17 December – Dorothy Sayers

In addition to Jason John Edwards, Obl.S.B.,’s posts of monastic saints on the Facebook page of the St. Benet Biscop Chapter of St. John’s Abbey Oblates, I occasionally post information on notable men and women of the Anglican patrimony.  One of these who deserves to be better known is Dorothy Sayers, who died on this day in 1957.

She is best known for her detective fiction.  But two examples of her work that are worth including in one’s spiritual reading—even in one’s lectio divina—are her translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (unfinished at the time of her death, unfortunately) and her The Mind of the Maker (1941).  Here is a brief comment on the latter, taken from a summary of Sayers’s life and work.

“In this seminal work, Sayers discusses the psychology of the creative mind at work in producing a novel or sculpture or other work, as an aid to understanding the theological doctrine of the Trinity, and the latter as an aid to understanding the former.”

In my opinion, the Anglican patrimony (or “English spirituality,” if the term is used in the sense Martin Thornton intended) does not necessarily include all Catholics of the Anglosphere.  From what I know of Evelyn Waugh, for example, he never had a strong attachment to Anglican spirituality.  His conversion to Catholicism seems to have circumvented any kind of Prayer Book spirituality.  Magnificent though Waugh’s contribution to Catholic literature is, it is difficult for me to read him as one who contributed to—or even wanted to contribute to—the cause of supporting all elements of Anglican doctrine and spirituality that both lay claim to England’s pre-Reformation past and could lead to reunion among Anglicans and Catholics.  Dorothy Sayers, on the other hand, was very much an Anglican and devoted much of her life and labor to the defense of all in Anglicanism that is Catholic.

Click here for a link to further information on Dorothy Sayers and her works.

Brother John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sayers’ translation of the commentary was completed by her colleague. Barbara Reynolds. Sayers — amazingly — maintains Dante’s terza rima rhyme scheme throughout. Her annotations to Dante are quite good, and she also published two volumes of essays about him.


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