Lost Treasures:
Victor White's Letters

The Dominican priest Victor White’s close relationship with C.G. Jung was a microcosm of the promises and problems of the Jungian-Christian dialogue. (See St. John of the Cross and Dr. C.G. Jung, and Jungian and Catholic?). While Jung’s letters to White were published, White’s letters were missing for a long time. Finally Adrian Cunningham tracked them down (See the video Profiles in Jungian-Christian Dialogue: Adrian Cunningham.) Presently he and Ann Lammers are editing these White/Jung letters with Murray Stein as consulting editor, and hopefully they will be published before too long by Paulist Press.

But how many letters of Victor White that might shed light on his relationship to Jung’s psychology are still gathering dust somewhere? Here is the story of one of them. A number of years ago through the kindness of Paul Boussard I received copies of some of the letters that Jung had written to Mother Michael of the Holy Trinity, a Carmelite sister in England who had been a friend of Victor White and who was in contact with him during his illnesses, and at the time of his death. She had given these letters to Fr. Boussard, and among them there was an interesting one written by Victor White.

In Jung’s letter of September, 1959, to Mother Michael – which I think has been published – he writes of the "gigantic misunderstanding" that surrounds him. He is probably referring to the breakdown of his relationship with Victor White, and he goes on to say that he has been happy to receive through her news of Victor White’s activities, and thus know "he does not fully disapprove of my work."

Mother Michael passed this letter on to Victor White, who responded that while he was rather sad that Jung was in such a "self-piteous state" about being misunderstood, he was somewhat amused by Jung remarking that he did not fully disapprove of his work. White goes on to say that Jung didn’t understand the trouble he has had and still has for writing in favor of Jung’s work, but he does disagree on some matters, and if everyone agreed with everything Jung said, Jung’s work wouldn’t have much of a future.

Later, as Victor White was dying, Jung wrote to Mother Michael on February 6, 1960 (a published latter): "As there are so few men capable of understanding the deeper implications of our psychology, I had nursed the apparently vain hope that Fr. Victor would carry on the opus magnum."

Jung felt bad about his estrangement from Victor White, and made some attempts to heal the breach, but the underlying problems between Jung’s psychology and Christianity remained unresolved.

Mother Michael, who died in 1983 at the Carmelite convent at Presteigne, may have burned the letters at the time of her last illness she received from Victor White. When Presteigne closed in 1987, the material relevant to Victor White was given to the Dominican archivist, Bede Bailey, at Blackfriars at Edinburgh. Therefore, the possibility exists that more of Victor White’s letters exist there and elsewhere.

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