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In 1613, at the end of his career, Shakespeare joined John Fletcher to dramatize the reign of Henry VIII—the king who broke with Rome and started the Protestant revolution in England. The play ends with Thomas Cranmer’s rhapsodic paean to the once and future queen, Elizabeth, who would consolidate the Anglican settlement:

This royal infant—heaven still move about her!—
Though in her cradle, yet now promises
Upon this land a thousand, thousand blessings,
Which time shall bring to ripeness. She shall be—
But few now living can behold that goodness—
A pattern to all princes living with her,
And all that shall succeed.

Elizabeth’s foes, Cranmer predicts, will shake like a field of beaten corn; and, since those foes included the Catholics whom Elizabeth relentlessly persecuted, imprisoned, and executed, readers have traditionally seen the play as Protestant propaganda.

And yet Henry VIII is also the tale of another queen: Katherine of Aragon, Henry’s discarded, staunchly Catholic wife. Katherine courageously endures the trial, stands by her “honour,” her “bond to wedlock,” and her “love and duty.” She assails Wolsey for his “arrogancy, spleen, and pride” and wishes to make appeal “unto the Pope,” to bring her case before “His Holiness.” Onstage she has a vision of angelic spirits dancing and welcoming her to heaven before she dies. Shakespeare and Fletcher portray Katherine as a wronged, heroic, and saintly queen.

Henry VIII, in other words, is hot ice and wondrous strange snow, as Theseus says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Does the play extol the Protestant Reformation or the Protestant Deformation? How shall we find the concord of this discord?

Unlike such poets as Dante, Spenser, and Milton, Shakespeare gives us no clear window through which to see into his soul. Both Protestants and Catholics—like everyone else—can find ample evidence to claim him as their own. But since Shakespeare has been canonized as the Protestant national poet for so long, notice of Catholic sympathies and perspectives has generated popular and scholarly excitement in recent years.

So, for example, the World Shakespeare Bibliography, an electronic database of Shakespearian studies from 1962 on, records 228 hits for Catholicism, well over a hundred of them from the last decade. Some of this recent work is tendentious and unpersuasive. But some of it reveals evocative patterns of appropriation as Shakespeare draws on the rich traditions of Catholicism to create his drama.

The moment of transition among Shakespeare scholars was marked by the 2000 meeting of the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford-upon-Avon. “Shakespeare and Religions,” the subject of the biennial conference, drew more than two hundred of the world’s best scholars. David Daniell (a distinguished Shakespearean, as well as biographer of William Tyndale and editor of Tyndale’s New Testament) presented the opening paper, “Shakespeare and the Protestant Mind.” Daniell argued that Tyndale’s New Testament gave Shakespeare a model for his language—simple, direct English—and for his subject, especially the ­portrayal of the common man suffering. “That is a great bequest of Protestantism,” he concluded.

On the other side of the aisle, Peter Milward, S.J., sat uncomfortably. Milward’s paper, “Religion in Arden,” began with a summary of the alleged biographical connections between Shakespeare’ family and Catholicism and went on to discern complimentary references to the forbidden religion in As You Like It. He rehearsed the “Lancashire Thesis”—the theory that Shakespeare spent his lost years in Alexander Hoghton’s recusant Lancashire household—and suggested, moreover, a possible meeting there with Edmund Campion, the brilliant fugitive Jesuit: “May not Shakespeare have received his first lessons in dramaturgy from Campion, not to mention the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which it was a principal aim of Jesuits like Campion to introduce to promising young men like Shakespeare?”

Though he wisely declined to speculate on Shakespeare’s private beliefs, Daniell spoke within the long and well-established tradition that associates Shakespeare and Protestantism. The cultural and political forces that crowned Shakespeare as the English national poet naturally portrayed him as the product and loyal member of the Church of England. At the end of the seventeenth century, playwrights appropriated Shakespeare to supply a series of plays about the popish plot and the execution of Titus Oates, a Catholic conspirator. Thomas Cooke’s The Mournful Nuptials (1739) contrasted sensible Anglican followers of Shakespeare with the schismatic followers of the harlequin, a Catholic character, and the Methodist John Wesley. The French-supported, pro-Catholic Jacobite rebellion of 1745 inspired revivals of Shakespeare’s Henry V, which dramatized the victory over the French at Agincourt, and his King John, which featured John’s ringing repudiation of papal claims.

The actor and producer David Garrick, who brought Shakespeare to new life in the eighteenth century, inaugurated another stage of the process, inflecting the religious identification with accents of bardolatry. Garrick’s theatrical commemoration of the Stratford celebration of Shakespeare, The Jubilee (1769), begins with two Stratford wives worrying about the invasion of Londoners into their town: “Ralph swears there’s mischief in hand . . . . He verily believes that the Pope is at bottom on’t all.” Ralph, it turns out, fears a new Gunpowder Plot, a plan by Catholics to blow up Parliament in 1605. Everybody is relieved to discover that all the fuss is really a celebration of Shakespeare, their own “Warwickshire lad”: But Law and the Gospel in Shakespeare we find / And he gives the best physic for body and mind.

At the next great national celebration for Shakespeare, the 1864 tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth, Richard Chenevix Trench, a poet and Anglican divine, preached the Sunday sermon at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford: “Shakespeare was a true child of the England of the Reformation. He was born of its spirit; he could never have been what he was if he had not lived and moved in the atmosphere, intellectual and moral, which it had created.” Protestantism created Shakespeare, was the claim, and Shakespeare returned the favor by helping to create good Protestants among his readers. Shakespeare imparted “impulse and vigour” to the “Protestant type of character, and the Protestant polity in state and nation,” Edward Dowden declared in 1874.

The association of Shakespeare and Protestantism lies deep within the English psyche, a point of intersection for various mythologies of national selfhood. In Shakespeare’s day, John Foxe influentially portrayed England as rising in the godly Reformation morning, cleansed of papist corruption. Over the centuries, the country developed a self-image in pointed opposition to Catholic France and Spain. Anti-Catholicism, with particular reference to the pope—often called the Antichrist in Shakespeare’s day—has conditioned English history and historiography on every level for nearly five centuries.

Anti-Catholic myths of English nationhood still thrive today, animating Guy Fawkes ceremonies every November 5, with some burnings of the pope in effigy, as well as popular culture and films, for example, Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). The first begins with the burning of Protestants by Queen Mary I and defines Elizabeth’s reign as a struggle against the dangerous papists. Mesmerizingly portrayed by Cate Blanchett in both films, Elizabeth rises to triumph over Catholic enemies. Roman villainy reaches its fantasy culmination in the second film as a priest stirs up Catholics to assassinate Elizabeth, only to double-cross them by providing an unloaded weapon.

This fictitious double-act of treachery leads to the execution of Mary Stuart, the event that incites the wrath of Philip II and the invasion of the Armada in 1588. It was all a Jesuit plot. Clutching their rosaries and crucifixes, Philip II and his swarthy Spanish invaders look like Muslim terrorists and are soundly defeated by the Protestant winds, by a dashing Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh (who was not, in fact, a major participant in the fighting), and by Cate Blanchett’s stunning wardrobe. Shakespeare, the national poet and cornerstone of English identity, could hardly belong to the enemy—those fanatical, treacherous, and foreign Catholics.

Or could he? Certainly Peter Milward has good company in arguing for Shakespeare’s Catholicism and his association with the Jesuits. John Speed, an early modern historian, raised exactly that possibility in 1611. The Jesuit Robert Persons had given a scurrilous representation of Sir John Oldcastle—and Shakespeare is to blame: Persons “hath made Oldcastle a ruffian, a robber, and a rebel, and his authority, taken from the stage players, is more befitting the pen of his slanderous report than the credit of the judicious, being only grounded from the papist and his poet.” The “poet” here is probably Shakespeare, whose irreverent portrayal of Oldcastle (officially revered as a proto-Protestant martyr) gave enough offense to occasion the name change to Falstaff.

Then there is the teasing, late-seventeenth-century reference to Shakespeare by Richard Davies of Corpus Christi College. “He died a papist,” Davies jotted down among some other Shakespearean memoranda (some true, some false). Moreover, the vicar who perhaps officiated at Shakespeare’s wedding, John Frith of Temple Grafton, was reported as “unsound in religion,” which often meant Catholic. And late in life, in 1613, Shakespeare purchased the Blackfriars gatehouse, perhaps a center of underground Catholic activity.

The case for Shakespeare’s biographical Catholicism rests on hints such as these and on the alleged Catholicism of his schoolteachers (Simon Hunt, John Cottam, perhaps others), associates (including Hamnet and Judith Sadler, for whom he seems to have named his children), and family. His mother’s family, the Ardens, was staunchly Catholic, with one member, Edward Arden, executed in 1583 for alleged complicity in the Sommerville plot. The poet’s father, John Shakespeare, was twice cited for failure to attend Church of England services. The reporters both times attributed his absence to fear of process for debt rather than to religious conviction, but the poet’s daughter Susanna was similarly cited for recusancy in 1606.

John Shakespeare reportedly left behind a spiritual last will and testament that has served as the foundation of the case. This Catholic profession of faith, based on a formula of Carlo Borromeo, refers to extreme unction, the Virgin Mary as the advocate of sinners, the angels, and purgatory. But reports of the original document, now lost and surviving only in transcription, do not inspire much confidence. Having surfaced in the eighteenth century, the testament received the enthusiastic support of John Jordan, an unreliable eighteenth-century entrepreneur, and the rejection of the great scholar Edmund Malone. The most serious modern appraisal, that of Robert Bearman, raises significant doubts about its authenticity.

In recent decades, the theory, originally suggested by Oliver Baker (1937), that Shakespeare spent some of his youth in Alexander Hoghton’s recusant Lancashire household has won adherents. E.A.J. Honigmann traced possible connections between “Shakeshafte” (the player named in Hoghton’s 1581 will and supposed to be Shakespeare), Stratford townspeople, and the London theater.

Taking the Lancashire theory as its starting point, Lancaster University, in conjunction with Hoghton Tower, held an international conference in 1999 to explore the Shakespearean implications of patronage practices, as well as regional theatrical records. The frenetic media attention and opening address by a member of the Hoghton family, who endorsed the theory and the proposed Lancaster Shakespeare Center as an “economic boon to the region,” did not much convince those who were looking for solid evidence and disinterested investigation. Still, the conference published two volumes and gave general credibility to the Lancashire theory, which has been seriously entertained by many recent critics and biographers, among them Eric Sams, Park Honan, Michael Wood, and Stephen Greenblatt.

But others have pointed out that Shakeshafte was a common name in Lancashire and that there is no reason to construe it as a variant spelling or singularly unimaginative pseudonym for Shakespeare. And Shakeshafte’s proposed move from the Hoghton circle to the London theater through a network of interconnections stumbles on the inconvenient fact of Shakespeare’s documented presence in Stratford the next year, 1582, when he impregnated and married Anne Hathaway.

The evidence for Shakespeare’s biographical Catholicity presents nothing like proof but only intriguing possibility. Even if we could determine that his family and friends were clearly and consistently Catholic, we could not then reasonably conclude anything definite about Shakespeare’s religious belief and practice. Catholics have always believed in baptism by blood and baptism by desire but never, so far as I know, in baptism by association.

The claims, moreover, rest on a simplistic notion of religious identity in a period that often shows what one scholar has called a “large muddled middle”—people holding a mixture of pious sentiments and generally Christian beliefs drawn eclectically from both confessions. There was also frequent conversion and reconversion. Witness Ben Jonson, Shakespeare’s friend and fellow playwright, who began as a Protestant, converted to Catholicism in 1598, and switched back to the Church of England twelve years later, celebrating his return by downing all the communion wine. Or John Donne, who was raised a Catholic amid talk of martyrs but who became the famous Church of England preacher—all while retaining two pictures of the Virgin Mary in his residence and enunciating Catholic doctrines in his poetry.

Still, even if the case for Shakespeare’s biographical Catholicity finally remains uncertain, Shakespeare studies are better for having entertained it. The case for his Protestantism is equally uncertain, and this change in the critical default opens up new ­possibilities.

The change derives not merely from a swing in the critical pendulum but from a serious critical reappraisal of Catholicism in the early modern world. Early in the twentieth century, the Catholic Recusant Society began the work, publishing documents, facsimile volumes, monographs, and a journal. More recently, the studies of Jack Scarisbrick, Christopher Haigh, Eamon Duffy, and Alexandra Walsham, along with a host of regional investigations, have challenged the entrenched myths of Protestant reformation and English nationhood. Catholicism has emerged as a vital, diverse, native confession that could inspire both heroism and holiness. Shakespeare’s works naturally have had an important place in the general reevaluation.

In 1864, A.F. Rio published Shakespeare Catholique, an account of Shakespeare as a crypto-Catholic whose works secretly refer to the forbidden religion. It seemed implausible at the time, but three more recent scholars have used the new scholarship to tread a similar path: Peter Milward, the Jesuit who detects Jesuit influence on the playwright in The Catholicism of Shakespeare’s Plays (1997) and other works; Richard Wilson, a proponent of the Lancashire thesis, in Secret Shakespeare (2004); and Clare Asquith, who, in Shadowplay (2005), attributes her reading of Shakespeare to her experience of watching secret anticommunist references in plays in Moscow during the Cold War.

Much of this is unpersuasive. Advocates of a “secret-code Shakespeare” assume that the public playhouse was an appropriate venue for hidden messages to select audience members. Contrary evidence is smoothly dismissed as part of the cover operation; ­distortions and errors of fact abound. For that matter, the proponents disagree with each other on issues large and small. Milward thinks Macbeth shows the Protestant revolution as usurpation, with Macbeth as Henry VIII and Lady Macbeth as Queen Elizabeth. Wilson reads the play as a study in Jesuit terrorism. Milward sees the Duke in Measure for Measure as a Jesuit (ministering to prisoners, adopting a disguise, claiming to come from the Holy See), Angelo as a Puritan, and Isabella as a Catholic; in the end, the Duke stands for providence and Isabella for mercy. Asquith, however, thinks that the play dramatizes the “central error of James’s domestic policy”—reliance on unworthy ministers. She reads the Duke as James I, Angelo as Cecil, and the ineffectual Isabella as ineffectual Catholic leaders abroad; in the end, the Duke stands for Stuart England and Isabella for the universal Catholic Church.

Though the case for a secret-code Shakespeare fails, the case for evocative patterns of literary Catholicity in the bard’s work seems much stronger. Shakespeare had, for instance, a reverence for the “bare-ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang,” for the Catholic past of ruined monasteries, discredited figures, and lost traditions.

This reverence manifests itself in an occasionally surprising disagreement with the Protestant party line on history. To be sure, there are Catholic malefactors in the history plays: the demonic Joan of Arc and the scheming Bishop of Winchester in Henry VI, Part 1; Canterbury and Ely in Henry V; Cardinal Pandulph in King John; and Cardinals Wolsey and Campeius in Henry VIII. But Shakespeare usually avoids the rabid anti-Catholicism of his sources and analogues. In a remarkably nuanced, independent reading, for example, he ignores the scandalous portrayal of monks in his source and portrays King John, canonized as a Protestant hero in many accounts, as an illegitimate, weak-willed failure.

Another Protestant hero, King Henry VIII, suffers deflation in Shakespeare’s account. The Chamberlain gives the official view of Henry’s petition for divorce, It seems the marriage with his brother’s wife / Has crept too near his conscience , only to hear Suffolk’s witty Catholic riposte: No, his conscience / Has crept too near another lady. Like many Catholics, Suffolk ascribes the divorce and break with Rome to Henry’s infatuation with Anne Boleyn. Shakespeare also, apparently, had a hand in Sir Thomas More, which presents a positive portrayal of the man regarded as a traitor by Protestants but revered by Catholics.

Shakespeare, moreover, stands apart from the crude anticlerical satire of the age, where jokes about the pope and about venal, lecherous, hypocritical clerics abounded. Marlowe, for example, actually has the invisible Doctor Faustus smack the pope upside the head in Doctor Faustus. Shakespeare, however, pokes fun at Protestant curates, the pompous Sir Nathaniel in Love’s Labor’s Lost and the silly Sir Hugh Evans in The Merry Wives of Windsor. In As You Like It, Jacques rejects the significantly named Protestant curate Sir Oliver Martext and directs the lovers to a church and a priest: “And will you, being a man of your breeding, be married under a bush like a beggar? Get you to church, and have a good priest that can tell you what marriage is.” Olivia similarly invites Sebastian and a priest to a chantry for marriage in Twelfth Night.

In one tragedy and several comedies, Shakespeare, remarkably, gives sympathetic, largely positive portrayals of Catholic priests and nuns. Friar Lawrence, an herbalist, described as a “holy man,” befriends Romeo and Juliet and tries to turn their “households’ rancor to pure love.” In Much Ado About Nothing, Friar Francis, expanded from the purely functionary priest in the source, intuits Hero’s innocence, defends her from the charge of lechery, proposes a plan to expose the error, and moves all toward resolution. “We must not ignore the uniqueness of this representation,” writes Paul Voss, reminding us of the contemporary context of anti-Catholic legislation and persecution: “If a real Friar Francis were to have walked off the stage at the Globe Theater and practiced his faith in public, he would have been immediately arrested and eventually executed.”

Shakespeare also portrays nuns sympathetically. The Abbess Emilia appears at the end of The Comedy of Errors to rebuke Adriana for jealousy and to preside over the various reconciliations. The long-lost wife of Egeon, Emilia has lived a holy life in Ephesus, where the temple of Diana in the play substitutes for the shrine of the Virgin Mary. At the end of his career, Shakespeare portrays another nun in Ephesus, Thaisa, the long-lost wife of Pericles who also shows patient virtue and goodness and who also presides over the final reunions.

Shakespeare’s most complicated study of Catholic female religious life is, of course, Measure for Measure, which features Isabella, a postulant in the order of St. Clare. Isabella takes preliminary instruction from Sister Francisca, as the Duke, disguising himself as a Franciscan, does from the genial Friar Thomas. But she faces an impossible dilemma when the corrupt Puritan magistrate, Angelo, offers to spare her brother’s life in exchange for sexual favors. Better it were a brother died at once, / Than that a sister, by redeeming him, / Should die forever , she responds, clearly articulating the terms of her moral universe. Ignomy in ransom and free pardon / Are of two houses. Lawful mercy / Is nothing kin to foul redemption.

Isabella’s emotional anguish leads sometimes to rigid absolutism (“more than our brother is our chastity”), to shrill excess (her condemnation of her brother in act three), and to a dubious compromise (Mariana’s substitution-for-her-in-the-bed trick). But she rises to genuine moral heroism in the end. Thinking her brother executed, Isabella begs the Duke to show mercy and to pardon Angelo anyway. Shakespeare converted the secular heroine of his sources to a Catholic religious figure in order to sharpen the dramatic conflicts and show how hard it is to be holy in a fallen world. He makes the Puritan Angelo the villain of the piece, and the Anglican Duke, who resembles James I in his dislike of crowds and his assumption of religious powers and prerogatives, a deeply ambivalent figure.

Forbidden Catholic doctrines surface curiously in the plays to enable dramatic action. The ghost of the elder Hamlet, as has often been noted, hails from purgatory, belief in which had been officially proscribed by Article 22 of the Thirty-nine Articles.

I am thy father’s spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.

This Catholic view of the afterlife motivates and underlies the action of the play, though the Ghost’s penance, presumably, does not include his Senecan exhortation to revenge. The Ghost goes on to lament his murder, Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled, / No reckoning made, but sent to my account / With all my imperfections on my head. In other words, the elder Hamlet died too suddenly, without a chance for the Catholic sacrament of extreme unction (“unaneled”), the reception of the Eucharist (“unhouseled”), or confession (“No reckoning made”)—though Protestants had demoted the Eucharist to a symbol and denied the sacraments of both extreme unction and penance.

Teasing references to the sacrament of penance and related terms—shriving, absolution, confession—throughout Shakespeare’s work, sometimes in unmistakably Catholic constructions. Leontes in The Winter’s Tale, for example, praises Camillo:

I have trusted thee, Camillo,
With all the nearest things to my heart, as well
My chamber councils, wherein, priestlike, thou
Hast cleansed my bosom. I from thee departed
Thy penitent reformed.

The passage, moreover, occurs in a play much concerned with sin, repentance, and, finally, forgiveness and redemption.

Forgiveness and redemption figure centrally in Shakespeare’s late plays, and they are usually imagined in specifically Catholic terms. The scholar Gary Taylor observes that the statue that comes to life in The Winter’s Tale, allegedly the work of the Italian papal architect Julio Romano, is called “a sainted spirit” and that the play culminates with Leontes’ pilgrimage to Sicily. This spiritual journey to a holy place, like the earlier pilgrimage to the temple of Apollo at Delphi (and the one to Diana in Pericles ), draws on Catholic traditions specifically condemned by Protestants, who tore down shrines at Walsingham, Canterbury, and elsewhere, scattering relics and claiming that God was accessible in all places.

Taylor notes, as well, that in the last plays of Shakespeare—Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, and The Two Noble Kinsmen (a collaboration with Fletcher)—there are recurrent combinations of Catholic elements: “ceremony, ritual, intercession: altars, candles, statues, priests, nuns, hallowed and ­hallowing music, all the numinous synecdoches ­condemned by Calvinists as meaningless idolatrous fetishes, but revered by Catholics as necessary mediators between the human and the divine.” The Catholic Church could not be dissolved in England simply by legislative fiat; it appears in pagan robes in these plays. Moreover, Shakespeare’s plays of sin and forgiveness dramatize the archetypal struggles from Everyman and the old Catholic morality play. These powerful theatrical traditions, along with the Catholic mystery plays and saints plays, furnish his work.

Catholic dramatic traditions—as scholars such as Bernard Spivack, Emrys Jones, and most recently Beatrice Groves have demonstrated—supply tragedy as well as comedy. Tracing the precise lines of filiation and the less precise influences of tradition throughout the canon has occupied scholars and critics for several centuries. One fundamental theological principle, the freedom of the will, enables Catholic drama and constitutes a major bequest to Shakespearean tragedy. Rejecting the theology of predestination and the Calvinist dichotomy between the reprobate and the elect, Shakespeare gives his tragic heroes agonized soliloquies that, among other things, illustrate the dynamics of their thinking and their freedom. Those who fall—Macbeth and Othello, for example—confront dark influences in the witches and Iago, but they make their own decisions. Macbeth weighs his options, If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well / It were done quickly—and decides to jump the life to come. Later he contemplates his fateful choice, the first-person pronouns relentlessly emphasizing personal responsibility for his sin:

For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind;
For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,
Put rancors in the vessel of my peace
Only for them, and mine eternal jewel
Given to the common enemy of man.

The wages of sin is damnation, and Macbeth is a terrifying study in damnation, freely chosen. Othello, too, comes to his decision in agonized soliloquy. And he, too, describes himself as one who lost a precious jewel, One whose hand, / Like the base Indian, threw a pearl away / Richer than all his tribe. Othello imagines his soul hurled from heaven, snatched by fiends in hell: Blow me about in winds! Roast me in sulfur! / Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire! Such spectacles arouse a pity and terror unavailable to believers in ­predestination.

As the critical pendulum has swung to a new appreciation of religion and spirituality in the early-modern world, all sorts of critics have rushed to claim Shakespeare as their own. In his 1994 A Buddhist’s Shakespeare, James Howe tells of his personal journey to Buddhism and to new understanding. As he studied under an Indian teacher named Trungpa, Howe began to see Shakespeare’s plays differently: “Perhaps not coincidentally, they seemed to change in directions that paralleled the changes I could see in myself. Each time I congratulated myself on the achievement of a new level of wisdom, Shakespeare seemed already to have been there.”

In the 2007 Godless Shakespeare, Eric S. Mallin presents a Shakespeare who has “a mind and spirit uncontained by orthodoxy”; elements of Christianity appear in his work, but “Shakespeare activates these features in decidedly irreligious or ironic ways.”

Such eccentric variations aside, the recent reevaluation of Shakespeare’s religion has generated new understanding. Forbidden Catholicism often functions as a potent fund of myth, ritual, and assumption that enables conflict, inflects situations, and charges action and character. The evidence does not amount to a manifesto of the playwright’s personal belief or to a discursive body of dogma advocated either openly or secretly. But it does grow to something of great constancy, howsoever strange and admirable, and it does, to the confounding of some orthodoxies, have real presence.

Robert Miola is the Gerard Manley Hopkins Professor of English at Loyola College in Maryland and editor of Early Modern Catholicism: An Anthology of Primary Sources (Oxford).

Image by Boston Public Library on picryl licensed via Creative Commons. Image cropped.