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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blessed WILLIAM HART to his Protestant mother II


Another biography

"ALAS, sweet Mother, why do you weep ? Why do you lament ? Why do you take so heavily my honourable death ? Know you not that we are born once to die ; and that always in this life we may not live? Know you not how vain, bow bickers how inconstant, how miserable this life of ours is ? Do you not consider my calling, my estate, my profession ? do you not remember that 1 am going to a place of all pleasure and felicity ? Why, then, do you weep ? why do you mourn ? why do you cry out ? But perhaps you will say I weep not so much for your death as I do for your being hanged, drawn, quartered. My sweetest mother, it is the favourablest, honorablest, happiest death that ever could have chanced unto me. I die, not for bravery, but for verity : I die, not for treason but for religion ; I die, not for any ill demeanour or offense committed, but only for my faith, for my conscience, for my parenthood, for my blessed Saviour Jesus Christ : and to tell you truth if I had ten thousand lives I am bound to lose them all rather than to break my faith and offend my God. We are not made to eat, drink, sleep, but to serve God,and to the cost of our lives" 

 For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come. Romans viii. 18.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Blessed WILLIAM HART to his Protestant Mother I



"SEEING that by the severity of the laws, by the wickedness of the times, and by God's holy ordinance and appointment! my days in this life are cut off: of duty and conscience I am bound (being far from you in body, but in spirit very near you) not only to crave your daily blessing, but also to write these few words unto you. You have been a most loving, natural, and careful mother unto me : you have supered great pains in my birth and bringing up; you have toiled and turmoiled to feed and sustain me your first and eldest child; and therefore for these and all other your motherly cherishings I give you, as it becometh me to do , most humble and hearty thanks ; wishing that it lay in me to show myself as loving, natural, and dutiful a son as you have showed yourself a most tender and careful mother. I had meant this spring to have seen you if God had granted me health and liberty, but now never shall I see you or any of yours in this life again; trusting yet in Heaven to meet you, to see you, and to live everlastingly with you" 

Forget not the groanings of thy mother. Ecclus vii. 29

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Saint MARGARET CLITHEROE, laywoman, 1586


WIFE of John Clitheroe, sometime Sheriff of York she was thirty years of age and already married when a growing dissatisfaction with the Protestant religion led her, after due inquiry, to embrace the Faith. During the following twelve years of her Catholic life her house was a refuge for priests, whom she received at her own peril and unknown to her husband . With this help she brought up her children in the faith and her eldest son for the priesthood. She managed to hear Mass almost daily, communicated twice a week, and fasted rigorously. For her persistent recusancy she was repeatedly cast into prison, even for two years together and more, but her sufferings only increased her fervour. " Were it not" she said, " for her husband and child she would rather stay there always, apart from the world with God" Still, when at liberty she was most attentive to the care of her house, and with her servant took part herself in the humblest menial work. She was exposed to much ill-usage even from Catholics, who misjudged and censured her, but her constancy and patience never failed. Her husband said she had only two faults, fasting too much and refusing to go to Church.

Her children rose up and called her blessed :her husband and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches : thou hast surpassed them all.    Proverbs xxxi.28-29

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Saint MARGARET CLITHEROE, laywoman, 1586

ON March 10 1586, when she had been at liberty some eighteen months-, her husband was summoned before the Council at York, and in his absence his house was searched. The priest there in hiding escaped, but Margaret and her children were taken prisoners. Enraged at their failure the searchers stripped a Flemish boy of twelve years, staying in the house, and threatened him with rods till he showed them the priest's chamber, and where the Church stuff was kept. At her trial, lest her children might be forced by evidence to be guilty of her blood, she refused to plead, giving as a reason however that she had committed no offence. Two chalices were therefore produced and religious pictures, and two ruffians clad themselves in the priestly vestments and began playing the fool, pulling and hauling themselves before the judges, while one, holding up a piece of bread, said to the martyr, " Behold the God in whom thou believest." At her second examination she again refused to plead, saying that there was no evidence against her save that of children, whom you can make say anything for a rod or an apple. The judge urged her to demand a jury, but in vain, and on her refusal she was sentenced to be pressed to death. "

Herod questioned Him in many words, but Jesus anwered him nothing. Luke xxiii. 9

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham

A Lament for Our Lady's Shrine at Walsingham

"In the wrackes of WalsingamWhom should I chuse
But the Queene of Walsingam
To be guide to my muse?

Then thou Prince of Walsingam
Grant me to frame
Bitter plaintes to rewe thy wronge
Bitter wo for thy name.

Bitter was it oh to see
The seely sheepe
Murdered by the raveninge wolves
While the sheephards did sleep.

Bitter was it oh to vewe
The sacred vyne
While the gardiners plaied all close
Rooted up by the swine.

Bitter, bitter oh to behould
The grasse to growe
Where the walls of Walsingam
So stately did shewe.

Such were the works of Walsingam
While shee did stand
Such are the wrackes as now do shewe
Of that so holy land.

Levell levell with the ground
The towres doe lye
Which with their golden, glitteringe tops
Pearsed once to the skye.

Where weare gates no gates are nowe,
The waies unknowen,
Where the press of peares did passe
While her fame far was blowen.

Oules do scrike where the sweetest himnes
Lately weer songe,
Toades and serpents hold their dennes
Wher the palmers did thronge.

Weepe, weepe O Walsingam,
Whose dayes are nightes,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to dispites.

Sinne is wher our Ladie sate,
Heaven turned is to hell,
Satham sittes wher our Lord did swaye,
Walsingam, oh farewell ! "

Traditionally ascribed to St Philip Howard.

The restored Catholic Shrine of Walsingham

The Feast is traditionally celebrated on the 25th March. The Feast was restored to the modern Catholic calendar in England in 2000, displacing the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom.
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+ Saint MARGARET CLITHEROE, laywoman, 1586



FORBIDDEN to see husband or child, pestered by successive ministers, and herself charged with gross immorality, Margaret learnt at length, on March 24, that she was to die on the morrow, that year Good Friday. She had prepared herself for this by fasting and prayers but she begged for a maid to be with her during the night! for " though death is my comfort,'' she " the flesh is frail," but as no one could be admitted the keeper's wife sat with her for a while. The first hours of the night Margaret passed on her knees in prayer, clothed in a linen habit made by herself for her passion. At three she rose and laid herself flat on the stones for a quarter of an hour, then rested on her bed. At eight the Sheriffs called, and with them she walked barefoot, going along through the crowd to the Tolbooth. There turning from the ministers she knelt and prayed by herself. Forced to undress, she laid herself on the ground clothed only in the linen habit, her face covered with a handkerchief, her hands outstretched and bound as if on a cross. The weighted door was laid on her ; at the first crushing pain she cried, "Jesu, Mercy,'' and after a quarter of an hour passed to her God.

The Ouse Bridge on which the Tolbooth

I have trodden the wine-press alone. Isaiah lxiii.3

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Blessed JAMES BIRD Layman, 1593


On the right hand side

BORN at Winchester of a gentleman's family and brought up a Protestant, he became a Catholic and went to study at Rheims. On his return he was apprehended and charged with being reconciled to the Roman Church, and maintaining the Pope under Christ to be the Head of the Church. Brought to the bar he acknowledged the indictment and received sentence of death as for high treason, though both life and liberty were offered him if he would but once go to the Protestant Church. When his father solicited him to save his life by complying, he modestly answered that, as he had always been obedient to him, so he would obey him now could he do so without offending God-After a long imprisonment he was hanged and quartered at Winchester, March 25, 1593. He suffered with wonderful constancy and cheerfulness, being but nineteen years old. His head was set upon a pole upon one of the gates of the city. His father one day passing by thought that the head bowing down made him a reverence, and cried out: "Oh, Jemmy my son, ever obedient in life, even when dead thou payest reverence to thy father. How far from thy heart was all treason or other wickedness."

Honour thy father in work and word, and all patience, that a blessing may come upon thee from him. ECCLES. iii.9, 10.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Blessed NICHOLAS HORNER Layman, 1590



A NATIVE of York, a tailor by trade and a zealous Catholic, he endeavoured, according to his ability, to persuade others to embrace the faith. Having come up to London to be cured of a wound in his leg, he was committed to Newgate for harbouring priests. There the heavy fetter on his leg and the deprivation of all medical aid rendered an amputation necessary. During the operation he sat upon a form, unbound, in silence, a priest the while (Hewett, who was afterwards himself a Martyr) holding his head, and he was further comforted by such a vivid apprehension of Christ bearing His Cross that he seemed to see it on His shoulders. Freed at the earnest suit of his friends, he worked at his trade at some lodgings at Smithfield. Again cast into Bridewell for harbouring priests, he was hung up by the wrists till he nearly died. At length condemned solely for making a jerkin for a priest, he was hanged in front of his lodging in Smithfield, March 3,1590.

On the night before his execution, finding himself overwhelmed with anguish, he betook himself to prayer, and perceived a bright crown of glory hanging over his head. Assured of its reality, he said : " O Lord, Thy will be mine," and died with extraordinary signs of joy.

" He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation."—ISA. lxi. 10.

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