THERE'S nothing like blowing your own trumpet particularly when The Catholic Herald was the first newspaper to divulge that Cardinal Fiume would be taking a praying part in next week's Royal Wedding. The Pope, of course. will also be properly represented since this time the Apostolic Delegate will be actually seated inside St Paul's Cathedral.
One might well ask "where else would he possibly sit?" But the fact is that, a few years ago, the presence of such dignitaries at a ceremony of this kind would have been impossible. The most bizzare example is that of Her Majesty's Coronation in 1953.
This was still the great triumphalist period of Pope Pius X1I who believed in doing things in style. He sent a special legate to England at the time of the Coronation even though he would not be allowed (by Rome) to sit in Westminster Abbey. To have done so would have been considered as a tacit admission that Anglicanism was "as good as us" which, in those days, of course, would never have done.
The panoply, however, which accompanied the Holy Father's "Ambassador Extraordinary" on his visit to London will make next year's Papal visit seem like a shirt-sleeve package tour by comparison.
The Ambassador Extraordinary was hailed, by The Catholic Herald, as a "resplendent symbol of the wider bonds linking the Catholic world with Britain." Before the Queen herself was enthroned at the Abbey, Archbishop Cento was enthroned down the road at Westminster Cathedral. The Knights of Malta loved it and the ceremony went on for hours.
The Archbishop's "participation" in the actual Coronation was a rather pathetic anti-climax by comparison. Instead of sitting in a special place in the Abbey, where he would have looked magnificent, he and his monsigriorial companion, together with suite. were installed in a special "box" outside the main door of the Abbey. The box was just on the left of the door and was solemnly swathed in lots of reddish purple drapery.
Guests arriving — in the torrential rain that nearly drowned the gallant Queen of Tonga. were astonished at the sight of the two Vatican prelates. also dressed in full purple and gold inery, perched up in the little box oserlooking the pavement facing Victoria Street.
Occasionally they waved rather self-consciously. but no one could make out quite who or what they were. Hannen Swaffer — now there's a name from the past — thought it was a Punch and Judy show, and that was before he'd taken the first swig on his long flask.
The high price of fame
SO YOU THINK the price of books has gone through the ceiling? Here's news of a weighty volume just published by Heinemann which is of exceptional interest and to which a "special offer" is attached.
The good news first: if you buy it before the first of Septem-' her you pay ten pounds less. The bad news: after that date you will have to pay the full price — C/5.
The book in question is the second of the "companions" to Volume V of Martin Gilbert's monumental biography of Winston Churchill which has so far reached the year 1935. The current budget-buster contains all the documents, papers and letters that this industrious and brilliant chronicler has been able to lay hands on to illustrate Churchill's thoughts and actions between 1929 and 1935.
Among many collector's items is a letter to Churchill from Bernard Shaw after reading the first volume of the former's life of his ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough. Shaw chides Churchill for his slavish acceptance of the Whig tradition of history until recently accepted as gospel in Oxbridge and even lesser academic circles.
Shaw charges Churchill with gullibility in swallowing a myth which canonised our "free" political institutions even though, in reality, they stifled any real impact on policy through truly democratic channels. The orthodox two-party system, in other words, was little more than a game whose only winners were the establishment politicians and their friends. Could not such a letter, containing similar views. ha‘e well appeared in this morning's Times?