24 April 2015

To Turin to see the Merciful Face of the Suffering Servant

Tomorrow, I will join twenty-five other priests living at the Casa Santa Maria (there are sixty-two of us in total this year) on a quick pilgrimage that will involve some fourteen hours on a bus over a thirty-six hour period. It will likely be somewhat tedious, but it will also be worth it. We are going to look upon and pray before the Shroud of Turin, which only recently was exposed again for the veneration of the faithful.

The Shroud of Turin is among the cloths found in the tomb mentioned by the Apostle and Evangelist Saint John:
They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead (John 20:4-9).
In total, four cloths were taken from the tomb, the Shroud and three others:
  1. the napkin, also known as the sudarium, (the most important of the cloths) which covered his face - and now bears the image of the Risen Lord - is housed at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy;
  2. the cloth used to wipe his face and catch his blood when he was taken down from the Cross is housed in the Cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo, Spain; and,
  3. the cloth used to keep his jaw shut when he was placed in the tomb is housed, if memory serves, somewhere in Germany.


The Shroud of Turin displays in remarkable detail the terrible sufferings Christ Jesus endured for us and looking upon the image left in the cloth we can hear the Lord call out to us: “Come, all who pass by the way, pay attention and see: is there any pain like my pain” (Lamentations 1:12)? To understand and know the sufferings of the Lord is of great importance, for in them we see unmistakable evidence of his merciful love, that what the Evangelists wrote of his sufferings in the Gospels is true

Within the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem is an exhibit dedicated to the Shroud of Turin that contains a detailed model of the man shown in the Shroud, produced with the latest technology:

 


That this man suffered greatly, there can be no doubt. Nor can it be doubted that he died in peace:


His face displays a certain serenity because he died knowing that "it is finished" (John 19:30).

Looking upon the Shroud Sunday morning will be an opportunity for each of us to say with Saint Bonaventure:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who for me did not spare yourself, you have pierced my heart with your wounds and inebriated my mind with your blood. Wherever I turn, I always see you crucified for me; whatever I look at seems to me stained with your blood. And so, turning totally to you, I find nothing but you, nothing except the sight of your wounds. It would be consoling to me if I were crucified with you, my Lord. It would afflict me deeply to meditate on anything other than you. Every time I think about the wonderful condescension of divine piety in our regard, I am greatly ashamed and embarrassed because of my ingratitude. And so, the more I realize the great worth of the benefits of redemption, the viler are the sins of my ingratitude (Soliloquium, I.34).
Having already seen the Veil of Manoppello several times, I am going to Turin tomorrow as if to complete my experience of being in his tomb; I want to see the cloths that the Apostles found so as to better understand the experience of that first Easter morning.

This past Sunday, the Holy Father Pope Francis said of the opening of the exhibition of the Shroud of Turin: "I hope that this act of veneration helps us all to find in Jesus Christ the Merciful Face of God, and to recognize it in the face of our brothers and sisters, particularly those suffering most."

I will be bringing with me many intentions from my family and friends, many of which involve great sufferings of one form or another. Those who suffer so greatly for bearing the name of Christian will be remembered in my own intentions. Let each of us strive to unite our sufferings to his, that his merciful love may be better known.

After 5 days, only a few of the names of the Ethiopian martyrs are known - why?

Two days ago I raised the question of why, after three days, we still had not learned the names of the 28 martyrs - most of whom were Ethiopian - killed by the Islamic State in Libya on 19 April 2015. Still, after five days, we still do not have a list of all of their names or their stories, while we knew both of the 21 Copts killed the Islamic State deaths after they were martyred.

I spent a good amount of time today trying to remedy this situation to put together such a list myself. It is remarkable - and sad - how difficult it is to find this information. The greatest amount of information I found was about Jamal Raham, a Muslim who is said to have refused to abandon his Christian friend, who curiously is never named. Why do we know more information about one Muslim than we know about 27 Christians?

Of the Christians, three were from Eritrea and had recently been deported from Israel; their names I could not find.

Two of the martyrs were Ethiopian: Eysau Yikunoamlak - a migrant who wanted to earn money for his ailing mother, Ahaza Kassaye - and Balch Belete, whose story I could not find.

Why do we still know so little about them? As I wondered about this two days, I wrote:
I have no direct evidence of a possible reason, but I cannot help but wonder if part of the reason is not racism. This would also help to explain why the world has taken so very long to respond to - or even to care about - what Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group that has been active twice as long as the Islamic State, is doing in Nigeria (and in Cameroon and Chad). I hope I am wrong about this, but I do wonder.
If you know of an alternative explanation, I would very much like to learn of it.
Is there a more plausible explanation?

Boko Haram Ongoing Updates - April 2015

Previous Updates: March 2015 | February 2015

24 April 2015
23 April 2015
22 April 2015
21 April 2015
19 April 2015
17 April 2015
16 April 2015
15 April 2015
14 April 2015
13 April 2015
11 April 2015
7 April 2015
6 April 2015
4 April 2015
2 April 2015

Spread a little aloha all around the world, even in Rome

I set off this morning on my morning walk to pray before the relics of the Passion housed in the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme) and decided to stop at the Holy Stairs beforehand.

When I began my return to the Casa Santa Maria from Santa Croce, I took a different route and am glad I did so. Something caught my eye as I walked along, surprising me enough to take a step or two backwards (thankfully no one was behind me) to make certain of what I thought I saw:


That simple aloha sighting put me in a singing mood, such that a certain song sung by  the Mana'o Company - which I very much enjoy - will likely be in my head for a day or two:


Frankly, it was a fitting reminder the Lord sent my way. I had venerated several of the relics from his Crucifixion and tomorrow I will go to venerate the Shroud of the Turin, the cloth wrapped around his body when he was placed in the tomb. All of these are signs of his love, signs of his aloha. The are the signs of the love he gave for us, the very same love - the same aloha - he calls us to share with everyone we meet.

As the tourists return to the Eternal City this is a fitting reminder indeed.

23 April 2015

Pray for France

Very troubling news is coming out of France this morning:
After a planned terrorist attack on two French churches was averted, Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that “specific protection” is being provided to 178 Catholic places of worship. 
What is more, the Interior Minister announced a short time ago, "We have mobilized nearly 20,000 policemen, gendarmes and soldiers for protection of places of worship."

Whatever they learned from the arrested suspect must be very serious indeed.

An icon of the Ethiopian martyrs

Shortly after the 21 Copts were martyred by the Islamic State, an icon was written commemorating their memory. Now a similar icon has been written commemorating the 30 Ethiopian Christians also martyred by the Islamic State:
We may not yet know the names of the Ethiopian martyrs, but we have an image for their devotion.

Here is the icon of the Copts:


And here the icon of the Ethiopians:


May they intercede for us, that following their example, we, too, may persevere to the end. 

22 April 2015

UPDATED: Who are the Ethiopian martyrs?

It was only a couple of days after the Islamic State martyred 21 Copts on the shores of Libya before we learned the names and some of the stories of those who refused to renounce their faith in Christ Jesus and died with his name upon their lips on 13 February 2015. By means of just one example, the BBC published such an article on 15 February 2015.

The Islamic State martyred 30 Ethiopian Christians three days ago, on 19 April 2015, but we have not yet learned their names or their stories. So far as I can tell, the most we know of them so far is that they were migrants looking for a better life. Why do we not know more?

If we learned the names of the Copts two days later, why have we not learned the names of the Ethiopians three days later?

I have no direct evidence of a possible reason, but I cannot help but wonder if part of the reason is not racism. This would also help to explain why the world has taken so very long to respond to - or even to care about - what Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group that has been active twice as long as the Islamic State, is doing in Nigeria (and in Cameroon and Chad). I hope I am wrong about this, but I do wonder.

If you know of an alternative explanation, I would very much like to learn of it.

UPDATE:

A similar question - if not the same question - is on the mind of His Excellency the Most Reverend Anthony Muheria, Bishop of Kitui. A Roman Catholic Bishop in eastern Kenya recently lamented the lack of attention and care shown by the international community after Muslim terrorists killed 150 people on Holy Thursday in Garissa.

In fact, he called the world's response one of "deafening silence" and declared, “It’s time to stop playing around. It’s not ‘minorities’ who are getting killed, it’s Christians.” What is more,
He also cited the late March crash of a German plane in the French Alps, which elicited enormous media interest and commentary, complaining that the Garissa massacre killed the same number of people without anything like the same fanfare.

“It was very, very glaringly absent,” he said, asking, “Do all lives have equal value?”

Quincyans welcome 100th grandchild

It is not every day that a married couple welcomes their 50th grandchild into their family, but Leo and Ruth Zanger did that some years back. In fact, the parents of 12 children recently welcomed their 100th grandchild into the family:
"The good Lord has just kept sending them," Leo Zanger said of the grandkids. "We could start our own town." 

He was only half-kidding. 

"There's always room for one more," Ruth Zanger said. 

Leo and Ruth, who have been married 59 years, had 12 children of their own between 1956 and 1984. Daughter Linda, born in 1956, is the oldest at 58. The youngest is son Joe, 31, who was already an uncle 10 times over when he was born in 1984 [more].
As might be expected, family is of tremendous importance for the Quincy couple and this importance they passed on t the children:
Make no mistake about it, the Zangers are a close-knit group and proud of it. 

Most of the family lives in the immediate Quincy area. When they get together, it not only means renting out a church hall. It also involves about 50 pounds of ham or 10 turkeys. 

The family has a well-honed routine for who supplies what and how often. 

"Everyone takes their turn (in helping with food), and they all try and outdo each other," Donna said. "We are always getting together for something." 

The unofficial "mandatory" get-togethers are Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day. And don't worry, there are plenty of other "excuses" for them to gather. 

"We enjoy all of the family get-togethers," Leo Zanger said. 

For those who marry in to the family, it can be an adjustment, but a pleasant one.
 Congratulations to the Zanger family!

I'm confused

When the Holy Father Pope Francis announced his welcome intention to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra during his visit to the United States of America this September 22nd through 27th, he said in answer to a question from Nicole Winfield:
I would like to go to California for the canonization of Junipero Serra, but I think there is a problem with time. It would require two more days.
It was since decided that because an added journey from the east coast to California would take more time than is possible, His Holiness will canonize the Franciscan missionary during his visit to the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on September 23rd.

Going back to the Pope's answer to Winfield, the Holy Father jokingly continued:
To enter the USA from the border of Mexico would be a beautiful thing, as a sign of brotherhood and help for the immigrants. But you know that going to Mexico without going to visit the Madonna would be a drama. A war could break out! And also it would mean three more days, and this is not completely clear.
So it was decided that this would simply be a visit to the U.S.A., because a trip elsewhere would be too lengthy (even a trip to the east coast). That is, until today, when Father Federico Lombari, S.J., Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, made this brief announcement:

I am able to confirm that the Holy Father Francis, having received and accepted the invitation from the civil authorities and bishops of Cuba, has decided to pay a visit to the island before his arrival in the United States for the trip announced some time ago.
Now I'm confused. It would take too long to go to California for the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra, but it will not take too long to visit Cuba? A visit to Mexico would also take too long, but not a visit to Cuba? The details of the visit to Cuba have not yet been announced, but it will surely be at least a two day event.

Please do not misunderstand me. I do not begrudge the Holy Father for not wanting to go all the way to California. Not only would such a trip take a couple of additional days from an already full calendar, it would also be exhausting. Besides, since he is not going to California for the canonization, Pope Francis will instead visit the Pontifical North American College (I don't actually see the logic behind this, but it's good for us Americans in Rome) and celebrate the Holy Mass, which I and the priests at the Casa Santa Maria will concelebrate.

Also, I am certain that a visit to Cuba will bear rich pastoral fruit, so I certainly do not begrudge or disagree with the Holy Father's decision to this country that has suffered so greatly these past many decades.

On dying well, as seen through Cardinal George

His Excellency the Most Reverend Francis J. Kane, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago, spoke of a conversation he had with His Eminence Francis Cardinal George. "One thing he told me," said Bishop Kane, "was he wanted to die well."

Some time ago, I noted that "in whatever time remains to each of us we can now begin to prepare to die well, and the first step in doing so is living well." When I did so, I recommended to you Saint Robert Bellarmine's excellent little book, The Art of Dying Well. Let me recommend it to you again (the text is available at the link).

One of the Archdiocese's retired bishops, His Excellency the Most Reverend Raymond E. Goedert, was with Cardinal George as he died on Friday morning. Bishop Goedert recently shared something of the experience:
“I was at the breakfast table and Father Dan said the cardinal would like us to come up and pray,” Goedert said. “His eyes were open and Fr. Flens gave him Holy Communion and as the breathing subsided, I said the prayers for the dying…I struggled to get through the prayer. I was afraid I would lose it and he had asked that we sing the ‘Salve Regina’ so we sang the ‘Salve Regina.’ It was kind of a nice way to go. He always was curious about ‘I wonder what it is like’ and now he know. I wish he could come back and tell us.”

Bishop Goedert said the two shared many good times, filled with both serious thoughts and much laughter. He says the official residence of Chicago archbishops, today just feels empty.
It is both beautiful and profound to be in the presence of one who dies well because he lived well. Let us endeavor to do the same.

21 April 2015

Bishop calls the faithful to wield the rosary against Boko Haram

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (d. 1968), more commonly known simply as Padre Pio, once said, "The rosary is the weapon for these times."

The rosary may seem an odd weapon to take up, but we have seen it powerfully yielded by the faithful leading up to the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 when the rosary's power was demonstrated. Perhaps this is why Blessed Pope Pius IX (d. 1878) said, "Give me an army praying the rosary and I will conquer the world." It may be time to take up this holy weapon against the forces of Boko Haram - which is allied with the Islamic State - in Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon.

His Excellency the Most Reverend Oliver Dashe Doeme, Bishop of Maiduguri, believes the Lord Jesus has told him to lead his faithful in taking up the weapon of the rosary:
“Towards the end of last year I was in my chapel before the Blessed Sacrament… praying the rosary, and then suddenly the Lord appeared,” Bishop Dashe told CNA April 18.

In the vision, the prelate said, Jesus didn’t say anything at first, but extended a sword toward him, and he in turn reached out for it.

“As soon as I received the sword, it turned into a rosary,” the bishop said, adding that Jesus then told him three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”

“I didn’t need any prophet to give me the explanation,” he said. “It was clear that with the rosary we would be able to expel Boko Haram.”

The bishop said he didn’t want to tell anyone, but “felt that the Holy Spirit was pushing him to do so” [more].
As a result of the devastation wrought by Boko Haram, Bishop Dashe's flock is now less than half of what it was in 2009 (down to between 50-60,000 from 125,000), when Boko Haram began terrorizing the northeastern part of Nigeria.

The Blessed Virgin Mary obtained a victory for the Christian forces against the Muslim forces at the Battle of Lepanto when all signs pointed to a Christian defeat. Let us heed Bishop Dashe's call. Let us take up our rosaries and ask Our Lady to obtain deliverance from Boko Haram.

CNN's headline writers need to learn the history of religions

I took the below screenshot just a few moments ago, about 11:26 a.m. (Rome time) on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. How long the front page of cnn.com will remain like this, I do not know. Take a look and see if you notice anything glaringly wrong:


For those who might not know, Christians have only existed for almost 2,000 years now, hardly 4,000 years as the headline reads. Incidentally, the headline does not transfer over into the actual story, which has a different headline.

Today is Rome's 2,768th birthday (more or less)

The founding of the ancient city of Rome is rather lost in the mists in time and shrouded in both myth and legend. The commonly held story, as told by Livy, goes something like this:
Some people never seem to realize they are
in the way of someone's photograph.
But the Fates had, I believe, already decreed the origin of this great city and the foundation of the mightiest empire under heaven. The Vestal [Virgin] was forcibly violated and gave birth to twins. She named Mars as their father, either because she really believed it, or because the fault might appear less heinous if a deity were the cause of it. But neither gods nor men sheltered her or her babes from the king's cruelty; the priestess was thrown into prison, the boys were ordered to be thrown into the river. By a heaven-sent chance it happened that the Tiber was then overflowing its banks, and stretches of standing water prevented any approach to the main channel. Those who were carrying the children expected that this stagnant water would be sufficient to drown them, so under the impression that they were carrying out the king's orders they exposed the boys at the nearest point of the overflow, where the Ficus Ruminalis (said to have been formerly called Romularis) now stands. The locality was then a wild solitude. The tradition goes on to say that after the floating cradle in which the boys had been exposed had been left by the retreating water on dry land, a thirsty she-wolf from the surrounding hills, attracted by the crying of the children, came to them, gave them her teats to suck and was so gentle towards them that the king's flock-master found her licking the boys with her tongue. According to the story, his name was Faustulus. He took the children to his hut and gave them to his wife Larentia to bring up. Some writers think that Larentia, from her unchaste life, had got the nickname of "She-wolf" amongst the shepherds, and that this was the origin of the marvellous story. As soon as the boys, thus born and thus brought up, grew to be young men they did not neglect their pastoral duties, but their special delight was roaming through the woods on hunting expeditions. As their strength and courage were thus developed, they used not only to lie in wait for fierce beasts of prey, but they even attacked brigands when loaded with plunder. They distributed what they took amongst the shepherds, with whom, surrounded by a continually increasing body of young men, they associated themselves in their serious undertakings and in their sports and pastimes.
You can already see in the story of the founding of the city something of a blend of history with myth. At any rate, Livy continues: 
It is said that the festival of the Lupercalia, which is still observed, was even in those days celebrated on the Palatine hill. This hill was originally called Pallantium from a city of the same name in Arcadia; the name was afterwards changed to Palatium. Evander, an Arcadian, had held that territory many ages before, and had introduced an annual festival from Arcadia in which young men ran about naked for sport and wantonness, in honour of the Lycaean Pan, whom the Romans afterwards called Inuus. The existence of this festival was widely recognised, and it was while the two brothers were engaged in it that the brigands, enraged at losing their plunder, ambushed them. Romulus successfully defended himself, but Remus was taken prisoner and brought before Amulius, his captors impudently accusing him of their own crimes. The principal charge brought against them was that of invading Numitor's lands with a body of young men whom they had got together, and carrying off plunder as though in regular warfare. Remus accordingly was handed over to Numitor for punishment. Faustulus had from the beginning suspected that it was royal offspring that he was bringing up, for he was aware that the boys had been exposed at the king's command and the time at which he had taken them away exactly corresponded with that of their exposure. He had, however, refused to divulge the matter prematurely, until either a fitting opportunity occurred or necessity demanded its disclosure. The necessity came first. Alarmed for the safety of Remus he revealed the state of the case to Romulus. It so happened that Numitor also, who had Remus in his custody, on hearing that he and his brother were twins and comparing their ages and the character and bearing so unlike that of one in a servile condition, began to recall the memory of his grandchildren, and further inquiries brought him to the same conclusion as Faustulus; nothing was wanting to the recognition of Remus. So the king Amulius was being enmeshed on all sides by hostile purposes. Romulus shrunk from a direct attack with his body of shepherds, for he was no match for the king in open fight. They were instructed to approach the palace by different routes and meet there at a given time, whilst from Numitor's house Remus lent his assistance with a second band he had collected. The attack succeeded and the king was killed.

At the beginning of the fray, Numitor gave out that an enemy had entered the City and was attacking the palace, in order to draw off the Alban soldiery to the citadel, to defend it. When he saw the young men coming to congratulate him after the assassination, he at once called a council of his people and explained his brother's infamous conduct towards him, the story of his grandsons, their parentage and bringing up, and how he recognised them. Then he proceeded to inform them of the tyrant's death and his responsibility for it. The young men marched in order through the midst of the assembly and saluted their grandfather as king; their action was approved by the whole population, who with one voice ratified the title and sovereignty of the king. After the government of Alba was thus transferred to Numitor, Romulus and Remus were seized with the desire of building a city in the locality where they had been exposed. There was the superfluous population of the Alban and Latin towns, to these were added the shepherds: it was natural to hope that with all these Alba would be small and Lavinium small in comparison with the city which was to be founded. These pleasant anticipations were disturbed by the ancestral curse - ambition - which led to a deplorable quarrel over what was at first a trivial matter. As they were twins and no claim to precedence could be based on seniority, they decided to consult the tutelary deities of the place by means of augury as to who was to give his name to the new city, and who was to rule it after it had been founded. Romulus accordingly selected the Palatine as his station for observation, Remus the Aventine.

Remus is said to have been the first to receive an omen: six vultures appeared to him. The augury had just been announced to Romulus when double the number appeared to him. Each was saluted as king by his own party. The one side based their claim on the priority of the appearance, the other on the number of the birds. Then followed an angry altercation; heated passions led to bloodshed; in the tumult Remus was killed. The more common report is that Remus contemptuously jumped over the newly raised walls and was forthwith killed by the enraged Romulus, who exclaimed, "So shall it be henceforth with every one who leaps over my walls." Romulus thus became sole ruler, and the city was called after him, its founder (History of Rome, 1.4-7).
It was a violent beginning, to be sure, a violence which continued for many centuries, even as the city of Rome slowly conquered most of the then known world.

The precise date of the founding of the Eternal City is, of course, unknown, though it is traditionally said to have been on 21 April 753 B.C. Today, then, Rome is said be 2,768 - or, as the ancient Romans would have written, MMDCCLXVIII - years old. Happy birthday, Rome!

20 April 2015

Holy See confirms: Pope Francis to celebrate Mass at the Pontifical North American College

A press conference was held this morning regarding the upcoming Day of Reflection on Blessed Junipero Serra on 2 May 2015 at the Pontifical North American College in which it was officially confirmed that His Holiness Pope Francis will preside over the celebration of the Holy Mass in the chapel of the Janiculum campus.  

Following the press conference, Vatican Radio has published the schedule of the day's proceedings:

08.45  Bibliographical notes on Junípero Serra: the path to holiness (R.P. Vincenzo Criscuolo, OFM Cap., General Relator of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints).

09.30  The religious origins of America (Most Rev. José H. Gómez, Archbishop of Los Angeles).

10.30  Break

10.45  The canonization of Fra Junípero Serra in ligth [sic] of “Ecclesia in America” (Prof. Guzmán Carriquiry, Secretary in charge of the Vice-Presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America).

11.15  Our Lady of Guadalupe, mother and guide of Fra Junípero Serra, Patron of American (Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of Knights of Columbus).

12.15  HOLY MASS, OFFICIATED BY THE HOLY FATHER, POPE FRANCIS.

13.15  Lunch at the Pontifical North American College.
At this moment, I know only the information available in the media. Additional information will, presumably, be forthcoming.

Reforming the teaching of the Reformation, as seen in Scotland

Professor Eamon Duffy has written a brief article in which he argues why the story of the Reformation needs reforming. Duffy's argument, however, is not simply another attempt at "revisionist" history, but rather an attempt to tell what really happened:
For five centuries England has been in denial about the role of Roman Catholicism in shaping it. The coin in your pocket declares the monarch to be Defender of the Faith. Since 1558 that has meant the Protestant faith, but Henry VIII actually got the title from the Pope for defending Catholicism against Luther. Henry eventually broke with Rome because the Pope refused him a divorce, and along with the papacy went saints, pilgrimage, the monastic life, eventually even the Mass itself – the pillars of medieval Christianity.
All of this was accompanied by tremendous destruction of Catholic churches, cathedrals, libraries, monasteries, etc., not just in England, but across Europe. Over the Easter holiday I witnessed firsthand some of this destruction wrought in Scotland, especially at the ruins of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in St. Andrews.


The above photo was taken from near what had been the main doors of the Cathedral of St. Andrew, looking toward what remains of the wall behind the main altar, behind which was the choir for the canons of the Cathedral.

This photo gives you just a small sense of the size, grandeur, and beauty of the most important cathedral in Scotland, first completed in 1272 (it underwent a few renovations/restorations after that):


John Knox, one of the "reformers" in Scotland, preached so vehemently in 1559 that he roused the people to rip down the trappings in the cathedral. By 1600, the Cathedral of St. Andrew was in ruins, after which the grounds of the Cathedral were turned into a cemetery:


Even the graves of the canons were desecrated:


One of the official signs in the ruins of the cathedral even declared the Catholics had "abandoned" the cathedral complex, without bothering to mention why. Regrettably, I did not take a picture of this sign.

As if all of this destruction were not senseless enough on its own, the "reformers" of the Church of Scotland, after destroying Catholic churches, built their own churches, in Gothic style, complete with stained-glass windows, statues of saints, votive candles, and holy water.

Such destruction in Scotland was, of course, not only reserved to the Cathedral of St. Andrew. A sign in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh noted that "the fortunes of the Catholic Church were affected by the religious leanings of the monarch." A more honest way to put it would be to say that the treasures of the Catholic Church were stolen. What are these treasures to which the sign refers? These:




That's right: the treasures of the Catholic Church "affected" by the monarchs were the vessels and appointments used for the worship of God. You will not likely read about this in most history textbooks.

As a student of history, I have studied this destruction wrought by the so-called Reformation, but, in my 37 years of life, this was the first time I walked in Catholic places destroyed by Protestants. I have, over the years, been in many Catholic places destroyed by Muslims, which is lamentable enough, but there was something especially sad and painful about walking in Catholic places destroyed by fellow Christians, a pain of which I could not find the words to express.

Why is this aspect of the history of the Reformation not well known and discussed in history classes and textbooks? Professor Duffy briefly explains:
At the height of the hysteria, Protestant mythology achieved definitive form in a book that would shape the writing of Tudor history down to our own day. In 1679 Gilbert Burnet, a Scottish cleric, published the first volume of a massive History of the Reformation, an anti-Catholic narrative given scholarly credibility by the inclusion of dozens of documents gathered from public and private archives. Burnet would be the chief propagandist for the “Glorious Revolution” which deposed James II and set the Protestant William of Orange on the throne. His history rammed home the message that Catholicism and Englishness were utterly incompatible: Catholicism was tyranny, Protestantism liberation. “They hate us,” he wrote, “because we dare to be freemen and Protestants.” 

It was a message the nation wanted to hear: Burnet was thanked by a special vote of Parliament. His work was supplemented by John Strype, another ardent “Orange” cleric, in a stream of biographies and collections of Reformation documents, many of them gathered from Foxe’s archives. Till well into the 20th century, historians of the English Reformation would rely on Burnet and Strype for their source materials, in the process perpetuating their late-Stuart take on the Tudor age.
Thankfully, as Duffy goes on to note, "historians no longer take that venerable Protestant version for granted, but it is still alive and well in the wider culture." Still, there is much work yet to be done to give a true and accurate account of what happened, and why.