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Sunday, August 03, 2014

+ Venerable THOMAS BELCHIAN, Franciscan, 1538



VERY learned and a great preacher, at the age of twenty-eight he distinguished himself by his bold opposition to the tyranny of Henry VIII. In his book on the text, "They that wear soft clothing are in King's houses" he denounced the vices of the court and the avarice of the pliant clergy, and was therefore cast into prison. There, while being slowly starved to death, he was subjected to every sort of torture, but triumphed over all. Mere skin and bone, when at the point of expiring he commended his soul to God in the words, "In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust; let me never be confounded." As he expired the gaol shook as if with an earthquake, and the keepers were terrified. The King himself was startled by this supernatural warning, and ordered him a decent burial, and on reading Father Belchiam's book he burst out weeping and deploring bitterly his own misery. The good impression, however, soon faded out, and he commanded the book to be burnt. But the King's jester, William Summer, daft from his birth, ran through the King's court exclaiming, "The plain dealing of one beggar baffles the King's anger."

Here King Henry VIII pretends to be King David (in his own prayer book!) in the company of his jester.

"And the king was struck sad ; yet because of his oath and for them that sat with him at table ... he sent and beheaded John in prison."—MATT. xiv. 9, 10.

NOTE- I can find no other reference to this martyr- any information gratefully received.

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