Thursday, August 25, 2016

Elizabeth I and Her Catholic Subjects

Jessie Childs, the author of God's Traitors: Terror & Faith in Elizabethan England, had this article ("Elizabeth I's War with England's Catholics") published in the May 2014 issue of the BBC History Magazine:

In 1828, builders removing a lintel over a doorway at Rushton Hall in Northamptonshire were surprised to see an old, beautifully bound book come down with the rubble. They decided to investigate and knocked through a thick partition wall, exposing a recess, about 5 feet long and 15 inches wide. Inside, wrapped up in a large sheet, was an enormous bundle of papers and books that had once belonged to Sir Thomas Tresham, a Catholic gentleman in the reign of Elizabeth I.

There have been other discoveries in other counties: a secret room chanced upon by a boy exploring a derelict wing of Harvington Hall, near Kidderminster, in 1894; a small wax disc bearing the imprint of a cross and a lamb (an Agnus Dei), found in a box nailed to a joist by an electrician working in the attic of Lyford Grange, Berkshire, in 1959; and a ‘pedlar’s chest’ containing vestments, a chalice and a portable altar, bricked in at Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire. Each bears testimony to the resourcefulness and courage with which Catholic men and women tried to keep their faith in Protestant England.

Under Elizabeth I, Catholics grew adept at concealment. Their lifeblood – the Mass – was banned. Anyone who heard it risked a fine and prison. Hence the need for secret Mass-kits and altar-stones small enough to slip into the pocket. Their priests – essential agents of sacramental grace – were outlawed.

Reconciling anyone to Rome (and, indeed, being reconciled) was made treason. After 1585, any priest ordained abroad since 1559, and found on English soil, was automatically deemed a traitor and his lay host a felon, both punishable by death. Hence the need for priest-holes, like the one at Harvington Hall, or at Hindlip, where a feeding tube was embedded in the masonry.

Even personal devotional items like rosary beads or the Agnus Dei found at Lyford were regarded with suspicion, since a statute of 1571 had ruled that the receipt of such ‘superstitious’ items, blessed by the pope or his priests, would lead to forfeiture of lands and goods.

It is impossible to know how many Catholics there were in Elizabethan England, for few were willing to be categorised and counted. John Bossy (defining a Catholic as one who habitually, though not necessarily regularly, used the services of a priest) estimated some 40,000 in 1603, less than one per cent of the population.

Read the rest there (for as long as it's available!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Stained Glass: Sacred Heart in Colwich


We drove out to Colwich, Kansas on Saturday to visit a fruit stand and then stopped in Sacred Heart Catholic Church for a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and morning prayer. We noted how the stained glass windows closer to the altar and sanctuary seemed to be older--definitely in a different style than the windows depicting the Beatitudes further back in the nave.

The Holy Family at work (detail):


The death of St. Joseph (patron saint of happy, holy deaths), also a detail:


This picture of St. Anne and the Blessed Virgin window shows the architectural structure around the image of Mary and her mother:


And this window dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary:


Three of the four windows at the front of the church had that green background and architectural frame--the St. Joseph window had a blue background and different architecture at the top, so must have been added or perhaps replaced an older window.

The beatitude windows were definitely added later with very different artwork and design.This one depicts one of the American Martyrs, perhaps St. Isaac Jogues, SJ with the beatitude, "Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake".


These churches built by German immigrants always impress me and my husband--the artistry, the care, the love lavished upon the parish church shines through as surely as the sun through the stained glass windows. I could not find any history of the church or how the stained glass windows were procured or designed. We plan to visit several rural churches in the area this fall.

Adventures in Good Music

Listening to a classical music station early yesterday morning, we heard the second movement of Beethoven's Pathetique piano sonata (number 8). It reminded us immediately of the program Adventures in Good Music hosted on public radio for years by Karl Haas. We expected to hear his greeting, "Hello, everyone." As The New York Times described the show in his obituary on February 8, :

Hallmarks of "Adventures in Good Music" included a snippet of Beethoven's "Pathétique" sonata played at the beginning and end of each broadcast (sometimes by Mr. Haas himself), Mr. Haas's slightly accented English, and the punning titles he thought up for his programs, including "Haydn, Go Seek," "From Stern to Bow" (about the violinist Isaac Stern), "Baroque and in Debt" and "The Joy of Sax."

One listener wrote Haas in the 1960's to say that it was a "longhair program with a crew cut," a description he was happy to repeat. Some longhairs looked down their noses a bit at Mr. Haas, but that didn't matter to thousands of regular listeners.


I read his book Inside Music years ago too, and it is still in print! He certainly was popularizer of classical music, confident that anyone could appreciate it, even without a music degree or even being able to read music or play an instrument. Those abilities and that training certainly enhance the experience, but anyone who has the leisure to listen to the music will "understand" it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

From "Margaret Pole": Thomas More's Trial and Execution


Amberley Publishing provides these bullet points to demonstrate what makes this book special:

  • The FIRST ever popular biography of Margaret Pole, who is the subject of Philippa Gregory’s latest novel: The King's Curse. [note that this distinguishes this book from Hazel Pierce’s biography Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership (University of Wales Press, 2003)]
  •  Endorsement from LEANDA DE LISLE, author of Tudor: The Family Story, will appear on the cover: “At last, a biography of one of the most powerful and fascinating women of the Tudor period: the tragic and dramatic story of Margaret Pole, the last Plantagenet, has too long been overlooked.' 
  • Tudors have never been so popular. The BBC TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy Wolf Hall has been a massive hit, helping to maintain high level of interest in all things Tudor. 
  • Margaret Pole had connections to all manner of visitor attractions, including Farleigh Hungerford Castle, Somerset, where she was born,and the Tower of London.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 7, "Unheard-Of Cruelty", describing the trial and execution of Sir Thomas More.

More's trial took place on 1 July. Among the judges were Thomas, Duke of Norfolk (uncle to Anne Boleyn), Charles, Duke of Suffolk (married to the king's sister Mary), Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire (the queen's father), George Boleyn, Lord Rochford (the queen's brother), Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor, and Thomas Cromwell. Henry Pole, Lord Montague, was also appointed to the commission of oyer and terminer to try More, but Duncan Derrett notes that he did not take his place there. This may have been due to indisposition (as we shall see shortly, he was reported dangerously ill a few days later), but it may have also been that he found an excuse to avoid sitting in judgment of a man with whom his family had been on excellent terms. Years before, the apparently ailing More had written to John Clement and Reginald Pole, then at Oxford, to thank them for their solicitude for their health, and had added, 'I thank you, my dear Pole, doubly for deigning to procure for me the advice of so skillful a physician, and no less for obtaining from your mother--noblest and best of women, and fully worthy of such a son, the remedy prescribed and for getting it made up'. More had also proudly informed his scholarly daughter, Margaret Roper, that 'a young man of the noblest rank and of the widest attainments in literature . . . as conspicuous for his piety as he is for his learning' had been dumbfounded to realize that his daughter was the author of a letter More had shown him; the man whose opinion pleased More so much was likely Reginald Pole.

The star witness was Solicitor General Richard Rich, who had turned up at More's prison cell in June to seize his books and writing materials and, it appears, to entrap him into treason. Rich claimed that as his companions busied themselves with removing More's cherished books, he entered into a discussion with More, who stated that Parliament had no authority to make the king the supreme head of the church. Too weak to stand for his trial, More nonetheless mounted a vigorous defense, accusing Rich of perjury and attacking his character. Telling Rich that he was 'sorrier for your perjury than for my own peril', he reminded his accuser that they lived in the same parish, where 'you were esteemed to be very light of tongue, a great dicer, and of no commendable fame. And so in your house at the Temple, where has been your chief bringing up, were you likewise accounted'. Turning to his judges, More asked, 'Can it therefore seem likely to your honourable lordships that I would, in so weighty a cause, so unadvisedly overshoot myself as to trust Master Rich, a man by me always reputed for one of very little truth . . . that I would utter to him the secrets of my conscience touching the king's supremacy?' More's defense rattled Rich sufficiently for him to call his companions at the interview, Sir Richard Southwell and Master Thomas Palmer, to corroborate his story, but to no avail. Both men claimed, rather improbably, to have been so absorbed in seizing the bibliophilic More's library that they had paid no heed to the conversation between him and Rich.

Despite this poor evidentiary showing, More was promptly found guilty. But More was not yet done. As Audley, the chancellor, prepared to pass the grim sentence upon him, the prisoner, himself a lawyer and former chancellor, interrupted to remind him that it was the custom for ask the prisoner why judgment should not be given against him then to protest against his indictment as 'grounded upon an Act of Parliament directly repugnant to the laws of God and His Holy Church'. Continuing in this vein, More managed to thoroughly discomfit his judges, but the victory was fleeting, ending as soon as Audley resumed his task of pronouncing the sentence. More's execution was scheduled for 6 July, the same day the court was departing on a progress.

Not wanting his hair shirt exposed to public view as he was stripped to his undergarments during his execution, More sent it, along with an affectionate letter, to his daughter on 5 July. The next morning, Sir Thomas Pope came from the king and his council to announce, as More had already surmised, that he would die that day. Pope brought the order that More refrain from 'using many words' on the scaffold, but also assured him that the king would allow his family to attend his burial. With Pope's departure, More dressed in his best clothing for his execution, only to be dissuaded by the Lieutenant of the Tower, William Kingston (who in less than a year would be presiding over an even more high-profile execution) that the executioner, who would be getting More's clothing as a perquisite of the job, was 'worthless fellow' who would make ill use of it. More settled for sending the executioner a gold coin known as an angel and changing into a less costly garment. Then, in William Roper's words:

And so was he brought by Mr. Lieutenant out of the Tower, and from thence led towards the place of execution, where going up the scaffold, which was so weak that it was ready to fall, he said to Mr. Lieutenant, "I pray you, I pray you, Mr. Lieutenant, see me safe up, and for my coming down let me shift for myself." Then desired he all the people thereabouts to pray for him, and to bear witness with him, that he should then suffer death in and for the faith of the holy Catholic Church, which done he kneeled down, and after his prayers said, he turned to the executioner, and with a cheerful countenance spake unto him. "Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thine office, my neck is very short. Take heed therefore thou shoot not awry for saving thine honesty." So passed Sir Thomas More out of this world to God.

Reginald Pole would later write to the king, of the deaths of More and the rest, 'From the time that I heard of the slaughter of those men, I do not deny that I lay senseless and unable to speak for almost a month, so stunned was I by the novelty and wonder of such unheard-of cruelty'.

The entire chapter recounts the executions or martyrdoms of those who had opposed Henry VIII's religious supremacy: the six Carthusians, Father Richard Reynolds of Syon Abbey, Father John Haile, and Bishop John Fisher. As Higginbotham narrates those stories, she interweaves the fate of Katherine of Aragon and her daughter Mary, especially after Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn wed and Elizabeth is born, and of course, Margaret Pole, dismissed from Mary's household--and Reginald Pole, who leaves England, not to return for more than 20 years, during the reign of Mary I.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Coincidences on August 22

On August 22nd, 1553, John Dudley, the First Duke of Northumberland, was executed for his role in the attempted coup d'etat to place his daughter-in-law, Jane Dudley (nee Grey) on the throne, diverting the succession from Mary Tudor as Queen of England and Ireland. 


On August 22nd, 1572, Thomas Percy, Seventh Earl of Northumberland, was executed for his role in the Northern Rebellion, which might have had the result of deposing Elizabeth I and placing Mary, the erstwhile Queen of Scots on the throne of England and Ireland (and Scotland). 


What a fascinating coincidence, that two scions of the same household would die on the same date, with 19 years separating their executions! These two men have another thing in common: at the block both of them spoke strongly of their Catholic faith. John Dudley reverted to Catholicism while in the Tower of London--perhaps he hoped for mercy from Mary--and he publicly retracted and regretted the efforts of the Edwardine government to introduce Calvinist reforms, warning the people against listening to deceptive preachers teaching new things:

And one thing more good people I have to say unto you, which I am chiefly moved to do for discharge of my conscience; that is to warn you and exhort you to beware of these seditious preachers, and teachers of new doctrine, which pretend to preach God's word, but in very deed they preach their own fancies, who were never able to explicate themselves, they know not today what they would have tomorrow, there is no stay in their teaching; doctrine, they open the book, but they cannot shut it again. Take heed how you enter into strange opinions or new doctrine, which hath done no small hurt in this realm, and hath justly procured the ire and wrath of god upon us, as well may appear who so list to call to remembrance the manyfold plagues that this realm hath been touched with all since we dissevered ourselves from the catholic church of Christ, and from the doctrine which hath been received by the holy apostles, martyrs, and all saints, and used through all realms christened since Christ.

And I verily believe, that all the plagues that have chanced to this realm of late years since afore the death of king Henry the eight, hath justly fallen upon us, for that we have deuvded [divided] ourself from the rest of Christendom whereof we be but as a spark in comparison: Have we not had war, famine, pestilence, the death of our king, rebellion, sedition among ourselves, conspiracies? Have we not had sundry erroneous opinions sprung up among us in this realm, since we have forsaken the unity of the catholic Church? and what other plagues be there that we have not felt?

Thomas Percy was stubbornly recalcitrant, in the Elizabethan government's view, as a Catholic, not repenting of his betrayal of Elizabeth, but warning the English that they were schismatic. While he was in prison, and on the scaffold, he was urged to conform to the Church of England and thus save his life, but he declared himself a lifelong Catholic and would not budge. In defiance of the norms of executions, he did not repent of his sins against the queen or warn others against committing such sins after him--his only regret was for the common people who suffered for their zeal in defending the Catholic Church. He is one of the Ten Blessed Martyrs of Sussex and a stained glass window honors him in Sacred Heart Church, Petworth. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1895.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Updates and Deadlines


I apologize for the lack of blogging: I'm working on a project with a fast approaching deadline! I'm writing an article for the Tudor Life magazine about The Pilgrimage of Grace, exploring the meaning of that title and the banner of that pilgrimage depicting the Five Wounds of Jesus.

In the meantime, I've updated my "Presentations and Interviews" and by "Other Publications" tabs. The former includes a teaser from the Spiritual Life Center of my presentation on Blessed John Henry Newman on Faith, Family, and Friends, which I think went well. The latter includes the announcement that my article on Papal Bulls and other official documents will be in the September/October issue of OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, August 19, 2016

More in Washington


This is just a teaser from the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, DC:

On September 16, the Shrine will open a temporary exhibit, God's Servant First: The Life and Legacy of Thomas More. Through relics, artifacts, manuscripts, and printed books, the exhibit will explore the culture of More’s life and times, as well as examine his wider historical significance.

I'll post more details when they become available (shouldn't they refer to him as Saint Thomas More?)

What I'm Reading Now: Margaret Pole

On Tuesday, August 23, I'll be one of the stops on the Amberley Publishing blog-tour for Susan Higginbotham's Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower. I'm reading it now and looking forward to following the tour. From Amberley, the blurb:

Of the many executions ordered by Henry VIII, surely the most horrifying was that of sixty-seven-year-old Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, hacked to pieces on the scaffold by a blundering headsman. From the start, Margaret’s life had been marred by tragedy and violence: her father, George, Duke of Clarence, had been executed at the order of his own brother, Edward IV, and her naïve young brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, had spent most of his life in the Tower before being executed on the orders of Henry VII. Yet Margaret, friend to Catherine of Aragon and the beloved governess of her daughter Mary, had seemed destined for a happier fate, until religious upheaval and rebellion caused Margaret and her family to fall from grace. From Margaret’s birth as the daughter of a royal duke to her beatification centuries after her death, 'Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower' tells the story of one of the fortress’s most unlikely prisoners. 

More information about the blog tour and the book to come!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Some Good News from Unexpected Sources

The Catholic Herald has been commenting often on a revival in the Catholic Church in England, noting its unexpected sources: the Syro-Malabar eparchy, the Oratorians, and the Extraordinary Form:

Britain’s Syro-Malabar Catholics, soon to grace the city of Preston with a long-deserved cathedral, seem to be having something of a breakout moment. In June, the ordination of a deacon in Southwark diocese attracted headlines in Catholic publications across the world: Joice James Pallickamyalil is the ancient Kerala-rooted Church’s very first married deacon. (He is also, I feel loyalty-bound to note, a product of the St Mary’s University formation programme.) And last month a new Eparchy for Great Britain – a kind of diocese sans frontière – was announced. It is only the fourth to be established outside India.

All this from a British Syro-Malabar community of perhaps 40,000 (around one per cent of the global total) who, until very recently, the clear majority of their fellow Catholics never even knew existed. If so, then they’ve been missing out on one of this country’s most remarkable Catholic success stories.

And Stephen Bullivant goes on to note:

Down in Devon, for example, the School of the Annunciation at Buckfast is one of several new (or re-newed) educational establishments taking the Faith very seriously indeed. Meanwhile, in the Orkneys, the thriving Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer were approved as an institute of diocesan right by Bishop Hugh Gilbert earlier this year, having been reconciled with Rome in 2008 (a move which, if recent reports come to fruition, may well have paved the way for a much larger homecoming of the SSPX).

Speaking of religious life in the north, note inter alia: Glasgow’s Sisters of the Gospel of Life (established 2000), the Canons of St Ambrose and St Charles in Carlisle (established 2014), two new Oratories in York and Manchester (with another on the way in Bournemouth), and three historic parishes given serious new life by two traditionalist groups: the Institute of Christ the King (Preston, New Brighton) and the FSSP (Warrington).

The other order or institute providing is Blessed John Henry Newman's foundation of the Oratorians of St. Philip Neri in England. Also from the Herald in May this year:

A new community of the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri is to be established in Bournemouth.

The community, which will be inaugurated at the Sacred Heart church in September, will be the sixth Oratory to be set up in England.

Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth, who invited the Oratorians to Bournemouth, said they would form part of a “major evangelisation drive”.

The centre will be an “Oratory in formation” and will be made up of Fr Dominic Jacob, co-founder of the Oxford Oratory, Fr Peter Edwards and Fr David Hutton.

There are some interesting aspects of this revival: one that it is not coming from the Anglican Ordinariate in the way that many hoped it would. The Ordinariate is still growing and succeeding, but there have not been large group moves lately even though the Church of England continues on its merry way. 

The second interesting aspect is that the orders, institutes, and communities assisting with this revival all celebrate traditional, beautiful liturgies. The implementation of liturgical reforms after the Second Vatican Council did not effect any changes in the Eastern Rites of the Church, so the Syro-Malabar rite retains its ancient patriarchal traditions. The Oratory parishes often celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form (and the Ordinary Form in Latin), while the FSSP and Institute of Christ the King, both established during the reign of Pope St. John Paul II, celebrate only the Extraordinary Form. The Oratorians, FSSP, and Institute parishes also emphasize traditional devotions (the Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction, pilgrimages, novenas, Vespers, etc). 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Two Assumptions


I attended Mass twice for the Solemnity of the Assumption on Monday, August 15. My husband and I went to Noon Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which was very well attended, even though the bishops in the USA had removed the obligation to attend on this Holy Day because it fell on a Monday (!). The choir director and organist ought to be a little concerned, because we sang "Immaculate Mary", Parisian Plain Chant, and "Hail, Holy Queen" without their assistance quite ably.

Then I drove to Pilsen, Kansas in Marion County to attend Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Church of St. John Nepomucene, which was the home parish of Servant of God Emil Kapaun. St. John Nepomucene is the patron saint of Czechoslovakia and of confessors--he was martyred because he refused to reveal the confession of the queen to her husband, King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia. Thus, the patron saint of the church, one of the four churches in the Holy Family Parish of Marion County, is depicted with his finger on his lips at the High Altar:


The side altars were beautiful too:



And the exterior of the church, facing the westward setting sun:



And here is the statue depicting Chaplain Kapaun helping a wounded soldier:


The horizon:


Our Lady, assumed into Heaven, pray for us!
St. John Nepomucene, pray for us!
Servant of God Father Emil Kapaun, pray for us!

Finally, the old Fina Gas Station (I should have stopped to see what the prices were the last time gas was pumped there, but I wanted to reach Kansas 15 before it was completely dark):