Profile of Fr Martin D’Arcy on Italian Website

The life and career of Fr Martin D’Arcy are profiled in a recent issue of the Italian-language religious website Radio Spada. Fr D’Arcy was Waugh’s friend and Roman Catholic mentor from the time of his conversion to that faith.  He was in fact Waugh’s instructor for his conversion. The profile is written by Luca Fumagalli who frequently writes on English subjects. See previous posts

After explaining how Fr D’Arcy was educated in Roman Catholic schools and at Oxford and then joined the Society of Jesus (i.e., the Jesuits), the article continues:

…D’Arcy was able to get to know and associate with almost all the most illustrious exponents of the so-called English Catholic Revival in the artistic and literary field: among others GK Chesterton , Hilaire Belloc, Maurice Baring, Eric Gill, David Jones, Edith Sitwell, Graham Greene, Shane Leslie and Roy Campbell. However, the deepest link was with Evelyn Waugh, one of his many illustrious converts. D’Arcy presided at his [second] marriage and was his spiritual advisor for decades; the depth of the relationship between the two is also evidenced by their voluminous correspondence. Waugh, who donated large sums of money to the Jesuits, including the proceeds from his essay dedicated to Edmund Campion – the famous 16th-century martyr – had D’Arcy read a draft of Brideshead Revisited: he wanted feedback from a friend about the theological orthodoxy of the novel that would later become one of the greatest masterpieces of twentieth-century English Catholic fiction.

The article goes on to recount how Fr D’Arcy supervised the construction of Campion Hall at Oxford, which, as previously noted, Waugh supported:

D’Arcy was also mainly responsible for the re-establishment of Campion Hall, in 1936, collecting the necessary funds for the construction of the new building, more beautiful and larger than the previous one, with a magnificent chapel, able to better meet the needs of the growing number of students residing there. In addition to procuring liturgical vestments and quality furniture, D’Arcy went out of his way to find works of art that contributed to the interior decoration. In the thirties, with D’Arcy at Campion Hall and Msgr. Ronald Knox in the Catholic chaplaincy of the university, the “papism” in Oxford knew one of its periods of maximum splendor. D’Arcy was much loved by both Catholic and Protestant students. His affable character and his well-known speaking ability made him an ideal host for the meetings organized by the many university circles to which he was a member.

The article then describes Fr D’Arcy’s important role in the revival of interest in the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, his appointment as Jesuit Superior for the order’s English Province and his part in re-establishing the Jesuit publication The Month. He also travelled frequently to the USA and became close friends with many leading American Catholics. But he shared Waugh’s disappointment with the Second Vatican Council and his last years were shadowed by its results. The article concludes:

…when D’Arcy died in 1976, the English faithful to the Church of Rome were aware that they had lost one of their most important priests, a man who with his acumen and his charm had decisively contributed to extending the fame of the Church of Rome throughout the country, far beyond the fences of parishes and seminaries. With his departure, the long wave of the “papist” rebirth in the United Kingdom came to an end in a land that since then would never know a Catholic intellectual of equal value.

The translation is by Google with some minor editing. On the whole, the Google translation is quite readable and can be used by those wishing to review the entire text. Here’s the link to the original.

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