Relics saved

From Supremacy and Survival: The English Reformation

English Martyrs' Relics Saved from Fire

Thanks to Father Zuhlsdorf via the Catholic Herald, here is news of a fire at a Marian shrine in England in the Lancaster diocese which also has relics of the English Reformation martyrs. The Blessed Sacrament and the relics were rescued from burning:

A collection of relics belonging Reformation martyrs have survived a fire at the Marian shrine of Ladyewell in Lancashire, which left the chapel burned out.The Burgess altar at which St Edmund Campion, St Edmund Arrowsmith and Blessed John Woodcock celebrated Mass, and other relics of the Reformation, were rescued from the flames of a small fire which broke out at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fernyhalgh, near Preston, last week.Fr Tom Hoole, the director of the Ladyewell Shrine and parish priest of St Mary’s Fernyhalgh, discovered the fire in the chapel in the morning at Ladyewell House and called the fire brigade.The rescue team was able to save the Blessed Sacrament at the priest’s instructions, as well as the relics and other religious artefacts. These have suffered from smoke damage.

Here is the shrine's website, with more detail about the shrine.

The Ladyewell Shrine has been the site of devotion since the 11th century, which became a devotion to Our Lady Queen of the Martyrs’ after the Reformation. The reliquary holds relics and memorabilia belonging to the English Martyrs. The shrine was kept open during penal times, with only a short five year gap, and was the site for pilgrimages despite not having had an apparition. St Mary’s Fernyhalgh was built much later than the shrine in the 18th century.

Thanks and a tip of the beret to Stephanie A. Mann author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation.



Battle of the Herrings, 12 February 1429

The Battle of the Herrings 12 February 1429 was an action of the Hundred Years War which preceded the lifting of the siege of Orleans near the town of Rouvray in France. The action was brought on by the French forces under the command of Charles of Bourbon, to intercept the Lenten food supply (herrings) of the English en route from Paris to the English forces surrounding Orleans. The English, contrary to the rules of chivalry*, had been besieging Orleans since October of the year before. Allied to the French were Scots under the command of John Stewart of Darnly.The convoy was commanded by Sir John Fastolf.

This portion of the Loire Valley is flat, and prairie like, with few land marks and no natural defensive places.

The French forces numbered approximately 3000 men and knights attacked a much smaller English force which seeing the danger arranged the wagons as a fortress and placed sharpened stakes at the gaps between the wagons which served the English to good effect at Agincourt in 1415. This time however the French used gunpowder artillery which had been recently integrated into the French Army Of Charles VII.

The Scottish infantry, about 400 strong contrary to the orders of the Comte de Clermont attacked the English positions. Unfortunately this ended the artillery bombardment. The Scottish infantry poorly armored where especially vulnerable to the English who used their longbows to great advantage.

It was at this time that the English seeing how poorly supported were the Scots decided to launch a counterattack of their own. Striking the rear of the Scots and french they put them to rout.

The combined French/Scots forces lost about 400 men, including John Stewart. Among the wounded was the Jean de Dunois, known also as the Bastard of Orléans, (brother of the Duc D'Orleans*) who barely escaped with his life and who would later play such a crucial role, along with The Maid, in the lifting of the siege of Orléans and the French Loire campaign which followed.

Within the city walls, as can be seen from the passage in the Journal du Siege, the Count of Clermont was generally blamed for the disaster, being considered a coward and held in disdain. Soon thereafter, Clermont, together with the wounded Count Dunois, left Orléans together with about 2000 soldiers. Morale within the city and among its leaders was at a low point, so much so that consideration was given to surrendering the city.

The battle itself although minor in military terms when viewed in relation to the greater siege is not seen as a mere skirmish. It raised the morale of the English troops, (who already considered themselves invincible), and lowered the morale of the French besieged. This dichotomy would have repercussions when Jehanne finally defeated the English on May 30, 1429, crushing their morale.

The battle also gained currency that played a pivotal role in convincing Sieur Robert de Baudricourt at Vaucouleurs, to accede to Joan's demand for support and safe conduct to Chinon and her interview with Charles VII. It was on that day (February 12, 1429) Jehanne met with de Baudricourt for the final time. According to the story, recounted in several places, The Maid told Sieur Robert de Baudrecourt that "the Dauphin's arms had that day suffered a great reverse near Orléans". When, several days later, news of the military setback near Rouvrey did in fact reach Vaucouleurs, Sieur de Baudricourt, according to the story, finally relented and agreed to sponsor her journey to the Dauphin in Chinon.


*It was considered a serious breach of chivalry if the Lord of a city was a prisoner and his domain was besieged. At the time of the Siege of Orleans Charles, Duc Of Orleans had 25 October 1415. although he was prisoner he continued to direct his affairs from prison, and sold his jewels for the good of his people besieged in Orleans.

Xenophone link to the Battle of the herrings is here.


Two articles on two veterans or the Great War

The end of an era is closing.
Frank Buckles, the last American WWI doughboy, dies at 110 in West Virginia.

...And now that Frank is gone there is only one....Claude Choules
World War I's last surviving combatant Claude Choules will celebrate his 110th birthday on Thursday with a low-key party, his son said, describing his father as a reluctant "celebrity" who hates war.

British-born Choules, who is nicknamed "Chuckles" and lives in an Australian nursing home, will mark his birthday just days after the death of American Frank Buckles made him the 1914-1918 conflict's last male veteran.

"He's blind and he's deaf, but we get up close to him and we shout at him and he understands," his son Adrian Choules, 76, told AFP from Perth in Western Australia on Wednesday.

"And he still knows who we are. I don't think he suffers from dementia any more than you and I do. He's just biding his time."

In previous interviews Claude Choules has credited cod-liver oil, a healthy diet low on alcohol as well as regular exercise and laughter for his longevity, joking that the real secret to a long life is to "just keep breathing".

Choules lied about his age to join Britain's Royal Navy in World War I -- later witnessing the 1919 scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow -- and was an officer in the Royal Australian Navy during World War II.

According to official listings by the Australian and British armed forces, he became the Great War's last surviving combatant after Buckles' death at 110 on Sunday.

British veterans Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, aged 110 and 113 respectively, both died in 2009. The last combatant from the opposing side, Franz Kuenstler of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire, died aged 107 in 2008.

"He's a celebrity now, he's a celebrity because everybody else has died," Adrian Choules said of his father. "He is a celebrity because of his war experience and he hated war."

The only other surviving WWI veteran is believed to be Britain's Florence Green, who served with the Women's Royal Air Force in a non-combat role in England. She is now 110, according to the RAF.

Choules said his father, who was born in Wyre Piddle in central England on March 3, 1901, had been taught to think "that the Germans... were monsters, terrible people" after joining the navy.

But he soon realised that "they were exactly the same as any young people".

"And he hated war. War for him was a way of making a living, that was his job," Adrian Choules said.

Choules moved to Australia in 1926 and served in the Royal Australian Navy in WWII, becoming chief demolition officer for Australia's vast western coastline, which was then considered vulnerable to attack from the Japanese.

Adrian Choules said when his father talked about his life he rarely mentioned his war experiences, adding that the only military marches he participated in were when he was a serviceman.

"He wasn't interested in war, war to him was a terrible thing," he said.

Choules said his father was not in any pain, but had watched his friends pass away and no longer gave interviews to the media. The Choules family has been offered a navy funeral for the veteran when the time comes.

"If someone said to me do you want to live to be 110 I would say, 'No thank you very much'," Adrian Choules said.

Claude's daughter Anne Pow said there will still be some birthday treats in store for the centenarian, who didn't own a car until he was 50 because he preferred to travel by bicycle.

"He still likes his mango juice and soft caramel-like chocolates," she told Perth's Sunday Times.

Bless 'em all...


Churches of Versailles

Elena-Maria has posted this redirect on her blog today. Thanks and a tip of the beret to again Elena-Maria!

Notre Dame Versailles



A Very Long Engagement

I was asked to look at this film and give my thoughts on it.

Other people have written a synopsis of this film. So this is not a recitation of the film's story. I liked the film, it rang true to me. My daughter Geneviève saw this film in 2006 in Angers while attending university there (UCO). She recommended it to me then and it only took 5 years for me to watch it. I reality she never recommneded a stinker.

Let me begin with some back ground of the period that the film surrounds itself.

By 1917 the armies of both the Allies and the Central Powers had suffered dearly. Among the allies the French Army defending once again their homeland had been bled white. This battle of attrition was based on the general assumption of the German General Staff was promoted with the reasoning that while the German forces would suffer, the cream French manpower would in fact suffer more. During 1917 there occured in French Army a mutiny in the ranks. this mutiny (really more than one) started just after the conclusion of the disastrous Second Battle of the Aisne, the main action in the Nivelle Offensive, and involved, to various degrees, nearly half of the French infantry divisions stationed on the western front. These mutinies so embarrassed France that they have remained unknown until 1967 and 1983. the full and complete archive will not be opened until 2017 fully 100 years after the event. So secret were the mutinies that neither the Germans or the Allies ever knew. However for the remainder of 1917 there were no further French offensives on the western front. The great loss of the flower of French manhood would have a dire effect in the next war.

Into this back drop we find out that 5 men have been sentenced to death for inflicting upon themselves non-deadly wounds. They are transported to the most dangerous part of the lines and cast into no-mans-land to be shelled by their own artillery. These hachés(1)are entirely anecdotal(2) and the true story will be discovered and told only in 2017. Their guilt, which is never in doubt, is the product of by what would now be termed PTSD(3) but then was merely declared cowardice or shell shock. (Do not watch this youtube if you have a weak constitution.)

The rest of the film centers around Mathilde Donnay (Audrey Tautou) searching for her lost loved one Manech (Gaspard Ulliel). Her touching portrayal of a heartsick young woman accurately shows the emotion which is felt by any wife, or sweetheart who has faced this situation and is remarkably well played. She never gave up hope.(4) It is a story of indomitable courage and relentless search.

This is a good movie, and I would recommend it. It is absolutely not for children. The scenes of battle are just too graphic for children. War is a terrible thing, and in this film the hopelessness of it is palatable. One can not portray the First World War in a light which does not make a profound statement on the utter foolishness of war. The film incorporates many true instances, and some apocryphal instances, for example the explosion at the balloon hanger being used as an hospital is a supposedly true yet I can not find a reference for it. The uniforms and period clothes are correct. The cast and director and crew developed a very realistic film. One thing which is notably absent however is prayer. Perhaps, I live in a different time and place, but I know that my family and friends prayed for me ceaselessly. One would expect that in a Catholic France some mention would be made of the Grace of God. If there is one thing I do know it is that no one is an atheist in a trench. or in the home of a waiting wife, mother or sweetheart.


(1)Cut to pieces
(2)Horne, Alastair,
The Price of Glory, page 324 St. Martin's Press, London, 1963; (reissue) Paperback ed. Penguin, 1994
(3) Post Traumatic Shock Disorder for a discription of the symptoms go
here to PubMed Health.
(4) During the late War in the Gulf 1990-1991 my ship the
USS Iwo Jima was involved in a major explosion in Bahrain. My wife, A Navy Hospital Corpsman, (HM2) at the time was driving to the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, NC, heard about the explosion on the news. 10 men were killed and the thoughts that raced through her mind could only be imagined. The photo in the link is the USS Iwo Jima with my squadron embarked. It was several hours before I reached her on the phone for her to hear my voice. During the First World War a phone call would never had happened.

Priest says he tries to be true liberal

“The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their sign posts." – St. John Chrysostom

Reprinted from the Catholic Virginian, "Letters" February 21, 2011 edition.

Thank you so much for your article concerning the Latin Mass in Appomattox (Feb. 7 issue). I would just like to pass on my perspective as priest and pastoral person.

As one of my teachers at Catholic University, Father Charles Curran, used to say, “We are a big church and there is room enough for everybody.”

In my early years as a priest in Virginia Beach, Father Bill Dale, my wonderful mentor, created a space at Church of the Ascension for a reformed Jewish community called Beth Chaverim in the 1980s and 1990s. A Hindu community also needed a place to meet so they met in the upstairs from the commons.

My own theology embraces liturgical dance (prayerful movement), lay men and women leading prayer and giving reflections in appropriate circumstances. While the Latin Mass is not my personal piety, I believe that those with such piety have a right to practice their way of being close to the Lord.

I try to be a true liberal, that is, not just allowing for my post Vatican II practices, but those practices which may be different from my own.

It is most important that we pray that Christ will always find room in our hearts.

Fr. James Gallagher
Our Lady of Peace, Appomattox

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Dieu aide l'Eglise,