One of the most interesting news items from last week was the announcement that a First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays had been discovered in a library in Saint-Omer, in northern France. It was missing its frontispiece and a portrait of Shakespeare, hence it was thought to be an 18th century edition not one from 1623.
The First Folio was compiled by Shakespeare’s friends seven years after his death and is the only source of a number of his plays including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and As You Like It. Only 233 copies are known to exist.
Saint-Omer was a place of refuge for English Catholics escaping persecution in England. A Jesuit school, founded in 1593 after Catholic schools were outlawed in England, thrived there until it was expelled from France in 1762. In 1794, it moved to Stonyhurst in England, where it remains today. Stonyhurst has become a warehouse of precious Catholic artifacts including the rope that bound St. Edmund Campion at the time of his execution and a crucifix belonging to St. Thomas More. The First Folio was left behind when other books were sent to Stonyhurst because it was not recognized for what it was.
What does this have to do with the Immaculate Conception? During Mass this morning, the priest said that a First Folio is the most important edition of an author’s works. It is an authentic and true representation. The Blessed Mother is like a First Folio, a perfect example of what God wants us to be. We should all strive to be like First Folios, loving the Blessed Mother’s Son with our whole hearts and allowing that love to infuse all that we do and all that we are.
A blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception to all.