for the University Bookman. Papist polemics, monks with painted eyelids, “apostolic viragoes” and more!
You might expect a book called The English Way: Studies in English Sanctity from Bede to Newman, compiled under the reign of King George V, to rustle through the fingers like a necklace of finely-wrought gold. You might expect serenity, monumentality, harmony: a peaceable parade of right little, tight little saints.
You might expect that, anyway, if you don’t remember much about English history. The English Way, ed. Maisie Ward, is a beautiful book; but its beauties shine amid chaos and catastrophe. Half of the holy men and women profiled here seem to have believed, with much justification, that Catholic England was on the brink of final defeat. Invasion, corruption, heresy, and persecution—every era gets at least two.