Status of the Family Society of Prayer
Parkminster, Cowfold: Printed by the Author, 1905. Limited edition. Original straight grain green cloth (6 1/4 inches tall) with mounted illustration inset in front board, marbled purple endpapers, uncut. Spotting to edges, sporadic foxing to interiors. About Fine. Item #1035
"O! JESUS! CONVERT ENGLAND. O! MARY HAVE PITY ON OUR COUNTRY"
Extraordinary English Catholic almanac for the year 1905—privately printed and bound by a Monk of the Carthusian charterhouse at Parkminster—for limited distribution among a very small circle of English nuns, priests and their families.
The Family Society of Prayer was founded by John Joseph Petre (a Carmelite-turned-Carthusian) and Sibyl Mary Petre (a Sacred Heart Nun of the Convent du Sacre Coeur, Rennes, France) in August 1888. The title page defines the "Object" of the Society: "The members pray for each other's spiritual needs, and for final perseverance of every one of the members. Also for the different families for their Spiritual and Temporal necessities. Likewise, very especially, for many Religious Vocations." Elaborately decorated throughout and very finely printed (evidently by John Joseph Petre) in several colors, including gilt, with two mounted photogravure illustrations. Hand-bound in green cloth with horizontal grain (and a photogravure image of a nun inset into the front board) and brightly colored purple endpapers. The illustrated frontispiece (with a caption echoing St. Bruno): "O! Bonitas! I have chosen you, you have not chosen me" is followed by another illustration, captioned: "O! Jesus! Convert England. O! Mary have pity on Our Country."
The page for John Joseph notes: "Owing to the latitude allowed by the Carthusian Rite, I am able to say the beautiful Mass of our holy Patroness Saint Teresa, for the needs of the Society, on all Tuesdays, few excepted." The Society's Status handbook for 1905 consists of four general sections: Part the First: Nuns, Part the Second: Priests, Part the Third: Families, Kalendars of the Living and of the Dead. This copy is stamped as number 60 (from a print run unlikely to have exceeded 100 copies), with the small neat black ink ownership of the Hon. Mrs. Stapleton-Bretherton to title page, who has a number of family members mentioned in the book, several recently deceased. A loose slip ("With the Compliments of the Foundress & Founder: Humanum est errare") addressed in ink to "Mother" is laid-in. A concluding printed leaf invites the recipient to "note up family dates as they occur" followed with a half-dozen blank pages. From the library of British Labour politician Denis Healey, who seems to have discovered the book in a rummage sale, and sought to find out more about the society. With an autographed letter to Mr. Healey (dated March 1999) from the diocesan archivist of Bishop's House, Newcastle, concerning an investigation into the provenance of the book. Printed Cum Permissu Superiorum. Rare.