ORRIS WEST, whose book "The Shoes of the Fisherman" was published recently, told me last week that he had actually been signing copies of it in -America (the book opens with the words "The Pope is dead") when he was told of Pope John's death, and completely broke down when he heard the news.
He had never met Pope John, even though he once met Pope Pius XII.
Mr. West, who was in London on his way to Dublin, told me that his next book will deal with the Far East. He is particularly interested in Japan, and a priest friend of his has vestments which were designed and made there. Christianity has a difficult row to hoe in Japan, he says. and very often Japanese get the wrong impression when they see statues of bearded saints, because in Japan to be clean-shaven is the main mark of cleanliness.
His previous best-seller. The Devil's Advocate", is now to he filmed, and I understand that Bing Crosby is to play the lead role. Bing came to see the author to make sure that he (Bing) would be acceptable for the part, but there was no trouble about that. Mr. West, whose ancestors like Bing's, come from Ireland, thinks that Mr. Crosby can act anyone else off the stage.
He is writing a play on Teilhard de Chardin at the moment. Many people consider that Telemond, the priest-scientist in "The Shoes of the Fisherman" was also a Chardin prototype. It should certainly provide good dramatic material, although the theological angles might be a bit tricky.
Russian classes irT is not likely that Pope John I will be quickly forgotten, and every day some new quotation or story turns up to show how great and how human a person he was.
One of these, told to me by a friend who lives in Rome, reflects his intense desire to be more acceptable to the people he met by learning to speak their language. This was evident throughout his diplomatic career, but no-one knew until his confessor revealed it a few days ago that before he died Pope John had taken up Russian. He remarked, it is said. that since he already knew a little Slav grammar, it would he easy for him to learn a few Russian phrases. so that he would he able to show how he loved Russia, "that great nation." He continually repeated Our Lord's words "1 came to call, not the just, but sinners."
English., too, presented hint with a challenge. "It's not because 1 want to make speeches in English", he told his confessor. "but because it seems to me that I am not a father if I meet so many people who know only English and cannot say a word to them in reply."
Villa Roncalli THE bed in which Pope John died. I understand. will go back to Sotto il Monte. together with his other personal effects. Some of these will be kept in the "Villa Roncalli" where Pope John spent his holidays until after his election.
The inscription on his tomb will be one he chose himself. It reads "The law of truth was on his mouth. and iniquity was not found in his lips. He walked with me in peace and in equity, and turned many away front iniquity."
After writing this down in his diary, the Pope had added "Lord, make me worthy of it."
Unity plea I„AST week it was also revealed that Pope John's doctors had kept the gravity of his disease from him, although they sensed that he knew how serious it was.
I have been re-reading some of his speeches and find in one of them at least a sentence that showed how conscious he was of his illness: it is also perhaps the most moving plea for hard work in the cause of unity that I have ever read. It was in his Christmas message last year.
"On the day of judgment”, he said, "particular arid general, each one will be asked, not whether he achieved unity, but whether he prayed and worked and suffered for it; whether he enforced a wise and prudent discipline, patient and far-seeing, and whether he was responsive to the impulses of charity."
R. A. C. F. BEALES, one of our foremost Catholic educationalists, has recently taken over from Mr. Frank Goodridge, the founder. as chairman of the three-man editorial board of the Catholic Teachers Journal.
This lusty magazine has confounded the sceptics who forecast that it wouldn't last for more than two years. Circulation is going up, I hear, and prospects arc bright.
The other two members of the board are Mr. Brian Stratford and Mr. Robert Hoare, both of whom have figured in our columns at one time or another. The Journal, is published bi-monthly, and there are vague hopes that it will become a monthly, but as most of the people who work on it (helped by Macmillans, the publishers,) are part-time, there are quite a few practical difficulties.
Mr. Gooclridge, who is senior lecturer in English at St. Mary's College. Strawberry Hill, has been forced to resign because of the pressure of his other work hut can feel secure in the knowledge that the Journal is on a sound footing.
I predict . . .
As I write this column just before the conclave opens. a fresh wave of speculation seems to have arisen around an.d about the famous "prophecies of Malachy".
These date from 1591 when a Benedictine monk, trying to influence a current Papal election, drew up a list of prophecies for 112 Popes starting with Celestine I I, who died in 1124. and announced that the prophecies had been made by St. Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh.
They were quickly denounced as spurious, but have exercised a curious fascination ever since. Some of theist seem to have an uncanny degfee of truth (that for Pope John. Pastor et Nauta, was even referred to approvingly by Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop
O'Hara. in his tribute) hut several others have been completely wide of the mark.
Many people, however, took Pastor et Nallta. as predicting the election of Cardinal Agagianian. the only Cardinal whose coat of arms contains both a sheep and an anchor.
The prophecy for the next Pope, Flos norton, seems to narrow the field down to nine Cardinals who have flowers in their shields. They are Cardinals M ont in i, Wyszjnski, Motta, Barbieri, Sin. Richaud and Roberti. By the time these words have appeared, however, I may be forced to eat them.
Four more oNE interesting point is that the list of predictions only contains four more predictions. They are, De Medietate Luna (Of the Half Moon). De Lahore Solis (Of the Strength of the Sun), Gloria Oliver (The Glory of the Olive), and finally Petrus Romanies, or Petrus Secundus, who, the prophecy says, will be Pope at the end of the world.
Whether the industrious forger just got tired, or whether be possessed more foresight than most of us would imagine. will not at any rate be evident for some time to come.
Lease of life WORTHY Causes Department: Anyone who likes old buildings and likes to see them preserved might like to visit the Church of St. John Fisher in Wellington. Somerset, which, although it is on the town's list of ancient monuments. urgently needs restoration if its life span is to be prolonged. 1 gather that if the necessary repairs were made to this fine old building, it would be good for at least another 200 years.
Press Apostolate MANY non-Catholics, a correspondent tells me, are "very ready" to buy illustrated Catholic books about the Life of Our Lord. This, I hear, is what the Daughters of St. Paul have discovered in the course of their "Communications Apostolate".
Two sisters are working from door-to-door at the moment in the Eastleigh, Hampshire. parish (at the request of the parish priest) and they say that besides the childrens books there is great interest among non-Catholics in "Our Lady of Lourdes". Among the range of subjects through which Catholics browse the choice is wide, although the paper-back "The Hero of Molokai" (the translation from Omer Englebert) is a great favourite.
Last month one of these nuns was in London touring schools and convents while the other was doing similar work in Liverpool. They don't know where their next job will be. but as this very young society, whose humble beginnings sprang from one house in Turin in 1916, can now claim over 120 houses all over the world, it could be anywhere.
To the Apostolate of the Press. they have added that of radio. television and the cinema, so their Langley (Bucks) Convent of "Our Lady Queen of Apostles" stocks not only books, but thousands of coloured filmstrips of every kind for hire.
Silver Jubilee FR. TERENCE O'BRIEN, as readers of his column "Parents and Children" will know, celebrates his sacerdotal silver jubilee on Sunday, and I am sure that I speak for all his readers when
send him our very sincere congratulations.
Mr. Eric Hayward, who lives in Runcorn. tells me that he has organised a coach to take some 70 Salesian "co-operators" and children to the nearby Dominic Savio House at Bollington where Fr. O'Brien lives, to attend a special Mass on the Sunday. Fr, O'Brien is also, I understand, being given a wristwatch as a small token of the affection with which he is regarded. His "Parents and Children" series is being welcomed by parents everywhere. and several have suggested to me that they should be reprinted in pamphlet form at a later date. I would welcome an indication from readers if they are interested in this suggestion,
Lourdes trip CATHOLICS keen to visit Lourdes but unable to join or fit in with the dates of organised pilgrimages have often complained that they were unable to get there without travelling "all round the moon". The new direct LondonLourdes service scheduled for every Thursday from now until the end of October by British United Airways should solve this problem.
It should help also visitors from the United States, Australia, and other far-flung countries who ring us up here at the office asking how they can fit a few days in Lourdes into their European schedule.
A "second string" idea. of course. is to join an All Night Vigil Group "quickie" weekend pilgrimage—but this is, of course. too strenuous for many people.
Situations Vacant ACOLLEAGUE who travelled out to Lourdes on this new service last week tells me of an interesting job which might attract a girl student waiting to enter university, or. in fact, any youngish woman who would like to spend the rest of the summer (from now until mid-October) working in the souvenir shop run by Mrs. Walsh Douly at St. Laurence O'Toole Shop, 15 Place Mgr. Laurence. Lourdes, H.P. It's no easy job, there are long hours of standing. and it is shift work. Salary would be about £5 per week excluding allowance for board and lodging which would be provided. It is not necessary to know much French but it is very necessary that the applicant be interested in the work—there are about 10 others on the staff.
Mrs. Walsh Douly's shop is the type which is packed from floor to ceiling (and down to the cellars) with every type of souvenir from N.aluable articles of silver and gold. to the latest imports from Western Germany and Japan. Anyone interested in the job please write quickly direct to Mrs. Walsh Douly.
Versatile I HOPE that candidates for .I. public office in India are not as scarce as would appear from the official title of the Honourable Shri Homi J. H. Taleyarkhan, who recently opened the Holy Name High School in Bombay. His Excellency's full title is that of Minister for Civil Supplies, Housing. Printing Presses, Fisheries, Small Savings and Tourism.