Mgr Robert Hugh Benson - An Alphabet of Saints from A to E

August 06, 2020
Source: FSSPX Spirituality

Originally published in 1905 by Burns & Oates
narrated by Elena Attfield

Preface

The twenty-six SAINTS in this volume of rhymes
Lived in various places at various times;

But now they're together in Heaven, and know
All we think, say and do in the world here below;

And since ail that you ask—if you pray for good ends—
Will be granted by GOD at the prayer of His friends,

You should call on these SAINTS in the days of your youth
For the Peace of the Church and the Triumph of Truth.

We hope, as these Rhymes are the best we can do,
That the SAINTS will be pleased, and that you'll be pleased too.

Mgr. Robert Hugh Benson

Extract from a biographical article by Joseph Pearce

Robert Hugh Benson was one of the brightest lights in the Catholic literary firmament in the early years of the twentieth century, his star waxing in the brilliance of several bestselling novels and waning or rather being snuffed out by his untimely death.

Born in 1871, Benson was the youngest son of E.W. Benson, a distinguished Anglican clergyman who counted the Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, amongst his friends.  In 1882, when Benson was eleven-years-old, his father became Archbishop of Canterbury.  Having taken Anglican orders himself, it was Benson who read the litany at his father's funeral in Canterbury Cathedral in 1896.  The son, however, was not destined to follow in his father's footsteps.  In 1903, after a period of conscientious self-examination, the details of which were elucidated masterfully in his autobiographical apologia, Confessions of a Convert, Benson was received into the Catholic Church.  No conversion since that of Newman almost sixty years earlier had caused such controversy, sending seismic shockwaves through the Anglican establishment.  Thereafter, for the next eleven years until his death in 1914, he was a tireless defender of the Catholic Church and a prolific novelist and man of letters.

There is no doubt that Benson belonged to a remarkable family.  Apart from his father's rise to prominence and preeminence within the Church of England, both of his brothers were among the illustrissimi of the Edwardian literati.  A.C. Benson, his eldest brother, was master of Magdalene College in Cambridge and established himself as a fine biographer, diarist, and literary critic, writing acclaimed biographies of Rossetti, Fitzgerald, Pater, Tennyson, and Ruskin.  The other brother, E.F. Benson, wrote prolifically and is best known to posterity for his satirical Mapp and Lucia novels, which have been successfully adapted for television.  Yet R.H. Benson was not to be outshone by his older siblings.  Before his death at the tragically young age of forty-three, he would write fifteen highly successful novels and, ordained as a Catholic priest in 1904, he would serve as a curate in Cambridge, proving almost as popular as a fiery preacher as he was as a writer of fiction.