Sunday, April 27, 2014

SAINTED POPES | Two More, Video (Comment, Updated Feb. 12, 2016)

Olga receiving Communion from Pope
John Paul II in 1980. Nairobi, Kenya.
April 27, 2014–A CNN video of the canonizations of Pope John XIII and Pope John Paul II today is here. They are the 81st and 82nd sainted popes, and are #41 and #42 on the alphabetical list below.

(You may find, as I did, that the video is preceded by a bilingual advertisement, a blessedly short one, in which dogs are used to try to sell car insurance.  Sorry about that.)

The 82 popes who have been canonized represent 30.8 percent of the 266 elected to date by the College of Cardinals. The 82 are heavily weighted at the front end, including all of the first 35 and 52 out of the first 54. In addition to the 82 officially proclaimed saints–after facing an advocatus diaboli (Counsel for the Devil), who presents the negative aspects of each candidate–there remain 16 popes in, as it were, the pipeline having passed the first hurdle of beatification.

Here are the certified papal saints. As an alumnus of two Benedictine schools (Ampleforth and Portsmouth Abbeys), I was disappointed to see only one of 16 popes named after Benedict on the list, although the popes named after Gregory I (540-640) did well. Gregory was the first pope to come from a monastic background, to which he was supremely devoted. In the view of French-born Protestant reformer John Calvin (1509-1564), Gregory was the last good pope.
  1. Pope Adeodatus I
  2. Pope Adeodatus II
  3. Pope Adrian III
  4. Pope Agapetus I
  5. Pope Agatho
  6. Pope Alexander I
  7. Pope Anacletus
  8. Pope Anicetus
  9. Pope Anastasius I
  10. Pope Anterus
  11. Pope Benedict II
  12. Pope Boniface I
  13. Pope Boniface IV
  14. Pope Cause
  15. Pope Callixtus I
  16. Pope Celestine I
  17. Pope Celestine V
  18. Pope Clement I
  19. Pope Cornelius
  20. Pope Damasus I
  21. Pope Dionysius
  22. Pope Eleuterus
  23. Pope Eugene I
  24. Pope Eusebius
  25. Pope Eutychian
  26. Pope Evaristus
  27. Pope Fabian
  28. Pope Felix I
  29. Pope Felix III
  30. Pope Felix IV
  31. Pope Gelasius I
  32. Pope Gregory I
  33. Pope Gregory II
  34. Pope Gregory III
  35. Pope Gregory VII
  36. Pope Hilarius
  37. Pope Hormisdas
  38. Pope Hyginus
  39. Pope Innocent I
  40. Pope John I
  41. Pope John XXIII
  42. Pope John Paul II
  43. Pope Julius I
  44. Pope Leo I
  45. Pope Leo II
  46. Pope Leo III
  47. Pope Leo IV
  48. Pope Leo IX
  49. Pope Linus
  50. Pope Lucius I
  51. Pope Marcellinus
  52. Pope Marcellus I
  53. Pope Mark
  54. Pope Martin I
  55. Pope Miltiades
  56. Pope Nicholas I
  57. Pope Paschal I
  58. Pope Paul I
  59. Pope Peter
  60. Pope Pius I
  61. Pope Pius V
  62. Pope Pius X
  63. Pope Pontian
  64. Pope Sergius I
  65. Pope Silverius
  66. Pope Simplicius
  67. Pope Siricius
  68. Pope Sixtus I
  69. Pope Sixtus II
  70. Pope Sixtus III
  71. Pope Soter
  72. Pope Stephen I
  73. Pope Stephen IV
  74. Pope Sylvester I
  75. Pope Symmachus
  76. Pope Telesphorus
  77. Pope Urban I
  78. Pope Victor I
  79. Pope Vitalian
  80. Pope Zachary
  81. Pope Zephyrinus
  82. Pope Zosimus


I am always looking for a personal connection to events. In this case, it's my sister Olga. In her  memoirs she is photographed with Pope John Paul II at the Papal Nuncio's residence (page 125g) in May 1980 when the Pope visited Kenya for the first time.  A photo from this visit is shown at the top of this post. (She describes his visit on pp. 217-224.)

Pope John Paul II is the second person featured in her memoirs who has been canonized in her lifetime. The first was St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, who died in 1975 (pp. 185-189). He sent Olga to Kenya in 1960 (p. 54), just before the country became independent, when the "Mau-Mau" were calling for independence and many "Europeans" in Kenya were preparing to leave.

Olga was born in New York City in 1934. She will be 80 in November. She is a Kenyan citizen currently in Pamplona, Spain for specialized health care. Her mother (and, duh, mine), Mrs. E. R. Marlin (born in Holland, she wrote under her maiden name Hilda van Stockum), converted to Roman Catholicism in 1938, when she was in Washington, D.C. (her husband worked for FDR), following her friend Evie Hone. So Olga converted when she was four years old.

Olga spent her entire working life in Nairobi, more than half a century, creating institutions for the education of women in Kenya and other African countries. She was given an honorary doctorate in 2011 by Strathmore University in Nairobi.

(Update, Jan. 22, 2016: The Time Travel blog had 14,000 page views when I wrote it nearly two years ago. Now it has 57,000. Thank you for reading.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

BIRTH | April 11–Marguerite of Navarre (Comment)

The Basque country, Navarre and Aragon have punched
above their weight in the Counter-Reformation. 
April 11, 2014–This day was born Marguerite of Navarre in Angoulême, France in 1492, as Columbus was finalizing his exploration arrangements with Queen Isabella of Spain.

Samuel Putnam has called Marguerite "the first modern woman".  Her mother, Louise, was  well educated. When Marguerite's father died in Marguerite's childhood, Louise became the head of the household and homeschooled her children.

Marguerite spoke at least five languages. When she was a teenager, she was married Duke Charles IV of Alençon. After they were married for more than 15 years, Charles died and Marguerite married again, this time to Henry II of Navarre. She gave birth to a daughter; and then, when she was 38, to a son who died when he was a few months old. Marguerite was so distraught that she wrote Le miroir de l'âme pécheresse (The Mirror of the Sinful Soul, 1531). It combined her mysticism with her strong belief that the Church needed to be reformed.

With her brother, King Francis I, next door in France, Marguerite was brave in advocating  religious reform, and she wrote novels on the side. The French historian Brantôme said of Marguerite:
She composed most of these novels in her litter as she traveled, for her hours of retirement were employed in affairs of importance. ... My grandmother always went with her in her litter as her lady of honor and held her ink-horn for her. Marguerite wrote the novels down quickly and readily – more so than if they had been dictated to her.
Her most famous work was the Heptameron, a collection of more than 70 short stories — stories about women and their relationships with men, and whether it was possible to be virtuous and also experience real love. They are stories of unplanned pregnancies, jealous murders, women locked up for life, corrupt monks, cheating wives, and unforgiving patriarchs. Jane Smiley wrote about The Heptameron:
It is clear from her book that freedom of conscience for women can lead anywhere — if your eternal soul is your own responsibility, and cannot be saved through reliance upon a corrupt church, then it is a short and slippery slope from there to all sorts of freedom, first of belief and thought, then of feeling, then of action.

A few states in Spain just south of the border with France have outsized contributions to history. The Basque country, Navarre and Aragon punch above their weight in the production of fervent reformers. They are comparable with the Holy Land, Assisi and Padua in the number of sites of historic interest relating to religious reform. (And Lourdes is just north of the border.)

As we celebrate the birthday of Marguerite of Navarre, let's think of her as an antecedent of two other figures from the region – St. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) and St. Josemaria Escriva, who founded the (Prelature of)  Opus Dei. The Jesuits and Opus Dei have taken turns being very close to the Popes of the last century and before.

April 24 - Ireland's Easter Rising (updated Aug. 22, 2016)

Patrick Pearse
On this day in 1916, the Easter Rising began in Dublin. Its aim was to end British rule and create the Irish Republic. It came to be known as the Poets' Rebellion because many of its leaders were teachers or writers.

Schoolteacher Patrick Pearse and Socialist leader James Connolly called for supporters of the Republic to gather at Dublin's General Post Office on Easter Monday, bringing whatever weapons they could find.

Members of the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, about 1,200 in number, turned out, but most citizens of Dublin were unprepared for, some even unaware of, the uprising.

The uprising itself was, by many conventional measures, a failure: Poorly planned and lacking solid support, it was quashed after a week.

Many leaders, like Pearse and Connolly, were hastily executed for treason. But as George Bernard Shaw wrote in The New York Times the following month:
It is absolutely impossible to slaughter a man in this position without making him a martyr and a hero, even though the day before the rising he may have been only a minor poet. ... The military authorities and the British Government must have known they were canonizing their prisoners.
Shaw was, of course, right. (He also remains the only person to have won both a Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1925, and an Oscar, in 1938, for Pygmalion, re-made as a musical and a movie, My Fair Lady.)

Outrage over the executions resulted in a wave of nationalism among the Irish, many of whom had previously been ambivalent about an Irish Republic, and galvanized the movement. The Republic of Ireland achieved independence from Great Britain five years later.  (Thanks to Garrison Keillor for his post on this event in The Writer's Almanac.)

Comments on the Easter Rising in Ireland:

A 6-minute movie on the Easter Rising may be watched by clicking here. You will like it if you love Ireland.

The rebel song "Who Fears to Speak of Easter Week" was a rewrite of an earlier song about 1798.

As my friend Tim Sullivan sums up:
Connolly and other wounded were shot tied to chairs and the rebels were jeered by the Dublin crowd as they were marched away. Ireland was fortunate  that Michael Collins was not killed but was sent to jail. Here is a song in his memory.
Comments on the Glamor of Unsuccessful Rebellions:

Unsuccessful uprisings are more memorable than successful ones. Their lack of success and the harsh reaction of the ruling party proves that the uprising was justified.

The Brazilians got their independence from Portugal because a resident Portuguese royal said: “You want independence? You GOT it!” Very unexciting. So in order to have some heroes to make a little fuss about in the history books, Brazilians go back to an earlier, unsuccessful upraising.

Brazil glamorizes an unsuccessful plot of a century earlier, the “Inconfidencia” led by a dentist named Tiradentes (“tooth puller”). He was turned in by a co-conspirator who was deeply in debt and was looking for compensation for being an informer. Tiradentes was hanged. The other members of the plot - except, I take it, the informer - were exiled to Angola and Mozambique. The actual independence day is less celebrated than the unsuccessful plot.