This was a great episode to write and record. As I talk about in the episode, Twain was a jaded and cynical man later in his life. He'd seen a lot of ugliness, and he struggled mightily with the Question of Evil: how can an all-powerful and all-knowing God allow evil to happen, especially to innocent people.
He also had great antipathy toward the Catholic Church, especially the hierarchy. He had learned anti-Catholicism in his upbringing, and it was fed by some experiences. It came out in full-flower in his 1889 book 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court.'
This is what makes his treatment of Joan of Arc so intriguing. Published just seven years after Connecticut Yankee, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc shows a tenderness and awe that Twain rarely exhibited — and that certainly wasn't a dominant feature of his works! This book brought a reverence to the main character that reads like hagiography, except that in Joan's case it is entirely true. Twain found in Joan a pure and incorruptible vessel of innocence that he had despaired of ever finding within the wretched mass of humanity. He found she whom he regarded as the greatest person humanity had ever produced, and he lamented that we would never see her like again.
When the book was published, the public was astonished that Twain had written it. Twain scholars generally scoff at it and leave it off lists of his great works. But Twain understood differently. Guarding his Joan with the tenderness of a devoted father, Twain insisted that Joan of Arc was his greatest work.
We'll be live at 12:30 Eastern today. Our Montessori school, Hilltop Children's House, will begin classes in two weeks, so we will have to find another way to do these live events. Also we're working on our next episode, and we're seriously talking with a long-time listener about an online course this fall.
Hundreds of babies' bones were discovered when the Erie Canal was dredged. Father Baker was horrified by this, and what he did in response included a "baby drop box."
Listen to the whole episode about this great man: https://americancatholichistory.org/venerable-nelson-baker
Nelson Baker, a potential online course, writing for San Francisco Catholic Magazine, and more... Join us at 12:30!
New Episode: Venerable Nelson Baker!
Ven. Nelson Baker was incredible. He saved lives in and around Lackawanna, just south of Buffalo, New York. He invented direct mail fundraising. He did whatever was needed to build institutions to make others' lives better. And he did it all by relying utterly on the intercession of Our Lady of Victory. As a tribute to her beneficence, he built the massive and breathtaking Basilica of Our Lady of Victory.
After time in the Union Army during the Civil War, then as a very successful businessman, Baker entered seminary. After ordination he was assigned to the parish and charitable institutions at Limestone Hill — modern day Lackawanna, New York. After six years as an assistant (with some time away), he was made pastor and superintendent. He had to face down creditors who came to collect on the massive debt his predecessor had built up. But he did so. Then he invited charitable Catholic ladies across the country to become members of the "Association of Our ...
How did two Roman martyrs, killed in either the third or fourth century, end up in St. Martin of Tours Catholic church in Louisville, Kentucky?
Well, anti-Catholicism has its fingerprints all over this story. From the execution of Bonosa and Magnus, to the anti-clerical sentiment sweeping through Italy which compelled the emigration of these relics, to the riot which nearly burned down St. Martin... But since 1901, the hallowed remains of these early witnesses to the Christian faith have rested in peace in glass-front sarcophagi beneath side altars in St. Martin.
Learn more about this very catholic — as in, universal — story.
Fr. Francis Sampson was the "paratrooper padre." He parachuted into Normandy, behind enemy lines, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, along with more than 13,000 other Allied paratroopers. He also was directly involved in the episode that inspired Steven Spielberg's epic war drama Saving Private Ryan. He hadn't planned on being a paratrooper when he joined the Army chaplain corps and the Archdiocese for Military Services, but his naiveté about what he had signed up for was a good thing for his men. He was dedicated to their well-being, spiritually and physically. On D-Day, he stayed behind at an aid station in a French village when the rest of the paratroopers he was with moved along to rendezvous with the larger unit. The aid station had 14 men who couldn't be moved. When the Germans came he was put up against a wall and nearly shot, but a German sergeant recognized he was a priest and his life was spared. Once the Americans retook the village, he and the survivors were evacuated. Eventually he ...
Welcome to all our new members and supporters! Thank you for being here. We hope that you find the community enjoyable, supportive, and informative.
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Who are supporters? Those who support our work with at least $5 each month. We actually have a great line-up of perks for supporters:
$5/month: access to all our "Supporter-Only" content. We've been working hard at developing some new content beyond our weekly podcast. Each month we plan to release a video in our new "American Catholic History On Location" series, taking you to American Catholic places near and far. Look out for our inaugural video tomorrow!
We also will be releasing longer-form interviews ...
Some glimpses into what we've been up to the last couple of days...
St. Clement's Island Museum, Historic St. Mary's City, Carmel of Port Tobacco, Naval Academy Chapel, Sacred Heart Church, St Mary's Catholic Church Annapolis
We've been hosting folks who are in Chantilly, Virginia for the National Catholic Singles Conference.
In this American Catholic History Conversation, Noëlle and Tom chat with Anastasia Northrop, founder of the National Conference for Single Catholics (formerly National Catholic Singles Conference).
The next Conference is coming up shortly, September 16-18, 2022, in Chantilly, Virginia. Noelle and Tom will host three days of pre-events, September 14-16, visiting great historic Catholic sites in Maryland and Virginia.
Give a listen, and, if you're a Catholic single, join us at the National Conference for Single Catholics!
American Catholic History Conversations bring subject matter experts into the conversation about topics important to American Catholic History. Tom and Noelle Crowe, co-hosts of the American Catholic History podcast, take a deep dive into topics with authors, researchers, descendants, and other experts, to help really get to the heart of the matter in American Catholic History.
Did you know that Catholics first arrived on these American shores, and offered the first Mass here, four years before Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation?
Did you know that the first name a European gave to the Mississippi River was "Rio del Espiritu Santo," or "River of the Holy Spirit"?
Did you know that Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, was the wealthiest man in the colonies at the time? Or that the growth of the Church in this country owes a lot to the French Revolution and other European wars that drove Catholics — priests, bishops, religious, and laity — across the ocean for safe haven?
The history of Catholics on these American shores is far more interesting, inspiring, and all-encompassing than you probably realize.
Join us to learn so much more about the amazing men and women who gave of themselves for love of Christ to bring the Faith to these American shores.
Through our regular podcast, plus ...