From 'Mementoes of the Martyrs' : "...which provoked a Frenchman who was there to comment on the strange ways of the English, "those who are for the pope are hanged, those who are against him are burned:"                                               Saint John-Paul II wrote: "The fact that one can die for the faith shows that other demands of the faith can also be met."                                                 Cardinal Müller says, “For the real danger to today’s humanity is the greenhouse gases of sin and the global warming of unbelief and the decay of morality when no one knows and teaches the difference between good and evil.”                                                  St Catherine of Siena said, “We've had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues - I see the world is rotten because of silence.”                                                  Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”                                                Brethren, Wake up!

FINDING OF THE HEAD OF THE BAPTIST

Tomorrow, 23rd February, is the third Feast of our beloved Patron, the First Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist, given in the Martyrology, but sadly not observed as a Feast in our Missal.

The story is by nature complicated, but in a nutshell, following his Martyrdom, Herodias forbade the burial of the Saint's body and Head together. Tradition relates that Saint John's body was buried in Sebaste, near Mount Nablus. Herodias is thought to have thrown the Head onto a dung heap at Machaerus, Herod's Palace where her harlot daughter danced. Some then recount that the wife of Herod's Steward took the head and reburied it on the Mount of Olives. Other stories exits, that it was buried in Jerusalem.  Some time in the 5th century it was found through the working of miracles around it, and Holy Mother Church is of the view that this Head is now in Rome, at the Church of San Silvestro in Capite. The Orthodox believe the head was taken to Constantinople, where it was again lost during wars. It was found a second time, around 450, translated to Constantinople, and in some accounts Walter de Sarton bought it thence to Amiens Cathedral during the Fourth Crusade, where it is still venerated. In 850 Patriarch Ignatius reportedly saw a vision of the resting place of the Head, and again took it to Constantinople, where it remains. Catholics are free to believe whatever part of all this they wish. Scepticism of conflicting historical records should not however diminish our duty of veneration to our Holy Patron, whose life and witness is clearly attended in Holy Scripture and by Tradition. It is perfectly consonant with doctrine and piety to venerate all three Heads, each is a sacred object, the subject of long veneration.

As our readers will most probably know, from early times, certainly by Rhodes, the Order had a relic of the Hand of Saint John. This survived Napoleon, and was taken to Russia by 'Grand Master' Tsar Peter, but was lost during the Second World War. It had accompanied, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the Icon of Our Lady of Philermo, now discovered in Montenegro. Again, we may believe what we wish.

The Church of San Silvestro in Capite is five minutes' walk from the Grand Magistry of our Order in Via dei Condotti. All members of the Order with their heads screwed on straight would do well to visit it regularly when they are in Rome, it will bring Order to our crazy world.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

The painting above is Caravaggio's 'Salome with the Head of Saint John'

NEWMAN AND THE CHURCH

John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais
We should all be overjoyed in England that the Holy Father has announced that Blessed John Henry Newman is to be raised fully to the altars as a Saint later this year. Thank you, Pope Francis! Today we rejoice with him also on the Feast of the Chair of Peter.

Newman's influence on the Church far surpasses the boundaries of England in the 19th century, though he single-handedly removed all intellectual justification for the continuation of Protestantism in this land, and left the Church of England merely an empty husk of customs and the relics of Christian buildings.

Indeed Newman may fairly be described as the Doctor of the 21st Century, for his writings address precisely the problems and ailments which Holy Mother Church suffers in our own age.

It is easy for malicious people, whom the Church has never lacked, to distort the meaning of the writings of the Saints to their own end if people have never read them for themselves, and certain progressive elements in the Church have, certainly around the time of his beatification, misrepresented his teaching by selecting passages from Newman's writings to imply support for relativist and modernist positions.  Nothing could be further from the truth, Newman warns us of the danger of what he called "the liberalisation of Religion", and his writings, based upon immemorial Tradition, read as freshly today as when they were composed.  For all the progress of the 20th century, liberal thinkers are still stuck in the mire of outdated modernism, condemned by, and outside the mind of, Holy Mother Church - the moral horrors we see today are merely developments of the errors Newman saw and condemns so clearly. One uses 'condemns' in the presest tense quite intentionally, as his writings are now to last as a gift to the Church forever.

In order that members of the Order of Malta may not feel themselves unarmed for the battle of Tuitio Fidei in which they are by joyful obligation engaged, we publish here an article from the Times of London, May 1879, which gives the famous Biglietto speech in full, the day of our new Saint's elevation to the Sacred Purple.

On Monday morning, May 12, Dr. Newman went to the Palazzo della Pigna, the residence of Cardinal Howard, who had lent him his apartments to receive there the messenger from the Vatican bearing the biglietto from the Cardinal-Secretary of State, informing him that in a secret Consistory held that morning his Holiness had deigned to raise him to the rank of Cardinal. By eleven o'clock the rooms were crowded with English and American Catholics, ecclesiastics and laymen, as well as many members of the Roman nobility and dignitaries of the Church, assembled to witness the ceremony. Soon after midday the consistorial messenger was announced. He handed the biglietto to Dr. Newman, who, having broken the seal, gave it to Dr. Clifford, Bishop of Clifton, who read the contents. The messenger having then informed the newly-created Cardinal that his Holiness would receive him at the Vatican the next morning at ten o'clock to confer the birretta upon him, and having paid the customary compliments, his Eminence replied in what has become known as his "Biglietto Speech" as follows:—
Vi ringrazio, Monsignore, per la participazione che m'avete fatto dell' alto onore che il Santo Padre si è degnato conferire sulla mia umile persona—
And, if I ask your permission to continue my address to you, not in your musical language, but in my own dear mother tongue, it is because in the latter I can better express my feelings on this most gracious announcement which you have brought to me than if I attempted what is above me.

WALSINGHAM DOWRY TOUR - TODAY

With apologies to our gentle Readers for the late notice, but we append below some information about the visit of Our lady of Walsingham to St George's Cathedral, Southwark,  this weekend, beginning this evening.

This is part of the preparations for the Rededication of England as Dowry of Mary by our Bishops in  2020.

The Tour begins with Rosary at 6pm this evening, Mass is at 7pm, followed by devotions.  The full programme may be read HERE.

For those for whom this is too short notice, Our Lady's Statue will be returning to London on 29th March, and indeedthe Order of Malta Monthly Recollection on 30th March at the Assumption Warwick Street will take place in Her presence.

This is Your Dowry, O Pious Virgin!

In 1399 Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to his suffragan bishops:

“The contemplation of the great mystery of the Incarnation has drawn all Christian nations to venerate her from whom came the first beginnings of our Redemption. But we English, being the servants of her special inheritance and her own dowry, as we are commonly called, ought to surpass others in the fervour of our praises and devotions.”

So, the title of England as ‘The Dowry of Mary’ was definitely in use by the end of the fourteenth century, but Archbishop Arundel’s letter seems to indicate that at the time of his writing it was already in common use, indicating an earlier origin.

FEAST OF OUR MOTHER CHURCH

Today is the feast of the Dedication of our Mother Church in Valetta. It is also kept here in London as the feast of our own Conventual Church of Saint John Jerusalem, as it was of our former eponymous church in Clerkenwell. This is the first Order feast of the calendar year, and we hope that you have entered the others in your diaries, it is the privilege and duty of all members of the Order to give thanks for, and to ask the intercession of, our Patrons. 


THE COLLECT OF THE MASS 
O GOD, who year by year renew for us the day when this your holy temple was consecrated, hear the prayers of your people and grant that in this place for you there may always be pure worship, and for us fullness of redemption. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.