Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Catholic England: Pugin, Newman, the new Catholic aristocracy and classical liturgics

It seems that Tuesday evening was a banner night for interesting discoveries. I've often found the publishing houses and movements of traditional Catholic and reform of the reform England to be of particular interest and richness. Perhaps it is because of their own appreciation for their deep history, one very much tied to the Catholic Faith both in the flowering ("Our Lady's Dowry" as she was once called), and in the persecution (under Henry VIII, Elizabeth and thereafter). Whatever it is, I have found the various English Catholic publishers I have run into to come up with some of the most fascinating cultural, liturgical and historical titles of Catholic interest.

Most famously there is The Saint Austin Press of course. Well, add another publisher to that list: Gracewing Publishing (from whence all but the last of the titles below come)

To begin with, and perhaps most significantly, I've found a rare treat for those interested in sacred architecture, the gothic revival more specifically, and even more specifically, the writing of that greatest of Catholic Gothic Revivalists, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.

Many know that Pugin wrote a number of "apologetics" for Gothic architecture. Dr. Rory O'Donnell and Gracewing Publishing have made available again in facsimile editions the following writings of AWN Pugin:

A Treatise on Chancel Screens and Rood Lofts

The Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture in England

Some Remarks... Relative to Ecclesiastical Architecture and Decoration

True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture

An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture

(The last four titles are bound into two volumes. It is my hope to do a review of these books for NLM readers, but for those who want to jump right into it, there's the information.)

Further discoveries from Gracewing Publishing that may interest NLM readers:

A Catholic Eton? Newman's Oratory School
Paul Shrimpton

'To my mind Eton, minus its wickedness, and plus the inculcation of the Catholic faith would be what I should best like to see.' Many Catholic converts shared this sentiment with Sir John Simeon when confronted with the problem of educating their sons. When in 1857 Newman was retiring from the Catholic University in Dublin, friends approached him on this subject and he became the central figure in the establishment of the Oratory School. For his classic exposition of a liberal education Newman is hailed as one of the greatest English writers on educational theory, and by a happy coincidence the new foundation brought together this original mind with a unique educational opportunity. The story of the foundation of the Oratory School is illuminating: it contributes important insights into both Victorian life and English Catholic history.

Faith and Fortune
by Madeleine Beard

FAITH AND FORTUNE chronicles the nineteenth century revival of Catholicism in England from the perspective of the wealthiest families in the country. Against much opposition, many men and women courageously sought membership in the One True Church. Their generosity with their fortunes in re-building the Catholic Church in England is still seen in the remarkable number of churches, convents, monasteries and schools which they founded. Their stories are told in two sections of the book, "Off to Rome" and "Over to Rome". The Grand Tour to southern Europe introduced many English and Scottish travellers to Catholicism. Entering Catholic churches for the first time, the mystery of the magnificent liturgy prompted many to explore the riches of the Catholic Faith.

Others joined the Church without leaving England's shores at all, simply in response to the prayers and example of others.

The two outstanding Cardinals of the nineteenth century, Manning and Newman, were both well-known converts who drew many in their wake. Manning, with his Oblates founded by Saint Charles Borromeo and Newman with his Oratorians founded by Saint Philip Neri, introduced into Protestant England the spirituality of the counter-Reformation of the sixteenth century. So too Italian Orders such as the Passionists and Rosminians had a profound role to play in their missionary work. This paperback describes the fruits of the journeys between Catholic Europe and once-Catholic England, with fascinating stories of individual souls who gave up everything for the Church.

The Western Rising, 1549 - The Prayer Book Rebellion
Fr. Philip Caraman S.J.

(This title is available from Southwell Books)

Too often in popular history, the Reformation in England has been treated as a progressive and popular movement to rid the Church of corruption and its ties with Rome. It is now more generally accepted that the old religion was deeply entrenched and had the unquestioning and devoted support of the masses. There is no better proof or illustration of this than the largely forgotten Rising in Cornwall and Devon in 1549 against the substitution of Archbishop Cranmer’s First Prayer Book for the old Mass.

The Rising was suppressed thanks largely to the aid of foreign mercenaries in a series of savage battles around the city of Exeter. It could now well be argued that, had the rebels succeeded, as they nearly did, the history of religion in England would have taken a different course. Their failure was due to some ill luck, their lack of cavalry and a fatal strategic error. This excellent book deals in detail with both the religious and military aspects of the tragic rebellion.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: