Who Should be the Patron of the Ordinariates?

Our Lady of Walsingham. (Photo: Lawrence Lew, OP)

[I thought we could use something on the lighter side, so I pulled out this piece from last fall on the patronage of the ordinariates.  I hope it is clear that tongue is firmly in cheek in several places.]

Cardinal Newman is, at last, set to be beatified and that is a wonderful thing, but in the euphoria around his beatification and the subsequent euphoria over the announcement of Anglicanorum Coetibus, several writers have advocated linking the two events, suggesting that Newman should be recognized as patron of the new Anglican structures.  I won’t say that Newman isn’t the right patron, but we should give the other contenders their due.

First and foremost, the feelings and efforts of the Queen of Heaven should be given their due in this. England is known as Mary's dowry. At her behest, the Holy House was rebuilt at Walsingham, which became England's great seat of Marian devotion. The cult of Our Lady of Walsingham, under which Our Lady is Patroness of the English Speaking Peoples, is something that Catholics on both sides of the Tiber share and Walsingham has long been a place where both Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics have offered their prayers for the breach of the Reformation to be closed. The novena for the conversion of England ends on her feast.  Let's not forget the words of that other great Oratorian convert. Fr. Faber:

Faith of our fathers! Mary's prayers
Shall win our country back to thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
England shall then indeed be free.
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We would be true to Thee till death.

In short, ladies first.

Second, England already has a patron saint, St. George, and though he is not English, I think most Anglophones and philes believe that he's done quite well by them. To look at it another way, saints who slew mythical beasts have had as rough a time during the last 40 years as the Anglo-Catholics who are looking toward the ordinariates. Maybe it's time for St. George to have a new day in the sun as well.

Third, chronologically, I suppose I should mention Joseph of Arimathea, whose cultus associated with Glastonbury has allowed the pottiness that is the gift of a certain type of Anglican mind to reach its hothouse extreme. Did his travels as a merchant bring him to England with the adolescent Lord so that his feet could tread on the green hills? Who knows, but it does have a place in hearts beyond the BNP.

Fourth, Cardinal Newman is about to join the ranks of the blesseds from a country that already has scores of saints, many of whom are established heavy-hitters, though their light has often been a bit dimmed since the Reformation. What of Alban, the proto-martyr; of Augustine who first brought aid and succor from Rome; and of Hilda, who settled the affairs of the Church with English good sense? What of St. Thomas, who gave his life for the liberty of the English Church and whose shrine made Canterbury one of Europe's great centers of pilgrimage?

Fifth, let's not forget the martyrs of the Reformation. What of St. Thomas More, the great lawyer whose intercession just might be detected in this solution that is as much canonical as it is theological? What of all the fruit of Tyburn's tree whose blood has contributed to making this particular peace?

Sixth, moving outside of the UK and thinking of my own country, what of Mother Seton, the pioneering Episcopal convert whose deathbed cry was, "Be children of the Church, be children of the Church."

Seventh, in an age where cable and the internet have created an unprecedented stage for those who write and argue, it is understandable that Cardinal Newman, who excelled at writing and arguing, should have quite a following among we would-be Newmans of the blogosphere and the talk show circuit, but does popularity on the 'net cast a wide enough net for patronage of something more broad and diverse?

Finally, is Newman an attractive figure for Anglicans who are moving toward reunion? When I was an Anglo-Catholic, I like many others had rather ambivalent feelings about Newman. Yes, he was right, but he wasn't always terribly nice about it. Newman left the Oxford Movement before Anglo-Catholicism really got started. After Newman's conversion, Anglo-Catholics went to the slums to reach the poor and to jail to defend their faith. Cardinal Newman is not part of that story and his defection is a deep wound that, for many, has never really healed. For some Anglo-Catholics, talking of Newman is a bit like talking about an ex-wife or a lost child. It's not that there isn't love there, but there is pain as well.

We will all rejoice when Cardinal Newman deservedly gets off the shelf next month, but with all of the worthy possibilities to be considered, are we sure that he’s our man?  What do you think?  Who else is in the running?  (And, please, keep it light.)

Author: Br. Stephen Treat, O.Cist

Br. Stephen Treat, O.Cist. is a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Spring Bank. Like many others, his path led from an evangelical childhood in the South to Anglicanism and into the Roman Catholic Church. Our Lady of Spring Bank is a small Abbey of the Order of Cistercians, generally known as the Common Cistercians, located on 600 acres near La Crosse, Wisconsin.

35 thoughts on “Who Should be the Patron of the Ordinariates?”

  1. Correct me if I am wrong. I understand the AC does not mention an organizational grouping encompassing individual Ordinariates. Each Ordinary, though participating in his regional Bishop's Conference, will be responsive directly to the CDF. If this is so, then perhaps each Ordinariate would feel comfortable choosing its own Patron Saint.

  2. Matthew: That would be my vote as well.

    Guzmang1: That's my hunch as well. Hopefully we'll know soon. Are there particular saints in other countries who are particularly appropriate? Mother Seton was the one name I could think of for the US.

  3. We poor Canadians would have a hard time coming up with an Anglican who became a saint and so could be a patron for our ordinariate.

    It could be said, however, that we have contributed to the making of saints since many of us Anglicans have given and continue to give Catholics such a difficult time that they need to be saints to deal with the treatment.

    So we may have to practice our charity and bring together the two solitudes by having (hold on to your seat) a French Canadian saint since they are the only ones so far canonized. Even our blesseds and venerables are mostly French with Kateri Tekakwitha the rose of the Mohawks and Catherine Doherty, a Russian married to an Irish American, being amongst the few exceptions.

    So we may have to go with someone like St. Jean de Breboeuf, a Jesuit martyr, or stick with Our Lady of Walsingham. At least we have some shrines to her in a few churches here and she isn't entirely English. Otherwise, we will just have to admit our poverty and like the English go with St. George, the a Middle Eastern Roman legionary (or was he?). Whatever his origins, he has been pretty good in dealing with dragons . . . and Anglicans.

    1. Canada poses an interesting case. Although St. Joseph was (comparatively recently) named patron saint of Canada, traditionally it was St. John the Baptist – who is still the patron saint of Quebec. Some Anglicans still regard St. John the Baptist as patron of the entire country. (Canada Day, July 1, falls on the Octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.) For this reason, when the ACCC was formed, he was named patron of the diocese.

      I don't know if any other groups who have petitioned for the formation of ordinariates have existing patron saints – nor whether there are other countries where Anglicans and Roman Catholics venerate distinct individuals as patron saints for their nation!

      Something to consider…

      1. Ss Jean de Brebeuf, John the Baptist, Sir Thomas More, Cardinal John Henry Newman, and all the others mentioned are all excellent possible patrons.

        No one has yet mentioned Saint John Fisher… How about this great bishop and martyr?

        Also, while each country will likely start with one ordinariate, with increasing growth sometime off in the future there could be more than one ordinariate in a given country, each needing a patron…

        1. Excellent point Christopher and with the optimism we want and need.

          I am hoping for an ordinariate under the patronage of the Venerable Catherine Doherty when she is canonized. She is the Russian Canadian baroness who was married to an Irish American Melkite priest, Fr. Eddie Doherty. She is an excellent model for clergy wives. (How Fr. Eddie became a Melkite is another story entirely.)

          Together they founded Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario, a thriving lay apostolate with houses around the world.

          Now there's Canadian multiculturalism for you!

          1. BTW – Madonna House still celebrates the Melkite Rite Mass once a month on Sunday. They have a wonderful Eastern Rite Chapel in Combermere and several bi-ritual priests They love Anglicans, welcoming Anglican priests to stay in their priest's lodge, Vianney House, for visits and retreats. Check them out:


            1. I agree that Catherine Doherty would make an excellent patron saint when she is canonized. Raised Russian Orthodox, one of her great passions was working for the unity of the church, especially unity between East and West.

    2. I like the idea of Catherine Doherty for Canada, Peregrinus! With her yearning for unity of East and West, I am sure she is rooting for Anglican unity.

      I love the Madonna House lay apostolate she founded.


  4. Before St George became the patron saint of England, many considered St Edward the Confessor to be so.
    Yes, for Canadians, the Blessed Kateri. In Orthodoxy, those early Christians that introduces Christianity into their land were given a special title. Great Prince Vladimir bears it. So does Nino, a servant girl in Georgia. Enlightener of the Rus, Enlightener of Georgia, Equal to the Apostles.
    The Blessed Virgin is not the only one that bears the title of God-Bearer. St Simeon in the Temple, St Ignatius, St Christopher are also styled God-Bearer.
    St James of Jerusalem bears the title, Brother of God. Seems strange to us, no?

    May I suggest to all of us that we come up with a copy of the Akathist Hymn to the Virgin Mary. Ponder it, comtemplate. Meditate. Glorify. Exalt her Son.


  5. As well know we have saints who were born on United States soil. As much as I appreciate that, I would suggest the only canonized martyrs of the United States. These would be, with year of martyrdom, the Jesuit missionaries, brother St. Rene Goupil (1642); St. Issac Jogues, priest (1646); and lay missionary St. John Lalande (1646). A shrine, schools, and camp grounds bear their saintly names, individually or as North American Martyrs, especially throughout the north east of the United States.

  6. "As well know we have saints who were born on United States soil."

    This is, of course, true but not to be too territorial (saints are for the whole Church after all ) I think you will find that the Jesuit martyrs including St. Rene Goupil (1642); St. Issac Jogues, priest (1646); and lay missionary St. John de La Lande (1646) were born in France and were martyred not in what was to become the USA but in Canada.

    They are numbered with the eight Canadian Martyrs and lived in Canada from 1625 to 1649. Canonized on June 29, 1930, they have been celebrated on September 26 in Canada and their feast celebrated on October 19 in the Universal Church.

    However, it is unlikely that they would have recognized an Anglican if they tripped over one – not very likely in 17th century Huronia.

    1. Jogues and Goupil were actually martyred in what is now New York (Auriesville). When he was almost martyred the first time, the Protestant Dutch in Manhattan hid him from the Iroquois so he could board a ship back to France. But of course it was still New Netherland and still in the hands of the Dutch, so probably no Anglican presence to speak of.

  7. The Holy Virgin under the title of Walsingham should be the global patron of the Ordinariates. But we can make the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales too as co-patrons. Of course Newman can bee too.

    In the Philippines if an ordinariate is indeed set up, it can have Father John A Staunton Jr, priest of Sagada as a patron, but Filipinos will have to come up with a positio on him and propose him for beatification. He spent most of his career as an Anglo Catholic Episcopal Missionary priest in the Cordillera highlands of northern Luzon. His success as a missionary in the early 20th century remains unsurpassed. He is still the most successful Episcopal/Anglican missionary in the Philippines. His Anglo Catholicism and commitment to ecumenism (in a very unecumenical age) cost him his missionary's appointment and was a cross to be carried. This he carried to the Roman Church. In 1930, the Lambeth Conference allowed contraception under certain circumstances in a departure from traditional teaching. With this Staunton realized that the Anglican Communion will never be Catholic and a year later he was received into the Roman Church. After the death of his wife, he entered Beda College in Rome but was unable to finish his seminary studies due to ill health. Rome took note of his condition, gave a dispensation and he was ordained as a Catholic priest. He then celebrated his first Mass as a Roman Catholic and then he retired. He died in 1944.

    Staunton together with Bishop Brent were witnesses for ecumenism. Brent is commemorated in the calendar of the US and Philippine Episcopal churches. Brent did not "cross the Tiber" as Staunton did. Staunton is not in the Roman or Episcopal one. But the town of Sagada and its St Mary's church are the best monuments to Father Staunton.

  8. While I do live in the United States, I will have to say go to the roots on this one. I vote for Our Lady of Walsingham. We can never go wrong with choosing the patronage of Our Lady.

  9. For the Scots there is Saint Andrew and in more recent times Saint John Ogilvie. We didnt go in for killing Catholics at the same rate as the English so we dont have so many modern Catholic martyrs.
    Anglicans in Scotland have their own priest martyr in Robert Lyon, ESP., who was executed by the English on 28 October, 1746 for the crime of having been a chaplain to HRH Prince Charles Edward . I believe he is the only serving military chaplain in the UK to have been executed.
    Happy to support Our Lady of Walsingham.

  10. England's first martyr is St Alban (d.304AD) – acknowledged by Anglicans and Catholics alike – and eminently suitable for Anglican Ordinariates.

  11. I vote for S. Edmund Arrowsmith, M. And we should not forget the B.V.M. "in Porticu," before whose image prayers for the conversion of England have been offered continuously for several centuries.

  12. St Edmund Arrowsmith's hand was exposed for public veneration this afternoon at the church of St Oswald, Ashton-in-Makerfield, UK.

  13. "First catch your hare". Until there is an Ordinariate in a particular country, this discussion is pointless and potentially divisive.

  14. I am in favour of Our Lady of Walsingham as there is both the Anglican Shrine and the Catholic Shrine, but if we wish a North American saint, I would suggest St. Herman of Alaska.


  15. I rather like "Our Lady of the Pew". It's associated with the Dowry tradition, and less of a geographic association than Walsingham.

    1. You were perhaps thinking of the incident where Gregory asked "who were those boys over there", and was told Angles; and then responded "not Angles but Angels".

  16. Another likely patron who is commemorated in the Anglican Communion, Lutheran Churches and the Roman Church is the Blessed Pope of Rome, John XXXIII.

  17. I could easily go along with many of the people mentioned, especially Our Lady of Walsingham and St. Alban. It is interesting that no one has mentioned the Royal Martyr, St. Charles, who gave up his life rather than his Church and the Catholic Faith. Or his saintly Archbishop, William Laud. Had St. Charles given in probably this would have been the end of the English Church as a Catholic body and it would have become just another Protestant Church—as it is becoming today and as PECUSA has already become. But it should also be remembered that Anglicanism has not been kind to the Royal Martyr, except for a few Anglo-Catholics. Sancte Rex Carole, Ora pro Nobis.

    1. I mentioned Charles Stuart indirectly–it was he who affixed his name and seal to the death warrant of S. Edmund Arrowsmith, and numerous others, who suffered a glorious martyrdom for the Faith during his reign.

  18. I realize no one will see this because I'm a few days behind on this conversation, but can I make the serious suggestion that once the Ordinariate is in place, a bishop of the Ordinariate can open the cause for canonization of Katharine of Aragon so that she can ultimately become a patron of the Ordinariate? I think it would be a fitting resolution to the Anglican experience if the woman whose insistence on the sanctity of her marriage led to the the Church becoming a tool of the state should become the patron of the reconciliation of the schism.

    "St. Katharine the Queen"… sounds catchy.

  19. I'm Australian, have felt ever since I found out about Our Lady of Walsingham that she would undo the Reformation, starting with England. So it has to be her!

  20. My vote for a Canadian patron of the Anglican Ordinariate is for St Charles, King and Martyr.

    He was, in fact, one of the earliest kings of Canada who established the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland (he personally named the former after his beloved Scotland and established baronies there).

    Further to this, the liturgical recognition of the cultus of this quintessential Anglican Saint for the Ordinariate will help to underscore the ideal of "united (to Rome), not absorbed." When Orthodox Churches came into union with Rome, they kept all of their local saints and continued to venerate them, with a number of them being eventually adopted by Rome for the universal calendar (e.g. St Sergius of Radonezh).

    St Charles was never responsible for the death of any Catholic martyr as parliament dictated to him until the time came for King Charles to fall victim to the Cromwellian dictatorship himself on Jan. 30, 1649.

    It is interesting to note that St Charles always had his RC venerators. These same recusants also listed the death of Oliver Cromwell on their calendars under September 3rd with the entry: "Exit Tyrannus."


    1. Charles I is not and never will be recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church and will never have any official role or recognition within any Ordinariate. The sooner this tiresome subject is finally put to bed the better. And Dr Roman as a UGCCer you should know perfectly well the qualitative difference between recognition of post-Schism Orthodox saints and Anglican figures.

      As for the "Charles didn't martyr any Catholics" that is ahistorical rubbish.

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