Thursday, November 19, 2009

English Recusants

Christine explores the artifacts left by English Catholics who had to hide their Faith in the days of persecution. To quote Hilaire Belloc:
The English Reformation was the most important European event between the conversion of the Roman Empire and modern times. It was the most important because upon it the unity or break-up of Christendom depended. It is of especial important to Englishmen because it is by far the greatest event in the story of their country; but it is of still greater importance to Europeans as a whole, because of England had not been torn away from the unity of Christendom that unity would be intact to this day. It was the loss of England which determined the whole affair. Because of that loss Europe ultimately fell into two camps, the Protestant culture on the one hand, and the Catholic culture on the other.... It was through the Reformation that the dissolution of Europe came and that chaos of which we are now suffering the last, and perhaps mortal, effect.

--From Hilaire Belloc's introduction to Brian Magee's The English Recusants: A Study of the Post-Reformation Catholic Survival and the Operation of the Recusancy Laws


Stephanie A. Mann said...

These relics are really remarkable. I would so love to return to England for a "recusancy" tour--Tyburn convent, country homes with priest holes, and now Stoneyhurst!

elena maria vidal said...

Me, too. What a great pilgrimage that would be!

Christine said...

Me, three! And what a delightful tour it would be if all three of us ladies could journey together!

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, that would be lovely!

tubbs said...

the Agnus Dei pictured - what is its provenance? (my guess is either Tyburn Convent or Arundel Castle)

Many decades ago, (when Moby Dick was still a minnow) this sailor was granted an extended liberty after his carrier, CV-11, docked at Portsmouth/UK. I was fortunate in that my Division Officer found my interest in recusant history interesting enough. I used the time to do some research of my own. I found the home of the Jernyngham family in Costessey (Norfolk). I cannot express the thoughts and emotions I felt as I stood among the ruins of this ancient Tudor mansion. To refer to Tintern Abbey would only trivialize the experience.

This ruin was totally off the beaten path; I only found it because I was guided by the local RC vicar---who led my thru some pig styes and cow pastures. I've heard that the remaining stones, appointments, and artifacts have since been towed off and auctioned.

As for a pilgrimage, two things I might want to bring up:

(1) don't expect to find many familiy names still extant; so many patrilineal names died out, as did the Jernyghams in the early twentieth century. These clans often suffered from limiting their gene pool --- the local vicar also opined on their attitude --- too noble to marry commoners/too Catholic to marry heretics/ and too English to marry foriegners --- .....thus the demise of many of the ancient names.

(2) Don't expect some Chaucerian romp..... And no, you wont see the brain stains on the altar steps, a la Beckett; the Tudor and Stuart agents assured that no such sacred memorabilia remained. What you will find are the historic records, from both Catholic and Protestant perspective, and they are harrowing enough.

You could find priest-hides. When you do, kneel at the spot and pray to the most heroic martyr of that whole milieu, namely Saint Nicholas Owen, the man who constructed those hiding places. Please pray for me, pray for Britain, and for the whole world.


elena maria vidal said...

Tubbs, it sounds like you had better come with us!

Christine said...

Mr. Tubbs,
In answer to your question about the Agnus Dei, from my website:

"Shown above is the Agnus Dei carried by St. Edmund Campion on his clandestine missions, and a gift of Pope Gregory VIII. Campion was found hiding in Lynford Grange, Berkshire on July 17, 1581, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered five months later. The Agnus Dei was found wrapped in a list of indulgences stuffed in the rafters of Lynford Grange when the roof underwent renovation in 1959."

tubbs said...

Thank you, Ms. Christine...and thanks too for your blog, which I always find interesting.