London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., circa 1950. First edition. Thin 12mo. (7 1/2 inches tall), original printed and illustrated paper boards. Bookplate. Interiors largely fine, very gentle soiling to sharp-cornered original boards. A near-fine copy. Item #688
"THE SPIRIT OF SAINT THÉRÈSE" First edition—in the original stiff paper boards—recounting Peter Anson's pilgrimage to the Norman hometown of the Little Flower, Thérèse of Lisieux. In 1913, Anson was one of the twenty monks of the Benedictine brotherhood of Caldey Island, led by Abbot Aelred Carlyle, who left the Church of England and went over to Rome. Anson eventually left the Order of St. Benedict in 1924 and began a new life as a prolific author and illustrator. Anson's visit to the home of the beloved Carmelite saint was number six of the Pilgrim's Sketch Books, Anson's popular series of illustrated pilgrimages, following numbers 1-5: to Lourdes, the Shrines of Britain, Brittany, Ireland, and Italy. The twelve black-and-white sketches, accompanied by extended captions, display Anson's interest in the local history, the sea, and Catholic spirituality. They also convey a sense of the changes in the region as the cult of the Little Flower surrounding Therese exploded in the decades after her death in 1897. After Thérèse was beatified in 1923 and canonized in 1925, pilgrims began to flood the area, making Lisieux the second-largest pilgrimage site in France (after Lourdes). Anson sketches and comments on the planned "grandiose basilica" in honor of the Little Flower: "Some people sadly say that this monumental church ('Byzantine-Baroque,' as a friend of mine flippantly called its style) will be as unrepresentative of the spirit of Ste. Thérèse as could well be imagined." Construction on the Basilique Sainte-Thérèse de Lisieux began in 1929 but was not completed until 1954. Anson was invested with a knighthood of the Order of St Gregory by Pope Paul VI in 1966. After returning for a period to Caldey Island, he joined the Sancta Maria Abbey at Nunraw, East Lothian where he died in 1975.