Monday, 10 March 2014

Priestcraft: Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson's Come Rack!Come Rope!


I've read some of Benson's work before and posted on him and his family. In hand at present is Come Rack! Come Rope! a story based around the persecution of Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth. St. Edmund Campion Martyr comes into the tale which is quite absorbing and well told. He refers to his Queen as our Eliza and she is described thus:

She was dressed in some splendid stuff; jewels sparkled beneath her throat. Once a hand in an embroidered glove rose to wave an answer to the roar of salute; and, as the carriage came beneath, she raised her face.

It was a thin face, sharply pear-shaped, ending in a pointed chin; a tight mouth smiled at the corners; above her narrow eyes and high brows rose a high forehead, , surmounted by strands of auburn hair drawn back tightly beneath the little head-dress. It was a strangely peaked face, very clear-skinned, and resembled in some manner a mask. But the look of it was as sharp as steel; like a slender rapier, fragile and thin, yet keen enough to run a man through. The power of it, in a word, was out of all measure with the slightness of the face…. Then the face dropped; and Marjorie watched the back of the head bending this way and that, till the nodding heads that followed hid it from sight.

Fr. Edmund Campion in the disguise of a gentleman then says a strange thing:
He lifted his cap once more with grave seriousness. "God save her
Grace!" he said.

For all his loyalty he was hung, drawn and quartered at Tyburn after several interviews, or mechanically 'enhanced interrogations' with Richard Topcliffe priest-hunter in chief.

Addendum 11/3/14:

A character in the book mentions that he thinks the Papal bull of 1570 Regnans in Excelsis denouncing Elizabeth was a political error. It ushered in a period of persecution and repression that might have been avoided. One wonders whether the memory of this might not have played a part in the treatment of the Nazis by Pope Pius XII.

Blunders come in both directions. Obama and his Prayer Breakfast Waffle on Religious Freedom. He started a totally unnecessary fight with his contraception mandate. Why? It will be interesting to see how that proceeds.

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