“O Good Cross, Long Desired”

Bl. John Cornelius’ last words quoted a famous passage from the breviary for St. Andrew’s Day. Since I’d never heard it before, here it is in Bishop Challoner’s translation, from A Manual of Prayers and Other Christian Devotions:

“When blessed Andrew was come to the place where the Cross was prepared for him, he cried out and said,

O good Cross, long desired, and now ready for my longing mind,

I come to thee secure and joyful;

Do thou also joyfully receive me, the Disciple of him who hung upon thee.

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Blessed Thomas Bosgrave – Executed for a Hat

When Fr. John Cornelius was arrested in 1594 by the sheriff of Dorsetshire, he was hurried away without his hat. And of course, every man wore a hat outside.

So Thomas Bosgrave, a fellow Cornishman, stuck his own hat on the priest’s head, saying that “The honor I owe to your functions will not suffer me to see you go bare-headed.”

So the wicked Sheriff Trenchard arrested him too.

Mr. Bosgrave was executed along with Fr. Cornelius and his brave companions (two Irish Catholic servants in the household where Fr. Cornelius was caught). Challoner describes him as a “man of reading” who was able to make a speech from the scaffold about the certainty of the Catholic faith that was so compelling that no Protestant minister dared to heckle it or reply to it. He was hung, but not drawn and quartered like Fr. Cornelius.

He was beatified, along with Cornelius and his companions, in 1929.

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St. Paige?

Paige was one of the most popular baby names in the previous generation, following the trend of giving girls surnames of unrelated persons for given names.

(As opposed to the Southern and English-ancestry custom of naming girls and boys after the surnames of relatives, particularly their mothers’ maiden names; or the generalized custom of using the surnames of persons admired by their parents.)

The surnames of Page, Paige, Padgett, etc. are occupational names, given to the families of men who served as “pages” in their youth. Latin “pagius” meant “servant,” and probably derived from Greek “paidion,” boy. (A similar path was followed by words like “knight,” “knave,” “garcon,” etc.)

But that doesn’t mean that the Paiges of the world don’t have a glorious patron! In fact, they have two!

Blessed Francis Page (or in Latin texts, Franciscus Pagius) was an English Jesuit who was martyred in 1602. He has an interesting story!

He was born in Antwerp of Protestant English merchant parents, but was sent to England to study English law with a friend of his parents, who was Catholic. He fell in love with this lawyer’s daughter, but she refused to marry him unless he became Catholic. (Which was reasonable enough.) He agreed and he must have seemed trustworthy, because they put him into contact with a Jesuit, Fr. John Gerard, for more religious instruction.

However, at this point he discovered that he felt the call to be a priest, as often happens to young converts. He started to discern whether he had a vocation. If times had been better, he might have become a priest and a missionary, or he might have ended up discerning a call to marry the girl.

But times were bad, and Fr. Gerard was found out and arrested by the authorities in 1594, moved around, and then thrown into the Tower of London. In his worry, Mr. Page went to stand outside the prison every day and get Fr. Gerard’s blessing. Eventually he got arrested for being suspicious, but was then released, thanks to Gerard pretending not to know him. Page decided this was a sign to get on with his vocation, and he went to Rheims to study at the English College.

(Fr. Gerard was unbroken by extreme torture, as the Tower’s own records indicate. He escaped the Tower later that year, probably with the help and planning of St. Nicholas Owen. He continued to work as a hunted English missionary for decades, though eventually he had to leave England and do Jesuit assignments in Europe instead. He also wrote his autobiography (in Latin, but it was translated into English by Philip Caraman), where he said that he felt that in heaven, the martyred Fr. Page was still anxious for his safety. The saintly but unmartyred Fr. Gerard died in bed in 1637 at the English College in Rome, aged 73.)

So there was Francis Page, studying away in the seminary in Rheims. He was ordained in 1600 as a normal diocesan priest and missionary, and headed back to London, where his secret ministry continued uneventfully for over a year. But while getting ready to celebrate Mass in the house of Anne Line, the priesthunters arrived. He quickly took off his vestments and sat down among the congregation, pretending to be just another guy waiting for the priest to show up. (Just trying to go to Mass wasn’t a capital crime, whereas hosting a Mass or being a priest meant death.) Anne Line and the rest of the Catholics kept their mouths shut, even though St. Anne Line was martyred for it later that year.

Fr. Page continued his ministry for the next fourteen months. But eventually he ran afoul of an ex-Catholic who had decided that turning in priests was a good way to make money. She saw him in the street and raised a hue and cry, then followed him to an inn and got the innkeeper to keep hold of him until the authorities arrived. (For a cut of the reward, presumably.) He was condemned for treason on April 19, 1602, and sentenced to die.

Fr. Page had dreamed of entering the Jesuits as well as being a priest, but he was never able to go back to Europe to enter their novitiate. The night before his execution, prison officials let Page stay in a cell with an imprisoned Jesuit. Fr. Page took Jesuit vows before him as well as letting the other man hear his Confession, and thus he died proudly proclaiming himself to be a Jesuit. He was hung, drawn, and quartered.

The Jesuits in Britain official site about Francis Page, S.J. It includes an audio excerpt about Page from Gerard’s autobiography, read by a woman. (The first bit read by a man is not from the autobiography.)

A woodcut picture of Blessed Francis Page being “drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution” at Tyburn. (If you ever wondered what that looked like.) Basically this was an extra punishment, because it wasn’t a fun way to travel and it made you a perfect target for missiles from the crowd. Also, it forbade you the dignity of walking or riding or being carried in a cart. (But the original version of the treason sentence had been being dragged by a horse without anything between you and the ground, so the late medieval introduction of hurdles was actually nicer.)

A woodcut holy card of Blessed Francis Page at the British Museum. A 1754 redo at Getty Images.

Blessed Anthony Page (also spelled Antony Page) was an earlier English priest. He was born in Harrow on the Hill, in the county of  Middlesex. He entered the college of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1581. At some point he left Oxford. Then he entered the English College at Rheims in 1584, received minor orders in 1585, was ordained a deacon in 1590 (at Laon), and was ordained a priest in 1591 at Rheims.

Challoner read the manuscript of the unpublished Annales Elizabethae Reginae by his classmate at Rheims, Anthony Champney; and Challoner said it described Bl. Anthony as being an unusually nice guy with unusual learning, who was loved by everyone at the college for his “singular candor of mind and sweetness of behavior.”

(The Annales ms is currently in the Westminster Diocesan Archives, and should be digitized!!)

Off Anthony went to England as a missionary, and was caught almost right away. During his time in prison, he was made to argue with a lot of Anglican ministers, and came off well because he was so learned. He was hung, drawn, and quartered on April 20, 1593. (That’s the same day of the year as Bl. Francis, yes. The way the English court system worked, they had certain days they liked to use for big trials and executions – the “Assizes.” These were often at market time, so they could get juries, witnesses, and/or crowds together.)

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Birth Control Pills = Messing Around with Your Hormones

A secular article on the many questionable aspects of birth control pills, and why they shouldn’t be treated as a universal remedy or something harmless for everyone.

And really, there’s no way it can be healthy for post-puberty women to spend twenty years telling their body not to ovulate. There aren’t that many women with that much bad risk for ovarian cancer.

And if you have really painful periods due to any kind of illness, you need to fix the problem and not just mask the symptoms. Even if your doctor doesn’t care, you need to. (And you need a new doctor.)

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S.T. Joshi Returns His World Fantasy Awards

S.T. Joshi, the world’s best known Lovecraft scholar, is extremely upset about the World Fantasy Awards’ latest bow to political correctness.

You see, the World Fantasy Award is a bust of Lovecraft, as designed by the great artist and cartoonist Gahan Wilson.

But the current idea is that Lovecraft is soooooo racissssss that they can know longer stand to see his pale, tired visage on the awards table. (Many wish to replace Lovecraft with Olivia Butler, who was black, and only said scary racissss things about white people and half-alien people.)

S.T. Joshi, who knows Lovecraft’s flaws and virtues better than anyone still alive, and who has read everything the man has ever written, had this to say:

November 10, 2015 — The World Fantasy Award

It has come to my attention that the World Fantasy Convention has decided to replace the bust of H. P. Lovecraft that constitutes the World Fantasy Award with some other figure. Evidently this move was meant to placate the shrill whining of a handful of social justice warriors who believe that a “vicious racist” like Lovecraft has no business being honoured by such an award. (Let it pass that analogous accusations could be made about Bram Stoker and John W. Campbell, Jr., who also have awards named after them. These figures do not seem to elicit the outrage of the SJWs.) Accordingly, I have returned my two World Fantasy Awards to the co-chairman of the WFC board, David G. Hartwell. Here is my letter to him:

Mr. David G. Hartwell
Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Dear Mr. Hartwell:

I was deeply disappointed with the decision of the World Fantasy Convention to discard the bust of H. P. Lovecraft as the emblem of the World Fantasy Award. The decision seems to me a craven yielding to the worst sort of political correctness and an explicit acceptance of the crude, ignorant, and tendentious slanders against Lovecraft propagated by a small but noisy band of agitators.

I feel I have no alternative but to return my two World Fantasy Awards, as they now strike me as irremediably tainted. Please find them enclosed. You can dispose of them as you see fit.

Please make sure that I am not nominated for any future World Fantasy Award. I will not accept the award if it is bestowed upon me.

I will never attend another World Fantasy Convention as long as I live. And I will do everything in my power to urge a boycott of the World Fantasy Convention among my many friends and colleagues.

S. T. Joshi

And that is all I will have to say on this ridiculous matter. If anyone feels that Lovecraft’s perennially ascending celebrity, reputation, and influence will suffer the slightest diminution as a result of this silly kerfuffle, they are very much mistaken.

Should anyone care to express an opinion on this matter to Mr. Hartwell, feel free to write to him at the above address or to his email address: dgh@tor.com.

It is embarrassing to have to point this out, but here is the obvious:

Sunand Tryambak Joshi was born in Pune, India, in 1957. He’s not a WASP. He did choose to become an American, and he is proud to read the great American fantasy writers.

And another obvious comment:

H.P. Lovecraft was raised to distrust people who weren’t WASPs. But he made friends with people who weren’t from any similar background, and he married a Jewish woman who was totally unlike him in personality and political views. He stretched his horizons a lot farther than these complainers choose to do.

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Vathara Is Rewriting the Ramayana.

Except Rama is a princess.

For NaNoWriMo.

Yes way.

Snippets are over on her new blog, Crossover Queen’s Creative Chaos.

(Actually it’s done very respectfully, and with regard to the classical Indian religious laws of conduct. Other characters are also switched to the opposite sex, which creates some different problems.)

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Friendship among Saints: Seville Edition

A lot of Spanish theologians and Church fathers are awfully fond of quoting St. Gregory the Great. But then, a lot of theologians from everywhere are fond of quoting him. So it didn’t stand out to me when St. Beatus of Liebana quoted him all over.

However, it turns out that when the pope sent St. Gregory the Great as his envoy to Constantinople (back when he was just another monk/abbot of Senatorial family and great learning), St. Greg met up with another visitor to Constantinople, St. Leander of Seville. They hit it off, and it was St. Leander who pressed St. Gregory to write his famous book on the moral interpretation of the Book of Job (Moralia on Job).

So they stayed in touch, and St. Leander made sure he got copies of all of St. Greg’s books. When St. Greg became pope, he kept sending his new books over to Seville.

And St. Leander of Seville was the older brother (and predecessor as Bishop of Seville) of St. Isidore of Seville, the great medieval teacher.

So since St. Leander and St. Isidore pushed St. Gregory, and since they made copies of his work available, everybody else in Spain also got well-versed in the works of Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Pretty neat, huh?

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