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Why do we never sing “De Spiritu Sancto” (St. Athenogenes) in our churches? There are a dozen translations in English verse. Where could anyone find a better evening hymn than this, coming right down from the catacombs? Our hymnbooks know nothing of such a treasure as this, and give us pages of poor sentiment in doggerel lines by some tenth-rate modern versifier.
— Rev’d Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

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Francis Thompson (1859 - 1907): Catholic, Addict, Poet
published 21 April 2014 by Guest Author

ERE IT NOT for one act of charity the world would not have had Francis Thompson’s poetry (the most famous of which is “The Hound of Heaven”), several paintings, a sketch of the poet by John Singer Sargent, at least one essay by G.K. Chesterton, “A Dead Poet,” and many other acts of charity. Thompson’s poetry is described as an “apocalypse.” An “experience with poetry in which fundamental truths of the Catholic faith were exquisitely fused with intense emotion, flawless expression, and mastery of technique.” On the death of the poet, Chesterton wrote, “with Francis Thompson we lose the greatest poetic energy since Browning.” Archbishop Kenealy said of the poet, “The intellect of the world has been corrupted. Francis Thompson is the antidote.”

In 1888 Francis Thompson was rescued from the streets of London – literally living under a bridge filthy, ragged and drug addicted – by Wilfrid Meynell, editor of a literary journal (Merry England) who was impressed with his submission entitled “The Passion of Mary.” The Capuchins later saw to Thompson’s material and spiritual needs during his most productive years.


We hope you enjoyed this guest post by Carmen Holston.