f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

September 6, 2005

St. John Roberts?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:02 pm

Competently performing the job of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme

Court may very well require the patience and humility of a saint, and the faith

of a martyr.  (see NYT, “A Choice Well-Schooled in Chief Justice Job’s Pitfalls,”

Sept. 6, 2005).   If given the chance to hold that position, John Roberts might

just have some celestial assistance. 


StJohnRoberts  Thanks to my Keyword Activity page, I quite inadvertently learned today

that the Catholic Church already has a St. John Roberts, whose feast/memorial day

is December 9, which is this former altar boy’s birthday.)  Our nominee’s namesake

was born in 1577, in northern Wales. His ancestors were princes of Wales.   Raised

a Protestant — at a time when your monarch apparently had a lot to say about your

de jure religion — the 21-year-old John studied law at the Inns of Court, and later that

year converted to Catholicism, while traveling in France. 


The saint-in-the-making then spent a dozen tumultuous years.  He worked among 

London plague victims, founded a house in Douai for exiled English Benedictines,

and was arrested and exiled several times for performing his priestly duties and

associating with Catholic rebels.   In 1610, he was finally convicted for the crime  

of “priesthood” and was martyred (he was hanged, drawn, and quartered).  His

corpse disappeared from Douai, during the French Revolution; but (purportedly)

two fingers are preserved at Downside Abbey and Erdington Abbey.”


In 1970, John Roberts was canonized as a saint by C, as part of

a group known as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.  The Catholic Community

Forum has this description of the Forty Martyrs (emphasis added):

“Following the dispute between the Pope and King Henry VIII in the

16th century, faith questions in the British Isles became entangled

with political questions, with both often being settled by torture and

murder of loyal Catholics. In 1970, the Vatican selected 40 martyrs,

men and women, lay and religious, to represent the full group of perhaps

300 known to have died for their faith and allegiance to the Church

between 1535 and 1679. They each have their own day of memorial,

but are remembered as a group on 25 October.”


If Judge John Roberts had to choose, I bet he rather have the title Saint than   JohnRobertsPix

the title Chief Justice.   Of course, despite some of the commentary at this

and other websites, one status shouldn’t preclude the other.    Right now,

I’m sure he’s happy to have an ally in Heaven — and quite pleased that we

don’t settle politico-religious disputes on this side of the Atlantic with torture

and murder.  Right, Teddy?




p.s.  I’ve often stated that no orthodoxy or theory (or religion) has all

the answers, all the solutions, all the wisdom.  Thanks to Steve

Bainbridge for pointing to Harvard Law professor William Stuntz’s

TCS column, “The Anti-theorists: What Bush and Rehnquist Had

in Common,” Sept. 6, 2005.



dust on the pews

afternoon sun washes

an apostle’s feet





country church

the summer smell of cotton

freshly ironed




umbrella vert



offeratory chant:

in the darkened vestibule

umbrellas drip



Peggy Lyles, from To Hear the Rain (Brooks Books, 2002)




  1. first day of school / songbirds fill / the plywood treehouse

    home ec / my new chinos stick / to the
    bottom of the desk

    Comment by ed markowski — September 7, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

  2. first day of school / songbirds fill / the plywood treehouse

    home ec / my new chinos stick / to the
    bottom of the desk

    Comment by ed markowski — September 7, 2005 @ 6:40 pm

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