Thursday, August 30


The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Dawn Eden walk into a bar...

Congrats to friend Dawn for her inclusion in this year's Best Catholic Writing 2007 along with Benedict XVI and Mr. Bean...I mean Rowan Atkinson...I mean Rowan know, Cantuar. (Yes, we're a bit puzzled about that part too...but the Pope! I mean, wow!)

Best. Church. Ceiling. Ever.

The Ascension Chapel, Walsingham. From the amusing C of E folk over at Anglican Wanderings.

Tuesday, August 28


Notre Dame Motu Proprio Update

I was greeted this morning with excellent news from our friend the Sober Sophomore regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificium on the campus of Our Lady's University.

After several weeks of promising rumors, Campus Ministry has determined on a very favorable course of action regarding the Tridentine liturgy: a regularly-scheduled recited mass in the Extraordinary Form will be celebrated in the chapel of Alumni Hall dorm (it's generally considered one of the most beautiful on campus, and possessing a fine high altar, shown above) at 8 AM on Sundays, starting after September 14; and starting in second semester, missae cantatae will be offered once or twice a term on special occasions with music by the official university choirs. This is extremely promising, and also likely to spread interest in the rite among a wider section of the student body. You can find the official statement here.

In recent years, I have found Campus Ministry to be very responsive to grassroots requests for traditional devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration and the now-annual Procession, as well as sponsoring, I'm told, a trip last year to St. John Cantius for their annual All Souls' Requiem! This good news only further reinforces my impressions of this excellent trend.

Monday, August 27

I don't have a photograph, but you can have my footprints. They're upstairs in my socks.
~Groucho Marx, A Day at the Races

Is Baroque "Absolutist"?

One thing I frequently hear is that Baroque churches look too much like royal palaces, operahouses or governmental buildings. However, it is not that Rome's grand churches look too palatial, but that Versailles looks too ecclesiastical. The Baroque began in Rome principally as an ecclesiastical style, and was only after that taken up elsewhere as a fashionable symbol of legitimism and monarchy. Even then, there were distinctive differences between secular and ecclesiastical Baroque, just as there were differences between secular and ecclesiastical Gothic.

The question of how Renaissance classicism came to be applied to church architecture is a long and complex question; suffice to say that there were other factors in it besides a mere substitution of heathen classical for Christian Gothic. There were questions of classical magnificence versus Gothic simplicity, as well as the nationalist overtones of Italian classicism (and its Christian Romanesque antecedents, such as the Baptistery in Florence) in the face of "il maniere tedesco," the alien German manner of building. But that is a matter for another time.

In any case, Trent chose to retain the classical manner not simply on a modish whim, but because they saw in its antique precedent the potential for a return to the purity of the Constantinian church. Some frescoes of the period were even consciously modeled on Roman wall-paintings. While archaeologically somewhat dubious, it still reminds us of the immense significance that the Roman orders still held for the early Christians, who chose to retain them in a meaningful manner in their basilicas.

Trent's somewhat puritanical classicism in time developed into the triumphal baroque. The change can begin to be seen around the first, second and third decades of the 17th century, with the work of Carlo Maderno and, later, his nephew Borromini and his rival Bernini. A galaxy of luminaries great and small soon trailed after them--Cortona, Rainaldi, Longhi, Vittone, Juvarra--that stretched well into the following century. The proto-Baroque was a more humane, ornamental, and perhaps even more physically sacramental development of the simple classical Counter-Reformation aesthetic represented by the Gesu and the other churches of the new orders sprouting up in Rome.

In time it became more festive and sculptural, and eventually increasingly plastic and florid with its more roccoco offspring in Germany, Spain and Mexico. These charming outliers are exaggerated ornament are best understood against the backdrop of the Baroque heartland of Italy, and Rome in particular. While not detracting from their beauty, they do not necessarily constitute the central essence of the style, which, rather than plastering ornament wall-to-wall (as in many Spanish examples), is instead about a rich union of painting, sculpture and architecture, a clever use of perspective, of hidden light sources and contrasting forms, and an iconographic ideal that ties the whole building tgether as an intellectual whole. Versailles, and the Roccoco opera houses of Germany, are the imitators of this ecclesiastical style, rather than its progenitors. Indeed, the palaces of the Baroque era in Italy began out as rather severe Renaissance cubes, and as in France only took on the swags and cherubim of Bernini and the rest as the Baroque church became an established fixture on the architectural scene. Even so, it would be difficult, once aware of the period's conventions, to mistake a palace for a church.

Another confusion in this fact lies in the dome, that wonderful manifestation of heaven reaching down to earth. We see a dome in the U.S. and tend to think, automatically, of the capitol in Washington, D.C. The ubiquitous Baroque dome, the image of the heavens, thus feels more governmental and institutional than it was ever intended to be. In truth, the American capitol dome, completed in the 1860s, was modelled in part on St. Peter's in Rome, and very few royal buildings in Europe featured a dome before the 19th century, it being typologically associated with the Church. (The only outstanding example to the contrary, Castle Howard, lies in Protestant England). The pediment as well had a more strongly ecclesiastical connotation in the southern countries of Europe then than it does today. Only in America would we think it appropriate to house a legislature in a building modelled on a Renaissance church.

Of course, if it were the other way round, it would not be the first time we borrowed a royal or governmental image to represent the house of God. Much church ritual, especially pontifical ritual, derives in some real way from the civil ceremonial of the late Empire (indeed, "Ite, missa est," may have been the formula used to dismiss a civil proceeding); while the early Christian basilicas were closely related to Roman basilicas, which housed the judiciary or served as royal audience halls. Such royal imagery remains relevant today, even in an age of presidents and power-brokers, because Christ remains king even if there are no other kings to compare him to. Indeed, the royal dignity of Christ remains even more important today precisely because He is virtually unique, and because it represents our relationship to Him in a certain way that would be lost in any feast of "Christ the President."

That being said, it is not the Church that imitates the state in the Baroque, at least at its birth, but the state that imitates the Church, and once again in the case of the American capitol with its bloated Michelangelesque dome.

Friday, August 24


Breaking News on the Palaeologue Succession

(In geologic time, anyway).

The handy-dandy Wikipedia points to the final living descendent of Constantine XI Palaeologus, Basileus of the Romans, to be Andreas Palaeologus, the one-time Despot of Morea, who died in penury in the Papal States in 1503. One of our alert readers comments:
According to Gibbon, the refugee Andrew Paleologue, son of the last Despot of the Morea, SOLD the purple to King Ferdinand... then he sold it AGAIN to the King of France.

Of course, someone will doubtless cry that Gibbon is a dirty nogood anti-Christian bigot, so we can't possibly believe anything he says.
Well, Gibbon did say St. George was a corrupt bacon salesman (nothing about dragons), so I tend to take some of his comments with a grain of salt, but it seems the Monkey-Man* was right, presuming Wikipedia isn't in on the conspiracy, or isn't simply copy-pasting Gibbon, which it probably is. But Gibbon most have gotten something right sometimes. In any case, the story is a wee bit more complex:
He was the nephew of Constantine XI Palaiologos, the last Byzantine Emperor of Constantinople. After Constantine was defeated and killed by the forces of Mehmed II on May 29, 1453, Andreas continued to live in Morea, which was ruled independently by Andreas' father Thomas Palaiologos, the younger brother of Constantine, until 1460. At this time he escaped to the Italian peninsula following an Ottoman invasion. Before entering Italy, Thomas and all his children made the conversion to the Roman Catholic religion. When his father died in 1465, Andreas stayed in Italy under the protection of the Papal States.

During his lifetime, Andreas is believed to have wasted enormous sums of money given to him by the Pope. However, modern historians now believe that the money received from the Pope was only enough for a meager standard of living.

Looking for money and a better life, Andreas tried to sell the rights to the Byzantine crown, which had fallen to him de jure since the death of his father Thomas. Charles VIII of France originally agreed to purchase the rights of succession from Andreas in 1494. However Charles predeceased him on April 7, 1498.

Andreas' younger brother Manuel Palaiologos arranged a deal with the Ottoman Sultan Bayazid II, exchanging his rights to the Byzantine throne for a comfortable pension.

Andreas died a pauper in 1502. According to his will his heirs were Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. While most scholars believe Andreas left no descendants of his own, Donald M. Nicol's The Immortal Emperor recognises a Constantine Palaiologos who served in the Papal Guard and a Maria who married Russian noble Mihail Vasilivich as possible offspring of Andreas.
Thus Wikipedia. So he sold it. But at least he sold it again only after the King of France had died, for what its worth. Given the Bourbons now rule in Spain anyway, it may well be a moot point. Or possibly it means some Valois cab-driver in Marseilles is the inheritor of the Caesars.

Incidentally, I am told Constantine XI has a semi-official cultus among the Greek Orthodox under the title of St. Constantine the Ethnomartyr, which is interesting as I am also told he died a Catholic. Given the supreme weirdness that existed in the immediate post-Council of Florence East, just about anything is possible.

*It's a pun. Think about it. I'm not suggesting, however, we start referring to Edward Gibbon this way as it is likely to just cause confusion with his distant cousin Eddie "Screaming Gorilla" Gibbon, the winner of the 1747 World Wrestling Federation Championships held that year in a small provincial outpost of New Spain called Las Vegas.

Sant' Agnese in Agone

Some photos, courtesy of a good friend and fellow Baroque enthusiast, Matthew Enquist, of one of my favorite Roman churches, Sant' Agnese in the Piazza Navona, built, I believe, on the site of her martyrdom and containing a relic of her skull, which is about the size of a large baseball, given she was still little more than a girl when she was killed.

Sant' Agnese is one of the most cleverly-designed Baroque churches in the Eternal City, taking what might be a liability--a peculiarly cramped site wider than it is deep, and making it an organic, even essential, aspect of the design. As you study these photos, note the church, while highly ornamented, is actually free of a lot of the Roccoco lettuce that is usually mistaken for Baroque architecture, and also the vivid use of polychromy and colored marble, evidence that classicism has a tradition of striking color as well-established as the Gothic. There is also a clear and well-defined system of iconography at work here, with winged putti playing in the higher, heavenly vaults just as one finds angels in the higher registers of churches from the earliest days of ecclesiastical art, as well as the use of the vegetal Corinthian order as a symbol of Christian triumph (and, also, probably feminine grace) common in numerous Roman shrines.

Thursday, August 23


Ever heard of the Kingdom of Tavolara? Its current ruler, or pretender, anyway, runs a pizzeria named "Da Tonino." I suppose it beats driving cabs.

Juan Carlos I, King of Spain and Emperor of New Rome?

I recently ran across a one-line reference, I can't recall where, to the claim that the last Byzantine emperor passed his rights of succession in his will to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabel of Castille. Anyone know about this? Am I imagining things again?

The source--and once again, I'm wracking my brain as to where it was--also mentioned Charles V as a consequence refused to recognize the Grand Turk's use of a title equivalent to "Emperor of Rome" as one of his many subsidiary courtly styles. While it seems the rulers of Spain sadly let this exotic claim lapse, the Sublime Porte hung onto his until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the Great War.

(Incidentally, this reminds me of my Holy Land Peace Plan, which is to get myself declared King of Jerusalem in virtue of my descent from the illustrious Fulk the Fifth of Anjou--though probably most of western Europe is descended from him at this point, too. But a) I can prove it and b) all the Hapsburgs, Lusignans and Savoyards ahead of me in line are too busy hanging out at Eurotrash discos or the European Parliament to have time for another hobby. Unfortunately, I have a feeling I'm not going to be getting any calls from Tel Aviv anytime soon. And failing spontaneous acclamation, I imagine the 10th Crusade would be very hard to manage since step one would be getting my chain-mail long-johns past the metal detectors at the El-Al terminal.)

Maybe not the Castle of Otranto, but Close...

Otranto Cathedral, with reliquaries behind the high altar containing the 800 skulls from the severed heads of a band of Puglian Catholics martyred by Ottoman soldiery in the year of Our Lord 1480. They are commemorated in the Martyrology on August 14.

More Photos from Ireland


Why is this a Good Idea?

Does it look easy for an octogenarian to walk up those steps? Much less a hard-working octogenarian?

Surely there has to be a better way to get the Pope into his Audiences...

What could it be... what could it be...

Well.. In His Defense..

Protestants do believe themselves totally depraved...

(innocent shrug)


Mother Teresa's Dark Night

A somewhat silly article about a worthy topic--the saintly Mother Teresa's experience with the "dark night".

Tuesday, August 21

Walk-In Monstrance would be a great name for a band.

Irish Ecclesiastical Architecture - Part I

Photos taken during my visit in July 2007.

Killearny Cathedral, Killarney, Co. Kerry. Exterior.

Killearny Cathedral, Killarney, Co. Kerry. Interior view to east end.

Dominican Church, Tralee.

Church of Ireland Chapel, Bunratty Folk Park.

Catholic Church, Adair.

Parish Church in the Kerry countryside.


A Liturgical Curiosity

This description of the Arundina Serpentina, or Serpent Candlestick, can be found in Archdale King's Liturgies of the Primatial Sees, p. 224. It was the equivalent in the Rite of Braga of the old pre-1955 tripartite candle used during the Easter fire. I have never much missed the tripartite candle, until I read about this: of considerable interest, as it takes the traditional form of a bronze winged dragon on a pole, with the three candles issuing from the mouth of the dragon.
King notes below, on pp. 281-282:
The use of a dragon or serpent as a candlestick for the tripartite candle was very general in the middle ages.

The Regularis Concordia (c. 965-75) prescribed its use at the blessing of the new fire on the three days of the Triduum Sacrum: 'On Maundy Thursday, after none, a procession went down to the church door, bearing with it a staff which ended at the top in the shape of a serpent. There, fire, struck with a flint, was first hallowed, and then used for lighting a candle which came out of the serpent's mouth. From this all other candles were ighted; and the same ceremonial was repeated on Good Friday and Easter Eve. A serpent figured also in the ceremonies of the three days in the Abbey of St. Mary at York. Here the blessing of the fire took place in the chapter house, and on the Thursday the sacristan in an aparelled alb walked first cum hasta habente serpentem in sumitate tres cereos affixos candelabro in ore ejus non accensos. On Good Friday, the serpent was carried by the prior, and on Holy Saturday by the principal chaplain of the abbot.

A rubric in the Mozarbic Missale Mixtum says that in the procession to the font on Holy Saturday: Hic exeat subdiaconus cum cruce hoc ordine: Ceroferarii cum cereis pergant coram cruce; et cereus paschalis coram cereis, et serpens coram cereo, et sic procedant ad fontem ordinatem. The Liber Ordinarium makes no mention of a 'serpent,' and the device was almost certainly borrowed from the Roman-Toledan use existing in the primatial church in 1500. [...]

The ordinarium of the Church of Bayeux, compiled at the end of the 13th century, refers to the bearer of the tripartite candle as the draconifer: Draconifer in suppelliceo et capa serica, et habeat draco in ore candelas plures retortas.
Okay, that settles it. I want to be a draconifer and wear a surplice and silk cope. Restore the arunda serpentina! Or at the very least, it might be adapted to make a nifty Paschal Candle stand.

Incidentally, on the subject of the defunct tripartite candlestick or trident, a few photos of it can be found at the website of S. Clement's Episcopal, Philly. Somehow, I'm not that surprised.

Thursday, August 16


Behold, the Neo-Gothic Website

And just to show I play fair, here's some Gothic subversion to spare, if the foray into classical frisbees was too far outside your comfort zone: a gorgeous and very official architectural tour of the finest church in America east of the Mississippi, Goodhue's marvelous St. Vincent Ferrer in New York City.

The finest church west of the Mississippi, barring St. Louis Cathedral, is another St. Vincent's, the exuberant neo-Baroque St. Vincent de Paul, Los Angeles, with interior furnishings by Goodhue's sometime partner R.A. Cram, in yet another nice bit of symmetry.

Behold, the Neo-Classical Frisbee

What with summer doldrums and the real world, I've been really falling down on the job finding fun ways to spread classicist subversion, or at least Baroque subversion. (The difference is classicist subversion involves semi-nekkid Roman deities, while baroque subversion involves semi-nekkid flying babies.)

So, without further ado, I present The Commemorative Death of Hyacinthus frisbee I devised a few Sundays back during the frisbee-making contest at the firm picnic in Central Park. (The guy next to me was doing an elaborate map of the five boroughs, complete with the locations of all the parks, and I had to escalate). You see, Hyacinthus, Apollo's friend (or something), was the first victim of ultimate frisbee, bonked on the head with the sun-god's whopping big discus during a particularly badly-timed throw.

The event was most famously rendered in the painting (on canvas, not in Sharpie marker on plastic) of the same name by American expat artist and bad-spelling President of the Royal Academy Benjamin West in 1770-1771, incidentally. So I'm not the first.

I later discovered the competition jury were not my classical architecture superiors, but their kids, and, of course, the high-concept frisbees (the borough map, the Mondrian, the retro-psychedelic swirls) similarly suffered, with flowers, smily faces, and colorful stripes winning instead. Maybe next time I should try something like the Phaeton Hotwheels Truck or the Acis and Galatea Beach-Ball. Or you could branch out into things medieval, and fast-food tie-ins: the Cheeseburgers of Calais. The possibilities are endless.

Wednesday, August 15


Hail, You Who Are Wholly Immsersed in God's Kingdom

(Image Credit: Botticini)

Never has the Church venerated bodily relics of the Mother of God. Today, then, rather than celebrating her bodily relics (Latin, reliquiae), we celebrate that she has so completely entered the Heavenly Reign of God that she has left (Latin, relinquere) nothing behind. The fact of a complete and universal dearth of Marian relics (despite enthusiasm for relics of so many of her contemporaries) most clearly witnesses to the Early Church's belief that Mary did not remain in earthly death:

"If therefore it might come to pass by the power of your grace, it has appeared right to us your servants that, as you, having overcome death, do reign in glory, so you should raise up the body of your Mother and take her with you, rejoicing, into heaven. Then said the Savior [Jesus]: 'Be it done according to your will.'" Pseudo–Melito, c. AD 300, The Passing of the Virgin

"Mary, the holy Virgin, is truly great before God and men. For how shall we not proclaim her great, who held within her the uncontainable One, whom neither heaven nor earth can contain?" Epiphanius, before AD 403, Panarion

St. Louis de Montfort, some thirteen hundred years later, reflected:

"What I say absolutely of Jesus Christ, I say relatively of Our Lday. Since Jesus Christ chose her for the inseparable companion of His life, of His death, of His glory and of His power in Heaven and upon earth, He gave her by grace, relatively to His Majesty, all the same rights and privileges which He possesses by nature. 'All that is fitting to God by nature is fitting to Mary by grace,' say the says; so that, according to them, Mary and Jesus, having but the same will and the same power, have also the same subjects, servants, and slaves. We may, therefore... call ourselves and make ourselves the loving slaves of the Most Holy Virgin, in order to be, by that very means, the more perfectly the slaves of Jesus Christ." (True Devotion, #74-75)

Assumption Day trivia: Some Bavarian dioceses kept 23 September as a feast of the "Second Assumption", or the "Fortieth Day of the Assumption", believing that the Blessed Virgin was taken up to heaven on the fortieth day after her death.

An Interesting Way...

of fostering a "Culture of Life"... but it seems wrong, somehow.

Mostly, I think, because children should be the incentive for having children, not a new car.

Tuesday, August 14


Those Wal*Mart Bible Toys

Fr. Longenecker notes with interest that Protestant Evangelicals are now buying statues of various religious figures.

These special statues can only be kept in the toy box; however, he is hopefully that baby Evangelicals, when they grow, will ask the obvious question:

Why do the statues of Jesus have to say in my toy box, and outside of the worship facility? Can I bring the statues to play with them in the worship facility? If I do, can I set them down? Can I set them down on the bench only, or can I set them down on a ledge? If I set them down on a ledge, can it be a ledge that people see when they praise God? Why not, Mommy?

Nicest Font $4 Can Buy

As you've noticed, the Shrine is a non-commercial website, and we've never been paid to advertise something... (Not that I'd be opposed...)

But, I saw this "wax holy water font," hand-painted, for $3.95, and I had to spread the joy:

It's practically as cheap as the many awful, plastic fonts most places sell, but this is folksy, traditional, and supports German Catholic culture.

Check it out!

Incidentally, can anyone comment on the rumors on Park Avenue that Andrew Cusack and Wing Commander Sir Basil Seal have joined forces to start a motorcycle gang?

(Photo shamelessly stolen from Cusack's recent coverage of his favorite movie of 2007).

A Quick Roundup

If any of you are in the mood for white birettas and pre-Revolutionary French abbeys restored to good (sacred) use, you might want to have a look at the Canons of Lagrasse, and their austere yet lovely monastery. It appears they aren't the only ones up to this sort of thing, either.

A longtime reader blegs:
My daughter will be in the 7th grade this coming year. She is hoping to do declamation, and wants to present a speech by a Catholic woman. We have not been able to find one. Maybe with the vast intellectual resources present in your bloggers and the commentators we might find a great speech of great spiritual power.
Thoughts? Catholicism has certainly produced its share of wonderfully uppity women in its day, though I can't think of anything specific speech-wise on par with, say, Bad Queen Bess's speech before the Spanish Armada about having the heart and stomach of a concrete elephant, or whatever it was. Put your heads together, and see what you come up with!


Another item of interest comes from a gradeschool friend of mine who has produced an incredibly exhaustive survey of free Catholic MP3 links on the web on the extremely professional-looking Sonitus Sanctus blog, which is definitely worth your time. Highlights include a defense of Pius XII, Ambrosian chant (insert embarassing squeals of delight from yours truly!), Thomas More on audiobook, and more still. There may be plenty of blogs out there with confusingly interchangeable Latin names, but this one looks like it's going to distinguish itself from the rest of the herd.

The redoubtable Dawn Eden, now settling into Our Nation's Capital (insert stock footage of White House, with dramatic Red October-style music and time signature in the corner), has some questions about telenovelas, which make even less sense if you actually understand the Spanish. But it's for a good cause. And a happy St. Max's day to our heroine, while we're at it!


And last but not least, why Our Lady doesn't like artificial sweeteners.

Monday, August 13


Variations on St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia University

A charming sketch, from the drafting-boards of Howells and Stokes, of an abandoned alternative for St. Paul's Chapel on Columbia Campus, c. 1904-5, depicted with an enlarged dome and a strongly Italian Romanesque facade. While quite a successful design, the scale of the dome appears to suggest a building considerably larger than the actual chapel, whose lower dome seems more appropriate to its size.

Another abandoned variant from Howells and Stokes, who were filling out the basic campus partee laid out some years earlier by McKim, Mead and White, showing a campanile behind the church's east end and engaged with a stepped side-entrance into the campus.

The chapel as built, in a strongly classicized Romanesque manner, but still distinct enough in its archaeologically-inspired ecclesiastical character to distinguish it from the more canonically Greco-Roman campus buildings.

The interior, view of the dome. Excepting architectural elements, the principal ornament of the interior is its extensive patterned vaults of Gustavino tile, then an innovative and unusual material.

The apse. A dignified, if somewhat liturgically timid, Protestant design, with the altar at the end of a very deep chancel lined with elaborate choirstalls that threaten to overwhealm the actual sanctuary. The freestanding altar (with eastward facing footpace!)seems somewhat unusual to me, unless it was modified recently. It reminds me of Bertram Goodhue's somewhat "progressive" chancel at St. Bartholomew's, though I do not know much about the liturgical politics of the chapel's construction. That being said, with a stone top, six candlesticks, a hanging tester and a cross, it might make for a very fine Catholic altar.

Sunday, August 12


Pope Popes Again, again

To revisit the earlier post on Clarence Pope's 1994 entrance into the Catholic Church, his 1995 return to the Episcopal Church (USA), and his 2007 return to the Catholic Church:

I was slightly irked by those who, throughout the web, have taken the license to belittle Clarence Pope for returning to the Episcopal Church (USA) in 1995, although my annoyance probably arises from keen awareness of my own humanity (and the ever-present question of whether I would have had the guts to go through such a conversion) bumping up against the raw sanctity of the critics. Though, my annoyance may also have arisen from a certain hesitancy to judge the culpability of a moral act by presuming to know the state of the moral agent, with all its complex or mitigating factors.

Either way, Clarence Pope has this to say about his return to the Episcopal Church in 1995:

Bishop Pope said he regretted his return to The Episcopal Church in 1995, after having spent a year as a Roman Catholic. He explained that shortly after he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston, “I was discovered to have advanced prostate cancer and that because it had spread so aggressively, I probably would not survive.”

The series of chemotherapy treatments and radiation he underwent left him “very impaired in my thinking,” he explained. The toll of his treatment and his tepid reception from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge, which had refused him ordination as a priest, provoked depression.

“In the midst of all this sense of losing any awareness of belonging, Presiding Bishop Ed Browning called to see how I was,” Bishop Pope said. His classmate from the 1954 seminary class at Sewanee encouraged him to return to The Episcopal Church.

“Needing some ground of belonging, I gave in to his nudging and, as he claimed never to have received my letter of resignation, I drifted back to The Episcopal Church,” Bishop Pope said. He asserts now that “being of sounder emotional stability and out from under a fog bank of severe depression, I would never have made such a return.”

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, August 11


Holy Whapping Television Network (HWTN) TV Schedule, Saturday, August 11, 2007

8:00 AM. *M*A*S*S*. (Rerun). Field Acolyte Hawkeye decides to switch the Acqua and Vino cruets in Fr. Mulcahey’s liturgical cruet set because that’s the kind of thing he does, and also because (insert gripping social commentary here).

8:30 AM. Family Feudalism. This week: the Plantagenets versus Hohenstaufens. (Live show later cut off after a knife-fight breaks out between Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole.)

9:00 AM. Hochschule Musikale. In old Heidelberg, scrawny nerd Willy Hohenzollern and his withered arm are ostracized by the Wittelsbach in-crowd led by drama queen Sissi and head jock Otto von Bismarck, until Willy and sweetheart Princess Augusta Viktoria of Schleswig-Holstein join forces to inexplicably burst into song. Show-stopping numbers include “Staldhelm Spirit,” the Admiral Tirpitz tap number “Get Your Head in the Naval Buildup,” “The Ems Telegram Song,” “Stick to the Mutual Pan-European Re-Insurace Treaty System,” and the grand finale “We’re All in This Together (Except Poland).”

11:00 AM. I Love Christina. (Rerun). Queen Christina of Sweden (Lucille Ball) sneaks out of her guest digs in the Vatican to visit Castel Sant’ Angelo and engage in some target practice, since Pope Alexander VII (Desi Arnaz) has refused to let her have her own personal artillery regiment. Waaaaah!

11:30 AM. This Old Saint. Bob Villa hosts HWTN’s perennial favorite game-show, combining Do-It-Yourself repair skills and hagiographic trivia. Skilled anatomists and diminutive Italian nuns race against the clock to reassemble St. Catherine, whose head is in Siena, foot in Venice, and body in Rome.

12:00 PM. Not Another 1950s Priest Movie. (Original Title: I Confess I’m Going My Way to the Bells of Boys Town to Unlock the Keys of the Kingdom). Starring Irma Bergman (Ingrid’s kid sister, the one with that disconcertingly big mole), Mother Dolores Hart, Princess Grace, Bing Crosby, and that Incomprehensible Old Irish Guy as Fr. Ethnic Stereotype.

HWTN Tough Guys (and Gals) Marathon

2:00 PM. The Man with the Golden Nose. Metal-nosed astronomical swashbuckler Tycho Brahe teams up with renegade Frenchman Cyrano de Bergerac to free Galileo from the clutches of the Inquisition.

3:30 PM. Pius X. The year is 1969 and the Rev. Pius Little struggles to re-impose Tra le Sollicitudine on his kumbaya-loving whitebread congregation. By. Any. Means. Necessary.

5:00 PM. Old Habits Die Hard. Bruce Willis struggles to blend in as he goes in deep undercover (and deep beard) among the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal to foil a plot to kidnap the Pope during his upcoming appearance at the UN.

7:00 PM. Paten. George C. Scott plays a tank-commanding Pope Julius II facing off against the panzer divisions of the Geneva Wehrmacht in this classic war movie set in an alternate universe where Leonardo’s fantastic weapons became reality. Don’t miss the profanity-laden prologue speech set against a gigantic backdrop of the Vatican flag.

10:00 PM. Twelve Angry Saints. The conclave to elect Matthias as Judas’s replacement inadvertently goes sour when Peter accidentally breaks the handle off the cenacle’s front door, trapping them within and survive off really thin matzoh slipped in under the crack. Sequel to The Dirty Dozen.

12:00 AM. Bellarmine Begins. Robert Bellarmine takes on the forces of darkness in a weirdly Gothic Counter-Reformation Rome after a long and more-or-less inexplicable drawn out training sequence involving Matteo Ricci and a bunch of Shaolin monks.

1:30 AM. Dante Goes to Hell. The sequel to Dante Goes to School, the sequel to Dante Goes to the Beach, and that in turn the sequel to Dante Goes to Splash Mountain. From the creative (?) minds that brought you Weekend at Boccaccio’s II.

2:30 AM. The Hunt for Blue October. Sir Francis Drake (Alec Baldwin) hunts down a dangerous prototype Spanish “stealth galleon,” The Glorious Month of the Most Holy Rosary of Our Blessed Lady Crushing the British Scum, led by the Duke of Alba (Sean Connery) and his inexplicable Scottish accent.

4:30 AM. The Diocletian Chainsaw Massacre. (Original Title: The Most Holy Life, Passion and Dolorous Death, along with the Miraculous Translation of her Body, of the Virgin and Martyr St. Katherine of Alexandria, with Lots of Rotating Knives to Make Things Interesting.)

Thursday, August 9


The Perfect Surplice?

A new and large monastery of Benedictine sisters, the Benedictines of Mary in Kansas City, make a number of really cool vestments, including perhaps the perfect Surplice, pictured above.

They Closed a Basilica

Can you even do that?

This Blog Rated...

Mingle2 - San Diego Singles

Parents, please do not panic: the rating is not "G" because we mention "death" and "dead" four times total.

(%insert rant on America's very un-Catholic skittishness RE: death and dying)

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Funky Gothic

St. Blog's favorite ecclesiastical tourist, City of Steeples, has a piece about some churches in her area, including one of the most interesting Gothic-inspired parish churches I've seen:

St. Patrick's
Racine, Wis.

Click here for the whole post, which also includes a run-down a really beautiful cinder-block church:

Holy Rosary reminds us that beauty does not have to come at a price- much of the exterior is built of concrete block painted white to mimic stone. The ingenuity of the architect allowed a parish church to maximize its resources and thus created a place of timeless beauty.

Wednesday, August 8


A Few Illustrations from Churches: Their Plan and Furnishing, 1948 ed.

Church in Eisden-Mines, Limbourg, Belgium, by A. van den Niuewenborg

Another one of those remarkable period-piece church-furnishing books from the later part of the Old Liturgical Movement, Peter Anson's Churches: Their Plan and Furnishing is packed with the same typical mixture of good advice, common sense, slightly snippy tone, and one or two spectacularly silly ideas (usually based on bad archaeology), that one comes to expect from works of the era.

Unlike, however, O'Connell's Church Building, which has the same surprising mix of ideas (O'Connell's book features pictures of St. Pat's high altar, as well as some hideous WPA-ish baptismal fonts), the book also features (sometimes Statler-and-Waldorf-esque) asides by editor H.A. Reinhold, another somewhat ideologically muddled Movement figure. Reinhold and Anson, unlike other authors of the era, seem to have had a genuine catholicity of taste, with Reinhold even having a sparse handful of good words to say about the Baroque at one point, a real rarity in works of the era. Still, the illustrations, in Anson's distinctive style, are the best part of the book:

Church of the Holy Rood (duh), Watford, England, by J.F. Bentley, the progenitor of Westminster Cathedral. A wonderfully top-heavy rood-loft lacking a screen below.

The Oratory Church, Birmingham, by Dorian Webb. Described as striking by the authors, though they cannot help slipping in the patronizing note of also calling it a "period piece," which it is, but no more or less than any of the other works in their catalogue.

An early Giles Gilbert Scott Work, Our Lady of the Assumption, in Northfleet, England. Anson excoriates, with a certain unnecessary snippiness, it for its admittedly unliturgical altar--which, while somewhat unrubrical (though not unable to be remedied by the removal of its illegal exposition throne), is otherwise rather splendid, and ensconced within a wonderfully vertical sanctuary whose straight lines recommend itself to the church designer working on a budget. Note also the fine rood, dossal and canopy.

Tuesday, August 7


Extraordinary Q&A

I'm a Bishop, Cardinal, or Abbot having the use of pontificals. How does my manner of vesting of vesting for non-Solemn Masses according to the 1962 Missal differ from that of priests?

You do not place the stole over your breast in the form of a cross, but allow the ends to hang straight down. Before putting on the stole, you take the small pectoral cross, kiss it, and place it over your collar, allowing it to hang over your breast by its cords. Also, do not put on the maniple before putting on the stole (except in Masses for the dead), but rather put it on at the altar, before saying the Indulgentiam during the Confession--though you do kiss the maniple while still in the sacristy.

Of course, if you are a Bishop, Cardinal, or Abbot having the use of pontificals, you vest for Solemn Mass as described separately in the Pontifical.

Click here for the full rubrics of the Extraordinary Roman Rite, and be fittingly appreciative of all our priests who are endeavoring to learn it!

Pope "Popes" Again

Episcopal bishop Clarence Pope has entered the Roman Catholic Church--for the second time.

Clarence Pope must be one most ill-treated converts of recent memory. He served his Episcopal diocese (Fort Worth, I believe) until retirement at the age of 65, in 1994. He then announced that he would be entering the Catholic Church, and seeking ordination under the pastoral provision: obviously, it is no small sacrifice for a bishop emeritus, who could count on an enjoyable retirement in the community he served, to renounce that very community.

As Episcopal bishop, Clarence Pope had tried to negotiate with Rome for a personal prelature for Anglo-Catholic converts in the US: although his meeting with John Paul II went well, the plan was stonewalled by officials and nothing came of it: only Cardinal Ratzinger supported such a plan, and it did not fall within the competence of Ratzinger's Congregation, obviously. When Clarence Pope then converted individually, his new Catholic bishop announced that he would be willing to ordain Clarence Pope as a Catholic priest--if his diocesan Priests' Council approved (?!?). The Priests' Council rejected ordaining Clarence Pope, as they deemed him far too "traditional." Enduring this sever public embarrassment, and hearing nothing of the plans for an Anglican Catholic prelature within the Catholic Church, Clarence Pope was ignored by everyone but the Episcopalian primate and the new Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth, who begged him to return. Ultimately, he did, in 1995.

12 years later, despite the extremely embarrassing contempt with which the local Catholic Church treated him upon his first conversion, but now with Ratzinger now Pope Benedict, and a few rumors of something like an Anglican-Catholic prelature in the works, Clarence Pope has returned to communion with Rome.

"Look, Johnson! The elusive black-wimpled tertiary!"

It's been a running joke in Whapsterland that someone should write a field guide for identifying the habits of the myriad of women's orders and congregations which have existed in the Church's history.

A friend passed along this picture, hoping someone could identify to which congregation this sister belonged. It dates from 1890-1920. All that is known is that it was a Bavarian religious congregation.

Monday, August 6


Church Ends Tomorrow

You heard it here second: the Roman Catholic Church will be destroyed August 7, 2007, according to this kooky site with an awesome sound track:

The GREAT CITY OF BABYLON will split into three sections which means fissures will form to split it into three sections. Also, cities of many nations fell into heaps of rubble. So, the city of Rome in Italy is not the only one that will be ruined but other cities of neighboring countries.

What will occur on August 7, 2007 will be the worst earthquake in the history of mankind. It will be an ultimate earthquake. Most likely this earthquake will also produce an ultimate tsunami.

As we all know, the best prophecies come riddled with coma splices..

It will probably greatly disappoint the authors of this, um, "Bible prophecy,"* to learn that the Church exists whole and entire in each particular Church (diocese), meaning that for the Church to be destroyed, granting such a possibility, almost every major city in the world would have to be destroyed..

Most disturbing, though, was the site's use of the NASB: since when did crackpot Know-Nothings ditch the KJV?

Tip of St. Teresa's mortar board to Mark Shea

*One of the many benefits of being Catholic is the awareness that "Bible" is a noun and that it has its own separate adjectival form, "biblical," which properly modifies words like truth, Christian, prophecy, and Church.

The Church's Mortar Board

I recently learned that the Church, when it bestows the title "Doctor of the Church" upon a saint, gives the Saintly Candidate an actual doctoral hat.

Above is a picture of the hat bestowed upon St. Teresa of Avila when she was declared one of the first two female Doctors of the Church by Pope Paul VI, in 1970.

I think this is the most POD thing I've seen all summer.

I don't know if the academic garb is patterned after a specific institution, but it would be really cool if being named "Doctor of the Church" was something like being given an honorary degree by the Lateran, or something.

I also don't know if John Paul, of great memory, gave a similar hat to St. Therese when she was named a Doctor of the Church in 1997. Does anyone else?

Thursday, August 2


Brooklyn's Cathedral that Never Was

Brooklyn is the ethnic heart of New York Catholicism, a borough whose inhabitants still remember that coming to America needn't mean converting to the comforting blandness of beige Catholicism. A view across the East River shows a low cityscape still dotted with German steeples and Polish domes. With a few notable exceptions, (A San Rocco statue covered in dollar bills followed by a truck filled with small Chinese girls dressed as angels, for instance), all things weird and wonderful in the world of the popularly pious ultimately go back to the Maronites, Italians and Hispanics of the outer boroughs.

While Manhattan may have St. Pat's and Our Saviour's, you won't find the dancing Giglio with its cast of priests and brass bands, or an advertisement for a visit of the Holy Robe of the Infant of Prague to some crusty, dusty church in Queens.

We often forget the borough of Brooklyn was once a whole separate city, and the last hundred years of rule from downtown Manhattan is somewhat of a novelty in the great scheme of things. Indeed, had Bishop Loughlin had his way, Brooklyn would be the home to a behemoth cathedral that would have easily rivalled St. Pat's in sheer bulk. The illustration above is of its facade--a somewhat clunky mid-century Victorian Gothic pile, not without a certain hefty charm.

Robert A.M. Stern writes in his equally hefty (1,164 pages) New York 1880:
Far and away, the most ambitious church project undertaken in Brooklyn was the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, intended for the block bounded by Clermont, Greene, Vanderbilt, and Lafayette Avenues. A Pugin-inspired version of the Cathedral at Rouen, designed by Patrick C. Keely, it was to have been the second-largest cathedral in the country, exceeded only by New York's St. Patrick's [...], then under construction. [...] As described in 1871, the approach taken by Keely abounded in "clustered shafts, moulded bases, varied statuary, pinnacled and gabled canopies." The cathedral was to have built of blue granite. Two 98-foot-wide, 350-foot-high corner towers were to have marked the 160-foot-wide entrance facade facing Lafayette Avenue, beyond which the 354-foot-long church with its 98-foot-high, white granite nave soaring to a roof framed in oak. The project was extremely ambitious given that the archdiocese had only been in existence for eight years when the site was acquired in 1860, but Bishop John Loughlin was deeply committed to the idea of the cathedral as a beacon for Catholicism in Protestant Brooklyn, as were many laypeople, forty thousand of whom showed up for the laying of the cornerstone on June 21, 1868.
Money soon ran low, and the walls had only creeped up a paltry ten feet before construction was halted. Only one of the church's six chapels, St. John, was completed. The walls and chapel remained until 1931, when they were bulldozed to build a high school named in honor of the late bishop.

One of Loughlin's successors, incidentally, approached Westminster Cathedral designer John Francis Bentley (Keely having died) to figure out what to do with the Cathedral's foundations and stubby walls. Bentley himself visited Brooklyn and began drawings, but the British architect died before Bishop McDonnell could visit London to see the architect's work. The project was shelved, and now the only thing that remains on the site is the former Bishop's residence, now the chancery, which that pompous doorstop The AIA Guide to New York City--at least the 1978 edition--describes as "an orphan asylum for a Charlotte Bronte novel."

Requiescat In Pace

Karen Marie Knapp, who ran this familiar blog, has died. She lived, "simply, singly and submittedly, interceding for the City and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee." Our prayers for her as she continues to intercede for her Archdiocese.

Wednesday, August 1


Bridge Collapse

A bridge over the Mississippi collapsed during rush hour.

Please join us in saying a prayer.

Great Balls of Liturgical Fire

Apparently, the Ambrosian rite (Archdiocese of Milan) lights (or lit) this globe, covered with cotton fibers and decorated with cross, palms, and a crown, to celebrate certain feasts. The fast-burning ball symbolizes of the life of a martyr being consumed by the love of Christ at the moment of death.

From Per Christum, a worthy blog, now on the side bar, which also has a great post on the burgeoning vocations in certain religious orders and the 900 Protestant pastors (400 Anglican and 500 other) who have converted in the last 20 years.

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