the order of the city's public works, the grandeur of the architecture, mosaics, sculptures and paintings--especially when they were witnessing the Catholic Mass, Catholic devotions, and seeing priests, bishops, cardinals, friars, etc., all around them!

Imagine what they were hearing in those churches: Palestrina, Scarlatti, etc! More about that tomorrow . . .

Sunday, April 15, 2018

William Hogarth and The Resurrection


William Hogarth is not the first artist I'd think of painting a religious painting. I associate him almost exclusively with "The Rake's Progress" and "Marriage ala Mode" not to mention "Gin Lane". But he did paint several Biblical scenes, including "The Pool of Bethesda" and "The Good Samaritan". His one commission for a Church of England parish was painting for the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. In 1755-1756 he created triptych of large panels (22 by 19 feet in the center; 13 by 12 feet on the two sides) depicting the Sealing of the Tomb, The Ascension (or Resurrection) and the Three Marys at the Tomb of Jesus.

Hogarth's triptych was too big for the church! and the side panels had to be displayed at right angles to the center painting, pictured above (available through this license). During Queen Victoria's reign the "The Sealing of the Tomb" was considered inappropriate for a parish church and the St. Mary's wanted to sell the painting but ended up giving it to a museum in Bristol. It was too big for display there too and for a time the paintings were all rolled up in storage. Finally they found a home in another church building, St. Nicholas in Bristol, which had been closed as a parish church after damage in WWII and re-purposed in the 1950's as a museum of religious art and history.

According to the museum website, the painting is in storage again, but here is hope: the Church of England is going to reopen St. Nicholas as a parish church later this year and the paintings will be placed back in the church. Here's a presentation from the Tate about the painting and Hogarth's efforts to be known as a great historical scene and religious painter. The presenter, Michael Liversidge, apologizes because the sun in shining in Bristol that day in October--an unusual event--and the slides are hard to see in the glare (no curtains or shades to close?)!

Thanks for the inspiration for this post go to a facebook friend's post.

Remember that this painting was commissioned and executed in the eighteenth century, which England was still officially Protestant and anti-Catholic and the Church of England officially opposed to religious imagery.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Reluctantly, George IV Assents to Catholic Emancipation

Parliament passed the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 on March 24, but King George IV waited until April 13 to give his Royal Assent. Like his father, King George III, the former Prince Regent, was concerned that his Royal Assent was a violation of his Coronation Oath to support and defend the Church of England.

While he was Prince of Wales, however, George had been married to a Catholic, Maria Fitzherbert. He had to leave her and make his dynastic marriage to Caroline of Brunswick, whom he would later also repudiate. As this website explains, Fitzherbert was twice a widow when she and George met:

Born Maria Smythe, she was the eldest daughter of Mary Ann and Walter Smythe, the son of a knight. Maria was raised as a Roman Catholic, and received an adequate education at a convent in France. When she was 18, Maria was married for the first time, to Edward Weld, a wealthy landowner. The marriage lasted barely three months, before Edward was thrown of his horse and died from the injuries sustained by the fall. His sudden death meant that he didn’t even have time to update his will to include Maria in it, and upon his death all his lands passed to his younger brother, leaving Maria widowed and penniless. Now in a desperate situation, Maria married for a second time, to Thomas Fitzherbert. Within three years, he too was dead – killed in the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. Fortunately for Maria, the provisions of his will left her with a town house in Park Street, and an annual income of £1,000.

He begged her to become his mistress, but she (like Anne Boleyn?) held out to become his wife. Their marriage was illegal, since it violated both the 1701 Act of Settlement and the 1772 Royal Marriage Act. It was kept a secret and as king George denied it every occurred, but Maria had the documentation and used that fact often to defend her reputation and the truth. She and the Prince lived as husband and wife in Brighton for about ten years, then his mounting debts led him to renounce her and marry his cousin. After he and Caroline of Brunswick separated and she travelled in Europe, George III finally died after a reign of 60 years (interrupted by madness), she returned to claim her role as queen. From the same blog:

When King George III died in 1820, George IV became King. Technically, this made Caroline Queen of the United Kingdom, and in June 1820, she arrived on the English shore, demanding to be recognised as Queen. She gathered a large number of supporters, who launched riots in London in her favour, much to the displeasure of the new King George. On his advice, Parliament tried to persuade Caroline to leave England forever, offering her an increased annuity of £50,000, which she reluctantly accepted.

But Caroline was determined that she at least be crowned Queen, and on the day of King George’s coronation in 1821, she arrived at Westminster Abbey. “The Queen…Open,” she shouted, demanding to be let in. “I am the Queen of England.” But all doors were slammed in Caroline’s face that day, and she stormed away in humiliation, without being allowed to enter the Abbey. That evening, she complained that she was feeling unwell, and three weeks later, she died, aged 53. In her will, she expressed her desire to be buried in her native Brunswick, in a tomb bearing the inscription “Here lies Caroline, the Injured Queen of England”.

It's rather confusing that a man who violated his marriage oaths (twice) would be so concerned about his coronation oath! A bigamist with scruples!

Perhaps the greatest influence on him and his reluctance to assent to Catholic Emancipation was George's younger brother, Ernest Augustus, the Duke of Cumberland and later King of Hanover. As the Wikipedia biography of the Duke explains his efforts to thwart the passage and approval of Catholic Emancipation, he failed:

In 1828, Ernest was staying with the King at Windsor Castle when severe disturbances broke out in Ireland among Catholics. The Duke was an ardent supporter of the Protestant cause in Ireland and returned to Berlin in August, believing that the Government, led by the Duke of Wellington, would deal firmly with the Irish.[54] In January 1829, the Wellington Government announced that it would introduce a Catholic emancipation bill to conciliate the Irish. Disregarding a request from Wellington that he remain abroad, Ernest returned to London and was one of the leading opponents to the Catholic Relief Act 1829, influencing King George IV against the bill.[55] Within days of his arrival, the King instructed the officers of his Household to vote against the bill. Hearing of this, Wellington told the King that he must resign as Prime Minister unless the King could assure him of complete support. The King initially accepted Wellington's resignation and Ernest attempted to put together a government united against Catholic emancipation. Though such a government would have had considerable support in the House of Lords, it would have had little support in the Commons and Ernest abandoned his attempt. The King recalled Wellington. The bill passed the Lords and became law.[56]

He had also gathered signatures from Protestants in Ireland protesting against the passage of Catholic Emancipation and presented that petition to Parliament.

If you read through just a few of the speeches given by the Duke of Wellington in the House of Lords (which included the Anglican Bishops) to encourage the reading and the passage of this bill, you can certainly see how contentious this issue was in Parliament--the crux of the issue being that since Catholic attorney Daniel O'Connell had won a seat in Parliament, the King's Government in England feared an uprising in Ireland if he was not allowed to take his seat, since he was Catholic--for fear that Emancipation, removing all the penal laws, would in fact encourage the growth and spread of Popery and weaken the Church of England. Robert Peel worked on passing the Emancipation Bill in the House of Commons. Since both Wellington and Peel were Tories and were previously opposed to Catholic Emancipation, they were regarded as traitors.

Of course, this being a matter of politics, someone had to lose in the deal. The poorer landowners were disenfranchised as only a male with property worth 10 pounds per year could vote (the minimum had been 2 pounds per year) and the Irish still had to pay taxes to support the Church of Ireland (which led to the Tithe Wars). Most of the burden for electing O'Connell and forcing the government to acknowledge the danger of not letting him take his seat had been borne by the peasants of Ireland. The middle class Catholics of England truly benefited from the removal of restrictions on their livelihood and political representation, although they still could not attend at Oxford or Cambridge because an oath to uphold the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England was a graduation requirement.

The act also sought to limit the growth of monasteries and the presence of Jesuits in England--but at last, Catholics were relatively free to practice their faith and be full citizens of their country.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pearce on Belloc and Tolkien (and Chesterton?)

From The National Catholic Register:

Although Belloc and Tolkien had much in common, not least of which was their shared and impassioned Catholicism, it is intriguing that they should differ so profoundly on the importance of the Anglo-Saxons.

Belloc’s view of history, for the most part astute and penetrative, was always skewed by a less-than-balanced Francophilia and an almost shrill Germanophobia. This was evident in his dismissive disregard of the contribution to Christian culture of the Germanic tribes of England prior to the Norman Conquest and his lauding of the Conquest itself as having brought England into the fullness of Christendom which was always, for Belloc, synonymous with the influence of France.

In contrast, Tolkien considered Anglo-Saxon England to have been idyllically Christian. Had he had his “whole case very carefully prepared” to counter Belloc’s attack on the Anglo-Saxons, he might have shown that Anglo-Saxon England was profoundly Catholic, to such a degree that the saintly Englishman, Boniface, had helped to evangelize Pagan Europe, while his contemporary, the truly venerable Bede, had exhibited the high culture that Saxon England enjoyed in abundance.

Whilst the former converted the Germans to Christ, the latter excelled in Latin and Greek, and classical and patristic literature, as well as Hebrew, medicine and astronomy. Bede also wrote homilies, lives of saints, hymns, epigrams, works on chronology and grammar, commentaries on the Old and New Testament, and, most famously, his seminal Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum which was translated into Anglo-Saxon by King Alfred the Great. At the time of his death in 735 Bede had just finished translating the Gospel of St. John into Anglo-Saxon. Almost six hundred years later, Dante expressed his own admiration for Bede’s achievement by placing him in the Paradiso of his Divina Commedia.

Pearce doesn't mention it, but Chesterton must have been influenced by Belloc, in spite of his admiration for Alfred the Great. As Chesterton writes in his A Short History of England (from Chapter 5. "St. Edward and the Norman Kings") he presents a mixed view of the Anglo-Saxons, although he does praise them for "christening" England:

As I have indicated, there is some unreality in talking about the Anglo-Saxon at all. The Anglo-Saxon is a mythical and straddling giant, who has presumably left one footprint in England and the other in Saxony. But there was a community, or rather group of communities, living in Britain before the Conquest under what we call Saxon names, and of a blood probably more Germanic and certainly less French than the same communities after the Conquest. And they have a modern reputation which is exactly the reverse of their real one. The value of the Anglo-Saxon is exaggerated, and yet his virtues are ignored. Our Anglo-Saxon blood is supposed to be the practical part of us; but as a fact the Anglo-Saxons were more hopelessly unpractical than any Celt. Their racial influence is supposed to be healthy, or, what many think the same thing, heathen. But as a fact these "Teutons" were the mystics. The Anglo-Saxons did one thing, and one thing only, thoroughly well, as they were fitted to do it thoroughly well. They christened England. Indeed, they christened it before it was born. The one thing the Angles obviously and certainly could not manage to do was to become English. But they did become Christians, and indeed showed a particular disposition to become monks. Moderns who talk vaguely of them as our hardy ancestors never do justice to the real good they did us, by thus opening our history, as it were, with the fable of an age of innocence, and beginning all our chronicles, as so many chronicles began, with the golden initial of a saint. By becoming monks they served us in many very valuable and special capacities, but not notably, perhaps, in the capacity of ancestors.

Chesterton does admire Alfred the Great, of course, having written his great poem The Ballad of the White Horse about this Anglo-Saxon hero (from Chapter 4. "The Defeat of the Barbarians"):

There is, from the first, something humble and even accidental about Alfred. He was a great understudy. The interest of his early life lies in this: that he combined an almost commonplace coolness, and readiness for the ceaseless small bargains and shifting combinations of all that period, with the flaming patience of saints in times of persecution. While he would dare anything for the faith, he would bargain in anything except the faith. He was a conqueror, with no ambition; an author only too glad to be a translator; a simple, concentrated, wary man, watching the fortunes of one thing, which he piloted both boldly and cautiously, and which he saved at last.
He had disappeared after what appeared to be the final heathen triumph and settlement, and is supposed to have lurked like an outlaw in a lonely islet in the impenetrable marshlands of the Parret; towards those wild western lands to which aboriginal races are held to have been driven by fate itself. But Alfred, as he himself wrote in words that are his challenge to the period, held that a Christian man was unconcerned with fate. He began once more to draw to him the bows and spears of the broken levies of the western shires, especially the men of Somerset; and in the spring of 878 he flung them at the lines before the fenced camp of the victorious Danes at Ethandune. His sudden assault was as successful as that at Ashdown, and it was followed by a siege which was successful in a different and very definite sense. Guthrum, the conqueror of England, and all his important supports, were here penned behind their palisades, and when at last they surrendered the Danish conquest had come to an end. Guthrum was baptized, and the Treaty of Wedmore secured the clearance of Wessex. The modern reader will smile at the baptism, and turn with greater interest to the terms of the treaty. In this acute attitude the modern reader will be vitally and hopelessly wrong. He must support the tedium of frequent references to the religious element in this part of English history, for without it there would never have been any English history at all. And nothing could clinch this truth more than the case of the Danes. In all the facts that followed, the baptism of Guthrum is really much more important than the Treaty of Wedmore. The treaty itself was a compromise, and even as such did not endure; a century afterwards a Danish king like Canute was really ruling in England. But though the Dane got the crown, he did not get rid of the cross. It was precisely Alfred's religious exaction that remained unalterable. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blessed George Gervase, Benedictine Recusant Martyr


Blessed George Gervase was one of the nine Benedictine monks beatified as martyrs by Pope Pius XI in 1929. The others: Blessed Mark Barkworth, Blessed William Scott, Blessed John Roberts, Blessed Ambrose Barlow, Blessed Alban Roe, Blessed Philip Powell, Blessed Thomas Tunstall, and Blessed Thomas Pickering. Three of these nine were later canonized (Roberts, Roe, and Barlow) by Pope Paul VI in 1970. There was some controversy about whether Blessed George Gervase was a Benedictine martyr or a secular priest martyr, as discussed on the Durham University website.

George Gervase was born in Bosham on the coast of Chichester in Suffolk in 1571. Orphaned as boy, he was captured by pirates and carried far from home. In despair, he lost all faith in God as he was held in captivity for twelve years.

At last he escaped and went home to England. Then he found out that his brother Henry had left England for Flanders to practice the Catholic faith freely. Reunited with his brother on the Continent, George returned to the Church. Then he discerned a vocation to the priesthood and studied at Douai from 1595 until he was ordained in 1603. He returned to England as a missionary priest and was arrested in June 1606 and was exiled during one of James I's more diplomatically lenient periods.

Father George went to Rome on pilgrimage and sought to become a Jesuit; being turned down, he went back to Douai and became a Benedictine. His brother Henry had found him a position in Lille, France, hoping to keep him safe from the persecutions in England.

But George returned to serve the hidden Catholics there and was arrested again soon thereafter. Presented with James I's newfangled Oath of Allegiance, George Gervase, OSB refused to take the Oath and was convicted of being a Catholic priest in England under the Elizabethan statute. The same website linked above emphasizes Gervase's rejection of the Oath of Allegiance:

All the reports of Gervase’s trial show that he strongly rejected the Oath of Allegiance - an Oath, brought in by King James I following the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which rejected papal temporal power and could also be interpreted as undermining the Pope’s spiritual authority.

The Oath made martyrdom a point of contention between the English Catholic community, as different sections rushed to claim martyrs who rejected the Oath, such as Gervase, as their own to win support from the Pope and others across Europe.

In the case of Gervase, the Benedictines stressed his unfailing support for the Pope’s authority, to give their English venture international prestige and justify their mission. Meanwhile Worthington sought to claim Gervase as a martyr against the Oath to secure support for his college and win the favour of European Catholics.

The stand that the Benedictines took against the Oath came to characterise their movement as one which supported the papalist vision of English Catholicism.



He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on April 11, 1608 at Tyburn. John Hungerford Pollen includes the detail that Blessed George Gervase grasped the knife of the executioner before the disemboweling began; he was completely conscious as the torture commenced, having been hanged only briefly.

He was only 37 years old when he died, but what a life of adventure, loss and gain, suffering and consolation, exile and homecoming, and achievement he had lived! And then to end it with brave and holy martyrdom! 

In addition to the nine Benedictine martyrs beatified in 1929, there are several other martyrs from that order beginning with Henry VIII's reign with the Dissolution of the Monasteries and ending in Charles II's during the Popish Plot. According to my categorization of the different causes of martyrdom during and after the Long English Reformation, Benedictines suffered as Supremacy Martyrs during the reign of Henry VIII, as Recusant Martyrs during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I, and one as a Popish Plot martyr during the reign of Charles II.

The Benedictine Supremacy martyrs are:
Blessed John Beche, Abbot of Colchester, 1 December 1539
Blessed Hugh Faringdon, Abbot of Reading, 15 November 1539 
Blessed Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glastonbury, 15 November 1539
Blessed John Rugg, 15 November 1539
Blessed John Thorne, 15 November 1539 
(All beatified on 13 May 1895 by Pope Leo XIII)


The Benedictine Recusant martyrs are:
St. Ambrose Barlow, 10 September 1641
St. John Roberts, 10 December 1610
St. Alban Bartholomew Roe, 21 January 1642
Blessed Mark Barkworth, 27 February 1601
Blessed George Gervase, 11 April 1608
Blessed Maurus Scott, 30 May 1612

Blessed Thomas Tunstall, 13 July 1616
Blessed Philip Powell (sometimes spelled Philip Powel), 30 June 1646


The Benedictine Popish Plot martyr is:
Blessed Thomas Pickering, 9 May 1679 (Benedictine lay brother) 

Blessed George Gervase, pray for us!
St. Benedict, pray for us!
Blessed and Holy Benedictine Martyrs of England, pray for us!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Magdalen Browne, RIP, at "Little Rome"

Today, April 8, is the 410th anniversary of Magdalen Dacre Brown's death in 1608. She and her husband, Anthony Brown, First Viscount Montagu, were Catholics who survived the changes in religion during the Tudor era. She was a maid of honor at Queen Mary's wedding with Philip of Spain and was also favored by Elizabeth I--and she obviously survived in James I's reign. The portrait of her grandsons was featured on Michael C. Questier's study of the Browne family, Catholicism and Community in Early Modern England. (Well, step-grandsons, since they were the sons of her husband's son by his first wife, Jane Radcliffe!)

This website depicts her burial effigy, which has unfortunately been damaged (the hands cut off), as part of the Viscount's funeral monument:

On the lower stage, west of this, rest the effigies of his two wives, Jane Ratcliffe and Margaret Dacre, in mantles and kirtles; on the front of this stage, which is in the form of a chest tomb, are their epitaphs; at each end are small kneeling effigies of their descendants . . ., some headless (Salzman, 1953, 47-53).

Anthony, Viscount Mountague (died 1592) was a Roman Catholic who was nevertheless valued by Queen Elizabeth. She visited him on his sickbed in 1591. Jane Ratcliffe (his first wife) died in childbirth in 1552 aged 20; her funeral was on 4 August 1553. She had twins: a son who married Jane Sackville, the daughter of the Earl of Dorset and a daughter Mary, who married Henry Wriothesley, the second earl of Southampton. The son predeceased his father (in June 1592). Magdalen Dacre (born c1532) was Montague's second wife after her career as Maid of Honour to Queen Mary. Despite her Catholicism, she retained a friendship with Queen Elizabeth. She had six sons and three daughters. She died in 1608.

The monument builder was Richard Stevens of Southwark, who was also responsible for the Wriothesley monument at Titchfield, Hampshire (Pevsner and Nairn, 1965, 212). Sir Anthony's parents (Anthony and Alice Browne née Gage) are represented in effigy at Battle, Sussex (Mosse, 1933, 62).

Richard Smith, the Bishop of Chalcedon (Vicar Apostolic for England from 1625-1631), served from 1603 to 1609 as the chaplain (secretly and illegally) for Jane, Viscountess Montagu, the wife of Anthony-Maria Browne, Second Viscount Montagu, the First Viscount's grandson (his father had preceded his father by a few months). Smith wrote a life of Magdalen Dacre Browne, which Father Philip Caraman, SJ, references in his book The Years of Siege: Catholic Life from James I to Cromwell (London: Longmans, 1966). He provides details about her last sickness and death, including her devout preparations, attending Mass in her sick bed, and encouraging everyone in her household to remain true to the Catholic Church. (Caraman also cites Smith about Viscountess Montagu in his The Other Face: Catholic Life Under Elizabeth I (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1960).)

According to her obit, Magdalen died at Battle Abbey.

This should give us pause. Battle Abbey was founded after the Battle of Hastings, as Norman reparation for so many deaths in conquering England, as ordered by Pope Alexander II. William the Conqueror vowed to build Battle Abbey, dedicated to St. Martin of Tours.

The historic abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, organized, administered, and facilitated by Thomas Cromwell. And now it's a place to go on your holiday!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gunpowder Plot Martyrs

Two Jesuits suffered martyrdom on April 7, 1606 in connection with the Gunpowder Plot early in James I's reign--although they had no involvement with the Plot, the fact that they were companions and associates of Father Henry Garnet--and in fact, were captured with him after hiding for days in different hiding places within Hindlip Hall. Also captured that day was the designer and builder of those hiding places, Jesuit lay brother Nicholas Owen. The two lay brothers were in one hiding place and the two priests in another. The pursuivants could not find them--searching the house for days--but they finally had to leave their sanctuaries because of hunger and thirst. 

Blessed Edward Oldcorne was a Jesuit priest, ordained in Rome, Italy, and received into the Society in 1587. Worked in the English mission in Worcestershire for 16 years. Father Edward developed throat cancer, but kept preaching through the pain. He made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Winifred of Wales in Flintshire to seek a cure; his cancer healed, and he returned strong and healthy to his vocation.

Edward fell victim to the revenge following the Gunpowder Plot, a foolish conspiracy hatched by a small group of frustrated Catholic Englishmen to blow up the king and parliament. All it did was provide an excuse for renewed persecution of Catholics, especially Jesuits. Edward was arrested, falsely accused, and tortured on the rack for five days for information about the Plot. He was hung, drawn and quartered on April 7, 1607 with Blessed Ralph Ashley, SJ. 

Blessed Ralph Ashley worked as a cook at Douai College. Entered the English College at Valladolid on 28 April 1590 where he became a Jesuit lay brother. Ill health forced him to leave college and return to England. Along the way he was captured by Dutch heretics; he stood up to them and explained their errors. Finally landed in England on 9 March 1598.

Servant and assistant to Blessed Edward Oldcorne. Arrested on 23 January 1606 at Hindlip House, near Worcester, England in connection with the Gunpowder Plot, and for the crime of helping a priest. Transferred to the Tower of London on 3 February 1606 along with Father Henry Garnet and Saint Nicholas Owen. Tortured for information on other Catholics and for the hiding places of priests. When they could get no information from him, he was transferred to Worcester, and condemned for his faith.
 
Of the four Jesuits captured at Hindlip Hall, three were recognized as martyrs by the Catholic Church and beatified or canonized. The torture and questioning of the two lay Jesuit brothers, St. Nicholas Owen and Blessed Ralph Ashley, was focused on discovering more hiding places like the ones the four Jesuits had been hiding in at Hindlip Hall. Owen died as a result of the torture meted out to him. Blessed Edward Oldcorne, because he was found with Garnet, was questioned about the plot. Father Henry Garnet has not been proclaimed a martyr by the Church, I presume because of questions about his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot. According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia (1909): 

It is a matter of regret that we have as yet nothing like an authoritative pronouncement from Rome on the subject of Garnet's martyrdom. His name was indeed proposed with that of the other English Martyrs and Confessors in 1874, and his cause was then based upon the testimonies of Bellarmine and the older Catholic writers, which was the correct plea for the proof of Fama Martyrii, then to be demonstrated. But these ancient authorities are not acquainted with Garnet's actual confessions which were not known or published in their time. The consequence was that, as the discussion proceeded, their evidence was found to be inconclusive, and an open verdict was returned; thus his martyrdom was held to be neither proved nor disproved. This of course led to his cause being "put off" (dilatus) for further inquiry, which involves in Rome a delay of many years. 

"A delay of many years" indeed.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

On "Kresta in the Afternoon"


In the celebration of Holy Week and the Triduum last week, and in the midst of preparing for an Easter week vacation in the Ozarks, I forgot to tell you about my interview on Kresta in the Afternoon! Al and I talked about the issues and characters involved in "The King's Great Matter", Henry VIII's desire to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, the mother of his children and his anointed and crowned Queen because they had not had a son who survived infancy.

(This was the reason that I had done some research on Eleanor of Aquitaine's annulment last month!)

It is always so fun to talk with Mr. Kresta: he is so knowledgeable himself about Church History and yet wants to hear what his guest has to say!

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! Alleluia!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Newman and History: A Book Review

As I read Edward Short's latest study of Blessed John Henry Newman, Newman and History (he kindly sent me a copy) I kept thinking of G.K. Chesterton's comment about the Catholic Church, that it “is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.” Newman found that out as has every other convert and many Catholics who were born into Catholic families and grew up with Catholic education, the Sacraments, piety, and devotion: the world has various ideas about the Catholic Church that are just wrong, but you have to be inside to realize how wrong they are. Newman had been part of that world as an Anglican and Oxford student, tutor, and fellow. The Catholic Church is superstitious, repressive, and mendacious, that view says: its history was false, its practitioners weak-minded, and its doctrine pernicious. He believed all that before he entered into the Church in its fullness; then as Chesterton wrote in his poem "The Convert", "the world turned over and came upright" and Newman knew the truth and entered into the mystery of the "one, true fold of Christ."

But so many of his friends and contemporaries remained in the world and they could not accept that he had accepted all that the Catholic Church teaches. So, as Short reveals in nearly every chapter in this book, they could never understand how a man of such intellect and erudition--a former Fellow of one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford! an ordained Anglican minister! one of them!--could become a Catholic. Newman had to get used to it himself because he was "an English Catholic in a Protestant country" (p. 268) and Catholicism was absolutely foreign to the England. That's why he was continually accused of lying and reports of his return to the Church of England were so common. It's one thing for an Irish peasant to believe all that superstitious priestcraft, but for an Englishman! They had to acknowledge his brilliance and prose style, but that praise is superficial because they could not get inside: their ignorance of and prejudice toward Catholicism stymied them.

Short reveals how Newman tried to make Anglicans and other Protestants in England understand that their mistaken views of Catholicism meant that they did not understand Christian history at all--nor could they really know Who Jesus IS and what He teaches us about the Father and ourselves. Newman also worked to help other converts to become more fully Catholic in the midst of a world, including their families, friends, and entire social milieu, which believed all the worst anyone ever could of Catholics, English, Irish, Italian, or French.

The first, long, and fascinating chapter is "Newman, Gibbon, and God's Particular Providence": although Edward Gibbon, the author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire had briefly been a Catholic, his lack of understanding of God and faith and holiness and The Holy Bible means that he cannot supply a reasonable explanation of why the Christian faith grew under the persecution of the Roman Empire. He has to subvert the record of the past, claiming for example that early Christians' credulity (they believed what Jesus had taught and how the Church had handed it down!)  had "extinguished" the light of "philosophy and science". Short then lists the great Fathers of the Church and saints of that era: Origen, Tertullian, St. Irenaeus, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Augustine, and St. Leo the Great, concluding, "Only the light of philosophy and science obscured by the Enlightenment could approve so gross a misjudgment." (p. 29) Short wisely quotes Christopher Dawson to help us understand how wrong Gibbon's view of the early Church is.

Short's other allies throughout this volume include G.K. Chesterton, Father Ian Ker, Father Roderick Strange, and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI: they understand Newman's dedication to truth and the reality of God's providence and grace.

The second chapter continues that theme of Newman's contemporaries' problem with Catholicism and superstition ("Newman, Superstition and the Whig Historians") and in the fourth chapter "Newman and the Liberals" Short demonstrates, a la Robert Pattison's tremendous 1991 study, The Great Dissent: John Henry Newman and the Liberal Heresy, how true Newman's Biglietto speech was. He had battled against the theory and practice of "liberalism in religion" and pace Frank Turner (whom Short will also cite in the Receptions of Newman review) Newman knew what liberalism, the anti-dogmatic spirit in religion was, and its consequences for the Church.

In the midst of these three chapters, Short inserts a review of Receptions of Newman, edited by Frederick Aquino and Benjamin King and published by Oxford University Press, in which twenty-first century "admirers" of Newman suggest that he never really accepted the teachings of the Catholic Church at all--among other travesties. They cannot believe he didn't remain as skeptical as they are, just as Newman's contemporaries couldn't.

Chapter 5, "Signs of Contradiction, Signs of Hope: A Talk at Westminster Cathedral" presents Short's argument that Blessed John Henry Newman is the saint we need to convert us today (citing Chesterton's statement that "Each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it most."). "Newman's life can be seen [should be seen?] as a continual contradiction of the reigning idolatries of his age, and age which had, for the most part, nothing but contempt for what he held most dear." While Newman's age and ours had and has rejected dogma and our ability to assent dogma, Newman was a dogmatist, defending the truth and our reasonable human acceptance of it without testing each proposition according to our own standards. Short offers Newman as a model of how to contradict another with both charity and rigor and how to remain true to the virtue of hope.

In his chapter comparing Newman's conversion and C.S. Lewis', Short demonstrated the misunderstanding even a Mere Christian could have of Newman. Lewis could not stand Newman's argument that being in Heaven will be like being in church, worshipping and praising God--somehow Lewis thought that Newman was substituting religion for faith in God. But Short does agree with Father Aidan Nichols, OP that Lewis is an ally to the conversion or reversion of England, at least with the beginning of Mere Christianity.

Short's review of a perhaps falsely "hopeful" book about the influence of the Newman-less Oxford or Tractarian Movement continues the dogmatic theme (Chapter 6, "Port Middlebay: Tractarians Abroad"). On the other hand, Short praises Father Ian Ker's selection of passages from Newman as educator, philosopher, preacher, theologian and writer in The Genius of John Henry Newman and Father Roderick Strange's selection of Newman's letters in John Henry Newman: A Portrait in Letters.

There are two more original essays: "Newman and the Law" and "Hagiography, History, and John Henry Newman".

"Newman and the Law" is my favorite chapter in the whole book. Short examines how Newman helped another convert get used to being a Catholic in a Protestant country (Lady Chatterton) since Catholic ways are foreign to "English tastes and English habits" and they take some getting used to. Short references the recusant era in Elizabethan and Stuart England and the brave Jesuit and secular priests, and their brave lay protectors before moving on to Newman's explanation of how the English temperament responded to the imposition of Anglican Protestantism by two means: reverence for the law and loyalty to the sovereign, citing two passages from The Present Position of Catholics in England. First, the law:

Convoke the legislature, pass some sweeping ecclesiastical enactments, exalt the Crown above the Law and the Gospel, down with Cross and up with the lion and the dog, toss all priests out of the country as traitors; let Protestantism be the passport to office and authority, force the King to be a Protestant, make his Court Protestant, bind Houses of Parliament to be Protestant, clap a Protestant oath upon judges, barristers-at-law, officers in army and navy, members of the universities, national clergy; establish this stringent Tradition in every function and department of the State, surround it with the lustre of rank, wealth, station, name, and talent; and this people, so impatient of inquiry, so careless of abstract truth, so apathetic to historical fact, so contemptuous of foreign ideas, will ex animo swear to the truth of a religion which indulges their natural turn of mind, and involves no severe thought or tedious application. The Sovereign is the source and the centre, as of civil, so of ecclesiastical arrangements; truth shall be synonymous with order and good government;—what can be simpler than such a teaching? Puritans may struggle against it, and temporarily prevail; sceptics may ridicule it, object, expose and refute; readers of the Fathers may try to soften and embellish it with the colours of antiquity; but strong in the constitution of the law, and congenial to the heart of the people, the royal tradition will be a match for all its rivals, and in the long run will extinguish the very hope of competition. (Lecture Two: Tradition the Sustaining Power of the Protestant View)

Then, the sovereign:

English Protestantism is the religion of the throne: it is represented, realised, taught, transmitted in the succession of monarchs and an hereditary aristocracy. It is religion grafted upon loyalty; and its strength is not in argument, not in fact, not in the unanswerable controversialist, not in an apostolical succession, not in sanction of Scripture—but in a royal road to faith, in backing up a King whom men see, against a Pope whom they do not see. The devolution of its crown is the tradition of its creed; and to doubt its truth is to be disloyal towards its Sovereign. Kings are an Englishman's saints and doctors; he likes somebody or something at which he can cry "huzzah," and throw up his hat. Bluff King Hal, glorious Bess, the Royal Martyr, the Merry Monarch, the pious and immortal William, the good King George, royal personages very different from each other,—nevertheless, as being royal, none of them comes amiss, but they are all of them the objects of his devotion, and the resolution of his Christianity.

And, finally, from the same chapter, words that will become essential to understanding what happened to Father John Henry Newman in the Achilli trial:

And first of all she addressed herself to the Law; and that not only because it was the proper foundation of a national structure, but also inasmuch as, from the nature of the case, it was her surest and most faithful ally. The Law is a science, and therefore takes for granted afterwards whatever it has once determined; hence it followed, that once Protestant, it would be always Protestant; it could be depended on; let Protestantism be recognised as a principle of the Constitution, and every decision, to the end of time, would but illustrate Protestant doctrines and consolidate Protestant interests. In the eye of the Law precedent is the measure of truth, and order the proof of reasonableness, and acceptableness the test of orthodoxy. It moves forward by a majestic tradition, faithful to its principles, regardless of theory and speculation, and therefore eminently fitted to be the vehicle of English Protestantism such as we have described it, and to co-operate with the monarchical principle in its establishment.

Short deflates narrates this crucial episode in Newman's public life, when he was tried for libel against the former Dominican friar, Giovanni Achilli. He describes the circumstances of the trial, the judge, Newman's defense attorney, and the prosecution. The obvious bias of the prosecution and the judge against Catholics, including documents from the Court of Inquisition in Rome did not go unnoticed by The Times of London, which opined that Catholics could be forgiven if they thought they might not receive justice or fairness in English (Protestant) Courts. Short notes that if Newman had been allowed by the judge to speak, it would have been an even greater cause celebre! In the course of the trial, Newman's conversion (defection) was stated as evidence to discredit him!

The last chapter on hagiography, Catholic devotion to the saints and their lives, demonstrates what Father Ian Ker once taught me to identify as Newman's third way--which is also one of the reasons that so many admirers even can be confused or mistaken when they try to put Newman on one side or another of an issue. The issue in this case was Father Faber of the London Oratory's work on a series of lives of the saints; not English saints, but Italian, French, and Spanish saints. One Catholic convert, a priest named Edward Price, protested that the material in these lives of the saints was dangerous. His comments persuaded Bishop Ullathorne that the series should be suspended because it did not fit the English spirit. Newman agreed in obedience with his bishop but thought that Protestants in England--and perhaps recent converts to Catholicism from Protestantism--needed to understand sanctity and holiness as more than good taste and manners. Short cites Newman's criticism of Henry Hart Milman's A History of Latin Christianity, which of course, attacked Catholic piety and faith in miracles and "miracle workers". Newman mentions all the examples of simple men and women coming to Jesus (and to the Apostles after His Resurrection and Ascension) asking for healing. He points out that there are many who have the same simple faith in his own time and they are not to be discounted or mocked: they are Jesus's little ones. Newman says this without any condescension but with humble recognition of their human dignity.

So in this book, like the previous two published by T&T Clark Bloomsbury (Newman and His Contemporaries and Newman and His Family), Edward Short displays his sympathy for Blessed John Henry Newman as a faithful Catholic Christian and an honest and loving man, based on Short's knowledge of Newman's life, his letters, his sermons, and his works. Excellent.