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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Blessed WILLIAM WARD, Franciscan, 1641


"BEHOLD the heart of a traitor!" cried the hangman, with the martyr's heart still palpitating in his hand, and threw it into the fire. Eager to obtain a relic, Count Egmont, a pious Catholic then in England, sent his servant with his handkerchief to dip it in the martyr's blood. Others, however, had been before him and not a drop remained. Searching in the ashes the servant found a heap of flesh singed with the fiery coals, and hastily wrapped the whole mass in his handkerchief. An attempt being now made to seize him, he fled across Hyde Park ; but as his pursuers gained he pretended to stumble, and hid his treasure in a bush as he fell. Taken before the magistrates, he was released through the Count's interest. The next day he returned and found his treasure, which proved to be the martyr's heart. As with St. Laurence, the divine fire within was stronger than the outward earthly flame. The hot coals adhering to the flesh had not burned the handkerchief, and the heart itself remained fifteen days incorrupt, when the Count had it embalmed, and took it to Paris with the relics of fourteen other martyrs whose executions he had witnessed, and on July 26, 1650, he signed and sealed the formal deed of authentication now in the archives of Lille.

"And there came in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones."—JER. xx. 9.

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