Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith

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June 06, 2019
In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny By Daisy Dunn, William Collins 324pp, £20/$29.95 Every schoolchild used to know something about Pliny. He left behind a huge corpus of letters and speeches, but is famous for two things: years after the event, he wrote a description of the eruption of Vesuvius, which killed
April 18, 2019
A hundred years ago Britain was in trauma: there was hardly a family in the land that had not been left bereaved by the First World War. Also haunted by the memory of those who did not return were the men who did, guilty at having been spared, almost all of them unable to talk
April 18, 2019
100 Churches in 100 Years By the Twentieth Century Society Batsford, 208pp, £25/$35 The late Alice Thomas Ellis, contributor to this magazine and spirited controversialist, was fond of declaring that if you visited any English town and asked to be taken to see its ugliest building, that building would invariably be its Catholic church. Here
February 28, 2019
The news that the second Earl of Snowdon, the son of Princess Margaret, is looking to commission a new biography of his mother, one that will correct her portrayal in The Crown TV series and give a more rounded picture of her, is a reminder that royal women have long had to contend with those
February 19, 2019
The defrocking of the former Cardinal, and now former priest, Theodore McCarrick, might seem to draw a line under the whole sorry saga. But McCarrick was never just about McCarrick, but rather about what could be called McCarrickism: the rise and predominance of a certain kind of prelate. First of all, they handle money well; they
February 01, 2019
The film The Favourite is an early runner for Oscar glory, and casts a spotlight on the life and times of Queen Anne, the last reigning Stuart monarch. The trouble is, like most costume dramas, it is not simply just riddled with inaccuracies, but also gives an utterly misleading picture of the monarch, her domestic
January 31, 2019
There’s no place colder than the Lombard plain in January, and nowhere colder in Lombardy than the vast echoing church and cloisters of the Charterhouse of Pavia. It is a magnificent edifice, built by the piety of the Sforza and the Visconti, who are buried there. The Carthusians themselves have voluntarily withdrawn, as the tourists
January 25, 2019
You might be forgiven for thinking that the last thing that the Church needs right now is more confusion, more doubt and more argument over doctrine, but not everyone shares this view. In particular, four members of the Pope’s commission to look into the question of women deacons have given a conference at Fordham University,
January 03, 2019
Last year saw an important milestone in the history of the British Royal Family. Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to the Queen, celebrated his 70th birthday. This being a royal celebration, it was unlike most significant birthdays. The Prince reached 70 on November 14, but the initial celebrations were in May. The series
December 04, 2018
In Wild Swans, the family memoir by Jung Chang, she discusses what happened when her father died. He had been an important member of the Chinese Communist party, but under a cloud at the time of his death. Her mother made enormous efforts to ensure that his funeral was as grand as possible, with the
November 22, 2018
I have dinner at the Travellers Club in London’s Pall Mall with an author who has written widely on both the Church of England and the Royal Family. I find both topics fascinating and, thanks to my Catholic faith, somewhat alien. The next reign will be interesting, for Prince Charles does not believe in the
November 15, 2018
Inventing the American Tradition by Jack David Eller, Reaktion Books, 304pp, £25/$30 Where do traditions come from? Their origins are generally supposed to be lost in the mists of antiquity, but this is clearly not the case with America, a country less than 250 years old. While the framers of the constitution were deliberately setting out
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