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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History


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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.

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Welcome, Richeldis Clare

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ November 4, 2011

Friday, 7:10 A. M., 4 November, 2011: The phone rang. "Mum, my water broke. We’re our the way to the hospital."

Well, I had wanted to be there (there being across the border in Calgary) for the predicted 11/11/11 birth of our daughter’s third child— our 11th grandchild. But we weren’t scheduled to leave until Sunday, so this be Elizabeth’s first time to give birth without my being there— even though the other two were born across the water in England.

Nothing to do but get on with my day. The reading from Revelation 4:11 for Morning Prayer was especially appropriate; "Glory and honour and power are yours by right, O Lord our God. For you created all things, and by your will they have their being."

About five hours later our son-in-law rang to tell us that we have a new granddaughter. "She’s really beautiful," he said. "And eating a lot." At seven pounds, nine ounces she’ll want to eat a lot to maintain her beauty. I got to hear her cry on the other end of the telephone line when Elizabeth switched her to the other side. A strong, definite protest at having her eating interrupted.

Back at the rectory big brother Dominic and sister Felicity were being looked after by ladies from the parish who had shoveled Calgary’s first snowfall to clear the way to the rectory in order to hold Morning Prayers there instead of the church in the rector’s absence. They later reported that they had included The Great Litany in their service which includes the prayer "That it may please thee to presence, and to provide for, all women in childbirth. . . We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord."

And so He did. Thanks be to God. 

Many have asked about the name. Richeldis (pronounced Ri-shell-dis) is unusual in England, but not unknown. Here’s how Father Antony, hero of my newest book A Darkly Hidden Truth, The Monastery Murders 2, explains it to his friends as they are driving to Walsingham: "In 1061 Richeldis de Faverches, the lady of the manor of Walsingham Parva, had a vision in which the Virgin Mary took her to Nazareth and showed her the simple home where the Christ Child grew up. The vision was repeated two more times until Richeldis was convinced that she was to build a replica of the holy house of Nazareth.  

"Walsingham became known as ‘England’s Nazareth’ and pilgrims— including many kings— flocked there to experience something of the atmosphere of Jesus’ upbringing.

 "Throughout the middle ages Walsingham was one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England— second only to the shrine of Thomas á Beckett at Canterbury. And so it continued for 477 years. A large and wealthy priory grew up around the shrine— wealth which was seized by King Henry VIII in 1538 and the shrine destroyed."

 And that's only the beginning of the story because in 1896 Charlotte Boyd, a devout woman, purchased the Slipper Chapel and saw to its refurbishing. The first pilgrimage in more than 300 years took place the following year. And then in the 1920's a young priest Alfred Hope Patten was appointed vicar of St. Mary’s, Walsingham. Father Patten restored the shrine and initiated regular pilgrimages. 

Walsingham has become a symbol and a center of spiritual renewal in England. Thousands flock there annually for the National Pilgrimage, for the Youth Pilgrimage, for parish pilgrimages and individual retreats. And all because Richeldis said with Mary, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy will." 

A long explanation for a very special name. And Clare? Well, Richeldis Clare's siblings Dominic Ambrose and Felicity Margaret are named for saints, so must she be. 

Clare was born to a wealthy family in Assisi in 1193. At an early age she caught the joy of the Gospel from Francis' preaching. She became a nun and chose a contemplative way of life, founding her own community. The Poor Clares, as they became known, lived in corporate poverty which they understood as dependence on God, in a democratic lifestyle. Clare became the first woman to write a religious Rule for women— a rule which showed great liberty of spirit. After Francis' death she carried on his work by supporting his companions. Her final words were, "Blessed be God, for having created me." 

Again, Welcome, Richeldis Clare, a tiny girl with a great heritage. Stay tuned. I’ll be posting pictures when I get them. 

Saturday update




Elizabeth rang last night--they were all home and cozy.  She checked herself out of the hospital (on the nurse's recommendation--the doctor had 8--yes, that's eight women in labor--ALL WITH TWINS--so she wouldn't be getting back to Elizabeth to sign her papers for hours and hours.
This morning Elizabeth reported that she and Richeldis both fell asleep at 12:30 last night. Richeldis woke for a little drink at 4:30 and fell right back to sleep and they both slept until 6:30 this morning--pretty remarkable for first night at home, I'd say! I pray it continues.
Must run finish up my packing--I have things all over the house to gather.  Baby clothes, Christmas presents, Zuchinni bread in the freezer. . .

Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

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Reader Comments:

Congratulations, Donna, and love to your daughter and the little one. We're still waiting for ours ...
-Jan, November 4, 2011

Thank you, Jan. Can't wait to hear your news. At least you shouldn't have to brave the snow to get to her.
-Donna, November 4, 2011

What an interesting heritage this little one has to learn about as she grows. May she be filled with love for God.
-LeAnne Hardy, November 4, 2011

Thank you, LeAnne. Our oldest son has also named each of his 4 for saints and it is their goal to take each child to the home, church, monastery of "their" saint when they are old enough to understand. Good role models are important.
-Donna, November 4, 2011

Congratulations and love, Donna, to you, and the proud Mum and Dad, and all the family. What lovely news!
-Jane Finnis, November 5, 2011

Thank you, jane. Now if her passport will just come through from Her Majesty's government in time for her to go to her uncle's wedding in Kansas City in January we'll have this family organized. For the moment!
-Donna, November 5, 2011

The best of all good luck and good wishes to you and the newly-enlarged family! What a lovely baby - you must be so very proud.
-Dolores Gordon-Smith, November 6, 2011

Many congratulations to you, Donna, and to your daughter and son-in-law. What a wonderful heritage your granddaughter has as well as a truly beautiful name.
Welcome to the world, Richeldis Clare.
-Shirley Wells, November 7, 2011

Looks like big sister is thrilled.
-LeAnne Hardy, November 7, 2011

What great pictures. My daughter is also named Claire and her son, my only grandchild so far, is named Bram. Not the name of a saint, but this writing family likes it. Congratulations, Donna. Enjoy your time with your newest grandchild.
-Mike, November 7, 2011

How wonderful to find your blog!

My husband and I were talking to your son-in-law just last night, and when I looked up how to spell Richeldis (as a gift is wending its way to Calgary from Toronto!), lo and behold, the photo of the baby Richeldis in "Images" is the very Richeldis of my search!!

God bless you and your family. Merry Christmas until January 6 and Happy New Year!
-Jane, December 31, 2011

Dolores, Shirley, LeAnne and Mike, thank you so much for your comments! We were off to Los Angeles for Christmas with our oldest son and family right after we returned from Calgary, so I haven't been in touch with my blog for ages. (And now we'll soon be off to Kansas City for our youngest son's wedding, so I'm getting behinder and behinder.

Jane in Toronto, what an amazing story of the triumph of Google searches! Wouldn't the original Richeldis be amazed. I just spoke with Elizabeth last night--they're all down with flu, so your gift will be a most welcome bright spot, I'm sure.
-Donna, January 2, 2012

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