Lords debate goes West
HAVING business in the West country durina last week's beautiful weekend I took my Hansard (Vol. 231 No. 78) with me to read the Lords debate on Christian Unity. Travelling as I did past Stonehenge and Glastonbury in this most ancient part of the country, I found myself reading with fascination the quotations in Lord Brabazon of Tara's speech. The first (from St. Augustine of Canterbury) read: " In the western confines of Britain there is a certain royal island of large extent, surrounded by water. abounding in alI the beauties of nature and necessaries of life. In it the first neophytes of Catholic law. God beforehand acquainting them, found a church constructed by no human art, but by the hands of Christ himself, for the salvation of his people. The Almighty has made it manifest by many miracles and mysterious visitations that he continues to watch over it as sacred to himself and to Mary, the Mother of God ". Lord Brabazon went on to point out that " the Druids very quickly became Christian, because their faith was very similar to Christianity."
WHAT with the Druids of Stonehenge (and 1 nearly caught them at sunrise) and the famous description of the Isle of Avalon, where I was to spend most of the day. I felt myself to be very close to the mind of the noble Lord whose title derives from an equally ancient and mysterious spot I know well. the site of Tara, in the heart of Ireland. But I cannot follow the moral of these quotations when Lord Brabazon said; "There is no doubt whatever that the biggest Church is the Roman Catholic Church. But. on the other hand, the British Church
is senior to all . . It is interesting to note that the West of England was a Christian country a hundred years before Rome became Christian." The Church of Jerusalem came a good deal earlier than either But when one is at Glastonbury, one's mind is certainly carried back to the Celtic church which spread across the seas to Ireland and Britanny. and of which St. Patrick himself was the greatest ornament. What a marvellous apostolicity that Celtic Church had and how fascinating to speculate on the theory that Joseph of Arimathea (if not Our Lord Himself during his hidden life) journeyed to Glastonbury. I used to possess a booklet on the subject, and I hope I haven't lost it, because the Abbey bookseller refused to sell more than one copy to each visitor on the grounds that one day its scarcity would make it priceless, Verb sap for the 5.0(X) pilgrims on Sunday week!
St. Patrick and Glastonbury
IT seems certain that Glastonbury was established and grew around the wattle church of Our Lady, and tradition has it that, not only King Arthur. but St. Patrick also was buried there. This tradition was so strong that vast numbers of pilgrims from Ireland travelled to Cilastonbury from the eighth century onwards—a tradition which should attract Irish Catholics to this, the earliest shrine of Our Lady in the country. This country is really privileged to have the two Marian shrines of Glastonbury and Walsingham. This year is the ninth centenary of Walsingham and those who would like to read the results of the latest researches on Walsingham history will find in the " Westminster Cathedral Chronicle " for this month a fascinating article by the well-known authority. Mr. H. M. Gillett.
`Fun, but Killing'
ON my return from the West, I stopped at a well-known country town, some seventy miles from London, for Sunday Mass. A new church was in course of being built and scaffolding filled the nave. The priest was appealing for volunteer workers to help out, and with a smile which seemed to increase his emphasis he said, "A country parish is fun. but it is killing'. In due course there followed a doctrinal sermon on the Mystical Body and the Holy Spirit which I should have gone a long way to hear. I will not mention the place because I feel that praising sermons, like criticising them, should be an anonymous act; but if the priest sees these lines and recognises himself and his church, I should like to say " thank you" to him. I envy his congregation.
History of our Forbears
TOO late in the day, I fear, I draw attention to Volume 6, No. 1 of " Recusant History ", the journal of research in post-Reformation Catholic history in Britain. edited by A. F, Allison, of the British Museum. and D. M. Rogers, of the Bodleian: 'The Editors in an introductory article review ten years of work and research on a project orginally called " Biographical Studies". We owe much to the men and women whose history is dug out, for, as the Editors put it, " throughout most of England the survival of Catholicism was dependent on those Catholic landed families able and willing to shelter a priest " With the renewed devotion to the martyrs this work should be all the more appreciated, and for my part, at least, 1 have never failed to be fascinated by the personal stories of courageous forbears, such as the Yorkshire Fairfaxes of whom this issue treats. There is wonderful material for historical novels in these records. though alas the historical novel today does not seem to be very much in fashion. If you are interested, write to the Editor, Arundel Press, Sussex Road, Bognor Regis.
OUR papers claim to be up-todate, yet let them see a contribution on the Maria Monk lines. and they delight to give the news of 1835. The " People's" "Sister Blandine " last Sunday beat all records with a statement that the Pope "exhorted all members of closed orders to quit their convents and go out to work ". Perhaps this " tripe " is, after all, no bad introduction to the picture of Sister Blandine dodging bricks as a hole was made for her to be walled up,