TERRY Sheehy recently wrote about the works of Peter Koenig when they were on exhibition at Northampton Cathedral. I was lucky enough to catch up with them when visiting the Catholic church in Oundle (Northamptonshire) to which they were transferred for further display.
This is an interesting former Anglican church now presided over by the imposing Fr David Woodard. Fr Woodard made history by being the parish priest of the first church in England to be shared by Anglicans and Catholics.
The Church in question is that of St Andrew at Cippenham in Buckinghamshire which is now in its seventeenth year of being a shared church. The scheme has proved to be a great success and the two Sunday Masses are very well attended.
Fr Woodard went on to become chaplain to the Catholics of Eton, being, himself, no stanger to England's public school tradition. For he is the convert grandson of the Rev Nathaniel Woodward who founded the well known Woodard Trust which was responsible for the establishment of many public schools in England of which, perhaps, the best known is Lancing.
When Fr Woodard was himself a student there, one of the masters, then an Anglican, was the future Bishop Gordon Wheeler of Leeds. Bishop Wheeler still visits Lancing and occasionally preaches in its very beautiful chapel which is modelled on the cathedral of Beauvais.
Peter Koenig's pictures are unusual and very striking. The one reproduced here represents The Mocking of Christ. It is accompanied by a verse from Psalm 125: "Those who trust in Yahweh are like Mount Zion, unshakeable, standing for ever."
WHILE staying near Oundle I took the opportunity of visiting Boughton House, one of the several homes of the Duke of Buccleuch. It is unusual in having passed from monastic into lay hands during the reign of Henry VIII but not as a result of the dissolution of the monasteries as a whole.
It was, in fact, bought from St Edmundsbury's Abbey in 1528 by Sir Edward Montagu, Lord Chied Justice to Henry VIII and ancestor of the Montagu Douglas Scott family. He added a manor house with courtyards to the Great Hall of the Monks, while later generations built further wings and courts.
The climax of the house's expansion came in the 1690's at the hands of a former Ambassador to Paris and devotee of French architecture, Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu. He created the famous North front, and incorporated entrance halls, state rooms and stables.
From then on Boughton, unlike so many other houses, was lucky to escape further structural alteration. It is now almost exactly as it. was before 1700.
IT was announced last week that a 76 year-old priest in Weybridge had become the first married priest in Britain for at least a 1000 years Theoretically this may well be true. But is it true in practice?
The history of clerical celibacy, particularly in England, is extremely complicated. It was an ideal or counsel in the third century of the Church's life and became a general rule about 200 years later. But in the tenth century it fell into disuse and Pope Gregory VII attempted to effect its reimposition . This finally came about in 1139 at the second Lateran Council.
Pre-Reformation England, however, was slow to give general and total assent to all decrees from Rome. The progress of total clerical celibacy in this country is well set out in A Dictionary of Catholic Theology, whose principal editor was the late and extremely learned Fr Joseph Crehan, SJ.
"There is sufficient evidence," we there read, "to show that in the course of the 12th century the observance of celibacy made steady progress . . . (but) It must be remembered that in the then state of society a married priest was not necessarily a man of evil life."
Married clergy, moreover, had for so long ensured the succession of the priesthood through their sons that the practice was slow to disappear altogether. By the middle of the 13th century, however, clerical marriage in England is said to have been "no more than an occasional scandal."
But there is some evidence that priests were, if illicitly, married right up until the time of the Reformation. In the 1550's, Pope Julius III granted dispensations to all the English priests who had married between 1534 and 1553 allowing them to continue their active ministry.
In 1867 an American Quaker professor called Henry Charles Lea published a fairly massive tome entitled the History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church. The book was reissued just after Vatican II.
It is a work which has achieved scant respect from Catholic scholars but not all of Its arguments or anecdotes have been decisively contradicted. One of the more curious of the latter includes reference to a bizarre incident following the death of Edward VI in 1553.
Archbishop Cranmer insisted that his public funeral should be conducted according to the "reformed rites." But the new, Catholic Queen, Mary Tudor, "had private obsequies performed with the Roman ritual, where Gardiner celebrated mortuary (sic) Mass in the presence of the Queen and some 400 attendants.
When the incense was carried around after the Gospel, it chanced that the chaplain who bore it was a married man, and the zealous Dr Weston snatched it from him, exclaiming, `Shamest thou not to do thine office, having a wife as thou hast? The queen will not be censed by such as thou!' "
THE latest edition of the Westminster Cathedral Bulletin contains an interesting item by Mr Derrick Orchard regarding the Cardinal Hume Centre Trust. As the article rightly notes, London attracts a large number of young people who are homeless and unemployed. Many have never had a regular job and a lot of them become involved with drugs and alcohol — "The scourge of our age."
The Cardinal thus initiated a study of this problem in the Westminster area of London which went far towards identifying such needs, presently not met, in this vital area of social welfare.
The final result has been that a former convent in Arneway Street has now become the Cardinal Hume Centre and will shortly open its doors. Its present team will soon be augmented by professionally qualified volunteers and others who are prepared to give full or part-time services, for nothing, to further the objectives of the Centre. (Anyone who can help in any way is invited to contact Derrick Orchard at Archbishop's House, London SW1P 1JQ.)
THE saint most readily brought to mind by the intrepid work of the above-mentioned centre is the sometimes forgotten St Benedict Joseph Labre. He was an extraordinary man whose early life was almost unnaturally austere and whose poor health frustrated his ambition to beome a monk despite short stints at both Carthusian and Trappist monasteries.
He decided instead to become a pilgrim and between 1770 and 1777 journeyed on foot to all the chief shrines of Europe. Possessing no more than the clothes he wore and a few books in a sack, he went to Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
He finally settled in Rome, where he lived as a beggar, although he seldom begged for anything, even food. At night he slept on the ground in an abandoned shelter or in the deserted Colosseum. His days were spent in the churches of Rome.
At the beginning of Lent in 1783 he became very ill and allowed some friends to take him to the Hospizio Evangelico. He died on the eve of Holy Thursday of that year.
Benedict Joseph Labre was both admired and ridiculed during his life. He was often accused unjustly and misunderstood by those who knew him. But he can surely be considered as the special protector and heavenly friend of all those who are "down-andout."
MOST people know of the existence and work of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in north London. But not everyone knows about one particular aspect of its work which is of a purely charitable nature.
Such charitable activity is financed partly from the surpluses made by the hospital from its private patients' unit. But help is also heavily relied on from donations, legacies, etc, from the friends of the hospital of whom more are always sought and made welcome.
The charity today is centred on the 10-bedded Hospice unit where patients are treated completely free of charge and the seven-bedded St Camillus for frail and elderly priests and nuns and other members of the local community whose stay is heavily subsidised by the hospital charity.
IT was sad to read of the death at 92 of Lady Betty Cartwright, one of the last of the Victorians. She was also, through her father, the seventh Earl of Abingdon, a living link with the reign of William IV. For she could recall her father telling her the great Duke of Wellington would lift him, a godson, on the back of his charger, Copenhagen.
Lady Betty was particularly fond of her half-sister's husband, who, in 1921, became Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent. The latter possibly deserves a short biography for he was easily the outstanding Catholic of his generation. He was born in 1855 and died exactly 40 years ago.
He was a constant champion of Catholic causes both by his speeches in the House of Lords and by his activities elsewhere. His courtesy and discretion always earned him a sympathetic hearing.
From 1921-1922, he was the first Catholic Viceroy of Ireland. He was also the last man ever to hold a position that had, by that time, become an unenviable one.
Though a unionist by conviction he recognised the necessity of coming to terms with Sinn Fein. He thus helped to smooth the way to an AngloIrish Treaty after the horrors of the "Black and Tan" war.
In the worst days of British rule of Ireland, Dublin Castle — standing on a hill site which is the oldest part of Dublin — was considered a symbol of terror. It was a sort of mini-Kremlin, a feared enclave which had once housed numerous prisoners deemed to be a danger to the state.