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St George Paolo Uccello Musee Andre Jacquemart Paris

The painting above is by Paolo Uccello and can be viewed at the Musée André Jacquemart in Paris. You can read more about it and the legend it depicts here.

St George‘s Day is April 23, but you’d never know it in most parts of England.

Saturday came and went, as have other St George’s Days. This year it seemed as if only GB News and the Conservative Party remembered our patron saint.

On Friday, April 22, Patrick Christys had harsh words for self-loathing Englishmen. His is an excellent editorial. Not surprisingly, he got a lot of nasty comments:

Red Wall MP Brendan Clarke-Smith of Bassetlaw started Saturday with a happy greeting:

On Saturday afternoon, GB News’s Nana Akua said she is proud to be English. She also pointed out that Britons seem to know the date of all the UK’s patron saints’ feast days except for St George’s. How true. Hers was also an excellent editorial. Fortunately, she got a lot of compliments:

That evening, Neil ‘The Coast Guy’ Oliver, a Scot, discussed the overall malaise that the British have over their nationality:

Why this is I cannot figure out, but it’s been around for decades. I encountered it when I first moved here. It’s a pernicious disgrace that gets worse by the year.

Excerpts of Oliver’s editorial follow, emphases mine:

Personally, I’ve had more than enough of the message.

It is no accident that our past, our shared past, is being used as the stick with which to beat us. To seek to do as much is a well-worn tactic. If a people can be made ashamed of the figures from their past – those who, by their efforts and endeavours, brought us to where we are today – then the moral legitimacy of the present is undermined and then destroyed. It is in this way that those of us who take pride in Britain and Britishness are made to keep our heads down and to shut up.

Today is St George’s Day, of course. St George, patron saint of England, was from territory we know now as Turkey. He died in Palestine and is also the patron saint chosen by the people of Georgia, the Lithuanians, the Maltese, the Portuguese and the Venetians.

He was a Christian martyr but most clearly he stands for the necessity to face adversity in defence of the innocent and helpless. Symbols matter, and as a symbol, George is a good one. I like to see all of the patron saints remembered and celebrated – Andrew, Patrick and David too.

I am a Scot, but a British Scot. I have said this many times and I will keep on saying it. Because it is the whole of Britain that I love most dearly of all. It is all one place to me, united and made whole by a history that is deep beyond the reach of memory. Long before there was an England, or a Scotland, or a Wales there was a long island called Britain, or at least a name that sounded a lot like Britain.

Few places have histories longer than ours, histories as rich and complex. This has been a consequence of how much our predecessors achieved. Few nations even attempted to reach so far around the world. British history is long and convoluted on account of how much was accomplished. There is no denying the dynamism of Britain and the British. That those who went before us did so much to shape the modern world means our history is, inevitably, riven with good and with bad – with achievements and with mistakes. So much has been done in our name. And there has, let us not forget, long been a substantial and necessary body of opinion heartily and enthusiastically criticising our own past behaviour. This has been appropriate, but it is worth pointing out that we were rightly critical of ourselves long before the present campaign to tear the old place down in its entirety.

More by luck than good judgment, and mostly by means of the magic carpet provided by making television, I have seen a great deal of Britain. I have been around the coast many times. I have been back and forth across the interior. I have seen the landscape from the sky, from the cockpit of fighter jets, vintage biplanes and microlights. I have been on its encircling waters in kayaks, battleships and just about anything in between that floats, and under its waters in scuba gear and a nuclear submarine.

I have had a thorough look around. Long before the end I realised it was all one place, that the national borders drawn across it had no meaning for me and were invisible anyway.

I love this place. But I also believe in it

Those whose agenda it is to run down Britain want nothing less than that it might cease to exist in any recognisable form, so that it might be replaced with something utterly different. It’s worth noting that those those who demand a national apology from Britain, are not in the business of accepting apologies and moving on. To apologise to those who hate what Britain has been is only to offer our throats to the wolf.

As well as the place, I love the people of Britain. In my travels around the place, I have experienced nothing but welcome – in England, Ireland, Wales and at home in Scotland. The British people I love are those whose voices have been silenced and ignored of late – those who want only to go honestly about their business, paying their dues and trying to make something good of themselves and of the patch of the world in which they live. That Britain has fostered people like those – millions of them, silent witnesses all – is, on its own, the justification for the continued celebration of Britain.

Every day I meet people like that – unsung and, most recently, told that they are products of something innately bad, that they need to feel ashamed of themselves and of their sense of themselves.

The world plainly needs Britain – or at least the idea of Britain. Every day now, more and more people arrive on our shores – invited and uninvited. Britain is still a bright light in a darkening world and attracts those who can see a better life is available for the taking here. In fact, Britain is so strong at heart that she even weathers the incompetent leadership with which she is burdened from time to time.

In order to love someone, or someplace, completely, it is necessary to accept the good and the bad. I love this place – and in loving it I accept our history is shot through with dark as well as light. The time for crawling on our knees to those unforgiving individuals and organisations that seek only to punish, without any hope of redemption, is past.

Let’s lift up our chins and look the rest of the world straight in the eye, as is our right, and our hard won inheritance from the ancestors.

Well said!

About 20 years ago, there was an informal online campaign to get a new patron saint for England. Why? What is wrong with St George? These were left-leaning individuals politically. Ironically, they said that George wasn’t ‘English enough’. They took issue with his Turkishness. Most strange.

On Sunday morning, The Political Correction had on Dr Gavin Ashenden, who used to be one of the Queen’s chaplains. He has since become a Roman Catholic and is a layman.

He told presenter (and former politician) Arlene Foster that England’s original patron saint was St Edmund, king and martyr.

He was England’s patron saint until the 14th century and died defending the English people valiantly from the Vikings.

However, around the time that the Royal Family instituted the Order of the Garter, they were looking for another saint, for whatever reason.

St George was chosen, he said, for his chivalric virtues. Ashenden explained that the dragon is a symbol for evil. The devil is depicted as a dragon in Revelation. Therefore, through his brave, virtuous life of faith, George was slaying evil in a way. George died a martyr under Diocletian.

Ashenden said the fact that George was from Anatolia was immaterial. It was his bravery, character and faith that the English loved.

Ashenden said that people took Christianity very seriously in the Middle Ages. They loved God and they respected the law, which they considered was God-given through their rulers.

He added that one of the popes of that era reduced violence and war by decreeing that battle could take place only on days when no prominent saint’s day was celebrated. At the time, holy days comprised about 30 per cent of the year. What a great idea that was. We should devise something similar today.

You can see Dr Ashenden’s interview on his website. The first segment is about St George and is around four minutes long.

Incidentally, April 23 is also Shakespeare’s birthday.

Happy St Valentine’s Day to all my readers!

The traditions behind this day go back millenia. During pagan times, it was called Lupercalia and took place on February 15. It is thought that Pope Gelasius I turned the event into a Christian feast day in the fifth century, assigning it to St Valentine. However, Gelasius is better known for giving the Church the feast of Candlemas, February 2, encouraging a devotion to Mary. Incidentally, the Latin word Febrare, from which we derive February, means ‘to purify’. Read more about the history of February 14 here.

There is also the question of which St Valentine is remembered. All three lived during Roman times and were connected with love and marriage. As such, in 1969, the Catholic Church dropped the feast day, but parts of the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church remember the saint on February 14. Read more about the three Valentines and romantic traditions that developed through the centuries here.

For many, February 14 is either a day of joy or one of dread.

For those who do not have someone special with whom to celebrate, this year, The Times has an article about the application of the Drake Formula, used in seeking alien life (!), to romance.

It says, in part (emphases mine):

The quest to find intelligent life out there can feel hopeless. You can search for years without any progress.

Yes, searching for a viable romantic date has a lot in common with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence …

As with rocky exoplanets, so with girlfriends. Love interests have to live close, be of the right gender, attractive to you and — crucially — attracted to you in turn. Drake calculated that perhaps 1 in 200,000 star systems contained contactable alien civilisations.

The adapted formula is based on an idea by Peter Backus, now at Manchester University. In a paper titled, Why I Don’t Have a Girlfriend: An Application of the Drake Equation to Love in the UK, Backus tweaked the original variables.

The rate of star formation became the birth rate, while the other variables sought to narrow down that number to women in his city and age range.

Backus concluded his odds of finding love were infinitesimal.

However, Steven Wooding, a member of the Institute of Physics who works for Omni Calculator, said:

… that there is hope. “The problem with the Drake equation and aliens is there is a lot of uncertainty in those numbers. Whereas we definitely know people fall in love.”

Incidentally, Backus himself is happily married. He told The Times:

My love life is actually great. I am married to the loveliest, smartest, most gorgeous person I know.

Good for him!

But what if someone has a sweetheart who doesn’t fit their ‘type’? Is that person Ms or Mr Right?

The Telegraph says that some seemingly improbable couples can — and do — truly love each other:

The flight of Cupid’s arrow is notoriously unpredictable. Sometimes people fall in love with the boy (or girl) next door. Sometimes mutual friends set us up, with varying degrees of subtlety and success. But sometimes people fall for another human being who seems to be not only not their “type”, but from a different planet altogether. The eyes meet, the arrow hits home. It will never last, friends say. But sometimes it does

Clearly, fundamental differences in personality, lifestyle or upbringing don’t need to stand in the way of happiness, even if dating algorithms would never match you. One in every 10 UK couples identifies as intercultural and, according to the 2001-11 Census, one to two per cent of all UK marriages are interfaith.

“We’re drawn towards certain individuals, almost as if we’ve known them our whole lives,” says psychotherapist Malcolm Stern, author of Slay Your Dragons with Compassion. “It’s that easy dialogue that happens between you the second you meet that creates an instant connection. Somehow you just click.”

Of course, where there are profound cultural and religious differences, or a large age gap, opposition from family members, or society in general can give a certain “us against the world” feeling. Research shows that the average age difference for UK couples is between three and five years. But there are long-term marriages where the divide is greater. Somehow these marriages do work …

If you make each other happy, who’s to say what’s right or wrong in love? …

As with all major choices in life, one has to be discerning as a potentially serious relationship develops:

If you have a similar outlook, there’s a good chance your love will endure. But if you have markedly different personalities, a recent study found that while opposites may attract at first, after a while they may well start attacking each other, with differences leading to frustration and animosity.

Psychologist Edward Waring found that self-disclosure is the way to build intimacy between couples who seem incompatible, in order to discover what values, beliefs, and personality traits they share and to reveal what really matters to them. According to the Association for Psychological Science, chemistry emerges from interactions and encompasses the feeling that a relationship is special and different from other ones.

The Telegraph‘s article gives us profiles of four successful couples who come from different backgrounds. I wish them well.

For those who got engaged at the most romantic time of the year, the question of what sort of wedding to have looms large.

This year, a few articles appeared in the British press advising against lavish ‘Bridezilla’ festivities. Personally, I find such displays rather vulgar.

The Telegraph has a cautionary article on the subject: ‘Marriage rests on shaky ground when the wedding itself is the big event’.

Columnist Jane Shilling warns against ostentation:

the influence of celebrity, both in selling product and framing modern mores, has led to a steady normalisation of weddings as extravagant displays of that most perishable of commodities, romance, rather than the solemnisation of a relationship intended to last a lifetime.

I couldn’t agree more.

However, can the type of wedding one has predict success or failure in marriage?

Not really.

Things can go either way.

Celebrity-type weddings can sometimes be ill-fated:

… the Marriage Foundation, a charity dedicated to promoting the advantages of marriage, sounds a cautionary note. A survey commissioned by the Foundation found that weddings costing more than £20,000 were twice as likely to end in divorce than more modest ceremonies.

On the other hand, a modest celebration does not guarantee success in marriage:

Frugality apparently offers no sounder footing for a durable partnership: the survey found that almost a third of weddings attended by fewer than 10 guests ended in divorce.

My advice for those who are single? First, don’t give up on love. Secondly, marry your best friend. Thirdly, be sensible: make sure one of you can cook from scratch. As the old American saying goes: kissin’ don’t last; cookin’ do.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, despite the circumstances in various countries this year.

May I wish those who observe it in the UK and the Commonwealth a happy Boxing Day.

In Ireland, December 26 is observed as St Stephen’s Day.

You can read a history of both Boxing Day and St Stephen’s Day below:

Boxing Day – a history

St Stephen was the Church’s first martyr. His trial and death comprise Acts 7. Some might be surprised to find in the first few verses of Acts 8 that Saul of Tarsus — later St Paul the Apostle — was instrumental in Stephen’s death.

This post has two interesting videos about Stephen’s life and the example he has set for all Christians:

St Stephen, the first martyr

The next post has expositions from Acts 7 and Acts 8:1-3 about Stephen’s final hours. The post also explains the charity that made Boxing Day a long standing tradition. It ends with an exploration of the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas about the Bohemian monarch’s dispensing charity ‘on the feast of Stephen’ in severe winter weather as well as the his alarming martyrdom:

December 26 — St Stephen’s Day, Boxing Day and more

I plan to post again on Christmas on Sunday. Monday is a public holiday here in the UK and Ireland because Boxing/St Stephen’s Day falls on a Saturday. The last time this happened was in 2015. Being able to extend Christmas is always a bonus.

December 13 is the feast day of St Lucy, virgin and martyr:

St Lucy led a short but courageous life. The story of her martrydom in the fourth century spread quickly throughout Europe, from her native Italy to England and Sweden.

Sweden still has the best commemorations and celebrations of this young martyr’s feast day. Before the Gregorian calendar was established, December 13 was the shortest day of the year. As the name Lucy comes from the Latin lux, or light, a young Swedish woman represents the saint and her symbolism by wearing a wreath of lit candles on her head:

This year, December 13 also happens to be Gaudete Sunday, the Advent Sunday of rejoicing at the prospect of Christ’s birth:

St Lucy’s story appears in the fifth century book, Acts of the Martyrs.

Lucy was born to nobility in 283 in Syracuse, Sicily. She died in 304.

Her father, a Roman, died when she was five years old. Her mother, Eutychia, was likely to have been Greek, given her name.

Eutychia never remarried after her husband died. She was also in poor health, suffering from a bleeding disorder.

Lucy devoted herself to the Lord and made a silent vow of chastity. Eutychia was unaware of this and, for her daughter’s future security, arranged for her to marry a pagan nobleman.

Meanwhile, Eutychia was urged to seek a cure at the shrine of St Agatha, who had been martyred five decades before. Her shrine was in Catania, 50 miles from Syracuse. Mother and daughter made the pilgrimage together.

While there, it is said that St Agatha appeared to Lucy in a dream. St Agatha told the young woman that her mother would be cured and that Lucy would be the glory of not only Syracuse but also Catania.

Once Eutychia was cured, Lucy encouraged her to give their wealth and possessions to the poor.

When Lucy’s betrothed discovered the news, he was furious. He went to Paschasius, the Governor of Syracuse, and denounced her.

Paschasius ordered Lucy to burn a sacrifice to the emperor’s image, but she refused.

Paschasius then ordered her to be defiled in a brothel.

When the guards came to take Lucy away, her body had miraculously become too heavy to move. The guards tried to burn her body by heaping wood on her and setting it alight. However, the wood would not ignite.

Lucy died only when a guard thrust a sword into her throat.

Lucy is often seen holding her eyes or with her eyes on a salver. This part of her story did not enter her biographical details until the 15th century. There are two versions of what happened to Lucy’s eyes. One says that she made various predictions to Paschasius about the Roman emperors that angered him such that he ordered that her eyes be gouged out. The other version says that Lucy gouged out her own eyes in order to discourage a persistent suitor who admired them.

Whether the story about the eyes is true, St Lucy is the patron saint of those suffering from eye disorders, especially the blind.

Her relics were sent throughout Europe and are resident in a few important churches. Most of these churches are in Italy, but others are in France, Germany and Sweden.

St Lucy is also the patron saint of Syracuse, of those with bleeding disorders or throat infections as well as of authors, cutlers, glaziers, laborers, martyrs, peasants, saddlers, salesmen, stained glass workers, and of Perugia, Italy.

Her feast day is commemorated not only in the Roman Catholic Church but also in the Anglican and Lutheran Churches.

Source: Wikipedia

Forbidden Bible Verses will appear tomorrow.

Greetings and best wishes to all of those who plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special someone.

There really was a Saint Valentine who inspired this special day of love. Actually, there were three. Read more about about Valentine of Rome, Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Genoa below:

A bit of history about Valentine’s Day

This next post describes how Valentine’s Day evolved through the ages:

More history about Valentine’s Day

I hope that everyone celebrating this day dedicated to love has a wonderful time.

Jacob Rees-Mogg is the Leader of the House of Commons and a prominent Roman Catholic.

I will post more about him in due course. He is a kind and gentle man as well as a principled politician. His wife and children are blessed to have him as husband and father, respectively.

On Sunday, October 13, 2019, The Express published an article of his about the canonisation of St John Newman, which took place that day.

Excerpts from ‘The canonisation of a new British saint is a historic moment, says JACOB REES-MOGG’ follow, emphases mine.

The most historic fact is that St John Newman is the first British saint since 1401 who did not die as a martyr:

The last one was John of Bridlington, in 1401.

Rees-Mogg explains that, prior to the Reformation, nearly everyone in England revered the saints, although sometimes became angry with them. He offers the Catholic perception of sainthood:

Almost every individual would have had a particular saint to whom he or she prayed. Villages, towns, guilds – even the whole country – had saints who could be called upon. St George is the most famous now but St Edward the Confessor was much venerated, as were men such as St Thomas à Becket.

These saints would intercede for the individual or group, asking God to answer their prayers. They do not act individually but as a conduit between fallen Man and the inestimable divine.

It gives people a personal connection to God of an understandable and human kind, although in the Middle Ages the faithful sometimes took this a little far and could become cross if a saint’s intercession did not work. They might even throw the saint’s relics on to the floor

Not surprisingly, the Blessed Virgin is the most venerated and, historically, England had a particular devotion to her and was seen as “Our Lady’s Dowry”.

That said, the Prince of Wales, an Anglican, was among those who attended the canonisation ceremony at the Vatican.

Rees-Mogg tells us about John Newman’s life. He was the son of a banker and had a comfortable upbringing, yet one that involved Bible study at home:

Newman was born into a conventional Anglican family in 1801 where, as he said, he was “brought up from a child to take a great delight in reading the Bible”. This was a time before Catholic Emancipation, which came in 1829. When, aged just 16, he went to Trinity College, Oxford, it was not yet open to Catholics to study there.

He loved and was happy both at Trinity and later at Oriel College, where he became a fellow at the age of 21.

His incredible intellect led him to secular success and he won honour because of his spiritual virtue.

In the 19th century the Church of England was able to bring worldly as well as religious benefit to its leading figures. However Newman, after a period of intense struggle, gave all this up.

He had to resign his fellowship and office in the Church of England, which must have been especially difficult as it removed his income in middle age – as had happened to his own father when his bank had failed.

Rees-Mogg does not go into much detail about the years between 1822 and 1825, so here is a bit from the saint’s Wikipedia entry. Whilst at university, Newman was at the forefront of the Oxford Movement, which created High Church Anglicanism. The High Church revived pre-Reformation vestments and rituals. It was highly controversial at the time. Interestingly, Newman came to the Oxford Movement with strongly Calvinist leanings and held that the Pope was the Antichrist.

Newman’s father died in 1824, the same year that the young man was ordained an Anglican deacon at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford. The following year, he was ordained an Anglican priest in the same cathedral. His first assignment was as curate at St Clement’s Church in Oxford.

Then, between 1825 and 1847, through his work both as a clergyman and fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, supplemented by his own writing and study, which involved travels to southern Europe, especially Italy, he began to shift theologically. In 1839, he began thinking about leaving Oxford and setting up a religious community. In 1842, he and a few friends left the city for the nearby town of Littlemore. They acquired a set of buildings in town and lived semi-monastic lives, writing and studying. The buildings later became Newman College.

In 1843, Newman took out an ad in the Oxford Conservative Journal, publishing an anonymous statement in which he renounced everything negative he had ever pronounced against the Catholic Church.

In 1845, he was received into the Catholic Church by an Italian priest in a rite held at Littlemore.

In 1846, Newman went to Rome. There he was ordained a Catholic priest, and Pius IX awarded him a Doctor of Divinity degree.

In 1847, Newman returned to England as part of the Oratorian community. He is responsible for founding the famous London Oratory as well as the Oratory in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, in the Midlands.

Newman lost many friends and family members from his immediate circle during these years.

Rees-Mogg offers this succinct summary of Newman’s conversion:

Newman’s conversion was not led by any hostility towards the Anglican Church. He argued for as long as he could that it was essentially Catholic, even maintaining that the Thirty-­Nine Articles, a famously Protestant declaration, were not incompat­ible with Catholicism.

However, in the end his studies on the Ancient Church led him to the conviction that “in speaking against the Church of Rome I may be speaking against the Holy Ghost”. This effectively forced him to con­ vert, regardless of the risk to friendship, finances and status.

Once Newman had converted he was freer to devote himself to elucidating and propagating the Faith.

As for the two Oratories:

The success today of the Brompton Oratory, which is full every weekend and benefits from many vocations, derives from Cardinal Newman, whose first Oratory was at Birmingham. This continu­ing benefit of his work shows how the lives of the saints influence others for genera­tions. Newman spent his life searching for the truth and wanted to help others to find it too.

Rees-Mogg has this to say about saints and miracles:

Newman’s canonisation requires two authenticated miracles as proof of his sanc­tity. The first was that through his interces­sion, a man was cured of a spinal disease and the second a woman was healed of unstoppable bleeding.

Miracles are not caused by a saint but because a saint asks God to use His power.

Many people, even Christians, mock belief in miracles but, as Newman said, to anyone who can accept the most stupen­dous of all miracles – the Incarnation and Resurrection – lesser, almost minor mira­cles are easy to believe in.

Not surprisingly, a lot of hostile comments about Catholic belief followed Rees-Mogg’s article.

I offer this article partly for information and partly because my late mother, a lifelong Catholic, had always hoped that John Cardinal Newman would be canonised one day. That day has now arrived.

The following video was made in 2014, but I saw it for the first time last week.

Leonora Hamill filmed this stag, named Chambord, in the Church of Saint-Eustache in Paris, which held Easter Day services for the parishioners of Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was devastated by fire during Holy Week on April 15, 2019.

Look how beautifully the stag blends into its surroundings:

It has a respectful look round the altar before leaving.

This is a sublime blending of God’s creation and His gift of aesthetics to mankind.

Some who have seen it recall the pagan deer deity Cernunnos, but, according to the YouTube comments, Ms Hamill filmed it to promote the Church of Saint-Eustache, located near Les Halles in the French capital. It is a church, by the way, and not a cathedral.

It is no coincidence that she chose a deer, as Saint Eustache — or Eustace, in English — was a Roman general named Placidus who saw a vision of a crucifix between a deer’s antlers. This was in the second century AD.

Upon seeing the vision of the deer with the crucifix between his antlers, Placidus changed his name to Eustace, which means ‘upstanding’ and ‘steadfast’.

Eustace wasted no time in converting his family and all were baptised.

Then, they underwent a series of dramatic trials of faith that were reminiscent of Job’s. According to Wikipedia (emphases mine):

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea-voyage, the ship’s captain kidnapped Eustace’s wife Theopista; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons Agapius and Theopistus, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith.

Although God restored his social standing and reunited him with his family, he died as a martyr for the faith in 118, when he refused to offer a pagan sacrifice:

There is a tradition that when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor Hadrian condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox,[5] in the year AD 118.

He was part of the General Roman Calendar of saints until 1970, when he was removed from the list, presumably because his life’s story could not be fully authenticated.

Nonetheless, after his death he was venerated in many countries across Europe. He still is today in several of them and, fortunately, remains listed in the Roman Martyrology.

St Eustace is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, as is St Blaise. The list of the Fourteen Holy Helpers was devised in Germany during the Black Death in the 14th century. People sought their intercession in times of need. St Eustace was the healer of family troubles. The Catholic Church unceremoniously dumped several of the individual feasts of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in 1969, although Catherine of Alexandria’s optional feast day of November 25 was reinstated in 2004, possibly because Joan of Arc was said to have heard the saint’s voice.

Other individual feasts days of the Fourteen Holy Helpers were dropped, such as those of Saints Christopher, Barbara and Margaret of Antioch.

Back now to Eustace, who is also the patron saint of hunters, firefighters and anyone facing adversity. His feast day is September 20.

There was another saint who had a similar vision of a deer. His name was Hubertus, or Hubert. He lived near Liège and was the eldest son of Bertrand, the Duke of Aquitaine. Hubert was born in 656. Although he was an agreeable character, he loved hunting. He loved it so much that, one Good Friday morning, while everyone went to church, he went hunting.

According to the legend, recounted by Wikipedia:

As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”. Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”

Lambert was the Bishop of Maastricht at the time. Lambert was later canonised, as was Hubert.

Lambert became Hubert’s spiritual director, and the young nobleman renounced his title, gave his worldly goods to the poor, studied for ordination and made his younger brother Odo guardian of his infant son Floribert.

Sadly, Lambert was assassinated and died as a martyr. Hubert brought his mentor’s remains to Liège in great ecclesiastical pomp and circumstance.

One could say that Hubert put Liège on the world map. It was only a small village when he had Lambert’s remains brought there. Not long afterwards, it grew in prominence. Today, it is a renowned city. St Lambert is its patron and St Hubert is considered its founder and was its first bishop.

St Hubert’s feast day is May 30. He died on that day in 727 or 728.

His legacy, in addition to increasing Liège’s prominence, involves God. Hubert evangelised passionately to the pagans of the Ardennes region at the time. He also developed a set of ethics for hunting animals humanely, standards which are still used today among French huntsmen, who venerate him annually during a special ceremony.

His feast day is November 3. He is one of the Four Holy Marshals, another group of saints that also was venerated in the Rhineland. He is the patron saint of those involved in hunting as well as forest workers, trappers, mathematicans, metal workers and smelters. A few ancient chivalrous orders also bear his name.

In closing, those familiar with the German digestif Jägermeister should know that the drink’s logo refers to Eustace and Hubert’s respective visions:

I wonder if that label has ever converted anyone. It would be nice to think so.

July 24 is the feast day of St Boris, a mediaeval Slavic martyr who died for the faith with his brother (or half-brother) Gleb early in the 11th century.

Boris Johnson became Britain’s next Prime Minister on July 24. Let us hope that the association of PM and saint bodes well.

A number of resignations took place prior to his becoming PM.

One was in the Conservative Party …

… other resignations took place in government:

Guido Fawkes says there ‘will be more’ (red and italics in the original):

Officially resigned:

    • Alan Duncan
    • Anne Milton
    • Rory Stewart
    • Philip Hammond
    • David Gauke

There will be more…

And so there were.

This is good. These people were never really on board with Brexit, especially a no deal departure.

Guido was correct in his prediction. David Lidington, the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, was the next to tender his resignation:

The second tweet below is interesting. One wonders what he means by ‘relishing the prospect of … speaking freely’:

More followed:

Mordaunt tweeted:

There were more resignations, including that of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond:

Savid Javid succeeds Hammond:

Boris wants to make his Cabinet all-inclusive. He has appointed a female Brexiteer as Home Secretary:

If we want to talk about diversity:

Ex-Labour member — and former actress/Labour MP Glenda Jackson‘s son — tweeted:

Also:

Continuing with the resignations:

Boris’s opponent for Conservative leader is also leaving government:

The Education Secretary has also left:

From this, we can conclude that Boris wishes to wipe a long-standing Conservative cabinet clean:

I repeat: this is likely to be good news.

Since July 23, the day he became Conservative Party leader, Boris has been busy putting his team together. It will be comprised of both Leavers and Remainers in an effort to promote national unity. I hope it works. He has a working majority of just two MPs at present.

That day, Guido Fawkes reported:

Former dairy farmer, MP since 2010, and whip since 2017 Mark Spencer has been confirmed as the first appointment Boris will make to his Cabinet when he become Prime Minister tomorrow. Spencer will take on the unenviable brief of Chief Whip …

Sky’s Chief Financial Officer Andrew Griffith has been appointed as a corporate adviser, while May’s Principal Private Secretary Peter Hill is resigning and will be replaced by Boris’s own choice of civil servant …

David Frost is reportedly joining Boris’s team in the Olly Robbins role – Frost is the CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and was previously Boris’ SpAd and the boss of the Scotch Whisky Association. The LCCI have arguably been the most pragmatic industry group towards Brexit under his tenure, it’s definitely a boost for Brexit…

SpAd is ‘special adviser’.

But what has really set the cat amongst the pigeons is the appointment of Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings as senior adviser. Remainers are furious:

More to come soon.

stdunstanDo you ever wonder about the origin of displaying ‘lucky’ horseshoes near a door?

I always thought it was pagan superstition.

However, the origin lies in a legend about St Dunstan — whose feast day is on May 19 — and the devil.

St Dunstan’s two encounters with the devil are said to have taken place in Mayfield, East Sussex. VillageNet has a detailed description of Mayfield’s history, including the legends about Dunstan (emphases mine):

The saint, formerly a blacksmith, was working at his forge when the Devil paid him a visit, disguised as a beautiful woman, with a view to leading him astray. However St Dunstan spotted the cloven hooves beneath the dress, and grabbed the devil’s nose with his red hot pincers! thus foiling Satan’s evil intentions. According to another legend, Satan returned again as a weary traveller in need of a horseshoe, Dunstan saw through the disguise once again and beat the Devil until he pleaded for mercy, and swore never to enter any house with a horseshoe above the door.

St Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Atlanta has this variation on the legends:

He was the most popular saint in England for nearly two centuries, having gained fame for the many stories of his greatness, not least among which were those concerning his famed cunning in defeating the Devil.

English literature contains many references to him, for example in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and in this folk rhyme:



St Dunstan, as the story goes,
Once pull’d the devil by the nose
With red-hot tongs, which made him roar,
That he was heard three miles or more.

Another story relates how Dunstan nailed a horseshoe to the Devil’s hoof when he was asked to re-shoe the Devil’s horse. This caused the Devil great pain, and Dunstan only agreed to remove the shoe and release the Devil after he promised never to enter a place where a horseshoe is over the door. This is claimed as the origin of the lucky horseshoe.

In 1871, Edward G Flight wrote a humorous poem about the legends with accompanying text, which is equally amusing. The renowned George Cruikshank provided the illustrations (see one on the right, courtesy of CatholicSaints.Info). The Horse Shoe: The True Legend of Saint Dunstan and the Devil, Showing How the Horse-Shoe Came to Be a Charm Against Witchcraft is worth a look. Here is an excerpt of the text (emphases in the original):

To all good folk in Christendom to whom this instrument shall come the Devil sendeth greeting: Know ye that for himself and heirs said Devil covenants and declares, that never at morn or evening prayers at chapel church or meeting, never where concords of sweet sound sacred or social flow around or harmony is woo’d, nor where the Horse-Shoe meets his sight on land or sea by day or night on lowly sill or lofty pinnacle on bowsprit helm mast boom or binnacle, said Devil will intrude.

Flight’s work includes a letter from ‘a friend’ describing the virtues of the noble horse and how the horseshoe repels the devil (emphases mine):

… In proportion as they developed unblemished honour, with undaunted bravery, graceful bearing, and magnanimous generosity, were they deemed worthy to rank among Christendom’s bright chivalry.

The horse-shoe was, no doubt, regarded as typical of the noble qualities of its wearer. These being so hateful to the ugly, sly, intriguing, slandering, malevolent, ill-conditioned, pettifogging, pitiful arch-enemy, it might well be supposed that the mere apparition of that type would scare him away. To this supposition is ascribable the adoption of the horse-shoe, as an infallible charm against the visits of old Iniquity.”

The Drinks Business has a good page on St Dunstan and provides us with a more recent, although doubtful, story concerning the holy man and the devil. This, they say, was popular during the past two centuries. It concerns the frost that occurs in the West Country in England around St Dunstan’s feast day, May 19:

The tale was apparently particularly popular in Devon in the 19th and 20th centuries and goes thus.

Dunstan had bought some barley and made some beer, which he then hoped to sell for a good price. Seeing this the Devil appeared before him and offered to blight the local apple trees with frost (the tale is presumably set in Somerset, perhaps when Dunstan is Abbot of Glastonbury). This would ensure there was no cider and so drive demand for beer. Dunstan accepted the offer but stipulated that the frost should strike from the 17-19 May.

As stories go this comes close to blackening the good name of the saintly man who tweaked the Devil’s nose and the legend likely arose among disgruntled cidermakers who perhaps thought Dunstan wasn’t doing enough to protect their crop on his feast day.

The article also says that, because Dunstan was not only a blacksmith but also a silversmith and jeweller, the London Assay Office used to start its new hallmark year on his feast day:

He was, reputedly, a skilled blacksmith and jeweller and is generally venerated as a patron saint of smiths.

In his various roles as bishop and archbishop he worked hard to restore monastic life in England and reform the English church.

Dying in 988 he was canonised in 1029 and until Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in 1170 he was considered England’s favourite saint.

His association with silversmithing meant that for a good 600 years the London Assay Office hallmarks ran from 19 May (his feast day) to 18 May the following year. This was only changed in 1660 when Charles II moved it to his own birthday, 29 May.

What a fascinating history to a centuries-old legend about the lucky horseshoe.

This Tuesday of Easter Week is St George’s Day — April 23, 2019.

It is time the English reclaimed their patron saint’s feast day. Other countries are proud to celebrate this special day. How wonderful, therefore, to see a trend for St George’s Day on Twitter, which includes these delightful tweets:

On a contemplative note, the following are by two Catholics from the Archdiocese of Southwark in London:

Returning to Easter, conservative commentator Chuck Woolery’s witness for the faith gives pause for thought, as does the video in the first reply he received:

I also liked this reply to America’s First Lady’s Easter greetings (click on image link to see it in full):

On Easter Sunday, the Trumps attended a morning service at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach. The Daily Caller has photos, especially of First Lady Melania Trump.

While the Trumps posed for photo ops outside the church, back in Washington, things went less well for Robert Mueller, who was accosted by a reporter outside of St John’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC after worship.

I’m hardly a Mueller fan, but this is just plain wrong:

On Easter Monday, the Trumps hosted the traditional Easter Egg Roll at the White House:

This video shows the First Couple returning to the White House from Palm Beach on Sunday. The Easter Egg Roll event begins at 12:50:

Mrs Trump read to the children (fashion notes here) …

… as did Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, mother of four:

As ever, the day was packed with activities. On April 19, the White House announced:

First Lady Melania Trump and President Donald J. Trump invite this year’s Easter Egg Roll attendees to enjoy a variety of activities, including the time-honored Egg Roll and the Trump Administration’s Cards for Troops station. New to the Egg Roll this year: musical eggs and Be Best hopscotch. In recognition of the First Lady’s Be Best campaign, children will also have the opportunity to spread kindness by mailing postcards to anyone they choose – friends, family, members of the military – directly through a United States Postal Service mailbox that will be on the South grounds.

Over 30,000 attendees are expected to walk the historic south grounds of the White House, experiencing all the tradition and fun that comes with the White House Easter Egg Roll.

There were also egg hunts, egg and cookie decorating stations, the military bands, tennis court activities, and a chance for the children to meet costumed characters, such as the Easter Bunny:

Reading stations have been a big part of the Trump Easter Egg Rolls, with members of the president’s advisory team as well as the Cabinet. Imagine hearing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr. or Surgeon General Jerome Adams reading a book to a group of children. If past readers of previous years are anything to go by, they no doubt did exceptionally well.

Mrs Trump was delighted with the event and her many guests:

I am so pleased this went well and without incident.

Tomorrow’s post concerns a very sad subject: the attacks on Sri Lankan churches at Easter.

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