30 November 2007


The final installment of the Mayflower miniseries is up at Patum Peperium.

Sir B dipped the pen in its pot and handed the instrument over. He then bent over Lord P’s shoulder as the other, holding his breath and concentrating, started drawing something a few miles inland from Virginia’s undulant coast.

“There” he finally said with satisfaction.

“What is it?”

“What is it?” asked Lord P, hurt. “Why, it’s a hippogriff, of course.”

“A hipp-a-who?”

“Hippogriff. Mythical beast. Head of an eagle. Body of a lion. Tongue of an estate agent.”

“I admit,” said Sir B, who had never really listened to fairy stories in the nursery unless they involved fair princesses or damsels in distress, “that you’ve done a tolerable job of rendering the eyesore. But to what end?”

“You admit no one really knows what’s in Virginia, right?”


“And you also admit that these wack-job religious literalists we’ve been cooped up with for weeks on end only believe something if they see it on paper, right?”

“Right” said Sir B more slowly, wondering where this conversation was headed.

“So, if they see hippogriffs on the map of Virginia…”

There was a long pause as the sheer brilliant simplicity of idea dawned on Sir Basil.

Lord P took Sir B by the sleeve. “Make sure tomorrow to start planting the good seed. Go about on deck saying things like, ‘My, I hope there aren’t too many hippogriffs when we land’ and ‘Does anybody know how to make hippogriff chowder?’”

You can read the rest at Patum Peperium.

Grande Neuvaine de l'Immaculée Conception

30 November to 8 December

One can find different novenas to the Immaculate Conception, but for those with a special love and affection for France, I offer here the novena recently blessed and encouraged by our Holy Father:

1) Chaque jour une dizaine de Chapelet, suivie de 3 fois l'invocation: "O Marie conçue sans péché, priez pour nous qui avons recours à Vous."

2) Une Communion le jour du 8 décembre ou entre le 30 nov. et le 8 déc. Confession recommandée.

O Vierge Immaculée, le 8 décembre 1947, alors que la France était en danger, vous avez manifesté votre douce présence à quatre petites filles de l'Ile-Bouchard. Nous vous prions encore aujourd'hui pour la paix dans notre pays et dans tous les pays.

Vous avez promis du bonheur dans les familles, aujourd'hui si menacées. Apprenez-leur, O Marie, l'importance de la prière des enfants, le sens religieux de la vie, la fidélité, la tendresse et la miséricorde.

Vous avez demandé de prier pour les pécheurs. Que notre prière--particulièrement le chapelet--et l'offrande des sacrifices de chaque jour, leur obtiennent la Foi et l'Espérance, afin que notre monde malade soit transformé selon le plan d'amour de Dieu.

Notre Dame de la Prière, qui avez regardé les Prêtres avec tendresse, suscitez les vocations dont l'Eglise a tant besoin pour témoigner de l'Amour incommensurable du Christ pour les hommes. Amen.

The Immaculate Conception, Oil on Canvas, Diego Velazquez, 1618

1) Each day: One decade of the Rosary, followed by three invocations: "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

2) Holy Communion on December 8 or between Nov. 30 and Dec. 8. Confession recommended.

O Immaculate Virgin, on December 8, 1947, when France was in danger, you manifested your sweet presence to four little girls from Ile-Bouchard. We ask you again today for peace in our country and in all countries.

You have promised happiness for families, which are today so threatened. Teach them, O Mary, the importance of child-like prayer, the sacred meaning of life, faithfulness, tenderness, and mercy.

You have asked for prayers for sinners. May our prayer--particularly the Rosary--and the offering of each day's sacrifices obtain for them faith and hope, so that our suffering world may be transformed according to God's plan of love.

Our Lady of Prayer, you who have looked upon priests with tenderness, raise up vocations, which the Church is in such great need of, to witness to the incommensurate love of Christ for man.

Imprimatur du Vicaire Episcopal de Paris, 21 Avril 2007

29 November 2007

Mayhem on the Mayflower

Yes, the ship's still sailing...

To drink like a Capuchin is to drink poorly,
To drink like a Benedictine is to drink deeply,
To drink like a Dominican is pot after pot,
But to drink like a Jesuit
Is to drink the cellar dry!

-Adapted from an old French drinking song


Now if the reader has been paying the slightest attention, he will notice that three different types of spirits had been served throughout the course of the meal, and that the participants--in particular the male participants--had imbibed the most generously. It is thus not unfair to say that Sir Basil, Lord P, Count Crackie, Old Dominion Tory, Sir Robbo, Earl Sullivan and yes, dare one say it, even Fr. M, were by this point, as the popular Elizabethan phrase goes, three sheets to the wind.

It was then the ponderous Miss Quackenboss entered with an entourage of equally ponderous black-clad spinsters and sat at the table immediately adjacent. Seeing our hearty repast, she asked the servant, in a loud tone, to “bring the flagon of water and the plate of herbs, and a small morsel of bread.” Sir Basil stood and gave Miss Q an unnecessarily low bow, and seated himself back at the table.

Sensing imminent trouble, Christine offered a quick prayer under her breath: Je vous salut, Marie, pleine de grace…, and attempted to distract Sir Basil by hinting at a turn on the dance floor. “But there is no music, Miss de Vannier,” he objected. “Lord P, won’t you fetch your lute and play a tune for us?” Christine suggested. “You play so finely.” Lord P, flattered, went to his stateroom and returned with the instrument, whereupon he proceeded to perform an excruciating version of “O Thou Silver Thames.” Christine immediately regretted her suggestion. Despite the melody’s less than satisfactory rendering, Miss Quackenboss was allayed, as it reminded her of her beloved England, and she gently nodded her head to the lilting melody. But when Lord P, not quite at his full wits, followed with "Ale and Tobacco," belting out the lyrics at piercing volume, it was then that, as another popular medieval phrase goes, all hell broke loose.

You can read the rest at Patum Peperium.

Freemasonry and the Revolution

Thus, Freemasonry in the eighteenth century, as a powerful ally of infidelity, prepared the French Revolution. The alliance of Freemasonry with philosophy was publicly sealed by the solemn initiation of Voltaire, the chief of these philosophers, 7 February, 1778, and his reception of the Masonic garb from the famous materialist Bro. Helvetius. Prior to the Revolution various conspiratory societies arose in connection with Freemasonry from which they borrowed its forms and methods; Illuminati, clubs of Jacobins, etc. A relatively large number of the leading revolutionists were members of Masonic lodges, trained by lodge life for their political career. Even the programme of the Revolution expressed in the "rights of man" was, as shown above, drawn from Masonic principles, and its device: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" is the very device of Freemasonry.
(From New Advent)

The triumph of the Galilean has lasted twenty centuries. But now he dies in his turn. The mysterious voice, announcing (to Julian the Apostate) the death of Pan, today announces the death of the impostor God who promised an era of justice and peace to those who believe in him. The illusion has lasted a long time. The mendacious God is now disappearing in his turn; he passes away to join in the dust of ages the divinities of India, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, who saw so many creatures prostrate before their altars. Bro. Masons, we rejoice to state that we are not without our share in this overthrow of the false prophets. The Romish Church, founded on the Galilean myth, began to decay rapidly from the very day on which the Masonic Association was established.
--President of the Grand Orient Masonic Lodge, Senator Delpech, 20 September, 1902

28 November 2007

The Fall of the House of Bourbon Foretold

On Trinity Sunday, June 6, 1830, Sister Labouré was given a special vision of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, or more specifically of Christ as King. This time she is precise as to the moment of the vision. Our Lord appeared to her, robed as a king, with a cross at His breast, during the Gospel of the Mass. Suddenly, all His kingly ornaments fell from Him to the ground—even the cross, which tumbled beneath His feet. Immediately her thoughts and her heart fell, too, and were plunged into that chasm of gloom that she had known before, gloom that portended a change in government. This time, however, she understood clearly that the change in government involved the person of the King, and that, just as Christ was divested of His royal trappings before her, so would Charles X be divested of his throne.

It is a startling thing, this sacred vision of God Himself coming in majesty to foretell the fall of an earthly monarch, and the vision of Christ the King to Catherine Labouré seems to have had no other purpose than to foretell the fall of Charles X of France. The mystery of it will never be fully solved; yet here and there the mind may mull over certain clues.

The greatest of these clues is the nature of the French monarchy itself, which, as Hilaire Belloc understood so well, was a holy thing, wedded to the people it ruled, and the prototype of all the monarchies of Europe. This ancient royalty had its roots in Rome and had received its Christian mandate in the crowning of Charlemagne by the Pope on Christmas Day, 800 A.D. It had lived for more than a thousand years in one line of men. No matter how great the goodness or wickedness of these royal men—and there was an ample supply of both—the sanctity of the monarchy itself and its mystical espousal to the French people is not to be questioned. In its institutions, its duties, its relationship to those it governed, its elaborate ritual, it was an imitation on a much lower plane of the Church of God. The French, kings and subjects alike, knew this well. Jeanne d'Arc was in an agony until the Dauphin should be crowned at Rheims and his body anointed and consecrated in the sacred rite which was so essential to this kingly religion; in a sense, it was her sole mission, and it is significant that her fortunes declined afterward. Louis XI had the Ampulla of holy oil brought from Rheims that his dying eyes might rest on it. Napoleon III sought to sanctify his usurpation by having himself anointed with the small, hard lump that was all that remained of the holy oil in 1853. The Kings of France, no matter how absolute their rule, had to be born and to die, had to eat and drink, take their recreation, and pray in the sight of the people. At the birth of her ill-fated Dauphin, Marie Antoinette almost died of suffocation, because of the press of the common people in her chamber, witnessing her lying-in; only the quick-witted action of a bystander, breaking a window to let in the fresh air, saved her.

The double religious family to which Catherine belonged had had official relationships with the French monarchy. Louis XIII had died in the arms of Vincent de Paul. The Founder continued to serve his widow, Anne of Austria, during the early part of her Regency, both as her confessor and as an important member of the royal Council of Conscience, a body established for the reform of the Church. Under Louis XV and Louis XVI, the Vincentian Fathers had been royal chaplains at Versailles, and, after the restoration, had been privileged to form a guard of honor about the bier of Louis XVIII.

That the vision of Christ the King had some intimate relationship with the end of the Bourbon dynasty seems evident, for Charles X was the last of the royal Bourbons; his cousin Louis Philippe, who succeeded him, belonged to a lateral line. Again we are confronted with the astonishing preoccupation of Heaven with the fortunes of France.

La Liberté Guidant le Peuple, Eugene Delacroix, 1830

Before leaving this vision, we must point out the noteworthy fact that Catherine Labouré was the first saint in modern times to be vouchsafed a vision of Christ as King. In the light of the great present-day devotion to the Kingship of Christ, we would seem justified in questioning whether the vision might not have a mystical meaning. In announcing the end of the oldest of monarchies, might not Christ have meant to point up the passing quality of all earthly authority, and to foretell present-day devotion to His Kingship as the index of the eternal quality of His own Reign?

Certainly, however, Sister Labouré did not ponder thus in her heart. She knew only, as the common people know, that there was to be "a change in government," and that, as inevitably came to pass, "many miseries would follow." She knew only, as the common people know, that there had been too many changes of government in France over the last forty years, too many miseries following, and, with this instinctive knowledge of the people, she grew sad and feared.

The statesmen and politicians of the land would have laughed at the long, prophetic thoughts of the little Sister, for national order seemed well established and peace reigned. Indeed, the government was enjoying the flush of esteem that had come with the brilliant victory of the French troops in Algiers, a victory which the nation had asked through the intercession of St. Vincent. In certain coffee houses and wine shops of Paris, however, there would have been no laughter. The brutal men assembled there would merely have smiled with grim satisfaction at this forecast of success for the revolution they were plotting.

--Fr. Joseph Dirvin, St. Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal

(via Tea at Trianon)

27 November 2007

The Vines! The conquering vines!

The local supermarket doesn't have an aisle for wine, but rather its own cellar. And one can't find a single wine here that isn't Appellation d’origine contrôlée; neither will one find a bottle over 10 euros (most of them are, in fact, about $3). I'd take a photo of all the empty wine bottles in our apartment, but I fear you may think we've helped ourselves a bit too often to this vermilion cornucopia...


Heroic Poem in Praise of Wine

To exalt, enthrone, establish and defend,
To welcome home mankind's mysterious friend
Wine, true begetter of all arts that be;
Wine, privilege of the completely free;
Wine the recorder; wine the sagely strong;
Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong,
Awake, Ausonian Muse, and sing the vineyard song!
When from the waste of such long labour done
I too must leave the grape-ennobling sun
And like the vineyard worker take my way
Down the long shadows of declining day,
Bend on the sombre plain my clouded sight
And leave the mountain to the advancing night,
Come to the term of all that was mine own
With nothingness before me, and alone;
Then to what hope of answer shall I turn?
Comrade-Commander whom I dared not earn,
What said You then to trembling friends and

"A moment, and I drink it with you new:
But in my Father's Kingdom." So, my Friend,
Let not Your cup desert me in the end.
But when the hour of mine adventure's near
Just and benignant, let my youth appear
Bearing a Chalice, open, golden, wide,
With benediction graven on its side.
So touch my dying lip: so bridge that deep:
So pledge my waking from the gift of sleep,
And, sacramental, raise me the Divine:
Strong brother in God and last companion, Wine.

--Hilaire Belloc
We had visitors today. The wild swans came up quite close, as they assumed we had bread.

Swans 2
Marie preaches to the birds.

25 November 2007

St. Jean Vianney Wax Museum

The city of Ars has built a museum dedicated entirely to the patron saint of all priests. Seventeen scenes and a total of thirty-five wax figures depict different aspects of his life and ministry. You can go on a virtual visit at the website.

St. Jean Vianney is one of the incorruptibles.

24 November 2007

Jefferson Davis and the Catholic Church

Whilst Davis was in prison, Blessed Pope Pius IX sent, to the former President of the Confederate States of America, a crown of Jerusalem thorns hand-woven by the Pope’s own hands which, given their sharpness, he could not have done without drawing blood. The Sovereign Pontiff also sent his own portrait self-autographed with the Scriptural verse:

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Blessed Pope Pius IX was the only European Catholic prince who recognised the Confederate States government referring to Davis as "His Excellency, the President of the Confederate States of America".
Davis always wore a St. Benedict Medal and a Miraculous Medal as well as a French scapular. Someone had also given him the brown scapular of the Discalced Carmelites. All of these he wore in prison and preserved to the end of his life.

He was known to be a familiar meditator on the Crucifixion and carried a worn and coverless 1861 edition of The Imitation of Christ, an 18th-century translation from the Latin by Richard Challoner, the English Roman Catholic Bishop, and which he used often, in his imprisonment, as a manual of prayer.

Later, before he died, Davis himself was formally received into the Catholic Church.

From Roman Christendom

23 November 2007

Viva Cristo Rey!

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us.

Thanksgiving may be over, but Mayflower Madness continues...

Sept. 1620
Mayflower at sea

Dear Uncle,

As you know, I am off on this infernal tub, heading to the new world and leaving England for reasons you are well aware of. As you suggested, I accepted the offer made to me by my Lord P and Lady P to act as guide and protector to their group of the faithful. We sailed in company with the Speedwell, but my Lord P's agents did their job and we were able to leave her standing at Dartmouth, thus removing some of these damned separatists....And I am quite sure that for my sins I have been doomed to be cooped up with these heathen hypocrites on this voyage.
My brandy and port are holding out all right and I did get to dance with the delightful Miss de Vannier which makes the voyage worth the trouble. How I'm going to keep this group alive once we land I have no idea, especially if the drink runs out...I will try and keep you abreast of developments. Lady P is at this moment trying to decorate my cabin and hang curtains or some such and is decrying the state of my linen...I don't think she realizes where we are yet, God bless her.

The rest can be found at Patum Peperium.


children france 006

"Hmm, I am beginning to understand... If it is the case that every necessary thing either has a cause of its necessary existence, or has not, then in the case of necessary things that have a cause for their necessary existence, there must be presupposed something necessarily existing through its own nature, not having a cause elsewhere but being itself the cause of the necessary existence of other things--which all call God. When do we eat?"

The Last Crusader

Queen Isabel of Castile, Servant of God, d. Nov. 26, 1504

Under the pink and white of her skin pulsed the blood of crusaders and conquerors, the blood of Alfred the Great, of William the Conqueror, of the iron Plantagenet Henry II and the fiery Eleanor of Aquitaine, of Edward I and Edward III of England, of Philip the Bold of France, of Alfonso the Wise of Castile. She was descended on both sides from Louis IX of France and his cousin Fernando III of Castile, both kings, both crusaders and both canonized saints. She derived Lancastrian blood through both parents from John of Gaunt, brother of the Black Prince. --William Thomas Walsh

[I]f St. Teresa had been a queen she would have been another Queen Isabel and if Queen Isabel had been a nun she would have been another St. Teresa of Jesus. --Venerable Juan de Palafox

Queen Isabel and her husband Ferdinand II of Aragon were named by Pope Alexander VI Los Reyes Catolicos, and their rule paved the way to a united Spain. Under the Queen's rule, Spain recaptured the Peninsula from its Moorish grip, and, after a failed Moorish revolt, expelled all adult Moslems who refused baptism. Queen Isabella subsidized Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World for the express purpose of spreading the Catholic faith. (“Although there would be nothing but stones, I would continue there while there may be souls to save.”) Some say she anticipated the Council of Trent by nearly a century in her reforms to rid corruption from the Catholic hierarchy: the selling of indulgences, bishops' refusal to live in their dioceses, the accumulation of benefits for clergy. Her daughter was Catherine of Aragon, whose refusal to divorce King Henry VIII was the catalyst for the English Reformation.

Pope Paul VI opened up Queen Isabel's cause for canonization in 1974, to the protest of various Jewish organizations and at least one Catholic Cardinal. (Here, the New York Times predictably expresses outrage at the possibility, inaccurately reporting that no miracles have been attributed to her intercession, and claiming her cause is being pushed through the Vatican via that powerful conspiracy Opus Dei.)

King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabel I, Relief with gilt and polychromy, Alonso de Mena, 1632; Granada, Spain.

The indignation stems, naturally, from the institution of the Spanish Inquisition under her rule. After between 80,000 to 300,000 Jews left Spain, a number remained behind and "converted" to the Christian faith in order to remain in positions of power. Many of these actively worked to undermine the Queen's authority. The sincerity of these cryptojewish converts was the focus of the Inquisition, not only to protect Catholic orthodoxy but to rid Spain of any traitors and false leaders. It was also implemented as a legal barrier to protect heretics themselves, who were often the targets of mob vigilantism. The outlandish claims that the Inquisition resulted in the torture of hundreds of thousands of innocents is due more to Elizabethan propaganda than to truth. It is true that the beginning of the enquiry was marked by the deaths of innocents. Once the Pope intervened, however, a new Grand Inquisitor, Torquemada, was appointed, who reformed procedures that led to greater leniency and better treatment of prisoners. He personally gave money to families of those on trial. Torture remained in use, though to a lesser extent.

Before we balk with horror at the thought, we must take off our 20th-century lenses, which can only give a distorted view, and recall that torture was in use in all nations in the 15th century (in England, traitors were hanged, drawn, and quartered, and in France, they were boiled alive). It says something for Spain that she refused the excesses that other countries regularly committed. In fact, convicted criminals would falsely claim heretical beliefs just to be transferred to the Inquisition court because of its more humane treatment of the accused. Queen Isabel's policy insistence that Native Americans be protected from the rapacity of colonists, even to the economic harm of Spain, shows she was sincerely concerned for the welfare of her subjects.

To You, Lord, in whose hands is the right of kings, I humbly pray that You may hear the prayer of Your servant and show forth the truth, manifesting Your will by Your wonderful deeds; so that if I am not in the right, do not let me sin through ignorance, but if my cause be just, give me zeal and strength to obtain it with the help of Your grace. --Queen Isabella's coronation prayer

Coronation of Queen Isabel, Mural, Segovia, Spain

Almighty Father, in Your infinite goodness You made Queen Isabel the Catholic, a model for young ladies, wives, mothers, women leaders and government rulers. As the first sovereign of the American continent You granted to her heart a sense of piety, justice, compassion and the vision of a new land full of promise. Grant us the grace to see Your infinite majesty glorified in her prompt canonisation, and through her intercession...[ask for your particular needs] that we ask of You in this present need through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Servant of God, Queen Isabel, pray for us.
Pater Noster... Ave Marie... Gloria...


Boche is a French slang word for ‘rascal’ first applied to German soldiers during World War One, and borrowed during the early years of that conflict into British English.

A definition is given in Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918, edited by John Brophy and Eric Partridge, published in 1930. I have augmented their note.

Boche is the preferred and most common English spelling. Bosche is a rarer English alternative spelling.

The word was first used in the phrase tête de boche. The French philologist Albert Dauzat believed boche to be an abbreviation of caboche, playful French slang for ‘human head,’ very much like English comic synonyms for head such as ‘the old noodle,’ noggin, nut, numbskull.

One of the ways of saying ‘to be obstinate, to be pigheaded’ in French is avoir la caboche dure. The root of caboche in the old French province of Picardy is ultimately the Latin word caput ‘head.’ Our English word cabbage has the same origin, the compact head of leaves being a perfect ‘caboche.’

Tête de boche was used as early as 1862 of obstinate persons. It is in print in a document published at Metz . In 1874 French typographers applied it to German compositors. By 1883, states Alfred Delvau's Dictionnaire de la langue Verte, the phrase had come to have the meaning of mauvais sujet and was so used especially by prostitutes.

The Germans, having among the French a reputation for obstinacy and being a bad lot, came to be named with a jesting version of allemande, namely allboche or alboche. About 1900 alboche was shortened to boche as a generic name for Germans. During the war, propaganda posters revived the term by using the phrase sale boche ‘dirty kraut.’

At the beginning of WWI boche had two meanings in continental French: (a) a German and (b) stubborn, hard-headed, obstinate. Quickly during the course of the war, this French slang word was taken up by the English press and public.

By the time of World War Two, while boche was still used in French, it had been replaced in continental French by other put-down terms, such as ‘maudit fritz,’ ‘fridolin,’ and ‘schleu.’ These three milder pejoratives were common during the German occupation of France from 1941 to 1945.

Terms of disparagement in English during WWII used by British troops were ‘Jerry’ and ‘Fritz’ in the British army and navy, and ‘Hun’ in the RAF. Canadian and American troops generally preferred ‘Heinie,’ ‘Kraut’ or Fritz.

--Bill Casselman

(nod to Classic Canadian)

22 November 2007

I couldn't stomach the first Elizabeth film (starring Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush), nominated for a ridiculous seven Academy Awards. Neither will I patronize the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, whose official website, with bland predictability, glorifies her as "Woman, Warrior, Queen." I think her designations more properly summed up by the above photo, which links to the excellent Facebook site created by this individual.

On a related note, Fr. Finigan is openly asking Mel Gibson to direct a film on the life of St. Edmund Campion. I had such an idea nearly two years ago, although with the novel Come Rack! Come Rope!, which contains all the elements to make a riveting film: romance, intrigue, treachery, suffering, heroism (and St. Campion makes a cameo appearance). Mr. Gibson, you must educate ignorant Hollywood on the truth of England's so-called Golden Age.

Update: It seems Icon may already by in the process of producing a film on the great saint.

21 November 2007


Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

(thanks to Sober Sophomore)

Mayflower Madness Continues

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

What is little known, and rarely touched on in historical studies of the Gunpowder Plot, is the fate of the 9th recusant conspirator, Sir Basil Trelawny Seal, Bart. Sir Basil, who was a member of the recusant family Beauchamp-Cholmondeley, was the man sent to kidnap the Princess Elizabeth from Coombe Abbey.

All this week at Patum Peperium.

The Beautiful Incorrupt

St. Silvan was martyred for his faith in 350 A.D. His incorrupt body can still be seen, remarkably preserved 1600 years later, in the Church of St. Blaise in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where his body was brought from Rome in 1847. He was most likely a priest, from the cross sewn onto the front of his garment, and suffered death from partial beheading.

St. Silvan, pray for us.

Mathematical Art

My two-year-old watched this with rapt attention.

Mayflower Trivia

Of three pregnant women aboard the ship headed for the New World, one gave birth and named him after the great saint Oceanus. The other two gave birth upon arrival (no one knows if they were given similarly saintly designations).

(nod to Canterbury Tales)


Oxford barbershop quintet sings its mind.

About the video:
In the UK Walter Wolfgang was famously removed from a Labour Party Conference for daring to shout "Nonsense" during Jack Straw's speech. I always thought heckling was part of the political hustings. Not any longer. Three laws - Terrorism Act, Public Order Act and Harassment Act - can be used against hecklers...

I'm not a big fan of protesting, but if it were done in as clever and genteel a manner as done here, I wouldn't mind it half so much.

(via The Hermeneutic of Continuity)

Marie-Antoinette and the Carmelites

Tea at Trianon offers insight into the order's connections with the French Royal Family:
The French court was shaken in 1674 when Louise de la Vallière, the former mistress of Louis XIV, publicly begged the queen's forgiveness and entered a Carmelite monastery. In his book To Quell the Terror, William Bush details the many connections of the later Bourbons with Carmel, particularly the patronage of Queen Marie Lesczynska and her daughter Madame Louise. When Louise herself chose to become a Carmelite nun in 1770, it cemented the spiritual ties between those in the worldliness of Versailles and those in the austerity of the cloister.

Marie-Antoinette of Austria married the Dauphin in the same year that Madame Louise entered the monastery. The young princess offered to represent Louis XV at the ceremony at which his daughter Louise received the habit of Carmel, since it was too painful for the king and the rest of his family to be present. So it was the teenaged Marie-Antoinette who veiled the new "Soeur Thérèse de Saint-Augustin."
It was at the request of Madame Louise, however, that Marie-Antoinette granted a dowry to a poor, pious girl named Mademoiselle Lidoine, so that she could enter the Carmel of Compiègne. Mademoiselle Lidoine became the Mother Prioress of the heroic Martyrs of Compiègne, who like Marie-Antoinette, died on the guillotine during the French Revolution.

20 November 2007

Mayflower Madness Begins...

A London iron merchant, Thomas Weston, loaned [the pilgrims] the money needed to pay for their trip across the pond. Like all good venture capitalists, Weston placed conditions on his loan. One was to take "hired help" along with them to the New World to help make their endeavor profitable to him. The second condition was, they had to take a few "colonists' of no profession at all. Since the Pilgrims trusted neither the "hired help" nor the "colonists", they took to calling the entire lot of them "strangers". Which was wise because a handful of the strangers were really much stranger than all of the other strangers.
For [Lord Peperium] had been commissioned by his circle of recusant friends to hire the vessel that was to take them to the new world where, they hoped, they would succeed in planting the Old Faith. As he scanned the ornate sterns of the vessels that swayed almost imperceptibly at their moorings on the ebbing tide, he was not encouraged.

There was the three-masted Pope-Shredder, a likely craft with the severed head of Leo X for a figurehead. Then he spied the Consubstantiation, a tub of a vessel equipped with what looked like two sterns; a ship that, if it ever left the dock, would succeed in going absolutely nowhere.

All this week at Patum Peperium.

18 November 2007

The Andrews Sisters

Great pipes, good looks, and class--the last entirely lacking in most of today's female singers.

The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B

Bei Mir Bist du Schœn

Don't Fence Me In

Johnny Get Your Gun Again

17 November 2007

Could it be true?

Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will soon publish an order addressed to seminaries "in which it is required that the celebration of the Latin Mass be taught to future priests...", according to Italian newspaper adnkronos.

(nod to Rorate Caeli)



Lord and Lady Peperium
Sir Basil Trelawny Seal
Fr. M, S.J.
Mademoiselle Christine-Marie Elisabeth de Vannier

with Cameo Appearances by

Count Crackie
Old Dominion Tory
Earl Sullivan
Sir Robbo the Llamabutcher

Stay tuned over at Patum Peperium.

16 November 2007

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde was briefly a member of the groundbreaking secessionist art group Die Brucke in 1906-07. Though his instincts were nationalist and conservative, his art was experimental.

His later pieces tended to focus on landscapes, but his early work reflected his fervent Protestant faith, revolving around the life of Christ and various saints. Hitler banned his artwork, along with that of other German expressionists, as "degenerate", but Nolde continued secretly to paint watercolors. He was later reinstated and given the German Order of Merit.

The Prophet, 1912, Woodcut

The Mocking of Christ, 1909, Oil on canvas

The Crucifixion, 1912, Oil on canvas

Christ and the Children, 1910, Oil on canvas

L'Art d'Escrime

15 November 2007


My husband, on returning from a mathematical conference in London, surprised me with a gift of tea: Assam and Afternoon Darjeeling, by Taylors of Harrogate. Having had a difficult time procuring suitable teas here in Dijon, I was, naturally, delighted.

Mes remerciements à mon cher mari!

14 November 2007

Therese of Divine Peace Inclusive Community

“Nothing is going to change, because they are so entrenched in their little men’s club.”... Hudson and McGrath are calling their church Therese of Divine Peace Inclusive Community. They plan to welcome people of all faiths, including Catholics who do not agree with all of the church’s teachings, such as those on divorce, homosexuality and abortion.

Archbishop Raymond Burke has requested the recently "ordained" female priests to appear before a tribunal December 3 for questioning. I have some choice French suitable for the occasion, but will refrain for the sake of modesty.

13 November 2007

Effective Writing

It is a good exercise to try for once in a way to express any opinion one holds in words of one syllable. If you say "The social utility of the indeterminate sentence is recognized by all criminologists as a part of our sociological evolution towards a more humane and scientific view of punishment," you can go on talking like that for hours with hardly a movement of the gray matter inside your skull. But if you begin "I wish Jones to go to gaol and Brown to say when Jones shall come out," you will discover, with a thrill of horror, that you are obliged to think. The long words are not the hard words, it is the short words that are hard. There is much more metaphysical subtlety in the word "damn" than in the word "degeneration."
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, VIII

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
William Strunk, The Elements of Style, III.13

Prefer the short word to the long.
Henry Fowler, The King's English, Ch. I

Dave Brubeck Quartet, Take Five, 1961

11 November 2007

A Martyr's Letter to His Beloved

Bartolomé Blanco Márquez of Spain, secretary of Catholic Action, was arrested on August 18, 1936, and shot by firing squad on October 2 at the age of 21. His last words: Viva Cristo Rey! This is the letter he wrote to his girlfriend the day before his execution.

Provincial prison of Jaen, Oct. 1, 1936

My dearest Maruja:

Your memory will remain with me to the grave and, as long as the slightest throb stirs my heart, it will beat for love of you. God has deemed fit to sublimate these worldly affections, ennobling them when we love each other in him. Though in my final days, God is my light and what I long for, this does not mean that the recollection of the one dearest to me will not accompany me until the hour of my death.
My sentence before the court of mankind will be my soundest defense before God's court; in their effort to revile me, they have ennobled me; in trying to sentence me, they have absolved me, and by attempting to lose me, they have saved me. Do you see what I mean? Why, of course! Because in killing me, they grant me true life and in condemning me for always upholding the highest ideals of religion, country and family, they swing open before me the doors of heaven.

My body will be buried in a grave in this cemetery of Jaen; while I am left with only a few hours before that definitive repose, allow me to ask but one thing of you: that in memory of the love we shared, which at this moment is enhanced, that you would take on as your primary objective the salvation of your soul. In that way, we will procure our reuniting in heaven for all eternity, where nothing will separate us.

Goodbye, until that moment, then, dearest Maruja! Do not forget that I am looking at you from heaven, and try to be a model Christian woman, since, in the end, worldly goods and delights are of no avail if we do not manage to save our souls.
Be strong and make a new life; you are young and kind, and you will have God's help, which I will implore upon you from his kingdom. Goodbye, until eternity, then, when we shall continue to love each other for life everlasting.

(nod to Tea at Trianon)

Dona eis requiem

The War Dead

The First World War
Austria-Hungary: 1,567,000
France: 1,697,800
Germany: 2,462,897
Russia: 3,311,000
United Kingdom: 994,138
United States: 117,465
Total (including other countries): 21,228,813

The Second World War
Austria: 105,500
France: 562,000
Germany: 7,503,000
Poland: 5,000,000
Soviet Union: 23,600,000
United States: 418,500
United Kingdom: 450,400
Total (including other countries): 72,609,600

Dona eis requiem,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.

10 November 2007

Midi file available here

Vive la Republique France!

09 November 2007

The Battle of Britain

From September 1940 to May 1941, cities all over the United Kingdom, starting with London (57 days in a row), sustained heavy bombing from German aircraft. By the end of the Blitz, over 43,000 British civilians were dead.

Holborn Circus burning

St. Paul's Cathedral in smoke

A German Heinkels 111 over the River Thames

London's dock area and Tower Bridge

Evacuating children passed by arriving troops

Aircraft spotter on a London rooftop

London Necropolis Railway Station

Southeast air raid shelter

Double decker silhouetted against fire

Life carries on

(Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)