Friday, 30 November 2012

English identity is rooted in the Catholic Church

An interesting article in L'Osservatore Romano reflects on how deeply the Catholic roots run in the English nation. The rejection of Catholicism by the protestant revolt, resulted in a new type of Englishman who corrupted and/or rejected the 1000 odd years that had formed the nation. Great heros were still venerated, but their Catholicism was hushed up or denied (e.g. Alfred the Great, St. Thomas... secular figures such as Shakespeare and so on).  Even card carrying Anglicans of early years (e.g. Marvell etc.) were so imbued with Catholicism, that when we read them, we find it hard to believe that they were anything but. In light of the collapse of the Church of England, it is unimaginable that these good souls would have - if alive today - remained with this now bizarre sect. For all the suppression and persecution, Catholicism remained. 

In the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, not far from St Peter’s Basilica, is preserved an image of the ‘Madonna of Ine’, the gift of an eighth century king of England who founded a Saxon hostel, ancestor of the English hospice in Rome which this year celebrates its 650th anniversary. The image is early testimony to an English Catholic tradition that was to flower in the Middle Ages in art, literature and music, marking the intellectual and geographical landscape of England with Cathedrals, Universities and Abbeys, and connecting it firmly to the traditions of the Western Church.
Another image in Rome, in the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury in the Via di Monserrato, depicts student priests being tortured and executed for their Catholic faith. No details are spared, but in case of doubt the image is annotated with names, dates, and method of execution. This is the other side of the English Catholic tradition; exclusion, persecution – and ultimately martyrdom.

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