By FRANCIS KENT THERE are some spots which seem, in a modern phrase much misused, "out of this world". One such is Arundel Castle seen from the other side of the Arun valley. whence it looks like something from a fairy story and you almost expect to espy a longhaired princess leaning out of one of the turret windows awaiting rescue by a gleaming knight on a white horse.
Another is SE, Michael's Mount. off the Cornish coast near Pert
zance. home of the St. Aubyn family for 300 years. I did not know, tilt I revisited it the other day, that it was also the home of the story of Jack the Giant Killer. But I quote Mr. Christopher Hussey: " Here, of course, Jack the valiant Cornishman did slay the giant Cormorare whose wife being a clumsy woman, dropped the chapel rock from her apron, where it now lies gaunt upon the foreshore at Marazion ". He is less credulous about the theory that it was here the Cornish miners used to sell their tin to Phoenician merchants who came all the way from the Mediterranean to buy it. and that this is the island Ictis they said they came to for this purpose.
WITH its surf-girt rocky shore, the tidiest little harbour I have ever seen, and the tower of its chapel reaching nearly 250 feet into the sky. I like to think of it as " the price of the redemption of his soul", which is how Edward the Confessor described it when he gave it in 1044 to the Benedictines of Saint Michael in Periculo Mari.% (St. Michael in Peril of the Sea) at Mont St. Michael in Brittany. As Mr. Hussey says: "To such a mystic the similarity of the two rocks proclaimed the divine will that they should be wedded ".
Quainter still was the confirmation of King Edward's gift after the Norman Conquest by Robert of Mortain, Earl of Cornwall. who had the banner of St. Michael carried before him into battle" as I have of late very certainly found, that a son has been granted to me by my own wife, by God, through the merits of the Blessed Michael and the prayers of the monks."
Pope Gregory V granted an indulgence to all pilgrims to the Mount of a third of their penances. I wonder if this still holds good, and if I get off with only two "Hail Marys " after my next Confession? But I am not sure about the conditions; maybe you have to do part of that stiff climb to the top on your knees!
TRE, POL, PEN
T AM writing this in Cornwall. X and have been reading a new book, " English Place Names", by Kenneth Cameron (Batsford, 30s), which tells mc, among many other bits of information, that in the Duchy (which we do not, hereabouts, rightly regard as part of England at all) "tre" means a hamlet, " pol" a pool or stream. and " pen " a headland. So Penzance becomes the " holy headland ''. perhaps because it shelters St. Michael's Mount.
BUT,then, most places in Cornwall are holy; or were when they acquired their names. Mr. Cameron has no difficulty in finding that St. Columb Major and St. Columb Minor were named after St. Columba; but he manfully confesses himself—like most of us, less learned--battled by many Cornish saints' names. " Indeed." he writes. " some of the saints are so obscure that all that Is apparently known of them is that they are commemorated in modern place-names."
ISEARCHED Mr. Cameron's X interesting book in vain for a solution to the mysterious fact that the village I am writing this in is called Rock, whereas for a large distance around there is nothing but sand! It is usually assumed that this is just an example of Cornish irony!
The sands here in the course of history have shifted so much that once they buried a tiny church, whose spire appeared above the surface last century when they moved again in a storm. It has since been completely excavated. It is dedicated to another of those mysterious saints—St. Enodoc; hut the natives long ago simplified this appropriately to Sinkininney Church!
T RECENTLY came across a list X of " Vacation Activities ", offering several suggestions for those wanting what might be called a Catholic kind of holiday.
Since the sun is shining and I am in holiday mood, let me mention one of these. Volunteers are sought to help in the tea gardens and shop attached to the abbey on the island of Caldey. Anyone who has visited this lovely little isle off the coast of Pembrokeshire will seize an opportunity to go there again. The beaches have some of the best bathing round our shores; fuschia grows wild in hedges along the lanes. I hope the good brothers have managed to get repaired their good ship which plies between the island and the mainland, and which was severely damaged recently in a storm.
Anyone interested in a working holiday of this kind should write to Brother Thomas, The Abbey, Calday Island, off Tenby.