10th anniversary of death of Michael Davies (R.I.P)

Michael Davies was a real gentleman, a dedicated Catholic and lover of the Church, and a zealous advocate of reverent liturgical worship.

He went to God on 25 September 2004.

A reader reminded me:

Of your charity, please pray for the soul of Michael Davies:

Author, teacher, lay theologian
President of Una Voce International
Loyal son of Wales
Husband and father
Faithful son of Holy Church and a great defender and champion of the Faith.
Today is his Ninth Anniversary.

I have been profoundly touched by the news of the death of Michael Davies. I had the good fortune to meet him several times and I found him as a man of deep faith and ready to embrace suffering. Ever since the Council he put all his energy into the service of the Faith and left us important publications especially about the Sacred Liturgy. Even though he suffered from the Church in many ways in his time, he always truly remained a man of the Church. He knew that the Lord founded His Church on the rock of St Peter and that the Faith can find its fullness and maturity only in union with the successor of St Peter. Therefore we can be confident that the Lord opened wide for him the gates of heaven. We commend his soul to the Lord’s mercy.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

(Translated from the original German)
9 November 2004

How he – in his earthly life – would have loved Summorum Pontificum.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Filumene says:

    He was a hero of my father’s. A traditional, counter-cultural soldier for the Church. He was a consolation and hope to so many traditional liturgy lovers during a time of terrible persecution.

    Mother of Mercy, pray for him. Obtain for him, his eternal rest.

  2. A great guy. He was crushed when Archbishop Lefebvre left the Church, having had so much hope for his work. Following closely the heroic Cardinal Ottaviani, the ignominious result of his brave letter known as the Intervention was also extraordinarily disappointing to Mr. Davies. Betrayals in the Church were a new experience, there was no roadmap or manual as the very foundations of the Church shook. I remember the excitement of my mother as she followed Ottaviani’s insight and holy courage too – again, hope dashed without warning.
    Mr. Davies wrote excellent pieces that evenly treated the disasters occurring in the Church at the time – that all should read.
    R.I.P. Michael Davies.

  3. Mike Morrow says:

    I have also often thought, during the nine years since Michael Davies passed away, what a shame that he was not here to see Summorum Pontificum come into force. He fought the good fight all through the really bad times…his works forming the intellectual basis for a return to normalcy that perhaps will someday return again.

  4. GregH says:

    Tina in Ashburn,

    How did your Mom follow Cardinal Ottaviani? That was long before the internet.

    Hope that didn’t take you to St Athanasius in Vienna, VA!!!!

  5. jacobi says:

    He was a good Catholic. His works should be read by all who have the interests of Christ’s Mystical Body on Earth at heart.

  6. RafqasRoad says:

    Dear Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Until this post, I had never heard of Michael Davies. his life seems most inspiring in the light of the dim years of sheer hippy (tragic) lunacy he endured. For his courage as a dedicated layman in the face of opposition from all sides, might one consider him a saint of our times? Please do not think me vulgar, but has anybody commenced the cause for his beatification/canonisation? What an example the likes of him can be to so many, both now and in the times to come? Just a thought…


    Soon to be South Coast Catholic (Aussie Maronite).

  7. polycarped says:

    Thank you for this post. May he rest in peace.

    Which of Michael’s books would people most recommend for someone coming to his writings for the first time?

  8. Cordelio says:

    Dear Tina et al.,

    The following quote from Michael Davies may be of interest, to know what he thought on certain matters near the end of his very admirable life:

    To complete the parallel, do we have an equivalent of Cardinal Allen whose missionary priests brought the Mass back to England from the seminaries he’d founded? Of course there is, and I hardly need give you his name. It is thanks to Archbishop Lefebvre more than any other individual that the Mass is now being celebrated throughout the world. Four hundred fifty priests in the SSPX alone. Without the Archbishop, there would be no Indult Masses, no Fraternity of St. Peter, no monastery at Le Barroux. One might hope that all those who now assist at the Tridentine Mass each Sunday outside the auspices of the SSPX would appreciate that they owe this inestimable privilege to Monsignor Lefebvre. In my opinion, the Archbishop is a saint and will emerge with more credit than any other prelate when the history of these troubled times is written.

    I consider the fact that I had the honor of meeting him on many occasions to be one of the greatest privileges of my life. It is my opinion that it is almost the result of divine intervention that when Archbishop Lefebvre first came to the U.S., he was welcomed by no less a person than Walter Matt, who organized a banquet in his honor here in St. Paul on the 12th of May 1976. Astonishing as it may seem, Mr. Matt was the only public figure in the American Catholic Church who was willing to be associated with Monsignor Lefebvre…The animosity shown to Archbishop Lefebvre by bishops throughout the world was inspired by the same reason that inspired the animosity of English bishops towards St. John Fisher. Those who have betrayed the fort cannot possibly forgive the one man who has refused to abandon his post. Archbishop Lefebvre was a living reproach to the cowardly compromising prelates, who, like the Protestant hierarchy imposed by Elizabeth I, oversaw the destruction of anything recognizable as Catholicism.

    Michael Davies, Remnant Forum 2004

  9. Supertradmum says:

    God bless him and his family. I have a lovely card from his wife after I sent her condolences. It does not seem that long ago. His writings on a variety of subjects are keen and prophetic. I highly suggest readers take time to look at all his works, essays as well as books.

    In really dark days, he gave us hope.

  10. Frank H says:

    There is a terrific 1980 episode of William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, in which he, Michael Davies and Fr. Joseph Champlin discuss, among other things, the Novus Ordo in some detail. It is available from Amazon, to stream or purchase a DVD. (Be sure to go through Fr. Z’s Amazon link at the top of the page!)

  11. ReginaMarie says:

    Blessed repose & eternal memory for +Michael T. Davies.

  12. Nathan says:

    Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei!

    I cannot begin to repay the intellectual debt I owe Michael Davies. A convert, I entered the Church in 1980 (at the age of 16), at a time when any criticism of any liturgical abuse, much less the Novus Ordo itself (or its then-horrible English translation), was considered to be reactionary fanaticism, living in a vastly non-Catholic area in one of the most modernism-infected dioceses in the USA (Richmond, VA), Mr. Davies works (as well as his Remnant columns) were life rings thrown to me in the storm. Well written, factual, and reasonably non-polemical, they laid out the case for the restoration of liturgical sanity that simply wasn’t widely available in the English language at the time.

    Mr Davies was such a good man, as well. Going into the 1990s, when he actively worked with Una Voce and interacted with the Ecclesia Dei commission and then-Cardinal Ratzinger, he was humble enough to rethink his arguments and adapt them to new things he learned and to the mind of the Church. He took quite a bit of grief from the Traditionalist community when he brought in the indefectability argument to say that the Church could not officially promulgate an invalid Mass. He handled all with grace and with charity.

    I would recommend his “Liturgical Revolution” trilogy to anyone. I was particularly struck by Cranmer’s Godly Order, because Mr. Davies presented a historical case study in exactly how to end Catholics’ belief in the Real Presence and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass–turn around the altars for a versus populum liturgy, re-order the liturgy into a vernacular service that could be interpreted in either a Catholic or Protestant sense, and liturgically turn priests into presiders.

    Some later writers have brought in good arguments and have pointed out that Mr. Davies did make some minor errors in understanding parts of his critique of the Novus Ordo in Pope Paul’s New Mass, but it is striking that a layman and schoolteacher from Wales would make such a authoritative and exhaustive work, which would be vindicated in then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s Spirit of the Liturgy.

    In Christ,

  13. gracie says:

    The first book I read by Michael Davies was “Pope John’s Council”. Excellent, excellent, excellent! :


    The years following the Second Vatican Council were awash in mediocrity, leading me to skip the out-of-date hootenanny Masses for months at a time as well as totally abandoning the Sacramenet of “Reconciliation” (aka Confession) as an outdated relic of the Dark Ages. Mr. Davies’ book was a shock, opening my eyes to the treasure that had been stolen from me. Unfortunately, my children who were raised in the Brave New World of Catholicism have abandoned the Mass as a waste of their time. Who can blame them? I had the memory of my childhood upbringing in the TLM that brought me back – they have nothing in their upbringing to return to except the banality that they would just as soon skip.

    I have so much anger at those who did this to them. I trusted them with my children and now my children are lost to their faith.

  14. backtothefuture says:

    If you haven’t read any of Davies books, his little pamphlets are a great start. pope Paul’s new mass will make the scales fall off your eyes, and you will never look at the novus ordo in the same light. RIP. About archbishop Lefebvre, of course we always give praise and thanks to God for preserving the traditional mass, but next time you go to one, give thanks to archbishop Lefebvre. Because of him we can still hear the priest say “Introibo ad altare Dei”

  15. backtothefuture says:

    If you haven’t read any of Davies books, his little pamphlets are a great start. pope Paul’s new mass will make the scales fall off your eyes, and you will never look at the novus ordo in the same light. RIP. About archbishop Lefebvre, of course we always give praise and thanks to God for preserving the traditional mass, but next time you go to one, give thanks to archbishop Lefebvre. Because of him we can still hear the priest say “Introibo ad altare Dei”

  16. LOL GregH: how did any of us follow anything before the internet? or cell phones?

    My mother was hooked into that whole crowd [Triumph Magazine, the Wanderer/Remnant, Davies, Von Hildebrand and numerous other cronies] from the beginning. As a writer, Mom would work on her galleys on typewriters, using typewriter ribbon, carbon paper, erasers and reams of paper. Mail would go back and forth to editors. [Boy, do we need editors today!] Mom communicated tirelessly throughout the world absorbing what the French, the Germans, the Scots, faithful Jesuits, Dominicans, anybody, etc could offer – anybody who could think and analyze. She was fluent in Latin, French, Spanish, so she could compare documents of the Church to the current environment and kept up with those who did the same. Back then documents were only in Latin since anybody who needed such documents were fluent in Latin – the clergy. She frequented the Library of Congress and Catholic libraries in and around D.C. We’d come across Malachi Martin and various writers doing research as well…

    And yes we did end up at St Athanasius – part of the founding group. But at the beginning there weren’t the later issues. Canonically stable priests flew in or drove over to say the Mass – which we all knew back then had not been abrogated. But eventually, this is where I learned the very hard lesson on the value of the bishop which colors my appreciation for attachment to the visible Church through a bishop, no matter what. Eventual detachment from the bishop is what caused a con-artist fake priest to take advantage of us – he said ‘Mass’, heard ‘confessions’, etc. You see the place had become a chapel run by owners [akin to Elders in a Protestant church] and without the protection of the bishop we were unsuspecting prey. After that, along with a statement from the bishop that Mass there did not satisfy our obligation, we hightailed it.

    There were no instructions, no manuals back then for how to proceed. Many of us got weird ideas, did stupid things, interpreted occurrences incorrectly, trusted the wrong people, mistrusted worthy people, got bullied by priests who likely were bullied by hierarchy, befriended by desperate priests trying to be faithful the Church they knew. What a mess. Hindsight is now invaluable for the context we see today. At the time, Michael Davies wrote sensibly in a sea of chaos, confusion, and betrayal.

  17. Nathan says:

    Tina in Ashburn: By chance, is your mother the wonderful writer Solange Hertz? She is another who helped tremendously in some difficult years.

    In Christ,

  18. GregH says:

    Dear Tina,

    So what did your family end up doing since the TLM wasn’t offered licitly until Old St Mary started at some point in the 80’s or 90’s. I remember the bishop of Arlington at that time being upset that some of this wealthier parishoners would make the trip across the Potomac because the TLM wasn’t offered in the Diocese of Arlington.

  19. GregH says:


    By the way my family went to St Athanasius circa 1982 after my mother saw a little ad in the Post advertising the Tridentine Mass. I still remember as a child driving up to Conneticut so my sister could be confirmed by Archbishop Lefebvre

  20. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: the episode of Firing Line above, it’s free to watch if you’ve got Amazon Prime.

  21. Jim says:

    Re: The the episode of Fire Line, one other interesting thing is that, one of the other people in that interview is the late and “mysterious” Fr. Malachi Martin.

    Re: Books by Mr Davies to start with, I’d advice getting The Davies Liturgical Revolution Series in its entirety. Once you start with “Cranmer’s Godly Order” you just cannot stop. You will not “get” the proper context of Pope John’s Council (the 2nd book) or Pope Paul’s New Mass(the 3rd book) without first reading “Cranmer’s Godly Order” (the first book – on the Protestant revolution/revolt forced on the English by the English using liturgy as a weapon of “Mass Destruction”).

    Also, if you would like to hear Michael Davies, some free talks of his can be found at Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (scroll down to the secion on Mr. Davies)

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