Luca Fumagalli

In 2020 Hugh Somerville Knapam OSB, while looking for other documents in the archive of Stanbrook Abbey, accidentally discovered, among the papers of the Benedictine nun Felicitas Corrigan, a typescript containing some limericks written by English-speaking bishops during the Second Vatican Council.

The limericks, whose authors are churchmen with different theological ideas, recount the conciliar revolution with irony, also underlining the contradictions of the most ardent reformers such as Rahner, Congar and Suenens.

The precise motivation behind the compilation of these verses remains unknown. Nonetheless, it is a pity that they are not more widely know because, in addition to providing a commentary on the main themes and most famous personalities of the Council, they are a precious testimony to the humanity and wit of those who wrote them. Bernard Wall, Bishop of Brentwood, even translated them into Latin demonstrating an exceptional erudition and sense of humour.

Among the prelates who have also been poets, the most skilled are John Patrick O’Loughlin, bishop of Darwin, Australia, Gordon Wheeler, who would end his career as bishop of Leeds, Cyril Cowderoy, archbishop of Southwark, George Patrick Dwyer, archbishop of Birmingham and Denis Hurley, archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

The Canadian publishing house Arouca Press has finally published the typescript, edited by Father Knapman, with the title A Limerickal Commentary on the Second Vatican Council, containing both the English and Latin versions of the limericks. There is also a foreword by George Cardinal Pell.

It is a rather small booklet, although it can be an excellent opportunity to understand the nature of the Second Vatican Council from a different and fascinating point of view.

Buy the book:

Follow Radio Spada: