Thursday, November 29, 2007

When They Were Kings

They'll get a new Father-General in just over five weeks, but the latest high-profile Jesuit acquisition 'round these parts came with Boston College's $164 million pickup of two parcels (65 acres in all) of the old Brighton Chancery, the fabled "powerhouse" of American Catholicism's psychological flagship.

Even though the cardinal's traded in the palazzo (above) to return to the cathedral rectory and the offices are headed for a nondescript suburban officepark, the legacy of the plot is of no small significance... and not just for the history buffs: in little more than a century, you see, it was the place where an ecclesiastical empire rose and fell, all with impact on the world both far beyond Boston and well outside the church's walls.

To help the new masters get acquainted with the digs, BC turned to Jim O'Toole -- a former archivist of the archdiocese, now on the college's history faculty -- to lead a historic tour of the grounds.

Video of the walk is up. It's well worth watching -- and not just because those who do will be able to link the following: an apple grove, William O'Connell, dead Sulpicians and a horde of cement trucks.

Remember your history, church... and always remember with it that you couldn't make it up if you tried.