Daily Archives: November 17, 2009

Free and Cheap for You Kindle Owners

In honor of the birthday of her late husband, Michael Dubruiel, Amy Welborn has self-published some of his shorter works on Kindle.

Be Vigilant: Meditations on Advent is free for Kindle here. (Also you can download it free as a PDF, RTF, .mobi, etc.) It uses the Scripture readings for each day as a starting point.

You can also get his book The Fourth Rule: St. Benedict’s Guide to Life for $2.99. (And again, you can get it as an ebook if you don’t have a Kindle.)


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Irish Manuscripts Online

While we’re at it, here’s a really good site: Irish Script On Screen. Digitized medieval Irish manuscripts.

The basic idea is that casual rubberneckers like me can look at the small pictures, whereas scholars or persistently interested people can register on the site and get big pictures for study. It’s a joint project of several interested libraries throughout the world.

Some of it technically isn’t Irish. (The Royal Irish Academy put up an Icelandic medical and cookbook ms, for example.)

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Ever since I first visited the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the few lines of a poem and prayer which are quoted in the chapel of Our Lady Queen of Ireland has been bugging the heck out of me! I was pretty darned well read in Irish literature then, and I’ve read plenty over the years; but I could never find the thing. I’ve searched the Web every so often down the years, and still it never turned up… until today.


Step 1 on the trail — I was reminded of the poem by this post at Tea at Trianon. (A beautiful and wrenching post, btw.)

Step 2 — I started searching with various terms, and finally found this post on an Orthodox lady’s blog. Find out that it’s very long, and known as “The Protecting Corselet of Mary”. Of course O’Curry is involved. What was he not involved in?

Step 3 — Go to archive.org, read The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume 6, 1869, pp. 320-322; and bask in finally finding this sucker!

Step 4 — Post about it, so I won’t lose it again. Phew.

Step 5 — Use new search terms, and immediately find a bunch of other iterations that didn’t come up before.

Carmina Mariana
, second series: a poetry anthology.

The poem also appeared in a 1938 book by one Mrs. Concannon entitled, The Queen of Ireland – An Historical Account of Ireland’s Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. This is probably where the National Shrine got it.

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“On the Rugged Patches in Starry Nebulae….”

They who with telescopic gaze can thread
Wide ether, orbs do find countless and vast and bright,
That shed through space a mild diffusive light;
But here and there rents, ragged, black and dread,
In that soft haze of silvery light appear.
‘What are they?’ oft my longing soul inquires,
‘The ancient seats of long-extinguish’d fires?
Or are they gateways to those regions drear
In which the unreclaim’d, cast forth, do fall
Through outer darkness, cheerless, without end,
Hastening away from God, and Heaven, and all
That we should love?’ Our hard hearts to amend,
Forth from that sky’s rent vail, sad whispers come,
That make us breathless pause amid earth’s busy hum.

The full title of this one is “On the Rugged Patches in Starry Nebulae, seen through powerful Telescopes.” It was written at Kirkside on September 12, 1853. (Apparently in a really cheery mood! Heh!) I find it agreeably spooky.

The poem is from Alan Stevenson, LL.B., F.R.S.E, the same Victorian lighthouse engineer and the same book mentioned below.

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Okay, Maybe Spong Isn’t Totally Unprecedented.

Apparently, some dude named Synesius from Cyrene was a very good speaker, so the people of Ptolemais asked to have him as their bishop. Synesius told them he couldn’t possibly take the offer, because he didn’t actually believe in the resurrection of the body. (Although he was a Christian, thanks to the efforts of his wife.) Also, because he was married, and didn’t want to change his way of living or that of his wife. (He was willing to give up hunting with his hunting dogs, although it made him sad. He wrote a book which doesn’t survive, “Cynogetics”, about dog breeding.)

They made him bishop anyway.

However, it was several months later, and apparently he accepted the resurrection of the body and the wages of being a bishop, after taking the time to study and pray about it all.

As a bishop, he was known for both his orthodoxy and his love of writing stuff in the same high-sounding words that the Valentinian heretics did. (Nice trick if you can manage it.) He wasn’t afraid to excommunicate one of his acquaintances for violating sanctuary (and took the time to condemn the guy for torturing people, while he was at it). But he never lost his love of philosophy; he made it serve Christ, as many other Christian philosophers before him had done.

He was a student and friend of Hypatia; his letters to her survive. (Yes, that Hypatia. Who may or may not have been Christian, despite what is normally heard.) In fact, in his last letter to her, he called her “mother, sister, and teacher”. His hymns seem very devout and philosophical, but the death of three of his sons and his own final sickness apparently weighed heavily upon him. A very interesting guy.

Anyway, there are some pretty nice translations of his hymns, along with some bits of Ambrose, Boethius, etc., and some original poems, in this poetry book by a Victorian lighthouse engineer. 🙂

More on Synesius of Cyrene at livius.org.

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