Dear Friends in Christ,
The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi is not observed in the sacred liturgy this year because 4 October, his date in the Roman Calendar, falls on a Sunday. But since today is his feast, let me commend to you two books about the Poverello of Assisi, both of which go a long way towards dispelling the silly image of this great champion of Christ as a proto-hippie skipping through the forest signing to birds. The first biography I recommend is Saint Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton, published in 1923. This slim volume captures the personality of the man and places him firmly in the history of his time and place in the Church, and as with everything written by Chesterton, it is a rollicking good read. The second text I recommend is Francis of Assisi: A New Biography recently written by Augustine Thompson, OP – a Dominican friar and professor of medieval history and philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. Father Thompson’s biography is a more scholarly work than Chesterton’s but is very accessible to all readers. Both of these books will change the way you understand one of the great Christian witnesses of all time.
This Wednesday is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, originally called the Feast of Our Lady of Victory – a devotion introduced after the victory of the Christian fleet over the invading Muslim fleet at the Battle of Lepanto on 7 October 1571. The Ottoman fleet of over 250 ships carried more than 80,000 soldiers and sailors, and the Christian fleet – patched together from many European sovereignties with the blessing of Pope St. Pius V – engaged the enemy near the Greek port of Lepanto (from the Latin form of its name), also known as Nafpaktos. The Turkish fleet was destroyed in one of the greatest naval victories of all time, and the victory was attributed by many to the thousands of people praying the Rosary in preparation for the engagement at the request of the pope, hence the twin names of the feast: Our Lady of Victory and Our Lady of the Rosary. Look up the Battle of Lepanto on the internet, and learn about one very dramatic moment in a very old conflict between Islam and the West.
Please join us this Saturday 10 October at 11 am for the diaconal ordination of Clark Brittain, who will serve the St. Anselm’s Community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and will assist also at St. Mary’s as his duties allow. The day before the ordination, Friday 9 October, is kept in England and by the Ordinariate as the Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, the Oxford don and Anglican priest who became a Catholic in the middle of his life and was one of the most original Christian minds of the past two hundred years. At the age of 78 Newman was made a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church by Pope Leo XIII as a sign of the Church’s blessing on the labors of his extraordinarily productive life.