canvasses of Raphael and his contemporaries in a way that was exciting and, to some, almost shocking.
Even the Resurrection took on a new meaning. The imaginations of the faithful were powerfully stirred and they began to see the life of Christ and his followers as a very different sort of story, fuller than ever of human interest, and, with the gradual advent of wider bible reading, something with which they could intimately, even perhaps dangerously, identify themselves.
It was a revolution in visual art, with all its obvious consequences, as influential that produced when still photography was replaced by the cinema.
These at least were my own thoughts as I strolled away from the Academy having looked long and hard at Clayton's latest masterpiece of trompe l'oeil.
NOTHING could have been more encouraging than a recent "Religious Education Day" at which parents and teachers exchanged frank views on the moral and catechetical instruction appropriate for late teenagers at one of England's leading Catholic boarding schools for girls. An enlightened headmistress and a learned RE teacher naturally help to give this part of the school's activity high priority.
But perhaps such days should be more frequent or even, if possible, extend over a weekend. For it seems to me that the parents are the ones that often take insufficient interest in the questions involved, though they are not slow to criticise later if results are not as they would have hoped.
Discussion tends to be as candid and even, naturally enough, controversial. The
thorniest problems, often those involving sexual mores and morality, are not avoided and often produce clashes of opinion.
Let the discussion rip, hammer and tongs, I say! For the future spiritual and, indeed, general welfare of many young women is at stake. The only limits on discussion should be that propounded by the founder of the Order which happens to run this particular school, Mary Ward.
In her common rules, based on those of the Jesuits, she wrote. "Where there happens a difference of opinion and it seems necessary to speak one's thoughts, let the reasons be given with modesty and charity, to the end that truth may take place, and not upon any design to get the better of the dispute."
THE ONE and only John Betjeman is with us no longer. The loss is irreperable. There are few consolations. He once said to me "Death's all right I suppose. But only after it's happened."
Bevis Hillier's biography should not be long in coming out. He has been working on it, on and off, for ages. I doubt if there is anything of importance he will have missed. The great man's death was inevitably followed by some of the many stories about him. Most were familiar. Two of which he told me stuck in my mind.
One concerned his habit, when showing people round Dublin where he spent part of the war to walk down Grafton Street and wait with his friend, on some pretext or another, at the corner of a small alley way.
The friend noticed that practically all the men passing by would lift their hats, to which John seemed to give some sign of response. The friend would inevitably make some such comment as "Everyone in Dublin seems to know you!" What the friend didn't realise was that further down the alley way was the entrance to a large church, invisible from the main street.
John himself picked up the doffing habit and for the rest of his life was wont to lift his hat when passing any Catholic or High Anglican church. I once saw him nearly falling off his bicycle in Woodstock Road when performing this little ceremony while being overtaken by, too close and too fast, a car.
Biting the hand
AUBERON WAUGH continues to be as delightfully split a personality as ever. Charming to meet he is often churlish in print. The latter, of course, is but a profitable pose.
Recently, in Private Eye, he was castigating the English Catholic papers, but was kind enough to indicate that the Catholic Herald offended him least. Perhaps that's because he cut some of his own journalistic teeth in the Herald's pages.
When some journalistic comment is gratuitously offensive for no particular reason, it obviously fails to offend. Subtler comment tends to be more aggravating. There was once a sort of Eye-style column in the Herald but it had to be discontinued because too many failed to see the jokes and took it all in solemn earnest.
A composite character called "Aubregon Waughthorne" was once gently lampooned, but the words were taken with deadly seriousness, presumably through lack of familiarity with the Herald in general and that column in particualr. In religious papers, you joke at your peril!
A plethora of Popes
A FASCINATING Australian actor and writer will be putting on a most unusual show next week in London. He will be giving some special matinees, at 2.30, on June 5-9 inclusive, at the New End Theatre, just near Hampstead Underground station.
His programme 0 Papa! is a one-man show consisting of readings from letters, documents, chronicles, etc., illustrating different aspects of the papacy down the ages. The actor's name is Tom Lee who says "I hope that the pieces I have chosen do help to illuminate the history of the Church and the attitudes to the papacy throughout its 2000 years of life".
Judging by the radio version, this live show will be well worth seeing.