St. Thomas Aquinas Believed in Ghosts

St. Thomas Aquinas at Prayer

We’re coming up fast on Halloween, so I want to jump ahead a bit to see what St. Thomas Aquinas has to say about ghosts. The section is found in the Summa Theologica, Supplementum Tertiæ Partis: Question 69. Matters concerning the resurrection, and first of the place where souls are after death, Article 3. Whether [Read More...]

“The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Bill Monroe: “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake” Mr Bill was asked once about the allegorical elements of this song, which appears to be about parents sending children off into the world to be tempted by the devil and lured to damnation by sin. His answer (and I’m paraphrasing from memory) [Read More...]

Great Documentary About M.R. James From “Sherlock” Star/Creator

Writer/actor Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who, Sherlock, League of Gentlemen) writes and hosts this fine documentary on the greatest ghost story writer of them all: medievalist and Biblical scholar Montague Rhodes James. Special treats include locations from James stories (such as St Bertrand de Comminges, stuffed crocodile and all), a passing shot of a tombstone for “Mrs [Read More...]

“Twenty Good Men” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. New Riders of the Purple Sage: “Twenty Good Men” My favorite NRPS song. I wore out Marin County Line replaying this one when I was about ten. Pirates, murder, and revenge: what’s not to love?   [Read more...]

St. Gregory the Great’s Bath-house Ghost

The Mass of St Gregory, by Robert Campin, 15th century

Okay, one more story from a Church Father before the weekend. This is one of the more famous tales, and it comes from Pope St. Gregory the Great’s marvelously entertaining grab bag of useful stuff, the Dialogues. This is an example of the way the Church used ghost stories to prove the benefit of the [Read More...]

Me, On the Radio

Yeah, I know: whoop-de-do. Anyway, I’m on Register Radio Talking about The Rule and St. Benedict’s Prep. Register Radio airs worldwide Fridays at 2:00 p.m. EDT and encores Saturday: 8:00 p.m. and EDT Sunday: 11:00 a.m. on 270+ EWTN AM & FM affiliates across the U.S., as well as on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (channel 130,) and [Read More...]

St. Martin and the Thief’s Ghost

Reliquary for the head of St. Martin

The main role of ghosts in the literature of the early church was to display the power of the saints. While Augustine was still alive, Sulpitius Severus wrote The Life of St. Martin, in which we find the following tale of Martin confronting and vanquishing the evil ghost of a thief who was being worshiped by [Read More...]

“Down From Dover” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Dolly Parton: “Down From Dover” The one and only Dolly, with one of her most poignant songs, about a woman left pregnant and abandoned by her lover. Controversial in its time, she later recut it for her bluegrass album Little Sparrow. The later version is superior and adds a verse, but I [Read More...]

St. Augustine’s Rejection of Ghosts

Pope Benedict with the bones of St. Augustine

Our final look at Augustine’s theology of the dead comes from On the Care to be Taken For the Dead (De cura pro mortuis gerenda), written in 421 to Paulinus, Bishop of Nola. The text was a response to a question from Paulinus, and is quite touching in places. A woman had asked for her [Read More...]

“All My Tears” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Emmlyou Harris: “All My Tears” It all began with Emmylou for me. A friend told me to listen to Ballad of Sally Rose, and that was the first time I took country seriously. I wanted her in this series somewhere, but which song? Some of her songs, like “Boulder to Birmingham,” touch [Read More...]

St. Augustine’s Ghost Story

The Devil and St Augustine Carlisle Cathedral

St. Augustine was the first Church Father to consider at length stories of ghostly apparitions that appeared in various strands of hagiography, legend, scripture, and eyewitness testimony. It’s not truly a “theology of ghosts,” but it’s a more developed consideration of the subject that anyone else, even Tertullian, had attempted, or indeed would attempt for centuries. Augustine [Read More...]

“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Johnny Cash: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” The “you” is Satan. Johnny believed. You hear it in every note. [Read more...]

St. Augustine’s Three Types of Vision [Ghosts and the Church]

Before we get down to St. Augustine’s thoughts on ghosts, I need to do some spadework by exploring his understanding of different ways of seeing. He explains this in On Genesis Literally Interpreted (De Genesi ad litteram), his sprawling twelve-part study that is one of his least-read major works. (Don’t confuse it with the minor, earlier [Read More...]

New Techniques Detect Consciousness in Vegetative Patients

People in a “vegetative state” may have far more brain activity than previously thought, LiveScience reports: …researchers looked at 32 comatose patients and 26 healthy people. Some of the comatose patients were diagnosed as “minimally conscious,” meaning there was some evidence that they may have retained some awareness of their surroundings (for example, the patient [Read More...]

Did King Harold Survive the Battle of Hastings?

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The team of surveyors who found the body of Richard III is hoping they’re on a roll. Their next mission is to prove that King Harold II survived the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and lived to a ripe old age in a monastery. The Bayeux Tapestry shows Harold–last king of the Anglo-Saxons–shot in the eye [Read More...]


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