Can You Better This Ghost Story?
MRS. Sinnott, mother of the late Fr. John Sinnott, Si., and sister of Abbot Hicks, the .5th Abbot of Downside, told me over a cup of tea last weekend what I think to be about the most impressive ghost story I have ever heard. It was a case of a ghost appearing to a child of just two years--in fact, her child, later Fr. Sinnott. Three months before the event, Freda, girl friend of Mrs. Sinnott then a very young mother, spent the day at her house in Liverpool, and made the greatest friends with the boy who amused himself for a long time playing with Freda's hair. The incident was completely forgotten apparently by John who never again referred to her. Then one day, while his mother was bathing the baby sister and John Was playing with his bricks at her feet. the boy suddenly called out "Freda," and scrambled up her skirts. He walked across the room and suddenly turned at right angles. holding his hands forward as though trying to play with something until he reached the wall. He gave the wall a knock and then, turning round, said " Froth's gone." Next morning Mrs. Sinnott received a letter to say that Freda had died in London the day before under an operation. Her death took place about an hour before the incident.
Clinching the Miracle f/s1 reminiscent mood, Mrs. Sinnott
told me a story about her brother, Abbot Hicks, and 1 repeat it without asking her permission. though as the event was made known at a public function and is so very human, I think no feelings at this date will be hurt.
The late Archbishop Williams at a public dinner to the Abbot recounted how the guest of honour had suffered in his earlier dails from extremely bad hay-fever. An attack occurred while he was at Lourdes, and though he could hardly see he was taken to the grotto to bathe his eyes in the water. When he raised his previously aching head, the pain and hay-fever had completely disappeared. He looked up with an expression of amazement on his face and said simply: " Well, I'm damned!" He said, of course. other things after, but he had said enough to establish in my view a very striking and non-subjective miracle. He never suffered from hay-fever sea in.
Discoveries in Catholic Who's Who
THE new Catholic Who's Who is.
of course, full of news and surprises. How exciting and unexpected. for example, to discover that the charming chatelaine with whom I was lunching the other day has written so learned a book as Studies on the Hetorokontae. not to mention Further Studies on the Hetorokontae, not to mention also History of Ver; 'traria Morgacea. I knew she was learned, but not as learned as that. On the whole. the clergy seems to have eschewed the classification ' Recreations," but Canon Fitzgerald brings in a rare but welcome ,iute of humour in his " Rec.: 'Dish ing' the 'Reds' and opposing Fascist Anti-Semites within and without the Church." Though one can still look up a name to find it omitted or is mildly surprised to see So-and-so in an extremely difficult job has been very well done indeed, and the 1952 Edition is streets ahead of its pre-war predecessors. I shall try. however, to resist the temptation of looking up names to see if an indifferent letter to the paper should he published because of the prowess of its signatory, not will I check letters according to the ages of the writers. One fairly regular correspondent whom 1 imagined to be in his thirties turns out to be 75.
Those Fatima Pictures
A GREAT deal of controversy iL A seems to have been aroused by those pictures of the dancing sun at Fatima which were published in the Osserratore and claimed as authentic. One Portuguese view is that they were taken in 1921 near Torres Vedras during an atmospheric effect at sunset. But the most surprising repercussion is the need in America of a weightly ecclesiastical statement to make it clear that " neither Catholic dogma nor the divinely commissioned teaching authority of the Catholic Church are in any way involved." If it helps anyone. I don't mind going on the record as saying that I never believed them authentic. and I don't believe. them to be authentic now.
I HAVE been tartly taken to task for imagining that the alarm cords in trains ring a little bell which awakens the driver who thereupon stops the train. I wish I had been simple enough to believe that, but in fact I did know that the steel chain automatically operated the brakes so that the engine driver and guard are likely to be as surprised as the passengers. It's the sort of information one gets from reading detective stories. The fact remains—indeed it is made clearer—that no one in the train can communicate with the driver, and this still seems to me Ad, not to say dangerous.
Worth a Dinner
" WF. are so busy telling everyone
that the Church is right that we are beginning to forget what it's right about." This telling and pregnant phrase was uttered over lunch
one day by a priest—indeed a University Chaplain (though I had better not mention his name)—towards the end of a conversation whose general drift may well be guessed. I wish I had thought of it; meanwhile I pass it on for general meditation.
My Best Letter
pROM a country in Europe I re' ceived last week perhaps the most charming and moving "bouquet " letter that has ever come my way. It began: " Thank you for giving me my happiest hours in the saddest years of my life." It came from Bernard Fay, the French historian and writer. victim of the anti Vichy of who suffered many years of imprisonment not least because of his revelations about French Masonry struck home only too well. Fay recently escaped, and I feel that his reaction alone has made the work of this paper worthwhile. Apart from the special circumstances, it is always heartening to hear of such reaction from foreign readers to whom so much of the paper must be so very foreign. But he was heartened particularly by the constant news of what he calls " the Catholic revival in Britain."
Bishops and Abbots
HERE is something to think about: " " In the Celtic monastic Church. unless a bishop was also an abbot. his position was very different from that of bishops of today. Like the rest of the monks, he livedunder the authority of his abbot. But because only a bishop had power to ordain priests and bishops, the abbot always chose a specially holy man. If he was a smith or a scribe he went on with his work when his services were not required. But special respect was shown him at the Communion service." I daresay some abbots would not mind being transported fifteen hundred years back.
Kings who saw Popes'
I N "Pilgrim-Walks in Rome," by P. J. Chandlery, Si.. the following Anglo-Saxon Kings are listed, according to N. C.. of Bournemouth: Csiedwalla. King of West Saxons; he was buried in St. Peter's, A.D. 689.
Ina (successor of the above) and his wife Queen Ethelburga, 720. Buried in Rome, 728 A.D.
Conrad. King of the Mercians, became a monk in Rome am. 709, and died there.
Coelivulf. King of Northumbria. resigned in 758. received tonsure at St. Peter's Tomb.
King Alfred, as a child of 5 years was anointed by St. Leo IV.
King Ethelwulf, Alfred's father. in 855.
King Bushed in 874—and he died there.
King Canute in 1030.
Edward the Confessor, vowed to go; was unable; and built Westminster Abbey in honour of St. Peter, instead. In the crypt of St. Peter's lie the tombs (1) of James the old Pretender;
(2) of Prince Charles Edward the Young Pretender.