Saturday 31 December 2011

Sodality Pilgrimage to Rome, Sept 2011, Day IV - Four extraordinary Roman treats

Time for the fourth day - full of rare and special treats for experience-hungry Catholic pilgrims.

Our first stop is the church San Ignazio, (Picture 1) built to give honour to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus - the Jesuit order - whose main church is Il Gesu, also in Rome, but we'll get to that later. St. Ignatius was born late in the 15th century, he was a noble man and an officer who, while recovering from wounds of battle, studied the life of Jesus and the saints and realised that his life was better spent in the service of Our Lord. The church San Ignazio in connected with the Roman College; where the church dome should be is instead an observatory and so the church ceiling has the inside of a cupola painted. Since our guide, had arranged it beforehand a special guide provided by the Church authorities met us in the church and took us up across the roof and into the rooms of Saints Aloysius Gonzaga and John Berchmans (Picture 2) - both of whom are buried in the church and both of whom, together with St. Stanislaus Kostka, are Jesuit Patron Saints of students.
After stopping to say the little office in the private chapel of the students we were then taken to the Prima Primaria chapel (picture 3). The Prima Primaria was the first sodality, the one that not only inspired but also approved all the other ones. Stopping for lunch - more tasty Italian pasta - and then on to the next stop;

Il Gesu (Picture 4), the main church for the Jesuit order. This church has been the model for churches all around the world - the architecture is swishy, the decor even swishier with frescoes actually escaping from their frames and jumping out at you. But more of the main church later; our stunning guide had arranged for us to visit the chapel of the Sodality of the Nobles (picture 5). The Sodality of the Nobles is one of the few sodalities still active, devoted to the Assumption of Our Lady, the walls of their chapel's adorned with pictures of her and scenes from her life, assumption and coronation. Another bit of the little office prayed and we headed back into the main basilica for the Revelation of Saint Ignatius. Every evening at 5.30 a dazzling spectacle takes place that sends shivers down your spine. Unable to describe it I can only recommend everyone to stop by when visiting Roma.

Every Saint- A Prayer for the End of the Year

To close the year, below is the epilogue to the Martyrology of Gorman, a beautiful prayer to all the saints, asking for their intercession and protection. The Martyrology of Gorman is a metrical calendar of the saints compiled in the late 12th century by the abbot of an Augustinian friary in Louth, Mael-Muire or Marianus O'Gorman. This prayer appears as the epilogue to the work, following the final entry on December 31.


I. Let every saint who hath been, who shall be, in the greentopped mournful world, let all the dear and gracious host forgive me.

5. The noble, beloved army—little of their sea is this number—to protect me from battle, from bane, (and) from demons.

9. In their hosts, in their hundreds, let them ask for me pardon, repentance before death, and protection of me from every hardship.

13. May they guard me from the Devil, for he is always doing evil—the noble sages with knowledge, every saint who hath been, who shall be!

Every saint.

The End.

White Scapular of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Originated with the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1877, and sanctioned by Pius IX on 11th May, 1877, the Scapular of the Immaculate heart of Mary was approved by the Congregation of Rites in 1907 when its form was more precisely set down. It is of white wollen cloth, the poriton hanging before the breast representing the Heart of Mary out of which grows a lily. The Heart, pierced with a sword, is surrounded by a wreath of roses.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death!

Thursday 29 December 2011

2012 Calendar - Free download

Our free 2012 calendar is now available online, it includes the dates of principal feasts and Irish bank holidays. Members of the Association should already have received their copy by mail but non-members can download a .pdf copy from this link.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Holiday

Of the films of Deanna Durbin, this is not the most tasteful, even if you look hard for the moral thread. However, the scenes from Midnight Mass for Christmas at the very beginning of this clip are worth showing.

Happy Christmas!

Sodality Pilgrimage to Rome, Sept 2011, Day III - Uno, due, tres important churches

With the arrival of day three we begin to seriously take on our mission of visiting the seven main churches of Rome to get the plenary indulgence - having visited St. Peter's the day before we head of to do three churches in one day; St. John Lateran (picture 1), Holy Cross and St. Lawrence. Starting at St. John parts of the group chose to climb the Holy Stairs while the rest of us went in. Il Laterano is, just like many of the other famous and popular Roman churches, full of tourists and has not one but two gift shops (I write this as if it's a bad thing but, truth be told, I'm usually the first one in there). A grand church with apse mosaics and huge statues of the disciples, still one of the nicest (and cutest) decoration details is how the little sculpture angels that adorn the ceiling all have different facial characteristics and expressions. After remembering to post our Vatican-stamped postcards (the Lateran counts as Vatican territory despite being on the opposite side of the city) we all went on to the museums. Surprisingly empty of visitors this magnificent collection of papal possessions on display in the richly decorated rooms (picture 2) where the popes were once meant to live.

Next on the list was the church Santa Croce in Gerusalemme but that being closed for lunch we instead went on to San Lorenzo (a few stops further on the tram). Construction of this church began in 6th century in honour of St. Lawrence who was executed on the site, over the centuries since parts have been added. Interred in the church are, except for St. Lawrence also St. Stephen the protomartyr and Pope Pius IX (picture 3), in front of whom we gathered and prayed. Looking around the church we found, behind glass, the stone upon which St. Lawrence was put after having been roasted for his beliefs.

Now going back to Santa Croce we had better luck and got in to see the relics of the true cross; a nail, a few splinter of wood, a piece of the elogium (the panel hung on the cross) and two thorns from the crown placed on Jesus' head. In an adjoining room there is also a life-size copy of the shroud of Turin on display. Parts of this building, that holds such precious artifacts, have been turned into a hotel which, I must say, felt strange.

With now only three Pilgrim Churches remaining we went back to the convent for Vespers, Benediction, supper and then bed after a very long and eventful day.

Violet and Yellow Scapular of Saint Joseph

In 1880 Leo XIII approved yet another scapular so familiar and widespread in the present day. In 1898 the Pope saw fit to grant to the General of the Capuchins the faculty of blessing and investing with the scapular of Saint Joseph. The scapular was approved by the Congregation of Rites on 18th April 1893 and indulgences were granted on 8th June of the same year by the Congregation of Indulgences.

The beautiful scapular is of two segments of violet coloured cloth, joined by two white cords to which are sewn two pieces of yellow-coloured material equal in size. There is a representation of St. Joseph with the Child Jesus on his right arm, and in his left a staff of lilies. Underneath is the invocation "Saint Joseph, patron of the Church, pray for us." On the other gold-coloured material is the Papal Crown (tiara), the Dove symbolising the Holy Ghost and underneath the Cross and Keys of Peter and the words "Spiritus Domini, tutor eius."
Saint Joseph, patron of the Church, pray for us!

Sunday 18 December 2011

Christmas in Medieval Wales

The article below was published last year in a Welsh newspaper and highlights the very different perspective people in the Middle Ages had on the celebration of Christmas. Perhaps there is a challenge here to all of us to recover the true spirit of Advent and to regain that more theologically subtle understanding of the feast held by our forefathers?

More religion and less sentiment at Christmas in medieval Wales

Dec 24 2010 by Steffan Rhys, Western Mail

Our assumptions about the celebration of Christmas are shattered when we turn back the clock to medieval Wales, argues Dr Madeleine Gray , reader in history at the University of Wales, Newport

YOU would expect a traditional medieval Welsh Christmas to be all about Jesus’ birth.

Whatever our feelings about religion, we do think we have a picture of the first Christmas – the stable, the baby in the manger, the shepherds coming down from the cold hills. But strangely enough, there were very few pictures of this scene in medieval Wales.

There is one lovely little painting in a manuscript in the National Library in Aberystwyth. Mary is lying under a good Welsh tapestry blanket, with the baby on her lap. She has clearly just finished feeding him. At the foot of the bed, Joseph is having the traditional post-birth nap!

There is also a very battered stone carving in St David’s Cathedral, some very faded painted wooden panels in Llanelian near Colwyn Bay and the remains of a stained glass window at Gresford – and that’s it.

Our “ignorant” peasant ancestors had a much more theologically subtle understanding of the whole story. For them, it began nine months earlier when the Angel Gabriel told Mary she was expecting God’s child. There were pictures of this event, called the Annunciation, in illuminated manuscripts and in churches all over Wales. It is carved in alabaster on a tomb at Abergavenny and there is even a little wooden carving under one of the choir stalls at Gresford. Sometimes a picture of the Annunciation survives in fragments of stained glass when everything else has been lost, suggesting that this picture was the one people wanted to save above all others.

There were also lots of pictures of the Virgin and Child, including the famous statues at Cardigan and Penrhys. There were even pictures and carvings of Jesus’s earthly family tree. This was shown literally as a tree growing out of the body of his ancestor Jesse. The kings of Israel stood in the branches and Mary and Jesus were at the top. There is a massive stained glass window of this Tree of Jesse at Llanrhaiadr in the Vale of Clwyd. In Abergavenny it was carved in wood, the size of a real tree. All that is left of that carving now is the figure of Jesse, at least twice life-size. Painted and gilded, the whole thing would have been awesome.

But in virtually all of these paintings and carvings, Jesus isn’t a baby. He is a well-grown toddler, reaching out to his mother or to the audience. Welsh people of the middle ages didn’t want to get sentimental over a little baby. They believed in a God who was human, one they could engage with and relate to.

Christmas nowadays seems to start before the leaves have fallen from the trees. Pubs and restaurants are advertising Christmas specials by the end of August – Cardiff’s lights are turned on at the beginning of November – by the time we get to the great day we’ve all eaten and drunk too much already and if we’re honest it can be a bit of an anticlimax. But it’s traditional, isn’t it?

Well, maybe. But if you went back far enough in time, you would find that the run-up to Christmas was very different. For our medieval ancestors, Advent (the month before Christmas) was a time of fasting and penitence. No chocolate-filled Advent calendars then! You prepared to celebrate Christ’s first coming to earth by thinking about his second coming as a judge. Every church had a terrifying painting of the Last Judgement with souls being pitchforked down into Hell. Jesus was shown not as a sweet little baby but as a judge, in red robes.

Celebration didn’t start until Christmas Day. Mind you, once they started, they did know how to party. Elizabeth de Burgh had a Christmas party in Usk Castle in 1326 that went on for the full 12 days. There were two boars’ heads, venison, beef and pork for all comers in her new Great Hall. The tradition was that if you turned up looking reasonably respectable, you could stay for three days before anyone even asked who you were. And for those who couldn’t scrub up, there would have been a generous distribution of leftovers outside the castle gates. There would have been music, dancing, poetry and entertainers. For the great and the good, three swans were cooked, two herons, two bitterns and a holocaust of smaller birds. The kitchen got through 800 eggs on Christmas Day alone.

This was not just conspicuous consumption. Elizabeth was a shrewd politician. What she was doing was what the American political theorist Joseph Nye called “soft power”. She had only just reclaimed her estates from Edward II’s favourite Hugh le Despencer. If local people wanted to be invited to her feasts and entertainment, they were more likely to be prepared to support her against the king.

Medieval Welsh landowners also entertained in style. Snowed up in Merionethshire, the old poet Llywelyn Goch spoke of:

Listening after Christmas
To the cooks slicing the meat;
Quick fiddle and bagpipe,
Blending of voices nightly,
Sanctus bells and laughter
And hailing men to have wine. (translated by Joseph Clancy)

But this was after Christmas – and all the more enjoyable because you had to wait for it.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Back on the Rails IV - The Bandon Line

After the Chetwynd Viaduct, the line of the Cork, Bandon and South Coast railway continues westwards to the townland of Waterfall or Tobar an Iarla in Irish, literally Well of the Earl. The Earl in question could have been one of the McCarthy, Eóganacht Lords of Muskerry. Donal MacCarthaigh Mór was created Earl of Glencar by Elizabeth Tudor in 1565 but the title was extinguished with him. Donough MacCarthaigh Mór, Viscount Muskerry, was created Earl of Clancarthy by Charles II. I have posted before about the Catholic zeal of the family in founding Kilcrea Abbey, in defending the Catholic Confederacy at Carrigadroichead, and supporting the Catholic King James II at Bandon.

A large number of physical remnants of the railway line remain. I took photos of an embankment and a railway bridge South of Waterfall. The next station is Ballinhassig or Béal Átha an Chasaigh in Irish, literally the mouth of the ford of the turn. The turn in question being the reverse of a small English force by a force led by Florence MacCarthaigh in 1610. Nine years earlier the Lord Deputy Mountjoy camped here with his forces before the Battle of Kinsale. Between Ballinhassig and Innishannon there is a branch line junction for Kinsale.

Beyond Ballinhassig at Gogginshill the railway enters a long hilltop tunnell, now disused. I wasn't able to get near the tunnel, which is now on private land, but pictures are available here. I did visit the Church of the Most Holy Heart of Mary at Gogginshill.

An excellent example of the elevated and picturesque line that the railway now follows is the Halfway Viaduct that stands above the small village that sat half-way between Cork and Bandon (before the City extended to the South and West).

I want to end this stage of my survey with the Upton/Innishannon Station. It is the fourth station from Albert Quay on the main line of the railway. It is an excellent example of such stations. At the entrance to the property containing the station is the monument to the three men of the IRA who died in the Upton Train Ambush, which happened on 15th February, 1921, as part of the Irish War of Independence. The monument reads:

Fuaireadar bás ar son
Phoblacht na hÉireann
Captaen 22 bl
Saor Óglach 22 bl
Leas-Chaptaen 35 bl
Ba leis an gCuigú Chath
Treas Bhriogáid Chorcaí I.R.A. iad
Maraíodh iad san troid ar an 15.2.1921
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anamacha

That is in English:

There died for
The Irish Republic
Captain aged 22 years
Free Volunteer aged 22 years
Vice-Captain aged 35 years
Of the Fifth Battalion
Of the Third Cork Brigade
They died in action on 15.2.1921
May their souls be at the right hand of God

On the hill overlooking the station is the Brothers of Charity premises at Upton, a place that has its share of infamy. One claim to fame is that the eldest brother of Little Nellie of Holy God (her picture below) was placed here in 1907 when their mother died. Their father, a soldier on Spike Island in Cork Harbour, was unable to take care of them and all four children were placed in Industrial Schools. Her eldest brother Thomas was sent to Upton, her brother David went to the Sisters of Mercy at Passage West, while Nellie and her elder sister Mary were sent to St. Finbarr's Industrial School of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd at Sunday's Well, Cork City. Little Nellie is rightly revered by the people of Cork and beyond but I often wonder what happened to her siblings. They seem to have slipped quickly into the shadows of obscurity that surrounded so many of the unfortunate children who were sent to these institutions.

Little Nellie of Holy God (1903-1908)
Little Violet of the Holy Eucharist

Black Scapular of Our Lady, Help of the Sick

The Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title "Help of the Sick", is a black wollen cloth, having on the portion other the breast a copy of the picture in the Church of Saint Magdalen at Rome of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Help of the Sick, which inspired Ferdinand Vicari, a brother of the Order of Saint Camillus to found a confraternity for the poor sick under the patronage of Our Blessed Lady. The picture represents the Mother of God and at her feet Saints Joseph and Camillus, who are the other two patrons of the sick and the Confraternity. The Scapular was granted its indulgences by Pope Pius IX in 1866.
Health of the sick, pray for us!

Wednesday 14 December 2011

CHRISTVS REGNAT - December, 2011

The December, 2011, issue of the twice-yearly journal of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association is now available. You can subscribe to CHRISTVS REGNAT by e-mailing here. CHRISTVS REGNAT is also available for download here.

The following articles are found in the Fifth Volume, Number Two, for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 2011:

  • Report on XXth General Assembly of the FIUV

  • Father Paul Murphy and the building of St Mary’s Church, Edenderry 1912-1918
    A thorough history of one of the finest Churches in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and its outstanding founder.

  • The Carthusian Rite
    An examination of one of the least well-known Uses of the Roman Rite.

  • On the Honour of the World
    Extracted from a sermon by Msgr. Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, giant of the golden age of French pulpit oratory.

  • Kenelm Henry Digby
    The life and works of one of the first beams of the dawn of the Victorian medieval revival and the great flood of 19th Century converts.

  • The Development of Tradition in Culture
    An essay on the structure of tradition and its significance for todays traditional Catholics.

  • 153 Big Fish! – The Johannine Catch of Fish and the Marian Rosary
    An insightful and illuminating speculation upon the significance of the traditional structure of the Holy Rosary, with reference to Sacred Scripture and modern Marian apparitions.

  • “O Lord, You are my portion and cup”
    A current Seminarian's insights into Seminary life and the significance of Seminary routine for the formation of Priestly identity.

  • Reports on Masses during the second half of 2011
  • Tuesday 13 December 2011

    Saint Brigid and Saint Lucy

    December 13 is the feast of Saint Lucy of Syracuse, an early virgin martyr, and I was very much interested by the 2008 post by Anka on the celebration of Saint Lucy's Day in Sweden. According to a modern scholar of Irish folklore, the cult of Saint Lucy may have directly influenced the cult of our own Saint Brigid, both in the use of the hagiographical motif of the plucking out of the eyes and in some of the ways in which Saint Brigid's day was celebrated in popular culture. Dr Dáithí Ó hÓgain writes:

    Narratives of Brighid were developed through medieval times by further additions from Continental hagiography. A ninth-century text describes how a man comes to woo the young, and as yet unprofessed, Brighid. Her stepbrothers try to compel her to accept the marriage, but she knocks out one of her eyes so as not to be attractive to the suitor. When the family allow her to remain a virgin she miraculously restores sight to herself. The story is repeated in later sources, and it survived in the recent folklore of north Leinster and south Ulster. The name of the suitor, Dubhthach mac Lughair, is borrowed from the early Patrician texts, and it is obvious that the story cannot be older than the eighth century. It was, in fact, taken from the lore of the continental saint Lucy and was suggested by the symbolism of light associated with both of these holy virgins. It is apparent that the cult of Lucy influenced that of Brighid in other ways also in medieval times. Lucy's feastday, December 13, coincided with the winter solstice in the old calendar and was thus seen to usher in the lengthening of daylight. In Irish the saying which refers to Brighid's feastday, February 1, is that 'from Brighid's feastday onwards the day gets longer and the night shorter', although in fact that change occurs from the winter solstice, and the presumption must be that this saying was in origin a rather inaccurate borrowing from the Lucy lore. It could well be, also, that some of the paraphernalia associated with the feast of Brighid in Irish folk life - such as processions of young girls with the leader dressed up as the saint - shows the influence of the Lucy cult, which was very popular in western European countries in the Middle Ages.

    Dáithí Ó hÓgain, Myth, Legend and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of the Irish Folk Tradition (Ryan, 1990), 62-63.

    Something else which struck me as I looked at the picture above of a celebration of Saint Lucy's Day in Sweden in 1943, was that the round headdress of candles worn by the young girl representing the saint has echoes of another tradition associated with Saint Brigid - her connection with the feast of Candlemas. I have previously recorded this version of the Brigid and Candlemas story here:

    Ireland: Folklore

    108. A Legend of St. Brigid

    In further reference to the spring feature of Saint Brigid I am indebted to Miss Delap for a curious legend from Valentia Island which, with fine disregard of chronology, makes Saint Brigid a friend of the Virgin Mary. It is said that when the Virgin was shy about facing the congregation in the Temple, Saint Brigid procured a harrow, took out the spikes and putting a candle in every hole, placed it on her head, walked up before the Virgin and escorted her down again. According to another version, which it is believed came from the north of Ireland, it was a hoop with lighted candles which the Saint wore as she danced up the aisle before the Virgin and down again. For this service Saint Brigid’s Day is the eve of Candlemas or the Purification of the Virgin.

    Elizabeth Andrews, Man, Vol. 22 (December 1922), 187.

    I don't know if the 'hoop with lighted candles' is also borrowed from the Saint Lucy tradition, but in view of what Dr Ó hÓgain has said, it seems to me an interesting coincidence.

    Sunday 11 December 2011

    Gaudete Sunday in Kildare

    The fortnightly Masses in Athy, Co. Kildare, blossomed this evening with Mass for Gaudete Sunday celebrated by the excellent Canon Wulfran Lebocq, ICR, at 5 p.m. in the Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel.

    Gaudete in Domino semper!

    Saturday 10 December 2011

    White Scapular of Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel

    Granting the petition of the Augustinians Leo XIII by Decree approved the scapular of the Mother of Good Counsel, and granted indulgences to wearers of the scapular. The representations of the scapular will have a special interest since, on oe of the two segments is shown the image of the Mother of Good Counsel from the picture in the Augustinian church in Genazzano. On the other segment are the papal arms and the words "Son, follow Her Counsel, Leo XIII."
    O Virgin Mother, Lady of Good Counsel, Sweetest picture artist ever drew, In all doubts I fly to thee for guidance, Mother tell me what am I to do!

    Thursday 8 December 2011

    The Immaculate Conception II - Grave Nimis

    Continuing from the last post on the Immaculate Conception, the next in line was the bull Grave Nimis. The contention over the Immaculate Conception was very high - the Dominicans particularly, felt obligated to defend the common opinion that St. Thomas Aquinas had pronounced against it, and consequently, vigorously opposed it (something that continued persistently- even when introduced into their calendar, it was under the name "The Sanctification of the Blessed Virgin Mary". But that'll be covered later) Sixtus IV imposed one of the first of a series of "gag orders" by this bull:

    WE bear a burden too onerous and painful, when unfavourable reports are brought to us regarding certain ecclesiastical persons. But in the excesses committed in preaching by those who are deputed to announce the word of God, we are the more provoked at it, in proportion as they remain with greater danger uncorrected, when the errors, which are impressed on the hearts of many by thus preaching publicly in a more diffused and damnable manner, cannot easily be done away with.

    And truly, when the holy Roman Church solemnly publicly celebrates a festival concerning the conception of the undefiled and ever-Virgin Mary, and has ordained regarding this a special and peculiar office, some preachers of different orders, as we have heard, in their discourses to the people publicly have hitherto not blushed to affirm, through different states and lands, and cease not daily to preach, that all those who hold or assert, that the same glorious and immaculate mother of God was conceived without the stain of original sin, commit deadly sin, or that they are heretics; that those celebrating the office of the same immaculate conception, and hearing the discourses of those who affirm that she was conceived without such stain, sin grievously.

    But not content with the aforesaid preachings, they have published books got up about these their assertions,from whose assertions and preachings no inconsiderable scandals have arisen in the minds of the faithful, and still greater are dreaded to arise every day.

    We then, desiring to obviate such rash daring and perverse and scandalous assertions, which may thence arise in the Church of God, as far as is permitted us from on high, of our own proper motion, not at the instance of any petition presented to us on the point, but from our own mere deliberation and certain knowledge, reprobate and condemn by apostolic authority, by the tenor of these presents, such assertions of the same preachers, and of any other persons soever, who presume to affirm that those who believe or hold that the same mother of God was at her conception preserved from the stain of original sin, are for this reason polluted with the stain of any heresy, or committed mortal sin; or that when celebrating such office of the conception, or listening to such discourses, that they incur the guilt of any sin, as being false and erroneous, and utterly foreign from the truth;

    And, moreover, in this respect, the aforesaid published books containing such assertion, and by the aforesaid motion, knowledge, and authority, we determine and ordain, that the preachers of the word of God, and any other persons soever, of what state, grade, order, or condition soever they may be, who in future shall presume, by rash daring, to affirm to the people, or in any other way soever, that such assertions, so disapproved and condemned by us, are true, or to read as true the aforesaid books, to hold or to keep them, after they have obtained the knowledge of these presents, incur by the very fact sentence of excommunication, from which they cannot obtain the benefit of absolution from any other person save from the Roman Pontiff, except at the very point of death.

    Likewise, by a similar motion, knowledge, and authority, subjecting to the same penalty and censure those who shall presume to assert, holding a contrary opinion, viz. that the glorious Virgin Mary was conceived with original sin, incur the guilt of heresy, or deadly sin, when it was not yet decided by the Roman Church and the Apostolic See; any apostolic constitutions and ordinances soever to the contrary notwithstanding, to which, whether in common or separately, there may exist an indult from the Apostolic See, that they cannot be interdicted, suspended, or excommunicated by apostolic letters, not making full, express, and word for word mention of such indult.

    And lest at any time they may be able to allege ignorance with regard to the foregoing, we desire that the requisite ordinaries of the places would deliver, in their discourses to the people, and cause to be published the present letters in the churches situate in their states, and in remarkable places of their dioceses, when a considerable multitude of the people has assembled for divine service. Moreover, because it would be difficult to convey the present letters to the individual places, wherein it might be expedient, we also will and decree, by the aforesaid authority, that a copy of the same letter, drawn up by the hand of a notary-public, and confirmed with the authentic seal of some ecclesiastical prelate, be observed everywhere, as the same original letter would be observed, if it were exhibited or shown.

    Be it lawful, therefore, for no person soever to infringe this page of our reprobation, condemnation, statute, ordinance, will, and decree, or by rash attempt to contravene it. But if any one shall presume to attempt it, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God, and of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul.

    Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, in the year of the incarnation of our Lord 1483, the day before the nones of September, in the thirteenth year of our pontificate.

    Tuesday 6 December 2011

    Saint Gobban of Old Leighlin

    Tradition records that Saint Gobban was the founder of the monastery of Leighlin, and in the post below, first made in 2009 on my own blog, I examine the evidence that the Saint Gobban commemorated on December 6 was Leighlin's founder. We start with the recording of the saint's feast in the Martyrology of Oengus and the accompanying scholiasts' notes:

    6. The feast of Gobban,
    shout of thousands! with a
    train of great martyrdom, the
    angelic rampart, the virginal
    abbot, lucid descendant of


    6. of Gobban i.e. of Cell Lamraide in Hui Cathrenn in the west of Ossory, i.e. a thousand monks it had, as experts say.
    angelic wall, i.e. angels founded the wall of his church for him.
    Lane, i.e. an old tribe, which was once in the south of Ireland, and of them was Gobban.

    Is this holy abbot the founder of the monastery at Old Leighlin? The problem is that there are a number of saintly Gobbans listed in the Irish calendars, including one 'Goibhenn, of Tigh Scuithin', who is commemorated on 23 May. He too has been identified with the founder of Old Leighlin. The classic work on Irish monastic foundations, the Monasticon Hibernicum, (following the authority of Colgan) believes, however, that the Saint Gobban commemorated on December 6 is the founder of the monastery at Old Leighlin:

    St. Gobban was the founder of the monastery of Leighlin. There are several saints of that name in the Irish Calendars, but Colgan judged that most probably our saint was the "St. Gobban of Kill-Lamraidhe, in the west of Ossory," who is honoured on the 6th of December: "Hunc Gobanum existimo fuisse ilium celebrem mille monachorum patrem qui postea Ecclesiam de Kill-Lamhraighe rexit" (Acta SS. p. 750). The "Martyrology of Donegal" styles him " Gobban Fionne, of Kill-Lamhraidhe, in Ui-Cathrenn, in the west of Ossory. . . A thousand monks was the number of his convent, and it is at Clonenagh his relics are preserved. He was of the race of Eoghan Mor, son of Oilioll Olum" (p. 327). St. Laserian having visited the monastery about the year 600, St. Gobban, struck with his many virtues, placed it entirely under his charge, and went himself to found another religious house at Kill-Lamhraige, in a western district of Ossory.

    Monasticon Hibernicum or A Short Account of the Ancient Monasteries of Ireland in Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol 6 (1869), 198-99.

    This identification was also accepted by a 19th-century priest who published a three-volume history of the dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin:

    Annals of Clonenagh

    A.D. 639. St. Gobban, who founded the monastery of Old Leighlin, and afterwards resigned it to St. Laserian, retiring in 632 to Killamery in Ossory, died this year and was interred at Clonenagh. His feast was observed on the 6th of December.

    "Gobban's feast, a shout of thousands, with a train of great martyrdom, angelic wall, abbot of virginity, lucid descendant of Lane." (Feil. Aeng.)

    The Gloss in Leab. Br. and entry in Mart. Donegal state that “in Clonenagh are Gobban's relics."

    Rev M Comerford" Collections relating to the Dioceses of Kildare and Leighlin" Vol. 3(1886)

    All the sources relating to Saint Gobban preserve the tradition that after founding an important monastery at Old Leighlin, he later committed it to the care of Saint Laisren (Molaise, feastday April 18) and retired to another foundation in Ossory. The Life of Saint Laisren, as preserved in the Salamanca MS, describes how this transfer of leadership took place:

    (S.8 continued.) The holy abbot Gobanus and his followers served God there. When he heard of the arrival of the man of God [Laisren] he went to meet him and after greeting him led him reverently to the monastery. As they came to the door of the monastery, a certain woman then carrying the body of her son who had been beheaded by robbers, earnestly begged St Lasrianus in the name of God that he might restore her son to life. His feelings of pity were stirred by the lamentations of the mother and he turned to his usual help of prayer, and having placed the head beside its body he restored the dead man to life and gave him back to his mother. Then blessed Gobanus made a treaty of spiritual brotherhood with him, giving him the place and everything in it and setting up a monastery for himself in another place.

    Colum Kenny, Molaise – Abbot of Leighlin and Hermit of Holy Island, (Morrigan Press, 1998), 47-48.

    So, whilst we cannot say with complete confidence that it is the founder of the monastery of Old Leighlin who is commemorated on December 6, the Martyrology of Oengus makes it clear that an important monastic figure is honoured on this date, a man who is said to have had one thousand monks in his charge and whose relics had been preserved. Thus we can say 'Holy Father, Gobban, pray to God for us!'.

    Saturday 3 December 2011

    Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

    The most widely favoured of all scapulars, and the most familiar, is that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the 16th of July is the feast day of scapular.

    The Scapular was presented by Our Lady herself to Saint Simon Stock on 16th July 1251 at Cambridge, who appeared to him with the scapular in her hand in answer to his fervent prayers for help for his Order. The Blessed Virgin spoke to Saint Simon Stock in these words:

    "Take, beloved son, this scapular of thy Order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace. Whoever dies in this garment will not suffer everlasting fire. It is a sign of salvation, a safeguard in all dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant."

    The familiar small scapular may possibly have been worn in the latter half of the 13th century, but the weight of available evidence indicates that it did not come into existence until much later. At any rate at the beginning of the seventeenth century it was most extensively worn in all European countries.

    The formula of the blessing o the scapular was published in the 'Giardino Carmeliatano' at Palermo in 1600, and it is of interest to note that the formula for the Sisters contains no reference to teh scapular, whereas there is a special blessing in the case of the Brothers. The privileges and graces promised so unequivocally by Our Blessed Mother, and espeically the Sabbatine Privilege that Mary's help will continue after death, and will be espeically effective on Saturday are indeed a precious gift, and a depthless spring of hope and consolation for the members of the confraternity, who fulfil the conditions imposed in order to earn them.

    The scapular is in two segments of brown willen cloth, but black may also be used. On one side is the image of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, although strictly this is not required.

    Queen and flower of Carmel, pray for us!

    Thursday 1 December 2011

    Keep Christ in Christmas Campaign

    Please spread the word and keep Christ at the heart of Christmas by asking for Christian cards, Christian stamps, and Christian gifts.

    "When Jesus therefore was born in Bethlehem of Juda, in the days of king Herod, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem. Saying, Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to adore him." Matt. ii, 1-2

    Wednesday 30 November 2011

    The Month of the Holy Souls (6)

    It is an annual tradition of this blog that on the last day of the Month of the Holy Souls we invite you to remember to pray for deceased Popes, Cardinals, Bishops and Priests, especially those who have nobody to pray for them. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis!

    "We must empty Purgatory." St. Pius of Petraclina, O.F.M.Cap.

    Monday 28 November 2011

    Pilgrimage to Rome 2011, Day II - the Pope is on Holidays

    Day two starts at dawn, sore footed from the long walk the day before we all made our way down to breakfast and then Mass in the convent chapel. Like every day of our pilgrimage Fr. Jim Larkin said Mass and members of the Sodality acted as servers.

    The plan for our second day was to go to the general audience with the Pope and then carefully examine St. Peter's looking for old sodalists - but with the Pope away in Germany we got the morning off and it consisted mainly of coffee drinking and chatting. The afternoon, however, was spent as planned fine combing St. Peter's Church for sodalists. Unrelated to the sodality, but since I myself am Swedish always my number one stop when in St. Peter's, is the tomb of Queen Christina of Sweden (picture 2); the daughter of the protestant warfaring King Gustavus II Adolphus, took over the Swedish throne after him when he was killed in battle (by two sodalists, by the way) in Lützen in 1632. Christina abdicated the Swedish throne in 1654 in order to become a catholic and move to Rome. Moving on from there to the altar of Blessed John Paul II, also a sodalist, and then on to several of the Benedicts, Clements, Innocents and Pii.

    Another thing to do in Rome is, of course, shopping. While some tourists may be primarily interested in walking down the shopping streets like il Corso the pilgrim looking to throw some cash around has, apart from the millions of little souvenir shops that sell rosary beads, medallions, icons and little bottles of Holy Water, there are other shops that sell vestments, monstrances and beautiful candle holders.

    Sunday 27 November 2011

    Requiem Mass for Deceased Members 2011

    A Requiem Mass for deceased members of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association was celebrated yesterday morning in St. Coca's Church, Kilcock, Co. Kildare, Ireland. We would like to thank all those who travelled to Kilcock to attend the Mass. We apologize for the errors in the publicity material. We hope you'll keep in contact and attend our forthcoming Latin Masses.

    Reports on previous Latin Masses in Kilcock can be found here (2009) and here (2010).

    Pro Multis

    I was rereading a particular portion of The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform by Dom Vagaggini, published in 1966. Normally, I don't look at the English translation provided unless I need to know a technical word, because I find it a bit loose and I'm a stickler for accuracy in this regard. Anyhow, I was reading the proposal and my eyes drifted to the English, and I got a small shock. This is what the Latin says in Dom Vagaggini's proprosal C for another Eucharistic Prayer

    "Hic est enim calix Novi Testamenti in Sanguine Meo qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur..."

    And this is translated as

    "This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood which shall be poured out for you and for everyone..."

    Quite surprised, I flipped to proposal B which had the same thing.

    Then I flipped still further back to the critiques of revised versions of the Canon drawn up by other scholars. Amon's Latin reads

    "Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti: mysterium fidei: qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum"

    but the English reads

    "For this is the cup of my blood, of the new, everlasting covenant; for you and for all men it will be poured out for the forgiveness of sins."

    And note two things (1) the translation for "pro multis" (2) the omission of Mysterium Fidei. Brings to mind, actually, the warning of the Holy Office on how these were being left out of vernacular translations.

    Kung's version has the same English mistranslation except his Latin does not include "mysterium fidei"

    Amazing what can escape one's attention!

    The funny thing is that all the Eastern anaphorae in the book are translated correctly in this regard. Or maybe not so funny.......

    First published in February, 2008

    St. Pius X - Part IX

    On this day one hundred years ago, at a Public Consistory, Pope St. Pius X created Cardinals their Eminences:

  • António Mendes, Cardinal Bello, Cardinal-Priest of Ss. Marcellino e Pietro in pecore, Patriarch of Lisbon;
  • José María Justo, Cardinal Cos y Macho, Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria del Popolo, Archbishop of Valladolid;
  • Diomede, Cardinal Falconio, O.F.M., Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria in Ara Coeli, then Apostolic Delegate to the United States of America and later Prefect of the S. Cong. of Religious;
  • Antonio, Cardinal Vico, then Apostolic Nuncio of Spain, later Prefect of the S. Cong. of Rites; Gennaro, Cardinal Granito Pignatelli di Belmonte, Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria degli Angeli, then Apostolic Nuncio of Austria and later Prefect of the S. Cong. of Ceremonies;
  • John Murphy, Cardinal Farley, Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria sopra Minerva, Archbishop of New York;
  • Francis Aphonsus, Cardinal Bourne, Cardinal-Priest of S. Pudenziana, Archbishop of Westminster;
  • František Salesky, Cardinal Bauer, Cardinal-Priest of S. Girolamo dei Croati, Archbishop of Olomouc;
  • Léon-Adolphe, Cardinal Amette, Cardinal-Priest of S. Sabina, Archbishop of Paris;
  • William Henry, Cardinal O'Connell, Cardinal-Priest of S. Clemente, Archbishop of Boston;
  • Enrique, Cardinal Almaraz y Santos, Cardinal-Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio, Archbishop of Toledo;
  • François-Virgile, Cardinal llard, Cardinal-Priest of S. Susanna, Archbishop of Chambéry;
  • Franz Xaver, Cardinal Nagl, Cardinal-Priest of S. Marco, Archbishop of Vienna;
  • François-Marie-Anatole, Cardinal de Rovérié de Cabrières, Cardinal-Priest of S. Maria della Vittoria, Bishop of Montpellier;
  • Gaetano, Cardinal Bisleti, Cardinal-Deacon of S. Agata de’ Goti, later Prefect of the S. Cong. for Seminaries and Universities and President of the Pont. Biblical Commission;
  • Giovanni Battista, Cardinal Lugari, Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Portico;
  • Basilio, Cardinal Pompilj, Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Domnica, then Secretary of the S. Cong. of the Council, later Vicar General for the Vicariate of Rome and President of the Pont. Commission for Sacred Archaeology;
  • Louis, Cardinal Billot, S.J. Cardinal-Deacon of S. Maria in Via Lata;
  • Wilhelmus Marinus, Cardinal van Rossum, C.SS.R., Cardinal-Deacon of S. Cesareo in Palatio, later President of Pont. Biblical Commission, Major Penitentiary Apostolic, and Prefect of the S. Cong. for the Propagation of the Faith.

  • Sancte Pie Decime, Gloriose Patrone, ora pro nobis!

    Saturday 26 November 2011

    The Month of the Holy Souls (5)

    In fact, she does not start with the afterlife in order to recount the torments of purgatory — as was the custom in her time and perhaps still is today — and then to point out the way to purification or conversion. Rather our Saint begins with the inner experience of her own life on the way to Eternity.

    “The soul”, Catherine says, “presents itself to God still bound to the desires and suffering that derive from sin and this makes it impossible for it to enjoy the beatific vision of God”. Catherine asserts that God is so pure and holy that a soul stained by sin cannot be in the presence of the divine majesty (cf. Vita Mirabile, 177r).

    We too feel how distant we are, how full we are of so many things that we cannot see God. The soul is aware of the immense love and perfect justice of God and consequently suffers for having failed to respond in a correct and perfect way to this love; and love for God itself becomes a flame, love itself cleanses it from the residue of sin.

    Pope Benedict XVI on St. Catherine of Genoa
    General Audience, 12th January, 2011

    "We must empty Purgatory." St. Pius of Petraclina, O.F.M.Cap.

    Wednesday 23 November 2011

    Mass in Kilcock

    Mass in Kilcock, Co. Kildare

    A Requiem Mass in the Gregorian Rite will be celebrated according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII (1962) in the Church of St. Coca, Kilcock, Co. Kildare, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, 26th November, 2011, with the kind permission of the Very Reverend Parish Priest of Kilcock. The Mass will be offered for the deceased members of St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association.

    St. Coca of Kilcock, pray for us!

    Monday 21 November 2011

    The launch of Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat

    Real honours are rare and few and so I was most delighted to receive an invitation from Pushkin, the cat in residence at the Birmingham Oratory,  to the launch of his first book.  'Pushkin the Pontifical Puss: Tails of an Oratory Cat', chronicles his life and gives an insight into the hidden private thoughts of this famous feline.  Prominent amongst this is an account of his meeting with the Pope or in cat, 'He-who-wears-white', which so captured the world's press.

    Readers may remember that earlier this year I was privileged to be granted an exclusive interview with Pushkin for CHRISTVS REGNAT.  Our encounter was an experience I enjoyed immensely and so I have been eagerly awaiting the chance to read his new work since a few months ago he confided in me about his intentions to write a book.

    The exclusive launch took place this evening at the Birmingham Oratory for a select group of around a hundred guests.  Guest of honour was Pushkin's close friend 'she-who-wears-diamonds', better known to the rest of us as HRH Princess Michael of Kent, who wrote the foreward.  Other guests included close friends from both the clergy and laity, some local and others who had travelled some considerable distance to attend this very special event.

    Under the watchful eyes of his human, Father Anton Guziel, who was always ready to leap into action to respond to his needs, Pushkin surveyed the guests, amber eyes taking in everything.  Like any gracious host he found the time to bestow a few moments attention here and there, offering the opportunity to briefly pay homage with a stroke of his sleek black form for the most worthy.

    Guests were entertained by the Children from the Oratory School who sang numbers specially prepared for the evening, "Oh I want to sing about Pushkin" and "Pontifical Puss" and members of St Paul's Girls' School who performed Rossini's "Buffo per due Gatti".  We heard an extract read by Peter, one of the co-stars of the book and speeches from Her Royal Highness and Father Anton.  We also had a delicious buffet the star of which was a wonderful Pushkin cake.

    The launch proved to be a most enjoyable evening and the book is already flying off the shelves.  A special copy is even on its way to the Holy Father tied up in a piece of the ribbon that Pushkin was wearing at their meeting.  I think there is a strong possibility that Pushkin may soon add 'best selling author' to his list of accolades.  But despite all the attention of the launch and indeed as a result of his rise to fame as a result of his meeting with the Holy Father last year this stylish black Persian maintains a quiet dignity appropriate to his status as cat in residence at the Birmingham Oratory.

    Proceeds from the book will go to fund much needed restoration work at the Oratory and to the  Carmelite Nuns in Wolverhampton, who have beautifully illustrated it.  It will make a lovely Christmas present and I snapped up a number of the first copies this evening so if you are on my Christmas gift list you may be lucky enough to get one!  If not copies are available from St Paul's Publishing priced £6.50.

    We don't know much about Blessed John Henry Newman's relationship with Pushkin's ancestors.  However, I like to think that he would approve of this new author who stalks with such style in his footsteps through his elegant and hallowed halls and who, in his own inimitable way, is trying both to spread the word and to preserve Newman's legacy of the Oratory.

    On that note I must end but to slightly misquote the last line of the book 'Pushkin', she said, I'll be back.'

    Pilgrimage to Rome 2011, Day I - Let's start the walking!

    For the fourth pilgrimage with the Sodality of Our Lady in Ireland we went back to the Eternal City. Our tour guide, Mr. Thomas Murphy, had arranged for us to stay the week in a convent just next to St. Peter's Church - Instituto Sanctissima Bambina Maria - which, apart from conventient access to 7 o'clock morning Mass, a fact of which many of us took advantage, offered the most incredible view from the roof top terrace (picture 1); warm summer evenings, dusk, with a well lit St. Peter's at our feet - clearly divinely inspired.

    Day one was planned as a walk through the streets of Rome along the Via Papale, the route of the popes, although we did it backwards; starting at St. Peter's Square (picture 5), just after morning Mass with Fr. Larkin, our route went down to the Tiber, past the Church Santo Spirito in Sassia and Ospedale Santo Spirito, and then towards Castel Sant'Angelo (picture 2) which was originally built as the Emperor Hadrian's mausoleum. Since the 6th century AD connected with St. Michael the Archangel after Pope Gregory the Great, during a plague epidemic in 590 AD, saw a vision of the Archangel on top of the building and took it as a sign that the plague was over.

    From here we went across the Tiber on the Ponte Sant'Angelo (picture 3) and strolled through the narrow streets of the inner city of Rome and made our way to the Chiesa Nuova - Filippo Neri's oratory, designed by Borromini - passing Banco Santo Spirito and the Piazza del' Horologico. From the Chiesa Nuova we walked back onto the old Papal Way, once the main street of Rome but very narrow by today's standards.
    We stopped at the church Santa Maria della Pace, a beautiful white classical church that stands out among the sandstone buildings of old Rome. It was begun by Pope Sixtus IV and Bramante (who lived just down the road) but it was finished by the Sodality Pope Alexander VII and de Cortona. It is one of the very earliest renaissance streetskape 'theatres' of Rome. Around a few corners we visited the tomb of Pope Hadrian VI in the German church Santa Maria dell'Anima and then on to Piazza Navona and the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, a 17th century baroque church located on the site where St. Agnes was martyred in 304 AD. It's a beautiful little church but the unfortunate location, on one of Rome's more tourist-ridden piazzas, apparently necessitates signs and loud speaker announcements which, at least for this pilgrim, takes away that "good ol' churchy feeling".

    After a quick lunch and the compulsory post-lunch-gelato we went on to the Collegio Capranica (picture 4) where our guide had arranged for us the special privilege to be allowed in to look at the chapel and to pray. The chapel was a very special place for the Sodality because it is where at least two popes (Benedict XV and Pius XII) joined.

    From there we sauntered the few steps to the Pantheon, one of the most impressive buildnings in Roma - from the outside. Inside the Pantheon is actually a church but this is a fa
    ct to which very few people pay the least bit of attention and upon entering you find yourself in a big hall, with excellent acoustics, where a couple of hundred people do their best to talk as loudly as possible and where tour guides happily stomp about with twenty or so photo-hungry tourists following. Here our tour ended and we made our way back to the convent for Benediction, Vespers, supper and bed. My advice after this first day; when in Rome - avoid the touristy places.