Was Shakespeare Catholic?

On the verge of conceding that my daily search for Shakespeare news was in vain, I find an incredible story via the timesonline (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6964480.ece) that presents evidence you might see one day on CSI Stratford.

A running joke in our house goes something like, “Yep, I just knew there had to be a Catholic in that story somewhere.” It’s not so much a joke as a punch line, really, a tag, a gag stemming from the discovery that a lot of the movers and shakers you meet in life happened to be Catholic at some point in their formative years. They may even have lapsed later on… yet the “Catholic connection” holds true nonetheless.

Bono is the most notable force who comes to mind. But I dare not forget James Joyce, either, of course; and Micheal Moore — making this an assorted box of chocolates, to be sure. (I wonder how many degrees separate Kevin Bacon and the Pope.)

Of course it remains to be definitely proven in Shakespeare’s case whether he was or was not for sure. But here is an amazing sampling from the story, if you’ll allow me to quote from the times:

In a recent book, a German biographer of Shakespeare, Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel, said that she had “come to the conclusion that Shakespeare was a Catholic and that his religion is the key to understanding his life and work”.

(…) Backers of the theory say that plays such as Romeo and Juliet and Measure for Measure are “rich in Catholic thought and rituals”, with positive depictions of priests and monks and invocations of the Virgin Mary.

Five of his 37 plays are set in Italy, another five wholly or partly in Rome and three in Sicily.


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