SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Stephen Withnell

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February 20, 2020
I work in a school, so for me this week marks the half-term break. Variously called Easter Term at Stonyhurst, Lent Term at Downside and Spring Term at Ampleforth, the name matters not. What matters is that pupils and staff can now take a break – from work and from each other. This half term
December 19, 2019
This has been an anniversary year for the Jesuits’ church at Farm Street in London – July 31 marked the 175th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone and also the 170th anniversary of the consecration. The church is visited by up to 3,000 people per week. It has a diverse congregation with a
September 19, 2019
As someone who is wading very slowly towards a DPhil in the history of art and architecture, I get to spend rather a lot of time thinking about great art and beautiful things. Spending so much time with the art of the past leads inevitably to reflecting on the art of the present. Sometimes –
July 04, 2019
I have spent the past several days in Rome at the head of a rather wonderful cricket team, the Stonyhurst Gentlemen’s XI. The team is comprised of current and recent pupils, with eight of our 11 players being schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15. A young but mighty side. It was a glorious
April 25, 2019
Pope Julius II, the “Warrior Pope”, was the most successful – and fortunate – artistic patron of the High Renaissance in Rome. But we cannot fully appreciate him without also considering his successor, Pope Leo X. These two popes were a double act. Julius may have been the patron of the masterworks of the age,
December 20, 2018
Pope Julius II, born Giuliano della Rovere, has come down to us as “the Warrior Pope”. This is with good reason: his pontificate, which lasted from 1503 to 1513, was an action-packed and often terrifying Renaissance blockbuster. The television channel Showtime had a huge hit in 2011-2013 with its series The Borgias. It could do
September 06, 2018
This week pupils across England and Wales will return to school. It is an exciting time, full of promise and opportunity. This is certainly the case for our family, which has moved up to Stonyhurst from London over the summer. I have taken up my new role as director of strategy. My wife, Victoria, soon
August 02, 2018
A year of celebrations begins at Stonyhurst this September, marking the college’s 425th anniversary. Founded in 1593 in Saint Omer, the school moved to Bruges and Liège before settling at Stonyhurst in Lancashire in 1794. The oldest Jesuit school in the world, Stonyhurst is one of the great survivors of English Catholic history. Stonyhurst’s history
June 21, 2018
The Vatican cricket team has unveiled the schedule for its English tour this summer. This follows the publication earlier this month of the Vatican’s first document on sport, Giving the Best of Yourself. The text describes how, at its best, sport offers an ethical training for life. The Vatican cricket team – known officially as