Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Georg Ritter von Trapp

A hero for liberty.
Many people have probably heard of Captain Ritter von Trapp because of the hugely successful film "The Sound of Music", but not many may be aware of the whole story of this upstanding man and devoted son of Austria. Georg Ritter von Trapp was born on April 4, 1880 in the coastal city of Zara, what is today Zadar, Croatia but what was then a Hungarian port, part of the Hapsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary. The son of a navy captain, the sea was in his blood from the very beginning. He listened to his father's stories of naval adventure all his life and eventually attended the Naval Academy and became an officer in the Imperial and Royal Navy of Austria-Hungary, first seeing service in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China where he earned his first combat decoration. (Read entire post.)
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Freedom of Religion

Is it a thing of the past? Archbishop Dolan reflects.
Religious freedom is the lifeblood of the American people, the cornerstone of American government. When the Founding Fathers determined that the innate rights of men and women should be enshrined in our Constitution, they so esteemed religious liberty that they made it the first freedom in the Bill of Rights.
In particular, the Founding Fathers fiercely defended the right of conscience. George Washington himself declared: "The conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness; and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be extensively accommodated to them." James Madison, a key defender of religious freedom and author of the First Amendment, said: "Conscience is the most sacred of all property." (Read entire article.)
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Scale Model Cities

Made for the Kings of France.
When defending his realm, Louis XIV not only thought big, but he also worked in visionary 3D. In 1668, his war minister, the Marquis de Louvois, commissioned a large relief map of the port city of Dunkirk to be used in planning the city's fortifications. Others followed—huge exact-scale models of frontier cities and their surroundings—hills, gullies, rivers, forests, villages, roads, farms—that might sustain an enemy siege. The royal collection of scale-model cities grew under Louis XV, Louis XVI and both Napoleons, until modern warfare, post-1870, made them obsolete. Of the original 260, some 100 have survived, most housed in their own museum in the Hôtel des Invalides—28 on display, the rest stored in pieces.

Sixteen models from the reserves, some never before shown in public, have been re-assembled under the immense glass-roofed nave of the Grand Palais for "La France en Reliefs"—a spectacular, beautifully mounted, must-see show.(Read entire post.)
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Herb Whisperer

How to grow an urban garden.
Seattle's Amy Pennington once oversaw the office of acclaimed chef-restaurateur Tom Douglas. Now free from the nine-to-five life, she's the verdant thumb behind GoGo Green Garden, a one-woman consulting shop that helps urbanites plant their own produce. The 37-year-old teaches her clients to reap harvests in the most petite of plots—or, if need be, window boxes. In both her latest book, "Apartment Gardening," and "Dirt City," the bi-weekly column she recently started writing for the website Food52, Ms. Pennington shares her know-how with metropolitan types everywhere.

She applies the same principles of wasting nothing and maximizing space to home cooking. Visit her streamlined one-bedroom apartment, and you'll see her template for sustainable living and perfectly stocked cupboards. Potted plants populate her narrow balcony, and homemade condiments and organic grains bought in bulk fill her kitchen. (Read entire post.)
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Uncle David Remembers

My mother and my grandfather jotted down their memories of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during the Second World War, which I have shared on this blog. I am happy to say that recently my uncle, David Strong, sent me a letter with his recollections of the same period. Uncle David's memories are those of a high-spirited little boy whose curiosity and energy were not dampened by war and hardship.
World War II in the Philippine Islands: Memories by David W. Strong

I was 6 years old when the Pacific war started. These are my personal memories of events that I experienced during the war.

Before Pearl Harbor, it was thought that the Japanese would attack Manila. We had built an air raid shelter in the house. Air drills with sirens were conducted. Anti-aircraft gun batteries were established around the city. The Japanese bombed Clark Field just outside Manila on Dec. 8, 1945, 10 hours after Pearl Harbor. (The date is a day later than the Pearl Harbor bombing because of the International Date Line.) Manila was
bombed again on Dec.10. Dad was at work at the Port of Manila. The building he was in was hit by the bombing. Fortunately, he wasn't injured.  His car was damaged by the falling concrete and he had glass fragments in his hair. The car had a dent on the roof just above the windshield. (After the Japanese occupation, the car was confiscated and repainted. The dent wasn't fixed. I remember seeing it occasionally.) Manila was declared an open city to avoid more bombing by the Japanese.

We had a friend, Robby, in the U.S. Army. Shortly after the bombing, he came by to say goodbye as the troops were moving out of the city. He was in battle gear with his helmet on. The Japanese army occupied the city. I remember watching the trucks with soldiers drive through the city waving Japanese flags. The U.S. and Filipino troops had gone to the Bataan peninsula. There they put up a fight with the Japanese. Bataan is about 20 miles across the bay from Manila. We could see the smoke and fire of the battle. When Bataan fell, we felt all was lost.

After the Japanese occupation, they started rounding up American citizens. A Japanese officer with a couple of soldiers came to our house. The officer spoke perfect English and was very polite. They took Dad away for what they said would be few days and suggested he pack an overnight suitcase. He was taken to the Santo Tomas University campus, which became a prison camp where he was held for the duration of the
war. After some time, we were allowed to visit Father in Santo Tomas. The visitor area was a large tent. The prisoners were in a roped off section as were we, with an open area between sections. Japanese soldiers were in the middle area. We would take food packages for Dad. These would be handed to the soldiers, who would investigate them before passing them on.

At the beginning of the Japanese occupation. Mom did not want us to go to the Japanese schools, so she started teaching Floy and I at home. Eventually, other parents in the neighborhood had her teaching their children. This was illegal under Japanese rule. So, when the Japanese patrols came around we all hid our books in predesignated places and went out into the courtyard and started playing. I have always admired our Mother for her bravery during this time. She took a big chance.

During the Japanese occupation, we had to carry papers proving we were not American citizens.Technically, we were citizens of the Republic of the Philippines. Our obvious American features stood out among the Filipino population. We were often stopped by Japanese soldiers to show our papers.

There was a Japanese officer who attended services at our church. Each Sunday, I would sit waiting on the front steps to see him. He would be dressed in full uniform. As he came to the front door of the church, he would take off his belt with a pistol holster and sword, then place them to the side of the steps. He always smiled at me and patted me on the head. After the service, I would rush out to watch him put the sword and pistol back on.

The Japanese had sentries posted in spots around the city. We were instructed to bow to them as we passed. Once I saw an old Filipino man spit on one of them. He was struck in the head by the soldier with his gun butt. No one could go to his care for fear of harm to themselves.

Across the street from where we lived was a tin smith, who made pots and pans. I would spend time there and he would show me how to make things out of tin. One days I was searching through the scrap barrel for spare tin and I uncovered a short wave radio. He quickly covered it up and told me not to tell anyone. Mom later told me that they used it to listen to broadcasts from the American forces. Which is how we kept up with the progress of the liberation.

An undercover Filipino guerrilla stayed with us for a while. He stayed in a room in the attic. I walked in on him once when he was cleaning and loading his gun and he told me not to tell anyone. Mom also told me
if I ever saw him on the street, to ignore him. I did see him once when I was on a errand away from the house, he looked at me and held his forefinger up to his lips.

The sentry that patrolled our street was quite friendly. We learned his name was Piko.He spoke a little English. He didn't have any lunch, so Mom used to give him boiled rice to eat. One evening he came by with his commander, an officer. They brought some food and canned condensed milk. We knew that the milk was from captured U.S. supplies, because the labels had been removed.

At some point in time, when the American invasion was expected, Piko told us that he was being sent away to another station. He asked to have some pictures of us. Mom gave him photos of us kids. I have often wondered if he got killed or captured in combat and his pockets searched by American soldiers, what would have they thought when they saw the photos.

Towards the end of the occupation, the Japanese were rounding up young boys on the streets for labor. At this point I was nine, so when the patrols came around, Mom would hide me. The Japanese patrols would not come into houses.

Once I was on an errand to get flour from a Sikh merchant a few blocks away. As I was leaving with the bag of flour, he rushed out. picked me up and carried me into his house. He had seen a Japanese patrol coming down the street and wanted to prevent me from being taken.

We lived about a mile from Clark Field, where Japanese planes were stationed. I used to watch them practice dog-fighting. One day as I was watching, suddenly other fighter planes showed up firing at the Japanese planes and shot them down. At that point the sky was full of planes bombing Clark Field. One of the planes flew by and I could see the U.S. star on the wings.

We had heard about the U.S. forces landing in Leyte on 20 October 1944 and General MacArthur's famous broadcast to the people of the Philippines, so we knew that liberation troops were on the way to Manila. We had built air raid shelters for protection during U.S. bombing raids. Mine was under the steps to the second floor of the house adobe bricks had been placed on the steps.I would sneak out during the raids to look out the window and watch the bombers.

The Japanese would be firing anti-aircraft guns at the bombers. I once saw one hit. As I watched the plane burning, I could see the crew bailing out as their parachutes opened. The Japanese soldiers on the street would fire at them as the chutes drifted down. One of the airman that had made it to the ground alive and was captured by the Japanese. They paraded him around the city, standing up in a flatbed truck with ropes tied around his neck. I remember him quite clearly, he was tall and blond.

As the U.S. ground forces moved closer, we could hear the sounds of guns in the distance. We had to go into hiding , as the Japanese would not allow anyone on the streets. They had set up machine guns in sand bag bunkers on each street corner and planted anti-tank mines in the streets. The house we were living in was just across a canal from a Japanese garrison, which was a target of the American artillery. One day a shell exploded overhead and blew the upstairs roof off. At this point, we moved to a house several blocks away, where trenches had been dug underneath the house. Typical of houses in the Philippines, it was built a few feet above the ground. We had to move at night so as not to be seen by Japanese soldiers. We crawled through ditches along side the road. At this time we were living on the outskirts of Manila, where there were no sidewalk and the streets were dirt. 
 Because we were not able bring much food with us, Floy and I would go back to the house to get more. At this time the Japanese soldiers had moved away. However, not taking any chances we would run from one hiding place to another. On one trip, we were heading back with bags of food. As we came around the corner of a house, there was soldier with his back to us. At first we thought it was a Japanese soldier, because he was wearing olive drab and had a helmet that was like the Japanese. The last American soldiers we had seen wore the older Doughboy helmet and khaki uniforms. We froze in our spot. The soldier had heard us and turned with his gun pointed at us. Looking at us, he said, "Holy cow, white kids! What are you doing here?" He and his lieutenant were the advance scouts of an infantry platoon. They were part of the 37th Infantry of the Buckeye Division, a National Guard division from Ohio.

They asked us where everyone was, so we led them to the house where we had been hiding. By this time the rest of the squad had arrived and the people came out to greet the soldiers. I asked one of the soldiers if I could put on his helmet. I put it on backwards and it came halfway down my head.

As they all were laughing at me, gun shots were fired at us. Everyone ran for cover. The soldier grabbed his helmet and shoved me under the house. The soldiers ran into the house. I could hear them shouting to each other as to where the shots had come from. They determined that they had come from a Japanese sniper in the grove of trees across the street, but they hadn't spotted him.  I was looking out through the lattice work.  One of the soldiers started raking the trees from the top with his sub-machine gun. I could see the leaves riffle from the bullets. Then there was a cry and the sniper fell to the ground.

A few days later, I went back to our house for more food. The American soldiers had set up a machine gun position on the patio facing the Japanese garrison across the canal. The patio had a short concrete wall that they had placed sand bags on. I remember thinking at the time that the patio was where I would play
soldier.

After Manila was liberated we were able to join Dad at Santo Tomas. As there was no means of transportation we had to walk. On the way a U.S. military staff car drove by us and then stopped. A Filipino army officer got out of the car and called to Mother by name.  I then recognized him. He was the popsicle vendor that used to bring his push cart down the street where we had been living. All that time he was part of the guerrilla underground. He gave us a ride part of the way. We soon were reunited with Dad, where we waited to be repatriated. Each day they would announce over a loudspeaker the names of families to get ready to go.

General McArthur made a visit to the camp. Everyone was very excited. I went to the entry road to wait for his arrival. He came in with a escort of jeeps with Filipino guerrillas as guards. Standing in the back of his jeep was a woman guerrilla with long flowing hair, carrying a sub-machine gun and a bandoleer over her shoulder. It was quite an entry. It made a real impression on me.

When our turn came to leave the camp, we were driven to the dock in an Army truck and loaded on landing craft that took us to the ship. The ship was the Coast Guard troop transport, the Admiral E. W. Eberle. On board the ship, we got a view of what was left of Manila. It was totally flattened from the shelling and bombing.

The trip to the United States was a lot of fun for me. The ship was divided into men and women sections. Dad let me do whatever I wanted, so I had full run of the ship. I liked hanging around with the sailors and they kind of "adopted" me. They even made a seaman light blue work shirt for me, in my size.

Since the war was still going on in the Pacific, the ship had destroyer escorts as far as Hawaii. During the trip we ran into a typhoon. We weren't allowed on deck, but I was able to watch the destroyer from the doorway, which had been roped off. It was quite a sight to see the bow of the destroyer plow through the huge waves.

At one point in the trip the destroyers fell back and we could hear explosions. The word was they suspected we were being followed by a Japanese submarine. The explosions we heard were depth charges that the destroyers had dropped. We weren't allowed to disembark in Honolulu Harbor. I remember seeing the Aloha Tower, as it was the tallest structure. We were in mid-ocean when the death of FDR was announced over the loudspeakers. We arrived in San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles in May, 1945 and took the train to Birmingham.

The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, a day before my tenth birthday.

Post war notes:

When I was in high school (1950 - 53 in Seattle) there was a student  from Japan, George Yamato. He was in his twenties. He had not attended high school in Japan before he moved to the U.S., so he was attending high school in order to go to college. George was in a few of my classes and we became friends. One day I noticed that he was avoiding me. If we were in the hallway between classes he would turn and walk away. I caught up with him and asked why he was avoiding me.

He heard from other students that I had been in Manila during the war. He told me that he had been with the Japanese forces in the Philippines and was afraid that if I found that out I would be angry with him. He had been one of the boy-soldiers, bo hentai, that had been conscripted by the Japanese army for labor. I told him that was in the past and I had no bad feelings toward him.

In college, one of my best friends and fellow Industrial Design major, was Don Kadoshima. He had been one of the Japanese-Americans that had been placed in the detention camps when the war started. The fact that he was imprisoned by the U.S. and I had been under Japanese occupation made us closer friends because of the shared experience.

When I was in college, I joined the 146th Field Artillery Battalion of the Washington National Guard. In reading the battalion history, I found that it had been part of the liberation of Manila. I thought that it was interesting that the guns that had fired at us, I was now going to fire.

I was in the Fire Direction Center of the battalion. In my first training summer camp at Ft. Lewis, Washington, on the first day of firing I was at the forward observation post. The guns were about a mile behind us. When the order to fire was given, I heard the guns fire and the shells came screaming overhead. Because of the conditioning from the war experiences, I almost ducked for cover. The sound was very familiar!

I still have several bills of Japanese money that were distributed during the occupation.
  


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The Friar of Carcassonne

Here is a review about Stephen O'Shea's new biography.

Bernard Délicieux, the delightfully named Franciscan friar who is the hero, albeit a flawed hero, of this book was a native of Montpellier.

He entered the province of Provence of the Friars Minors in 1284. At considerable cost to himself, he fought the excesses of the papal Inquisition in its campaign against the Cathars, a dissident movement in southern France.

Stephen O’Shea, the author of an earlier work on the Cathars, has rescued Délicieux from relative obscurity by tracing his efforts to defend the innocent victims of the ecclesiastical repression of heresy. The special object of Délicieux’s ire was the Friars Preachers, or Dominicans, who were mainly responsible for implementing the Inquisition. He accused them of using tainted and unreliable evidence in their judicial proceedings.

One of the most notorious buildings in the city of Carcassonne, where Délicieux was a popular preacher, was the Wall, the popular name for the prison where the Dominicans incarcerated suspected heretics. Not even the dead escaped the attention of the methodical friar-bureaucrats who staffed the Inquisition. There were instances where they exhumed the bodies of deceased suspects and consigned them to the flames.

O’Shea is a gifted storyteller who seems unencumbered by the occupational addiction of some historians to whisper to one another about esoterica in the footnotes. He has a good story to tell and he tells it well. (Read entire article.)
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Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 Royal Ascot Dress Code Announced

The Lady on what to wear in the Royal Enclosure:
Ladies: “Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.” This replaces the less clear instruction that miniskirts are considered unsuitable.
“Hats should be worn; a headpiece which has a base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.” So, absolutely no fascinators are now permitted in the Royal Enclosure.
Gentlemen: “Gentlemen are kindly reminded that it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress which must include a waistcoat and tie (no cravats), a black or grey top hat and black shoes.”
So no cravats chaps and black shoes MUST be worn with morning dress. (Read entire article.)
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The Improved Irish Coffee

From The Wall Street Journal:
The beauty of the Irish Coffee is threefold: part pick-me-up, part dessert, part winter warmer. Like any simple cocktail—it's nothing but coffee, Irish whiskey, cream and sugar—this drink is more than the sum of its parts. All too often it's made with too much whiskey, weak coffee and whipped cream from a can, which is unfair because...this classic is too good to dwell in mediocrity. (Read entire post.)
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Friday, January 27, 2012

The Temple Palace

From Vive la Reine, a sofa from the Comte d'Arois' Turkish boudoir at the Temple palace. It is true that both brothers of Louis XVI were quite extravagant, much more so than Marie-Antoinette. To quote:
The “Temple” in Paris was essentially a small city within a city, housing numerous buildings, including a palace used by the comte d’Artois since the 1770s. When the royal family and their small entourage was first brought into the Temple enclosure in the fall of 1792, they were led into the palace and given food. The king, at least, assumed they were to be held in the palace and began to designate rooms for his family, the waiting women, and their servants. It was not until later that they were led into the Little Tower and shortly after told that the royal family would be separated from their entourage and moved to the Great Tower as soon as it was furnished. (Read entire post.)
A supper given by the prince de Conti at the palace of the Temple in 1766
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Bringing Up Children in an Age of Conformity

From author Randy Hain:
We don’t have all the answers, but we do have a lot of lessons!  Here is what we have learned in our parenting journey so far about raising independent and faith-filled children:
  • Model strong faith and prayer.  Attending Mass, Holy Days, PSR and evening prayers are to be expected.  We go to Reconciliation frequently and let the kids know why it is so important and that we look forward to it.  We also make sure our children pray with us in public over every meal.  We frequently pray for others and are trying to incorporate family Rosary time in our home.  Bottom line:  we love our faith and pray and hope that they see and model our behavior.
  • Engage and Guide.  If we don’t spend quality time with our kids, they may fill it with something potentially harmful (inappropriate peers, harmful video games, bad TV, etc.).  Dinner time is sacred at our house.  We play games and read together as often as possible.  They are allowed TV and video game time, but we carefully audit both and there are time limits.  We engage in conversation about the real world and never cease to be amazed at how interested they are in politics and other issues.  Often, they just want our time and an active listening ear.
  • Encourage independent thinking and creativity.  We provide guidelines, but also encourage the boys to come up with their own answers to questions.  We give them ample opportunity to make decisions and encourage them to think creatively.  Instead of telling them the answers to questions, we often respond with “What do you think is the right answer?”
  • Encourage them to dream.  We figure if we encourage them to have their own dreams and goals, they will be less likely to follow the pack mentality in their schools.  Their goals may change each month (our experience), but at least they are being genuine.  When they share a goal or dream with us, we can then talk about what they will need to do in order to achieve it.
  • Don’t try to keep up with the Jones.  We honestly don’t care what our neighbors and friends have in the way of material possessions.  We weren’t raised that way and it just isn’t a priority.  Our kids see this and hopefully learn from our example.  To reinforce it, we often discuss the family budget, saving and giving money to the Church and other causes.  They are also encouraged to save up for things they might want with their own money.  Christmas and birthdays are the only gift-giving days in our house.
  • Encourage gratitude.  Be grateful for what we have and encourage this through involving the kids in volunteer activities that help those less fortunate than us.  We say what and who we are grateful for during prayer time.  Our observation is that grateful children are less likely to be greedy children and they won’t covet what advertisers and their friends say they should have.
  • Embrace old-fashioned thinking.  Yes, we actually teach our kids to open the doors for ladies and senior citizens, to say please and thank you and to write thank you notes when they receive a gift!  Respecting us, other people and themselves is also critically important.  It goes much deeper of course, but we had some pretty good lessons from our parents and living in “modern times” doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to throw out what works. (Read entire post.)

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Last Victim of Henry VIII

 Thus I alone, where all my freedom grew,
In prison pine, with bondage and restraint:
And with remembrance of the greater grief,
To banish the less, I find my chief relief.~
Henry Howard
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, a cousin of two of Henry VII's queens.
The Earl's father, Thomas Howard, the Third Duke of Norfolk survived just because Henry VIII died before signing the final order for execution. The Earl was executed on January 19, 1547 because Henry VIII feared that he wanted to usurp the throne from Edward, the Duke of Cornwall and Prince of Wales. (Read entire post.)
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Fathers as Protectors

From Zenit:
Thousands of men are answering the call to rediscover God's plan for fatherhood, inspired by a new movie, "Courageous," due to be released on DVD on Tuesday. The film, which debuted in theaters Sept. 30, follows four men striving to fulfill their mission "to serve and protect," both as law enforcement officers and fathers. Stephen Kendrick, producer and co-writer of the film, told ZENIT that every day he sees some 200 e-mails from "people sharing how the movie has impacted, inspired and blessed them."

"The stories they share are so heartfelt and moving," he said. "Countless dads are now reaching out to win the hearts of their children."

Kendrick continued: "One man realized he needed to step up and reconnect with the daughter he'd abandoned."

Many have chosen to forgive their dads.  "Wives are saying that 'my husband was a good dad, but now he's becoming a great dad after seeing this movie.'

"Couples heading for divorce have reunited and said that they must resolve to leave a legacy of faithfulness to their children like the men in the movie. We thank God for this!" (Read entire article.)
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

At Sotheby's

French art treasures are on display. Share

Wallace and the Pope

There is a letter from the King of France which mentions William Wallace.

A 14th-century letter asking Pope Boniface VIII to look favorably upon the Scottish patriot Sir William Wallace during his visit to Rome has been returned to Scotland.

“This document is an enigma,” said George MacKenzie, head of National Records of Scotland at the unveiling ceremony in Edinburgh on Jan. 12.

“It’s a letter from the French king to his officials at the Vatican mentioning Wallace, but we don't know what his business was with the Pope. What we do know is that the document still fascinates, 700 years after it was written.”

The life of Sir William Wallace was famously portrayed by Mel Gibson in his 1995 Oscar-winning film “Braveheart.” Until Jan. 12, the letter about the real-life Wallace was held in England, since being discovered in the Tower of London in the 1830s.

The letter was originally written in 1299, when Wallace traveled to the court of Philip IV of France to try and persuade him to support the Scots against Edward I of England. A year after Wallace’s arrival, Philip IV wrote the letter in question to his agents in Rome.

The letter, begins, “Philip by the grace of God, king of the French, to his beloved and loyal people appointed at the Roman Court,” and commands the French officials to “ask the Supreme Pontiff to consider with favor our beloved William le Wallace of Scotland, knight, with regard to those things which concern him that he has to expedite.” It is signed at the royal castle of Pierrefonds on the Feast of All Saints, Nov. 7, 1300.

“We do not have a lot of tangible links with Wallace as most of the documentation has been destroyed, so to have something that Wallace actually touched is a massive boost for Scotland,” said Duncan Fenton of the Society of William Wallace, who had campaigned for the return of the letter.

The document suggests that Wallace intended to visit the papal court of Pope Boniface VIII, but it is unknown whether he actually reached Rome.

Wallace was later betrayed and captured by English forces near Glasgow in 1305. He was then taken to London where he was executed following a show trial at Westminster Hall. Scotland’s freedom was subsequently secured, however, when Pope John XXII recognized the country’s independence in 1320.

“I am delighted to welcome the Wallace letter back to Scotland,” said Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop. “To have it here in Scotland, where it can be viewed by the Scottish public, is very significant indeed.”

The historic document will now go on public display this summer at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, alongside another rare letter associated with Wallace that dates back to 1297.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Empress Elizabeth of Russia and the Death Penalty

 The daughter of Peter the Great tried to continue her father's reforms.
Elizabeth was worried that abolishing the death penalty, with the fear such a punishment inspires, would increase the numbers of crimes committed. But that wasn't the only reason that held her back. Elizabeth was the only one who wanted to abolish the death penalty. The Synod would happily have released the Empress from her promise, and even the Russian people wouldn't understand why she wanted to give mercy to criminals. The Senate too was against it. They had just approved a law that, in addition to the usual forms of death penalty (including burying alive, drowning and even forcing people to drink liquid metals), recommended two new ones: hanging by the rib and being torn apart by horses. The Empress refused to approve that law. (Read entire post.)
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Objects of Devotion

How artists and craftsmen of old gave physical form to the Faith. (Via Supremacy and Survival.)
Medieval luxury came in various materials and forms, alabaster carvings among them, and a new show at the Princeton University Art Museum reveals the intimate beauty and expressiveness of this art. "Object of Devotion" highlights a selection of 60 Medieval English alabaster panels and freestanding sculptures from the vast collection of London's Victoria & Albert Museum. Touring for the first time in North America, these carvings of holy figures and narrative scenes were produced for churches, royal chapels and domestic altars in England and exported to the Continent. And they represent an English industry that thrived from about 1350 to 1530, after which the Protestant Reformation's ban on religious imagery, combined with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England by King Henry VIII, not only ended the demand for such works but also led to their outright destruction. (Read entire article.)
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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Greatness of Louis XVI

The Mad Monarchist memorializes the murdered King of France. People forget that Louis had many great accomplishments as a political leader and was widely admired by the other sovereigns of Europe while still in his 20's. Napoleon used the army and navy which had been equipped and built up by Louis XVI to conquer most of Europe. Louis' victory over England threatened to upset the hegemony of the British Empire, especially since the French were beginning to make a headway in the Far East. Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many pornographic pamphlets were sent into France by the British government to destroy the French monarchy. To quote:
King Louis XVI was a man of devout faith. He never took a mistress, never shirked his religious duties, genuinely preferred work to frivolous parties and truly saw his kingship as a sacred duty rather than an opportunity to have the best for himself. All of that is well established and should be well known. However, even those who praise King Louis XVI for his pious spirit often portray him as rather lacking in the more secular qualities most often required of kingship. At times he is contrasted with King Louis XIV who, while certainly far from being a pious man, was a more decisive leader who steered the ship of state with a firm hand, bringing glory to France and around whom almost all the affairs of Europe revolved. The exact opposite of Louis XVI we are to believe. Yet, while it is true that the two men were very different, it is certainly not true that King Louis XVI occupied himself only with other-worldly matters.

It is tragic any time a nation sets to destroying itself rather than accomplishing the great deeds possible if they worked together to channel all of that energy into the pursuit of some more lofty ambition. Although he had trepidations about some of it, there is ample reason to believe that had it not been for the outbreak of the Revolution, King Louis XVI might have gone down in history as one of the greatest Kings of France in secular as well as spiritual terms. In all the focus on the Revolution and his personal character, the great events and foreign policies of his reign are often overlooked. In the first place, he was no despot and from the very start favored giving the people a greater say in how their money was spent and how France was governed. However, even with all of the problems facing France, as a monarch, Louis XVI took a broader look at the past, present and future of France and wanted to see past losses made right and gains made for a greater future for his country. Of course, particularly after the drubbing France had taken in the recent conflicts with Great Britain, it was the British who would be the primary rival in his foreign policy. The King was not malicious or reckless by any means but he was determined to see British gains made at the expense of France reversed.

This was what ultimately led to the French intervention in the American Revolution (or more properly ‘War for Independence’). Louis XVI had deep reservations about helping any rebels in waging war against their sovereign yet he was persuaded to make an alliance with the fledgling United States by a combination of the urging of his advisers and his desire to see an end to the British domination of North America and, perhaps, a much greater French influence in the region. Although not often remembered, following the French and Indian War the French military had been reformed and greatly improved. The expeditionary force sent to North America fought extremely well and, along with the French navy, proved decisive in securing the independence of the United States by forcing Great Britain to give up on the war and come to terms with their former fellow subjects. The islands of Tobago and Grenada were taken from the British (Tobago being retained by France along with Senegal in the final settlement) but, to some extent, Louis XVI was undercut by his American allies who made a separate peace with Great Britain and effectively thwarted the greatest ambition King Louis had for the conflict which was the recovery of Canada. Had the war gone on there is every reason to believe that could have happened.

In the other great arena of colonial competition, Louis XVI also hoped to reverse previous losses and see the growing British dominance in India come to an end. He allied with the Maratha Empire and took the side of the Sultan of Mysore in the Second Anglo-Mysore War in the hope of breaking the dominance of the British East India Company, curtailing British influence in India and increasing French influence. France actually had a much larger sphere of influence in India, controlling large parts of the east coast and holding sway over the majority of the southern subcontinent. French troops and ships were active in the region but due to the distance involved the campaign was overtaken by events elsewhere and when the end of the American Revolution forced France to make a hasty peace with Britain the previous French support for the Indians was withdrawn. In the end Britain and the Indian forces made peace that restored the pre-war status quo in India. Again, had not the situation in American brought hostilities to an end, it is conceivable that France, working through local alliances, might have dethroned Britain from her place of prominence in India.

There was also the Far East to consider and, though not often remembered, it was under King Louis XVI that France first took a serious interest in Vietnam and, indirectly, helped bring about the victory of the last great imperial dynasty of Vietnamese history. Crown Prince Canh, heir of the future Emperor Gia Long, came to Versailles as a boy, converting to Christianity and symbolizing the alliance by which French support was promised to his father in exchange for favorable trade agreements and some minor territorial concessions. The previous regime in Vietnam had viciously persecuted Christians and King Louis was anxious to see a more humane dynasty put in place. A Catholic missionary had saved the life of Gia Long and he vowed that the rights of Christians would always be respected in his domain. However, by the time these great events were to take place in southeast Asia the forces of the Revolution were gaining strength and events rapidly approached a climax. King Louis was not able to play the decisive role he had wished to. Still, the Bishop of Adran acted on his own to help Emperor Gia Long take the throne and so things worked out. The only problems arose in the future when post-revolutionary French regimes tried to collect the payments promised to Louis XVI which the Vietnamese were reluctant to grant since it was the Bishop rather than the government in Paris which had actually helped them at the critical time.

King Louis also sponsored around-the-world voyages of exploration and the world (certainly North America) owes a great deal to Louis XIV for doing the same in his time. The point of all of this is that King Louis XVI was not, as he is so often portrayed, some sort of totally indecisive ditherer who fussed and prayed over one crisis after another. He had big plans for France, he had ambition, he wanted to see France recover her place of greatness in the world and had a few things gone differently there is no reason to believe that she could not have done so. (Read entire post.)
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The Sinking of the Lusitania

What really happened and why?
It is generally accepted now that the ship was carrying arms destined for Britain and her Allies. This fact alone made the ship a legitimate target for a U-boat, particularly when the British blockade of the German fleet was an attempt to starve Germany out and, for some time, it seemed to account for the speed with which Lusitania sank. The explosion caused by the German torpedo was immediately followed by a far bigger explosion and, though nowadays it is believed that this was due to the torpedo igniting coal dust or one of the engines, for a while it was thought that it was due to the igniting of the hidden arms. In a scene reminiscent of the bombing of an Iraqi hospital, which was said to be built over one of Saddam’s arms depots, the innocent passengers were basically used as a human shield. Of course, the killing of civilians (including children and citizens of a neutral country) cannot be excused....(Read entire post.)
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Downton Abbey

The Crawley Girls
 Many Americans, myself included, are enjoying Downton Abbey on PBS. Professor Simon Schama recently criticized the popular British miniseries in no uncertain terms. At least Schama admits in the article that he is a Jacobin and that one if the reasons he dislikes the show is that in the past the "toffs" have damaged his self-esteem. Jan Moir of the Mail Online responds to his criticism. To quote:
Yes, Schama has taken to the pages of Newsweek magazine to disparage the award-winning television series, now being shown in America. He says Downton is guilty of ‘cultural necrophilia’ and is littered with inaccuracies and clichéd storylines. Tell us something we don’t know, big guy. That is exactly why we all love it so much, you silly teacake. 

Really. I am half-minded to fetch a pennyworth o’ borax and get Mrs Patmore to wash his naughty mouth out. Schama, who currently lectures  — it’s his hobby as well as his calling — at Columbia University in New York goes on to express his dismay at the series which he believes is ‘overacted and hyper-overacted’. 

The very nerve of the fellow. (Read entire article.)
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The Family is the Place of Life

The Family is presented as an antidote to the economic crisis.
ROME, JAN. 19, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A rabbi who spoke of the family, an economist who spoke of morality, a priest who spoke of conjugal love. All this took place during the meeting "The Family as an Engine of Economic Growth: Values and Prospects," which took place Tuesday afternoon in the Regina Room of the lower house of the Italian Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. The meeting, organized by AISES, the International Academy for Economic and Social Development, examined what is one of the most debated topics in this new year: the family. The symposium was introduced by Maurizio Lupi, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, who described the family as the "first social shock absorber of the economic crisis."

"The family must become not an element but the element of economic development, and on this we have found more agreement than opposition," said Lupi. This is reflected in the recent government budget package that for the first time includes an increase in exemptions for families.

"Judaism and Christianity are the only two religions that put the person, the family and children at the center," said the director of ZENIT, Antonio Gaspari, moderator of the symposium, before introducing Valerio De Luca, president of AISES.

"A united family leads to a more cohesive and supportive society and the economy and politics must protect this fundamental cell," De Luca said.

[....]

Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Rome, described the family as a "failed institution," given what is presented in the first pages of the Bible. "It is a paradox, but right from the Book of Genesis we are shown negative family situations: Cain and Abel, Joseph sold by his brothers; Esau and Jacob, and so on. This shows, however, that the family is the place of life, where mistakes are made, there are errors on the part of parents, but without it one cannot live," he said. He continued on, addressing the current family crisis, which according to Di Segni, in reality is nothing other than "transformation" of a "system that from the start was based on the family" to another "modern" system according to which "the patriarchal family has become the mononuclear family; the rate of feminine fertility has been reduced to 1.3%; women give birth after 30 years of age and there are no longer marriages, but in the best of cases cohabitation."

A crisis of the family that has led to an economic crisis, hence, it is an economic crisis that "has put the couple and conjugal love itself under pressure," observed Monsignor Lorenzo Leuzzi, chaplain of the Chamber of Deputies. "Economic law has taken the upper hand over the whole of the life of society and has become its 'soul,' neglecting its identity of 'body,' of something, that is, instrumental."

"If they wish to give back to the economy its true role, if they wish to overcome the idea that society does not grow just by producing more, we must recover conjugal love, the first community where people learn not only to produce, but to build," said Monsignor Leuzzi in conclusion to the conference. (Read entire article.)
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Last Nun

Here is a fascinating article by author Nancy Bilyeau about the fate of the English nuns during the Protestant Revolt.
Historians studying the dissolution have noted a remarkable fact: in several cases, nuns attempted to live together in small groups after being forced from their priories. They were determined to continue their vocations, in whatever way they could. Elizabeth Exmewe shared a home in Walsingham with another ex-nun of Dartford. “They were Catholic women of honest conversation,” said one contemporary account. A half-dozen other Dartford refugees tried to live under one roof closer to Dartford. Meanwhile, Henry VIII had their priory demolished. He built a luxurious manor house on the rubble of the Dominican Order, although he’s not believed to have ever slept there. It became the home of his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, after he divorced her in disgust in 1540.  (Read entire article.)
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Friday, January 20, 2012

Education of Young Bess

From History and Other Thoughts:
A precocious girl gifted with excellent memory, Elizabeth had a great grasp of the English language by the time she was five or six. It was now time for her to start studying foreign languages. Kat taught her the rudiments of Latin but pretty soon it became clear that the pupil had learned all her teacher knew and needed other tutors. Luckily, she was allowed to share her brother Edward's tutors: Jean Belmain, who taught French; Richard Cox, Provost of Eton who taught Greek and Latin, mixed with modern events such as Henry VIII invading France and conquering Boulogne, and was able to turn studying into a game; and John Cheke, regius professor of Greek at St. John’s College and a classic linguist who focused on readings of the Holy Scriptures, Cicero, Aristotle and Plato. Cheke quickly noticed Elizabeth's precocity and suggested to her step-mother Catherine (Parr), that the young girl should be given a private tutor. (Read entire post.)
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The Rise of Fiction

Novels are more popular than ever.
Choosing novels over non-fiction is a long-term trend; fiction has climbed from 67% of the titles in USA TODAY's weekly top 150 in 2007 to 78% last year. And the reason the retiree sitting in the beach chair next to yours and the businesswoman relaxing in the airport lounge are reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? We're craving that "Calgon, take me away" moment.

"People are interested in escape," says Carol Fitzgerald of the Book Report Network, websites for book discussions. "In a number of pages, the story will open, evolve and close, and a lot of what's going on in the world today is not like that. You've got this encapsulated escape that you can enjoy."
Non-fiction's downward slide — there were only five titles among 2011's top 20 best-selling books — can be blamed in part on the Internet, Fitzgerald says. "If you want to examine an issue, you can easily Google the topic and come at it 10 different ways in five minutes. That's the way it is with social media." (Read entire article.)
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marie-Antoinette's Books

From her private library at Versailles. They're not what you would think.
The Latin and French books are bound in citron moroccan leather and have triple gilt fillet borders.  The covers are stamped with Marie Antoinette's coat of arms. 

The titles are:


L'Office de la semaine sainte, à l'usage de la maison du roi by the Abbot of Bellegarde


Les Plaideurs by Jean Baptiste Racine


Officium parvum B. Mariæ Virginis, ad usum ordinis Cisterciensis.


Histoire des Celtes...nouvelle édition by Simon Pelloutier
(Read entire post.)

To translate, the books are The Office of Holy Week, The Litigants by Jean Baptiste Racine, The Little Office of The Blessed Virgin Mary: According to the Usage of the Cistercian Order, and History of the Celts by Simon Pelloutier. Marie-Antoinette had two sisters who were nuns, and history was one of her favorite subjects. She enjoyed plays and novels as well.

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The Duchess of York and the Turks

I find this story extraordinary.
The Duchess of York may have done some toe-curlingly awful things in her life – not the least ghastly of which was trying to persuade someone (who of course turned out to be a journalist on the prowl) to give her half a million for an introduction to Prince Andrew. But she has done some very good things as well. One of them, little-known and wholly untrumpeted by the media, has been raising millions towards the care and resettlement of Romanian orphans. This led her to another, I think, splendid action: together with an ITV team, she encompassed the exposure of the mind-bending cruelty with which mentally disturbed children were (and presumably still are) being treated in Turkey.

The sensitivity of the Turks at the time the ITV programme was first broadcast (three years ago, when they kicked up a huge fuss) clearly had to do with their ambition to enter the EU. They even accused the Duchess herself of trying singlehandedly to scupper this ambition....

One thing is clear enough: that if Turkey were now a member of the EU, the Duchess of York would already have been arrested on a European arrest warrant, and would probably already be languishing in a Turkish jail awaiting trial. So far, the worst case involving these appallingly unjust warrants (against which there is no appeal in an English court) led to a year in a stinking Greek jail for an innocent man. That case could one day be horrendously overshadowed by new injustices, beginning with the most sensational of all: for if ever Turkey does join the EU, the Duchess of York will undoubtedly, soon after the country’s accession, be in handcuffs on a plane to Ankara, there to await trial and a probable jail sentence of up to 22 years, for doing something which in any other EU country would have been perfectly legal. (Read entire article.)
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Priest Holes in English Houses

Christine of Laudem Gloriae has some wonderful pictures, the like of which I have never seen before.
Under the reign of "Good Queen Bess", a law was passed prohibiting the celebration of Mass, on pain of extradition. On a second offense, the guilty priest would be sentenced to a year in prison, and on the third offense, jailed for life. In some cases, the offending priest would be put to death, usually by hanging, drawing, and quartering. Another law was passed that punished with death any Catholic who should convert a Protestant.

It was during this time that the Jesuit priest and martyr Nicholas Owen was called on to design and build priest holes in all the great Catholic manses in England. He spent the greater part of his life doing so. (Read entire post.)
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Marie-Antoinette's Traveling Case

It included everything needed for tea-time. Share

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mary of Teck

The Mad Monarch posts about the consort of George V.
King George and Queen Mary were the image of the model family; a happy couple, devoted and faithful to each other with many children who focused on doing good deeds and setting a proper example. They were the first sovereigns to celebrate their accession as Emperor and Empress of India on the subcontinent and when World War I erupted she set a magnificent example at the palace for the Royal Family being in solidarity with the British public. She saw to it that everything was rationed (as it was for the people) and even though it caused her great emotional distress she frequently visited the badly wounded troops of the BEF evacuated from the front in France and Belgium. Just before the war ended Queen Mary was devastated by the death of her ailing son Prince John; few at the time knew just how devastated. Yet, through it all, she was seen as a tower of strength at every public appearance, proper, determined and devoted to duty. She certainly was a great help to King George V who relied on her advice, emotional support and calming influence.(Read entire article.)
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The Faith of William Wallace

Some insights into the life and beliefs of the real Wallace.
On the gallows, he confessed to the Archbishop of Canterbury and asked, as his final wish, to be able to pray the Psalter. He died disembowelled as he recited the penitential Psalms. An English priest present at the execution, later stated he had seen William’s soul welcomed into Heaven by a host of angels. Whether it was fact or legend, this vision of Braveheart taken to Heaven by angels became a recurrent theme in sermons for many years to come. (Read entire article.)
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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Enduring Power of the Maid

Here is a tribute to St. Joan of Arc from The New York Times in honor of her six hundredth birthday on January 6. (Via Nobility.)
What is it about Joan of Arc? Why is her story of enduring interest more than a half a millennium after her birth?

By the time Joan of Arc was 16 and had proclaimed herself the virgin warrior sent by God to deliver France from her enemies, the English, she had been receiving the counsel of angels for three years. Until then, the voices she said she heard, speaking from over her right shoulder and accompanied by a great light, had been hers alone, a rapturous secret.

But in 1428, when the voices pressed her to undertake the quest for which they had been preparing her, they transformed a seemingly undistinguished peasant into a visionary heroine who defied every limitation placed on a woman of the late Middle Ages. The least likely of military leaders, Joan of Arc changed the course of the Hundred Years’ War and of history.

Joan said she sheared off her hair, dressed in male attire, put on armor and took up her sword at God’s behest. She was feverish in her determination to succeed at what was, by anyone’s measure, a preposterous mission. As Joan herself protested to her voices, she “knew not how to ride or lead in war”; and yet she roused an exhausted, underequipped and impotent army into a fervor that carried it from one unlikely victory to the next. She raised the siege of Orléans by defying the cautious strategies of seasoned generals to follow inaudible directions from invisible beings.

Illiterate and uncouth, Joan moved purposefully among nobles, bishops and royalty. So intent on vanquishing the enemy that she threatened her own men with violence, she herself recoiled at the idea of bloodshed. To avoid having to use her sword, she led her army carrying a 12-foot-long banner emblazoned with the words Party of the Kingdom of Heaven. Witnesses said she was luminous in battle, light not glinting off her armor so much as radiating from the girl within. Her enemies spoke of clouds of butterflies following in her wake, a curiously beatific report from men who said she was in league with the devil.

In the aftermath of combat she didn’t celebrate victory but mourned the casualties; her men remembered her on her knees weeping as she held the head of a dying enemy soldier, urging him to confess his sins. Her courage outstripped that of seasoned men at arms; her tears flowed as readily as any other teenage girl’s.
After a series of victories, Joan suffered the reversals her voices had predicted. Captured and sold to the English, and shackled in a dank cell for more than a year, Joan was put on trial for her life. For refusing to renounce the voices that guided her as deviltry, Joan, 19 years old, was burned at the stake before a jeering crowd, her charred body displayed to anyone who cared to examine it. Thirty years later, in 1450, a Rehabilitation Trial overturned the guilty verdict that condemned her to death; the 19th-century rediscovery of the transcripts from both trials resulted in her canonization in 1920.

Like all holy figures whose earthly existence separates them from the broad mass of humanity, a saint is a story, and Joan of Arc’s is like no other. (Read entire article.)
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Incense

Science confirms the wisdom of the traditional liturgy. (Via The Crescat)
Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression. This suggests that an entirely new class of depression and anxiety drugs might be right under our noses. (Read entire post.)
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Villainous" Marie-Antoinette?

Mr. Harvey of Royal World aptly expresses the disgust many admirers of Marie-Antoinette feel as the late queen is once more publicly degraded. The cartoons in question, which I will not have on this blog, are insulting to Mr. and Mrs. Obama and to Louis and Antoinette. Neither couple resembles each other in any way. When politicians and pundits have to sink to insults and ridicule in order to make their point it merely shows how bankrupt their agenda is. I wish they would focus on some of the vital issues at stake instead of throwing mud. To quote from Royal World:
The cartoons also attempt to link President Obama with Louis XIV, or possibly Louis XVI, though it's not clear that their creators have any idea who either king was or what they looked like. As if the ignorance inherent in maligning Marie Antoinette (1755-1793) were not enough, the painting spoofed by "Gateway Pundit" and identified in the Mail article as one of her husband Louis XVI (1754-1793) actually depicts his great-great-great-grandfather Louis XIV (1638-1715), with whom I'm pretty sure Mr. Obama has nothing in common other than also being a head of state. But of course if the contemptible ignoramuses producing these defamatory images cared about such pesky details as historical facts, they wouldn't be producing them! It is supremely ironic for these disgusting liars to be labeled "right-wing," since that the whole ideological concept of the "Right" dates from the time of the French Revolution, when the Right were the defenders of the great French Monarchy. (Read entire post.)
Political debate is a healthy part of the process; it can become heated but when it sinks to naked mockery then it shows the emptiness of the cause. As for Bill O'Reilly referring to Marie-Antoinette as "villainous" I can only say that I am appalled that someone so clueless is given so much air time. (I always thought Bill would do better sounding off in a bar than on prime time television.) The "villainous" Queen's charitable works are a matter of public record. She oversaw the upbringing of several needy children, whose education she paid for, while caring for their families. She established a home for unwed mothers, called the Maternity Society. During the famine of 1787-88, the royal family sold much of their flatware to buy grain for the people, and themselves ate the cheap barley bread in order to be able to give more to the hungry.

The King and Queen were patrons of the Maison Philanthropique, a society founded by Louis XVI which helped the aged, blind and widows. The Queen taught her daughter Madame Royale to wait upon peasant children, to sacrifice her Christmas gifts so as to buy fuel and blankets for the destitute, and to bring baskets of food to the sick. Marie-Antoinette took her children with her on her charitable visits. Every Sunday, Marie-Antoinette would personally take up a collection for the poor, which the courtiers resented since they preferred to have the money on hand for gambling. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette contributed a great deal throughout their reign to the care of orphans and foundlings. They patronized foundling hospitals, which the Queen often visited with her children. The king and queen did not see helping the poor as anything extraordinary, but as a basic Christian duty. The royal couple's alms-giving stopped only with their incarceration in the Temple in August 1792, for then they had nothing left to give but their lives.

(Sources: Memoirs of Madame de la Tour du Pin, Marguerite Jallut's and Philippe Huisman's Marie-Antoinette, Vincent Cronin's Louis and Antoinette, Antonia Fraser's The Journey, Madame Campan's Memoirs, Mémoires de madame la Duchesse de Tourzel, Maxime de la Rocheterie's The Life of Marie-Antoinette)

Another story of Marie-Antoinette's kindness and compassion is HERE. Share

Staying Catholic at College

There is a new movement to help students to continue to practice their faith during their college years and afterwards. "Sowing wild oats" can lead to many tears and to mistakes that have lifelong repercussions.
  ....Ms. Leya has also become part of a nationwide pilot program designed to keep actively Catholic college students just as actively Catholic after the last mortarboard has tumbled to earth. The program, Esteem, has operated from the contrarian premise that a college graduate who is suddenly reduced to being the young stranger in a new parish may well grow distant or even alienated from Catholicism.

“I can’t imagine shirking my faith,” Ms. Leya said in an interview this week at St. Thomas More, the Catholic chapel and center at Yale, “but how do you keep it important around all the chaos of med school? How do I become a meaningful member of a new parish? How do I allow the kind of experiences I’ve had here to continue?”

For Ms. Leya, like about 70 other students on six campuses, Esteem has provided intensive education in the Catholic practice, especially the role of laity, and a handpicked mentor who combines professional success with religious devotion. In Ms. Leya’s case, he is Dr. Leo M. Cooney Jr., a professor of geriatric medicine in Yale’s medical school, and, as important, a veteran of his own spiritual walkabout. (Read entire post.)
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

Pentimento loves this song and so do I.
1. The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

2. His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

3. For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

4. I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

5. This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.
More HERE.

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Why Tolkien Lost the Nobel Prize

Revealed at last. (Via Lee Hamilton.)
Basically, in the eyes of the Nobel jury, Tolkien just wasn't good enough. The Nobel committee keeps a vise-like grip on its secrets, only making its inner processes available to the public 50 years after the awards are handed out. A Swedish reporter found the records for the 1961 Nobel Prize and found Tolkien's name on the ballot—he'd been nominated by his good friend and contemporary, The Chronicles of Narnia's C.S. Lewis.
And, while the competition was fierce—Robert Frost, Graham Greene and E.M. Forster were also nominated in '61—Tolkien lost because, in the eyes of the jury, his prose "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality." (The 1961 Nobel would eventually go to Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andrić.)

Ah, there's nothing quite like being so fundamentally wrong ... and then having people find out why. (via The Guardian)
 (Read entire post.) 

It only proves to me the whole thing is a big nothing.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Fictional Life of Prince Albert Victor

It's much more lurid and melodramatic than the Prince's actual life, as author Christina Croft explains:
So unpleasant is the way in which this poor prince has been presented that he was even, for some bizarre reason (undoubtedly to sell books!) posthumously accused of being – or being associated with – Jack the Ripper! Such a notion is totally without foundation and the stories attempting to make the association become increasingly wayward despite the fact that Court records prove that Prince Eddy was not even in London at the time of the murders! Other books suggest that he didn’t die in 1892 but was hidden away by the family and later became ‘the Monster of Glamis’!! Poor Albert Victor!

 The fact that one of his associates was involved in the Cleveland Street scandal also led to various spurious allegations about his dissipated life and some authors claim that the stories of his dissipation are supported by Queen Victoria’s letters. In fact, like many a grandmother, Queen Victoria might well have worried about her grandson’s morals – we need only think of her response to the Prince of Wales as a young man becoming involved with the actress – but there is nothing to suggest that Prince Albert Victor was any more licentious (in fact he was probably less so!) than most young men of his era and class. His younger brother, George, also had a mistress at the time and yet he is portrayed as the model of sobriety and morality! (Read entire post.)
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The Charities of a Duchess

The young Duchess of Cambridge has chosen some charities to patronize.
 Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge has officially unveiled which four charities she will become patron of, in her new life as a member of the British Royal Family, all of whom have a traditionally heavy schedule of involvements with national charities.

The Duchess is to become patron of Action on Addiction, the National Portrait Gallery, the East Anglia's Children's Hospices, and The Art Room, reflecting her interest in social issues, art and children's health. The  least-known of the four, The Art Room, is an Oxford-based charity which seeks to engage with 5-16 year-olds with behavioural issues. Julie Beattie, the founder and director of The Art Room, said she and the entire organisation were "overwhelmed and thrilled" by the Duchess's decision to become their royal patron. She went on to say that "it will raise the profile of the charity and get people to see the work we are doing." The Duchess is understood to have spent the time since her marriage deciding carefully which charities to begin her royal career with. (Read entire post.)
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Marsh King's Daughter





Here is a collection of illustrations of Andersen's little known fairy tale, which was one of my favorites as a child. I found it in an old book of my grandmother's and I did not know that anyone else even knew about it but me. The story itself can be found HERE. It is longer and more complex than most fairy tales. (Via Hermes.)
The princess wept and lamented aloud; her tears moistened the elder stump, which was really not an elder stump but the Marsh King himself, he who in marshy ground lives and rules. I saw myself how the stump of the tree turned round, and was a tree no more, while long, clammy branches like arms, were extended from it. Then the poor child was terribly frightened, and started up to run away. She hastened to cross the green, slimy ground; but it will not bear any weight, much less hers. She quickly sank, and the elder stump dived immediately after her; in fact, it was he who drew her down. Great black bubbles rose up out of the moor-slime, and with these every trace of the two vanished. (Read entire story.)
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Health Benefits of Tea

Does milk ruin tea?
Although this area of research still remains an area of controversy, we do not believe that there is reliable evidence to show that key health benefits will be lost if milk is added to tea. While there are not many studies in this area, here is what we know.

Teas like green tea are typically valued for their unique phytonutrients, including catechins and other polyphenols that function as antioxidants and that can provide special support for our cardiovascular system. These phytonutrients can support our cardiovascular system in many different ways, and it is important to preserve them in the tea that we drink. In one German study, the addition of milk to green tea was found to interfere with one of these support mechanisms (although not with others). A study by the United Kingdom Tea Council showed no effect on the availability of these phytonutrients when milk was added to black tea, and a third study in India showed some mixed effects in this regard. Taken as a group, we do not believe these studies demonstrate consistent loss of key health benefits when milk is added to tea. For individuals who enjoy their tea both with and without milk and are not lacking in any of the nutrients that milk provides, it might make sense to leave out the milk given the research controversy in this area. For individuals who only enjoy their tea with milk, or who may be lacking in the nutrients that milk provides, we do not believe it makes sense to eliminate the milk based on current research. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The She-Apostle

I never heard of Luisa de Carvajal but Stephanie Mann has a review of a new biography about her and it sounds interesting.
Luisa de Carvajal reminded me of Venerable Mary Ward, the English Catholic who attempted to establish an active order for women modeled on the Society of Jesus. On a small scale, de Carvajal succeeded where Ward failed, perhaps because of her position in Spanish society. The back cover of my paperback edition refers to her as a "martyr manque" but Redworth presents evidence that she could be considered a martyr--as her final illness might have been brought about by her imprisonment in 1614, when she was only 48 years old. I suppose an argument against that position is that she had been ill for years (which only makes her efforts and her endurance more remarkable). I admit that I never really warmed to her character, which seems to have been more than a little manipulative, but de Carvajal certainly had a great regard for the Catholic priests and martyrs working in England. She persevered in her goals to their attainment, whether hampered by her brother's demands for settlement of their inheritance, personality conflicts within her community, or official discouragement of her efforts to live and work in London as a Catholic missionary and a contact for imprisoned priests. The one part of the book I could not fathom was the description of the torture meted out to her as a young girl by her uncle and guardian; even more disturbing was her reaction to it (Redworth is definitely disturbed by it too). Excellent resources, including plates, notes, and bibliography. (Read entire review.)
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