Richard Crashaw – Hymn in the name and honor of the admirable Saint Thérèse

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By James T. Majewski ( bio – articles – email ) | October 15, 2022 | In Catholic Culture Audiobooks (Podcast)

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“The blessed powers forbid your tender life


Should bleed on a barbarian knife;


Where a basic hand has the power to shave


The chaste cabinet of your bosom, and unpack


A soul was so sweet there; Oh no,


Wise Heav’n will never have it so;


You are the victim of love and you must die


A more mystical and lofty death;


In the arms of Love you will drop


Funerals that still survive.

Richard Crashaw was a 17th century English poet and Anglican priest who later converted to Catholicism. He taught at Cambridge and served as curate of St. Mary the Less Church, where he became known for his High Church Anglicanism. Puritan critics cite him for his “Mariolatry” (excessive devotion to the Virgin Mary) and find fault with his church’s adornment with Christian art and use of Catholic vestments.

Under Oliver Cromwell, Crashaw was expelled from his parish and forced to flee the country. It was during this exile that Crashaw converted to Catholicism, eventually ending up in Rome under the employ of a Catholic cardinal. This same cardinal would appoint him canon of the Sanctuary of the Holy House of Loreto, where Crashaw died a few months later.

Crashaw is known for his religious poetry with distinct mystical themes. He was inspired by the works of Saint Teresa of Avila, despite the fact that in England she had not yet been translated and was largely unknown. Crashaw wrote three poems about Saint Theresa, of which “A Hymn in the Name and Honor of Saint Theresa” is the first. In it, Crashaw traces a development from the infant Teresa’s desire for physical martyrdom to the adult Teresa’s mystical conquest of the inner self.

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us!

Connections

“A hymn in the name and honor of the admirable Saint Thérèse” full text: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44057/a-hymn-to-the-name-and-honour-of- the-admirable-sainte-teresa

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James T. Majewski is Director of Client Relations for CatholicCulture.org, the host and “voice” of Catholic Culture Audiobooks, and co-host of Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. A New York-based film and voice actor, he holds a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. See full biography.

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