Sunday, May 31, 2015

Madame Elisabeth Prayer Cards

From Reading Treasure:
There's a particularly interesting note at the bottom of the page: "People who obtain graces of God through the intercession of Madame Elisabeth are requested to provisionally notify the Carmel de Pie IX of Meaux."

The Carmelites of Meaux were the first known association to campaign for the beatification of Madame Elisabeth. Princess Henriette of Belgium was the most famous patron in their cause. There have actually been several movements to petition the Church to beatify Elisabeth since the 1920s, including a modern Association of Madame Elisabeth founded in 2008; so far, none of these efforts have been successful. (Read more.)
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Fatima and the Deluge

From the Lepanto Institute:
In a more succinct way, the Miracle of Fatima can be described like this: Intense rain, followed by a rainbow of sorts, the sun falling to the earth as if to burn it up, only to have the sun return to its proper place, leaving the witnesses and the ground perfectly dry. This sequence should sound familiar. In the book of Genesis, we read that God sent a flood to wipe out all mankind save for Noah and his family. Then came a rainbow, as a covenant that He would never again destroy the world by a flood. But what of the sun descending upon the earth as if to destroy it? In the 17th chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus explains to His disciples:

“In the days when the Son of Man comes, all will be as it was in the days of Noe; they ate, they drank, they married and were given in marriage, until the day when Noe went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. So it was, too, in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought and sold, they planted and built; but on the day when Lot went out of Sodom, a rain of fire and brimstone came from heaven and destroyed them all. And so it will be, in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” Luke 17:26-30

It’s rather curious that Jesus would tie in the flood of Noah with the destruction of Sodom. Even more curious is that He would mention marriage. St. Matthew gives a similar account, and while some of the details are different, he also mentions what Jesus said about marriage in relation to the flood of Noah and the return of the Son of Man:

“When the Son of Man comes, all will be as it was in the days of Noe; in those days before the flood, they went on eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the time when Noe entered the ark, and they were taken unawares, when the flood came and drowned them all; so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37-39
(Read more.)
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

St. Joan and the Royal House of France


Most Catholics, I have concluded, do not have trouble accepting the fact that St. Joan of Arc donned male apparel and led armies to victory. What seems to disturb many people, however, is that she gave her help to a king, and worse yet, to a King of France. Many Americans seem to be convinced that monarchy is an intrinsically evil institution. They are not able to see beyond their own time and their own political process. I recently read a comment in which someone said that St. Louis of France was a saint "in spite of being a king." May I be so bold to say that St. Louis saw his kingship as a vocation in which he served God and man. What is more, he saw it as a calling to share in the Kingship of Christ, from Whom he held his authority and to Whom he had to render an account. St. Joan, in her simple piety, viewed kingship in a similar manner. She honored her King Charles VII, although he was far from being a saint, because in doing so she gave honor to Christ the King. The office was deserving of respect, even if the man was not. On her banner she bore an image of Christ the King surrounded by the fleur de lys, the lilies of royal France.

In a small volume entitled Joan of Arc In Her Own Words there are many quotations of St. Joan which make explicit reference to the fact that she was called to serve God by assisting the French monarch. She said: "[St. Michael] told me the pitiful state of the Kingdom of France. And he told me that I must succour the King of France." To Robert de Baudricourt she insisted: "The Kingdom of France is not the Dauphin's but my Lord's. But my Lord wills that the Dauphin shall be made King and have the Kingdom in custody. The Dauphin shall be King in spite of his enemies, and I shall lead him to his anointing." She welcomed the Duc d'Alencon by saying: "The more there are gathered together of the blood of the King of France, the better it will be." In her letter to the English lords, Joan dictated: "Do justice to the King of Heaven; surrender to the Maid, who is sent here from God to uphold the blood royal."

Joan placed great store upon the mystical aspects of the coronation ceremony, telling the royal council: "When once the King is crowned and anointed, his enemies' strength will steadily grow less, and finally they will have no power to harm him or the Kingdom." At her trial she announced: "As for the good work I have done...I must needs leave that with the King of Heaven, who sent me to Charles, son of Charles King of France, who shall be King. And you shall see that the French will very soon achieve a great task which God will send to the French, and such that almost the whole Kingdom of France will tremble. And I say it, so that when it comes to pass it will be remembered that I said it." The Maid believed her country had a mission from God, a task to fulfill.

There are also some odd connections between St. Joan and Queen Marie-Antoinette. At first glance no two people appear to be as different from each other as the Habsburg archduchess and the peasant girl from Domremy, other than a shared love for children and needlework. Joan has often been referred to as the "Maid of Lorraine" or even as "Joan of Lorraine." Father Jean-Marie Charles-Roux, in building a case for the martyrdom of Marie-Antoinette in his book Louis XVII: La Mère et l'Enfant martyrs, points out that the queen's full name was Marie-Antoinette-Josephe-Jeanne de Lorraine, even as the Maid was Jeanne de Lorraine. Both women were called to their "mission" at age thirteen. At thirteen, Joan began to hear her voices; at thirteen, Marie-Antoinette was told she was to marry the heir to the French throne. Both were known for their staunch purity, and yet both were branded by enemies with the epithet of "whore." Both the queen and the peasant have had their reputations shredded beyond recognition. Both suffered the ordeal of a long imprisonment in which they suffered outrages against modesty. Both were forced to defend themselves against calumnies and half-truths amid the scrutiny of a public trial. Both persisted in their loyalty to the Holy See. Both were condemned to an ignominious death and each were taken to the scaffold in a cart. Unlike St. Joan, Marie-Antoinette never had a posthumous retrial. She was never officially vindicated and her name continues to be slandered in books and movies to this day. May the prayers of St. Joan bring the truth to light. Share

Today at 3:00 pm...

I will be on BlogTalkRadio today 3pm Eastern Time, talking about Marie-Antoinette. To quote:
Welcome to Episode 2 of Tea at Trianon Radio, dedicated to discussing the life and times of Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France and Navarre. Your hostess is Elena Maria Vidal, the author of four historical novels, including Trianon and Madame Royale. In this our second broadcast we will again be talking about the truth behind the legend of Queen Marie-Antoinette's alleged romance with the Swede Count Axel von Fersen. The legend has been featured in novels, films and even many works of non-fiction. But is there any historical evidence of an affair? Did the Queen really love Fersen? What were her feelings for her husband Louis XVI? Such questions and more will be explored  based upon scholarship, both old and new. We will not be taking calls today but do email Elena a question or a comment at emvidal@planetrussell.net. And what are the 3 rules? Be polite, be polite, be polite.

Tea at Trianon Radio is brought to you by Mayapple Books in St. Michaels, Maryland, dedicated to publishing Modern Classics. Please visit Mayapple Books. Much of what we will be discussing today can be found on Elena's Tea at Trianon Blog and will also be included in her new non-fiction book on Marie-Antoinette entitled Marie-Antoinette, Daughter of the Caesars, to be published in September 2015 by Mayapple Books.
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Three Paths to Interior Peace

From Catholic Exchange:
Remember, God does not exist in chaos, though the enemy does.  Our Heavenly Father created the Earth in six days using a gentle pattern.  We must model our own lives after this.  It does no good for us to constantly chase distractions and diversions, which are the devil’s playground to foster restlessness within us.

Instead of filling our lives with mental and visual clutter, why not begin by decluttering and simplifying?  Create a sacred space, and use it.  Daily.  In our Information Age, it’s crucial that we schedule time for solitude: reflection, supplication, and most especially listening to God with our hearts.  God does not speak to us in the thunder or the rustling wind.  He speaks to us softly, sometimes barely audibly.  And I believe the purpose for this is so that we discipline ourselves to pause, listen, and wait for His response.

And He will respond if we do this.(Read more.)
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Friday, May 29, 2015

Fit for a Queen

A chair made for Marie-Antoinette's Belvedere Pavillion in the gardens of Trianon. Share

The Truth About the Hollywood Ten

From Aleteia:
For nearly seven decades, leftists in the entertainment industry have peddled the idea that blacklisted screenwriters–especially the “Hollywood Ten”—were innocent, naïve standard bearers for First Amendment rights who unjustly suffered for their political beliefs at the hands of fascists in Congress and the movie business amidst a period of irrational anti-Red hysteria. This spin has come to be widely accepted as actual history.

Allan Ryskind, author of Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters, Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler, will have none of it, however. The longtime Human Events editor (and son of Morrie Ryskind, a screenwriter with various Marx Brothers films to his credit) offers a compelling, comprehensive tome that takes a fair—and as a result, damning—look at mountains of evidence regarding what the Hollywood Ten and other communists in the movie business actually did and advocated. For good measure, as any writer delving into history should do, Ryskind places the events and individuals he’s writing about within the proper context of their time.

Ryskind writes, “The Hollywood Ten, far from being ‘radical innocents,’ far from having just ‘flirted with Communist ideas,’ as their sympathizers so frequently insist, had all been committed to a Soviet America.” This is perhaps best illustrated by the flip-flopping by Hollywood’s communists in and around World War II as they followed Kremlin orders via the Communist Party in America. That is, being anti-Nazi initially; then working against the anti-Nazis, including Great Britain and the U.S., during the Hitler-Stalin pact; once again, turning passionately against Hitler when he attacked the Soviet Union; and finally, turning against U.S. foreign policy and ultimately advocating our nation’s violent demise. It was all about defending the U.S.S.R., not the U.S.A.

Ryskind makes clear that the Hollywood communists were working for Stalin, either unconcerned or supportive of “Stalin’s swallowing of Eastern Europe, his installation of Red regimes in Asia, his aggressive acts against Western Europe, and the deep penetration of his fifth column in virtually all areas of American society.” Oh yes, and there were the millions of Russians starved and murdered by Uncle Joe.

As for the much-maligned hearings before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Ryskind takes a close look at what actually happened. He concludes that the HUAC investigation of Hollywood “proved to be one of the most effective, albeit controversial probes ever carried out by any committee of Congress.” The results showed, in contrast to the revisionism heard for so long, “that Hollywood was packed with Communists and fellow travelers, that the guilds and the unions had been heavily penetrated, and that wartime films, at least, had been saturated with Stalinist propaganda.” (Read more.)
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

"We Are Too Young to Reign!"

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette begging for God's help at the moment Louis succeeded to the throne. At least they began their reign with a prayer. From Vive la Reine: "An illustration by Michael Leonard, from the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of The Queen’s Confession by Victoria Holt." Share

The First Battle of St. Albans

From Once I Was a Clever Boy:
Today [May 22] is the 560th anniversary of the First Battle of St Albans in 1455, which is usually considered the first battle in the Wars of the Roses. That, of course, depends on whether you see the conflicts of the mid to later fifteenth century as one or a set of wars, or rather see the various short-lived outbreaks of violence as not necessarily directly related, or indeed much out of the ordinary for later medieval politics in England or Europe as a whole.

There is an online account of the day at First Battle of St Albans. One distinguished historian summed it up as little more than a scuffle in a street, which is not altogether unfair. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hunter

I ran into author Robert Bidinotto while I was having lunch with some friends at a barbecue joint in St. Michaels, MD. We were talking about books and I asked if I could review one of his. He happened to have a copy of his debut novel Hunter with him and gave it to me on the condition that I would write my honest opinion of it. The problem I  have as a book reviewer is that when I really enjoy a book I am too busy lapping up the story to note the literary merits or demerits. Such is the case with Hunter. It is the kind of thriller which lives up to its name by grabbing your attention at the first moment and not letting you go until the end. The protagonist Dylan Hunter is an intrepid journalist dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims by exposing criminals and those who enable them. His adventures are set in the Washington, DC area where there is always plenty of crime as well as behind-the-scenes intrigue.

The hero and heroine, Dylan and Annie, are both complex characters who struggle with loneliness and angst as part of their chosen professions: Dylan as a journalist and Annie as a CIA operative. Dylan, of course, has no idea that Annie secretly works for the CIA and Annie has no clue about some of Dylan's hidden activities. Yet the two are overwhelmingly drawn together by their mutual brilliance and emotional need. Their relationship is a scorching roller coaster ride which appears to be more and more doomed as each other's secrets are revealed.

What sets the novel apart from so many others is that there is nothing gratuitous in the scenes of violence; the author keeps his finger on the pulse of the human tragedy in a soul-searing manner. The incalculable cost of the loss of innocent lives is painfully assessed as are the psychological scars borne by the survivors. The story is a scathing indictment of contemporary society which expends more effort towards protecting the rights of violent criminals than it does to those who are their victims.

(*NOTE: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.) Share

Silencing Ovid

From Stephanie Mann:
Peggy Noonan, in The Wall Street Journal, has some questions and comments for students who are upset by certain aspects of the Western literary canon (Ovid's Metamorphoses in this case) and want works like the Metamorphoses silenced:
Well, here are some questions and a few thoughts for all those who have been declaring at all the universities, and on social media, that their feelings have been hurt in the world and that the world had just better straighten up.

Why are you so fixated on the idea of personal safety, by which you apparently mean not having uncomfortable or unhappy thoughts and feelings? Is there any chance this preoccupation is unworthy of you? Please say yes.

There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can’t expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety. That is asking too much of people.

Life gives you potentials for freedom, creativity, achievement, love, all sorts of beautiful things, but none of us are “safe.” And you are especially not safe in an atmosphere of true freedom. People will say and do things that are wrong, stupid, unkind, meant to injure. They’ll bring up subjects you find upsetting. It’s uncomfortable. But isn’t that the price we pay for freedom of speech?

You can ask for courtesy, sensitivity and dignity. You can show others those things, too, as a way of encouraging them. But if you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?

Masterpieces, by their nature, pierce. They jar and unsettle. If something in a literary masterpiece upsets you, should the masterpiece really be banished? What will you be left with when all of them are gone?
(Read more.)
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Madame de Pompadour in the Garden

Via Tiny-Librarian. It is interesting that Marie-Antoinette kept a portrait of Madame de Pompadour in the small dining room at Petit Trianon. The house was originally built for Madame de Pompadour but if the mistress of Louis XV had left any portraits of herself there than Madame du Barry would surely have put them in the attic. I am guessing that the Queen herself wished to honor La Pompadour since the courtesan was responsible in part for the Austrian alliance and therefore the "happiness" of Marie-Antoinette in her marriage to Louis XVI. Share

Triumph of Secularism

Some reflections from a lady in Ireland:
The vastly diminished role of the Church has left an elephantine emptiness in Irish life. One very important factor is how ashamed many Irish people feel about the sexual abuse crisis. Perhaps the people who ought to feel that shame are the guilty priests and nuns. But Benedict XVI was right, in his book-long interview with Peter Seewald, when he pointed out that most Irish families had a member who had a vocation either as a priest or a nun. Therefore most Irish people felt very deeply the disgrace caused by the revelations of clerical sexual abuse. This was the case even if the priest or nun in a family was totally innocent.

Growing up in Ireland, I saw this first-hand, when a friend or acquaintance who had a brother who was a blameless priest, they would feel embarrassed to say that their sibling was a good priest, for fear that people would think they were “covering up”. Humiliation and regret have gone hand in hand, and increasingly in the past few decades, the Irish, who have, by an average margin of two to one, legalised gay marriage, convinced themselves that if the Church was wrong, then the opposite of the Church’s teaching must be right. (Read more.)
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A New Dark Age

From Fr. Hunwicke:
Well, we all know what happened in the twentieth century. Divorce got its toe in the door ... and within decades the door was wide open. Unnatural and disordered sexual practices corrupted Marriage. Fornication gradually ceased to be furtive and, after being 'Free love' in the 1930s, had by the end of the century become the natural assumption of Western societies. Homosexuals ... no; some homosexuals ... ceased to enjoy inhabiting an amusing subculture and became aggressive public ideologues. The mortal sin of missing Mass without good cause ceased to be a matter of guilt. You know all this, and much more.

My analysis, and suggestion, is this. Society has in effect regressed to the superficially christianised state it was in during the 'Dark Ages'. We are, in other words, in a new Dark Age of widespread unrepented mortal sin. In fact, ours is an even darker age, because people do not even accept that they are in a state of sin, and do not repent, not even once a year. Nor, probably, even when they die. (Read more.)
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Queen in Mauve

From Tiny-Librarian: "Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, seated on a green wooden chair in a floral woodland landscape, wearing mauve dress over white shift, the sleeves adorned with green ribbons. Signed ‘Hall’ (lower right, on the back of the chair)." Share

The Ruin of the Faith in Ireland

What 400 years of persecution could not accomplish has been wrought by weak prelates and lax shepherds. According to Christine Niles:
Irish supporters wrote us after the referendum, telling us the bishops were in shock, that they had no idea their flock were so far gone, and they are now left looking on the crumbling ruins of the Faith they've been called to teach and defend. They speculate the vote was not so much a vote for gay "marriage" as it was a vote against the Church, a deliberate slap in the face of an institution the Irish have come to resent and even hate.
But can the blame for the referendum's results really be laid at the feet of the laity? Are they ultimately at fault here? Their hatred is only a result of the betrayal they've felt at the hands of leaders who were supposed to protect them from both spiritual and physical abuse, and who did neither.

Those tasked with protecting the flock instead sheltered homosexual priests in the sex abuse scandal, or failed to teach the Faith clearly and without compromise. Just last week Bp. Donal McKeown of Derry said Catholics could vote in good conscience either for or against gay marriage, as long as it was with an "informed conscience" and a "mature decision." Laying aside the fact that no one with a truly informed conscience could ever make the "mature decision" to vote in favor of legalized sodomy, when confronted with this irresponsible remark McKeown neither apologized nor recanted; instead, he deflected responsibility by claiming his words should be read in the context of his entire talk.

No, the laity are not the ones ultimately at fault here. They are, rather, the victims — the millions of souls being dragged to Hell because their shepherds have betrayed them by offering a cheap imitation of the Faith rather than the real thing. They've been left confused, floundering, unsure how to proceed because their leaders in the Faith themselves can't seem to make up their minds. (Read more.)
Michael Voris weighs in on what many consider to be the total collapse of the Faith in Ireland, HERE. Share

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Réception à Bordeaux

An 1816 painting by Benjamin de Rolland of the Duc and Duchesse d’Angoulême  arriving in Bordeaux, which was the first French city to join the Royalist cause at the time of the first Restoration in 1814. Read more about it in the novel Madame Royale. Share

Becoming Mentally Strong

One can also think of it as acquiring mental discipline. Here are some practical suggestions:
Never seem too eager to make new friends or allies. People are never attracted to beggars. Always be aware of your own actions when seeking attention and know that it’s unnecessary to please everyone. When you try please everyone, you always end up neglecting your own duties and disappointing those who actually look up to you. Mentally Strong people have no desire to please the entire crowd. They only concentrate on those they deem worthy to follow them. It is better have 10 loyal followers who are willing to sacrifice for you than 1000 followers who will leave you for the next person in the spotlight. (Read more.)
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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Queen Marie and Her Son

Marie Leszczyńska and her only son, the Dauphin Louis-Ferdinand, father of Louis XVI. Share

Our Lady in Eastertide in Cornwall

From Fr. Hunwicke:
Down in Cornwall, during the Middle Ages, they had religious plays in the ancient Cornish language ... yes, the selfsame language that some enthusiasts are currently trying to revive. In fact, these dramas in Medieval Cornish are the main basis of the 'revived' language ... which I find oddish. Just suppose we spoke an English constructed upon the verses of Chaucer, without paying any attention to the fact that our Geoffrey had both chosen and arranged his words so as to fit his metrical scheme! After all (and I admit that this is an extreme parallel), Homer's Greek can never have been spoken as a vernacular by anyone. Something similar must go for the poetic diction of pretty well every language and age.

However ... I am wandering yet again. Back to the point. In the Resurrexio Domini [sic], the Lord (of course) appears first to his Immaculate Mother. It is a beautifully constructed scene, full of human interest; the Mother of God, for example, needs to be reassured that her Risen Son really has no pains, no permanent ill-effects, from the ordeals he has been through!

Medieval Cornish, like Modern English, was an omnivorous language heavy with vocabulary, quotations, phrases, technicalities, expletives from other languages ... English; Latin borrowings going back to the Roman Occupation; contemporary Latin borrowings; French (another thing which the inventors of 'Modern Cornish' can't stand; rather as Herr Hitler did for the German language, their dictionaries constantly enjoin us not to use loan-words amply attested in the literature, but to stick to pure 'Celtic' roots). And the Lord greets his Mother with the Latin phrase O salve Sancta Parens. This, of course, is the beginning of the Introit for Eastertide Masses of our Lady (and comes ultimately from Sedulius). The O needs to be in the Cornish text because the lines have to have seven syllables. (Read more.)
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Friday, May 22, 2015

Prayer of Madame Elisabeth

From the collection of Anna Gibson. Below is the translation:
I do not know what will happen to me today, o my God. All I know is that nothing will happen to me but what You have foreseen from Eternity. That is sufficient, o my God, to keep me in peace. I adore Your infinite designs. I submit to them with all of my heart. I desire them all: I accept them all. I make the sacrifice to You of everything. I unite this sacrifice to that of your dear Son my Saviour, begging You by His Sacred Heart and by His infinite merits for the patience in my troubles and the perfect submission which is due to You in all that You wish and permit. Amen.
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Introducing "Tea at Trianon Radio"

On Saturday May 23 at 3pm Eastern Time, I will be launching "Tea at Trianon Radio" which will be dedicated solely to discussions about Marie-Antoinette, her life, her times, her family, and her legacy. In the first live broadcast we will be discussing the truth behind the legend of Queen Marie-Antoinette's romance with the Swedish Count Fersen. The legend has been featured in novels, films and even many biographies. But is there any historical evidence of an affair? Did the Queen really love Fersen? What were her feelings for her husband Louis XVI? Such questions and more will explored in a thirty minute segment based upon scholarship both old and new. Listeners may call in at (347) 945-6858.
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The Last Prior of Southwark

From Recusants and Renegades:
Canons Regular were priests living in community under the Rule of St Augustine and sharing their property in common. Unlike monks, who lived a cloistered, contemplative life, the purpose of the life of a canon was to engage in a public ministry of liturgy and sacraments for those who visited their churches. Apparently the canons sought to reflect supernatural order and stability within their priories, with examples of worship, farming, medical care, librarianship, learning, and so forth. The canons often worked in towns and cities, where the worship, medicines, education and the skills of the enclosed Benedictines were not present to the growing numbers of urban dwellers. By the twelfth century hundreds of communities of canons had sprung up in Western Europe. Usually they were quite autonomous of one another, and varied in their ministries.

I’m not sure at what age young men and women joined religious orders at that time, but my research into recusant families suggests that it was usually in their middle teens. Even so, this doesn’t help us with determining Bartholomew’s date of birth, since although we know when he left Leeds priory – 1509 – we don’t know when he joined. I haven’t found any records for Leeds priory during Bartholomew’s time there, but two years after he left, Archbishop Warham of Canterbury made a visitation. According to a county history:
Richard Chetham, prior, said that all was well; John Bredgar, formerly prior, was now vicar of Marden, and rarely came to the monastery, but thought that all things were well; and Thomas Vincent, sub-prior, said that much had been reformed, but much still remained to be reformed by the prior and sub-prior. […] Besides the eight canons already named there were twelve others, making a total of twenty in addition to the prior.
(Read more.)
Via Supremacy and Survival. Share

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Genealogical Chart

The chart is in the shape of the monogram of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, showing how they were second cousins once removed. Via Tiny-Librarian. Share

St. Thomas More on Communism

Of course, "communism" as a political and economic term did not exist at the time. Nevertheless, St. Thomas More described it quite accurately in his writings. To quote:
But, Nephew, there have to be people with wealth, because otherwise you'll have, by God, more beggars than there already are, and no one left able to relieve anyone else. For in my mind I feel quite certain of this: that if tomorrow all the money in this country were brought together out of everyone's hands and laid all in one heap, and then divided out equally to everyone, things would be worse on the day after than they were on the day before. For I suppose when it was all equally divided among all, the one who had been doing the best would be left little better off than the average beggar is now. Whoever was a beggar before would be so little enriched by what he received that he would still not be much more than a beggar....
~A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation by St. Thomas More, Martyr

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The Philippines and Monarchy

From The Mad Monarchist:
The struggle of the Spanish in The Philippines could also be seen in the context of the larger war between Christian and Islamic forces in which Spain played a key part (North Africa, Malta, Lepanto, Vienna etc). The Empire of Brunei (yes, the tiny state was once an empire) had spread Islam in what would become The Philippines, replacing the earlier religious beliefs of the old states which had been most influenced by Indian culture (like much of Southeast Asia). Spanish and Filipino Catholic forces were thus fighting Islamic states in The Philippines at the same time Spanish and Austrian troops were battling Islamic expansion in Europe and the Mediterranean. However, the lack of political unity meant that the Islamic petty monarchies in the archipelago meant that they fought each other as much as anyone else and this enabled the Spanish to ultimately defeat all of them. In 1578 Spain declared war on Brunei after the local monarch, Sultan Saiful Rijal, refused an ultimatum from a Spanish envoy from The Philippines to allow Christian missionaries into his territory. The Sultan hoped to block the spread of Catholicism in The Philippines as well as to prevent Spain from gaining control of the local trade routes. In the resulting War of Castille, fought mostly by Filipinos on the Spanish side, the capital of Brunei was captured but the Catholic forces were decimated by disease and had to return to The Philippines. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Charity of the Dauphine

From Vive la Reine:
Mme la Dauphine, who had returned, got out of her carriage, ran toward the woman, and held out some perfume to her nose, which made her come out of her faint. Mme la Dauphine gave her all the money she had with her, but what was even more admirable was the kind and consoling way in which HRH talked to the poor woman. Finally, Mme l'Archiduchesse, who was touched, shed tears and, at that moment, caused more than a hundred spectators to do the same….

Then, having called for her carriage, Mme la Dauphine gave orders that the peasant woman be taken in it back to her cottage which was in a neighboring hamlet.* Her Royal Highness waited right there for her carriage to return; she asked about the care of the wounded man … I cannot describe to Your Majesty the greatness or intensity of the sensation caused by the event, not only among the courtiers, but even more among the people of Fontainebleau….

The public in Paris [seems very moved;] whenever Mme la Dauphine’s name comes up, it evokes a universal cry of joy and admiration.
–Ambassador Mercy to Maria Theresa, 12 November 1773
(Read more.)
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Irish Blessings

From Irish Central:
An Old Irish Blessing
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
(Read more.) Share

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Marie-Thérèse Viewing a Portrait of Her Family at the Temple

Notice how her husband Louis-Antoine is very attentive. He knew how such things upset her.  Berry stands alone off to the side on the left. And then there are Artois and Louis XVIII on the right. One wonders what passed through their minds when seeing their doomed brother and his family. Via Vive la Reine. Share

Portugal and the Third Secret of Fatima

From Unveiling the Apocalypse:
Michael H Brown posted an important article on Spirit Daily last week concerning fresh details about the Third Secret of Fatima contained in the new biography of Sr. Lucia, A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary. In this article, which can be found here, Brown highlights a portion of this text containing an insight into the meaning of the words "In Portugal the faith will always be preserved, etc..." - which is thought by many to be part of the interpretation of the vision of the Third Secret given to Sr. Lucia by Our Lady, which was apparently given separately to the Secret itself. In A Pathway Under the Gaze of Mary, the Carmelites of Coimbra inform us that Sr. Lucia had once exclaimed out loud while meditating that if "Portugal does not approve abortion, it is safe, but if approved it will have much to suffer." Originally it was thought that the words "In Portugal the dogma of the faith will always be preserved, etc..." (which appears in Sr. Lucia's Fourth Memoir), was an implicit reference to the Great Apostasy, and that although the faith would die out elsewhere, it would always be preserved in Portugal. The details that have emerged in this new biography hint at an alternative explanation for these words, which makes a lot more sense in light of the current state of the country where Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children in 1917. Indeed modern Portugal is rapidly becoming just as secularized as every other country in Europe, and the empirical evidence suggests that this country has not been afforded any special spiritual protection from the onslaught of the Great Apostasy. In fact abortion was legalised in Portugal in 2007, meaning that it already stands under the threat of chastisement warned by Sr. Lucia.

Instead of guaranteeing the perpetual fidelity of the nation of Portugal, Sr. Lucia appears to suggest that there was some sort of caveat behind these words, in that if Portugal ever does deviate from the teachings of the Church, then it would be punished even more for its sins, in accordance with words of Christ Himself: 

"And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more."
(Luke 12:47-48) 

The words directly following this passage in Luke's Gospel bear direct relevance to the symbolism of the angel with the flaming sword seen in the Third Secret:

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."
(Luke 12:49-51) 


The parallel passage to this in the Gospel of Matthew tells us that ultimately Christ will not come to bring peace to the earth during His Paraousia, but rather the sword of judgement: 

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword."
(Matthew 10:34) 
(Read more.)
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Monday, May 18, 2015

A Portrait of the King

Via Vive la Reine: "A portrait of two of the children of Louis XVI drawing a portrait of him. Unknown French artist, 18th century." Share

May 2015 Newsletter

 Here is our monthly newsletter:
Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you all well and happy. We have been enjoying a most beautiful springtime. The long sunny days have been riddled with rain showers, but such is life. Our friend and neighbor Patti passed away. She lived in the tiny guest cottage in our back garden, which she enriched with herbs, flowers and a lush vegetable plot. She had kept her serious illness from us until she was weeks away from the end and then it all happened very quickly. Her friends took her away and she died in Maine within sight of the ocean. In your charity, please pray for the repose of her soul. I am keeping her beloved garden going, and one of the neighbors came and planted red geraniums. Amid life there is always death but eternity lies beyond the veil.

We went to Frederick County to spend a weekend with our dear friends, Virginia, Chip and their girls. They are the owners of the famous Chartreuse and Company which I have mentioned a few times on the Tea at Trianon blog. There is nothing like Frederick County in the spring; the air is fragrant with honeysuckle and flowering mountain shrubs. We enjoyed sitting on the terrace in the torchlight, talking, and partaking of delightful beverages, far into the night. Virginia and I discussed the possibility of me having a book-signing at her shop some time in the fall. By then my new non-fiction book on Marie-Antoinette will be published. As many of you know, Virginia published the first edition of Trianon for me;  it would never have gotten off the ground otherwise. Marie-Antoinette would feel quite at home at Chartreuse. Not only would she have loved the furniture but the old milking parlor looks similar to Marie-Antoinette's dairy, and there is even a little mill. A spot of pure enchantment!

My new novel The Paradise Tree continues to garner critical acclaim and the sales are really picking up. It sold out at Chesapeake Trading Company in St. Michaels and I had to replenish the stock. The books are also available at the News Center in Easton, in the "Local Authors" section. Mrs. Anne Stinson in the May 2015 edition of the Tidewater Times gave it a glowing review, saying: "It's obviously a book of love, a fascinating read from a lyrical writer." What makes me very happy as well is that several of Daniel O'Connor's descendants, my cousins in Canada, have told me how much they enjoyed the book. My cousin Chip O'Connor wrote on Facebook:

Dear Mary Eileen, I just finished reading The Paradise Tree. I enjoyed it immensely. I imagine many families have stories worth telling. We, the O'Connors, are blessed to have someone such as you who can tell so well the story of an important part of our history. Fergus (Chip) O'Connor
I am excited to announce that copies of The Paradise Tree will be available this summer at the Long Point school house, on what was once Daniel O'Connor's land but is now owned by my Aunt Margaret. Yes, it is the same school house mentioned in the novel! On the weekend of May 23-24, 2015, the school house will opened to the public as part of Doors Open Ontario. Copies of The Paradise Tree will be there, as well as my cousin Michael O'Connor's paintings. How I wish I could be there!

In the meantime, I am pondering starting a radio broadcast on Blog Talk Radio. It will be about history, focusing on Marie-Antoinette, of course, and hence will be called Tea at Trianon Radio. I hope to interview  some of the experts on the subject. More on that to come...In the meantime, I still post daily on the Tea at Trianon blog on "history, literature, manners, morals and matters of faith" while the morning Gazette du Trianon collects historical, political and social news. The Tea at Trianon Forum is available for discussion. And if you know anyone who would like to receive this newsletter, please send me their email.


Once again I am asking readers who enjoyed The Paradise Tree to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. Here is the link to the Amazon page. For those with an Amazon account, a positive review is always appreciated. For those who have posted reviews since my last letter, I cannot thank you enough!

Visit me on Facebook, Twitter, and my Amazon Author's Page!


With love, prayers, and blessings,

Elena at "East of the Sun and West of the Moon"
(Anyone who wished to receive this newsletter directly, please fill out the form on the left sidebar which says "Subscribe to our mailing list.")
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The Baths of Queen Caroline

From All Things Georgian:
The personal grooming habits of George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, were so unusual that they passed into legend and nursery rhyme. And while I have not found any proof that she used such a dangerous substance as turpentine for her hair, she was certainly washing it more often than the average Georgian woman at court.

In general the hair would be cleaned only by a thorough brushing, with washing in rosemary water taking place perhaps fortnightly, or at even greater intervals. And as far as the skin went, it was the hands, face, feet and personal areas that were cleaned every day. Full immersion in water was rare. Partly, this was due to the difficulty, not to mention the expense, of heating the amount of water required for a bath. You would also need to afford the help of servants to lug the water forward and backwards. But even those rich enough to obtain steaming tubs of water would use it sparingly. Medical science at the time considered it dangerous to overindulge in baths. The sudden changes of temperature when getting in and out of the water threatened chills, while opening up the pores made them susceptible to infections. This is not to say that every early Georgian had an unpleasant odour – the habit of brushing the skin, particularly under the arms, helped to carry away many impurities.

When Caroline arrived in England as Princess of Wales in 1714, she amazed the court with her regular bathing habits. She was always a progressive thinker, challenging opinions of science and religion amongst other subjects. She liked her skin and gowns to be clean and her servants well manicured – a feat which must have been quite difficult for those involved in the dirty work of running a household. At one point in her life, Caroline was separated from her children with only limited access to them. It is interesting to note that she insisted on bathing them and putting them to bed herself. While I imagine the heavy lifting of water would have been done by a servant, the main point is that Caroline considered it good practice to bath her children regularly – something which may well have earned her censure as a ‘careless’ mother. (Read more.)
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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Marie-Antoinette's Wedding Gown

It no longer exists, having been made into vestments for the Church, but we can guess what it was like. According to Anna Gibson:
This particular contemporary engraving of Marie Antoinette and her new husband Louis Auguste in their wedding ensembles matches the descriptions of their wedding day dress quite well. No expense would have been spared for either outfit--the wedding of the heirs to the throne of France was no "simple" wedding! Marie Antoinette's dress was made from beautiful silver cloth, bedecked in diamonds and other jewels that sparkled as she passed the throngs of spectators gathered to witness the important ceremony; while Louis' ensemble, though it was described as not fitting the groom--who blushed and trembled--exceptionally well, would have been made from brilliant gold cloth. (Read more.)
The wedding dress of Hedwig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein Gottorp
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Popular Parisian Entertainment

From Victorian Paris:
You are in Paris and you are in the mood for some entertainment. Nothing too heavy on the intellectual side—although that, too, can be provided—nor do you want to explore the seedy side of the city. You are simply looking for clean fun with an edge. (Read more.)
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Marriage in the 21st Century

From Family Studies:
That’s a good thing, too. Now why, besides the fact that I’m the director of the National Marriage Project, would I say that it’s a good thing that reports of marriage’s death may be exaggerated?

First, and foremost, marriage is about providing the best environment for our children. Virtually every week, I run across another study showing this. But what is striking about some of the new research is that it suggests boys benefit in particular from being raised in an intact, married home. For instance, in the last week I read fascinating new studies from Harvard economist Raj Chetty and from Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan and their colleagues. These new studies indicate that family structure has especially powerful effects on boys. The new study from Chetty and his colleagues found that areas “with high crime rates and a large fraction of single parents generate particularly negative outcomes for boys relative to girls” when it comes to predicting their future income.

In a new study looking at the interaction between family structure, genes, and child outcomes, McLanahan and her colleagues found not only that boys showed “stronger and more consistent responses to father exits” than girls, but also that boys with genes that were “more ‘sensitive’ to their environments responded more negatively to the exit of a father from the household and more positively to the entrance of a biological father into the household,” than boys with a different genetic makeup. In other words, here we have more evidence that having a biological father in the home matters—especially for boys, and even more so for boys who are genetically predisposed to be vulnerable—when it comes to reducing antisocial behavior.

So, if we’re concerned about bridging the opportunity gap in America, and ensuring that all of our kids thrive, especially our most vulnerable boys, we’ve got to be concerned about the strength of marriage and the family for individual families and for entire communities.

But marriage matters for men and women also. The social science suggests that marriage makes men work harder, smarter, and more successfully. For instance, Robert Lerman and I have found that married men work about 400 more hours, and earn about $16,000 more, each year, than their single peers with similar backgrounds. Women also benefit financially from marriage. They do not enjoy a marriage premium for their own personal income, but they do enjoy a major family income premium. They’re also a lot more likely to be in good shape financially when they approach their Golden Years if they have been stably married, compared to their peers who were not stably married. (Read more.)
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Delicate Beauty

From Tiny-Librarian:
Marie Antoinette’s delicate beauty called for pale colours, and green and pink and puce were amongst the favoured tones, the last mentioned taking its name from no more attractive source than the back of a flea. Her earlier dresses displayed stiff pointed bodices with stomachers, held with little tied bows of velvet, and paniers bunched liberally on the hips to show the under-dress of lace, bordered with flounces, headed and festooned with roses. The décolletage was square, and the elbow sleeves had frills of lace.
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An Ancient Scroll

From Smithsonian:
The 79 A.D. eruption of Mount Vesuvius is most famous for burying Pompeii, spectacularly preserving many artifacts—and residents—in that once bustling town south of Naples. The tumbling clouds of ash also entombed the nearby resort of Herculaneum, which is filled with its own wonders. During excavations there in 1752, diggers found a villa containing bundles of rolled scrolls, carbonized by the intense heat of the pyroclastic flows and preserved under layers of cement-like rock. Further digs showed that the scrolls were part of an extensive library, earning the structure the name Villa of the Papyri. (Read more.)
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Allegory of the Death of Louis XV

The nun in the upper left hand corner is Louis XV's youngest daughter Madame Louise who devoted her adult life to praying for the salvation of her father's soul. From Reading Treasure:
Louis XV had once been called the "Most Beloved," but by the time of his death in 1774, he had squandered the good will of the people with years of unpopular decisions, increasing isolation from anyone outside his court circle, and visible, expensive mistresses who made convenient scapegoats for the king's decisions. His death ushered in a wave of hopes, pressure and expectations from the French people for their new king, the young Louis-Auguste, now Louis XVI, and his young queen.

Perhaps nothing illustrations the immediacy of these expectations than this engraving published in 1774 as 'An Allegory of the Death of Louis XV.' Rather than resembling the standard allegory of the death of royalty--which usually depict them being welcomed into heaven by angels, cherubs and other heavenly creatures--Louis XV is shown in barefoot, in simple clothing with a traveler's walking stick; he is being shown portraits of his living family, the hope for France. It is his remaining family, and not Louis XV himself, who are being draped with flower garlands and celebrated.

To illustrate the point even further, this engraving was accompanied by the following poem, which refers to Louis XV as 'the subject of regret.'

What an important spectacle this tableau presents you!
An august family still flourishing
Contemplate here these portraits
See--there, gathered under the eyes of France
Along with the subject of regret
Those of its deepest expectation
Marie Antoinette remarked on these expectations in a letter to her mother several months after the death of her 'grandpapa king': "... I worry a little about this French enthusiasm when it comes to the future. ... opinion is divided, and it will be impossible to please everyone in a country where people are so impatient that they want everything done immediately." (Read more.)
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The French Counter-revolution

From The Catholic Herald:
The last country you’d expect to see a vibrant socially conservative and Catholic movement emerge from would be France, with its reputation for entrenched secularism and libertinism. And yet, this is exactly what La Manif Pour Tous (or Manif, for short), the mass-protest movements against France’s Socialist government’s same-sex marriage bill, managed to spark. Though the bill eventually passed, the movement managed to put more than a million people on the streets, won real concessions from the government, and more importantly created a new sense of a young, eager and growing Catholic social conservative movement in France.

What gives?

The Manif was an utterly unexpected phenomenon. Nobody anticipated that protests against a same-sex marriage bill would draw more than a few tens of thousands. Instead, the largest protests drew more than a million. Over several weeks, with clockwork-like regularity, the Manif drew large amounts of people in every large city of France to protest against the bill. (Read more.)
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The Iraqi Christians: Nothing Left but Faith

From CNA:
The local and regional authorities have been of little help to the displaced, Sister Diana said in her testimony, calling their reaction to the crisis “at best modest and slow.” The Kurdish government allowed Christian refugees to enter its borders but did not offer any more significant aid.

The Church in Kurdistan has been a big help to Christians, though, providing food, shelter, and other support, she noted.

Ultimately, the displaced want to return home and not to be re-settled elsewhere, witnesses at the hearing insisted.

“There are many who say 'Why don't the Christians just leave Iraq and move to another country and be done with it?'“ Sister Diana stated in her testimony. “Why should we leave our country? What have we done?”

“The Christians of Iraq are the first people of the land,” she said. “While our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution, they stayed in their land, building a culture that has served humanity for the ages.”

“We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home.” (Read more.)
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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Schönbrunn Palace Chapel

The chapel where Marie-Antoinette worshiped as a child. To quote:
The Schönbrunn Palace Chapel dates back to the beginning of the eighteenth century and was built by the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. The chapel still has the original shape and architectural design but the main entrance to the chapel was transferred from the north to the west side.
The original decorations of the chapel were relatively simple.
The chapel was originally dedicated to Mary Magdalene and in 1745 it was re-dedicated to the Marriage of the Virgin Mary.

In the 1740s, the original residence which had served as a hunting lodge was adapted to an Imperial palace. The Imperial family was extremely religious and participated at services in the palace chapel which were regarded an important part of daily life in the court. In 1743, Maria Theresa commissioned Nikolaus Pacassi to restore the chapel. Maria Theresa also commissioned well known baroque artists with the restoration work of the chapel.

The marble high altar was most probably designed by Nikolaus Pacassi himself and is crowned by a gilded sculpture of the Holy Trinity by Franz Kohl who was a pupil of Georg Raphael Donner.

The well known artist Paul Troger painted the altar painting which shows the marriage of Mary. The altar with angels on either side is dominated by a large marble tabernacle in the form of a dome and a golden tabernacle-door which is decorated with a relief of the Virgin Mary mourning over the dead body of Christ
. (Read more.)
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The Monstrous Dr. Cutler

From Aleteia:
Eight-hundred victims of an astonishingly evil experiment run between 1945 and 1956 are suing Johns Hopkins University, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Bristol-Myers Squibb for one billion dollars. The federal government sponsored the study but can’t be sued for it, so the victims’ lawyer hopes to get something from the institutions the victims can sue.

These institutions all deny responsibility. The university’s lawyer called the suit “baseless” and said that professors working on government projects are not acting for the university, but for the government.

The man who ran the experiments, Dr. John C. Cutler, was a monster. A monster who died after a long and successful life in government and academia, with scholarships and lectures created in his memory. (He had gone on to work on the notorious Tuskegee experiments before becoming assistant surgeon general and then a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.) (Read more.)
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Louis-Antoine at the Battle of Trocadero

The Duc d'Angoulême, nephew and son-in-law of Louis XVI, at the battle of Trocadero, where he was victor. More on the battle HERE. Share

Holy Wells of Ireland

From Irish Central:
It will all be worth the trouble, however (call it penance!), as nearly all these wells are in stunning locations high up in the mountains, isolated on islands, or in wild and remote places, such as the Burren in Co. Clare, which has an amazing forty holy wells. The Celts, monks and saints certainly knew how to pick the best sites for peaceful prayer or contemplation.

Many Irish holy wells are named after St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland; St Brigid, patron saint of Co. Kildare who founded a convent in the county; or a local saint, such as St Colman in Co. Clare.

Holy wells in Ireland are often credited with a cure and, traveling around the country, you will find the cure to most ailments hidden away in a local well. Popular cures involve using the water to sort out you teeth or eyes. Whether that was because of the lack of dentists or the expense of spectacles at the time, who knows, but these places are still being visited today.

Even if nothing too serious ails you, world-weary travelers can seek solace in nature in any of the country's holy wells. Sit beside a well where the water gushes forth from the earth, a symbol of new life in many cultures, and reflect. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Portrait of Marie-Antoinette in Historical Costume

A 1776 Nogent portrait of the Queen, intended as a gift for her uncle, Charles of Lorraine. I am guessing she is dressed to represent their ancestress Eleanor of Austria, who married another Charles of Lorraine in 1678. Share

Reburial of a Grand Duchess

She was one of the Montenegrin sisters who introduced Empress Alexandra to Rasputin. From the History of Royal Women:
The remains of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicolayevna and her husband Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholayevich have been reinterred in Moscow on 30 April 2015. Grand Duchess Anastasia was born Princess Anastasia of Montenegro on 4 June 1868 as the daughter of King Nikola I Petroviç-Njegos of Montenegro and Queen Milena of Montenegro. She was one of twelve children. She was known as Stana in her family. On 28 August 1889 she married George Maximilianovich of Leuchtenberg, the future Duke of Leuchtenberg. He had been married before to Therese Petrovna of Oldenburg, who had died in 1883 at the age of 31.

Anastasia and George had two children, a son and a daughter before divorcing in 1906.
In 1907 Anastasia married Grand Duke Nicholas. She was 39 at the time and the marriage remained childless. Her sister Milica married her husband’s brother Peter and they were thus also sisters-in-law. Anastasia and Nicolas were both very religious Orthodox Christians. Anastasia and her sister are credited with introducing Rasputin to Empress Alexandra Feodorovona. When the revolution began to take form Anastasia and Nicolas lived first in the Caucasus and then in the Crimea. They eventually escaped from the Crimea on board the British battleship HMS Marlborough. At first they lived with Anastasia’s sister Elena, who was Queen of Italy.They later lived in France. Nicolas died 5 January 1929 and Anastasia followed on 15 November 1935.

They were both initially buried in St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cannes, France. The request to transfer the remains came from Nicholas Romanovich, who died in 2014 and Dmitry Romanovich and was made last year. They are now reburied in the Chapel of the Transfiguration of Our Lord in the Bratsk military cemetery in Moscow. (Read more.)
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Marie-Antoinette During Her Trial

In chalk and water color. Share

A Tudor Scribe

From The Nun Blog:
This is why the TV series Wolf Hall on Masterpiece Theatre, based on the Hilary Mantel books, although it is well written and stars some fine actors, has me shaking my head. The protagonist of the series is Thomas Cromwell, who was the mastermind of the Dissolution of the Monasteries and many of the other religious upheavals of that era. His treatment of those who resisted the reformation was famously brutal. Yet in this series, Cromwell is humane and empathetic, a family man –literally cuddling kitten-- who is disgusted by torture. This would come as news to the group of Carthusian martyrs who died, horribly, after being starved and tormented on Cromwell’s watch. They refused to sign the Oath of Supremacy that meant acknowledging Henry VIII was the spiritual head of the kingdom.
Instead, Wolf Hall creates an alternative reality. In Episode Five, Eustace Chapuys, ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor, says disapprovingly to Cromwell, “I heard you’re going to put all the monks and nuns out on the road.” This prompts a self-righteous response from Cromwell of “Wherever my commissioners go, they meet nuns and monks begging for their liberty and after the scandals I’ve heard, I’m not surprised.” 

But this is not what I learned in my research into the monastic world of the early 16th century. After the nuns were ejected from their homes with small pensions, they often banded together to live in community, trying to stay true to their vows. When Mary I ascended the throne, they joyfully returned to their priories, only to be thrown out a last time when she died and her half sister Elizabeth I succeeded. There were instances of fraud and corruption in the abbeys, but nowhere near the level that Wolf Hall assumes. A growing number of historians believe that the “corruption” found in Cromwell’s investigation was a foregone conclusion—and a pretext for the legal seizure of the vast amount of land owned by the abbeys. After all, most were endowed by pious kings going back centuries.

Wolf Hall is not alone. The C.J. Sansom Tudor mystery series also takes the position of Catholic decay and corruption, with a main character who is a Protestant lawyer (who initially works for Cromwell). When I attended the play Anne Boleyn at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in 2011, I felt uncomfortable when all around me, the audience laughed at a joke about debauched monks or nodded approvingly when a heroic Tyndale entered the story, to be opposed by dimwitted enemies.  

There are historians such as Eamon Duffy who’ve written brilliant books challenging the accepted wisdom that Protestantism replaced a dying and corrupt system, and thanks to them, perceptions are changing.  In the English media, there was a storm of protest—small but loud—over the distortions in the story of Sir Thomas More in Wolf Hall. (Read more.)
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