Wagon Train

(Click here to go to the full 3,752 × 2,380 pixels map.)

Not to be indelicate, but the air today was balmy enough for tromping through places where frog couples are busy making more little frogs.

I found myself skirting the Pigg River and made a captivating discovery.

The Iroquois made a warpath here in their endless seventeenth- and early-eighteenth-century battles with the Catawba. In 1744, at the Treaty of Lancaster, Pa., the Iroquois ceded the use of their Great Warrior Path to the white man.

Countless Scotch-Irish and Germans, having made landfall in the New World at Philadelphia, travelled to homesteads in “the backcountry”—Virginny, the Carolinas, and Georgia—along this path.

The 1751 map of the “Carolina Road” (above) fascinates me for a number of reasons.

1. The wagon road that passed along the Pigg River, down the hill from my rectory, also passed through Lancaster, Pa.–my dear mom’s hometown, 350 miles away.

2. The road passed into the piedmont at Big Lick, later to be known as Roanoke, through the pass formed by the Staunton River, also called the Roanoke River.

3. Heading upriver from Jamestown, the river named for King James forks near the land of Thomas Jefferson. The larger fork, which drains acreage from the westernmost reaches of the eastern seaboard, used to be called the Fluvanna, for Queen Anne. (These days, the whole thing is called the James.)

4. The town of Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County, Md., where I lived three very happy years, appears on the map. But the city of Washington does not. (Washington did not, as yet, exist.)

5. Fry and Jefferson made an exquisite map. It depicts all the rights-of-way in use at the time with enough precision to aid in making practical travel decisions. I especially love the way they depicted the mountain ridges–no pretense of topographical accuracy but thoroughly helpful in travel planning.

One more fascinating geographic fact:

As everyone knows, the capital city of our nation is divided into four quadrants. And everyone knows that the U.S. Capitol serves as the axis-forming point. From the Capitol, the Mall divides northwest Washington from southwest Washington, North Capitol Street divides northwest from northeast, and East Capitol and South Capitol Streets likewise divide the quadrants.

Roanoke, Va., also has four quadrants. In Roanoke, the axis is formed by Jefferson Street, and the old Norfolk and Western railroad bed!

(If you hate geography geeks, you are visiting the wrong website.)

Red-Rose-City Memory & All-Star Week


Across the street from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., there is a seminary.

My mother grew up with a beloved pastor at her hometown church. When he died in 1997, we went to Lancaster for the funeral.

The pastor’s best friend taught at the seminary across from F&M. He preached the funeral. One of the things he said was:

“Wallace loved his enemies. But to love your enemies, you have to have the courage to make some.”

…We are in the middle of another all-star week of saints:

Pius V in Santa Maria Maggiore
Pius V in Santa Maria Maggiore
On Tuesday, we kept the Memorial of St. Louis de Montfort, author of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Wednesday was the Memorial of St. Catharine of Siena.

Yesterday (April 30) we kept the Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, who gave us the Missal upon which our current Missal is based.

Today we keep the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker.

Pretty soon I will get around to giving you a summary of In Tune with the World by Josef Pieper. He wrote the book in the 1960’s to explain why Communist May-Day celebrations are not truly festive.

(This is also the Pope’s name day. In a week, he will be going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.)

Tomorrow is the Memorial of St. Athanasius, the hero of the Council of Nicea, the champion of our Creed.

And May 3 is the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James the Less (though we do not keep the feast this year, because it falls on Sunday).

…Here is a beautiful place to go to Mass in the “Red Rose City,” St. Mary of the Assumption:


…Three years ago today, we buried my dear dad

…Another question we have to get to the bottom of: Did our Lord carry His cross through the “Genath Gate” in the ancient wall of Jerusalem?

St. Catharine of Siena
St. Catharine of Siena
St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius
Saints Philip and James parish on N. Charles St., Baltimore
Saints Philip and James parish on N. Charles St., Baltimore

Dateline: Lancaster

Buildings, Lancaster by Charles Demuth
Buildings, Lancaster by Charles Demuth

Reflection for Memorial of St. Louis de Montfort

(beamed at you from Lancaster, Pa., where my mom and I are on pilgrimage to visit some family graves…)

Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”Acts 7:56

St. Stephen was given a vision of the Lord Jesus in heaven. When the first martyr saw Christ at the right hand of the Father, why did he not also see our Lady up there?

Statue of St. Louis de Montfort in St. Peter's
Statue of St. Louis de Montfort in St. Peter's

Come on, numbskulls: Our Lady was still on earth when St. Stephen was martyred. She had not yet been taken up to heaven. She was still living with St. John.

As Pope John Paul II reminded us in his encyclical on the Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Mother had a period in her life when she stayed close to her Son in the same way we do: through the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

Our Lady grew closer to Christ every day of her life, including during the years when He was in heaven and she was still on earth. She did it by going to Holy Mass.

…CAPITALS!!!! Historic seventh-game comback to dispatch the Rangers!

Panthers Capitals Hockey