03 November 2007

In this month of November

Let us remember the dead, and in particular one brilliant light brought into eternal glory on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 1953: Hilaire Belloc.

Five yards East of this stone lies the body of Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), for 28 years a member of the congregation of this Church of Our Lady of Consolation, in whose memory this tower and spire were completed in 1964 in grateful recognition of his zealous and unwavering profession of our Holy faith which he defended in his writing and noble verse.
"This is the Faith that I have and hold and This is That in which I mean to die."

Let us not forget his wife, who predeceased him by many years.

Elodie Hogan was a native of Napa, in California, although both of her parents were born in Ireland. In 1889, she was on her first visit to Europe, with her sister and her parents, when she met and fell in love with the young Hilaire Belloc. When she returned to California, Belloc sailed to New York and crossed the continent in order to be with her ; but, on her mother's urging, she refused him. They continued to correspond throughout Belloc's service in the French Army and his time at Oxford University. After this, he returned to the States, only to find that Elodie's parents had died and that she was on the point of becoming a nun. Happily, he persuaded her against this course of action, and they were married on the 15th. June 1906, at St. John the Baptist's Church in Napa. After a brief honeymoon in Geysers, Sonoma County, they returned to England. They had five children : Louis, Eleanor (who married Rex Jebb, q.v.), Hilary, Elizabeth and Peter (q.v.). At the end of 1913, Elodie was taken ill what was, presumably, cancer. During this illness, her English accent, which she had taken some pains to cultivate, disappeared and she reverted to her Californian tongue. By the 23rd. December, she was unable to swallow her food; and, on the 2nd. February, she died. The next day, the door to her room was locked. For the remaining 39 years of Hilaire Belloc's lifetime, no-one entered her room, and he never passed her door without pausing to kiss it and trace upon it the sign of the cross.
(by Iain MacFarlaine)

Shrine Church of Our Lady of Consolation of West Grinstead; the Belloc family grave lies near its entrance.

Requiem eternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Requiescant in pace.