The launching of Calx Mariae Publishing

by Voice of the Family

On the evening of Thursday 9 June 2022, Voice of the Family had the joy of launching Calx Mariae Publishing at the Brompton Oratory in London. The books presented were two classics of Catholic literature, appearing in English for the first time — The Christian Sense of History by Dom Prosper Guéranger and Lived Christianity by Dom François de Sales Pollien, as well as two brand new titles — Christian Fashion in the teaching of the Church by Virginia Coda Nunziante and The Church in the Tempests: The First Millennium of the History of the Church by Roberto de Mattei. The authors were given a warm reception, at an event whose attendance surpassed all expectation ranging from priests and academics to pro-life leaders and the Catholic faithful from all walks of life. 

Presiding at the launch was Voice of the Family’s co-director, John Smeaton, who introduced the endeavour in these terms:

“Calx Mariae Publishing is an initiative of Voice of the Family. We are a lay organisation and we seek simply to serve the Church in support of its perennial, unchanging teaching especially on the family and the sanctity of life. Calx Mariae is Latin for “the heel of Mary”, which crushes the head of Satan. As the children of Mary, we look forward to the triumph of her Immaculate Heart, hopefully brought closer by the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Pope Francis, in union with the bishops of the world.”

And he added:

“The provision of good Catholic books seems especially important today, when superabundance of information smothers Christian formation and soundbites rule over principles. After Holy Scripture and the traditional teaching promulgated by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, there is no greater treasure for the instruction and edification of Catholics than the works of the Church’s great saints and geniuses.”

John Smeaton was joined by John Deighan, his successor as chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who said a few words about the vision and development of Voice of the Family and commended its work to restore authentic Catholic teaching to the faithful and to nurture a culture in which human life will be truly respected.

Fr Serafino Lanzetta, the superior of the community of Marian Franciscans in the diocese of Portsmouth, as well as a theologian and author of many books, began by presenting Dom Pollien’s work by emphasising Catholic principles over the expedients of pastoral care: a hierarchy of values which accounts for the fecundity of the Marian Franciscans’ own apostolate:

Lived Christianity is in fact about learning those essential principles, which lead us from this world to eternal life. The precedence of God over everything else is also the precedence of principles — of spiritual and mystical doctrine — over apostolate and pastoral care. Is this not what we truly need today, when praxis, action, seems to be the only rule of life? … By teaching the very principles of Christian life, this book is indeed providential, in a moment when pastoral care detached from doctrine and faith seem to be the very goal of Mother Church. Doing without being and without first being a saint, is nothing; a mere waste of time.”

Next to speak was Virginia Coda Nunziante, president of the Associazione Famiglia Domani — as well as of March for Life in Rome from 2011 until 2021 — and author of Christian fashion in the teaching of the Church, launched at the event. Before addressing the particularly rich subject of her own work, she seconded her admiration for Lived Christianity by Dom Pollien, which she described as “one of the best texts on spirituality … in particular for us lay people, the book is fundamental in helping us understand the meaning of being Christian and of wanting to be Christian in the completely de-Christianised society in which we are immersed.” The same socio-historical context which she highlighted here was also essential to her discussion of the importance of Christian fashion:

“In these summer days, not only holiday resorts but also big cities like Rome or London are invaded by people, men and women, dressed in the most indecent manner. This phenomenon represents, in my opinion, a brutal violence against Christians, because it jeopardises one of the most important but also most fragile virtues of our faith: chastity, purity. In the streets and squares of large cities, scenes are imposed on passers-by that disturb the eyes, feed curiosity, provoke disordered desires and, in this sense, constitute a real assault. Yet we cannot deny that there is a certain consistency in this indecent attire: it corresponds to the dominant philosophy of life, which is that of materialism, hedonism and the dissipation of all values. Everything is permitted, and the pursuit of pleasure is man’s ultimate goal. There is a consistency in this scene.”

Going on to consider the contrasting scene of the church building and the obligations of a priest, whose appearance must always be consistent with his identity, she asked: 

“But why should the priest have the duty to always manifest his identity and the layman, the simple Christian, not also have the duty to speak, move and dress as a Christian? This applies to both men and women, who in their outward order should always express the inner order they tend towards, which is a reflection of the infinite beauty that is God. This is what lived Christianity means and this is why there is a Christian fashion.”

The last speaker of the launch was the renowned historian Professor Roberto de Mattei. President of the Lepanto Foundation, Professor de Mattei has taught in several Italian universities and served as vice president of the National Research Council, the highest Italian scientific institution, between 2003 and 2011. He directs the magazine Radici Cristiane and the news agency Corrispondenza Romana. He is the author of thirty-five books, translated into various languages.

Professor de Mattei’s book The Church in the Tempests: The First Millennium of the History of the Church is based on his talks presented on the radio and offers a sweeping but nonetheless comprehensive study of the history of the Church, from its foundation by Christ on the primacy of the Apostle Peter to the First Crusade at the end of the eleventh century. Speaking at the launch, Professor de Mattei took up almost where he left off in The Church in the Tempests, considering the expansion of Christendom to the East in light of current global events. “While the West is denying itself, its roots, its tradition,” he observed, “Putin’s Russia is proclaiming an identity opposed to that of the West; it too is erasing and rewriting its own history.” Professor de Mattei then went on to demonstrate the cohesion and continuity of the Christian tradition in East and West, starting from the Christianisation and subsequent flourishing of medieval Rus’.

“Kiev experienced the apogee of its splendour during the first half of the eleventh century, under the reign of Prince Yaroslav ‘the Wise’ (978–1054), who was the monarch interrelated by marriage with the largest number of ruling families in Europe. Yaroslav’s sister, Maria, married King Casimir of Poland; while, among his daughters, Elisiv married King Harald III of Norway; Anastasia — King Andrew I of Hungary; and Anne — King Henry I of France, with whom she had four children; the eldest of whom was France’s king Philip I — a Greek name that thus came into use by the French royal family. The historian, Christian Raffensperger, has written a book on genealogy and dynastic marriage in Kievan Rus’, which shows how extensive the interweaving of kinship between East and West was, within a selfsame Christendom.”

Professor de Mattei emphasised that “an error is not fought with another error, but with the truth, full and intact, which, over the centuries, has been faithfully transmitted by the Catholic Church”. In his talk, as in his book, Professor de Mattei confessed a close adherence to the principles outlined by Dom Guéranger in The Christian Sense of History; the final title launched at the event.

“In these pages I try to offer a summary of Church history, from its origins to the First Crusade, taking my inspiration from the teaching of Dom Prosper Guéranger, who — in his book, The Christian Sense of History — writes that the Catholic historian is someone who ‘judges facts, men, and institutions from the point of view of the Church; he is not free to judge otherwise, and that is his strength’.

“I am glad that Calx Mariae has also translated and published the important essay by Dom Guéranger which confirms for us the importance of history in the battle of ideas. Today, we are witnessing an attempt to erase historical memory, the attempt to rewrite history in an anti-Catholic and anti-Western sense. And the history of the Church helps us to fight these errors.”

Voice of the Family would like to express its gratitude to all those who attended the event, as well as all its supporters, who have made the launch of Calx Mariae Publishing possible. The launched books are now available to purchase on our website, with more titles scheduled for the near future.