Category Archives: British History

#275 – The Papal Peace Note

Pope Benedict XV repeatedly called for an end to the violence of the First World War, but his cries just as repeatedly were rejected by the governments of belligerent countries that would be satisfied with nothing less than total victory. Yet, it was not only the governments of belligerent countries that thwarted Benedict’s mission – many Catholic bishops and cardinals also rejected the “Pope’s peace”.

Benedict XV’s Papal Peace Note
Benedict XV’s Peace Offering Calendar

Griffin, Mike. “Snubbed: Pope Benedict XV and Cardinal James Gibbons”. Sign of Peace Journal.
Peters, Walter H. The Life of Benedict XV. Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co, 1959.
Pollard, John F. The Unknown Pope: Benedict XV (1912-1922) and the Pursuit of Peace. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 2000.

“The Peaceful Pope” – cover of Simplicissimus 1915.

Check out the other great podcasts at the Starquest Production Network
Website of the Third Order Franciscans

Send e-mail questions and comments to

To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#275 – The Papal Peace Note


#265 – Idolatrie in Crust

The Mincemeat pie has a long history with connections to the history of Christmas and Thanksgiving, the history of England and the United States, the history of Catholics and Pilgrims. Mincemeat pies have been praised and cursed and banned..promising a taste of heaven and/or hell in every bite.

Fascinating pages on the history of the mince pies in the United States
Pages on the history of mince pies in England
Mincemeat pies with meat
Vegetarian mince pie
Dessert mince pie without alcohol

Restad, Penne L. Christmas in America: A History. Oxford University Press, 1996.

Painting – “Christmas Pie” by William Henry Hunt

Check out the other great podcasts at the Starquest Production Network
Paul’s Men Podcast

Send e-mail questions and comments to

To listen, just click on the link below:

podcasticon#265 – Idolatrie in Crust

Today in Catholic History – Henry VIII is declared the Defender of the Faith

On 17 October 1521, Pope Leo X declared King Henry VIII the Fidei Defensor or Defender of the Faith. This title was given to honor Henry for his book Defense of the Seven Sacraments which attacked the theology of Martin Luther and was dedicated to Leo. This title was added to the full royal title of Henry as “Henry the Eighth, by the Grace of God, King of England and France, Defender of the Faith and Lord of Ireland”.

After Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church, Pope Paul III excommunicated Henry and rescinded the grant of the title “Defender of the Faith” in 1538 but the English Parliament declared that the title remained valid.

Henry’s book was very popular and went through twenty editions in the sixteenth century.

Today in Catholic History – Edward Gibbon and the Franciscans

On 15 October 1764, Edward Gibbon received his inspiration to write his famous The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which is seen as the beginning of modern historical writing on the Roman Empire and a tremendous influence on later historical writing.

Gibbon wrote in his Autobiography that it was as he heard Franciscan Friars singing Vespers in the Church of Santa Maria Aracoeli in Rome, which had been built on a site where there had previously been a Temple of Juno, where his desire to write about Rome began. Gibbon believed that he was on the former site of a Temple of Jupiter, but was mistaken. Gibbon’s first inspiration was to write about the city of Rome and only later concerned himself with the entire empire.

One of the main arguments of Gibbon in his magisterial work was that Christian hostility to the Roman Empire was one of the main reasons for the empire’s eventual collapse. Many historians today, however, reject this argument and instead point to economic and military reasons for the end of the Roman Empire in the West.

Today in Catholic History – John Henry Newman enters the Catholic Church

On 9 October 1845, John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church by the Passionist priest Dominic Barberi at the College in Littlemore, England.

John Henry Newman, known for his writings on Catholic Education, turned toward Catholicism based upon his readings of the writings of Saint Augustine against the Donatist heresy. Newman wondered, if Augustine was correct in calling the Donatists heretics because they were separated from Rome, what did that imply about the Anglican Church in his time? He writes, “Who can account for the impressions which are made on him? For a mere sentence, the words of St. Augustine, struck me with a power which I never had felt from any words before . . . they were like the ‘Tolle, lege, — Tolle, lege,’ of the child, which converted St Augustine himself. ‘Securus judicat orbis terrarum!’ By those great words of the ancient Father, interpreting and summing up the long and varied course of ecclesiastical history, the theology of the Via Media was absolutely pulverised.”

Newman would find confirmation his opinion about the need to enter the Catholic Church in the writings of other Church Fathers as well.

Newman’s decision to become Catholic would lead to breaks with family and friends. In October 1846, he was ordained to the priesthood in Rome. He was beatified on the 19th of September 2010.

Today in Catholic History – Universalis Ecclesiae

On 29 September 1850, Pope Pius IX re-established the Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Britain with the bull Universalis Ecclesiae.

Ever since the death of the last Roman Catholic bishop during the reign of Elizabeth I, the Catholic hierarchy had gone underground and been replaced by Apostolic Vicars. With Universalis Ecclesiae, thirteen dioceses were established under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Westminister.

The new bishops in England did not occupy the traditional dioceses which had been taken over by the Anglican church but rather new dioceses were created. So, there was no Archbishop of Canterbury but rather the Archbishop of Westminster. However, the Archbishop of Westminster was seen as the successor of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In Scotland, where the established church did not have an episcopate, the earlier dioceses were re-established.

Today in Catholic History – The Hobbit Is Published

On 21 September 1937, Allen & Unwin published J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. Tolkien had began writing The Hobbit in the 1930’s with the famous line, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”.

The Hobbit was extremely successful, leading the publishers to ask Tolkien for a sequel that would become The Lord of the Rings. The success of The Hobbit caught Tolkien by surprise, ““At the moment I am suffering like Mr. Baggins from a touch of ‘staggerment.’” A few years ago a signed first edition of the book was sold for £60,000 or approximately $93,500.

While Tolkien’s Catholicism is more readily apparent in The Lord of the Rings, he was clear to note its influence in The Hobbit as well. In describing his idea of the Euchatastrophe, “the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears”, which was essential in all true fairy stories and which is reflective of the Resurrection – “the greatest ‘euchatastrophe’ possible”, Tolkien noted the “eucatastrophic” ending of The Hobbit.

Today in Catholic History – Mass at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey

On 23 August 1153, Mass was held at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey in London. This was the first Mass permitted in England since the Reformation. While Catholic liturgies had been forbidden under the reigns of Henry VIII and his son Edward VI. Under Queen Mary I, Catholicism was again to be the official religion of the Kingdom of England.

Diarist Henry Machyn described the event in these words, ‘Mass at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey goodly sung in Latin, tapers set on the altar and a cross, and all this not by commandment but by the people’s devotion.’

When Elizabeth I ascended to the English throne in 1558, she would rescind Mary’s decree making Catholicism the established church of the kingdom.

Today in Catholic History – The Battle of St. Quentin

On 10 August 1557, the combined forces of Spain and England defeated those of France at the Battle of St. Quentin. This was the first military victory of Philip II as King of Spain.

At this time, Philip II, also the Holy Roman Emperor, was allied with England as a result of his marriage to Queen Mary of England. Spain and France had been at war for some years over which country would have greater dominance over Europe.

The battle took place on the feast day of Saint Lawrence, so Philip constructed the palace El Escorial [now the Monastery of Saint Lawrence] as a memorial to the victory and in the saint’s honor. One tradition holds that palace was constructed in the shape of a gridiron which was the shape of the instrument of Lawrence’s martyrdom. Others argue that the palace was constructed in the shape of the Temple of Solomon. The palace was completed in 1584.

Spain’s victory did not have much of an effect on the kingdoms of France, Spain or England but it did enable the Duchy of Savoy to obtain its independence from France.