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By Patricia Patula, Town Archivist

In part one of this article, we ended with the Washington Post correspondent’s brief history of camp meetings and with his personal conclusion, that over time, camp meetings had become more of a “religious luxury rather than a religious necessity.”

Continuing his narrative – perhaps with the mind set of apology – he then points out “ . . . that the luxuries of the body are not despised. This is indorsed [sic] by Ignatius Loyola whose motto was ‘A full belly makes a pious prayer.’” In that spirit, the Post writer addresses several “carnal luxuries” available at the camp grounds. “. . . there is that model butcher, R. A. Shekels, of Rockville, Md., right on the grounds with a large supply of fresh Ohio meats on ice, which he serves daily to the hotel, boarding houses and families having their own table every day . . . Then there is the hotel of the association, run in tiptop style by Wash Williams of Washington and which is crowded to repletion. [Philip Edwards, in his history Washington Grove 1873-1937, concurs with the reporter’s observations about Wash Williams’ hotel stating that the hotel was booked full every weekend of the summer.] In addition to which we have Seltz Brothers here from Washington, who furnish groceries to the families, cigars and tobaccos to the gentlemen, ice cream to all, and candies sweet and pure to the children and ladies. These are all the caterers to the palate on the grounds.”

Back to the Post writer’s quote “indorsed” by Ignatius Loyola: “A full belly makes a pious prayer.”

This reference to Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a Spanish Catholic priest and founder of the Jesuit Order (1539), used by a newspaper reporter 300 years later in an article about a Methodist camp meeting, is at best intriguing. The quote, slipped so easily into the writing, implies intimate knowledge of the works of Ignatius Loyola, the most well-known being his Spiritual Exercises (1522-1524) which include his eight rules for proper eating. Further, traditional Catholic circles habitually refer to Ignatius Loyola as “Saint” Ignatius Loyola thus creating another implication that the writer is of non-Catholic heritage. How did this journalist acquire insights and knowledge of such an atypical topic? Recent research has not been able to validate the quotation or possible reasons for this journalist’s expertise. The connection remains a literary puzzlement.

Addressing the upcoming conclusion of the camp meeting, the Post narrator, now acting as writer-cum-minister, ends on a dour note: “When the camp shall close, on the 24th inst., the place will doubtless resume its gayer appearance and society life will hold sway where the Bible but a day previous was expounded. Where yesterday the repentant sinner purged his soul in contrition and tears, to-morrow the thoughtless social swell will lisp devotion to the heathen god, Cupid.”

The Post author had no inkling of how circumstances, in that August of 1881, would soon change to hinder Cupid’s success.

In the fall of 1881, the Grove was a refuge for victims of typhoid under the care of Rockville’s Dr. Stonestreet.
Edwards, Philip K. Washington Grove 1873-1931 (1988) p. 96

Additional Sources:
Newspaper quotes are from the Washington Post (1877-1922) /Aug.12, 1881: ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post pg. 4;
“The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola” (1914), www.sacred-texts.com
“Rules to Put Oneself in Order for the Future as to Eating,” www.sacred-texts.com
“Dining with St. Ignatius,” www.theway.org.uk/back/524Shano.pdf
Washington Grove Camp Meeting Association Board of Trustees Minutes, 1881.

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