Oh Lord not another lost Ark
TWO FAMOUS English girls' schools are in the news.
One is Poles near Ware in Hertfordshire, to which no pupils will be returning in the autumn, as the school has closed after 63 eventful years.
It has had a most distinguished history, developing a spirit that will undoubtedly survive indefinitely. But with only 130 pupils, the school is unfortunately no longer a viable proposition in this competitive age.
All the pupils, however, have already found places in other schools and the remaining nuns, of the order of Faithful Companions of Jesus, have been posted to various assignments in different parts of the world.
Poles got its name from the fact that it was originally housed in a building, later extensively enlarged, which was the replica of an Elizabethan home standing on the estate of the Pole family.
There, 400 years earlier, had lived the famous Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, the last of the Plantagenets. Even before being placed on the list of martyrs hers was a name to stir imaginations, like that of another Lady Margaret (Beaufort), Countess of Richmond, after whom Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford is called. The two ladies were relations.
Margaret Beaufort was the grandmother of Henry VIII who gave Blessed Margaret (Plantagenet) in marriage to his cousin Sir Richard Pole. Margaret Pole was appointed companion to Catherine of Aragon and governess to Mary Tudor. Henry VIII called her "the holiest woman in England", but in 1541 sent her on the road to beatification.
Her only crime was to be the mother of Reginald Pole, the lay Cardinal who nearly became Pope in 1549. He disputed King Henry's claim to be Head of the Church in England but was saved from martyrdom by absence in Rome.
He was later ordained and became Mary Tudor's Archbishop of Canterbury, but died (in 1558) in the unhappy knowledge of Pope Paul IV's unworthy suspicions that he had heretical tendencies.
Poor Margaret suffered a worse fate. She was imprisoned in the Tower for two years, where she nearly froze to death, was never tried, and was beheaded at the age of 70 after the passing of a bill of attainder by a servile parliament.
Poles, by the way, has been bought by an hotel group which is going to turn it into a luxury hotel with an international championship-standard golf course. In the course of making the latter they will come across some bunkers unused for more than seventy years — the relics of a nine hole golf course that once occupied the grounds.
New Hall new furrows
THE OTHER school in the news is New Hall, near Chelmsford, visited last month by Cardinal Hume for the presentation of prizes. He also said a Mass of thanksgiving on the retirement of Sr Mary Francis after 23 years as headmistress.
New Hall is most ably run by one of England's oldest religious communities, the Canonesses Regular of the Holy Sepulchre. The order was joined in 1641 by a young Englishwoman at Tongres in Belgium whose ambition was to found a religious community for English Catholic women who were unable to follow such a life because of the penal laws.
She set up an English convent and school at Liege, and the school was eventually, in 1794, re-established in England.
In October of this year New Hall is beginning a new form of service to the Church alongside the school, by opening a pastoral centre in conjunction with the local diocese of Brentwood. Benefactors are being sought and will be gratefully remembered.
Yes, but are they married?
IT WAS interesting to note that the recent Massachussetts marriage of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President. to Edwin Schlossberg was valid and blessed by the Church but not a sacrament.
The necessary dispensation had been granted for marriage between a Catholic and a Jew but Fr Donald McMillan, SJ, who presided at the marriage, explained that though a marriage involving a Jewish partner cannot be sacramental it can nevertheless be considered quite valid in the eyes of the Church. (For the marriage to be sacramental, both partners must have been baptised.) The Jesuit was anxious to dispel misunderstandings that had cropped up, perhaps inevitably. For there are many aspects of Catholic matrimonial law and theology that are complicated and, to nonCatholics, sometimes, inexplicable.
And when famous people are concerned, as with annulments, there are often sensational but misleading press reports which, once having been made, can cause damage that is hard to undo.
Watch out for Charlie
THIS WEEKEND a certain unsung hero called Charlie Hankins is travelling between Broughton and Eastriggs in the course of his journey, begun last week, from John O'Groats to Land's End. He is hoping, through sponsorships, to raise £100,000 for the Royal Star and Garter Home for disabled exservicemen and women.
His means of transport is unusual. It is by hand-operated invalid tricycle, for Charlie lost both legs and the sight of one eye during the desert campaign of 1943. He lives at the Star and Garter and he is being supported on his journey, which marks the 70th Anniversary of the famous Home, by his old regiment, The Black Watch.
Charlie, at 66, is acting entirely on his personal initiative, disregarding his own serious disabilities. "The Home," he says, "and my fallen comrades need the money. Many of them are paralysed now and can't help themselves, so I'm doing it all for them." (The fund set up has been designated The Charlie Hankins Royal Star and Garter Fund, PO Box 75, Richmond, Surrey, TWIO 6RL.) The Royal Star and Garter Home was originally a gift to Queen Mary, the wife of King George V, by the Institute of Chartered Surveyors, then known as the Auctioneers' and Estate Agents' Institute. It first opened its (former hotel's) doors to war veterans in 1916, being rebuilt to accommodate its present 200 patients in 1924 when it was officially reopened by Queen Mary.
L • •
I HEAR that Bishop Gargitter, who had been Bishop in the Italian South Tyrolean diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone for 34 years, has resigned because of ill health. A 46-year-old Capuchin priest succeeds him, Fr Wilhelm Egger, a biblical scholar and professor at the diocesan seminary.
The new bishop has close associations with Austria and his parents came from Innsbruck, capital of the Austrian Tyrol. He studied for some time at Innsbruck University.
There are, in this area, certain parallels with Northern Ireland in that two highly inimical
communities have lived interlocked and side-by-side for many years. The South Tyrol section of Austria was occupied by Italy after the first world war and the Italian language was imposed throughout the area.
But German is still spoken there with determined defiance, one symptom among many of abiding resentment and the fact that the "occupation" has never really taken root.
In deference to the bilingual situation, in fact, the diocese is also called, by Germanspeakers, Bozen-Brixen.
Month of Augustus
THIS MONTH, named after the Emperor Augustus, has many country sayings connected with St Bartholomew's Day (next Sunday). One of them reminds farmers that "if the 24th be fair and clear, then hope for a prosperous Autumn that year."
We all know what happened to hapless Huguenots on that day in 1572 but we know less about Bartholomew himself. Apart from the four lists of the Twelve Apostles there is no other mention of Bartholomew in the New Testament.
This has made scholars suppose that Bartholomew was not his real name. They identify him rather with Nathanael who was from Galilee where Jesus found all but one of his Apostles (Judas Iscariot).
But Bartholomew — or Nathanael — did write a gospel, which was, however, rejected when the New Testamant "canon" came to be decided upon. This means that the gospel of an Apostle was thrown out in favour of writings of men who were not all (perhaps none of them) members of the original twelve.
This reinforces the argument that as the Church precedes the New Testament its teaching "tradition" does not depend solely on the words of scripture, the definitive identification of which as being true and authoritative was itself the pronouncement of a living Church with an existing body of developed teaching.
The Church even changed the "Sabbath" from Saturday to Sunday, but Fundamentalists and "Sabbatarians" follow the tradition of the Church rather than the words of scripture in keeping Sunday holy. Fundamentalists nevertheless are having a field day at the moment, especially in America and despite the many inconsistencies which they have to ignore.
Smarten up you lot!
A RULING of the German hierarchy conferences made in September 1984 comes into force this month. Will this mean that priests' blue jeans and sports jackets will fill the jumble sales and church bazaars in Germany? Will the German clergy now reappear with dog collars or the little stiff white shirt collars that the Oratorians have which are popular in Germany and Austria? Or will most priests return to the soutane of olden days?
The ruling is that clerics should wear "suitable" clerical garments as has been their custom in the past in a particular locality.
The German norms compared with other countries appear to be more strict. According to the German Bishops, a Catholic priest must be recognised as a Catholic priest in public by the clothes he wears. A black suit will normally be considered obligatory together with a "Roman" collar or an Oratorian type of collar.
German Bishops said that in special cases a dark suit with a cross on the lapel will be considered sufficient.
Cardinal Haffner of Cologne, chairman of the German Bishops Conference, added a little colour to the new directive by adding "Can you imagine the Pope appearing in a red pullover on his pastoral visits around the world?"