Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Late Modern European -- Abbot Aelred Carlyle, Caldey Island, and the Anglo-Catholic Revival in England by Rene Kollar

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Late Modern European -- Abbot Aelred Carlyle, Caldey Island, and the Anglo-Catholic Revival in England by Rene Kollar

Article excerpt

Abbot Aelred Carlyle, Caldey Island, and the Anglo-Catholic Revival In England. By Rene Kollar. O.S.B.

American University Studies, Series VII: Theology and Religion, Vol. 177.

(New York: Peter Lang. 1995. g. 363. $56.95.)

What are we to make of a man who, while pioneering the restoration of Benedictine life for men in the Church of England, emphasized contemplation and poverty, yet built the most sumptuous abbey in England, with a two-story abbatial dwelling and chapel, maintained a yacht for the sole use of himself and his guests, and had at his disposal a chauffeur-driven Daimler to take him on his begging tours in support of this opulent lifestyle? Peter Anson, an erstwhile member of Carlyle's community, portrayed him in two books of personal recollections as a rogue who stumbled into a position of fame and influence. Anson's "Abbot Extraordinary" was something of a rogue. But in these carefully researched and well written pages Rene Kollar shows that he was more.

Born into a middle-class family in Sheffield in 1874, Carlyle briefly studied medicine, but soon became fascinated by the hothouse world of Anglo-Catholicism. Possessed, in the words of so keen an observer as Ronald Knox, of "the hypnotic gaze of a mystic," Carlyle gathered around him a community of monks who settled in Yorkshire in 1902, in quarters supplied by the Anglo-Catholic enthusiast Charles Lindley Wood, Second Viscount Halifax. In 1906 the community moved to the Welsh island of Caldey, Carlyle himself having managed meanwhile to get himself ordained deacon and priest by the Episcopalian Bishop of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, during a flamboyant American tour in 1904.

Ronald Knox, who as the brilliant son of an Anglican bishop had intellectual gifts and establishment connections never enjoyed by Carlyle, wrote later that "there was a faint air of make-believe about Caldey's Anglicanism . …

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