2022: Year-in-review

A couple of paragraphs to close out 2022. This is the year I said goodbye to London and put an exclamation point on Kingdom Hearts. I spent a night in Gettysburg and a couple more in Paris. I crossed the English Channel via the Eurostar. I read the Brothers York and Faith of Our Fathers. I saw the Wilton Diptych at the British Museum and watched the Southampton Saints WIN under the lights against the Norwich Canaries. I tracked down stained-glass in Hereford from a Christmas card given to my mom and dad by our parish priest. I hiked to Towton, outside York, to visit a battlefield that was pivotal in the War of the Roses. I toured all of the northern cathedrals- York, Durham, and Lincoln. I also travelled to the very edge of Empire for a weekend in Penzance and Lands End. There were a couple of more Saints matches, including a memorable one in Cambridge for the Carabao Cup. There were three Championship League matches in Stoke, Norwich, and Sunderland. I hosted my brother in the spring and we went to Southampton, London, and Ramsgate. I also caught Football: Designing the Beautiful Game at the Design Museum before it closed.

My last couple of weekend trips in England were to Coventry, Exeter, and Bath. One of the highlights of the year was mass at the Cathedral Church St John the Baptist in Norwich.

My BIG birthday was at PNC Arena to see my beloved NY Islanders put a hurt on the Hartford Whalers Carolina Hurricanes and I was at the Bridgeport Islanders home opener. I also went to a Bridgeport Islanders game to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the NY Islanders.

Thames River Ride (1986) by Harper Goff. Scan is from The Art of Walt Disney World Resort

A Real Indiana Jones Quest

This post is dedicated to my Mom.

What if I told you there was a priceless ancient work of art and relic that’s still in existence and just lost? It was the subject of an address and paper published by Lawrence E. Tanner for the Journal of the British Archaeological Association in 1954.

The artifact is the Cross of Edward the Confessor (1042 – 1066), and it was recovered from his shrine at Westminster Abbey during the coronation of King James II (1644–85). The story of its initial discovery is exciting, but it’s whereabouts after crossing the English Channel is where the mystery begins. It was given as a gift to Pope Benedict XIII in 1729 but then disappeared. After the death of Pope Benedict XIII, inquiries were made to the Vatican re: it’s whereabouts but those searches were unsuccessful.

“From the date of its presentation to Pope Benedict XIII on June 17th, 1729, to the present day no trace has ever been found of the cross of St. Edward. The interesting fact of the presentation, recorded among the Stuart Papers, has only come to light in recent years, and it caused the late dean of Westminster (Dr. de Labilliere) to make inquiries through the late Sir Eric Maclagan and the Apostolic Delegate whether or not anything was known at the Vatican about the cross. The Vatican authorities took the greatest interest in the matter and instituted a thorough search in the hope of being able to throw some light on the subject. A letter, now amongst the Abbey Muniments, states that ‘the cross is not in the Vatican Museum, nor in St. Peter’s, nor in the Vatican Galleries, nor in St. John Lateran, nor with the Dominicans (of whose order was Pope Benedict XIII)’. It also states that the diaries of the Papal Masters of Ceremonies had been searched in which mention was found ‘of the visits of British sovereigns and also of the Confirmation of the Prince and of the gifts and kindness of the Pope, but not a word about a cross or gold chain.'”

The quest for the cross of the Confessor still goes on. Somewhere, I am convinced, it still exists, probably unrecognizable and with its fascinating history unknown. – Lawrence E. Tanner

Related
The Quest for the Cross of St. Edward the Confessor by Lawrence E. Tanner
Edward the Confessor and John the Evangelist (New Liturgical Movement)
Edward the Confessor Shrine (Official Westminster Abbey Postcard)

A quote from Faith of Our Fathers by Joseph Pearce:

“The most ambitious project he [Edward the Confessor] undertook was the founding of Westminster Abbey, which would become and has remained the place for the coronation of the kings and queens of England. It was completed and consecrated shortly before his death and became his place of burial, his tomb and relics being undisturbed to this day, having survived the ravages of the Reformation with its iconoclastic destruction of England’s shrines to her saints.”

Other Facts
King James II was the last Catholic monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Old Southampton

“In God is my hope. RB. 1605”

Quotes from A Walk Within the Walls (The Story of Old Southampton) by Elsie M. Sandell:

“Through the Bargate archway, too, went most of our monarchs on their visits to our town. Henry II passed through it on foot in 1174 when starting out for his walk of penance to Canterbury, to the tomb of Thomas Becket.”

“His son, Henry VI, was also frequently at Southampton Castle, and there he met his bride, Margaret of Anjou, for the first time, on April 14th, 1445, she being then only fifteen years old.”

Bargate

Weekend 554.1

Settling, unpacking, and re-playing KH3. I’m a completionist and there’s one very (very) difficult trophy left. The Limestone Library is about 1/3 restored. I’ve pulled a couple of books from the shelves that I want to revisit. The first is The Art of Makoto Shinkai. This was gift from my Mum. The others are little booklets re-telling the history of Southampton.

(1) Urban Dictionary: Completionist

(2) Why Honda Shifters Are So Good, An Anthropological and Technical Exploration (Road and Track)

(3) 1 for 730+ (Transport for London)

(4) How did Elizabeth I die? (RMG)

(4A) This is from the Limestone Roof Photo Archives

Makoto Shinkai

Catholicism in England

“This is your dowry, O Holy Virgin, wherefore, O Mary, may you rule over it.”

One of my first daytrips in London was to Tyburn Convent. This was still at the height of lockdown when travel was restricted. As is the case with many daytrips, the visit spurred my interest in the history of the convent and its link to the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Montmartre (in Paris) and the Tyburn Tree.

The visit also led me to the Gordon Riots and Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens. Although I didn’t find that book, serendipity lead me to The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580 by Eamon Duffy. This was a scholarly work and for months my posts were wholesale quotes from this tome.

I also bought Book in the Cathedral via book-store roulette and this wonderful little gem was the impetus behind my first trip to Canterbury in search of Thomas Becket. Although COVID restrictions made touring impossible, I did manage to pray in the nave. I also visited St Augustine’s Abbey. St Augustine was instrumental in introducing Catholicism to England in the 6th century.

I eventually made it back to Canterbury for a proper tour and to visit the place where Thomas Becket was murdered. I also read Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot on the train to Canterbury.

The Thomas Becket exhibit at the British Musuem was another moment of serendipity. The exhibit included stained-glass from Canterbury and the supposed book from the aforementioned Book in the Cathedral. It was the fountainhead for a planned pilgrimage to France across the English Channel to retrace the steps of Becket’s exile. My attempt at pilgrimage to France failed twice but was greatly supplanted by one to Walsingham.

Before the Reformation, Walsingham was visited by kings. The Wilton Tryptic, on display at the British Musuem, portrays a young King Richard II. His father was the Black Prince, buried in Canterbury Cathedral, and his grandfather was Edward III. Richard II was deposed during some internecine fighting, and some attribute that event to the troubles that what would befall the nation and monarchy in WAR OF THR ROSES. The Wilton Tryptic features Edward the Confessor¹ (holding the ring he gave John the Evangelist), Edmund the Martyr, and St John the Baptist. The significance of The Wilton Tryptic cannot be understated since it symbolizes Richard II “giving his kingdom into the hands of the Holy Virgin, thereby continuing a long tradition by which England was known as ‘Our Lady’s Dowry'”.

My pilgrimage to Walsingham was momentous NOT because it was the ONLY time I rented and drove a car in England, but because it is arguably the place of Catholic birth and rebirth in England. A pilgrimage to Walsingham includes prayers to reconsecrate England to Our Lady.

The bookend to my time in England was reading the Faith of our Fathers by Joseph Pearce. I was introduced to Pearce whilst doing some research on the history of Walsingham. He mentioned the idea for this book in a video on Walsingham. The book helped me understand the skittishness of English Catholics given the grisly history of martyrs and the still recency of emancipation via the Catholic Relief Act of 1829.

There were three other pilgrimage related trips. The first was to Plymouth where pilgrims often left for Camino de Santiago. The second was touring the northern cathedrals and the shrines of Hugh of Lincoln, Saint William of York, and St Cuthbert. The third was a daytrip to Ely in search of St Edmund who was felled by the Danes in defense of the faith.

In London I visited The Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs at Westminster Cathedral which commemorates so many of those martyrs. I was also starting to understand WHY so many Catholics in England appeared to worship so awkwardly, apologetically, and accidentally. There was more than one occasion when I thought clergy and parishioners had one eye over their shoulder half expecting the monarch (or a Lollard) to strip the altar.

What I witnessed was the bravery of Catholics in almost every generation. The Church of England cathedrals are just museums now and many parish churches are shuttered or are coffee / community centers. There is a coldness and desperation in those once holy places now devoid of consecrated altars. What has been left is man trying to fill that vacuum with his own holy objects (usually hideous art that tries in vain to lift man to God-like status) or substitutes like earth worship. The faith though is very much alive in those Catholic parishes I visited every Sunday on those weekend trips.

Related
The Catholic Heart of England
Some of My Best Friends Are Paintings (The Imaginative Conservative)
2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14

¹Edward the Confessor will have his own post.

Weekend 550.0

“I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tm 2:1-8

I left London on Friday night to avoid any of the madness attached to ceremonies for HRM Queen Elizabeth II. I was in Exeter on Saturday for football and Bath on Monday for ambling. Mass on Sunday was at Sacred Heart (Exeter). Before the match there was a minute of silence for HRM Queen Elizabeth II, and the crowd sang God Save the King.

All trains were disrupted (see link below) in and out of Paddington today so there was a scramble at Reading to make trains bound for Waterloo.

(1) Mourners resort to watching the funeral on phones as rail journeys are disrupted by damaged wires (ITV)

(2) Prayer for the Repose of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Almighty God,
You are the author and sustainer of all human life;
grant that your servant Elizabeth our Queen,
whom you granted a long and happy reign as Monarch of these lands,
may be forgiven her sins and rewarded with that eternal life
promised to all those born again
in the water of baptism and power of your Spirit.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen.
May her soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

Source: This Week in Westminster Cathedral, 18 SEPTEMBER 2022, 25th WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME

Related
London Station Group (Collect ‘Em All)
2022/2023 Football Campaign (Abridged)

Weekend 548.0

Apologies for the radio silence. I was in Sunderland and Norwich the last couple of weekends for football. I saw matches at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland and Carrow Road in Norwich.

I saw the Canaries play away and home fixtures. Josh Sargent looks like a good footballer. He had a goal (and assist) yesterday in the match against Coventry. Some football sites don’t have him making the WC 2022 roster and Berhalter would be NUTS not giving him a serious look given his recent form. Mass in Norwich was at the Cathedral Church of St John the Baptist. I love Westminster Cathedral (not Abbey), but St John is a proper cathedral built in the late 1880s after The Catholic Relief Act in 1829 that rivals those robbed during the Dissolution/Reformation. It was modelled after medieval churches of the Early English period (1189-1307). My favorite feature were the windows in the Walsingham Chapel. The windows show the Archbishop of Westminster visiting Walsingham in 1934 to celebrate the site becoming the national Shrine of Our Lady (for the first time since the Reformation).

“It became obvious why Catholics had built such beautiful cathedrals and churches throughout the world. Not as gathering or meeting places for Christians. But as a home for Jesus Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. Cathedrals house Jesus. Christians merely come and visit Him. The cathedrals and churches architecturally prepare our souls for the beauty of the Eucharist.”

—Allen R. Hunt, Confessions of a Megachurch Pastor: How I Discovered the Hidden Treasure of the Catholic Church

Related
(1) Visit of the Relics of St Bernadette to Westminster Cathedral (Westminster Cathedral)

Historical Parallels

I’m reading Faith Of Our Fathers: A History of True England by Joseph Pearce. He first mentioned the IDEA for this book on YouTube. The content is surprisingly topical given the total marginalization of people of faith by secular fundamentalists and their trampling jackboots. The book is also full of hope since Catholicism has survived (and thrived) in the UK whilst most other churches have been razed or converted into museums and cafes.

Quotes from Faith Of Our Fathers: A History of True England:

“The king’s usurpation of the religious rights of the Church, and therefore the religious liberties of his subjects, set in motion a process of secular nationalism that would lead to the rise of the sort of secularism which ripens into secular fundamentalism. When the state gets too big for its boots, trampling on religious liberty, it is not long before the boots become jackboots, trampling on the defenseless and the weak, and piling up the bodies of its countless victims.”

“In terms of realpolitik, Henry would not have been able to get his hands on the wealth of the Church without bribing the nobles with a promise of a share of the plunder. Had the aristocracy not been bought in this way, they would no doubt have rebelled in defiance of the king and in defense of the Church. It was, therefore, in appealing to the baser appetites of the ignoble nobility that Henry succeeded in sacking the Church and removing her power from his realm.”

“Three days after the martyrdom of John Fisher, Henry ordered preachers to denounce the treasons of Sir Thomas More from their pulpits. Since More’s trial for treason wasn’t due to start until a week later, on July 1, the king’s orders signified, if such signification were necessary, that the trial was already a foregone conclusion and that only one verdict would be tolerated. The parallels with the justice system in other secular tyrannies, such as the show trials in the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin are clear enough.

“The plunder, which, Cobbett called an ‘act of monstrous tyranny’, was made possible by the passage of an Act of Parliament in March 1536 for the suppression of the monasteries and the passing of all property and wealth owned by these religious communities into the hands of the king and his heirs.”

“‘Almost overnight,’ wrote Simon Jenkins, ‘the City and its surrounding land saw a transfer of ownership and wealth on a scale not witnessed even during the Norman Conquest.’ The vast bulk of this property ‘passed to aristocrats, merchants and cronies of the monarch.'”

Related
A walk through Walsingham with Joseph Pearce (YouTube)
New Decorative Scheme for St George’s Chapel