- Giacomo Kyushei Gorobioye Tomonaga
- Iacobus of Saint Mary
- Iacobus Tomonaga Gorobyoe
- Jakob Kyushei Gorubioye Tomanga
Catechist. Joined the Dominicans in Manila, Philippines. Ordained in 1626, he returned to Japan as a missionary and to minister to covert Catholics during a period of persecution. Worked with Saint Michaël Kurobyoe. Arrested in July 1633 for spreading Christianity, he was tortured and executed.
- “Saint Jacobo Kyushei Gorobioye Tomonaga de Santa María“. Saints.SQPN.com. 22 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <>
Walsingham Priory stood a few miles from the sea in the northern part of Norfolk, England. Founded in the time of Edward the Confessor, the chapel of Our Lady of Walsingham was confirmed to the Augustinian Canons a century later and enclosed within the priory. From the first this shrine of Our Lady was a famous place of pilgrimage. Hither came the faithful from all parts of England and from the continent until the destruction of the priory by Henry VIII in 1538. To this day the main road of the pilgrims through Newmarket, Brandon, and Fakenham is still called the Palmers’ Way. Many were the gifts of lands, rents, and churches to the canons of Walsingham, and many the miracles wrought at Our Lady’s shrine. Henry III came on a pilgrimage to Walsingham in 1241, Edward I in 1280 and 1296, Edward II in 1315, Henry VI in 1455, Henry VII in 1487, and Henry VIII in 1513. Erasmus in fulfilment of a vow made a pilgrimage from Cambridge in 1511, and left as his offering a set of Greek verses expressive of his piety. Thirteen years later he wrote his colloquy on pilgrimages, wherein the wealth and magnificence of Walsingham are set forth, and some of the reputed miracles rationalized. In 1537 while the last prior, Richard Vowell, was paying obsequious respect to Cromwell, the sub-prior Nicholas Milcham was charged with conspiring to rebel against the suppression of the lesser monasteries, and on flimsy evidence was convicted of high treason and hanged outside the priory walls. In July, 1538, Prior Vowell assented to the destruction of Walsingham Priory and assisted the king’s commissioners in the removal of the figure of Our Lady, of many of the gold and silver ornaments and in the general spoliation of the shrine. For his ready compliance the prior received a pension of 100 pounds a year, a large sum in those days, while fifteen of the canons received pensions varying from 4 pounds to 6 pounds. The shrine dismantled, and the priory destroyed, its site was sold by order of Henry VIII to one Thomas Sidney for 90 pounds, and a private mansion was subsequently erected on the spot. The Elizabethan ballad, “A Lament for Walsingham,” expresses something of what the Norfolk people felt at the loss of their glorious shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
- Joseph Clayton. “Walsingham Priory”. . Saints.SQPN.com. 20 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <>
We are taught by the Church that worship is due to God alone, and devotion to the Saints of God. Worship and devotion are different in kind, and are called, respectively, Latria and Dulia; but a special degree of devotion — which is yet distinct from Divine worship — is accorded to the Mother of Christ, and this is called Hyperdulia. This age-long veneration shown to Our Lady was not introduced by the decree of a Council, nor at the command of any particular Pope; at all times the faithful have been accustomed to pay this homage to the Queen of heaven. She herself foresaw that this would be so; that all generations would call her blessed. Her great titles were defined by the Church — Theotokos, the Mother of God, and “conceived without sin”
England, at least, has never been remiss in its respect for Our Lady. Indeed, at some early date in our history England was dedicated to Mary and became her Dowry Dos Mariae; and of all the shrines at which homage was paid to Mary, none was more famous in England, or perhaps in Europe, than Our Lady’s Shrine in the “Holy land” of Walsingham.
Where is Walsingham?
Walsingham is a little country village hidden away in a Norfolk dale, enfolded by the river Stiffkey. It is over a hundred miles from London, and twenty-eight miles north-west of Norwich. Its nearest port is Wells, seven miles away; but in former days the pilgrims who came by sea would land at King’s Lynn, or Bishop’s Lynn, as it was then called. This remote spot was chosen by Our Lady, we are told, for her Nazareth or English home, and here for about five centuries there came an unbroken stream of pilgrims, among them the greatest kings and the poorest peasants; till at last, in the reign of Henry VIII, the hand of the despoiler fell upon this place and sought to obliterate the shrine and its devotion. And so it lay for centuries after, till, within our own lifetime, the breath of revival began to stir, and to-day once more Mary is not without honour in her “Holy land.”
Let us trace now, in greater detail, this long and wonderful story. It falls into three periods. The first period, from 1061 — the founding of the shrine — to 1534, we may call the Period of Glory. The second period, following the year 1534, we may call the Period of Destruction, which endured for three-and-a-half centuries; but the third period, which falls within the last forty or fifty years, is the Period of Revival.
THE PERIOD OF GLORY – The Founding of the Shrine and its subsequent History
The traditional account, long-established and not lacking in confirmation, is as follows. In or about the year 1061, a widow of the name of Richeldis received in a vision from the Blessed Virgin Mary a special injunction to build her a shrine. Both the site and the nature of the shrine were appointed, according to this legend, by Our Lady. The sanctuary was to be a counterpart of the Holy House itself as it then existed at Nazareth. The story of the foundation and how the shrine was borne by angels’ hands at Walsingham is narrated in an old English ballad, printed by Robert Pynson and preserved in the Pepysian Library, and composed, perhaps, in 1460. Now this traditional belief is the very keynote of our story, for we hold that it was Our Lady’s own choice that her name should be especially revered at Walsingham, and for the next five centuries at least there can be no question that Our Lady’s will was kept and honoured. Of course, the little shrine did not stand alone. It was sheltered by a great conventual church that sprang up beside it, a priory of the Austin Canons. The foundation of this church was due to Geoffrey de Faveraches, who, before his departure on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, gave the charter of its foundation to the Austin Canons, confirmed at subsequent dates, so that the shrine of Our Lady and the priory church stood together through the centuries. The shrine stood upon the north side of the church, like a tiny chancel, and was entered by a door from the church and had its own means of exit for the endless stream of pilgrims. The shrine was encased, at some later date, perhaps for its protection, in what was called a new work, novum opus, a building of stone resembling the outer covering of the Holy House at Loretto.
Walsingham thus became the central point of devotion in that Norfolk country where it is possible even to-day to trace the routes of the great pilgrimages. The principal road passed by Newmarket, Brandon, and Fakenham, and is still known as the Palmer’s Way. It may be traced for nearly sixty miles through the diocese. From the north the pilgrims crossed the Wash, near Long Sutton, and went through Lynn and past the priories of Flitcham, Rudham, and Cokesford. Another great road came from the east through Norwich and Attlebridge, by Bee Hospital, where thirteen poor pilgrims were provided for every night. The whole district was studded with little shrines and chapels where the pilgrims stopped to pray as they passed on towards the famous central shrine of Walsingham.
The town itself throve mightily upon the crowds of pilgrims, and inns and hostelries were built in abundance.
Something is known, too, of the many pilgrims who visited the shrine, and among them we find most of the reigning kings. Henry III, in 1248, is the first English king who is recorded as a pilgrim to Walsingham; Edward I was twice there; Edward II in 1315 and Isabella of France in 1332; Edward III in 1361; David Bruce, King of Scotland in 1364; the widow of Henry IV in 1427; while other pilgrims were the Duke of Norfolk about 1457; Edward IV and his queen in 1469; Henry VII in 1489, and last of all, Henry VIII and Queen Catherine.
Henry VIII, well known for his early piety, made special offerings to Our Lady of Walsingham and yet it was his hand which, a few years later, struck down the very object he revered and brought ruin and desolation to the “Holy land.”
Certain records have been left by those who visited the shrine, the two most celebrated being the Itinerary of William of Worcester, about 1479, and the account given by Erasmus, the great Renaissance scholar, who was at Walsingham about thirty-two years later, i.e., in 1511. From this first authority, William of Worcester, we receive the earliest extant details of the church and other buildings. It is he who tells us that the shrine of Mary, like its prototype at Loretto, was covered in by an outer building of recent construction. He gives also the measurements of the various buildings. The Lady chapel, i.e., the original shrine, was in length 23 feet 6 inches, in breadth 12 feet 10 inches. The whole church, from the end of the chancel, was 136 paces long and 36 paces broad. South of the church lay the other monastic buildings, the dormitory, the refectory and chapter house, enclosing the three sides of a cloister which was roughly a square of a little under 100 feet. Not many paces away in the grounds of the monastery were two holy wells which exist to this day.
Of course it must not be imagined that all these buildings were completed at once. Even a slight knowledge of our famous English cathedrals shows us that there was a great deal of building and re-building throughout the medieval period, and yet the results achieved were often strikingly harmonious, as at the great fane of Canterbury. So it was, doubtless, at the smaller churches and abbeys and monasteries; and since enormous riches were always flowing into the priory at Walsingham, it would have given the builders scope for splendid additions and alterations.
Next we may turn to the visit of Erasmus to Walsingham probably in the year 1511, and not long before its fall. We are not concerned here with the satirical humours of the great Dutch writer, nor with the sincerity of his devotion. Perhaps the new wine of the Renaissance had gone to his head, and self-conceit and self-advertisement may seem to mar his writings and his behaviour. But we must make full allowance for the style of literary composition in his day, and it must be remembered always that Erasmus never approved of the reforming methods of Luther. He belonged to the party who hoped that the Church would reform itself from within and never contemplated the cleavage with the Papacy. Erasmus gives a detailed account of all he saw and heard, both on his pilgrimage to Saint Mary of Walsingham and Saint Thomas of Canterbury. To the shrine of Our Lady he made a characteristic offering, a votive prayer in Greek iambics. He stood for a few moments in that wonderful chapel where so many thousands had preceded him and was himself moved by the richness and beauty of what he saw and the sweet fragrance that surrounded him. By this date the shrine glittered in the candle-light with all the magnificent offerings of gold and silver that had accumulated through the centuries. One of the canons stood always on duty within the shrine to receive the offerings of the faithful and to display its treasures to the curious. Erasmus tells us that the outer building of stone was still unfinished in his day, and through the unglazed windows came the strong winds of the ocean about seven miles away. He tells us that the little shrine was built with wooden planking and he alone describes the venerable image of Our Lady. “A little image,” he says, “remarkable neither for size, material, or execution.” The altar stood probably at the east end, and the image of Our Lady in the south-east angle. It is interesting to know that the windows of the outer building, which Erasmus found unglazed, were completed not much later by the special charity of Henry VIII, for we read in the exchequer books of the third and fourth years of his reign:
June 1511. Part payment for glazing Our Lady’s Chapel at Walsingham 20 1
Novr. 1512. For glazing Our Lady’s Chapel at Walsingham 23 11 4
Erasmus was also shown many of the votive offerings the shrine contained, and says that a day would not suffice to describe the wealth of admirable things wrhich he saw there. They were kept under the altar of Our Lady, whence they were brought out by the careful hands of the assistant canon for him to see. At one time a register existed of the principal offerings and donations to Our Lady, but these annals have perished and only scraps of information can now be obtained, but sufficient to make it abundantly clear that the shrine at Walsingham must have rivalled the glories of Saint Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Here are a few scattered notices. In the reign of Edward I: “The King offered to the Image of Our Lady of Walsingham a clasp of gold of the value of eight marks, and the Queen a clasp of the value of six-and-a-half marks. Henry, Duke of Lancaster, gave a vase with handles of the value of four hundred marks; and his father presented an Angelical Salutation with precious stones, also valued at four hundred marks. In 1376 Sir Thomas de Uvedale gave a tablet of silver-gilt with a painted image.” These gifts are merely typical of the wealth showered upon this holy place. There were also annual offerings and bequests in wills and endless contributions for candles and votive lamps.
Such then was Walsingham in the days of its glory, and we may well ask: How was it that a terrible fate could befall so fair and holy a place? What brought to an end this ceaseless devotion? Who stemmed the mighty flood of pilgrims who had done honour to Our Lady, day by day, at her own appointed shrine?
THE PERIOD OF DESTRUCTION
There is still a lingering sentiment in many English minds that the days of King Henry VIII cannot have been as black as they are painted; that there was justification and sound political motive in his work of pillage and demolition, and that we can view, without tears and without abhorrence, the passing of the old ecclesiastical system, of the glory of the Middle Age, and of the close companionship of man with his Creator and of widespread devotion to the Saints. For, from this apparent wreck, so the Englishman argues, did there not rise the new, reformed England that we know—with its honest intellectual outlook, its new learning, new conquests, and imperial grandeur?
It is scarcely surprising that some such conviction should remain in English hearts after four centuries of Protestantism, and when generations have been steeped in the biased teachings of some, but not all, of our English Histories; and when, alas! the very savour of the faith has gradually died away in places and institutions where for long it lingered. Now I would ask all fair-minded critics to regard these transactions at Walsingham, which we are about to sketch, as typical of what happened up and down England at many another shrine, monastery, abbey, and cathedral. Let us try first to put the position fairly as it existed in the reign of Henry VIII. Let it be conceded then, that there were scandals and abuses within the Church that needed reform; that too much wealth had accumulated in certain hands; that there was need, perhaps, for financial reform and social improvement to meet the conditions of the coming age. Let us agree that all systems, however venerable, may stand in need of overhauling and repair — all save one, for the actual system of the Church and its foundation upon the Rock of Peter may not be abandoned without widespread calamity to the persons or to the countries entailed.
The merest outline of the historical position must here suffice. Henry, unable to secure his divorce from Catherine, was encouraged by his advisers to take the whole affair into his own hands and arrogate to himself powers which had never lain in the English monarchy. He claimed to be the ” Supreme Head” of the Church and it was from this that all the mischief flowed. This claim was qualified immediately by the English Hierarchy; “So far as the law of Christ allows” they added. It was openly withstood by priest and people alike, and More and Fisher and others in the reign of Henry were martyred in their resistance to it. But it must be remembered that in the earlier days of the sixteenth century it was not and could not be realized what exactly was involved by the words “Supremum Caput”. It was a dark cloud, menacing and ambiguous, and who could then foretell how terrible would be the lightnings that would burst from its womb? This is an excuse that can be offered for those who seemed weak and timeserving in the days of Henry. Some such claims had been advanced before, like gambits, on the part of rulers against the Holy See, but had been afterwards withdrawn. No one in England could yet tell how deep and final the severance was destined to be, nor indeed till the days of Elizabeth was the whole cleavage accomplished.
If we examine step by step what happened at Walsingham we shall find that it was an attack, first, upon revenues, next, upon persons, and finally upon those sacred things of which they were custodians. Henry himself must bear full responsibility for the Pillage; but except for his own extravagant and schismatic claims, he remained a Catholic at heart probably to his dying day. To the end of his life he worshipped and adored the Mystery of the Blessed Sacrament, and even entertained, for all we know, a love and devotion for the Saints and for the Mother of God. So dark a mystery is the human heart.
(The King’s Candles, as they were called, burned on incessantly at the Shrine right up to the time of its destruction. There are many proofs of Henry’s early devotion to Our Lady and in his Will he desires her prayers; but the extent of Henry’s pillage may be gathered from a roll of parchment, 54 feet long, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. This is an account kept by Sir John Williams, his treasurer, of all the jewels and plate taken from religious places at His Majesty’s visitation.)
To return to Walsingham. In the year 1534, the Canons of Walsingham acknowledged the Royal Supremacy, in Chapter assembled, as shown by the original document still preserved in the Chapter-house, Westminster. It is not known whether the whole community signed the deed, but we find thereon the signature of twenty-two Canons, including the Prior, Richard Vowel, and the Sub-prior. This document, wrung from the helpless Canons against their will, was clearly the beginning of the end, for by it they had been allured into the trap of the King. The next step was the arrival of the King’s appointed commissioners armed with all too pregnant Articles of Inquiry. Two results followed. First, the enrichment of the King’s treasury, and next the suppression of the monastery. The yearly revenues of the monastery were valued at about £446, a considerable sum in those days. The smaller monasteries with a revenue of less than £200 a year had been previously suppressed. The next step was inevitable — popular insurrection at Walsingham in 1537. This was occurring all over England, for men were being ruined by the break-up of the religious houses and the suppression of pilgrimages. In the north of England the rebellion proved most menacing to the Tudor government, and here Henry was compelled to meet the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. But there was not much trouble in suppressing the little rustic rising at Walsingham. The strength of the Tudor monarchy was centralized and overpowering. It was an age of strong central governments. Henry worked, moreover, with considerable skill. He played upon human motives and English national sentiments of his day and used a ruthless brutality in stamping out rebellion, which never overlooked a detail or failed to grind under heel the last remaining spark of opposition. At the suppression, fifteen of the Canons of Walsingham were condemned for high treason; five were executed. The deed of the surrender of Walsingham and all its property was signed in the Chapter house on the 4th August in the 30th year of Henry’s reign, 1539, and the prior and convent caused their common seal to be put to it. The property was subsequently handed over, in fee simple, by Henry VIII to his friends. Long since had all the rich and wonderful offerings from Our Lady’s shrine been removed, but there was one last insult remaining. Her venerated image was taken away and burned at Chelsea.
(A few details are recorded as to the destruction of the statue. On July 18, 1538, it reached London and the suggestion was made by Latimer that this and other sacred images would make a “jolly muster” in Smithfield for a public burning. This idea was not carried out; perhaps they dreaded a popular riot. Thomas Cromwell, probably, destroyed the images in his own courtyard.)
We see, then, that Henry’s political reformation — whatever it may be called and whatever its motive — led inevitably to impious results. Why was this? It was because by his action Henry had loosed a torrent that he could not stem. The Reformation was a European movement, taking different shapes in different countries. In England it was never a popular movement. It was engineered by the monarchy in the teeth of popular rebellion, but in its wake came the flood of foreign religious teaching from the lands of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. This, then, is a rough outline of what occurred, and we can leave it now to the reader to judge of its effects upon Walsingham. It was the end. Not one trace of the little shrine was left. It was a tale of utter ruin and demolition. Henry’s reign meant, too, for England at large, that the tie had been snapped which bound this country to the Holy See. It soon meant the substitution of a totally different form of Church authority and of doctrinal and moral standards. And yet it was not the end. For when Our Lord founded His Church upon the Rock of Peter He looked down the centuries and saw the coming of even such floods of destruction and He added a promise: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
THE PERIOD OF REVIVAL
It must never be thought that the Catholic Church in this country became extinct. In the first place, there is the testimony of the martyrs who died in England for the old faith, and of countless others who suffered loss and indignity during what are called the penal times. Next, the vital functions of our religion never ceased. Mass was said; confessions were heard, and the old belief professed throughout the most obscure and perilous days. The link with the Holy See was never snapped for the Catholic remnant, nor could jurisdiction be lost since it is of Divine right, and Catholics in England were supported and controlled in their long agony by various methods of organization, until at last the Catholic Hierarchy was restored in 1850. Here is the true thread of continuity. Anglicans are perfectly right when they claim that the life of the true Church must be continuous and unbroken; but there cannot be two threads of continuity, each thread, so to speak, disclaiming the other. There cannot be two developments from a single organism, unless both are scions of a single parent. The Church cannot consist of “branch” churches cut off from external communion with one another, for the Body of Christ cannot be dismembered. Among such bodies one must be the True Church, the rest in schism. Is not the simple and logical view of the situation this: that the Catholic body of to-day is continuous with the Catholic body of pre-Reformation times, sustained by it and derived from it; and that the Anglican Church is, in effect, what it originally claimed to be, a State Church established by novel legislation? Yet there must have been times during those dark centuries when our Catholic forefathers may well have thought their cause was dying or irretrievably lost. If they could have looked forth from this black gulf of depression to the beauty and promise of the Second Spring which has long since dawned upon England, their hearts would have been raised in wonder and gratitude to God. (After the repeal of the penal laws, the first great public procession in honour of Our Lady took place at Stonyhurst, Lancashire, on 26 May 1842.)
There seemed no break whatever in the dereliction that had fallen upon Walsingham. The misery of a Catholic is enshrined in a remarkable Elegy preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. It was written by Philip, Earl of Arundel, heir to the dukedom of Norfolk, who suffered for the faith in the reign of Elizabeth and has since been beatified (15 December 1930) by the Church. Apparently the writer visited Walsingham, and choosing there the Queen of Walsingham to guide his muse, meditated on the fallen glory of this dear place. He speaks of the sheep murdered by ravening wolves while the shepherds did sleep; of the sacred vine uprooted by the swine; and of the grass grown rank and lush, where of old the stately walls of Walsingham did show.
Levell, Levell with the ground
the towers do lye,
Which, with their golden glitteringe tops,
pearsed once to the skye.
Toades and serpentes hold their dennes
where the Palmers did thronge.
Weepe, weepe, O Walsingham
whose dayes are nightes.
Blessinges turned to blasphemies,
holy deedes to dispites.
Sinne is wher our Ladie sate
heauen turned into hell,
Sathan sittes wher our Lord did swaye,
Walsingham, O farewell.
So we can imagine that the Earl of Arundel turned away broken-hearted from this scene of former love and devotion, little dreaming how his words would be cherished, his example revered by Catholics, or that the miracle of Spring would one day shine and blossom again in that Norfolk neighbourhood.
Let us now trace the modern history of Walsingham and its district and see by what slow and difficult stages the light of devotion was rekindled in this deserted place.
The Catholic Revival in Lynn
There are records of Catholic life in this place going back to the eighteenth century, but in later days the great pioneer was Father Wrigglesworth, Rector of the King’s Lynn Mission, assisted by Father Philip Fletcher, Master of the Guild of Ransom, and by their efforts and with the sanction of Pope Leo XIII, a new shrine for Our Lady of Walsingham was opened at the Parish Church and a new image was carved at Oberammergau and blessed at Rome in February, 1897. On August 19th of that year this new image was escorted by a large Catholic pilgrimage and enthroned above the altar in the church at King’s Lynn. Ever since that day devotions have been held constantly at this shrine for the conversion of England, and for about forty years now annual pilgrimages have been made to this shrine.
The Slipper Chapel
Some thirty years ago a convert lady, Miss Charlotte Boyd, bought the famous Slipper Chapel at Houghton-le-Dale, in which the pilgrims of ancient times were wont to leave their slippers before making the last stage of their journey to the shrine at Walsingham, one mile away. This chapel had been converted into three cottages, and Miss Boyd, at her own expense, rehabilitated the chapel and endowed it with a sum of money in order that Holy Mass might be said there again. The property was handed over to the English Congregation of the Benedictine Order to whom it appears to have belonged formerly and whose corporate continuity has never been broken.
Saint Georges, Sudbury
Father C. L. Russell, the parish priest of this church, has erected a shrine for Our Lady of Walsingham in his parish church, trusting by this means to further Our Lady’s cause and her final restoration to Walsingham itself.
It will be gathered from the above account that English piety has been re-awakened concerning a great treasure lost and found again. It must be remembered that the actual site of the original chapel built in that spot by Our Lady’s express command is still untenanted. The site is known and it is to-day in the grounds of the Lord of the Manor, Sir Robert Gurney, who has the gift of the Anglican parish church and is himself a Quaker.
It may seem to some who have read this brief history that too much stress has been laid upon particular sites and places and traditional miracles. After all, it might be argued, the Catholic religion can pursue its course through the centuries even if it is shorn from time to time of some local devotion or famous resort of pilgrims. It may be a mistake to set too much store in spiritual matters upon this image or that, however venerable; upon names and titles and customs once respected and now obsolete. This argument may appear at first sight plausible and it is true, of course, that the worship of God is not interrupted by local calamity or the endless changes to which our human life is subject. None the less it would be a fatal error if we pressed this argument too far. The honour of Walsingham itself rests, as we believe, not upon the will or predilection of man, but upon Our Lady’s revealed desire, and who would dare to turn a deaf ear to that voice that whispers across the centuries?
The real argument for sacred shrines, for relics, images, and pilgrimages, rests in the instinctive need of human nature. The main fault of this age, and of many another age, is that we are apt to pursue with such tragic intensity things that can never finally satisfy, and may indeed betray and injure us. The human race fell, so we are told in scripture, by its abuse of material things; and it is God’s will that man should regain his happiness by the proper use of material things. The religion of the Incarnation means that all our natural instincts and desires can be directed and uplifted to their proper channels. It is a natural instinct to love a certain place, a certain thing. Who does not cherish some old letter, or likeness it may be, as the sole memento of a departed friend? How many millions of tourists, year by year, stream all over the world in their curiosity to see some rare and lovely sight; to explore some famous town; or to stand for a moment in some place where men great and honoured in history have lived and died? Why should not this great volume of human instinct and desire be regulated, uplifted, and satisfied by the homely customs of Mother Church? Why should not recreation take the form, not merely of physical or intellectual exercise, but of something that will indeed refresh the very springs of our being? Devotion to Our Lady supplied such a service in bygone centuries. It helped to tame and humanise rough nature; it taught reverence for all women; it gave a motive for self-denial and led the votary of the Blessed Virgin nearer and nearer, as it always must, to her Divine Son. The love of Mary was a great unconscious protection to the doctrine of Our Lord’s Divinity. How often when Mary’s honour is forgotten, Christ, too, is denied, and the worship of God abandoned!
But in any case, the name of Walsingham must surely be magnified again—to-day, to-morrow, or in some coming century. It would be as impossible to imagine that a shrine like Lourdes could be forever eclipsed as to think that this signal place of Mary’s favour shall not rise again to wider and wider glory and recognition.
An English Herod drove her forth
In exile, from the place
Where she had been so bountiful
With heavenly grace.
And in her absence from the land
Such lies were put abroad
That scorning Mary seemed to be
Praising Our Lord.
Alas! that any Englishman
Should think dishonour done
To that sweet Mother, would not be
Grief to her Son.
The little Prince of Walsingham
Will not reign there alone.
He will not come till we restore
His Mother’s throne.
Rebuild, rebuild at Walsingham
Our Lady’s ancient shrine!
Then will He give us through her hands
His gifts divine
On September 19, 1846, the Mother of God appeared high in the Alps of France, near the village of LaSalette. The witnesses of the event were Maximin Giraud and Melanie Mathieu, eleven and fourteen years of age respectively. The children first noticed the “Beautiful Lady” as she was seated on a stone, weeping. An intense light surrounded her. She arose and came toward the children, saying: “Come near, my children, do not be afraid. I am here to tell you great news.” They ran to meet her. Then, she went on:
“If my people will not submit, I shall be forced to let go the hand of my Son. It is so strong, so heavy, that I can no longer withhold it. How long a time do I suffer for you! If I would not have my Son abandon you, I am compelled to pray to Him without ceasing. And, as to you, you take no heed of it. However much you pray, however much you do, you will never recompense the pains I have taken for you.
“Six days have I given you to labor, the seventh I have kept for myself; but it is not given to me. This is what makes the hand of my Son so heavy. Those who drive the carts cannot swear without introducing the name of my Son. These are the two things which make the hand of my Son so heavy. If the harvest is spoiled, it is all on your account. I gave you warning last year in the potatoes, but you did not heed it. On the contrary, when you found the potatoes spoiled, you swore, you took the name of my Son in vain. They will continue to decay, so that by Christmas there will be none left.
“If you have wheat, it is useless to sow it; all that you sow, the insects will eat. What comes up will fall into dust when you thresh it.
“There will come a great famine. Before the famine comes, the children under seven years of age will be seized with trembling and will die in the hands of those who hold them; and others will do penance by the famine. The walnuts will become worm-eaten, the grapes will rot. If people are converted, the stones and the rocks will be changed into heaps of wheat and the potatoes will be self-sown.
“Do you say your prayers well, my children?” she asked. They had to reply: “Oh, no, Madame, not very well.” “Now, my children,” she went on, “you must be sure to say them well, morning and evening; when you cannot do better, say at least an Our Father and a Hail Mary. But when you have time, say more.
“There are none who go to Mass but a few aged women ; the rest work on Sunday all summer, and in the winter, when they do not know what to do, they go to Mass just to mock at religion. During Lent, they go to the market like dogs.
“Have you ever seen wheat that is spoiled, my children?” Maximin replied: “No, Madame, I have never seen any.” “But, my child,” she continued, “you must surely have seen some once, with your father, near Coin. The master of the field told your father to go and see his ruined wheat. You were both together. You took two or three of the ears into your hands and rubbed them and they just fell into dust ; and then you returned home. When you were still half an hour’s distance from Corps, your father gave you a piece of bread and said to you; ‘Here, my child, eat some bread this year at least; I don’t know who will eat any next year, if the wheat goes on like that’.” Maximin replied: “Oh, yes, Madame, I remember now, just this moment; I did not recall.”
Having shown through this incident her maternal solicitude for us even in the details of our daily life, Our Blessed Mother concluded her visit with these words: “Now, my children, you will make this known to all my people.” As she turned and walked a short distance, she repeated these final words. Then she stopped, ascended about a yard in the air and disappeared.
That evening, when the children returned home, they told what had happened. The first visitors to the scene remarked that a spring had arisen where Our Weeping Mother’s feet had rested.
She was born at Monte Falco, near Spoletto, in Italy, about the year 1275. She was from her childhood an admirable model of devotion and penance. Having embraced the rule of Saint Austin, she was chosen abbess yet very young; in which charge her charity, her example, and her words, inspired all who had the happiness to enjoy her conversation with an ardent desire of the most sublime perfection. Her profound recollection was the effect of the constant union of her soul with God. If she spoke any word which seemed superfluous, she condemned herself to the task of reciting one hundred Our Fathers. The passion of Christ was the favourite object of her devotion. She died on the 18th of August, 1308; the process for her canonization was ordered by Pope John XXII.; but interrupted by his death. Urban VIII published the bull of her beatification and she is named in the Roman Martyrology.
- Father Alban Butler. “Saint Clare of Monte Falco, Virgin”. , 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 20 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <>
He suffered in his youth a cruel martyrdom at Præneste, now called Palestrina, twenty-four miles from Rome, under Aurelian, about the year 275. His name is famous in the sacramentaries of Saint Gelasius, and Saint Gregory the Great, and in the ancient calendars of the church of Rome. Two churches in Palestrina, and others in other places are dedicated to God under his name.
- Father Alban Butler. “Saint Agapetus, Martyr”. , 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 20 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <>
A.D. 328. We are assured by the unanimous tradition of our English historians, that this holy empress was a native of our island. William of Malmesbury, the principal historian of the ancient state of our country after Bede, and before him, the Saxon author of the life of Saint Helen, in 970, quoted by Usher, expressly say that Constantine was a Briton by birth; but an authority which is certainly decisive, is that of the anonymous, elegant, and learned panegyrist, who, haranguing Maximian and Constantine upon the marriage of the latter to Fausta, said to Constantine: “He (Constantius) had freed the provinces of Britain from slavery; you ennobled them by your origin. Leland, the most diligent searcher of our antiquities, says, Helen was the only daughter of king Coilus, who lived in constant amity with the Romans, and held of them his sovereignty. The Glastenbury historian says the same. Henry of Huntington tells us, that this was the King Coël who first built walls round the city of Colchester, and beautified it so much, that it derives from him its name. That town has for several ages boasted that it gave birth to this great empress; and the inhabitants, to testify their veneration for her memory, take for the arms of the town, in remembrance of the cross which she discovered, a knotty cross between four crowns, as Camden takes notice. Though Mr. Drake will have it that she was rather born at York, as the English orators in the councils of Constance and Basil affirmed; to which opinion he thinks the anonymous panegyrist of Constantine evidently favourable. Constantius, at that time only a private officer in the army, had the happiness to make her his first wife, and had by her Constantine his eldest son, who, as all agree, had his first education under her watchful eye.
To understand the sequel of this history, it is necessary to take a view of the state of the empire at that time. The two brothers, Carinus in the West, and Numerianus in the East, the sons, colleagues, and successors of Carus, being become detestable to all their subjects by their infamous vices, the supreme dignity was devolved upon Diocles, commonly called Dioclesian on the 17th of September, 284, whence the epoch of his reign, or of the martyrs, as it is called, and which continued long in use, was dated. He was a Dalmatian of very low birth, had been made free by the senator Anullinus, and was at the head of an army in the East, when Numerianus was slain by a conspiracy. To oppose Carinus in the West, he declared Maximian (who took the surname of Herculeus) Cæsar, on the 20th of November, in the same year, 284, and after the death of Carinus, who was cut off by his own men in Upper Mysia, near the Danube, he saluted him emperor, and his colleague, on the 1st of April, 286. Maximian was a native of Sirmium, of the meanest parentage, savage in his manners, countenance, and temper, but a bold and experienced officer. He brutally indulged all his passions, was faithless, and so great a debauchee that he frequently offered violence to ladies of the first quality, and so covetous that he put many senators to death to seize their estates, and plundered all the West which he governed. Dioclesian was a soldier and a politician, but oppressed the provinces with most exorbitant taxes, maintained four times more soldiers than any of his predecessors had done before him, and was passionately fond of building; and when he had finished a palace at an expense which ruined a whole province, he would find some fault with it, and pull it down to raise it after a different manner; nor was the second building secured from a new caprice, upon which it was sometimes again levelled with the ground. So madly expensive was he, that he took it into his head to make Nicomedia, where he usually resided, equal to Rome, and made it desolate of inhabitants to fill it with magnificent palaces, hippodromes, arsenals, and what not. He was no less foolishly vain in his dress, equipage, and furniture. Yet he was so insatiably covetous, that he would always keep his exchequer full from the spoils of families and all the provinces. In this the two emperors were not unlike, and they reigned together twenty years. The better to secure themselves, and carry on their wars, they associated to themselves, in 293, two other emperors of an inferior rank, under the name of Cæsars. Dioclesian chose Galerius Maximian, surnamed Armentarius, a native of Dacia, one of the most furious and profligate of men; him he compelled to divorce his wife, and marry his daughter, Valeria. Maximian Herculeus pitched upon Constantius Chlorus, a prince never charged with any vice, a good soldier, and nobly born, being descended from the emperor Claudius II. and from Vespasian, from whom his family bore the prænomen Flavius. Herculeus reserved to himself the rich provinces of Italy, Spain, and Africa; Constantius had the countries on this side the Alps, namely Gaul and Britain; Galerius had Illyricum and the places adjacent to the Euxine sea, and Dioclesian the East. Constantius, by the articles of this association, was obliged to divorce Helen, and to marry Theodora, the daughter-in-law of Maximian. The Christians enjoyed a kind of peace, except that in the West some martyrs suffered, chiefly in the army, or by the natural cruelty of Maximian, who delighted in blood; but in the beginning of the year 302, Galerius at Nicomedia prevailed upon Dioclesian to form a project utterly to extirpate the Christian name. 6
Constantine, from his first accession to the throne, by his edicts, forbade the Christians to be molested on account of their religion. Fluctuating what deity to invoke before his battle with Maxentius, he was at length inspired to address himself to the true God, and encouraged by miraculous visions. From that time he published frequent edicts in favour of the Christian faith, built stately churches, munificently adorned altars, and delighted much in the conversation of bishops, whom he often admitted to his table, notwithstanding the meanness of their outward appearance. Baronius says, that the same year in which he vanquished Maxentius, he gave to the bishop of Rome the imperial Lateran palace. In the following year, 313, Pope Melchiades held in it a synod, in the apartment of Fausta, the wife of Constantine; and accordingly we find the popes in possession of it in the fourth century. We may judge of this emperor’s liberality to the bishops for the use of the church and poor, from his letter to Cæcilian, bishop of Carthage, in which he sent him an order to receive from his chief treasurer of Africa three thousand purses, which amounted to above twenty thousand pounds sterling; adding, that if he found any thing more wanting, he should without difficulty demand it of his treasurer, who had from him an order to give him without delay whatever sum he should require. He distributed alms abundantly among the poor of all kinds, even among the Pagans. Those who were fallen from a better condition he assisted after a more generous manner, giving land to some, and places to others; he was particularly careful of orphans and widows; and gave portions to virgins.
It appears from Eusebius, that Saint Helen was not converted to the faith with her son, till after his miraculous victory; but so perfect was her conversion, that she embraced all the heroic practices of Christian perfection, especially the virtues of piety and almsdeeds, in which she doubtless was a great spur to the emperor. Her dutiful son always honoured and respected her, forgetting in her regard that he was emperor of the world, unless to employ his power in serving her. He caused her to be proclaimed Augusta or empress in his armies, and through all the provinces of his empire; and medals to be struck in her honour, in which she is called Flavia Julia Helena. She was advanced in years before she knew Christ; but her fervour and zeal were such as to make her retrieve the time lost in ignorance; and God prolonged her life yet many years to edify, by her example, the church which her son laboured to exalt by his authority. Rufinus calls her faith and holy zeal incomparable; and she kindled the same fire in the hearts of the Romans, as Saint Gregory the Great assures us. Forgetting her dignity, she assisted in the churches amidst the people in modest and plain attire; and to attend at the divine office was her greatest delight. Though mistress of the treasures of the empire, she only made use of them in liberalities and alms; she distributed her charities with profusion wherever she came, and was the common mother of the indigent and distressed. She built churches, and enriched them with precious vessels and ornaments.
Licinius in the East became jealous of Constantine’s prosperity, and attacked him by various hostilities. The Christian emperor defeated him in battle near Cibalis in Pannonia, in 314, and generously granted him peace. His restless ambition could not lie long dormant; he repeated new injuries, and out of aversion to Constantine, began to persecute the Christians in 316, whom he had till then protected; and he put to death many bishops, the Forty Martyrs, and others. He also instigated the Sarmatians to invade the Roman territories; and made himself odious by his covetousness, licentiousness, and cruelty to his own subjects. Constantine, at length, finding all other means ineffectual declared war; and vast preparations were made on both sides. The armies of Licinius were more numerous, and he threatened that if his gods gave him victory, as his soothsayers and magicians pretended unanimously to foretell him, he would exterminate their enemies. Constantine prepared himself before the days of each battle by prayer, fasting, and retirement; and caused the ensign called the imperial Labarum, in which was the effigy of the cross, to be carried before his army. In battle, victory every where followed this chief standard so visibly, that Licinius, making a second stand near Chalcedon, ordered his soldiers to make no attacks on the side where the great standard of the cross was, nor to look towards it, confessing that it was fatal to him. He was first vanquished near Adrianople, where he left almost thirty-four thousand dead upon the spot, in July, 324; and in a second battle near Chalcedon, in which, out of one hundred and thirty thousand men, scarcely three thousand escaped. Licinius fell into the hands of the conqueror, who spared his life, and sent him to Thessalonica, where, upon information that he was attempting to raise new disturbances, he ordered him to be strangled the year following.
Constantine being, by this victory, become master of the East, concurred in assembling the council of Nice, in 325; and, in 326, wrote to Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem, concerning the building of a most magnificent church upon Mount Calvary. Saint Helen, though then four score years of age, took the charge on herself to see this pious work executed, desiring at the same time, to discover the sacred cross on which our Redeemer died. Eusebius, in his life of Constantine, mentions no other motive of her journey but her desire of adorning the churches and oratories in the holy places, and of relieving the poor in those parts, doubtless out of devotion to the mysteries of our divine Redeemer’s sufferings; but Rufin attributes it to visions; Socrates to admonitions in her sleep; Theophanes to divine warnings; Saint Paulinus 14 to her piety; saying that she undertook this journey to find the cross amongst other motives of devotion. And Constantine, in his letter to Macarius the bishop of Jerusalem, commissioned him to make search for it on Mount Golgotha of Calvary. 15 The heap of earth which had been thrown by the Pagans on the spot was removed, and the statue of Venus cast down, as Saint Paulinus and Saint Ambrose relate.
Another perplexing difficulty occurred in distinguishing the cross of Christ amongst the three that were found; for the nails found with it were no sufficient proof. The title which lay near it, and doubtless the marks of the nails which had fixed it, furnished an indication, as Saint Chrysostom 16 and Saint Ambrose 17 mention. Yet some doubt remained, to remove which, the most wise and divine Bishop Macarius, as he is called by Theodoret, who was one of the prelates who had condemned the impiety of Arius at Nice the year before, suggested that a miraculous proof should be asked of God. The pious empress therefore went, attended by the bishop and others, to the house of a lady of quality who lay very sick in the city. The empress having made a prayer aloud, recorded by Rufin, 18 the bishop applied the crosses, and the sick person was restored instantly at the touch of the true cross, as all these historians relate. Sozomen, Saint Paulinus, and Sulpicius Severus 19 add, that a person dead was by the like touch raised to life; but this deserves little notice, being only related upon report, as Sozomen expresses it. Saint Helen, when she had discovered the holy cross, “adored not the wood, but the King, Him who hung on the wood. She burned with an earnest desire of touching the remedy of immortality.” These are the words of Saint Ambrose. Part of the cross she recommended to the care of the Bishop Macarius, and covered it with a rich silver case, of which the Bishop of Jerusalem was the guardian, and which he every year exposed to the adoration of the people, says Saint Paulinus; and oftener according to the devotion of pilgrims. 20 She built a most sumptuous church on the spot to receive this precious relic. The other part of the cross she sent to her son the emperor at Constantinople, where it was covered and exposed to the veneration of the people with the greatest solemnity. Of the nails, one she put in a bridle, another in a diadem for her son, says Saint Ambrose. A third she threw into the Adriatic gulf in a storm; on which account the sailors entered on that sea as sanctified, with fastings, prayer, and singing hymns to this day, says Saint Gregory of Tours. 21 Eusebius, intent on the actions of the son Constantine in his life, speaks not directly of the discovery of the cross, yet mentions it indirectly in the letter of Constantine to Macarius about building the church, 22 and describes the two magnificent churches which the empress built, one on Mount Calvary, the other on Mount Olivet. 23 The same historian says: 24 “In the sight of all she continually resorted to the church, adorned the sacred buildings with the richest ornaments and embellishments, not passing by the chapels of the meanest towns, appearing amidst the women at prayer in a most humble garment.” Suidas adds: “She was affable, kind, and charitable to all ranks, but especially to religious persons.” To these, says Rufin, 25 she showed such respect as to serve them at table as if she had been a servant, set the dishes before them, pour them out drink, hold them water to wash their hands; “though empress of the world and mistress of the empire, she looked upon herself as servant of the hand-maids of Christ.” She built a convent for holy virgins at Jerusalem, mentioned by Suidas. Eusebius adds, that whilst she travelled over all the East with royal pomp and magnificence, she heaped all kind of favours both on cities and private persons, particularly on soldiers, the poor, the naked, and those who were condemned to the mines; distributing money, garments, etc.; freeing many from oppression, chains, banishment, etc. 26 She beautified and adorned the city of Drepanum, in Bithynia, in honour of Saint Lucian, martyr, so that Constantine caused that city to be called from her Helenopolis. At last, this pious princess returned to Rome, 27 and perceiving her last hour to approach, gave her son excellent instructions how to govern his empire according to the holy law of God. Then bidding him and her grandchildren a moving farewell, she expired in their presence in the month of August, 328, or, according to some, in 326, which year was the twentieth of her son’s reign, who on that occasion gave magnificent feasts at Rome during three months. Constantine ordered her to be interred with the utmost pomp with a stately mausoleum, and a porphyry urn, the largest and richest in the world, which is now shown in a gallery belonging to the cloister of the Lateran basilic. 28 He erected a statue to her memory, together with his own, and a large cross, in the middle of a great square in Constantinople; he also erected her statue at Daphne, near Antioch. Her name occurs in the Roman Martyrology on the 18th of August, the day of her death.
Notker, abbot of Hautvilliers, in the diocess of Rheims, in 1095, wrote a history of the translation of the relics of Saint Helen from Rome to that abbey, which was performed with pomp in 849. The author gives an authentic account of several miracles wrought through the intercession of this saint. He testifies that he had been eyewitness to many of them, and had learned the rest from the very persons on whom they had been performed. Part of this work, which is well written, was published by the Messieurs of Ste-Marthe, 29 and by Mabillon, 30 and almost the whole is inserted by the Bollandists, 31 in their great work. The entire manuscript is preserved at Hautvilliers, with an appendix written by the same author, containing an account of two other miracles performed by the relics of this saint. 32
This holy empress, and the great prince her son, paid all possible honour to bishops and pastors of the church. He who truly loves and honours God and religion, has a great esteem for whatever belongs to it; consequently respects its ministers. The first zealous Christian princes were thoroughly sensible that it is impossible to inspire the people with a just value and awful reverence for religion itself, and its immediate object, without a reasonable respect for its sacred ministers. Upon this principle were immunities granted to the church. Even Numa, and other heathen legislators, observe this maxim, to impress upon men’s minds religious sentiments, though towards a false worship. Scandals in pastors, when notorious, are most execrable sacrileges; and circumspection is necessary, that we be not drawn aside or imposed upon by any, because, like Alcimus, they are of the seed of Aaron; but a propensity to censure rashly, and detract from those persons who are invested with a sacred character, is inconsistent with a religious mind, and leads to a revolt. True pastors indeed, in the spirit of the apostles, far from ever resenting, or so much as thinking of any slights that may be put upon their persons, or desiring, much less seeking, any kind of respect, rejoice and please themselves rather in contempt, which in their hearts they sincerely acknowledge to be only their due. Humility is the ornament and the ensign of the sacred order which they hold in the Church of Christ.
- Father Alban Butler. “Saint Helen, Empress”. , 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 20 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <>
Heneric, the Arian Vandal king in Africa, in the seventh year of his reign, published fresh edicts against the Catholics, and ordered their monasteries to be every where demolished. Seven monks who lived in a monastery near Capsa, in the province of Byzacena, were at that time summoned to Carthage. Their names were Liberatus the Abbot, Boniface deacon, Servus and Rusticus subdeacons, Rogatus Septimus, and Maximus, monks. They were first tempted with great promises; but answered, “One faith, one Lord, and one baptism. As to our bodies, do with them what you please, and keep to yourselves those riches which you promise us, and which will shortly perish.” As they remained constant in the belief of the Trinity, and of one baptism, they were loaded with irons, and thrown into a dark dungeon. The faithful having bribed the guards, visited them day and night, to be instructed by them, and mutually to encourage one another to suffer for the faith of Christ. The king being informed of this, commanded them to be more closely confined, loaded with heavier irons, and tortured with inventions of cruelty which had never been heard of till that time. Soon after, he condemned them to be put into an old ship, and burnt at sea. The martyrs walked cheerfully to the shore, contemning the insults of the Arians as they passed along. Particular endeavours were used by the persecutors to gain Maximus, who was very young; but God, who makes the tongues of children eloquent to praise his name, gave him strength to withstand all their efforts, and he boldly told them, that they should never be able to separate him from his holy abbot and brethren, with whom he had borne the labours of a penitential life for the sake of everlasting glory. An old vessel was filled with dry sticks, and the seven martyrs were put on board and bound on the wood; and fire was put to it several times, but it went out immediately, and all endeavours to kindle it were in vain. The tyrant, in rage and confusion, gave orders that the martyrs’ brains should be dashed out with oars; which was done, and their bodies were cast into the sea, which, contrary to what was usual on that coast, threw them all on the shore. The Catholics interred them honourably with solemn singing, in the monastery of Bigua, near the church of Saint Celerinus. They suffered in the year 483. See their authentic acts, published by Ruinart, at the end of his edition of Victor Vitensis’s History of the Vandalic Persecution.
- Father Alban Butler. “Saint Liberatus, Abbot, and Six Monks, Martyrs”. , 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 20 July 2014. Web. 23 July 2014. <>