Saturday, 12 January 2008

Bishop Richard Challoner

Today is the anniversary of the death of Bishop Richard Challoner, who is buried in the Cathedral, and who is one of the (largely unsung) heroes of English Catholicism. I posted about him last year here, and have also posted about his American connexion, but thought I would take this opportunity to show the fine portrait of him that hangs in Archbishop's House. This portrait was previously in the dining room of Clergy House.

Bishop Challoner helped keep alive the flickering flame of catholic faith at a time when its morale was lowest; direct persecution of Catholics had ceased, but heavy fines and social opprobrium were still faced by those faithful to the old religion. Apart from the Embassy chapels of Catholic countries, the Bishop still had to say Mass in secret in London, in places such as the Ship Tavern in Holborn - the plaque above on the pub records the fact, and makes it clear that the setting was less than salubrious.

Bishop Challoner was buried at Milton in Berkshire, but his remains were transferred to the Cathedral in 1946. At that time, Cardinal Griffin wrote:

"During his lifetime and after his death, he was considered not only as a model of every virtue but as a saint. Indeed the title accorded to him by the faithful was that of 'Venerable'. We must pray that our Blessed Lord, through the Holy Father, may reward the loyalty and devotion of this great bishop, by raising him to the altars of the Church."

The Cardinal approved this prayer for the beatification of Bishop Challoner:

O God who made your servant Richard a true and faithful pastor of your little flock in England, raise him, we beseech you, to the altars of thy Church, that we who have been taught by his word and example may invoke his name in heaven, for the return of our country to belief in the Gospel, and to the unity of all Christians in the one Chruch of Jesus Christ. We ask this through the same Christ our Lord.


Anonymous said...

The Ship Tavern is a pub I know very well as it's only a few yards from my parish, St Anselm & St Cecilia's. Local people have said that a tunnel where priests could escape existed between The Ship & the Sardinian Embassy Chapel the forerunner of St Anselm & St Cecilia's parish & a priest's hole is meant to be still in existence in the pub. Whetstone Park mentioned on the plaque is the narrow street directly opposite the Presbytery. The Sardinian Embassy Chapel stood on the corner of Kingsway & Sardinia Street about 200 yards from the pub at the other end of Lincolns Inn Fields.
For a while Bishop Challoner lived in a house in Old Gloucester Street which is still standing. This is just off Theobalds Road about a 1/4 mile from The Ship. A blue plaque commemorates this above the front door.

Anonymous said...

Challoner's best-known achievement was the revision (virtually a complete rewriting) of the Douay-Rheims Bible, which gave the Catholics in English a Bible which was as usable as the protestant King James version.

Anonymous said...

I see Bishop Challoner is wearing the traditional 'non-roman' clerical collar used in england around that time. Any chance of a modern revival of it, do you think?

Gregor Kollmorgen said...

Msgr, is it possible to get a holy card with the prayer for the beatification? Where would I have to write to?

M.J. said...

It should be pointed out to 'big benny' that this was the standard collar at the time. See pictures of the Cure d'Ars. It did go out of vogue however and, as we all know, is still retained by the Christian Brothers.

On another note I have a question for you. How does one pronounce the name 'Challoner'. I can think of about three or four seemingly plausible pronunciations depending on what sort of name 'Challoner' is Anglo-Saxon, Norman, French, German, etc). Most of us here are familiar with Challoner for his extensive revision of the Douay-Rheims Bible as well as his classic "Think Well On't".