Monday, March 14, 2011

More Stuff I Didn't Know About

I've been reading Walsingham Way lately, Colin Stephenson's history of Our Lady's shrine at Walsingham. It gives the history of the medieval shrine and its sad fate at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. But the heart of the book concerns its revival by the Anglican vicar of Walsingham, Fr Alfred Hope Patten in the early part of the 20th century.

But that particular bit of information isn't the stuff about which I didn't know. This is:

. . . .Throughout the forty years he was parish priest he often said: "We are very Prayer Book at Walsingham" -- and not with his tongue far into his cheek. The general practice in the churches he had served, and which was quite common in advanced Anglo-Catholic churches at that time, was to use the form of the Prayer Book inserting Propers from the Roman Missal and the Roman Canon of the Mass said silently. There was a long tradition of this practice for it would seem that at the time of the Reformation many priests conformed outwardly to the new book while continuing to say the old Canon silently. Even in the reign of James I one is still able to find records of puritans complaining that their parish priest is really muttering the old Mass to himself, which, probably means that some were saying the Canon in this way. There is the remarkable example of Bishop Goodman of Gloucester, so heartily disliked by Archbishop Laud, who was such a convinced papalist that he even went so far as to enquire from Rome if he might be received as a Roman layman while remaining an Anglican bishop. He recited the Roman Breviary and ordained from the Latin Ordinal, but one fears that his continuing in the Church of England was not entirely unconnected with the emoluments of his See.

Well, if you devoured Michael Davies's works as I did you knew about "many priests conform[ing] outwardly to the new book while continuing to say the old Canon silently." But I had never heard of Bishop Goodman of Gloucester, although it seems a good many others have. Google optimistically returns 133,000 listings; a few them actually do refer to the good bishop. Among them we find that SPCK published 512 pages on him which you can order through Amazon. The good old Catholic Encyclopædia has a page on him here. Wikipedia has one also which you can find here. The Wikipedia page appears to be an abridgement of the Catholic Encyclopædia article. There are a few other short references, including some 19th century controversial works which would probably repay a read for other reasons.

But it would seem on looking at some of the references that the good old CE may be a little over-enthusiastic in proclaiming Bishop Goodman's conversion. And Fr Stephenson may be a trifle cynical in assessing Bishop Goodman's motives. (He certainly did suffer for his Catholic convictions, including some imprisonment and loss of his "emoluments".)

There is remarkable stuff to be found puttering about on the internet.