The Apostolatus Benedictorum
Even as late as the 1620s some Catholics retained a hope, if not belief, that the 'Old Faith' would return to England. In hindsight, despite the consequences of the Gunpowder Plot, it may seem strange to us today that this feeling still lingered on.
One of the issues, when this occurred, would be the position of the old monasteries. The Apostolatus is an example of the detail and scholarship that went into underpinning this belief. It contains over 600,000 words of legal argument, historical documents and detailed chronicles, all aimed at proving the independence of the English Benedictines from any foreign authority, specifically that of Cluny or of other foreign Benedictine congregations.
According to the authors, the English Benedictines owed their allegiance and existence only to the Papacy and English crown. This is the central theme of the book, and for us it is interesting to see how Reading Abbey was viewed by this time, at lest by the authors of this work. What is clear is that Catholic community was divided in its opinion over the status of these monasteries.
The Apostolatus presents the modern reader with one of these viewpoints.
In an era when Catholics would be expected to be railing against Protestants, the enemy, or adversarius as he is called throughout the Apostolatus, is in fact another Catholic, who is arguing that English Benedictine monasteries were not independent of those in Spain, France or Italy.
There are about 50 references to Reading which we quote and comment upon in the following document;