History


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A new book extensively documenting Pius XII’s attempts to deliver the Jews from the hands of the Nazis is due to be published in paperback March. Those who wish to see Vatican II as a mighty breach with previous teaching such as John Cornwell or Martin Rhonheimer are impervious to the facts in this matter, but the Guardian has the honesty to produce a frank review. 

The Pill is demanding the burial of Richard III in a Catholic Church. Hmmmm….. I suppose he is a Catholic but I am sure the ‘C’ of E in the form of Leicester ‘Cathedral’ will maintain their spurious claim to be the Ecclesia Anglicana and demand his body (and the attendant tourist revenues). Personally I think he is overwhelmingly likely to be guilty so I am not enthused about the idea of drawing attention to his alleged Catholic credentials. He had the motive, he had the opportunity and they disappeared on his watch. Who was the last mediaeval king you remember who deposed someone and then didn’t kill them when they had the opportunity? He also seems to have been accused of killing them and didn’t produce them to show them were alive or deny that they were dead (according to Holinshed in 1577 not very near the events admitedly). I can’t understand why the Richard III Society thinks that the discovery of his body makes it any less likely that he is innocent. In fact, the proof it affords that he was deformed increases the credibility of St Thomas More’s account.

I was surprised to learn today from Copleston’s ‘History of Philosophy’ that there was an ‘anti-clerical’ government in Portugal in 1761 that burnt several priests (yes, that certainly sounds anti-clerical.) Does anyone know how it came about? Aeliane, you know everything…

 

 

 

The Last Judgement. The Louvre.

At first sight, there might seem to be nothing to say. ‘You know neither the day nor the hour’, as the Lord says, and again, ‘it is not for you to know the time or moments’. On the other hand, He does foretell the signs of His return, and tells us to judge that He is ‘near’ when certain things take place.

There is an impressive amount of patristic testimony assigning a period of between 6,000 and 7,000 years to the history of mankind. The Scriptural basis for this is the combination of Genesis 1 (7 days, of which only six are said to be completed) and 2 Peter 3:8 (that a day is as a thousand years). Here are some examples:-

Epistle of Barnabas: ‘ And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it. Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, He finished in six days. This implies that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifies, saying, Behold, today will be as a thousand years (chapter 15).

St Irenaeus: ‘The six hundred years of Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred because of the apostasy, and the number of the cubits of the image for which these just men {Ananias, Azarias and Misael, in Dan. 3} were sent into the fiery furnace, do indicate the number of the name of that man in whom is concentrated the whole apostasy of six thousand years” (Adversus Haereses V, 29).

St Hippolytus: ‘we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily… 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day on which God rested from all His works. …”A day with the Lord is as a thousand years“. Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled’ (Second fragment on Daniel).

St Cyprian: ‘What, indeed, do we find in the Maccabees of seven brethren, equals alike in their lot of birth and virtues, filling up the number seven in the sacrament of a perfected completion? Seven brethren were thus associating in martyrdom, as the first seven days in the divine arrangement containing seven thousand of years, as the seven spirits and seven angels which stand and go in and out before the face of God, and the seven-branched lamp in the tabernacle of witness, and the seven golden candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and the seven columns in Solomon upon which Wisdom built her house’ (Treatise XI, Exhortation to Martyrdom, 11).

St Victorinus: ‘To those seven days the Lord attributed to each a thousand years; for thus went the warning: In Your eyes, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day. Therefore in the eyes of the Lord each thousand of years is ordained, for I find that the Lord’s eyes are seven {Zech 4:10). Wherefore, as I have narrated, that true Sabbath will be in the seventh millenary of years, when Christ with His elect shall reign’ (On the Creation of the World).

St Hilary: ‘After six days, the aspect of the Lord’s glory is shown: that is, six times of a thousand years having gone by, the honour of the heavenly kingdom is prefigured’ (Commentary on Matt.17,1).

St Jerome: ‘ “A thousand years in thy sight as yesterday“.  From this passage, and from the epistle which is attributed to the apostle Peter, I conclude that the custom comes of taking a thousand years for one day; with the result, that is, that just as the universe was fashioned in six days, so one believes [credatur] that it will last only six thousand years, and that afterwards will come the sevenfold and the eightfold number, when the true sabbath will be kept, and the purity of the circumcision [i.e. baptismal innocence] will be restored’ (epistle 140.8).

St Gaudentius: ‘We wait for that truly holy day of the seven thousandth year which will follow those six days, that is the six thousand years’ (Treatise 10).

St Augustine: ‘Now the thousand years {of Apoc. 20}, as it seems to me, can be interpreted in two ways. It may indicate that this event happens in the last thousand years, that is, in the sixth millennium….Alternatively, he may have intended the thousand years to stand for the whole period of this world’s history’ (City of God, XX, 7). {However, in his commentary on Ps. 89, St Augustine finds fault with those who combine the verse ‘thousand years are as one day’ and the week of creation to conclude that the world will last six thousand years, referring to our Lord’s words about it not being for us to know the times and the seasons.}

Cornelius a Lapide, in his commentary on the Apocalypse, also cites St Cyril, St Isidore and St Germanus of Constantinope for the same opinion, but without adequate references. On the other hand, he cites St Ambrose as opposing it, on the grounds that more than 6,000 years had already passed from the creation. Lapide notes that Ambrose was not following the Hebrew chronology: according to Lapide’s own calculations, the world was created 3950 BC.

Among later authors, Bellarmine says ‘there has always been the famous belief of those who hold that the world will last 6,000 years, since God created the world in six days, and one day in his sight is as a thousand years.’ He remarks that it is has not yet been possible to refute this opinion by experience. He praises Augustine’s moderation, whom he understands to consider this opinion ‘probable’.

Lapide likewise considers the opinion to be sufficiently common as to count as ‘a probable conjecture’. But given our Lord’s words, ‘of that day and hour no one knows’, he adds that we should understand the number 6,000 to mean that the world will not last more complete millennia than six; but whether it will fall short of the seventh millennium by years, decades or even centuries, he says, we cannot tell.

Angel of Mons

Angel of Mons

What should we think of the First World War? My impression is that its finest advocates on the English and French side saw it primarily as a spiritual struggle, between (the remnants of) Christendom and (incipient) paganism. By ‘finest advocates’ I mean men who were impressive by a combination of faith, intelligence, a sense of what Europe had been and could be again, and an understanding of how ideas mould history: such men as Chesterton and Maritain, who both supported the war. But were they deluded? Or were there any men of similar calibre on the other side who would have offered an equally high-minded justification for their side? Maybe Notburga can tell us how the German and Austrian bishops spoke of the war at the time?

All that you hoped for, all you had you gave

To save mankind, yourselves you scorned to save.

True or false?

The Garden of Eden from the Très Riches Heures...
How long were our first parents in paradise? Cornelius a Lapide mentions a few opinions in his Commentary on Genesis. One man suggests a day; another a week. Some suggest 40 days, so that our Lord atoned for Adam’s sin of gluttony by fasting for the same period. Some even suggest 34 years, saying that our Lord atoned for original sin by His whole life.
But Lapide himself prefers the opinion that he finds in St Irenaeus, St Epiphanus, one of the Sts Cyril and St Ephraim, namely that they fell on the very day of their creation, that is, ‘on the Friday, and in fact, at the very hour that Christ died on the cross outside Jerusalem, and restored the thief and ourselves to paradise.’
He gives three arguments for this conclusion. First, Scripture itself suggests no passage of time. It doesn’t say, ‘It came to pass on a certain day, that…’. The serpent is mentioned immediately after the marriage of Adam and Eve. The only reference to time is that the Lord God was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.
Secondly, why would the devil have lost any time in tempting Eve? He was a murderer ‘from the beginning’, as our Lord says.
The third reason is particularly interesting. The theory of the fall on the same day as creation is supported, says Lapide, ‘by the perfection of nature in which Adam was established, by which, like an angel, he immediately determined himself and so chose one option or the other’. Of course Adam’s choice was not irrevocable, as was the angelic choice. Yet there is an analogy between his state of original justice and the original state of the angels. He, like them, was incapable of venial sin. He had no disordered attachments or emotions or bad habits to confuse or distract his mind. Nor did Eve. They could not slide gradually into mortal sin.
Citing St Ephraim again, Lapide holds that Adam was created at the third hour. This would be appropriate, since this was the time when the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples to remake them in the likeness of the second Adam.
Just six hours, and so many years ago. Yet how well I remember it.

Business matters recently led me to the University of  Göttingen, highest ranked university in Germany (Times Higher Education ranking place 43 in 2010/11), and only University in Germany named after a British monarch (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, after George II of Great Britain). I whiled away a lengthy train trip by reading up on the history of Göttingen in Wikipedia (to which I can add some original research pursued during a bicycle trip of 800 km from south to north of Germany, just so you can admire me). What I found was a tale of glory mixed with abounding bitterness.

Stemming both from a little Saxonian village and an Ottonian Imperial Palace, the city apparently tried very hard to achieve the independency of a free imperial city, yet failed. This might have served it better than it thought, for, initially impervious to the Lutheran revolt, its ‘new wool weavers’, a progressive lot, coupled political strivings with adherence to Lutheranism and brought down a longer-ranging wrangle in their favour, protestant preaching being allowed in the Göttingen churches at last. Still, this might not have been a sustainable development, for Eric I, Prince of Calenberg, while dependent on the wealth of the city, was an adherent of the Old Faith. Unfortunately, he was also very tolerant (one feels tempted to say: ptui!) of the conversion to Lutheranism of his 25-year junior wife, Elizabeth of Brandenburg. This spirited lady managed to pretty much hold the reins during the regency of her son, Eric II, 12 years old when his father died. Apparently really convinced of the truth of Protestantism, she seems not to have been motivated by greed, because – quite uniquely, poor little historically illiterate me thinks – she put all monastery wealth into a trust that still exists today, serving the upkeep of churches and caritative purposes only. As a result, a number of Lutheran monasteries exist up to this date in Lower Saxony. *

Yet, everything might have turned out well. Eric II, in a way quite a failure of maternal expectations, went abroad, broadened his mind, and returned a Catholic. In his attempts to reverse his mother’s reformatory exertions, he was unfortunately, again, hampered by financial considerations. Hindsight teaches that the Göttingen Bürgerschaft quite lost power afterwards, what with the pest, and the Thirty-Years-War, and all that, so that a Duke might have brought the thing round to Catholicism after all.  However, Eric II.’s decendents failed to reproduce sufficiently, so that the whole area fell to Protestant Principality of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

The Thirty-Years-War, however atrocious, might still have helped Göttingen in the end. Conquered by Tilly for the Catholics in 1626, it was re-conquered by the Protestants in 1631, and remained thus (alas for anyone on a business trip looking for weekday Mass). The Principality rose to an Electorate in 1692; in 1714 the Prince-Elector became King of Great Britain;  his son, George II., decided that it was a bit pathetic for his Hannoverian lands not to have a single university, and founded that of Göttingen in 1737, into which three of his grandsons were immatriculated. The university was an immediate European success, but suffered somewhat form successive restrictive governments, against which it put up some spirited protest. A duel between students on 22. April 1766, resulting in the death of one combatant, became the cause of the technical re-organisation of the whole student duelling business in Central Europe (little hint towards a continuation of the Bodis Riper, at the behest of my inner child).

Bla, bla, revolutions, decline; being fed up with the Hanoverians and quite placidly welcoming the news of becoming Prussians, and an extremely bad chapter of history: a university town with a total of 40 Nobel Price winners – had an absolute majority for the National Socialists in the July 1932 (not! 1933 elections) , and an apparently pretty enthusiastic burning of ‘un-German’ books headed by the Rector. Only to a small extent justice has been done, as the university has shot itself quite in the own foot, for the most renowned scientists were Jewish, and found better places abroad.

* I visited one of those ‘Lutheran Monestaries’, in Marienberg. Originally following the Cistercian rule, its observance had quite declined by the beginning of the 16th century, or so. By a bitter irony, reform, in the true sense of the word, seems to have succeeded there shortly after, the Liturgy of the Hours and common meals, plus other stuff, being restored. Comes Elizabeth with her pious Protestantism, abolishing all and sundry on evangelical grounds, but not those two items. A hundred years or so, both are gone. What remains are noble women, or rich bourgeoise ones, living on state expanses in a comfortable life style together with their mothers and sisters, reading the odd devotional book, going to church together on Sunday, and that’s it.

I came across this claim in a local history written in 1924: Newcastle-upon-Tyne by F. J. C. Hearshaw. In the year 1138 Newcastle was occupied by King David I of Scotland (Feast Day May 24th) it did not return to the Kingdom of England until 1157. The New Castle on the ruins of the Roman fortress of Pons Aelius had been built in 1080 by Robert II of Normandy eldest son of William the Conqueror and hero of the First Crusade. David’s family already had associations with Newcastle because his Grandmother and Aunt fled there after the death of Malcolm III and St Margaret in 1093. Malcolm III was killed at Alnwick with his eldest son on the way back from a campaign in Northumbria during which he had attended the foundation of the new Cathedral Church at Durham. Hearshaw continues…
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“Queen Margaret of Scotland (sister of Edgar Atheling) survived this double loss only four days, and Scotland became the prey of civil war and anarchy. In these circumstances Margaret’s aged mother, Agatha, and her sister Christina, fled to England, their native land, sought shelter in Newcastle, and there ‘were espoused to Christ’ in the newly founded Nunnery of St Bartholomew, first of Newcastle’s religious houses.”
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This Nunnery was destroyed at the Reformation. The indoor Granger Market and Nun Street mark the land where it once stood. Now Hearshaw is certainly wrong about England being “their native land” as neither of them can have been born there. In fact the place of Agatha’s birth and how she fits into the great extended family of saints surrounding St Stephen of Hungary and St Henry the Emperor is a great historical mystery. Agatha lived out her remaining years as a nun in Newcastle but her daughter did not stay in Newcastle. Christina went on to be the Abbess of Romsey where she educated Malcolm and Margaret’s daughter Edith (later renamed Matilda) by whose marriage to Henry I the royal line of Wessex was united to that of Normandy. This union was later threatened by the survival of only one child of Henry I, his daughter Matilda. Although the Barons agreed to accept her as heir before Henry I’s death, when the King actually died most rallied to her cousin Stephen (famous coward of the First Crusade) sparking a protracted civil war. This helped to provide a pretext for expansion southward by David I (son of Malcolm III and uncle of Matilda)…

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“In 1137 a muster of local troops at Newcastle prevented David from pressing his attack far to the south. In 1138, however, his host reached Northallerton in Yorkshire; but there it met with a heavy defeat at the hands of the militia of Yorkshire in the famous ‘Battle of the Standard.’ Nevertheless, though this English victory saved Yorkshire from Scottish occupation, it did nothing to relieve Northumberland, nearly all of whose castles were by this time in David’s possession. The hopeless Stephen, distracted by civil war and debilitated by baronial treachery, felt constrained to make peace on his adversary’s terms. Hence by the Treaty of Durham (1139), the much coveted Earldom of Northumberland was revived and conferred upon Henry, David’s eldest son and heir. Newcastle was not included in this grant. In spite of that fact, however, the Scots took possession of it and held it for some eighteen years.
The Scottish occupation was a notable episode in the history of the town. It was quite clear that David regarded Northumberland as permanently incorporated into his kingdom, and many things indicate that Newcastle was soon in fair way to supersede Edinburgh as his capital and seat of government. He himself was much in the town; he showed it peculiar favour; he issued his laws therefrom; he adopted its customs as models for the four Scottish boroughs of Edinburgh, Stirling, Roxburgh and Berwick (hence the inclusion of the customs of Newcastle in the Scottish Statute Books); he caused, it is supposed, the old English church near the White Cross to be refounded and rededicated to the Scottish St Andrew; he refounded the nunnery of which his grandmother and his aunt had been inmates. From Newcastle he extended his wide authority over Northern England. Before the end of 1141 (when the cause of Stephen appeared to be ruined and that of Matilda triumphant) he had secured Carlisle, and had made himself master of Cumberland, Westmorland, and a large part of Lancashire. A dependent of his moreover acquired the palatine bishopric of Durham, and the largest dreams of Scottish expansion seemed likely to be realised.
Three deaths, however – viz., those of Henry, Earl of Northumberland, in 1152; of David himself in 1153; and of Stephen in 1154 – completely changed the political situation, and prepared the way for the English recovery of Newcastle and North.”
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Of course, the Scottish Kings were rather more English than the Kings of England at this time as they represented the elder branch of the house of Wessex. Hearshaw is probably wrong about St Andrew’s as well. It is likely that it was always dedicated to the Apostle on account of the devotion to him in the region stemming from St Wilfred’s translation of relics of Andrew from Rome to Hexham in the seventh century. In fact, I am reliably informed, it is quite likely that the relics of St Andrew in Fife and the consequent dedication to Scotland to him probably stems from the theft of some or all of these relics in one of the many raids of the period or their transportation to Fife by a disgruntled deposed Abbott of Hexham. In fact, it was not until after the period discussed here that the term Scotia was used to include the region bellow the Firths of Clyde and Forth. The eastern part of this region still being seen as Northumbrian, giving rise to the surprising fact that St Cuthbert is the patron of Edinburgh and St Andrew of Newcastle.

It is widely known that the continent of America was named after Amerigo Vespucci by the Cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in 1507. Less well known seems to be the origin of the name Amerigo itself. Vespucci was a Florentine and Amerigo is an Italian form of Emericus which is the Latin version of the Hungarian name Emeric. This name was created when St Stephen and Bl. Gisele of Hungary named their second son after Bl. Gisele’s brother St. Henry II. This son grew up to be Saint Emeric of Hungary (Feast: 4th or 5th November). Thus America means the land of Henry. Henry is the German name Heinrich originally Haimirich or ‘Home Ruler’. Suitable enough for a continent made up of former colonies now autonomous and sovereign.

I wonder if this might open interesting possibilities for the future of the Americas in an ideal scenario. It was prophesied (Ps 72:8) that the Messiah would rule ‘a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos orbis terrarum’ from sea to sea and from the great river (Euphrates) to the earth’s bounds’. It would rather seem as if the second half of this describes the frontiers of the Roman Empire and the first half the Americas. These are the territories in which the Christian faith has historically been professed by almost the entire population. In fact, the other region (sub-saharan Africa) in which this is the case is mentioned in the next verse ‘coram illo procident Æthiopes’. But the Americas as a whole have never been united under the Kingship of Christ. Before the Braganzas re-created an independent Portugal much of the Americas was united under the Habsburgs and much of the rest was at one point ruled by the Bourbons.  Both the Bourbons and the Braganzas are branches of the House of Capet so in the end it is this dynasty which has ruled the largest part of the Americas. Were a hereditary monarchy to ever be established in the Americas the Duke of Anjou would therefore seem the most obvious candidate. Nevertheless, soon after the time the Bourbons acquired Spain they lost much of New France to Britain and there are regions of the North that have only ever been ruled by Protestants (twelve of the thirteen colonies) and Pagans.

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Of course, the Masonic origins of the United States of America and much of its symbolism must be distressing for any patriotic American of the true faith and it must seem desirable that the Hispanicisation of the USA might one day lead to the Catholicisation of this country. It has always seemed rather anomalous that the USA should usurp the title of two whole continents for itself. Perhaps this problem could be solved by uniting all the other former colonies of the Americas into the USA and moving the capital to Mexico City (upon which Our Lady bestowed such a favour by the miraculous image of Guadalupe). And then a new flag could be created out of the arms of St Emeric and the Lilly (badge of St Emeric and symbol of Florence and Anjou)…

On the other hand, that flag belongs by right to the Duke of Lorraine who inherited the Angevin claim to the throne of Hungary (by what means I forget) and then acquired this right twice over, as well as the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, (and so Amerigo’s Florence) by marrying the last Habsburg (the original Christian rulers of the Americas). In this way the Dukes of Lorraine also acquired St Henry II’s Romano-Germanic throne. So perhaps the Habsburgs (briefly rulers of Mexico in the nineteenth century too) should get it. Tricky business….

Great mother of the God-Man, most holy virgin, I, Jan Kazimierz, by the grace of your Son the King of Kings and my Lord, and by your mercy, king, falling at your most holy feet, take you to be my patron and queen of my dominions. I recommend myself and my Polish kingdom, my dukedoms of Lithuania, Ruthenia, Prussia, Mazovia, Samogitia, Livonia, Smoleńsk and Czernichow, and the armies of both nations and all my peoples, to your particular care and protection. In this woeful condition of my kingdom, full of calamities, I humbly implore your pity and help against the enemies of the Roman Church. And since, constrained by your remarkable kindnesses, I and my nation burn with a new and zealous desire to consecrate ourselves to your service, I swear, in my name as in that of my senators and my peoples, to you and to your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, that I will spread your praises and devotion to you through all the lands of my kingdom.

I promise and vow that when by your powerful intercession and the great mercy of your Son, I gain victory over the enemies and especially over the Swedes, I will ask the Apostolic See that this day be celebrated every year for ever in thanksgiving to you and your Son, and with the bishops of the kingdom I will strive that what I swear be carried out by my peoples.

Since with great sadness of heart I see that on account of the cries and oppression of the serfs the plagues of pestilence, war, and other calamities have these seven years fallen on my kingdom from the hands of your Son, the just Judge, I further swear and vow that when peace comes I, and all the estates, will use means to free the people of my kingdom from unjust burdens and oppression.

 And since you, most merciful Queen and Lady, have inspired the thought of these vows in me, my senators and the estates of my kingdom, do you bring about that I may obtain from your Son the grace of fulfilling them.

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