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Thursday, July 31, 2014

+ Blessed EVERARD HANSE, Priest, 1581


BORN of Protestant parents in Northamptonshire, he received heretical Orders and was presented to a rich living. His preaching was much admired, and he was carried away by his success. Meantime his brother William, having been reconciled, went to Rheims, and in 1579 returned to England as a priest. He tried in vain to open Everard's. eyes to the truth, but a dangerous illness placed all things in a new light, and William had the consolation of receiving his brother into the Church. Everard lost no time in entering the seminary at Rheims, and in 1581 was sent as a priest on the English Mission. He was visiting some prisoners in the Marshalsea when the gaoler noticed the foreign make of his boots, and took him before a magistrate. He confessed himself a priest, and only three months after his arrival in England he was imprisoned in Newgate. 

On his trial he publicly defended the Pope's spiritual supremacy, and frankly confessed that he wished all believed the Catholic faith, as he did himself. That was enough. He was sentenced to death, and on the scaffold he appeared bright and untroubled as ever. When his heart was thrown into the fire, it leapt repeatedly, as if marking God's approval of his constancy. He suffered at Tyburn, July 31.

"How beautiful are the feet of those that preach the gospel of peace, that bring glad tidings of good things."—ROM. x. 15.

Our Lady of Aberdeen

"Aberdeen -- Our Lady at the Bridge of Dee, described as Our Lady at the Brig is mentioned in 1459. Near to the chapel was a well dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, where miraculous favours were obtained. In the cathedral were four altars of Our Lady, each with her image, one being of silver. "

Although Scotland is now sadly known as a Protestant country, many in the country of the "Old Faith" have a deep devotion to the Virgin Mary. From 1560 to 1625, Scottish Catholics were persecuted, and many lovely images of Mary and the saints were destroyed. The only one known to have survived is a little wooden image of Our Lady and her Divine Child known as Our Lady of Good Success (Onze-Lieve-Vrouw van Voorspoed) that now stands in Brussels, Belgium in the Church of Our Lady of Finnisterrae. In Scotland, she was known as Our Lady of Aberdeen. The image of Our Lady was successfully hidden by a faithful Scottish family until it was sent to safety in Belgium. Shortly after World War I, a group of Scottish highlanders planned to kidnap the image to take it back to Scotland, but when they saw the great devotion of her Belgian clients, they abandoned their plans and joined in the prayers at her shrine. A copy of the image stands in the cathedral at Aberdeen.

Another copy of the original in a Scottish Church.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

+ Blessed THOMAS ABEL, Priest, 1540


QUEEN CATHERINE'S confidential chaplain, and one of her defenders in the divorce case, he had languished some six years in prison, hoping for the end. The news of B. Forest's "greater combat" had doubtless reached his cell, but, far from intimidating him, served both to intensify his longing for the crown and at the same time to strengthen his patience in awaiting God's will. At last, in 1540, he, Richard Featherston, and Edward Powel, priests, and co-defenders with him of Queen Catherine in the divorce, were attainted for denying the King's supremacy and adhering to the Pope's, and on July 30 they were led out to execution. In grim mockery three Protestants—Barnes, Garret, and Jerome—who were attainted for heresy, were made to suffer with them, a Catholic and a Protestant being coupled together on each hurdle. On arriving at Smithfield the three Catholics were hanged, drawn, and quartered, and the three Protestants were burnt. A Frenchman who stood by, on beholding the strange exhibition of capricious cruelty, said to a friend in Latin : "They have quaint ways of managing things in England— those who are for the Pope are hanged, and those who are against him are burned."

"Wait on God with patience ; join thyself to God and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end."—ECCLUS. ii. 3

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.

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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Blessed ROBERT GRISSOLD, Layman, 1604

GRESWOLD alternative spelling



HE was apprehended by his cousin, Clement Grissold, for being in company with a priest, Blessed Sugar, and refused to escape, both for his love of the martyr and his own zeal to suffer. At the Assizes at Warwick he was repeatedly offered his liberty if he would promise to go to church, but each time absolutely refused. On the morning of his execution he spent one hour in prayer, and begged all the Catholics to say a Pater and Ave in honour of God and St. Catherine, his patroness, Virgin, and Martyr, for fortitude in his passion. To a Catholic woman in tears, he said, " This is no place for weeping, for you must come into the Bridegroom's chamber, not with tears, but with rejoicing." As he walked to the gallows he was bid not to follow Blessed  Sugar, who was being drawn through the mud ; but he said, " I have not thus far followed him to leave him for a little mire." Although so timorous by nature that he would swoon at the sight of blood, he gazed unmoved at the quartering of Blessed Sugar's body, and, taking the halter with which he was to be hung, dipped it in Blessed  Sugar's blood, and gave God thanks that he was to die with him. He suffered at Warwick, July 16.

"For I am ready not only to be bound, but to die also in Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus."—ACTS xxi. 13.

Beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

+ Blessed JOHN SUGAR, Priest, 1604



OF a good Staffordshire family, and Merton College, Oxford, though he refused the oath of Supremacy, he officiated as a minister at Cank (now called Cannock), in his own county, and preached against the Pope and the Catholic faith. At length his eyes were opened to the truth ; he forsook all worldly hopes, was reconciled, ordained, and sent on the English Mission, 1601. His special work was among the poorer Catholics in the Midland counties, travelling on foot from place to place, ministering to their needs. Apprehended and sentenced at Warwick, at the gallows he replied to the minister that his faith was that of his mother, the Catholic Church, and asked him in return who converted England? The minister was unable to reply. Sugar said : "The successor of St. Peter, Pope Eleutherius, who sent Damianus and Fugatius, two learned and godly men, by whom Lucius, King of Britain, and his subjects received the true faith ; but this new religion," he said, " crept into this country in the time of Henry VIII." As the rope was put round his neck he blessed it, saying, "My true birth in this world began with the sign of the cross, and with that sign I leave it again." He suffered at Warwick, July 16.

"You are fellow-citizens with the saints . . . built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone."—EPH. ii. 19, 20.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saint THOMAS MORE, Layman, 1535



His keenest trial arose from the endeavour of his beloved daughter to persuade him to take the oath, as she had done herself. She urged that he was more to the King than any man in England, and therefore ought to obey him in what was not evidently repugnant to God's law. That in favour of the oath were all the learned men of England, and nearly all the bishops and doctors, save Fisher. More answered that he condemned no one for taking the oath, " for some may do it upon temporal hopes, or fear of great losses, for which I will never think any have taken it; for I imagine that nobody is so frail and fearful as myself. Some may hope that God will not impute it unto them for a sin, because they do it by constraint. Some may hope to do penance presently after, and others are of opinion that God is not offended with our mouth, so our heart be pure ; but as for my part I dare not jeopardy myself upon these vain hopes." As to the numbers against him, he had on his side many more in other parts of Christendom, and all the doctors of the Church.

"He that is not with Me is against Me : and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth." —MATT. xii. 30.

Thomas More was canonised in 1935, the four hundreth anniversary of his execution.

Saint Thomas More with his family

His Last Letter
Our Lord bless you, good daughter, and your good husband, and your little boy, and all yours, and all my children, and all my god-children and all our friends. Recommend me when ye may to my good daughter Cecily, whom I beseech Our Lord to comfort; and I send her my blessing and to all her children, and pray her to pray for me. I send her a handkercher, and God comfort my good son, her husband. My good daughter Daunce hath the picture in parchment that you delivered me from my Lady Coniers, her name on the back. Show her that I heartily pray her that you may send it in my name to her again, for a token from me to pray for me.
I like special well Dorothy Colly. I pray you be good unto her. I would wot whether this be she that you wrote me of. If not, yet I pray you be good to the other as you may in her affliction, and to my good daughter Jane Aleyn too. Give her, I pray you, some kind answer, for she sued hitherto me this day to pray you be good to her.

I cumber you, good Margaret, much, but I would be sorry if it should be any longer than to-morrow, for it is St. Thomas's even, and the utas of St. Peter; and therefore, to-morrow long I to go to God. It were a day very meet and convenient for me.

I never liked your manner towards me better than when you kissed me last; for I love when daughterly love and dear charity hath no leisure to look to worldly courtesy. Farewell, my dear child, and pray for me, and I shall for you and all your friends, that we may merrily meet in heaven. I thank you for your great cost. I send now my good daughter Clement her algorism stone, and I send her and my godson and all hers God's blessing and mine. I pray you at time convenient recommend me to my good son John More. I liked well his natural fashion. Our Lord bless him and his good wife, my loving daughter, to whom I pray him to be good, as he hath great cause; and that, if the land of mine come to his hands, he break not my will concerning his sister Daunce. And the Lord bless Thomas and Austin, and all that they shall have.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

+ Blessed GEORGE NICOLS, Priest, 1589


BORN at Oxford, he was ordained at Rheims, and sent on the Mission, 1583. Oxford was the chief scene of his labours, and they bore fruit in abundance. Amongst the souls he won to God was that of a noted highwayman under sentence of death in Oxford Castle. 

Through the conversation of his Catholic fellow-prisoners he became thoroughly contrite, and longed to be able to make his confession. On the very morning of his execution Father Nicols came to the jail with a crowd of other persons, and, passing for a kinsman and acquaintance of the prisoner, after mutual salutations took him aside, heard his confession, for which he had carefully prepared the night before, and gave him Absolution. The prisoner, now wonderfully comforted, declared himself a Catholic, was deaf to all the persuasions of the minister to return to Protestantism, and suffered joyfully professing the faith. Father Nicols and Father Yaxley, his companion, were sent up to London with legs tied under the horses' bellies, being insulted all along the route. An Oxford undergraduate, who from compassion attended them on their journey, was confined for some time in Bedlam as insane. The priests were sent back to Oxford, and executed July 1, 1589.

" So the last shall be first and the first last, for many are called but few chosen."—MATT. xx. 16.

Friday, July 04, 2014

+ Blessed John Cornelius, Jesuit, 1594

Also called Mohun



He said Mass every day at five o'clock in the morning, and never without tears. At the reading of the Passion in Holy Week again he wept exceedingly. He was sometimes in an ecstasy when praying, and was found once on his knees, his hands crossed on his breast, and his eyes raised to Heaven, so absorbed in God that it was doubtful whether he was alive or dead. He always wore a rough hair-shirt, used frequent disciplines, and for many years fasted four days a week. He gave to the poor all that came to his hands, committing the care of himself to God's providence. He preached twice a week, gave catechetical instructions for almost an hour, and read some pious lessons for about half-an-hour in the evening to those aspiring to perfection. The mortification of his senses and his recollection in God were so great that for three whole years that he lodged in a room, the windows of which looked upon the Parish Church, he had never observed it, nor did he know whether the house in which he lived was leaded or tiled. Upon several occasions his face was illuminated with a heavenly light. He suffered at Dorchester, July 4, 1594

" But thou, O man of God . . . pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mild­ness."—1 Tim. vi. 11.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Blessed THOMAS MAXFIELD, Priest, 1616



OF an ancient Staffordshire family, he arrived in England from Douay in 1615, and was arrested in London when making his thanksgiving after Mass. On attempting his escape from the Gatehouse, Westminster, he was recaptured, thrust into a subterranean dungeon, and put in stocks, so that he could neither stand nor lie down, while helplessly attacked by swarms of venomous insects. On the fourth day he was dragged out more dead than alive and forced to walk to Newgate, where he was confined with the common felons, two of whom he converted. On the eve of his martyrdom his saintly bearing and fortitude filled with joy and veneration his Catholic visitors, and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed day and night in the Spanish Ambassador's chapel on his behalf. On July 1, the day of his execution, to draw away the crowd, a woman was burnt at Smithfield, but to no purpose. A multitude on horse and foot accompanied the martyr through the crowded streets, the Catholics, Spaniards and English, openly showing their reverence, with bare heads begging his blessing. Tyburn gallows was found to be beautifully decorated with garlands and wreaths, and the ground covered with sweet-smelling herbs and greens, and amidst these emblems of his triumph the martyr won his crown, July 1, 1616.

" As a tree planted by the running water bringing forth its fruit in due season."—Ps. i. 3.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

+ Blessed MONFORD SCOTT, Priest, 1591


BORN in Norfolk, he arrived on the English Mission from Douay 1577. "He was a man," we are told, "of wonderful meekness and of so great abstinence that his diet on common days was bread and water, and but little more on Sundays and holidays. So addicted also was he to prayer that he often spent whole days and nights in this exercise, insomuch that his knees were grown hard by the assiduity of his devotions, as it is related of St. James

One of the bystanders perceiving this when the martyr's body was being quartered said aloud, ' I should be glad to see any one of our ministers with their knees as much hardened by constant prayer as we see this man's knees are.' And so great and so general was the veneration this holy priest had acquired that Topcliffe, the noted persecutor, loudly boasted that the Queen and kingdom were highly obliged to him for having brought to the gallows a priest so devout and mortified." Father Scott was prosecuted and condemned solely on account of his priestly character. He suffered with wonderful constancy, and no less modesty and spiritual joy, to the great edification of the spectators, and the admiration even of the greatest enemies of his faith and profession, Tyburn, July 2, 1591.

"By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the Spirit."—EPH. vi. 18

Maurice Chauncey, Prior of Sheen Angelorum

Sheen Angelorum was established following the destruction of the Charterhouse in London. "The Carthusians, along with all other subjects of the king, were required in the spring of 1534 to swear to the first Act of Succession, and thus to accept the annulment of Henry's first marriage by Cranmer and the legitimacy of Anne Boleyn's offspring. (fn. 78) Their sympathies had unquestionably lain with Queen Katherine, whose marriage they considered valid, and they had shown interest in Elizabeth Barton, although they were not so far committed with her as their brethren at Sheen. When the commissioners arrived on 4 May to tender the oath Houghton replied in the name of all that Carthusians did not meddle with the king's affairs; they asked only to be left in peace. He added that he could not see how a marriage of such long standing could be declared invalid. He was therefore conveyed to the Tower along with his procurator, Humphrey Middlemore. After deliberation there they agreed to take the oath, so far as was lawful, and were sent home, where they found the community still unwilling to swear. The commissioners, Bishop Roland Lee and Thomas Bedyll, were unsuccessful at their first visit, and at their second, on 29 May, they obtained the adhesion only of Houghton, Middlemore, and six others. Finally, Lee and Sir Thomas Kytson, one of the sheriffs of London, who brought a band of men-at-arms, were successful in extracting an oath from all. (fn. 79) So far as can be seen from Chauncy's narrative, the opposition of the monks was based on a disapproval of the Boleyn marriage rather than on a realization, such as influenced More and Fisher, that papal supremacy was at stake, for when in June 1534 commissioners endeavoured to extract an acceptance of the royal supremacy, at least nine of the community refused to take the oath, when such a refusal was not as yet criminal." Source

Three Carthusian martyrs

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

+ Archbishop OLIVER PLUNKET, 1681



OF a noble Irish family, he went to Rome, lived for many years with the priests of San Girolamo della Carita, and was appointed by Clement IX to the see of Armagh. There he found himself obliged to pass censures on certain scandalous livers in his flock, among them priests and religious. In revenge they took advantage of the Oates Plot to denounce the Archbishop as conspiring to raise 70,000 Irish, with the help of French troops, to destroy the Protestant religion. In his defence he said he lived in a little thatched house with one servant on 60 pounds a year and never had thought of such a design. Still with the direct evidence against him he was condemned. In Newgate his life was one of continual prayer; he fasted usually three or four days a week on bread only. His favourite devotion was sentences from Holy Scripture, the Divine Office and the Missal,and he dwelt on these under the Holy Spirit's guidance. Outwardly there appeared no sign of anguish or fear, but a sweet and holy recollection, a gentle courtesy, an unfailing cheerfulness, devoting his fitness for the sacrifice and ripeness for Heaven. His very presence kindled in men's hearts a desire to suffer for Christ.

"The fruits of the Spirit are charity, joy, peace."—GAL. V. 22.

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