English or Irish Franciscan writer; b. in Wiltshire, 1599; d. at Douai, Dec. 30, 1678
Mason , RICHARD ANGELUS A S. FRANCISCO, English—or Irish—Franciscan writer; b. in Wiltshire, 1599; d. at Douai, December 30, 1678. There is some dispute as to the nationality of his extraction: while it is agreed that he was a native of the English county of Wiltshire, a Franciscan MS., record, dated 1721, mentions his having been "for some time dean of a Catholick deanery in Ireland", conveying a suggestion that his family may have been Irish: Gillow (Bibl. Dict. of the English Catholics) thinks that if Mason ever held a deanery in Ireland, it must have been under the Protestant Establishment, in which case Father Angelus, as he was known among his contemporaries, would have to be reckoned among the seventeenth-century converts. The MS. mention of his "Catholick deanery", however, was written forty-three years after Mason's death, and there is evidence that he was ordained priest at Douai four years after his profession in the Seraphic Order, the latter event having taken place in 1629. In any case he rapidly became eminent in the order, being created a doctor of divinity and appointed successively to the high administrative offices of definitor, guardian, and visitor of the province of Brabant. Elected provincial in 1659, he visited Paris in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain permission for the settlement there of a colony of Franciscan sisters from the convent at Nieuport (Flanders) to which he had been confessor. From 1662 to 1675 he lived in England, as domestic chaplain to Lord Arundell of Wardour, after which period he retired to the convent at Douai to prepare for death.
Father Angelus displayed, in the course of his long, and otherwise busy, religious life, a remarkable industry in both original composition and the compilation of devotional manuals. The latter include his "Manuale Tertii Ordinis S. Francisci", with a commentary on the Rule, and meditations (Douai, 1643), "The Rule of Penance of the Seraphical Father St. Francis" (Douai, 1644); "Sacrarium privilegiorum quorundam Seraphico P. S. Francisco... indultorum" (Douai, 1636). Among his historical writings are "Certamen Seraphicum Provinciae Anglia' pro Sancta Dei Ecclesia" (Douai, 1649), a review of distinguished English Franciscan martyrs and polemical writers, and "Apologia pro Scoto Anglo" (Douai, 1656).—The last-named work has for its main scope the establishment, against Colgan, of the thesis that the great Franciscan philosopher, Duns Scotus, was not an Irishman, but an Englishman: it may be fairly inferred that its author, if he himself was of Irish descent, was not fully conscious of the fact.—His "Liturgical Discourse of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" (s. 1., 1670, dedicated to Henry, Lord Arundell of Wardour, "Master of the Horse to our late Queen Mother Henrietta Maria"), was abridged in the "Holy Altar and Sacrifice Explained"—which Father Pacificus Baker, O. S. F., published at the request of Bishop James Talbot (London, 1768).