Saturday, December 3, 2016

Looking Forward to Duffy's Latest

In February 2017, Bloomsbury Continuum will publish Eamon Duffy's contribution to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: Reformation Divided: Catholics, Protestants and the Conversion of England:

Published to mark the 500th anniversary of the events of 1517, Reformation Divided explores the impact in England of the cataclysmic transformations of European Christianity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The religious revolution initiated by Martin Luther is usually referred to as 'The Reformation', a tendentious description implying that the shattering of the medieval religious foundations of Europe was a single process, in which a defective form of Christianity was replaced by one that was unequivocally benign, 'the midwife of the modern world'. The book challenges these assumptions by tracing the ways in which the project of reforming Christendom from within, initiated by Christian 'humanists' like Erasmus and Thomas More, broke apart into conflicting and often murderous energies and ideologies, dividing not only Catholic from Protestant, but creating deep internal rifts within all the churches which emerged from Europe's religious conflicts.

The book is in three parts: In 'Thomas More and Heresy', Duffy examines how and why England's greatest humanist apparently abandoned the tolerant humanism of his youthful masterpiece Utopia, and became the bitterest opponent of the early Protestant movement. 'Counter-Reformation England' explores the ways in which post-Reformation English Catholics accommodated themselves to a complex new identity as persecuted religious dissidents within their own country, but in a European context, active participants in the global renewal of the Catholic Church. The book's final section 'The Godly and the Conversion of England' considers the ideals and difficulties of radical reformers attempting to transform the conventional Protestantism of post-Reformation England into something more ardent and committed. In addressing these subjects, Duffy shines new light on the fratricidal ideological conflicts which lasted for more than a century, and whose legacy continues to shape the modern world.

I'm sure it will be fascinating and enlightening! I'm working on getting a review copy!

A Dollar's Worth of Arkansas Legal History

While my husband finished his coffee at Heidi's Ugly Cakes in Norfork, Arkansas, I walked down the street, passing by three ferocious dachshunds at one house, to the Terrapin Trading Company, a crafts and used bookstore. All of the books were on sale for $1.00 and I bought a history of colonial Arkansas focused on the administration of civil law during the French and Spanish period before Arkansas was included in Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase: Unequal Laws Unto a Savage Race: European Legal Traditions in Arkansas, 1686-1836 by Morris S. Arnold, published by the University of Arkansas Press in 1985. I finished the book while we were on vacation and found it fascinating.

Morris S. Arnold is a scholar, author, attorney, and marvelous writer. He describes how French law, specifically the Custom of Paris, was administered in colonial Arkansas by the commandants of the military installation at the Arkansas Post. This was civil law as opposed to English common law, mostly concerned with contracts, wills, and administrative justice enforcing such arrangements.

As the more remote part of the French Louisiana territory, Arkansas never quite developed as King Louis XIV and his successors hoped. There were some bourgeois and even noble pioneers, but the area was mostly inhabited by hunters and trappers, who had little regard for authority, either civil or religious. In fact, one of the Jesuits sent to serve in the area left because of the demonstrated irreligious and even blasphemous attitudes of its denizens. Although the Jesuits did not establish a very successful mission in the Arkansas Post, the Anglo-American colonists feared the influence of the Jesuits on the local Native American population, because they had seen how well the Jesuits, in other areas, had evangelized the Indians. In this case, neither the French, nor the Spanish ever invested the necessary effort to assist the growth of Catholicism in Arkansas--never building or consecrating a building as a chapel, for example, so that the Jesuit or sometimes Capuchin missionaries sent there were never able to make a firm foundation.

First the French and then the Spanish administered justice in the Louisiana Territory. Arnold really misses an opportunity when he mentions the first Spanish representative, named Alexandro O'Reilly. Oh really, O'Reilly? I knew that Irish surname meant he must have belonged to a family that fled Ireland in the Flight of the Earls. Sure enough, he was.

The last part of the book is about the conflict between French civil law and American/England common law once Jefferson purchased Louisiana. The French inhabitants did not want to adopt elements of the English Common Law like trial by jury or vive voce evidence, etc. They began to "drop out" of the legal system as established by the United States, and even language came between the two groups. The French were in the minority and the new Americans in the Louisiana Territory looked upon them as "backward European savages"! Arnold states that the Americans were rather glad the French opted to drop out of the new civil society and administration. The French mostly dealt with legal issues within their communities, looking to a "village elder" to make decisions.

Arnold is an expressive and impressive author. I enjoyed his clarity of thought and his way of demonstrating how the details of legal contracts and administrative processes exemplified the cultural and historic background of the French/Spanish colonial era in Arkansas. He makes the distinction between civil law and common law clear to the nonspecialist. I was just surprised that he let an opportunity like a man named O'Reilly representing the King of Spain to go without taking advantage of it. I look forward to  reading another of his books, Colonial Arkansas, 1686-1804: A Cultural and Social History. Perhaps he redressed this lapse in that book, of which I've ordered a copy--it will be more than a dollar's worth of history, however!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

435 Years Ago Today at Tyburn

From Gerard Kilroy, Edmond Campion biographer extraordinaire, a reflection on the response in England and abroad after his execution on December 1, 1581:

Edmund Campion was hanged (he was spared the pain of disembowelling while alive by the intervention at Tyburn of Lord Charles Howard) on 1 December 1581. Within six weeks, the English Ambassador in Paris, Sir Henry Cobham, was writing to Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary to the Privy Council.

"I sent you a small book on the death of Campion. They have been crying these books in the streets with outcries naming them to be cruelties used by the Queen of England."

L’Histoire de la Mort que le R. P. Edmund Campion may have been small, but it caused a big stir in Paris; in London, many accounts, in prose and verse, of his trial and martyrdom were already circulating in manuscript, and were in print by February 1582. Scribes such as Stephen Vallenger, who had written accounts of Campion’s four disputations in the Tower of London, or printers like Blessed William Carter, who had paid men to copy accounts by hand, were captured, tortured and (in Vallenger’s case) mutilated. The Recorder of London, William Fleetwood, seized the printing press where the first English account, A true reporte of the death and martyrdome, was printed. Richard Verstegan, the printer, escaped to Paris, and immediately turned to producing broadsheets and engravings of the martyrdom. By 1584, his engravings were circulating (sometimes improved by Italian engravers like Cavalieri) all over Europe, and the Queen and her Privy Council were forced to defend themselves against a veritable tide of hostileprint from Wilno to Rome. Two of the best prose writers in English, Robert Persons and William Allen, both personally attached to Campion, launched book after book setting out the injustices of a benighted country and attached Verstegan’s engravings to their writings. Meanwhile poems, like Henry Walpole’s ‘Why do I use my paper, ynke and penne?’, circulated secretly among courtiers, lawyers and gentry; William Byrd set this poem to music, and settings for lute and voice survive.

The Elizabethan regime may have dismembered Campion’s body, but the battle over his reputation was as fierce as the battle over the body of Patroclus in the Iliad. The topic was still contentious in 1587 when the censors, in the week before the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, took out 47 lines asserting that Campion died for religion from the work we know as ‘Holinshed’, the ‘Continuation’ of the Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

What was lost in all this noise was Edmundus Campianus Anglus Londinensis, the boy born in the heart of the printing trade, Paul’s Churchyard, son of an anti-Catholic publisher also called Edmund, schoolboy prodigy at St Paul’s (1547-52) and Christ’s Hospital (1552-57), who was chosen to address the new queen, Mary Tudor. Also lost was Edmundus Campianus Oxoniensis, the brilliant Oxford scholar (1557-70) who could turn a speech on the earth and moon into a subtle plea to the Queen and the Earl of Leicester not to interfere in the university’s affairs; and the carefree, companionable novice in Brno (1573-74) and lecturer in rhetoric in Prague (1574-80), whose drafts for student performances on feast days like Corpus Christi or All Souls survive in autograph at Stonyhurst. And, of course, Edmund Campion, the affectionate friend who effortlessly attracted patrons and friends among merchants, aldermen, nobles and foreign princes.


St. Edmund Campion, SJ, Pray for us.
St. Alexander Briant, SJ, Pray for us.
St. Ralph Sherwin, Pray for us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Temptation of a Martyr: Blessed Alexander Crow

Wikipedia has this brief entry for today's martyr:

Alexander Crow (died 1586/7) was born in Yorkshire around 1550. He took up an early trade as a shoemaker, but in his twenties he travelled to Rheims, France, and trained as a priest at Duoay (sic) College, being ordained in 1584.

He returned to the north of England to continue his mission, until he was arrested in South Duffield whilst baptising a baby. Taken to York, he was hanged, drawn and quartered on 30 November 1586 or 1587. Sources conflict as to the year of his death, whether it was 1586 or a year later, 'being about the year (sic) of thirty five,'

One of the Eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales, he was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.

In his Memoirs of the Missionary Priests, however, Bishop Richard Challoner includes the story of the great temptations Blessed Alexander Crow suffered the night before he died. He was in a cell with another Catholic prisoner who later reported on the vigil Father Crow kept. He wanted to stay awake and pray, preparing himself for the horrors of being hanged, drawn, and quartered. In the midst of his prayers, however, he was tempted by the devil, who told him he would never be a martyr and never enjoy heaven, but be kept in prison forever and go to hell. The "ugly monster" told him to kill himself rather than endure such lingering punishment. Father Crow kept fighting him off, but the "horrid figure" kept harassing him. Suddenly a vision of St. John the Evangelist and the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Father Crow, casting the demon away and telling him, "Begone from hence, thou cursed creature! Thou hast no part in this servant of Christ, who will shed his blood tomorrow for his Lord, and will enter into his joy." Crow received great spiritual consolation and rejoiced that he would indeed be a martyr the next day.

On the scaffold, however, the devil returned and knocked Father Crow off the ladder even before the noose was placed around his neck; the crowd gathered for the execution thought he was trying to kill himself. He told them that he was not, mounted the ladder again and after "exhorting them to the Catholic faith" and "passing through the usual course of the ordinary butchery, he gloriously finished his career, and went to enjoy his God forever."

Bishop Challoner's entry also includes the detail that when Blessed Alexander Crow was arrested, he was on his way to baptize the baby of "one Cecily Garnet" and I wonder if she was any relation to Father Henry Garnet or St. Thomas Garnet. I also wonder who baptized her baby and what the baby's name was. And note that the confusion about the year of his death was related to his age; the manuscript annals said he was 35 when he was executed, so he would have been born in 1552.

Blessed Alexander Crow, pray for us!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Martyrs on November 29 in 1588 and 1596

Blessed Edward BurdenAfter studying at Oxford University’s Trinity College, Edward Burden, of County Durham, England, journeyed to the continent to prepare for the Catholic priesthood. He was ordained at Douai, France in 1584 and set out for England two years later. But after spending the following two years serving Catholics in Yorkshire, Father Burden was arrested by the Protestant Elizabethan authorities. While awaiting his fate in a York prison, he saw a fellow Catholic priest incarcerated with him, (Blessed) Robert Dalby, led away to be put on trial. Envious of the latter’s prospects of imminent martyrdom, Father Burden complained, “Shall I always lie here like a beast while my brother hastens to his reward? Truly, I am unworthy of such glory as to suffer for Christ.” But it was not long before Father Burden was himself tried and condemned to death for his priesthood. On November 29, 1588, he was executed by drawing and quartering at York.

Note: Father (Blessed) Robert Dalby was held in York Castle and not executed until after Blessed Edward Burden, on March 16, 1589, with Blessed John Amias. Note that like Blessed John Henry Newman in the 19th century, Father Burden was a Trinity man!

On the same date in York, eight years later, three laymen were hung, drawn and quartered, found guilty of the treason of attempting to convert another English subject to Catholicism: Blesseds George Errington, William Gibson, and William Knight (another layman, Blessed Henry Abbot had been condemned under the same charge, but his execution was delayed until March the following year). They were victims of entrapment, according to Bishop Challoner:

A certain Protestant minister, for some misdemeanour put into York Castle, to reinstate himself in the favour of his superiors, insinuated himself into the good opinion of the Catholic prisoners, by pretending a deep sense of repentance, and a great desire of embracing the Catholic truth . . . So they directed him, after he was enlarged [released], to Mr. Henry Abbot, a zealous convert who lived in Holden in the same country, to procure a priest to reconcile him . . . Mr. Abbot carried him to Carlton to the house of Esquire Stapleton, but did not succeed in finding a priest. Soon after, the traitor having got enough to put them all in danger of the law, accused them to the magistrates . . . They confessed that they had explained to him the Catholic Faith, and upon this they were all found guilty and sentenced to die.

Blessed George Errington could also have been found guilty of the felony of aiding a Catholic priest (so might the others if they knew where to find a priest) because we know he was with St. John Boste at one time, who had suffered martyrdom in 1594. I presume they were in prison because of recusancy and not paying their fines.

The three who suffered on November 29, 1596 were all beatified by Pope John Paul II as among the Eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales. Abbot was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI. Father Burden was also included among the Eighty-Five Martyrs of England and Wales.

The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle honors these four martyrs among their "Martyrs of the North" and celebrates their martyrdoms on July 24. This is the prayer for that feast:

God, all-powerful Father,

The blessed martyrs of our diocese
Remained faithful in the face of danger and death.

Strengthen our faith
And take away our weakness.
Let the prayers and example of the martyrs
Help us share in the passion and resurrection of Christ
And bring us to eternal joy in your saints.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

"A Morbid, Fantasising England"

The Daily Mail has a great photographic story on the murals that John Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's father, had to paint over in the Chapel of the Guild of the Holy Cross in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1563. The paintings depict, according to the Stratford Town Trust, "the legend of St George and the Dragon, the Martyrdom of St Thomas Beckett and the Dance of Death."(Note that there are various problems with the text of the story. Henry VIII was dead by 1563; one of the restorers does not know the meaning of "iconoclastic", etc--but the pictures of the "Dance of Death", the first mural to be restored are great.)

In The Guardian, Jonathan Jones comments on what he sees as a morbid fascination with death and the devil in medieval England:

The paintings restored in the Guild Chapel reveal the powerful dream-world that was visible to ordinary townspeople 500 years ago. Devils and death loomed up on painted walls. Whether they were painted simply, as in Stratford, or done with the genius of a Bosch, these were collective fantasies of spectacular power.

The project that has saved Stratford’s murals deserves to be imitated wherever there are traces of medieval art still surviving in Britain. It does not matter if these images are fine art. They are something more important: a reminder of what it is to be human in a world shadowed by death and the devil.


He must fantasizing today if he does not think the world is not shadowed by death--we all will die--and the devil--there is evil in the world today--and that neither should be acknowledged or feared. But he forgets that those medieval people also had Faith in their Redeemer, Hope for salvation, and Love for God and neighbor. Only one of the three murals has been restored. St. George and the Dragon would have reminded them that God conquers the Devil and St. Thomas a Becket would have reminded them that they had great intercessors in Heaven. Jones has overemphasized one aspect of medieval piety.

The Guild of the Holy Cross (their seal is pictured above) was essential to Stratford, according to this site:

Established in the 13th century, it became the heart of Stratford's commercial, civic, social and religious life. The Guild helped its members to network, strike business deals, and even (so it was claimed) get into heaven faster.

Both men and women could become Guild members by paying a small fee. Joining was a good idea if you wanted to meet influential people and widen your network of contacts. Most members were prosperous local tradesmen, craftsmen and their families. But local clergy, gentry and even nobility joined too. Some members came from other towns like Coventry, London and Bristol.

The Guild provided 'social services' in medieval Stratford. It helped its members when they were ill, and supported their families if they died. It also gave 'alms' (charity) to poor and vulnerable local people, building a range of almshouses (sheltered accommodation) next to the Guildhall in about 1500.

It also looked after local infrastructure like bridges, and founded the first school in Stratford. In 1295 it appointed a schoolmaster called Richard as 'rector scholarum' to teach members' sons Latin, music and the principles of Christian faith. 

The Guild survived the reign of Henry VIII but not that of Edward VI (and there might not have been time for its restoration under Mary I). The lay members of the Guild had wealth and power, the site comments, and "this wealth and power was its undoing". What was its undoing was prayer for the dead as Edward VI's Protectors destroyed the last vestiges of remembering the Poor Souls in Purgatory in England. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"Silence" and Apostasy

The trailer for Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Shusaku Endo's Silence is available here. Silence tells the story of Jesuit missionaries in Japan facing, with the Catholics whom St. Francis Xavier and other Jesuits have brought to conversion, torture and martyrdom when Japanese authorities ban Christianity--and expel the Jesuits with an edict in 1587. Remember that Elizabeth I's government passed the "Act against Jesuits, Seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons" (27 Eliz. c. 2) in 1585!

On February 5, 1597, Jesuit Paul Miki and 25 others were crucified in Nagasaki. They are remembered on the Church's calendar on February 6 (since St. Agatha's feast day was already on February 5). The story told in Endo's Silence occurs in the next century, starting about 1639, when Fathers Rodrigues and Garrpe go to Japan to find out what has happened to Father Ferreira, who may have apostatized.

The Jesuits, the other missionary priests, and the Catholic laity in England faced the "Bloody Question", the Oath of Supremacy, Topcliffe's tortures, and many other dangers. The Catholics in Japan faced the temptation of stomping on the image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary (a fumie) as an act of denying Jesus. Father Rodrigues undergoes the trial of the fumie while the laity are being tortured--he can save them if he denies Jesus. 

I'm sure that Scorsese's film will fully depict the brutality of the tortures suffered by the Catholics, as the trailer hints. I read Endo's novel years ago and I definitely found it troubling and reading Scorsese's foreword to the latest Picador edition, I think I would find his interpretation of the movie just as troubling. To say that we need "the figure of Judas" just as much as "the figure of Christ" so that Christianity may live and "adapt itself to other cultures and historical moments" is ridiculous. Jesus is not a "figure"; He is Our Savior and Redeemer. The Church lives because He lives. Scorsese seems to treat Faith like concept not a Theological virtue and Christianity like a system not the Body of Christ.

The Scottish composer James Macmillan wrote his Symphony No. 3 as a meditation on Endo's Silence.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hakluyt's 400th

The Hakluyt Society has been celebrating the 400th anniversary of Richard Hakluyt's death (November 23, 1616) including lectures and a church service:

At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 27 November, there will be a commemorative service in All Saints Church, Wetheringsett, Suffolk, IP14 5PP, Hakluyt’s parish, which will be led by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, with the dedication of a stone plaque in memory of Richard Hakluyt. This will be followed by a buffet lunch in the Village Hall with a programme of music and readings. There will be an opportunity for small groups of Hakluyt Society members to visit the surviving part of Hakluyt’s former rectory.

History Today offers this appraisal of Hakluyt's influence:

Among the major commemorations taking place this year is the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616), England’s greatest promoter of overseas expansion. Hakluyt has always been an elusive and shadowy figure: there is no known surviving portrait of him. Likewise, there are no written accounts of his physical appearance. Like his contemporary, the poet John Donne, Hakluyt was successful in his profession, securing important clerical positions. On his death he was a priest at Westminster Cathedral, a position he took up in 1602 and, from 1590, rector of Wetheringsett and Brockford. He was, as Peter Mancall neatly sums up in his biography, Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America (2007), ‘famous enough to be buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, but not famous enough to merit a plaque telling of his bones being buried there’.

Hakluyt’s monument remains his work, capped by his editing of
The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, which first appeared in one large volume in 1589 and then in an expanded, updated edition in three volumes between 1598 and 1600. These publications created a rationale and plan for English commercial activity (hence the focus on ‘Traffiques’) in places such as Muscovy, Persia and the Levant, along with maritime exploration in search of a North-east or North-west Passage to China and colonial expansion in the New World, emulating and counteracting the achievements of Catholic rivals, notably Spain. The works of Hakluyt’s fellow quadricentennials, Shakespeare, Cervantes and even Ben Jonson (if we count the appearance of his first folio of 1616) may have transformed the literary landscape forever, but Hakluyt changed the geopolitical landscape through his tireless advocacy of English exploits in a world of increasingly global competition.

Please read the rest there.

Illustration credit from Wikipedia Commons: English writer Richard Hakluyt (c. 1552 or 1553 – 23 November 1616) pictured in a stained glass window in the West Window of the South Transept of Bristol Cathedral.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks


Thinking of and thankful for the memories of my family home and Thanksgivings past. It has been seven years since the last Thanksgiving with my father. Tomorrow is my parents' wedding anniversary. It may be a trite saying, but we must always be thankful for all we have because we never know when we will lose it.

It is something to have wept as we have wept, 
It is something to have done as we have done, 
It is something to have watched when all men slept, 
And seen the stars which never see the sun.

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose, 
Although it break and leave the thorny rods, 
It is something to have hungered once as those 
Must hunger who have ate the bread of gods.

To have seen you and your unforgotten face, 
Brave as a blast of trumpets for the fray, 
Pure as white lilies in a watery space, 
It were something, though you went from me today.

To have known the things that from the weak are furled, 
Perilous ancient passions, strange and high; 
It is something to be wiser than the world, 
It is something to be older than the sky.

In a time of sceptic moths and cynic rusts, 
And fattened lives that of their sweetness tire 
In a world of flying loves and fading lusts, 
It is something to be sure of a desire.

Lo, blessed are our ears for they have heard; 
Yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen: 
Let the thunder break on man and beast and bird 
And the lightning. It is something to have been.

~G.K. Chesterton ("The Great Minimum")

A Martyr in Chains? Dean Thomas Raynald or Reynolds

Because he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, Thomas Raynold or Reynolds died in prison on November 24, 1559. A brief biography, which does not describe either his courageous refusal or what he must have suffered in the Marshalsea prison:

THOMAS REYNOLDS, D.D. (Oxon.) 1536: He was Dean of Exeter (1555), Warden of Merton College, Oxford (1545) and Rector of Holsworthy, Devon. He was deprived of all these preferments, and was committed to the Marshalsea September 4, 1559, where he died November 24 following. He had been Rector of Pinhoe, Devon, 1530-7, as Mr Gillow records. He had also been Rector of Lapworth, Warwickshire, 1540-1556. At Queen Mary's death he was bishop-nominate of Hereford.

Dom David Knowles suggests that Thomas Reynolds could have been the brother of St. Richard Reynolds, the "Angel of Syon", one of the protomartyrs of the English Reformation (May 4, 1535). During the reign of Henry VIII, he must have accepted the Oaths required, but he could not accept the oaths required by Elizabeth I's new religious settlement. Did he adopt The Book of Common Prayer during Edward VI's reign?

He is not listed among the dilati (delayed for more information) or the praetermissi (passed over the first time), or as one of the martyrs in chains of those whose causes were introduced in the late nineteenth century after the Restoration of the Hierarchy in England and as research continued in the early twentieth century. The issue, of course, is whether or not he died in prison as a result of odium fidei (hatred of the faith)--or were there other issues contributing to his imprisonment and death?

This just demonstrates how careful the Catholic Church is when we proclaim saints, whether confessors or martyrs. Although his death was obscure, the date was noted. May he rest in the peace of Christ.