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Saturday, August 02, 2014

Blessed THOMAS WHITAKER, Priest, 1646



His father was master of a noted free-school in Burnley, Lancashire, and Thomas, showing promise was sent to the English College, Valladolid, at the charge of a neighbouring Catholic family, Towneley of Towneley. (and also Towneley Hall, the family also supported King James III and King Charles III). He entered on the English Mission in 1638, and gained many souls, facing bravely all dangers, notwithstanding his naturally timorous disposition. Being urged, on the road to Lancaster, to effect his escape from the room in which he was confined, he stripped himself, and, forgetting to throw out his clothes before him, the passage gained he found himself free, but naked. After wandering some miles in this strange condition, he providentially met with a Catholic, who gave him shelter and clothing. Again arrested, he was cruelly beaten and cast into Lancaster gaol.

There for three years his life was spent in continual prayer to God to strengthen him for the combat, and in ministering to the two priests, Father Bramber and Father Woodcock, OSB, his seniors, who were his fellow-prisoners. His trial and sentence were quickly despatched as he had confessed himself a priest. At the place of execution his anguish of soul was evident, but grace triumphed over nature. He absolutely refused a proffered pardon, and with Father Bamber and Father Woodcock, OSB, he won his crown, Lancaster, August 7.

"Perfect charity casteth out fear."— 1 JOHN iv. 18.

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