New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958. First edition. Octavo, original green cloth, original dust jacket. Near-fine book, gentle toning, minor spotting and soiling, touch of wear along top front panel of unclipped jacket. Item #963
"A WILD MEDIEVAL DREAM NECESSITATING MAGNIFICENT BUILDINGS, GORGEOUS VESTMENTS, AND EXTERNAL SPLENDOUR OF EVERY KIND" First American edition of Peter Anson's tribute to the life and times of Aelred Carlyle, the Abbot of Caldey Island. Born Benjamin Fearnley Carlyle, he was drawn to the idea of monasticism and clothed as a Benedictine oblate in 1893, taking the name Brother Aelred after Aelred of Rievaulx (in honor of the twelfth century Cistercian). The book traces the rise of arguably the most flamboyant strain of the Anglican Benedictine revival, an impulse which crested when—received by Abbot Columba Marmion and Dom Bede Camm—Abbot Carlyle led 22 monks of Caldey over to Rome in 1913. "Few converts have ever been received with so little preparation, and such enourmous publicity." Anson's biography is at least partly a memoir because the author was also an eyewitness. Clothed a monk after arriving on Caldey Island in 1910, Anson was among the monks who converted. He was received into the Third Order of the Franciscans in 1922 but Anson maintained a lifelong connection with English monasticism and with Carlyle. The book follows Carlyle's journey from Anglican monk to Catholic Abbot, and from secular priest back to Catholic monk. With a brief Foreword by publisher Maisie Ward assessing the legacy of Carlyle's "gallant failure" at Caldey. Aelred Carlyle "dreamed of restoring the Benedictine life to the Church of England and felt that it was an honour and a privilege for any one to be allowed to help in this work. And his Benedictine ideal was neither that of Catholic observance to-day nor that of the primitive Church. It was a wild medieval dream necessitating magnificent buildings, gorgeous vestments, and external splendour of every kind." The author doesn't contribute any sketches but this biography is illustrated with a frontispiece portrait of Carlyle and several remarkable photographs placed throughout the text. With a Dedication "to the Rev. Aidan Angle, Catholic chaplain a close friend of Aelred Carlyle for more than half a century" and appended with a Chronology and an Index. A Publisher's Note, tipped-in at the Dedication page, provides a legal correction to the text concerning Brother Bernard Lawson, O.S.B. Printed in Great Britain by the Faith Press for American distribution by Sheed and Ward. Imprimi Potest.