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Monday, July 28, 2014

Blessed WILLIAM WARD, Franciscan, 1641



HE was the first martyr under the persecution, renewed in spite of his promises, by Charles I. Born a Protestant, of a good Westmorland family, educated at Brasenose College, Oxford, he became a Catholic travelling abroad. On his return he practised his religion so openly that he was in prison at different times for nearly ten years. He entered Douay, was ordained priest 1608, and embarked for England. A contrary wind, however, drove him to Scotland, where, as a suspected priest, he was kept in an underground dungeon, in total darkness, for three years. Set free, he returned to England, and for thirty years, twenty of which were spent in prison, in spite of continuous suffering from a corrosive fistula and chronic toothache, he toiled for souls. He never preached, but holy conversation and the Sacrament of Penance were the weapons of his Apostolate, and the harvest reaped was abundant. When over eighty years of age, he was sentenced for saying Mass. He had a true Franciscan devotion to our Blessed Lady, and had always kept the Feast of her mother St. Anne with great solemnity, and he was now granted to die on that day. In the morning he said Mass, and going forth with joy won his crown.

"Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates."—PROV. xxxi. 31.

Family of St Anne in Holy Conversation.

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