Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reformation Era Biography Collections


On the cusp of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses, books and articles about the Protestant Reformation have of course been plentiful. One subset of these books are the biographical collections, represented by the examples above.

Ignatius Press has published a new edition of Hilaire Belloc's Characters of the Reformation, with prose portraits of mostly English characters of the Reformation, starting with Henry VIII, but including a few French personages, like Cardinal Richelieu. Belloc believes that the English Reformation was not only distinct from the Protestant Reformation but that the defection of the Church in England--Henry VIII's breaking away from Catholic unity--was decisive in the destruction of Christendom. From his introduction:

The early enthusiasm for change was anarchic and dispersed. It had no form. It was of a violence which was bound to burn itself out, especially as it was resisted by all the organized central authorities of Christendom: the Kings and the Emperor. All that descended directly from the ancient foundation of our culture, the Romanized, civilized core of Europe, held out — save for one province: Britain. England was captured for the Revolutionary side, not by any desire on the part of her people, but by a succession of incidents which marked each of them a step more difficult to retrace. First, on a matter in no way connected with the Faith, the King of England, the most complete autocrat of his day, happened to quarrel with the Pope. The divorce of Henry VIII from his wife Catherine of Aragon, due to his infatuation with Anne Boleyn, began the business. It was conducted by a man of far greater ability than Henry, one Thomas Cromwell, an adventurer of high talent and no scruples (the great-uncle of Oliver and founder of the vast Cromwell fortune of which Oliver was a cadet). This Thomas Cromwell advised and carried out the confiscation of the monastic lands in England; a huge loot which was to be followed by further robbery of clerical endowments of every kind, including schools and colleges as well as the wealth of Sees and Parishes and Chapters. The new fortunes arising from this flood of confiscation determined the issue. . . .

That severance of England from Europe and from Christendom was, I have said, the pivotal matter of the Protestant advance. On it the partial success of the religious revolution everywhere depended. Hence the necessity for beginning by an understanding of the English tragedy, failing which the disruption of Europe and all our modern chaos would never have appeared. 

Belloc certainly takes a "Long Reformation" approach, because he ends his collection of characters with Blaise Pascal, William of Orange, and Louis XIV.

OSV has published Joseph Pearce's Heroes of the Catholic Reformation: Saints Who Renewed the Church, which I previewed and endorsed with a blurb:

The Protestant Reformation began five hundred years ago, accompanied by an age of turmoil and secularism we can recognize even in our own time. Rather than shrinking from the crisis, the Catholic Church responded with even deeper, and more genuine, reform. We can do the same today.

This Catholic Reformation was accomplished by many defenders of the Faith whom we now know as saints. Their holiness, courageous deeds, and sacrifices during this renewal of the Catholic Faith demonstrate the true heroism of saintly action and provide models for defending the faith in the modern world.

Diverse as they are inspiring, these heroes and saints stood up to slay “the dragons of sin” while championing Church teaching. Their sacrifices left the Church — and the world — forever changed.

Bishop John Fisher, Sir Thomas More, and priests Edmund Campion and Robert Southwell refused to submit to England’s secular tyranny and chose martyrdom instead. — Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and Charles Borromeo, the reforming Archbishop of Milan, spearheaded the Catholic Reformation.

Pope Pius V brought a spirit of asceticism to the papacy and ardor to the work of reform.
Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross, despite enduring terrible suffering, surrendered themselves completely to Christ’s great mission of reform within the Church.

The Heroes of the Catholic Reformation is a scholarly and cultured celebration of the saints who responded to the fierce oppositions of their time with courage and an authentic and lasting Catholic Reformation. Author Joseph Pearce invites us look to these heroes for inspiration as we seek to live the fullness of Faith in our fallen world.

Pearce--who is coming to Wichita in October AND November for presentations--takes the view that the Reformation as a whole is divided into three parts: the Protestant "Reformation"; the English "Reformation", and the Catholic Reformation. Only the latter is a true reformation; the others are rebellions and divisions: the latter worked to restore the Apostolic Teaching and Tradition as Jesus commanded; the others resulted in religious chaos.

The one book I have not read or seen is Phillip Campbell's Heroes and Heretics of the Reformation from TAN:

Not since the birth of Christ has an event shaken the foundations of the Western world like the Reformation. Now, 500 years after Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door at Wittenberg—the sound of which served as the thunder presaging the storm to come—Phillip Campbell, author of The Story of Civilization, casts fresh eyes on that tumultuous time and its most influential characters.

It was a tumultuous time, filled with heroes, heretics, and some who were a little bit of both. It was a time of destruction and rebuilding. Some sincerely sought reform while others sought merely to profit by it, and some—perhaps too few—used the events of the time to become saints.

In these pages meet as you’ve never met before:

• Martin Luther: the tortured Augustinian monk whose act at Wittenberg called forth the storm
• Thomas Müntzer: the radical who, inspired by the new way of thinking and his own apocalyptic views, sought to use the sword to usher in the reign of God; he would feel the sting of Luther’s words and the bite of the executioner’s blade.
• The queens: Mary and Elizabeth Tudor, who were at different times bastardized and delegitimized by their father Henry VIII, but who each reigned during this period of upheaval. One is known to history by a derogatory epithet, while the other, “bloodier” still, has an epoch named in her honor.
• The popes: Paul III and Pius V, each of whom sought to save what could be saved of Christendom, one through the calling of the Council of Trent, which codified an authentic Catholic Reform, and the other through the calling of a new crusade to fend off the ever-threatening Turks.
• St. Peter Canisius: who lived a life of sanctity as he tried to reconcile those who had drifted away back to the Church.


Through the lives of those above and others, dramatically unfolded in Campbell’s stirring narrative, learn how the heroes and heretics of the tumultuous sixteenth century shook the world, for better or for worse.


I'm sure that Protestant publishers have produced some of the same kind of collections and I'll try to find some for a future post.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

EWTN, the late Mother Angelica's Catholic media empire, has just opened a studio in England at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. The Mass for the Feast will be broadcast live on EWTN this morning at 6:00 a.m. Central Time! You may watch live on-line here.

In 2015 Pope Francis designated the Shrine as a Minor Basilica. As the old Catholic Encyclopedia explains, a Basilica is

a title assigned by formal concession or immemorial custom to certain more important churches, in virtue of which they enjoy privileges of an honorific character which are not always very clearly defined. Basilicas in this sense are divided into two classes, the greater or patriarchal, and the lesser, basilicas.

The major or patriarchal basilicas are the great churches of Rome: St. Peter's, St. John Lateran, St. Major, and St. Paul outside the Walls. The popes can add to the number of minor or lesser basilicas.

England's royalty often went on pilgrimage to Walsingham, as this website notes:

In the year 1226 news of the miraculous happenings at Walsingham reached royal ears in London, Henry III visited the shrine and granted the Canons the right to hold a weekly market and an annual fair. This Henry visited Walsingham thirteen times, and became a patron, giving many valuable gifts over the years including a gold crown for the image of Our Lady in the Chapel. The village of Walsingham grew around the success of the shrine as hostelries, eating houses and other business establishments catering to visitors sprang up. Indeed, the population of the village was at its height during the heyday of the medieval pilgrimages. A second religious order, the Franciscans, was given permission by Pope and King to erect a friary nearby in 1347, adding to the religious atmosphere of the little town.

Several English kings were devotees of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Henry III’s son, Edward I, credited Our Lady with saving his life as a youth. He was playing chess in a vaulted room, when for no apparent reason, he felt the urge to get up from his seat. Seconds later a large stone fell from the roof and landed on the very spot where he had been sitting. Henry VII was a patron and credited Our Lady with his victory in the Battle of Stoke in 1487. We may be astounded to learn that Henry VIII made a pilgrimage to the shrine in 1511 to give thanks for the birth of a son, Prince Henry. He gave several valuable gifts and when he noticed that the windows of Our Lady’s Chapel were unglazed, he gave the money needed to complete that work. There was no hint at this happy time of the impending disaster. . . .

The next step in Henry’s evil plan was the supression of religious houses. Walsingham, being of secondary importance escaped the first round, but the time for its dissolution came in July of 1538. The shrine was closed and the beloved statue was taken away to London to suffer the fate of thousands of other statues and images in Reformation England: She was burned at Chelsea in the presence of Cromwell in September of 1538. In August of that same year, the priory was handed over to the King’s Commissioners, and after looting it of all its wealth, the Holy House of Richeldis was burned to the ground. At its dissolution, the Priory was sold to Sir Thomas Sidney.


Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for us!

O gracious Lady, glory of Jerusalem, Cypress of Sion and Joy of Israel, Rose of Jericho and Star of Bethlehem, O gracious Lady, our asking do not repel, in mercy all women ever thou dost excel. Therefore, Blessed Lady, grant then thy great grace, to all that thee devoutly visit in this place. Amen. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

John Jewel, RIP and His "Apologia"

John Jewel was the Anglican bishop of Salisbury; born on May 24, 1522, he died on September 23, 1571.

His most famous work is The Apology of the Church of England which was originally written in Latin with the title Apologia pro ecclesia Anglicana, as this introduction to the work, posted at Project Canterbury, reminds us:

The great interest of Jewel's "Apology" lies in the fact that it was written in Latin to be read throughout Europe as the answer of the Reformed Church of England, at the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign, to those who said that the Reformation set up a new Church. Its argument was that the English Church Reformers were going back to the old Church, not setting up a new; and this Jewel proposed to show by looking back to the first centuries of Christianity. Innovation was imputed; and an Apology originally meant a pleading to rebut an imputation. So, even as late as 1796, there was a book called "An Apology for the Bible," meaning its defence against those who questioned its authority. This Latin book of Jewel's, Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae--written in Latin because it was not addressed to England only--was first published in 1562, and translated into English by the mother of Francis Bacon, whose edition appeared in 1564. That is the translation given in this volume. The book has since had six or seven other translators, but Lady Ann Bacon's translation was that which presented it in Queen Elizabeth's time to English readers, and it had the advantage of revision by the Queen's Archbishop of Canterbury, her coadjutor in the establishment of the Reformed Church of England, Matthew Parker. It was published, with no name of author or translator on the title-page, as "An Apologie or answere in defence of the Churche of Englande, with a briefe and plaine declaration of the true Religion professed or used in the same." The book was prefaced by a letter, "To the right honorable learned and vertuous Ladie, A. B." [Ann Bacon] "M. C. wisheth from God grace, honoure, and felicitie," where M. C. signifies Matthew Cantuar, Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, whom Lady Ann Bacon had made her judge, and whose judgment, the letter says, her book had singularly pleased.

Lady Ann Bacon was the second daughter of Sir Anthony Cooke, who was tutor to King Edward VI. Sir Anthony gave to his five daughters a most liberal education. His eldest daughter, Mildred, married Sir William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burleigh, while Ann became the second wife of the Lord Keeper, Sir Nicholas Bacon. Their father had made Mildred and Ann two of the most learned women in England.

John Jewel was forty years old when he wrote the "Apology." He was born in Devonshire in 1522, on the 24th of May, at the village of Buden, near Ilfracombe. He studied at Oxford, where he became tutor and preacher, graduated as B.D. in 1551, and was presented to the rectory of Sunningwell. At the accession of Queen Mary he bowed to the royal authority, but he was a warm friend and disciple of Peter Martyr, who had come to England in 1547, at the invitation of Edward VI., to take the chair of Divinity at Oxford. On the accession of Queen Mary, Peter Martyr (who was born at Florence in 1500, and whose family name was Vermigli) returned to Strasburg, and went thence to Zurich, where he died in 1562. Jewel, repenting of his assent to the new sovereign's authority in matters of religion, followed his friend Peter Martyr across the water, and became vice-master of a college at Strasburg. Upon the accession of Elizabeth, in 1588 (sic, should be 1558), Jewel came back, and he was one of the sixteen Protestants appointed by the Queen to dispute before her with a like number of Catholics.

In 1559 John Jewel was appointed a commissioner for securing, in the West of England, conformity with the newly-arranged Church service, and he had to see that the Queen's orders were obeyed in the churches of his native county. Before the end of the same year he was consecrated Bishop of Salisbury. He was most zealous in performance of all duties of his charge. To his good offices young Richard Hooker owed his opportunity of training for the service of the Church. Among Jewel's writings, this Apology or Defence of the Church of England was the most important; but he worked incessantly, and shortened his life by limiting himself to four hours of sleep, taken between midnight and four in the morning. Bishop Jewel died on the 21st of September, 1571 (sic, other sources concur on September 23), before he had reached the age of fifty.

His Apologia did not go without a response: Thomas Harding, who had been the treasury of Salisbury, debated with Jewel on Anglican doctrines and its sources. The Catholic Encyclopedia has this entry:

Controversialist; b. at Combe Martin, Devon, 1516 d. at Louvain, Sept., 1572. The registers of Winchester school show that after attending Barnstaple school he obtained a scholarship there in 1528, being then twelve years old. If this information be correct, he was three years younger than is commonly stated. He went to New College, Oxford, in 1534, was admitted a Fellow in 1536, and took his Master's degree in 1542, in which year he was appointed Hebrew professor by Henry VIII. Having been ordained priest he became chaplain to Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorchester and afterwards Duke of Suffolk. He at first embraced the Reformed opinions, but on the accession of Mary he declared himself a Catholic, despite the upbraidings of his friend Lady Jane Frey, and the events of his later life proved his sincerity. In 1554 he took the degree of Doctor of Divinity and was appointed prebendary of Winchester, becoming treasurer of Salisbury in the following year. He also acted as chaplain and confessor to Bishop Gardiner. When Elizabeth became queen he was deprived of his preferments and imprisoned (Sander, "Report to Cardinal Moroni"). Subsequently he retired to Louvain to escape persecution. There he served St. Gertrude's church and devoted himself to study and to his long controversy with Jewel, the Bishop of Salisbury and champion of Protestantism.

In 1564 he published "An answere to Maister Juelles Challenge", Jewel having undertaken to conform to the Catholic Church if any Catholic writer could prove that any of the Fathers of six centuries taught any of twenty-seven articles he selected. Jewel replied first in a sermon (which Harding answered in a broadsheet "To Maister John Jeuell", printed at Antwerp in 1565) and then in a book. Against the latter Harding wrote "A Rejoindre to M. Jewel's Replie" (Antwerp, 1566) and "A Rejoindre to M. Jewel's Replie against the Sacrifice of the Mass" (Louvain, 1567). Meanwhile he had become engaged in a second controversy with the same author, and, in his confutation of a book entitled an "Apologie of the Church of England" (Antwerp, 1565), he attacked an anonymous work, the authorship of which Jewel admitted in his "Defence of the Apologie of the Churche of Englande". Harding retorted with "A Detection of Sundrie Foule Errours, Lies, Sclaunders, corruptions, and other false Dealinges, touching Doctrine and other matters uttered and practized by M. Jewel" (Louvain, 1568). In 1566 Pius V appointed Harding and Dr. Sander Apostolic delegates to England, with special powers of giving faculties to priests and of forbidding Catholics to frequent Protestant services. Harding was of great assistance to his exiled fellow-countrymen and to Dr. Allen in founding the English College at Douai. He was buried (16 Sept., 1572) in the Church of St. Gertrude, Louvain.

Image Credit of Salisbury Cathedral photograph from Wikipedia Commons.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

England's Bloody Reformation

Peter Marshall writes for the BBC History Magazine (May 2017 issue):

. . . Recent scholarship on the changes taking place after Henry VIII’s break with the papacy tends to assert their relatively peaceful character, and points to continuities across the Reformation divide. Certainly, some important things didn’t change – most folk carried on worshipping in the same church, for example. It’s also true that England witnessed no slaughter on the 
scale of the German Peasants’ Rebellion of 1524–25 (when as many as 100,000 people were butchered), or the Wars of Religion breaking out in France after 1562 (in which as many as 4 million may have lost their lives).

But only by such selective comparisons does England’s experience of the Reformation look ‘peaceful’. Thousands died in the convulsions of 1549, and blood was spilled in encounters between armies fighting for religious causes in every decade between the 1530s and 1570s: after the Pilgrimage of Grace (a rising in the north of England against Henry VIII’s break with Rome in 1536–37); during Wyatt’s Rebellion (against Mary I in 1554); and in the Rising of the Northern Earls (a Catholic attempt to overthrow Elizabeth I in 1569–70). Over the same period and beyond, hundreds more were put to death for opposing the state’s religious policies. People were willing to die, and to kill, because they rightly believed that momentous, unprecedented, and perhaps irreversible transformations were taking place. For good or ill, England’s first exit from a European union, anchored on the church, rather than the Treaty of Rome, was a hard, 
not a soft one.


He analyses the divisions between Catholics and "Protestant" Evangelicals throughout the reigns of Henry VIII and his children. Marshall discusses the central positions of both the Catholic Mass--for which the BBC insists on using the lowercase ("mass") and the Evangelical Bible and describes various instances of violence and bloodshed. He concludes:

The Reformation in England ‘succeeded’, 
in the sense that people born after Elizabeth’s accession, and coming to adulthood before the turn of the 17th century, usually identified as Protestants. Their cultural outlook was shaped by the Prayer Book, the English Bible and a sense – long to endure in the English 
psyche – that Catholic foreigners were 
not to be trusted.
[nor native-born Catholics!]

Yet to see the story of the English Reformation solely as the transformation of a Catholic country into a Protestant one minimises the extent to which its most vital result was an entrenched religious and cultural pluralism. [a pluralism the government constantly wanted to suppress] It is also to misconstrue the significance of the process itself. Through decades of incessant public debate, punctuated by episodes of intense suffering and violence, the very meaning of ‘religion’ changed. Before the Reformation, the word meant an attitude of mind, devoted service of God. Afterwards, it came to signify a programme, party or identity: ‘my religion’, ‘the true religion’.

The realisation, by significant numbers of English people, that their monarch was not 
on the side of ‘true religion’ had momentous, long-lasting effects for political authority. That kinsfolk or neighbours might also be wrong-believers was equally novel and troubling. Five centuries on, the challenge 
of how to live non-violently with difference remains a very real one.

Those sentences, "Through decades of incessant public debate, punctuated by episodes of intense suffering and violence, the very meaning of ‘religion’ changed. Before the Reformation, the word meant an attitude of mind, devoted service of God. Afterwards, it came to signify a programme, party or identity: ‘my religion’, ‘the true religion’." demonstrate the influence of John Bossy's view of religion before and after the Protestant Reformation. Eamon Duffy cited that thesis often in his book, Reformation Divided. Marshall's article was written to promote his book, Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation. As he notes in the preface to that book--and in this artcle--whatever victory Protestants achieved in England over Catholics, it was Pyrrhic: it weakened the Monarchy, destroyed the bonds of community, and drastically changed religion from focusing on God to focusing on the self. That was not what Henry, Cromwell, or Cranmer wanted to accomplish.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Chidiock Tichborne to His Wife


Margaret Bowen collected Some Famous Love Letters, published in 1937 and included Chidiock Tichborne's to his wife, written the night before his execution on September 20, 1586. She describes him as:

A Roman Catholic gentleman who joined the Babington Conspirators in their desperate attempt to free Mary Queen of Scots and set her on the English Throne; these men were mostly high-minded fanatics, and though Tichborne and five others undertook to assassinate Elizabeth, they were influenced by the Papal Ban on a woman considered by the Catholics as a heretic usurper and believed that they were acting under Heavenly guidance. It would be difficult to believe evil of the writer of the following letter penned in prison shortly before facing a barbarously cruel death.

The letter:

To the most loving wife alive, I commend me unto her, and desire God to bless her with all happiness, pray for her dead husband, and be of good comfort, for I hope in Jesus Christ this morning to see the face of my Maker and Redeemer in the most joyful throne of His glorious kingdom. Commend me to all my friends, and desire them to pray for me, and in all charity to pardon me, if I have offended them. Commend me to my six sisters, poor desolate souls, advise them to serve God, for without Him no goodness is to be expected. Were it possible, my little sister Bab, the darling of my race, might be bred by her, God would reward her; but I do her wrong I confess, that hath by my desolate negligence too little for herself, to add a further charge unto her. Dear wife forgive me, that have by these means so much impoverished her fortunes; patience and pardon, good wife I crave—make of these our necessities a virtue, and lay no further burthen on my neck than hath already been. There be certain debts that I owe, and because I know not the order of the law, piteous it hath taken from me all, forfeited by my course of offence to Her Majesty, I cannot advise thee to benefit me herein, but if there fall out wherewithal, let them be discharged for God's sake. I will not that you trouble yourself with the performance of these matters, my own heart, but make it known to my uncles, and desire them, for the honour of God and ease of their soul, to take care of them as they may, and especially care of my sisters' bringing up the burthen is now laid on them. Now, Sweet-cheek, what is left to bestow on thee? A small jointure, a small recompense for thy deserving, these legacies following to be thine own. God of His infinite goodness give thee grace always to remain His true and faithful servant, that through the merits of His bitter and blessed passion thou mayst become in good time of His kingdom with the blessed women in heaven. May the Holy Ghost comfort thee with all necessaries for the wealth of thy soul in the world to come, where until it shall please Almighty God I meet thee, farewell loving wife, farewell the dearest to me on all the earth, farewell!

By the hand from the heart of thy most faithful loving husband.

This Elegy was enclosed with the letter:

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

More about the poem here.

The Tichborne family was solidly, adamantly, recusantly Catholic: Chidiock's cousins Father Thomas Tichborne and his brother Nicholas were executed (because Thomas was a Catholic priest and his brother helped him to escape, in 1602 and 1601, respectively). They have both been declared Venerable but have not been included among those beatified. More about the Chidiock family here and more about the Babington family, including the family's chantry chapel, here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Third Annual Inklings Festival: OOM-PAH OctoberFest!

The Eighth Day Institute has announced the dates, speaker, and location for the Inklings Festival. Registration is open:

Our first two Inklings Festivals were a great success. But Kansas summers are scorchers and we all experienced that crazy heat both years (101 degrees in 2015, 106 degrees in 2016!).

So this year we've decided to make it an Octoberfest. And as a bonus, we've scheduled it in conjunction with the annual anniversary party for Eighth Day Books, which falls on the third weekend of October. So we'll be celebrating the Inklings and the 29th anniversary of Eighth Day Books!

Similar to the first two years, the emphasis is threefold: Inklings, Craftsmanship & Local.

World on Fire: How the Inklings Responded with Hope & Creativity
Plenary Lectures by Joseph Pearce
FRIDAY
7:00 pm    Lecture One at Journey the Way Church: "Tolkien & Lewis among the War Poets"
Tolkien & Lewis both fought in World War One, experiencing what Tolkien called the "animal horror" of trench warfare. The first lecture will place the two writers in the wider context of other writers who fought in the war, comparing their response to the war with that of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen in particular.
8:30 pm    Anniversary reception at Eighth Day Books
SATURDAY
8:00 am    Doors open at Journey the Way Church for arrival and registration
9:00 am    Convocation and Introduction
9:30 am    Lecture Two - Beyond the Waste Land: Hope and War in the Work of Lewis
In the wake of World War One a spirit of cynicism prevailed in what became known as the Waste Land Generation. Lewis responded with a hope that transcended the despair of nihilism. The second lecture will focus on the transcendent hope in Lewis' work.
10:30 am  Break
11:00 am  Lecture Three - War & Mordor: Hope and War in the Work of Tolkien
Following on from lecture two, the third lecture will examine Tolkien's response to the experience of war, his horror at the advent of weapons of mass destruction, and his defence of the idea of a just war to defend civilization from the forces of evil.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Review: Sons of Saint Patrick

The Faith and Reason Institute sent me a review copy of Sons of Saint Patrick: A History of the Archbishops of New York, from Dagger John to Timmytown by George Marlin and Brad Miner, published by Ignatius Press:

Sons of Saint Patrick tells the story of America's premiere Catholic see, the archdiocese of New York—from the coming of French Jesuit priests in the seventeenth century to the early years of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. It includes many intriguing facets of the history of Catholicism in New York, including:
~the early persecution of and legal discrimination against Catholics
~the waves of catholic (sic) immigrants, most notably from Ireland
~the Church's rise to power under New York's first archbishop, "Dagger" John Hughes
~the emerging awareness in the Vatican of New York's preeminence
~the clashes between America and Rome over the "Americanist" heresy
~the role New York's archbishops have played in the life of America's greatest city—and in the world

The book focuses on the ten archbishops of New York and shows how they became the indispensable partners of governors and presidents, especially during the war-torn twentieth century. Also discussed are the struggles of the most recent archbishops in the face of demographic changes, financial crises, and clerical sex-abuse cases.


Sons of Saint Patrick is an objective but colorful portrait of ten extraordinary men—men who were saints and sinners, politicians and pastors, and movers and shakers who as much as any other citizens have made New York one of the greatest cities in the world. All ten archbishops have been Irish, either by birth or heritage, but given New York's changing ethnic profile, Cardinal Timothy Dolan may be the last son of Saint Patrick to serve as its archbishop.

In about 500 pages, the authors cover the history of the Catholic Church in New York through its ten archbishops. The history of the area before the establishment of the diocese, citing the presence of St. Isaac Jogues--who was hard to kill--and the transition from Dutch to English control, demonstrates the dangers and hostility Catholics would face in New York City. Each archbishop is given a nickname:

The Gardener: John Joseph Hughes
The First: John Joseph McCloskey
The Roman: Michael Augustine Corrigan
The Builder: John Murphy Farley
The Bureaucrat: Patrick Joseph Hayes
The Power Broker: Francis Joseph Spellman
The Equalizer: Terence James Cooke
The Admiral: John Joseph O'Connor
The Realist: Edward Michael Egan
The Evangelist: Timothy Michael Dolan

For each archbishop, the authors provide background on his family and education, his ordination and priestly career before being named archbishop, and then a description of his achievements and failures. They include details about the archbishop's relationships with the priests of the diocese and the politicians in power. Each chapter also describes the personality of the archbishop and his administrative style, hands-off, detail-oriented, and in-between. The archbishops from first to last wrestle with government for the sake of the Catholics in New York so that they are treated fairly. Cardinal Spellman confronted Eleanor Roosevelt and others over legislation for public and private schools distributed by the Federal government in 1949, for example, and her fearful anti-Catholicism shows. The Barden Amendment, sponsored by a congressman from North Carolina, was defeated when it was discovered that the congressman had supported funding for Protestant schools in his home state. As time passes in the story, the archbishops face greater challenges to their efforts to uphold Church teaching and religious freedom as artificial birth control, abortion, and so-called same-sex marriage are not only legalized but imposed on the Church in her work in education, family services, healthcare, etc.

There are some unpleasant revelations: Archbishop Hayes not only disregarded and neglected the major seminary for the archdiocese, St. Joseph's/Dunwoodie, but he created unhealthy and unsafe conditions for the seminarians and faculty studying there. Archbishop Spellman went along too easily, the authors seem to indicate, with the eminent domain arguments of architect Robert Moses in the building of Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side, displacing "seven thousand mostly Catholic families" and destroying St. Matthew's church of West Sixty-Eighth St. 

Archbishop O'Connor, one of my heroes, hated the rich so much that he insulted donors; he thought every rich person had grown up with a silver spoon in his or her mouth and "led leisurely, superfluous lives." Many rich donors--some of whom had grown up in blue-collar, working-class families just like his and had worked hard to become successful-- and who wanted to make substantial donations when visiting O'Connor "walked out with the check still in their breast pockets" because of his stated prejudice against them. (The same issue comes up in the last chapter about Archbishop Dolan because of comments Pope Francis made about wealthy people in 2014).

I know that the book is focused on the archbishops of New York City, but I do wish there could have been some more supporting material about the archdiocese--a map of the changing territory, a table of the census of Catholics through the years--just to add context. Was there something particularly special about St. Matthew's on West Sixty-Eighth Street?

This is a remarkable, well-researched, sometimes chatty, well-written book. It's more than just a series of biographies because the authors describe the links and the transitions between archbishop and archbishop. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Novena to Our Lady of Walsingham


The Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham has published a novena to start today in preparation for the feast on September 24 (which this year is a Sunday) and invites us to visit a special Facebook page each day:

This Novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham is the beginning of a National Novena of Prayer for our country which will help us prepare spiritually for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary in 2020 on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

It may be prayed at any time, but especially in preparation for and celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham on the 24th September, before a pilgrimage to Walsingham, and to prepare for the Feast of the Annunciation.

Our Lady of Walsingham – pray for us!

According to the Independent Catholic News, the novena has been revised to prepare for that re-dedication:

“It is hoped that through this Novena every part of the Church in England and Wales will deeply embrace Our Lady of Walsingham as the powerful intercessor for these lands,” said Mgr Armitage. “The Novena will also prepare the way for the great moment for us in England to re-own with true zeal, love and awe, the great spiritual heritage which is ours of being the Dowry of Mary.”

“This Novena in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham is the beginning of a National Novena of Prayer for our country which will help us prepare spiritually for the re-dedication of England as the Dowry of Mary in 2020 on the Solemnity of the Annunciation,” said Mgr Armitage.


"When England returns to Walsingham, Our Lady will return to England."--Pope Leo XIII

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Catholic Continental Ambitions


This book is on my wish list. Stefan McDaniel reviews it for First Things (access may be limited, unless you are a subscriber):

In his final book, Continental Ambitions: Roman Catholics in North America; The Colonial Experience, the late Kevin Starr set out to dispel this perception. Continental Ambitions tells the story of Catholic conquest, exploration, and settlement in North America (involving Norse, Spanish, French, and British Catholics), emphasizing the relevance of this story to understanding the present-day continental United States. “The history of Catholicism in America,” says Starr in his preface, “is not simply Catholic history. It is American history . . . part of the warp and woof, the very fabric and meaning, of American life.” . . .

Starr also brings out general issues in Catholic history, providing much matter for meditation. He is keenly aware, for instance, that as the Church works the hard clay of cultural, political, and economic reality, the resistance always generates contradictions and anomalies. How are Spanish Franciscans in the Southwest to create their Indian-Catholic utopia without the protection of the very Spanish soldiers whose criminality alienates and scandalizes the Indians? How to sustain the apostolate of Ville-Marie, meant to make the Indians sons of God, without selling them the guns and brandy that enthrall them to the devil? How can there be any Catholic freedom in Maryland without wealth from black slavery?

One general moral to be drawn from the history Starr relates is that intellectual clarity and practical competence are much more valuable in creating an authentic Christian society than is the mystical exuberance that is currently in fashion. This becomes clear when one compares the North American record of the Franciscans on one hand with that of the Jesuits and Dominicans on the other. Franciscans indulged extravagant theologies of Indians as the new chosen people, but it took cold Dominican pedantry to define and guard the Indians’ most basic rights as human persons. Franciscans let fly thunderous condemnations of the soldiers who abused their Indian charges, but it was the Jesuits, with their traditional insistence on (as Starr says) “polity, power, results,” who got Spanish soldiers on their payroll—that is, on a leash.

While praising many aspects of Starr's book, McDaniel also recommends another to fill some gaps he finds in Continental Ambitions--Our Land and Our Lady by Daniel Sargent:

. . . Our Land and Our Lady is an irenic and refreshing book. It reminds us that America, like many of its current residents, may have been raised Protestant, but it was baptized Catholic. Almost every region was first discovered, explored, and charted by ultra-Catholic Spaniards and Frenchmen. From the Bay of the Mother of God (the Chesapeake) to the River of the Immaculate Conception (the Mississippi) to the Bay of San Francisco, these Catholics christened the land with Catholic names. Far too often, these Catholics (especially the Spanish) went on to promptly profane the land with slaughter and slavery. But they also consecrated it with the blood of martyrdom—profusely in the Southwest, but also in Auriesville, New York, and by the Rappahannock, near Bull Run. Even British Catholics managed to play their part, discreetly devoting a Chesapeake colony to Mary, and there instituting a regime of tolerance based on Catholic humanism and prudence, not on the axioms of Locke. Even in the era of the Anglo-Protestant republic, the Church blessed our country with a true Enlightenment: heroic Catholic evangelization, such as Pierre-Jean De Smet’s work with the Indians of the Northwest, and the accessible Catholic education provided by vast armies of nuns. Finally, Catholics like the fathers of Maryknoll brought America to a sort of Catholic maturity when they harnessed its legendary wealth, energy, and goodwill for foreign missions, making it a spiritual center from which the Gospel is proclaimed to the ends of the earth.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sir Thomas Tresham, RIP

In a paper about the Catholic recusants who were held in the Bishops Palace at Ely during the reign of Elizabeth I, Francis Young comments on Sir Thomas Tresham, who died on September 11, 1605, just about three months before the Gunpowder Plot was discovered:

Sir Thomas Tresham . . . is a remarkable figure, a true 'Renaissance man' and polymath who defended himself and others against persecution and stood at the forefront of English Catholic culture. He amassed a huge personal library, bringing at least some of his books with him to Ely, and even purchased new books during his imprisonment. Tresham used his imprisonment as an opportunity to explore a personal mystical theology of his own invention, based on numerology. In 1593 Tresham had a mystical experience in the Long Gallery, where he occupied the space at the west end,while a servant was reading aloud to him from a book by the English Jesuit Robert Parsons. At the moment when the Trinity was mentioned, Tresham heard 'three loud knocks, as it were with an iron hammer' on a wainscot table close to where they were sitting. Tresham interpreted this as a sign from God to honour the Holy Trinity, and accordingly he sent instructions to his wife at Rushton in Northamptonshire to be begin work on what is surely one of England's most remarkable buildings, Rushton Triangular Lodge. [Image Credit from Wikipedia Commons, published under a CC by SA 2.0 license]

Thomas Tresham, born in 1543, was the son of John and Eleanor (Catesby), but his father died young and his grandfather, also named Thomas, helped raise him. He was knighted by Elizabeth in 1575 but became a Catholic in 1580. As this site explains, that cost him:

Over the following years he was subjected to fines that drained much of his wealth and was even imprisoned in Wisbech Castle for his beliefs. Between 1561 and 1593 he spent approximately 15 years in prison or confined to his estate. Unable to express his faith in any conventional way he decided to construct a series of buildings based on the number three and its relationship to the holy trinity as proposed by the Roman Catholics. In addition, each building would have other mystical mathematical elements worked into their design. The enigmatic Triangular Lodge at Rushton was completed in 1597 but Sir Thomas died on the 11th September 1605 shortly before his son Francis was arrested for high treason on the 12th November 1605 and before Lyveden-New-Bield could be finished.

Francis Tresham--who might have been the one who sent the warning letter to Lord Mounteagle--died in the Tower of London on December 23, 1605. Thomas's second son Lewis inherited the estates and was named a Baronet by James I in 1611 and knighted in 1612. After Lewis's son William died without an heir, the baronetcy became extinct.