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Thursday, November 1, 2007

All Saints and St. Therese and St. Thomas


Next to the Blessed Mother, my favorite female Saint is St. Therese of Lisieux. A church nearby me has her as their patron. I went to the latest of the three morning Masses over there and it turned out to be largely attended by the children of the school attached to the parochial school. Father was very charming with them, asking them questions throughout his sermon: how do people get to be saints, etc. The older kids did the readings and petitions, and there was a nice children's choir. The adults and father were very much bemused that when the recessional hymn was announced, about thirty or so of the youngest children broke out with a hearty "YEAAAA!!!" As the grownups soon learned, that particular hymn features some rhythmic clapping. I must say they were all very well behaved during the Mass.

My favorite male saint is St. Thomas More. Of the two of them I have an easier time of imitating Thomas all around. Usually, when people visit churches, you can find something to like about them. The church pictured below, gives lie to that general truism.

St. Peter ad Vincula in London

It's still the active parish church used by C of E Beefeaters at the Tower of London. A more clinically cold church I've never been in. It holds the remains, sans heads of St. Thomas, and Henry VIII's beheaded wives. Many others including the remains of St. John Fisher lie buried beneath the floor - flung into a common pit. This is not a place I'd like to be locked alone in at night. Talk about feeling as if you have had the breath sucked out of you.
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13 comments:

DigiHairshirt said...

I read that in the past, English Catholics have asked that they be allowed to hold a Catholic Mass over the grave site of two of Mother Church's greatest martyrs in that church. The Crown has always refused their requests. If the monarchy of England fell apart, I would light a bonfire in celebration.

BTW, St. Thomas More's head is with his beloved daughter, Margaret, and her husband, William Roper, at their family plot in Canterbury.

Hmmm . . . maybe it's time to embrace the British holiday of Guy Fawkes day!

gemoftheocean said...

Well, I guess for English Catholics Guy Fawkes Day might be a hard one to celebrate...given historically there was (and for all I know in the Ian Paisley parts of the UK) a fiar amount of "Down with the pope!" business going on. I knew that about Thomas's head. I remember a Beefeater telling us that he'd both recently been to both a wedding and a funeral in there. When you tour, you don't get a chance to stay in there very long, otherwise I'd have said a rosary.

gemoftheocean said...

Oh....I bet if Fr. "Speedy Gonzalez" Fromholtzer from my youth slipped in there, HE might be able to say a complete Tridentine Mass. HIS record was 17 minutes. Okay, I'll round up Father, and you find people who can ask long and involved questions. Our English priest bloggers might be of the mind to "ask permission." Any American would know its just easier to go ahead and surruptitiously DO IT, and forget about asking permission!

ArchAngel's Advocate said...

Gem, I had a Domincan pastor once told me that unless expressedly forbidden one could validly assume the permission...
I think Thomas & Co. would have problems with the Tridetine Mass as Trent was a full decade AFTER Thomas lost his head, but then Thomas was a scholar so had full command of Latin.

gemoftheocean said...

AA -- well, I suppose we could get a group together that claimed affinity with the Sarum Mass! Then we could whine like the LeFeb. people did and stamp our feet. May Il Papa would grant us an idult for a Mass for Thom and John.

tara said...

How freaky--any relic of Henry the VIII's--even his wives heads are relics I would not want to see! They may be infused with his horrible evil--if I was locked in alone at night--I would not fall asleep, but pray all night!

Adele said...

I visited that Church and one of the Beefeater let my friend and I go in to see the tombs. What a blessing. St Thomas is one of my favourites too. My favourite line in the Man for all Seasons is when he says something to the effect of (When Cardinal Woolsey? says that he would have made a fine cleric)...A cleric like you, your Grace. Perfect!!!

Adele said...

Karen, Did you see last night's episode of Life on the Rock. Distressing, please pray. I have a post about it on our blog. God bless,

gemoftheocean said...

Hi Adele - I don't get to watch too much prime time TV, as that as usually when I'm working - i.e. in the evenings. Fri. evenings I'm off.

Tara, no worries - you don't see any heads or anything. All that stuff is UNDER the floor. (But even knowing something like that is down there is creepy enough.)

I must say that the first time we went to Europe (in my case, Italy) I was surprised to find that people are not infrequently buried IN the churches under the floor - very unusual in the United states, as a rule of thumb. One exception I can think of is the San Diego Mission parish (and I expect a number of our California missions - which were originally built when the Spanish controlled the area) - Fr. Luis Jayme, a martyr, is buried in the sanctuary. [2 native Americans incited about 800 Indians to pillage the church and kill Fr. Jayme in Nov. of 1775) You can read about that here

I like the Scofield version of MAN for ALL SEASONS - but I really wish I could find the alternate version where there is an "everyman" character who plays all the bit parts. I can't seem to find it, or even reference to it for love or money. If anyone knows - let me know!

Fr John Boyle said...

You tourists get to see places native Londoners never visit. Perhaps I was there in my childhood - I remember going to the Tower with the school. It' so d**n expessive! Well, maybe I ought to go and pay and do a pilgrimage.

I've been to the Church of St Dunstan's in Canterbury where the Roper vault is. You can't go down though! You can find more here.

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. John - typical that you don't see the things in your own city. I've lived here for 36 years and still haven't been to the Wild Animal Park. But I have seen Churchill's War Cabinet Rooms! Sometimes it's fun to "play tourist" in your home town. I've been to the Tower of London a few times. The anglophones aren't the only guilty parties. Once when we were in Paris, my mom and I made a point to see the little memorial behind Notre Dame dedicated to the WWII deportees. It was a relatively new memorial at the time - but a French friend of mine hadn't heard about it. I do remember a really nice place in the Tower of London "complex?" that I did find especially nice. There was a chapel where men who were to be knighted spent the night in prayer before their investiture. Great link. Fr. Owl had a nice post this past summer about his visit to Hendred House. -- Relatives of More who have a number of relics including a drinking cup of St. Thomas.

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I hope our martyrs are praying hard for us now.
My family were on the perifery of the 'Gunpowder plot' as they worked for a family in the thick of it.
Sometimes I am tempted to start a family tradition of blowing up the houses of Parliament...ah such dreams.

My favourite line in A Man For All Seasons is when St Thomas turns to Rich and says "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul-but for Wales!"
Sorry, I know that's a bit naughty.

gemoftheocean said...

ROTFL!! WSNS....you have NO idea how close I was to posting that was MY favorite line from MFAS's too. Then I thought...but what if I have a few readers who are from Wales ....they might take it the wrong way. It was the *tone* in Scofield's voice when he said that.

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