Monday, January 16, 2017

Pre-Order Now and Read an Excerpt

Bloomsbury has sent out a notice about the imminent release of Eamon Duffy's contribution to the Reformation's 500th anniversary. It's ready for pre-order now and an excerpt is available. I look forward to reading about Duffy's view of how and why St. Thomas More enforced England's heresy laws when he was Chancellor, and the other subjects Duffy will explore. A reminder about the purpose and contents of the book from the publisher:

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.


While I was reading the excerpt on issuu, a platform I'd never heard of before, I noticed that there are other resources available, including entire books! One book, which I read several years ago, is Thomas E. Woods, Jr.'s dissertation-cum-book, The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era:

The book is still available from Columbia University Press and I highly recommend it:

As the twentieth century opened, American intellectuals grew increasingly sympathetic to Pragmatism and empirical methods in the social sciences. The Progressive program as a whole—in the form of Pragmatism, education, modern sociology, and nationalism—seemed to be in agreement on one thing: everything was in flux. The dogma and "absolute truth" of the Church were archaisms, unsuited to modern American citizenship and at odds with the new public philosophy being forged by such intellectuals as John Dewey, William James, and the New Republic magazine. Catholics saw this new public philosophy as at least partly an attack on them.

Focusing on the Catholic intellectual critique of modernity during the period immediately before and after the turn of the twentieth century, this provocative and original book examines how the Catholic Church attempted to retain its identity in an age of pluralism. It shows a Church fundamentally united on major issues—quite unlike the present-day Catholic Church, which has been the site of a low-intensity civil war since the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Defenders of the faith opposed James, Dewey, and other representatives of Pragmatism as it played out in ethics, education, and nationalism. Their goals were to found an economic and political philosophy based on natural law, to appropriate what good they could find in Progressivism to the benefit of the Church, and to make America a Catholic country.

The Church Confronts Modernity explores how the decidedly nonpluralistic institution of Christianity responded to an increasingly pluralistic intellectual environment. In a culture whose chief value was pluralism, they insisted on the uniqueness of the Church and the need for making value judgments based on what they considered a sound philosophy of humanity. In neither capitulating to the new creed nor retreating into a self-righteous isolation, American Catholic intellectuals thus laid the groundwork for a half-century of intellectual vitality.

What a nice surprise and reminder!

Psychoanalytic criticism: Man is Wolf to Man

First Things has made one of its February 2017 subscriber access articles available for free: Patricia Snow discusses the personal background behind Hilary Mantel's Cromwell novels:

Psychoanalytic criticism may have fallen out of favor, but it has not ceased to be useful. Even so bare an outline of Mantel’s life, drawn from her 2003 memoir, Giving Up the Ghost, makes clear the connections between Mantel’s biographical backstory and the goings-on at Henry VIII’s court. In her novels about Cromwell, all of Mantel’s formative issues are in play: the plot-driving engine of marital unhappiness; divorce and the impossibility of divorce; ambiguous sexual situations; the desirability but also the powerlessness of children. Mantel’s early experiences explain not only her richly ambivalent attitude toward her Tudor characters, but also her impressive “negative capability” as their artist—her ability, that is, out of the small circle of her original family, either to play or to cast all the parts.

For example, she herself is Mary, the king’s awkwardly placed oldest daughter who is banished from his presence together with a rejected, painfully dignified spouse (Katherine of Aragon). She is also Elizabeth, another unwanted but ultimately triumphant (if sterile) daughter who, at a stroke, lost a parent (Anne Boleyn) as a child. Mantel’s mother, of course, is Henry, the books’ capricious, death-dealing sovereign, and Jack is Anne Boleyn, the sallow Protestant parvenu. But Mantel’s mother is also Boleyn: small and catlike in her movements, unscrupulous and shape-shifting. Cross-referencing Mantel’s memoir with the novels, the reader encounters the same clusters of descriptors again and again, shared out among Mantel’s mother, Jack, and Anne Boleyn, or among Cromwell, Mantel herself as a child, and Cromwell’s small daughter, Anne. Sometimes a phrase or sentiment from the memoir is lifted virtually unchanged into the novels, as when Mantel’s mother and Jack, like Henry and Anne, are described as “[the] couple who had endured, to be together, so much adverse public opinion.”

In the novels, Mantel is reimagining the small-scale squalor of her parents’ domestic arrangements on a large scale, as consequential history. The exercise may have been exhilarating, or cathartic, as when history requires that she banish Queen Katherine and her daughter, Mary, not to a yellowing bedroom down a dimly lit hall, but to far-flung palaces. But any temptation on Mantel’s part to use the novels to romanticize or exorcise her own past is balanced in the writing by an equally strong authorial impulse to expose it.

For example, there is Mantel’s puzzling choice of a title:
Wolf Hall. Scarcely mentioned in the novel that bears its name, Wolf Hall is the family seat of Jane Seymour, the eventual third wife of the king. Halfway through Wolf Hall, in a brief digression, the reader learns that old Sir John Seymour slept with his son’s wife for two years, during which time she gave birth to two boys. Laughing when the scandal of the boys’ dubious parentage becomes known, Anne Boleyn says to Henry, “They could tell Boccaccio a tale, those sinners at Wolf Hall.” Inexplicable as a title choice apart from a familiarity with Mantel’s history, Wolf Hall is the world for Mantel personally. Or as Cromwell puts it to himself elsewhere: homo homini lupus, man is wolf to man.

Read the rest there

At the end of the article, Snow points out that The Mirror and the Light, Mantel's third novel about Thomas Cromwell, is taking longer to write (the first two books were published in 2009 and 2012). Snow suggests that killing off her father figure must be hard for Mantel. I wonder if Mantel will respond to Snow's comments: this cuts close to the quick and perhaps the article demonstrates why "Psychoanalytic criticism may have fallen out of favor". Man is wolf to man.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Another Poetic Martyr

Francis Philips writes in The Catholic Herald:

What a good idea it was for the Christmas issue of the Catholic Herald to include a free DVD about the English martyrs, produced by St Anthony Communications and narrated by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Nicholas Schofield. I watched it the other night and was reminded again of the sacrifices that some brave men and women were prepared to undergo for the love of their faith. . . .

The DVD she refers to is Faith of Our Fathers: In Search of the English Martyrs, which I reviewed in 2014. She writes about the English Martyrs of the English Reformation and the Recusant era and mentions one not highlighted in the documentary:

One of my own favourites, not mentioned in the film which is why I now bring him to readers’ attention, is Blessed Thomas Belson, 1563-1589. Belson, one of the four Oxford martyrs, came from a prosperous landowning family near Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire. (I happen to live near the parish church.) He studied at Oxford and then renounced his possessions in order to dedicate himself to the humble but vital task of assisting priests in their travels between England and the Continent. He was hanged aged 26 on July 5 1589.

All that remains of this selfless young man is a 16-line Latin poem he wrote, probably after his first imprisonment in the Tower in 1586. Translated by Michael Hodgetts, it concludes with the lines:

Why should I rail on fortune or repine?
Why should I grieve? God’s remedy is mine.
Endure then, as philosophers maintain
A brave man should, adversity and pain.

On the surface these are skilful lines, the evidence of a classical education aligned to conventional piety. Then one remembers they were written in prison, anticipating the probability of a painful public death, and that their author, the son of a wealthy family and assured of a comfortable career in the (Protestant) Tudor world, was only 23 when he penned them.

This website posts the entire poem:

I look about me, sick and faint of soul;
The dwelling of God's glory is my goal.
But, though I look about so constantly,
No answer comes, none turns to rescue me.
Yet, as I wander through the grassy dale,
Or higher, as the mountain crags I scale,
Until alone on lonely peaks I gaze,
I grieve for having left my Saviour's ways.
And when I think how gentle is his touch,
And how his justice could demand so much,
My mind is changed, my labours seem the less,
and I regret my former foolishness.
Why should I rail on fortune or repine?
Why should I grieve? God's remedy is mine.
Endure, then, as philosophers maintain
A brace
(sic) man should, adversity and pain.

Blessed Thomas Belson had studied at Blessed John Henry Newman's college, Oriel (where Newman was a Fellow)! He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987.

As soon as the Eighth Day Institute January Symposium is over, I'll watch and review the latest documentary from St. Anthony Communication: To Be A Pilgrim: The Canterbury Way:

An ancient trail of pilgrimage runs through south-east England; a pathway along which so much of English identity converges. It is the way of St Thomas Becket, the martyr who stood up to a King and inspired Christendom. It is a route that drew countless pilgrims in ages past, captured the imagination of Chaucer and is reviving in our own time.

This film follows Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Nicholas Schofield as they journey from London to Canterbury. Along the way they discover the story of St Thomas and some fascinating traditions: the Rood of Boxley, the splendour of Rochester, the 'second Carmel' at Aylesford and many more.

By retracing the steps of the medieval pilgrims, this film draws out the rich Christian heritage of England and reflects on what it means 'To Be A Pilgrim.'


In the meantime, I'm wrapping up my presentation and looking forward to the weekend!!

Friday, January 13, 2017

At 11:30 a.m. Today

I'll be at the seventh annual Eighth Day Institute Symposium making my presentation on "Long Live the Queen: John Henry Newman and the Place of Theology in a Liberal Arts Education". My reflection is live on the EDI website and will be included in the January issue of Synaxis:

Reading Newman’s Idea and his vision of university education now, so many years later, I am struck by how timely his defense of Theology as a field of study with a body of knowledge is for us today. In the mid-nineteenth century he saw that if Theology was not accepted as an academic subject, with content and knowledge to impart, religious doctrine and practice would devolve into mere feeling. Then religious doctrine and morality will be “based, not on argument, but on taste and sentiment” and “nothing [is] objective”; in fact “everything [is] subjective”. Newman saw that if Theology is only a matter of “taste and sentiment” and Christian doctrine “the bane of true knowledge”, theologians will be rejected. Theologians—the watchmen—will face “a feeling, not merely of contempt, but of absolute hatred” if they dare state that what they say is true and based not on opinion or affection, but on knowledge and experience. Newman seems a prophet in that vision, as in many other things.

Here's the schedule in case you want to come! Of course, bad winter weather is forecast for this weekend in Wichita, so caution is advised, especially on Saturday! 

Newman on/in Heaven


Prompted by a conversation on life after death on ABC TV--what a source--I wrote my second blog piece for the National Catholic Register in 2017, discussing the Catholic view of Heaven. I cited one of Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons, among other sources:

Blessed John Henry Newman describes this standard of holiness in his Parochial and Plain Sermon “Holiness Necessary for Future Blessedness”:

"To be holy is, in our Church's words, to have "the true circumcision of the Spirit;" that is, to be separate from sin, to hate the works of the world, the flesh, and the devil; to take pleasure in keeping God's commandments; to do things as He would have us do them; to live habitually as in the sight of the world to come, as if we had broken the ties of this life, and were dead already. Why cannot we be saved without possessing such a frame and temper of mind?"

And then he makes the startling statement that “even supposing a man of unholy life were suffered to enter heaven, he would not be happy there; so that it would be no mercy to permit him to enter.” Newman comments that we can have the wrong idea about Heaven—that it will be a place of pleasure and satisfaction and then proposes a better way to think of Heaven:

"Heaven then is not like this world; I will say what it is much more like,—a church. For in a place of public worship . . . we hear solely and entirely of God. We praise Him, worship Him, sing to Him, thank Him, confess to Him, give ourselves up to Him, and ask His blessing. And therefore, a church is like heaven; viz. because both in the one and the other, there is one single sovereign subject—religion—brought before us."

So someone who has no thought of God, what Newman calls an “irreligious man”, would be miserable in Heaven: the Face of God and the worship of God “would be no object of joy to him”. On the other hand, if you are happy in church, at Mass, in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, etc, you will be happy in Heaven, as Heaven truly is.


Perhaps that last sentence should have read "you may be prepared to be happy in Heaven, as Heaven truly is"; but what I have written, I have written! Please read the rest there.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mary's Eulogizer, Bishop John White, RIP

John White, the deprived Bishop of Winchester, died on January 12, 1560. He was in and out of prison during the Tudor era, according to the Dictionary of National Biography. John White was:

the son of Robert White of Farnham, where he was born in 1510 or 1511 (his brother John became lord mayor of London in 1563: see pedigree in Manning and Bray's History of Surrey, iii. 177; but Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, vii. 212, says this is incorrect). In 1521, at the age of eleven, he was admitted scholar at Winchester, whence he proceeded as fellow to New College, Oxford (Kirby, p. 111). He was admitted full fellow in 1527, graduated B.A. on 13 Dec. 1529, M.A. on 30 Jan. 1534, B.D.(?) before 1554 (see Rymer, Fœdera, xv. 388), and D.D. 1 Oct. 1555. In 1534 he resigned his fellowship, being then master of Winchester College, of which he was made warden in February 1541 (Willis, Mitred Abbies, i. 333). Of his life at Winchester different accounts are given; favourable by Pits (De Rebus Anglicis, 1619, p. 763, partly on report of Christopher Johnson, himself master of Winchester), who describes him as ‘acutus poeta, orator eloquens, theologus solidus, concionator nervosus;’ and unfavourable by Bale (Scriptt. Britann. Illustr. p. 737), who describes him with scandalous suggestiveness, and dubs him ‘saltans asinus.’ He was appointed in March 1540–1 a prebendary of Winchester. Under Edward VI he began to attract attention as an opponent of the protestants. He was examined by the council on 25 March 1551, when he admitted receiving ‘divers books and letters from beyond sea,’ and was committed to the Tower (Hatfield MS. i. 83; Acts P. C. 1550–2, p. 242).

White served Queen Mary I, helping to re-establish the Catholic Church in England:

On the accession of Mary he came at once into prominence. He sat on several of the commissions which restored and deprived bishops. He preached at St. Paul's on 25 Nov. 1553 in favour of the restoration of religious processions (Machyn, p. 49). He was elected bishop of Lincoln on 1 March 1554 (Le Neve, Fasti; but see Rymer's Fœdera, xv. 374, for licence), was consecrated in St. Saviour's, Southwark, on 1 April by Bonner, Tunstall, and Gardiner (Stubbs, Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, ed. 1897, p. 104), and received restitution of the temporalities of the see on 2 May 1554. He was ‘provided’ to the see by the pope in a consistory on 6 July (Raynaldus, ann. 1554, § 5). He was granted the next presentation to the archdeaconry of Taunton on 2 Nov. (Hist. MSS. Comm. Wells MSS. p. 239). On the arrival of Philip II he was one of those who received him at the west door of Winchester Cathedral (Cal. State Papers, For. 1553–8, pp. 106–7). He preached at the opening of parliament on 21 Oct. 1555 (ib. Venetian, 1555–6, p. 217). He had already become famous in the pursuit of heretics, and on 30 Sept. 1555 he presided at Ridley's trial. He then twitted the accused with his change of opinion on the doctrine of the eucharist (Parsons, Conversion of England, iii. 209 sqq.; cf. Foxe, Actes and Monuments). He was one of the executors of Gardiner's will, preached at the requiem mass for him on 18 Nov. 1555, and went with the funeral procession (23 Feb. 1556) from St. Saviour's, Southwark, to Winchester. On 22 March 1556 he was one of the consecrators of Reginald Pole. In this year he visited his large diocese by commission of the new archbishop (interesting details in Strype, vi. 389, and see Dixon's History of the Church of England, iv. 597–9). He retained the wardenship of Winchester with the bishopric of Lincoln (cf. Cal. Hatfield MSS. v. 221).

The appointment to Winchester was delayed till Philip's return to England (Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1555–6, p. 281), and when White was at last nominated to the see the bulls for his translation were long delayed, and were very costly (ib. For. 1653–8, pp. 227, 228, 242, and Venetian, 1555–6, pp. 393, 477). Pole, it is said, had wished to hold the bishopric in commendam, and White, who desired it especially because of his birth and long association, could only obtain it on his promise to pay 1,000l. a year to the cardinal as long as he lived, and to his executors a year after his death (Matthew Parker, De Antiq. Brit. Eccl. p. 353). The congé d'élire to the dean and chapter was dated 16 July 1556. White had already received custody of the temporalities on 16 May 1556, and they were formally restored to him on 31 May 1557 (Rymer, Fœdera, xv. 436, 437, 441, 466; cf. Machyn, p. 103).


He preached the funeral oration of Queen Mary I on December 13, 1558 and his praise of her half-sister did not please Elizabeth I:

“She was a King’s daughter, she was a King’s sister, she was a King’s wife. She was a Queen, and by the same title a King also … What she suffered in each of these degrees and since she came to the crown I will not chronicle; only this I say, howsoever it pleased God to will her patience to be exercised in the world, she had in all estates the fear of God in her heart … she had the love, commendation and admiration of all the world. In this church she married herself to the realm, and in token of faith and fidelity, did put a ring with a diamond on her finger, which I understand she never took off after, during her life … she was never unmindful or uncareful of her promise to the realm. She used singular mercy towards offenders. She used much pity and compassion towards the poor and oppressed. She used clemency amongst her nobles … She restored more noble houses decayed than ever did prince of this realm, or I did pray God ever shall have the like occasion to do hereafter … I verily believe, the poorest creature in all this city feared not God more than she did.”

The same site reports:

The last sentence was based on two verses of Ecclesiastes which said the following: “I praised the dead which are already dead more than the living which are yet alive … for a living dog is better than a dead lion”. This and wishing Elizabeth “a prosperous reign” while adding “if it be God’s will” landed him once more into trouble. It was a veiled reference to Elizabeth, alluding to his point of view that Mary had been a great queen and her death left a hole in many Catholic’s hearts, while Bess was not. He was placed under house arrest the next day “for such offenses as he committed in his sermon at the funeral of the late queen”.


He continued to displease the new queen:

On 18 March he voted against the supremacy bill in the House of Lords, and on 31 March 1559 he took part in the conference in the choir of Westminster Abbey between nine Romanists and nine Anglicans (Cal. State Papers, Spanish, 1558–67, pp. 45, 46–8, Dom. 1547–1550, p. 127, and Venetian, 1558–80, pp. 65, 69; see Camden, Annals, p. 27; Parsons, A Review of Ten Public Disputations, 1604, pp. 77 sqq.; Burnet, History of the Reformation, ii. 388, 396). White declared that he was not ready to dispute, as they ‘had not their wrytynge ready to be read there,’ and the conference broke up not without disorder. It was renewed on 3 April, and at the close White, with the bishop of Lincoln [see Watson, Thomas, 1513–1584], was removed to the Tower (Acts P. C. 1558–70, p. 78). On 21 June he was deprived of his bishopric (deprivation formally completed on 26 June, Machyn, p. 201), and was sent back to the Tower after a new attempt had been made to induce him to take the oath of supremacy (Cal. State Papers, Spanish, 1558–67, p. 79, cf. Venetian, 1558–80, p. 104). Before long his health began to fail (Strype, Annals, i. 142–3), and on 7 July he was released to live with his brother, Alderman John White, ‘near Bartholomew Lane.’ He was now dependent on his friends for maintenance (5 Aug. 1559, Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1558–80, p. 117). He was shortly afterwards allowed to retire to the house of his sister, wife of Sir Thomas White, at South Warnborough, Hampshire, where he died on 12 Jan. 1560, ‘of an ague’ (Machyn, Diary). He was buried in Winchester Cathedral on 15 Jan. He had many years before written his own epitaph, but this, though in the cathedral, was not apparently placed over his grave. He ‘gave much to his servants’ (Machyn), and was a benefactor to New College, Oxford (Wood, History and Antiquities, ed. Gutch, p. 185), and to Winchester (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. i. 314).

May he rest in the peace of Christ. I will try to highlight these Recusant Bishops as their dates come up this year. It is fascinating to see their different responses to the final Tudor Religious settlement under Elizabeth I. Many who had acquiesced to Henry VIII's Supremacy finally refused to accept the monarch as the Governor of the Church.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Publisher of Catholic Books: Blessed William Carter

Today's English Catholic martyr's story reveals some of the debates and conflicts between Catholics during the Elizabethan era. The Jesuits and a group of secular or seminary priests called the Appellants disagreed about the divided loyalties of Catholics in England and what they could do about them. You might remember this was an issue brought up in the 2011 book, The Trials of Margaret Clitherow--and she was completely opposed to the Appellant view. Some thought that Catholics could attend Church of England services sometimes: to be part of the only Christian community openly available to them and to avoid the recusancy fines. They would abstain from the Anglican holy communion, ignore Anglican/Reformed preaching, and remain true to Catholic doctrine, sacraments, and devotions. They would certainly be loyal to their queen Elizabeth I in temporal matters but remain true to the Catholic Church in spiritual and religious matters--except that by attending the Church of England services, they paid manifestly public "lip service" to her governance of the Church of England! The Jesuits and others like St. Margaret Clitherow who agreed with them believed that any outward compliance would lead to inward compliance and represented betrayal and division.

The reason for this background is the title of the book Blessed William Carter printed and for which he was arrested, tortured, and executed: Dr. Gregory Martin's "A Treatise of Schisme: Shewing, that Al Catholikes Ought in Any Wise to Abstaine Altogether From Heretical Conunenticles, to Witt, Their Prayers, Sermons, &c". According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, Dr. Gregory Martin (c. 1542 to 28 October 1582) was the 

Translator of the Douai Version of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate; b. in Maxfield, parish of Guestling, near Winchelsea, in Sussex; d. at Reims, 28 October, 1582. In preparing the translation he was assisted by several of the other great scholars then living in the English College at Douai, but Gregory Martin made the whole translation in the first instance and bore the brunt of the work throughout. He was well qualified for the undertaking. During his thirteen years' residence at Oxford, he bore the reputation of a brilliant scholar and linguist, whose abilities were only equalled by his industry. He entered as one of the original scholars of St. John's College, in 1557. Among those who entered at the beginning was Edmund Campion, the renowned Jesuit martyr. At this period of his life, however, he was possessed with the ambitions of youth, and although at heart a Catholic, he conformed to the Established Church, and even accepted ordination as a deacon. Gregory Martin was his close friend throughout his Oxford days, and himself remained a devout Catholic. When he found it necessary to quit the university, he took refuge as tutor in the family of the Duke of Norfolk, where he had among his pupils Philip, Earl of Arundel, also subsequently martyred. During his residence with the Duke, Martin wrote to Campion, warning him that he was being led away into danger by his ambition, and begging him to leave Oxford. It is said that it was in great measure due to this advice that Campion migrated to Dublin in 1570, and accepted a post in the university there. He continued to conform to the established religion outwardly; but his Catholic sentiments were no secret.

In the meantime, Gregory Martin left the house of the Duke of Norfolk, and crossing the seas, presented himself at Dr. Allen's College at Douai as a candidate for the priesthood, in 1570. During his early days there, he wrote once more to Campion, who yielded to his entreaties, and the following year saw the two friends once more united within the venerable walls of the English College at Douai. Campion was now a professed Catholic, and he received minor orders and the subdiaconate, after which he proceeded to Rome and eventually entered the Society of Jesus. Having finished his theology, Gregory Martin was ordained priest in March, 1573. Three years later he went to Rome to assist Allen in the foundation of the English College there, known by the title of the "Venerabile". Campion, however, was at that time absent from Rome. Martin remained two years, during which time he organized the course of studies at the new college; when he was recalled by Allen to Reims, whither the college had been removed from Douai in consequence of political troubles. Martin and Campion met once more in this world, when the latter made a short stay at Reims in the summer of 1580, on his way to the English Mission, and-as it turned out-to early martyrdom. . . .

The following is a list of Martin's works: "Treatise of Schisme" (Douai, 1578); "Discovery of the Manifold Corruptions of the Holy Scriptures by the Heretikes of our Daies" (Reims, 1582); Reims Testament and Douay Bible; "Treatise of Christian Peregrination" (Reims, 1583); "Of the Love of the Soul" (St. Omer, 1603); "Gregorius Martinus ad Adolphum Mekerchum pro veteri et vera Græcarum Literarum Pronunciatione" (Oxford, 1712); several other works in MS. mentioned by Pitts.

Today's martyr, 
Blessed William Carter was born in London, 1548; suffered for treason at Tyburn on 11 January 1584. Son of John Carter, a draper, and Agnes, his wife, he was apprenticed to John Cawood, queen's printer, on Candlemas Day, 1563, for ten years, and afterwards acted as secretary to Nicholas Harpsfield, last Catholic archdeacon of Canterbury, then a prisoner. Note that Harpsfield wrote an early biography of Thomas More, left England during the reign of Edward VI for Louvain, returned during the reign of Mary I and participated in heresy trials, and finally, opposed the ordination of Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury, for which he was imprisoned in the Fleet with his brother John. Therefore, William Carter was very brave, associating with an imprisoned cleric who had refused the Oath of Supremacy!


When Harpsfield died (after release from prison on grounds of ill health) Carter married and set up a press on Tower Hill. Among other Catholic books he printed a new edition (1000 copies) of Dr. Gregory Martin's "A Treatise of Schisme", in 1580, for which he was at once arrested and imprisoned in the Gatehouse. Before this he had been in the Poultry Compter--a small prison run by a Sheriff in the City of London--from 23 September to 28 October 1578. He was transferred to the Tower, 1582, and paid for his own diet there down to midsummer, 1583. Having been tortured on the rack, he was indicted at the Old Bailey--the central criminal court in England—on 10 January 1584, for having printed Dr. Martin's book, in which was a paragraph where confidence was expressed that the Catholic Hope would triumph, and a pious Judith would slay Holofernes. This was interpreted as an incitement to slay the queen. His wife died while he was in prison.

He was beatified in 1987 by Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Printing 1000 copies of Martin's book?--that seems a considerable press run. Evidently he knew there were customers for that book, Catholics concerned about the conflict between the Appellants and the Jesuits and what they should do. Carter was a well-to-do man, as he was able to pay for his room and board in prison for perhaps a year. The government tortured him to discover names of any "Judiths" out there ready to behead "Holofernes"--if they had found any evidence of a conspiracy they would have used better evidence than the interpretation of a certain line in a book! But that was the atmosphere of fear and suspicion at that time.

Image at the Top: Judith slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1614–18

Image at the Bottom: Caravaggio, Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1598-1599)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Plough Monday


Since this is the Monday after Epiphany (traditionally celebrated on January 6 but moved to a Sunday celebration here in the U.S.A. for most Catholic parishes and chapels), today is Plough Monday. The Twelve Days of Christmas are over, Twelfth Night has been celebrated, and things are getting back to normal, even though the Christmas/Epiphany season lasts until Candlemas, keeping the 40 days and 40 nights biblical tradition intact.

The Tudor Society blog describes the festivities of the day:

Plough Monday was the first Monday after 6th January and was the day on which things would return to normal after the Twelve Days of Christmas and people would return to work. It was also the first day of the new agricultural year and 16th century poet and farmer Thomas Tusser wrote:

Plough Monday, next after that Twelfth tide is past
Bids out with the plough, the worst husband is last.

Ronald Hutton, in his book
Stations of the Sun [:A History of the Ritual Year in Britain], writes of how there are records from the 15th century of ploughs being dragged around the streets "while money was collected behind it for parish funds" and that this money might be spent on the “"pkeep" of plough lights, which were candles that were kept burning in church at this time to bring the Lord's blessing on those working in the fields. Steve Roud, in The English Year writes of how there was often a 'common' or 'town' plough that was loaned out to locals who could not afford to buy their own and that this would be kept at the parish church. Roud notes: "its presence presumably gave the opportunity for services based on blessing the plough and praying for success in the coming year".

The Reformation put an end to the practice of plough lights, because the lighting of these candles to bring a blessing was seen as superstitious, but the practice of processing around towns and villages with the plough continued.


More about Plough Monday here.

Montagu and Exeter Executed

On January 9, 1539, Henry Pole, Baron Montagu and Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter were beheaded on Tower Hill, victims of the so-called Exeter Conspiracy. As the Tudor Times notes, other family members were still held in the Tower, including Margaret Pole, Montagu's mother, the Countess of Salisbury; Gertrude (nee Blount, daughter of William Blount, Baron Mountjoy), Marchioness of Exeter; and Jane (nee Neville), the Baroness Montagu:

Neither Lady Salisbury, nor Lady Exeter were tried. Lady Salisbury was moved to the Tower, and summarily executed in 1541, with no trial or formal charge ever having been made against her.

Lady Exeter was released in 1539, and given a pension, although the Exeter estates remained confiscated.

The two boys remained in the Tower. Henry Pole, Montague's son, disappeared and Edward Courtenay, Exeter's son, remained imprisoned until 1553.


The Tudor Times also presents some theories about why Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, on pretty flimsy evidence, accused these families of treason and acted against them:

Others historians are in agreement with the contemporary European assessment about dynastic fears. Both France and the Empire believed that Henry's concerns were dynastic, and that he wished to annihilate the remaining members of the House of York. Exeter was his first cousin and grandson of Edward IV, and Montague was Edward IV's great-nephew. M L Bush and Dr David Starkey disagree with this assessment, pointing to the favour shown by Henry to his relatives.

Far more worrying than a claim by Montague or Exeter was the idea that his "illegitimate" daughter, Mary, might marry Reginald Pole (who, despite being a Cardinal was not actually a priest) and be placed on the throne by a popular uprising. Mary's reinstatement in the succession had been a demand of the Pilgrimage of Grace, and the Poles and Exeters had been strong supporters of Mary and her mother, Katharine of Aragon. Henry would have been determined to protect his baby son, Edward, at all costs.

Another theory is that the Poles were being punished for Reginald Pole's activities abroad and certainly, if Reginald had not written
De Unitate and not attempted to provoke an invasion, then Geoffrey would not have been committing treason by corresponding with him or trying to join him. However, this does not seem to account entirely for the charges against Exeter, Nevill and Carew.

Here's a link to the timeline of events.

Jane Pole, the Baronness of Montagu, was released in 1540 while Edward Courtenay, Montagu's son, was held in the Tower until the accession of Mary I in 1553--held for 15 years in the Tower without specific charge, trial or conviction, except that he was the son of a traitor. Mary I named him the first Earl of Devon, and there was talk that he would be a good match for her as a native, noble English consort. Things did not work out that way, however, and he ended up in exile.

Margaret Pole was held in the Tower until May 27, 1541 when she was brutally beheaded (without charge, trial, or conviction). That must be one of the low points of Thomas Cromwell's career as Henry VIII's henchman. Henry Pole, junior we could call him, Montagu's son, was held in the Tower until his death in late 1542--Alison Weir believes of starvation.

Image Credit: Henry Courtenay, KG, shown 2nd from left wearing a mantle displaying the arms of Courtenay, with in the 1st quarter the Royal arms of England within a bordure counter-changed, detail from procession of Garter Knights in the Black Book of the Garter, c.1535, Royal Collection, Windsor.

Image Credit: Portrait of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon (1526 - 1556). In background a ruined castle, possibly Tiverton Castle, seat of the Earls of Devon

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Jesus, the King and Savior of the Gentiles


From Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Cathedral in Cologne during World Youth Day in 2005:

The city of Cologne would not be what it is without the Magi, who have had so great an impact on its history, its culture and its faith. Here, in some sense, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany every day of the year! And so, before addressing you, dear inhabitants of Cologne, before greeting you, I wanted to pause for a few moments of prayer before the reliquary of the three Magi, giving thanks to God for their witness of faith, hope and love.

You should know that in 1164 the relics of the Magi were escorted by the Archbishop of Cologne, Reinald von Dassel, from Milan, across the Alps, all the way to Cologne, where they were received with great jubilation. On their pilgrimage across Europe these relics left visible traces behind them which still live on today, both in place names and in popular devotions.

In honour of the Magi the inhabitants of Cologne produced the most exquisite reliquary of the whole Christian world and raised above it an even greater reliquary: Cologne Cathedral. Along with Jerusalem the "Holy City", Rome the "Eternal City" and Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Cologne, thanks to the Magi, has become down the centuries one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the Christian West.

I do not want here to continue to sing the praises of Cologne, although it would be possible and meaningful to do so; it would take too long, for it would be necessary to say too many important and beautiful things about Cologne.

However, I would like to recall that we venerate St Ursula and her companions here; that in 745 the Holy Father named St Boniface Archbishop of Cologne; that St Albert the Great, one of the most learned scholars of the Middle Ages, worked here and that his relics are venerated in the Church of St Andrew; that Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian of the West, studied and taught here; that in the 19th century Adolph Kolping founded an important social institution; that Edith Stein, a converted Jew, lived here in Cologne at the Carmelite Convent before being forced to flee to the Convent of Echt in Holland to be deported subsequently to Auschwitz, where she died a martyr. Thanks to these and all the other figures, both known and unknown, Cologne possesses a rich legacy of saints.

I would like to add, at least as far as I know, that here in Cologne one of the Magi has been identified as a Moorish King of Africa, so that a representative of the African Continent has been seen as one of Jesus Christ's first witnesses.

You may see images of Cologne Cathedral and the reliquary of the Magi that Pope Benedict references here.

Happy Epiphany! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!