Monday, 25 August 2008

The Church Suffering

That splendid charity, Aid to the Church in Need, has asked me to advertise their annual Westminster Event, which I'm very happy to do.

Entitled 'Never Forgotten - The Suffering Church,' it will take place in the Cathedral Hall on Saturday 27th September, kicking off with Sung Latin Mass (Ordinary Form) celebrated by the Archbishop of Baghdad in the Cathedral at 10.30am. From 12 noon there will be a series of talks in the Hall, the speakers including the Iraqi Archbishop and Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Tickets are available here.

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Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Church Universal

You don't need to go the Vatican to get a flavour of the Universal Church. Take my parish here in Hackney. This afternoon I baptized two children from Angola and said prayers with a refugee from Rwanda. We've also had a number of house guests this last week - including a Czech seminarian from the Archdiocese of Olomouc and a priest of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia (which I visited in January).

And five minutes ago, as I was finishing my Sunday homily, the Archbishop of Ibaden (currently President of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference) walked into my room! He's been in London celebrating his 70th birthday with his family and was popping in to see my next-door neighbour, the National Nigerian Chaplain.

Just another typical parochial day!

I'm away for a few days next week, so let me wish you all a pleasant Bank Holiday weekend.

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Monday, 11 August 2008

A Recording of Cardinal Manning's Voice

Flicking through a volume of The Tablet from 1894 the other day - as you do - I found a fascinating report of a phonograph that was made of Cardinal Manning's voice as he lay dying in 1891 (he finally passed away on 14 January 1892). He was encouraged to do this by his friend, Charles Kent (author of The Modern Seven Wonders of the World), and the recording was made by Edison's representative in the UK, Colonel Gouraud. 'In the beautiful library of the Cardinal,' we read in the report, originally printed in the Pall Mall Gazette, 'the message was dictated and afterwards reproduced, to the unconcealed pleasure and amazement of its author.'

Three recordings were made - one for Cardinal Gibbons in America, another for Pope Leo XIII ('the reception of which made a great effect upon the Pontiff, who could hardly believe that it was not the actual voice of his friend that he heard') and the third for posterity, to be played only after the Cardinal's death death. 'Upon my handing him the cylinder,' wrote Colonel Gouraud, 'the Cardinal took it with a curious expression in his eyes, as if he were trying to realize that the next time the message was heard he would be in his grave.'

The message was finally played on 16 February 1894 in a large reception room of Whitehall Court. Distinguished guests were invited, rather morbidly, 'to meet his Eminence Cardinal Vaughan and Henricus Edwardus Cardinalis Manning, Archepiscopus Westmonasteriensis.' Those assembled included the Cardinal's faithful Secretary, Mgr Johnson, the American Ambassador and a representative of the Prime Minister, Sir Algernon West. 'The scene was a very impressive one and the audience listened with bated breath to the faint scratching of the phonograph...the message came forth slowly, solenly, deliberately, and with long pauses of thought: "To all who come after me; I hope that no words of mine, written or spoken in my life, will be found to have done harm to any one after I am dead - Henry Edward Manning, Cardinal Archbishop." A few other voices were put upon the phonograph after this, including those of Tennyson, Browning, General Sharman, and others who in life will never be heard again. It is the intention of Colonel Gouraud some day to deposit these priceless treasures in the British Museum. Till then they will in all probability never be listened to in England again' (Tablet, 24 Feb 1894, pp290-291).

I must investigate to see if this valuable recording is to be found in the British Library's hi-tech Sound Archive.

UPDATE: I've received a reply from the British Library saying that they don't have the recording in their collection and don't know whether it survived. It's the sort of thing that might be lying around in an attic somewhere!

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Saturday, 9 August 2008

Amazing Technicolour Chasuble

Remember this?


...the official vestments for World Youth Day in Paris (1997). Well, here's the eighteenth century equivalent, which I stumbled across while setting up for one of my Masses in Piedmont last week:



However, given the modern-day cultural connotations I'm sure this item is kept in the drawer as a curiosity piece...

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Friday, 8 August 2008

Some Holiday Snaps


I'm back from ten days of touring the Italian Lakes and spending time with my parents (where there isn't very good internet access). Last week I was enjoying the area around Lago Maggiore and staying at the Rosminian houses at Stresa and Domodossola. It was perfect holiday - plenty of this:


Good solid 'autentico' Italian fare, to help us recover from all the church-crawling:


This is the friary of Madonna del Sasso above Lucarno, Switzerland. Lake Maggiore has shores in both Italy and Switzerland, so it was possible to cross the border and briefly leave the E.U. (without any customs or passport checks). Stresa, our main base, has a charming Victorian air about it (there's even a statue of Queen Victoria in the grounds of a hotel that she used). It is the resting place of the once-controversial and now newly-beatified Antonio Rosmini, the friend of several popes, prolific philosopher and founder of the Institute of Charity and Sisters of Providence. Here is his monument at Collegio Rosmini:


His tomb is in the crypt below - looks rather like the proposed monument to Newman at the Birmingham Oratory. One Rosminian I met speculated that both Rosmini and Newman will be Doctors of the Church within 20 years - and both, of course, had their orthodoxy questioned in the nineteenth century:


This is the house where the beatus died in 1855. It is now a centre for Rosminian studies:


His bust can also be found by the lakeside:


The final ingredient of the holiday - lots of outstanding natural beauty to refresh the city-wearied soul:
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