Faith at Folly Quarter

The rich history of relationships surrounding the property on which the Shrine of St. Anthony sits extends all the way back to the founding of the colony of Maryland. In fact it extends further to the dream of one man who wanted to establish at least one peaceful spot in the New World as a place of religious tolerance for all those who desired to remain faithful to their practice of the folly of the cross.

George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore 1580-1632

In a world of religious intolerance, this royal diplomat sought permission to found a “tolerant” colony where people could worship freely and in peace. Thus in 1632, Maryland became a brave new experiment in a brave New World.

George Calvert “deserved to be ranked among the most wise and benevolent lawyers of all ages; he was the first in the history of the Christian world to seek religious security and peace by the practice of justice and not the exercise of power.” In 1625, George Calvert was raised to peerage in recognition of his devotion and exemplary service as Secretary of State under James I (son of the Catholic, Mary Queen of Scots, and the adopted son of the Protestant, Elizabeth I). Calvert was named first Baron of Baltimore of County Longford in Ireland.

In 1627, Calvert sailed to Virginia to explore the lands along the Chesapeake, after having taken up colonizing activities with two other Catholic families, the Howards and Arundells. In 1632, King Charles I graciously acceded to his desire for a colony free of religious oppression. Unfortunately, George Calvert died that same year. The charter was given to Calvert’s eldest son, Cecil, who promptly named the new colony “Maryland,” after Henrietta Maria, the Catholic Queen of Charles I. The Ark and the Dove set sail in 1633 with the first settlers--Protestants, Catholics, and three Jesuit missionaries.

Although Protestant himself, Charles I was very tolerant of the Roman Catholic faith. Because of this there began to surface the fearful rumors of an attempt to restore the Church of England to “the true faith.” For Protestants this meant a return to “popery,” superstition, the selling of graces, Biblical ignorance and the belief in absolute monarchy. This was a folly not to be tolerated by the democratically minded English. Unrest in England grew to fever pitch. Civil war broke out and Charles was eventually beheaded by the Puritan Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell.

When Charles' son, James II, a devout Catholic, came to the throne, he was bold enough to receive a Papal Nuncio at Court and began to raise many Catholics to Parliament. The Whigs and Tories fearing another Catholic succession united forces to invite William of Orange to bring Dutch troops to help them overthrow his father-in-law. This “Glorious Revolution” raised William and Mary to the thrones of England (1689) and prompted the legislation that from henceforth the sovereign of England must be and must marry a communicant of the Church of England.

The temper of the nation was apparent in a severe act against Catholics, which had equally painful effects in the colonies. A price of 100 pounds was placed on the head of any officiating Romanist priest, who could be imprisoned for life. A Catholic reaching the age of eighteen was required to take the oath of allegiance and supremacy and to forswear transubstantiation and the worship of saints; in default he was to lose his property to his next Protestant kin, be debarred from public office and from holding land by purchase or inheritance.

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