Gripping beasts

Avalon Marshes Hands on Heritage

Decorative bargeboards are going up on the gable ends and above the doors of the Saxon longhall. Together with Mike’s beasts, they will add a fearsome touch and keep away evil spirits. The designs are mainly from Anglo-Saxon metalwork, including the ferocious duck/goat/dragon/hippo beast, which is sadly not mentioned in the literature.

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On the Feast of Blessed Karl of Austria

liturgy guy

Karl of Austria was born August 17, 1887, in the Castle of Persenbeug in the region of Lower Austria. His parents were the Archduke Otto and Princess Maria Josephine of Saxony, daughter of the last King of Saxony. Emperor Francis Joseph I was Karl’s Great Uncle.

Karl was given an expressly Catholic education and the prayers of a group of persons accompanied him from childhood, since a stigmatic nun prophesied that he would undergo great suffering and attacks would be made against him. That is how the “League of prayer of the Emperor Karl for the peace of the peoples” originated after his death. In 1963 it became a prayer community ecclesiastically recognized.

A deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart of Jesus began to grow in Karl. He turned to prayer before making any important decisions.

On the 21st of October, 1911, he married Princess…

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Vikings Season 3: Walking with the Dead


Ragnar funeral22

Scholars of ‘the Vikings’ anticipate, and sometimes find stark archaeological evidence for, the drama and spectacle of movement in mortuary ritual. Perhaps most famously we have whole or fragments of boats deployed in funerals and boats under sail depicted on Gotlandic picture stones. These and other images of horse-riding reveal conveyance in life, travel to the grave and maybe also aspirations to afterlife journeys converging in the commemoration of the dead. I’ve published on the geographies of Viking funerals twice, in 2010 and 2014 and a brief summary of my thoughts are presented here.

Ragnar funeral21
One criticism that might be levelled at the mortuary rituals portrayed in Seasons 1 and 2 of the popular History Channel drama ‘Vikings’ is that they are too static. Funerals happen at places, rather than between places. For while the funerals in the series attempt to convey pre-Christian cultic and ceremonial elements, and they also portray the range of material…

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We’re Talking VIKINGS: The Deceased

Sandi Layne

Today is #FaveDeadViking Friday! So we’re going to look at two of the dead characters who left their marks on us.


Okay, so he’s my favorite.  I’ve studied the monks and written of the Viking raids on the monasteries and was all kinds of sympathetic to Athelstan from the moment I learned of his existence.

Courtesy of vikingsinuppsala on Tumblr

As soon as we were introduced to the “Tiny Viking,” fans all over the world fell in love with Athelstan, and with the “bromance” that grew between him Ragnar.

When we met, he was an Englishman who could speak the language of the Northmen, thus making himself valuable to Ragnar immediately. He was then enslaved and taken far from his home monastery in Lindesfarne to serve the Lo∂brok family.

Courtesy of vikingsinuppsala on Tumblr

Unexpectedly, he and Ragnar hit up a solid friendship that weathered many situations over several…

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Silence (2016)

Oliver Hackett-Watson

I’ve always been fascinated by religion, more so now in my early twenties than I have been previously. I grew up reading condensed forms of passages from The Bible, reciting the lord’s prayer each morning at my primary school. When I transitioned to my secondary school I attended weekly chapel services, singing hymns and sitting once a week in the crypt to listen to sermons from the school Chaplin. I find Cathedrals and Churches to be some of the more beautiful and fascinating pieces of architecture, as they serve as a testament of the faith that others have to a deity, and I have been fortunate enough to visit many Cathedrals such as the one in Durham, as well as those in Italy and France.

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I couldn’t help but grimace as I read the headline from Douglas Todd’s recent article in the Vancouver Sun (“Evangelicals Mostly Alone in Believing God Punishes with Earthquakes“).  It highlighted, once again, the lengths we will go to to find (or manufacture) moral meaning in times of chaos and suffering. Combined with news of some painful things happening in the lives of various people in the various domains of my life and work, I have been thinking a lot about the silence of God these days, and how we are to live and think and speak about God as people of faith in a broken world.

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Beautiful Quotes: ‘Silence’ by Shūsaku Endō


This novel by the phenominal Japanese writer, Shūsaku Endō, is by far one of the greatest books I have come across.

Inscribed on the pages of the book is a thought-provoking fictional journey of a Jesuit missionary sent to Japan during the time of Christian persecution. As the reader journeys with the missionary, both the character’s and the reader’s perspectives on Christ, and Judas the betrayer, transforms.

Let me share with you one of my favourite quotes from the Endo’s breathtaking novel. Most of my favourite lines from the book can’t be shared without giving spoilers, thus this is the best quote I could portion without giving too much away.

“Christ did not die for the good and beautiful. It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.”

-Shusaku Endo

The novel is currently in the process of being translated onto…

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