By What Authority? (Benson)

The Cenacle Press at Silverstream Priory

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This title features in Joseph Pearce's  "By What Authority? in a Nutshell" in Crisis Magazine, and reviews of it have appeared on CatholicMom.comRorate Coeli, New Liturgical Movement, and Radio Spada.

Also available on, Barnes and Noble, Tumblar House Catholic BookstoreThe Book Depository, and many other sites. Purchase local! Purchase Catholic! UK customers can find this title on the LMS shop. For our friends in and around Australia, you may also purchase our books from Fidelity BooksPlease note: purchasing directly from Cenacle Press ensures that a higher percentage of the profit goes to the support of the monks of Silverstream Priory. Although shipping may be faster from Amazon, this title is distributed internationally; thus you will not have to pay international shipping even if you purchase from our site.

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With a new foreword by Joseph Pearce, seven specially commissioned illustrations by artist Jerzy Ozga, and explanatory footnotes, this entirely re-typeset edition of Benson's classic is, in the words of Melinda Nielsen (Professor of Classical Literature, Baylor University), "a must-have for every Catholic home (and home-schooling) library.”

The fates of two young people caught in a conflict of ideals is the theme of this stirring and tragic novel, set in the England of Elizabeth I. At a time when following the Old Religion resulted in penalties stretching from heavy fines to imprisonment to death, Puritan-bred Anthony and Isabel Norris find themselves drawn to the Church of their forefathers. Underlying their heroism in their struggles and conflicts with Protestant England is the strength and vitality of Catholic Church supporting and drawing the characters into Her embrace. In a story which delves into the deepest reaches of the Catholic and Anglican dilemma, Benson weaves together the lives of his characters and their encounters with central figures in English Reformation history in order to praise and defend the England that was, the England that is truly England, the Catholic England.


“The reader, if he allows himself to be carried thither, will find himself transported to the late sixteenth century, the terror and tension of the times gripping him as tightly as it grips the leading characters, who gave courageous witness to their faith in a hostile and deadly environment.”—from the foreword by Joseph Pearce, author Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G. K. Chesterton

 “In a manner that contradicts the biased narrative still taught in many schools, By What Authority? portrays the true impact of the Protestant revolution and its imposition on ordinary people. Actual events are interwoven with the great questions of conscience and religious authority. Yet, the characters cannot be simply described as mouthpieces for conflicting doctrines—the story is a compelling work of literature. I pray that the renewal of interest in Robert Hugh Benson’s writings will touch minds and hearts and play their part in the return of the Dowry of Mary, and indeed all who have broken communion with Rome, to the one true fold of the Church.”—Fr Patrick O’Donohue FSSP, Irish Apostolate of the Fraternity of Saint Peter

 “Blending wit, chivalry, theological insight, and deep sympathy with all Christians of goodwill, Benson leads the reader inside the minds and hearts of Reformation England, dramatizing how the Lord uses small acts of fidelity to raise up joyful saints and martyrs in every generation. With its lively illustrations and helpful notes, Cenacle Press's new edition is a must-have for every Catholic home (and home-schooling) library.”—Melinda Nielsen PhD, Associate Professor of Classical Literature, Baylor University

Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson (1871–1914), the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, was educated at Eton and Trinity College. Drawn toward the High-Church tradition, Benson was ordained an Anglican priest by his father, but began to investigate the claims of the Catholic Church during a trip to the Middle East in 1896. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1903 and was ordained to the Catholic priesthood the following year. Amid his various ecclesial duties, he was a well-known preacher and a prolific writer, and his works span many genres, including science and historical fiction, contemporary novels, children’s books, apologetics, plays, poetry, and devotional material.

Paperback ISBN: 9781739624101 €21.95 | Hardcover ISBN: 9781739624118 €29.95

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