SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
William Cash

January 01, 2021
William Cash attended Vespers in Canterbury Cathedral to commemorate St Thomas Becket’s martyrdom on the 850th anniversary of his murder.  Canterbury Cathedral today calls it ‘Evensong’ but in the 12th century it was known as ‘Vespers’ – or ‘the lighting of the lamps’. As every British schoolboy knows – or used to know – it
December 14, 2020
John le Carré, who has died aged 89, was the successor to Graham Greene in that he created his own bleak and grey, moral universe in which betrayal and love were interchangeable. Like Greene, who thought le Carré’s 1963 debut The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was the “best spy novel I have
December 09, 2020
According to Literary Hub, the influential American book site, 2021 could be the ‘Year of the Nun’.  This verdict followed the recent news that an expected blockbuster of next year will be an epic new ‘historical nun’ novel of ‘consuming passions’ by National Book Award finalist bestselling author Lauren Groff (published by Riverhead in Sept).
November 23, 2020
I like to listen to listen to Classic FM whilst mulling over the day ahead during a dawn bath. I confess that I switch off when – and it’s usually around 6.45 am – the presenter starts trying to engage me in the fact that it’s a day or month of particular Awareness. Examples of
September 30, 2020
It was a long wait – 70 minutes – before religion raised its limpet head in the Trump v Biden bare knuckle verbal TV brawl in Cleveland. Even then, it was a throwaway insult directed towards Trump before the debate descended again into a cacophony of circus farce, traded insults, and shouting: ‘This guy and
September 29, 2020
If Democrats in the Senate push against SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s religious convictions or practices, they are unlikely to make much headway, and will almost certainly pay the price for it on the campaign trail and at the polls. ‘Do you have concerns about the group?’ wrote the Guardian US journalist – hopefully, no
July 26, 2020
Part Three. “I’ve never had to change the stamp date by three months before”, said the curate at Winchester Cathedral after I asked for my pilgrim’s passport to Canterbury.  I had 140 miles to go and it looked like I was going to be alone on the Pilgrims’ Way. After the Catholic Herald walk into
July 19, 2020
Part two. On the 800th anniversary of the Translation of the saintly bones of St Thomas Becket, The Times reported that York University had built a 3D computer version of the famous shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury. The virtual shrine looks a little like a computer game, showing pilgrims prostrating themselves in a fever of
July 12, 2020
Part One On Tuesday, 7 July, after a two week, 150 mile pilgrimage on foot from Winchester to Canterbury, I knelt in prayer on the worn marble flagstones on the Trinity Shrine of the cathedral to commemorate the memory of Archbishop Thomas Becket. Instead of the thousands of bishops, priests and members of the public
January 20, 2021
With a star-studded new HBO/BBC adaptation of Brideshead Revisited now being cast, William Cash reveals why Evelyn Waugh’s portrayal of a decadent upper-class Catholic family was banned in 1947 by the Hollywood censors
December 29, 2020
Catholic Herald chairman William Cash recently walked the first part of the so-called “Becket Way” from Southwark Cathedral into Kent, a relatively new pilgrimage route from Southwark to Canterbury.
September 29, 2020
Just as there are different levels of rigour and toughness within the various monastic orders – with the Carthusian rule of St Bruno still being one of harshest regimes – so it is with long-distance walking routes named after saints. You have your entry-level “novice” walks, such as the 14-mile Abbesses’ Way in Shropshire, much
July 10, 2020
Britain’s Pilgrim Places By Nick Mayhew-Smith and Guy Hayward British Pilgrimage Trust (forthcoming), 607pp, £19.99 Britain’s Pilgrim Places is a very welcome and highly original reference book on Britain’s sacred heritage. Whilst designed to appeal to those of all religious backgrounds – the authors’ watchwords are “open to all” and “bring your own beliefs” –
July 07, 2020
This July was meant to have seen the return to Canterbury of a major relic: the blood-splattered tunicle (shirt) reputedly worn by Archbishop Thomas Becket at his murder. It would have been a fitting way to mark the 800th anniversary of the “Translation” of Becket’s bones from the crypt to a magnificent shrine in the
May 12, 2020
A new book on Rene Dreyfus tells a gripping story - but underplays his Catholicism
April 02, 2020
I hadn’t realised until I began re-reading the Canterbury Tales that Chaucer’s 14th-century ‘‘road trip’’ poem – 29 pilgrims heading off from the Tabard Inn in Southwark for a story-telling spring jaunt to Canterbury –  would never have been written were it not for the Florence plague of 1348.  It was this disaster that inspired
November 28, 2019
Paris in late November reminds one what a Catholic city Paris remains. The Christmas decorations are up, the churches display posters for musique sacrée in Advent and the tourists have largely gone. I found myself almost alone as I stood in Balzac’s modest study in his little house, once in the village of Passy but
October 17, 2019
I wasn’t able to attend the prayer vigil in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore before the canonisation of John Henry Newman in Rome as our – very exhausted – Catholic Herald Newman pilgrim group found ourselves blocked by Vatican guards from leaving the roped-off area of the sacristy of St Peter’s Basilica. The reason
September 26, 2019
The travel group Thomas Cook, which went into compulsory liquidation this week, may have invented mass tourism, but it failed to embrace technology and convert to a modern online model. It stuck with its one-stop-shop philosophy of summer and winter travel bibles, backed by an expensive chain of increasingly empty high-street shops. Like the Church,
August 29, 2019
With the summer heat in Rome almost unbearable, I’ve been following the saga of Pope Francis’s rejection of his various summer residences – from Castel Gandolfo to the humble Alpine chalet of Les Combes d’Introd – now that Francis has made it clear he doesn’t really do “vacation time”. But what should the Vatican do
June 13, 2019
On the morning of June 6, while Theresa May, President Macron, and elderly veterans attended the unveiling of the new British Normandy Memorial in the little village of Ver-sur-Mer, I was 20 or so miles away in the depths of the French countryside on my own – long overdue – D-Day pilgrimage. This was to