Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Dylan Thomas and the Catholic shed

The shed where Dylan Thomas found inspiration
The link between Dylan Thomas, whose centenary year this is, and the Catholic Faith is a tenuous one.

Dylan was the antithesis of all things Catholic.

 A drunkard, a man given to excesses and a man, if I remember correctly, with non conformist roots.

But, his poetry and writings displayed a fine understanding of his fellow Welshmen and women and his style must surely have been inspired by the poetry of Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ.

Dylan did much of his writing in a shed. A shed that has been preserved today, on its original site, close to his boathouse home in Laugharne, West Wales.

And, because it is his centenary, some genius has come up with the idea of replicating the shed and putting it on a trailer and touring the country with it so that something of the character of the man may be seen and more people come to understand the inspiration that spawned such works as 'Fernhill' and 'Under Milkwood'.

A mobile shed.....or chapel?
The travelling shed is truly an inspired concept that will introduce the poet not just to his Welsh countrymen but also to the Sais (English) who are, I suspect, pretty much in ignorance regarding the man.

It occurred to me that if some enterprising Bishop (is that an oxymoron?) were to commission a small replica chapel to be constructed on the back of a trailer, and take it to the town squares and village greens, it would give many a chance to grasp something of the reverence and beauty that exists in the houses of God.

It might cause people who have never entered a church to experience something of the peace and awe that such places inspire.

It might, even, cause one or two to delve deeper into the original Faith of Wales and England and, possibly, to convert.

Can you imagine the scene?

A car towing a 'shed' pulls into a parking bay off the main town square and the rear doors are opened to reveal and altar decked out with a tabernacle, flowers and candles and a sanctuary lamp (although the Blessed Sacrament would not be present).

That's all it would take.
A simple, plain unvarnished cameo of what lies behind what, to some, are forbidding church doors.

Just one thing; it would have to be an altar a la Forme Extraordinaire.

A Novus Ordo table would not inspire anyone.


  1. A Very beautiful idea! God bless!

  2. I have seen postcard photos of Evangelist travelling caravans - possibly Methodist or Baptist - which used to travel round England a hundred years ago. This was the era of long dramatic sermons especially in Wales and I presume they used to make stops and evangelise anyone who would care listen. Sadly I cannot see this happening today either for our own Church or any other ecclesial community.

    However last year I did see and hear a lady with a microphone standing on an island in the middle of a road in a London suburb quoting from the Bible with great relish. Nobody was taking any notice of her though - she was a lone voice in the wilderness of busy shoppers.

    1. Pelerin, the line dividing nutcase and evangelical preacher can be a thin one at times.

  3. Something like this?

  4. Wasn't there an English Cardinal who used to evangelise as a priest like this? Read about Cardinal Heenan's time at the Catholic Missionary Society. Marvel at the fact that we used to have such a society and that that's what it used to do.

    1. Ttony, I could hazard a guess....Vaughan or, possibly, Manning? Was it the CMS or CTS who provided delegates to witness at Speaker's Corner?