Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus


Something for the weekend. Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.  I have always loved this Protestant hymn.  In 1856 Dudley Atkins Tyng was removed as pastor from the Episcopalian Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia due to his fervent preaching against slavery.  He died as a result of a farming accident in 1858.  His last recorded words admonished those who were around him to Stand up for Jesus. His friend George Duffield, Jr., inspired by those parting words, wrote the magnificent hymn.


Saint Albans Raid


When one thinks of the Civil War, bucolic Vermont usually does not come to mind, except for the troops from Vermont who fought for the Union.  However, on October 19, 1864 the Civil War came to Saint Albans, Vermont.

21 Confederate raiders from Canada disguised as civilians, the border being only 15 miles from the town, entered Saint Albans beginning October 10, two or three arriving each day so as not to attract attention.  At 3:00 PM they staged three simultaneous bank robberies.  Several armed citizens of Saint Albans resisted the raiders, with one of the civilians killed and one wounded.  Infuriated by the resistance, the raiders attempted to burn the town but succeeded only in burning a shed.  Escaping with $208,000.00 dollars the raiders, under pursuit, escaped to Canada.

The raid caused an enormous furor in Canada which wanted no part of the Civil War.  The raiders were arrested and $88,000 returned to the banks in Saint Albans, all that could be recovered by the Canadian authorities.  A Canadian court however ruled that the Confederates, because they were members of the Confederate Army, were not criminals and could not be extradited to the Union.  No further raids were stage from Canada.

The leader of the raid, Lieutenant Bennett Young, was excluded from President Andrew Johnson’s amnesty and spent several years abroad, studying law and literature in Ireland and Scotland.  Being permitted to return to the US in 1868, he became a prominent attorny in Louisville, Kentucky.  His charitable works were legion, including founding the first black orphanage in Louisville and a school for the blind, along with quite a bit of pro bono legal work for the poor.  He served as national commander of the United Confederate Veterans. (more…)

Published in: on October 18, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cardinal Mundelein and the Conclave of 1939



Thanks to the protest of Cardinal O’Connell to Pius XI after the Conclave of 1922, and the development of transoceanic air travel, all Cardinals not prevented by illness or extreme old age were able to participate in the Conclave of 1939, beginning on March 1, 1939 on the eve of World War II.  One of the American cardinals participating was George Cardinal Mundelein of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Born in 1872 on the lower east side in Manhattan, Mundelein broke the mold for most American Cardinals of his era in not being of Irish extraction,  He was only half-Irish on his mother’s side!  His father’s family was of German origin.   He spent all of his early career in the Brooklyn diocese, rising to Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn in 1909.  He was made Archbishop of the Chicago Archdiocese in late 1915.

His introduction to Chicago was turbulent in that an anarchist dosed chicken with arsenic at a banquet held in his honor.  An emergency emetic prepared by a Doctor in attendance prevented any fatalities.

The Archbishop was made a Cardinal in 1924 by Pius XI.

For his day, Mundelein was viewed as a liberal and he certainly was in his politics.  He was an enthusiastic supporter of the New Deal and he made this comment which would not be out of place in a Catholic Worker  paper today:

The trouble with [the Church] in the past has been that we were too often allied or drawn into an alliance with the wrong side. Selfish employers of labor have flattered the Church by calling it the great conservative force, and then called upon it to act as a police force while they paid but a pittance of wage to those who work for them. I hope that day has gone by. Our place is beside the workingman.

His views on other matters reveal the limitations of political classifications when applied to Churchmen.  He was an uncompromising foe of contraception and campaigned against sexual suggestiveness in films.  On easy divorce he had this to say:  “that not war, nor famine, nor pestilence have brought so much suffering and pain to the human race, as have hasty, ill-advised marriages, unions entered into without the knowledge, the preparation, the thought even an important commercial contract merits and receives. God made marriage an indissoluble contract, Christ made it a sacrament, the world today has made it a plaything of passion, an accompaniment of sex, a scrap of paper to be torn up at the whim of the participants.”

He did not live long after his participation in the Conclave of 1939, dying of a heart attack at age 67 in October of 1939. (more…)

Father John B. Bannon: Confederate Chaplain and Dilomat

There were a great many brave men, during the Civil War, but I think it is a safe wager that none were braver than Father John B. Bannon.  Born on January 29, 1829 in Dublin, Ireland, after he was ordained a priest he was sent in 1853 to Missouri to minister to the large Irish population in Saint Louis.  In 1858 he was appointed pastor of St. John’s parish on the west side of the city.  Always energetic and determined, he was instrumental in the construction Saint John the Apostle and Evangelist church.  Out of his hectic schedule he somehow found time to become a chaplain in the Missouri Volunteer Militia and became friends with many soldiers who, unbeknownst to them all, would soon be called on for something other than peaceful militia drills.  In November 1860 he marched with the Washington Blues under the command of Captain Joseph Kelly to defend the state from Jayhawkers from “Bleeding Kansas”.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, most of the Saint Louis Irish were strongly Confederate in their sympathies and Father Bannon was of their number.  The Irish viewed the conflict in light of their experiences in Ireland with the English invaders, with the Southerners in the role of the Irish and the Northerners as the English.   Confederate militia gathered at Camp Jackson after the firing on Fort Sumter, and Father Bannon went there as chaplain of the Washington Blues.  Camp Jackson eventually surrendered to Union forces, and Father Bannon was held in Union custody until May 11, 1861.  He resumed his parish duties, although he made no secret from the pulpit where his personal sympathies lay.  Targeted for arrest by the Union military in Saint Louis, on December 15, 1861, he slipped out of the back door of his rectory, in disguise and wearing a fake beard,  as Union troops entered the front door.

He made his way to Springfield, Missouri where Confederate forces were gathering, and enlisted in the Patriot Army of Missouri under the colorful General Sterling Price, who would say after the War that Father Bannon was the greatest soldier he ever met.

He became a chaplain in the First Missouri Confederate Brigade, and would serve in that capacity until the unit surrendered at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863.  He quickly became a legend not only in his brigade, but in the entire army to which it was attached and an inspiration to the soldiers, Catholic and Protestant alike.  At the three day battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, March 6-8, 1862, he disobeyed orders for chaplains to remain in the rear and joined the soldiers on the firing line, giving human assistance to the wounded, and divine assistance for those beyond human aid.  For Catholic soldiers he would give them the Last Rites, and Protestant soldiers, if they wished, he would baptize. (more…)

Published in: on October 16, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stolen Columbus Letter Returned to Vatican

I missed this story last year:


Columbus’ letter to the royal couple was translated into Latin and circulated widely; 80 of these copies are known to exist today. The Vatican’s document was printed in Rome in 1493 and, centuries later, bequeathed to the Apostolic Library by the collector Giovanni Francesco De Rossi. The letter had been bound with blank papers to make it appear thicker.

In 2011, United States Homeland Security Investigations received a tip from a rare book and manuscript expert who had seen the Vatican’s copy and suspected it was a forgery. Over the course of a years-long investigation, American officials were able to trace the original letter to a collector in Atlanta, who had purchased the document “in good faith” from a New York dealer in 2004, according to the United States Department of Justice.

The collector, Robert David Parsons, had paid a $875,000 for the letter. In 2017, an expert compared Parsons’ document to the one in the Vatican and determined that only Parsons’ was authentic; the other was a very skillfully executed fake.

Go here to read the rest.  The faking of antiquities is a big business.  Modern technology gives us more tools to detect fakes, but also gives con artists the ability to create more convincing fakes.

Published in: on October 15, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Columbus, Christianity and Courage

“This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky. “

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

This is one of those years in which the government decreed Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, does not fall on October 12, the date, under the Julian calendar, when Columbus discovered the New World.  Columbus Day is observed also in Spain as Dia de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional and as the charmingly unpc Dia de la Raza in most Latin American nations.

In this country Columbus Day used to be an uncomplicated celebration, especially for Italian Americans.  Now it has become controversial with Columbus blamed in some quarters for genocide against Indians and being the founder of the American slave trade.  As Dinesh D’Souza pointed out in this article in 1995 in First Things, the condemnation of Columbus today tells us far more about current political battles than it does about the historical record of Columbus.  From a modern standpoint there is indeed much to criticize Columbus for since, in most ways, he was a typical man of his time, as we are, in most ways, typical children of ours.  Among other views inimical to our time,  he saw nothing wrong about establishing colonies and bringing native peoples under the rule of European powers.  He had little respect for the religions of native people and wanted them to be Christian, as, indeed, he wanted all the world to be Christian.  (I see nothing wrong in this myself, but rest assured most of our contemporaries in this country would.)

Prior to ascending the pulpit to launch a jeremiad against someone of a prior time however, it might be useful to consider the criticisms that Columbus might have of our time.  The embrace of nihilistic atheism by so many in the West in our time would have appalled him. The easy availability of the most degrading types of pornography would have sickened him.  Our weapons of mass destruction he would have seen as a sign of the reign of the Anti-Christ.  Ecumenicalism he would have viewed as a turning away from the True Faith.  The celebration of abortion as a right would have seemed to him as the ultimate covenant with death.  The Sixties of the last century popularized the term generation gap, describing the difficulty that parents and their teenage offspring had in understanding each other.  Between our time and that of Columbus there is a generations’ chasm and the use of Columbus as a whipping boy in current political disputes only increases our problem of understanding him and his time.

I believe that there are two keys to understanding Columbus:  his Catholic faith and his courage.  Columbus lived in a religious age, but even in his time he was noted for the fervor of his faith.  Masses, penances, pilgrimages, retreats, the reading of the Bible, all the aspects of devotion that the Catholic faith offered, Columbus engaged in all of his life.  Any ship he commanded was scrupulous in religious observances, with the Salve Regina being chanted by the crew each evening at Vespers.  As his son Ferdinand noted:   “He was so strict in matters of religion that for fasting and saying prayers he might have been taken for a member of a religious order.” (more…)

Published in: on October 14, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Columbus and the Virgin Mary


The Virgin of the Navigators is an alterpiece painted in 1536 by Alejo Fernandez for the chapel at the House of Trade in Seville.  Under the protection of the Virgin are depicted King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and, kneeling on the viewer’s right are Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and one of the Pinzon Brothers.  In the background are gathering the peoples of the New World.  The painting was made five years after the appearance of Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in 1531, and I wonder if word of this miracle had made its way back to Spain.

At any rate, I know Columbus would have loved the painting.  All of his life he had a special devotion to Mary, as demonstrated by the name of his flagship, Santa Maria, and his strict observance of sailors singing Salve Regina at around 7:00 PM after saying their evening prayers.  ( The full name of the Santa Maria was Santa Maria de la  Imaculada ConcepcionSaint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, which indicates that Columbus believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary.)  On the return voyage from discovering the New World, when supplies were rapidly running out, Columbus and his crew promised pilgrimages to various Marian shrines if they made it back to Spain.  In his will Columbus left a legacy to build a church dedicated to Saint Mary of the Conception on Hispaniola, a wish, alas, his executors did not carry out.  Columbus would rarely write a letter without inserting this phrase:  Jesus cum Maria sit nobis in via. (May Jesus with Mary be with us on the way.)  Not a bad hope for all of us.

Published in: on October 13, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Sand Pebbles


It is said there will be no more war. We must pretend to believe that. But when war comes, it is we who will take the first shock and buy time with our lives. It is we who keep the faith. We are not honored for it. We are called mercenaries on the outposts of empire. … We serve the flag. The trade we follow is the give and take of death. It is for that purpose the American people maintain us. Any one of us who believes he has a job like any other, for which he draws a money wage, is a thief of the food he eats and a trespasser in the bunk in which he lies down to sleep!

Speech of Lieutenant Collins, The Sand Pebbles



Something for the weekend.  Theme song by Jerry Goldsmith for The Sand Pebbles (1966).  The movie is hard to understand unless the novel on which it is based is read first.  The story of the sailors onboard the fictional USS San Pablo, an American gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River in 1926-1927, was written by Richard McKenna, who served on an American gunboat in China in the thirties and retired from the Navy in 1953 as a Chief Machinist’s Mate after 22 years of service.  McKenna wrote the novel in 1962 and died in 1964 of a heart attack at age 51.

My favorite scene from the film:


Latest From Eastwood

The attempted lynching in the media of the late Richard Jewell was a prime example of “fake news” by the mainstream media.  Go here to read about it.  Jewell went through hell, largely because of a misuse by the FBI of “criminal profiling”.   There was bupkis evidence to connect Jewell to the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.  That did not stop the media from having a field day mocking the fat, inarticulate hero.  Truly shameful, and it deserves to be remembered.  The only thing good about this for Jewell was that the internet was in its infancy when this witch hunt occurred.

Unlucky Chambersburg

Most Northern cities and towns came through the Civil War unscathed, far from the combat that raged in the Confederacy and the Border States.  Not so Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, located only 13 miles north of the Maryland border in southcentral Pennsylvania which would be occupied three times during the Civil War.

The first occupation occurred on October 10, 1862 when General Jeb Stuart, launching a raid in the aftermath of Antietam, captured it with 1800 cavalrymen, destroying a quarter of a million in railroad property and seizing hundreds of horses.

During the Gettysburg campaign in 1863, the town was occupied by the Confederates for a number of days in June, with General Lee establishing his headquarters for a time in a nearby farm.  Once again railroad property was destroyed along with several warehouses.

On July 30, 1864 for the third and final time, with much of the town burned when a ransom of half a million dollars could not be raised.  This was done in retaliation for burnings carried out by the Union in the Shenandoah Valley.  Go here to read an article in defense of the burning which appeared in The Confederate Veteran in 1903. (more…)

Published in: on October 10, 2019 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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