Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Cause of Katherine of Aragon

A brave defense of Katherine the Queen. To quote:
Her story speaks loudly enough for itself and serves as the perfect justification as far as I can see for either placing her name on the list and gifting her with the title of Blessed Katharine of Aragon or given a special recognition by the Church. From everything history tells us we know that Katharine of Aragon lived a model life of piety, patience and faith. She proved herself a worthy daughter of the Church. Her example of faith and perseverance should no longer be forgotten. The people of Peterborough – Anglicans not Catholics – have never forgotten this good woman and continue each year to recognize and honor her. Perhaps I overstate or over-dramatize when I go so far as to suggest that she should be named the patroness for the cause of reunification between the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church; perhaps not.

Under his holiness, Pope John Paul II, many were made blessed and many made saints. And although Katharine may not qualify for martyrdom, surely she has earned recognition by the Church – some title that would honor her faith and her defense of the sacrament of marriage. The Holy Father recognized the importance of acknowledging holy people and I believe that Katharine of Aragon earned her right to be placed among them.
More HERE.
Over 500 years ago a Spanish Princess become Queen – beloved by the people of her adopted English homeland, and dying in the arms of the friend who had accompanied her to their new world when they were girls.  Yet she died abandoned by her husband of nearly 25 years, cast out from the royal life she was born to, separated from her daughter, so poor she had to be provided with food by the people in the village who loved her and , at last, dying in conditions less than hospitable or decent.  Such was the end for Katharine of Aragon, Queen of England – wife of King Henry VIII and the central figure of the English Reformation.
She was abandoned by her husband, by her nephew, Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and by the Roman Catholic Church.  And yet, she never waivered in her faith.  Katharine of Aragon lived the model Christian life; one of piety and devotion to her faith.  Why then, has she never been considered a holy person worthy of recognition by the Roman Catholic Church.  If not recognition by including her on the List of English Martyrs or sainthood, then some special recognition acknowledging her faith and sacrifice as a devoted daughter of the Church and true Servant of God?
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15 comments:

SF said...

I've often thought about this, too!
Perhaps she could be a topic for a new historical novel from you, Elena? :)

Julygirl said...

She may not have died a martyr but she lived as one.

elena maria vidal said...

She certainly did.

Dymphna said...

I've always seen Catherine as a martyr for the cause of marriage as a sacrament. I wish she could be at least beatified.

Maureen said...

I was delighted to see this post. Something that is long, long overdue.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I never saw her life in this light before, but now that I've read this, the point seems obvious. Almost as obvious as the martyrdom of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette!

Jack Bennett said...

I always wondered why no one (and by that I mean bishops) has brought up the possible canonization of Catherine of Aragon in England. No one doubts she went the extra mile for what she believed in and for the Catholic faith and her character was pretty much admired by everyone (except maybe her husband and his minions) and she was beloved by the people despite being a foreigner. Even proponents of Anne Boleyn can't really find much fault with Catherine of Aragon.

Is it just the fear of seeming triumphalism (which was leveled against Cardinal Wiseman when the British Hierarchy was restored) or fear of the ever-boiling English anti-catholicism (which we are seeing full force now in the run up to the Pope's visit to the UK). Otherwise if anyone deserves sainthood - it's CofA.

Gareth Russell said...

Although I do respect Katherine's struggle, the reason why she has never been mentioned as a candidate for any of the honours of the Church being mentioned is because the cause of the Church in England is not actually something she ever commented upon. Although her cause is seen as the cause of the "old ways," in much the same default way as Anne Boleyn's has become that of "the new," Katherine failed to comment on either the Break with Rome or the wider Reformation, at any point during the annulment crisis, or after. Her cryptic reference to the poor state of her husband's soul in her final letter is a reference to him living in what Katherine naturally considered bigamy.

Katherine may have been personally pious and one would need to be utterly ignorant to deny that she was heroic, but there is no evidence whatsoever that she ever put the cause of the Faith before that of her marriage. Thomas More and Cardinal Fisher were both willing to throw away everything to preserve the cause, but Katherine was single-mindedly pursuing the defence of her title, rather than her faith. There was no change in her tactics or stance either before or after the Break with Rome.

If she had a failing, I would say, with respect, that this failure to see the bigger picture (the wood for the trees, if you will) was certainly it.

Gareth Russell said...

And I should also point out that she also stayed silent during the real marytrdoms under Henry VIII, since in all things but the most obvious (the divorce), Katherine was intent on showing herself to be loyal to her husband and that prevented her speaking out for those being executed for treason.

I am not saying this with any disrespect to a very brave one, but Katherine's story - whilst heart-breaking - does not compare to that of the hundreds of others whom her husband had slaughtered.

elena maria vidal said...

Susan, I never thought of it, but thanks for asking!

I agree, Dymphna and Maureen.

Glad to change your mind, E.!

You make some good points, Jack. Holy persons who were involved in politics of any kind usually have to wait a long time before being canonized. St.Joan of Arc and St. Thomas More are examples.

Gareth, we'll have to agree to disagree, dear. Katherine refused to swear the Oath of Succession, as did St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, the Carthusian martyrs, etc. and so forth. In those days, for a Catholic to refuse to take the Oath was the ultimate act of loyalty to the Church for it could send one to the scaffold.

There are many saints in the Roman Church who did not suffer physical martyrdom and yet who are still considered great saints.

As for Katherine speaking out against Henry's killing of the Catholic faithful, what could she do? She was imprisoned, she could not issue a public statement; she had no way of doing so.

For Katherine to be faithful to her marriage vows was her way of being faithful to the Church. As is written here (http://katharineofaragon.com/wordpress/?page_id=6):

"....It was intimated that if she submitted to the King’s will a very different situation would be found for her and she would be generously provided for. Katharine could have easily agreed to this or she could have retired to a convent as Henry had even suggested. Indeed, it is not unlikely that Henry would have built or given her an abbey. But to take such bribes would have been to renounce her faith, her child, her heritage and her self-respect – in essence saying that she had lied before God; and this she would not do. Her refusals were met with the harsh threats that if she continued to maintain her stance things would not only go badly for her, but for her daughter. Still she did not bend. Martyrs, under torture have refused to recant their faith. It would seem Katharine was doing the same thing – even with threats to her child.

Once the Act of Succession was introduced that nullified Mary’s right to ascend the throne – recognizing only the children of Anne that right, Katharine knew she had true reason to fear for herself and for Mary. She continued to pray, however, not caving into the fear and placed her trust in God.

....No matter how many times the King’s men came to her – demanding she swear the Oath of Succession – she refused. No matter how many documents were placed before her to sign, she crossed out Princess Dowager of Wales and wrote, Katharine the Queen, as she had always signed herself – being the rightful wife of the king in the eyes of God, the Church and the people."

Matterhorn said...

I have to say I LOVE that portrait of her! I wish more actresses who played Katherine in films looked more like the real woman, but it seems to be stereotypical "Spanish-looking" actresses who get picked for the part.

I believe there is such a thing as "bloodless martyrdom", and I think it can be safely said Katherine would qualify for this.

Aron said...

Yes, I have heard of the "white Martyrdom," where only property and position--and possibly relationships--are lost, rather than being subject to violence and loss of life. It would certainly seem that Katherine qualifies for this.(From Online Catholic.) Enbrethiliel mentions Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Briefly, I found an Orthodox-looking icon online depicting Louis as Most Christian King and Martyr-King, flanked by St. Remy and St. Clotidle (sp?). I was unaware that the King had been beatified let alone canonized by any church? (Not that I am complaining.) <><

elena maria vidal said...

Oh, no, Aron, Louis has not been canonized or beatified, although there have been attempts to introduce his cause over the years. It took Joan of Arc 500 years to be canonized. However, the Church does not forbid us from having devotion to individuals who have shown heroic virtue but who have not yet been given the honors of the altar (liturgical recognition.) By praying to persons of holiness, even if they are not formally beatified, is how the causes of saints begin. if it is God's will, it will come to fruition. As we know, there are many saints in heaven who will never be beatified because they are known only to God.

Aron said...

I see, Elena, thank you so much for clearing that up! I did not really think that he had been; I've noted the instances over the years when some have tried to have the Royal Couple acknowledged, and the current climate that would mitigate against the idea. But, when I saw the icon I just assumed...heh...which, of course, one should never do. If you'd like to actually see this "icon" for yourself, Elena, it is in an album on my Facebook page titled "Memento." I think my portrait of MA (done from "MA A La Rose" by an artist-friend back in my under-grad days) above my mantle is in there as well. C of A was certainly above average when it came to courage. I certainly hope that I shall have the same should I ever have need of it. <><

Aron said...

I see, Elena, thank you so much for clearing that up! I did not really think that he had been; I've noted the instances over the years when some have tried to have the Royal Couple acknowledged, and the current climate that would mitigate against the idea. But, when I saw the icon I just assumed...heh...which, of course, one should never do. If you'd like to actually see this "icon" for yourself, Elena, it is in an album on my Facebook page titled "Memento." I think my portrait of MA (done from "MA A La Rose" by an artist-friend back in my under-grad days) above my mantle is in there as well. C of A was certainly above average when it came to courage. I certainly hope that I shall have the same should I ever have need of it. <><