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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Venerable Thomas Felton, Layman, 1588


A MARTYR himself and the son of a martyr, his father having suffered for putting up St. Pius V's Bull of excommunication, he was apprehended as a suspected Papist for the third time, though but a layman, when only twenty years of age. Tortured in the "Little Ease," starved, hanged up by the hands till the blood sprang from his finger ends, he remained steadfast. Upon a Sunday he was violently taken by certain officers and carried betwixt two, fast bound in a chair, into the chapel at Bridewell to their service. He, having his hands at first at liberty, stopped his ears with his fingers that he might not hear what the minister said. Then they bound down his hands also to the chair ; but being set down to the ground, bound in the manner aforesaid, he stamped with his feet, and made that noise with his mouth, shouting and hallowing, and crying oftentimes, " Jesus, Jesus," that the minister's voice could not be heard. Asked by the judge if he acknowledged the Queen's supremacy, he made answer that " he had read divers chronicles, but never read that God ordained a woman should be supreme head of the Church." For this speech he was condemned, and hung the next day near Hounslow, Middlesex.

" Depart from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be involved in their sins."—NUM. xvi. 26

Saturday, August 30, 2014

+ Saint MARGARET WARD, 1588


WILLIAM WATSON, a secular priest, being apprehended, through force of torment went to the Protestant Church once. Struck with remorse in the midst of the Protestant congregation, he repaired the scandal he had there given by recanting his conformity, and declaring that theirs was not the service of God, but was in truth the service of the devil. For this he was again imprisoned, and was continually plied with threats and promises to urge him to go again to church. The Catholics feared for his constancy, but dared not, for their own safety, approach him, till a gentlewoman, Margaret Ward, determined to make the attempt. Disguised and carrying a basket of provisions, she for a month visited the prison, being always closely searched. At length she managed to convey him a cord, and with this he effected his. escape ; but in his haste and danger he left the cord hanging from the window of his prison. Margaret, being his only visitor, was therefore apprehended, hung up by the hands, and cruelly scourged. On her trial she admitted her part in the prisoner's escape, and rejoiced " in having delivered an innocent lamb from the hands of bloody wolves." Offered her pardon if she would go to church, she refused, and was executed, showing to the end great constancy, August 30, Tyburn,

" I was in prison, and you visited me."— MATT. XXV. 36.

Friday, August 29, 2014

+ Blessed RICHARD HERST, Layman, 1628



A CONVICTED recusant, he was ploughing his field when one Dewhurst came to serve him with a warrant. Herst fled, and Dewhurst, following in pursuit, received a blow from Herst's maid, and afterwards in the heat of the pursuit fell and broke his leg. From that wound in the leg he died, yet Herst, who had never been within thirty yards of him, was charged with his death. Herst's pardon was offered him if he would take the oath, but he refused, and he declined also to go to church, so he was trailed there by his legs and much hurt. In the church he stopped his ears, not to hear false doctrine, and, on returning, said, " They have tortured my body, but, thank God, they have not hurt my soul." At his trial at Lancaster, though his innocence of Dewhurst's death was evident, the judge told the jury that he was a recusant, had resisted the Bishop's authority, and that they must find it murder for an example, which was done. At the gallows he said to the hangman, who was bungling with the rope, " Tom, I think I must come and help you." Then, after repeating the holy names of Jesus and Mary, he passed to immortality, Lancaster, August 29.

" Cursed shalt thou be upon the earth, which hath opened her mouth and received the blood of thy brother at thy hand."—GEN. iv. II, 12.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

+ Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith, SJ, 1628


HE was sentenced at Lancaster for being a priest, a Jesuit, and a persuader of religion, and the judge ordered that he was to be hung at noon, when most men would be at dinner ; but as it fell out the whole place of execution was covered with great multitudes of people of all sorts, ages, sexes, and religions, expecting the end of the tragedy. As he was carried through the castle yard, Father Southworth, his fellow-prisoner under reprieve, appeared at the prison window and received his absolution. He was then bound on the hurdle, with his head towards the horse's tail, " for greater ignominy." Most of his friends were prevented to approach him, and the executioner went before the horse and hurdle with a club in his hand in a kind of barbarous triumph. On the scaffold he refused to save his life by taking the oath, professed that he died for the Catholic faith, and prayed for the conversion of England. His last words, as he was cast off the ladder, were "Bone jesu." Divers Protestants, beholders of this bloody spectacle, wished their souls with his. Others wished they had never come there. Others said it was a barbarous act to use men so for their religion.

"And all the multitude of them that were come together to that sight, and saw the things that were done, returned striking their breasts." —LUKE xxiii. 48.

See also Arrowsmith House.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blessed ROGER CADWALLADOR, Priest, 1610



When he was near his crown he wrote, "Comfort yourselves, my friends, in this that I die in an assurance of salvation ; which, if you truly love me as you ought to do, should please you better than to have me alive a little while among you for your content, and then to die with great uncertainty either to be saved or damned. If this manner of death be shameful, yet not more than my Saviour's was : if it be painful, yet not more than was His. Only have you care to persevere in God's true faith and charity, and then we shall meet again to our greater comfort that shall never end." On the morning of his execution, having spent some five hours in prayer, he took some broth and claret, to make himself strong, he said, like Bishop Fisher, to suffer for God, and dressed himself in a new suit of clothes as his wedding garment. On the scaffold, asked to give his opinion as to the oath, he replied that his opinion mattered little; they should regard rather the sentiments of the Church, for his swearing would neither diminish the Pope's authority nor increase the King's. His constancy under the terrible butchery which attended his end confirmed the faith of the Herefordshire Catholics.

" But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief . . . but if as a Christian let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in His Name." —1 PET. iv. 15, 16.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014




HE was absent on an Embassy in France on Elizabeth's accession. On April 2,1559, he concluded the treaty of Cateau Cambresis, and on his return to England he at once joined the other Bishops in opposition to the Bill of Royal Supremacy. He refused the oath and was deposed July 5,1559, was committed to the Tower June 3, 1560, and endured there the miseries of close and separate confinement until September 1563, when the plague was raging. Elizabeth was then at Windsor Castle, and there was set up, Stowe writes, in the market-place of Windsor a new gallows to hang up all such as came there from London, so that no person might come from London upon pain of hanging without judgment. With this panic at Court the Protestant Bishops were naturally uneasy at receiving orders to house the illustrious prisoners from the town. Thirlby was allotted to Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, and wrote to him cheerfully that he was an unbidden guest, who, according to the proverb, " wotteth not where to sit," and that he doubted how to travel without danger because of the plague. Yet" need maketh the old wife trot." Dr. Thirlby remained unshaken in Parker's custody for seven years, when, stricken by grave illness, he was released by death.

"According to the multitude of the sorrows of my heart thy comforts have given joy to my soul."—Ps. xciii. 19.

Matthew Parker first protestant Archbishop of Canterbury. It is often said that the term "nosey Parker" comes from him, as he was always making inquiry into business that was not his own.

Feast of Blessed THOMAS PERCY

In November 1569, Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland, and Charles Neville, 6th and last Earl of Westmoreland, rebelled against Queen Elizabeth.

In November 1569, Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland, and Charles Neville, 6th and last Earl of Westmoreland, rebelled against Queen Elizabeth. Their aim was to reestablish the Catholic Religion. After an initial success in which the earls took Durham, the Rising of the Earls was subdued. In December 1569, both earls fled over the border into Scotland. Westmoreland was alone, Northumberland was accompanied by his wife Anne, a daughter of Henry Beaufort-Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester.

Northumberland was soon betrayed by his Scottish hosts and sold to the English. He was subsequently put to trial and executed in York in August 1572. He is considered to be a martyr by the Catholic Church and was officially beatified in the 19th century.

In the Summer of 1570, the earl of Westmoreland, fearing that the same betrayal might also happen to him, left Scotland for Flanders. There he would remain in exile until his death in November 1601. He lived in great poverty and would never see his wife (d. 1593) and four daughters again. The eldest daughter, Margaret Neville (b. 1564), was herself tried in 1594 and sentenced to death for having been found in the company of a Catholic priest. She was, however, pardoned.

Anne, the Countess of Northumberland, also left Scotland and travelled to Flanders. She had given birth to a baby in Old Aberdeen on 11 June 1570 and on 23 August boarded a ship, arriving with her baby at Bruges on 31 August 1570. In Flanders, she was to live in various places, i.a. Malines (1572), Brussels (1574), Liege (1575). She died at Namur on 17 October 1596.

Sir Cuthbert Sharp in his 1840 account of « The Rising in the North ; The 1569 Rebellion » mentions Thomas Percy and his wife as having one son, « Thomas, died young (1560) », and four daughters : « Elizabeth, m. Richard Woodroffe, of Wolley, co. York », « Lucy, m. Sir Edward Stanley, of Eynsham, co. Oxon. », « Jane, m. Lord Henry Seymour », and « Mary, who on the authority of a MS belonging to the English Benedictine Dames (formerly at Bruxelles, now at Winchester) printed in the Catholic Magazine for August 1838, was born on the 11th of June 1570. After the death of the Countess, she came into the low countries, to take possession of what was left her by her mother, but more by her desire to dedicate herself to the service of God, in Holy religion. She became the founder of the Benedictine Dames, at Bruxelles.
» (Sharpe, pp 349-350)

If this is true - Mary, being born on 11 June 1570 and coming to Flanders after the death of her mother in 1596 - it means that her mother must have left her newborn child behind in Scotland when she departed for Flanders in August 1570. However, all sources indicate that she took her child along with her.

The Earl and Countess of Northumberland in November 1569 had left a number of their toddlers behind in their house in Topcliffe in Yorkshire. The rebellious earls, moving in from the North had hoped to take Yorkshire very easily and the Earl and Countess of Northumberland had planned to join their children there. But events turned out otherwise and the rebels fled to Scotland. The children were captured in Topcliffe by their uncle, Henry Percy, the later 8th Earl of Northumberland. To the surprise of his brother, Henry sided with Queen Elizabeth during the rebellion and moved his soldiers against the rebels. He was afterwards rewarded for this loyalty with his brother's earldom. Henry Percy wrote to the Earl of Sussex on 9 January 1570 that « Passing by the younge ladys, I founde them in harde case. They wolde gladly be removyde ». He took them along and raised them within his own family, which soon moved to the Percy castle at Petworth.

Edward Barrington de Fonblanque writes in his book « Annals of the House of Percy » that four daughters survived the 7th Earl of Northumberland. Fonblanque mentions five children (p. 125) : 1. Elizabeth, the eldest (b. 1559), m. Richard Woodruffe of Wolley 2. Thomas (b. 1560, d. 1560) 3. Mary (b. 1563, d. 1643), founder of the Benedictine Dames at Brussels 4. Lucy, m. Sir Edward Stanley of Eynsham 5 . Jane, the youngest daughter, m. Lord Henry Seymour He does not mention a sixth child, born in Old Aberdeen on 11.6.1570, and explicitly states Jane to be « the youngest daughter », while Mary, founder of the English convent in Brussels, is the second daughter, born in 1563.

Fonblanque, who had access to the family archives of the Percies at Syon House and Alnwick Castle, wrote his book in 1887. The genealogical annex of the book, however, gives a totally different version than the text. Here, Mary, second daughter, is stated to have married Sir Thomas Grey of Wark, while there is a sixth child, a second Mary (« Maria »), born on 11.6.1570, who is said to have been the founder of the Brussels Benedictine convent.

In 1902 Gerald Brenan published his « History of the House of Percy ». Brenan complains that he was denied access to the Percy archives : « The present Duke of Northumberland objected to further search among the documentary collection of Alnwick Castle and Sion House as unnecessary » (Brenan, vol. 1, p. XVI), causing Brenan to rely heavily on Fonblanque's Annals, « a work prepared practically under the eye of the late Duke of Northumberland, and largely from original sources. » (ib.) Brenan also mentions two Marys, one married to Thomas Grey of Wark, the other becoming a Benedictine nun in Brussels. However, he notices that something must be wrong there and states that Fonblanque and others often confuse the first « Mary » with the second « Maria ».

I am told that Burke in his older editions also mentions a « Mary » married to Thomas Grey of Wark, as well as a « Maria », founder of the Brussels convent. In later editions, however, Burke omits the first Mary (b. 1563) and retains only the latter, which then becomes Northumberland's youngest daughter.

In September 1591, Charles Paget, an English Catholic exile in Antwerp, writes a letter to the Percy family in London, to announce that the Countess of Northumberland has died and that her youngest daughter Jane is urgently requested to come to Flanders in order to collect her mother's belongings. The Countess only died in 1596. Paget's letter is a ruse to get the youngest daughter, Jane, over to Flanders. Brenan does not know what to make of this letter, thinking that the youngest daughter, Mary, is already in Flanders. He writes : « Paget appears to have forgotten lady Maria. The latter had been her mother's companion and solace from the time, twenty years before, when they left Old Aberdeen together. Lady Mary had surely the best right to what little the Countess left ».

But in reality, lady Mary (b. 1563), had not left Scotland with her mother in 1570. She came to Flanders many years later, as is stated on her epitaph in Brussels : « hic jacet domina Maria Percy filia Thomae Percy Northumbriae comitis, quae fidei confessione in Anglia carceribus diu toleratis in Belgio exul hoc nobilium virginum coenibium sub regula S. Patris Benedicti, propriis amicorumque, ejus instinctu, denariis struxit. Obiit XIII september anno MDCXLII R.I.P. » « Here lies lady Mary Percy, daughter of Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Because of her faith she suffered imprisonment in England for a long time and came as an exile to the Netherlands where she founded this convent for noble women under the rule of St. Benedict, which convent was founded on her initiative and with her money and that of her friends. She died 13.9.1642. May she rest in peace. »

According to some sources, she was 80 years old when she died, which is correct if she was born in 1562-63. The « long imprisonment in England » which the epitaph mentions (« in Anglia carceribus diu toleratis »), probably refers to the unhappy period of her life that she lived in her uncle's household in Petworth. After her mother's death, Mary Percy in 1599 founded the English Benedictine convent in Brussels. She was chosen as abbess of the convent and never returned to England. In « Gallia Christiana », vol. V, pp. 59-60, we read : « Haec abbatia ord. S. Benedicti initia sua debet nobili domicellae Mariae Percy filiae Thomae comitis de Northumberland in Anglia Martyrio coronati, quae cum ob fidem catholicam e domo paterna fugisset. » : « This abbey of St. Benedict was founded by lady Mary Percy, daughter of Thomas, Earl of Northumberland, who died in England as a martyr. She fled her paternal home because of her Catholic faith. » Here again, we have to conclude that Mary (Maria) Percy, founder of the English Benedictine Dames at Brussels, was raised in her uncle's household at her father's house in Petworth, and that she can not have been the child born on 11.6.1570 in Old Aberdeen.

As far as I know, there are no documents (unless maybe in the Percy family archives in Alnwick or Sion House ?) stating who this mysterious child is. When the child was baptised, its sex was not mentioned on the certificate. This could have been done on purpose, which makes sense if the baby was a boy and an heir to the 7th Earl of Northumberland. That would also explain why the Countess of Northumberland felt unsafe in Scotland and almost immediately after its birth left for Flanders. It also explains why in 1902 the Duke of Northumberland was reluctant to open the Percy family archives to Brenan when he wanted to investigate the confusion surrounding the two Marys, and why Fonblanque, being under scrutiny of the Duke of Northumberland in 1887 inserts a genealogical annex to his book that is totally different from his book's account.

On 13 August 1620, a certain John Percy receives an official recognition of his nobility from the Spanish authorities in Brussels. He claims to be « fils de Jean Piercy, d'extraction angloise, et de Judoca Reygers » : « son of John Percy, of English origin, and Judoca Reygers ». An abbreviated copy from ca 1675 of this document can be found in the Royal Library in Brussels. The original was lost in 1695 in the great fire of Brussels, when the French army bombarded the town and the whole city center was demolished. According to his descendants, this Jean (John) Piercy, who married Judoca Reygers, was the son of Thomas Percy and came with his mother to Flanders. He married a daughter of the wealthy Reygers family. It was the same Brussels family that financially helped to sponsor the English Benedictine convent, founded by Mary Percy. One of the patrons of the convent was lady Agatha Reygers.

Around 1670, one of the grandsons of Percy-Reygers, Don Carlos Piercy, a knight in the service of the Spanish King, left for England to defend his family's claim to the earldom of Northumberland, but he failed in his duties. In his book « Armorial General de la Noblesse Belge » Baron de Rijckman de Betz writes : « Charles Percy fut envoye en Angleterre, vers 1670, pour veiller aux droits de sa famille et negligea tout, sauf de dissiper en folles depenses les sommes dont-on l'avait muni. » Today, members of the Percy (or « Persy ») family still live in the Aarschot region, between Malines, Louvain and Brussels. They are lower middle class people, but claim to be direct descendants in the male line of the great Harry Hotspur and of the Blessed Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Saint DAVID LEWIS also known as CHARLES BAKER, Jesuit, 1679



Born of Protestant parents in Monmouthshire, he was reconciled at the age of nineteen, when a law student in London. Ordained at the English College, Rome, he entered the Society, and was sent on the English Mission in 1648. For thirty-one years he toiled for souls, fearless in dangers, patient in suffering, till his apprehension, November 19, 1678. While in the hands of his captors he was summoned to a dying priest, Father Ignatius Price, who was sinking from hunger and cold and the hardships of a hunted life, but he could only send him his best wishes for eternity, and after three days Father Price died. At Monmouth Father Baker, in spite of a brilliant defence, was condemned and sent up to London, where Lord Shaftesbury suggested to him to save his life and improve his fortune by revealing something of the plot or conforming in religion ; but he refused, for of the plot he knew nothing, and to conform would be against his conscience. On the scaffold he forgave his persecutors, and to the Catholics he said : " Fear God, honour the King. Be firm in your faith ; bear patiently persecutions, always remembering St. Peter's words, that reproach borne not for any evil thing, but for Christ's sake, is a blessing." He suffered at Usk, August 27, 1679."

If you be reproached for the name of Christ you shall be blessed : for that which is the honour of God resteth on you."—1 Pet. iv. 14.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Venerable JOHN WALL, Franciscan, 1679


With Blessed John Jones

ON hearing his sentence he made a bow, and said aloud, " Thanks be to God. God save the King. I beseech God to bless your Lordship and all this honourable bench." The judge answered, " You have spoken very well. I do not intend that you should die, at least not for the present, until I know the King's further pleasure." Father Wall writes : " I was not, I thank God for it, troubled with any disturbing thoughts, either against the judge for his sentence, or the jury that gave in such a verdict, or against any of the witnesses; for I was then of the same mind, as by God's grace I ever shall be, esteeming them all the best friends to me, in all they did or said, that ever I had in my life. And I was, I thank God, so present with myself whilst the judge pronounced the sentence that without any concern for anything in this world I did actually at the same time offer myself and the world to God." After five months' delay he was executed at Worcester, and was much rejoiced at being, as he was, the first martyr in that city. He had been arrested on the Oates Plot after twenty-two years on the Mission, and was offered his life if he would apostatise.

"He was offered, because it was His own will."—ISA. liii. 7.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saint JOHN KEMBLE, Priest, 1679



HE was eighty years old, and had toiled on the Mission for fifty-four years, when he was taken at Pembridge Castle, Herefordshire, by Captain Scudamore.

Disguised altar used at Pembridge Castle

Though warned of his coming seizure, he said, "As he had but a few years to live he would gain by suffering for the faith, and therefore would not abscond. He was committed to Hereford gaol, ordered up to London, and thence back to Hereford. In this last journey he suffered terribly from a painful malady, which necessitated him riding sideways. In prison he was frequently visited by Captain Scudamore's children, and he gave them many good things, their father being, he said, his best friend. On the scaffold he said, " It will be expected I should say something; but as I am an old man it cannot be much. Not having any concern in the plot, neither believing there is any, I die only for the old Roman Catholic religion, which first made England Christian, and whosoever would be saved must die therein. I beg pardon of all I have offended, and forgive those that have caused my death." From the local tradition that he smoked on his long walk to the gallows, the last pipe of the evening has been called the "Kemble pipe."

" Old age is a crown of dignity when it is found in the ways of justice."—PROV. xvi. 31.

Friday, August 22, 2014

+ Blessed WILLIAM LACY, Priest, 1582


DRIVEN from York, where he held a high judicial post, hunted from place to place, penniless through fines for recusancy, as an aged widower he was ordained priest at Rome. At Loreto, on his way to England, he wrote, " I wish to take my leave of you once more with this letter, as I do not know whether it may be the last. We arrived on Tuesday at this holy house, where my companions and I served the Lord in his own home, and at the shrine of His most holy Mother.
At this we all experienced an extraordinary consolation, though indeed we felt much spiritual joy throughout the journey. I am particularly charmed with the devotion and zeal of my companions, and with the holy communings in which we pass our days. Indeed, it seems to me that I take my part with them in that sweet harmony. I frequently exclaim in my heart, ' Is Saul also amongst the prophets?' and I remind myself of the disciples' words : ' Was not our hearts burning when He spoke with us upon the way ?'" On being sentenced, the aged confessor said, " It is only paying the common debt a little sooner ; we will go into the house of the Lord." He suffered at York, August 22, 1582.

This is no other but the house of God and the gate of Heaven.—GEN. xxviii. 17.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blessed THOMAS PERCY, Layman., 1572

TORN from his friends and followers, from his wife and his four little girls, and betrayed into the hands of a declared enemy, B. Thomas in his captivity at Lochleven had indeed " sunk into deep waters among them that hated him " (Ps. Ixviii.). But he found strength from above in his continual fasts and watchings and pious meditations, and proved himself a true champion of the faith. His Calvinist keeper, the Lord of Lochleven, brought many of his sect to try and persuade him, by cunning argument and speeches or by threats and promises, to embrace their errors, but he could never be persuaded to depart in the smallest matter from the Communion of the Catholic Church. When, as often happened, meat was brought to him on days which Catholics observe as a fast, he contented himself with bread alone ; and by his example moved some of those attending on him to repent of their apostasy. The fortitude he thus acquired found a witness in Lord Hunsdon, who reported "that he is readier to talk of hawks and hounds than anything else, though very sorrowful and fearing for his life."

"Eleazer, one of the chief of the scribes, was pressed to eat swine's flesh. But he, choosing rather a most glorious death than a hateful life, went forward voluntarily to the torment."—2 MACH. vi. 18, 19

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Blessed THOMAS PERCY, Layman, 1572



A GALLANT sight must have been the men of the Rising on the march. Nobles, knights with their tenants equipped for war, labourers and peasants unarmed but stout of heart, all wearing the Red Cross, their Standard the Five Sacred Wounds ;

its bearer, the grey-haired Richard Norton, late High Sheriff of Yorkshire. Among their chaplains, B. Thomas Plumtree, and heading the force the Earl and his brave-hearted Countess. They advanced as far south as Clifford Moor, near Wetherby, but their divided counsels and want of supplies forced them to retire, and at the advice of the Earl, anxious to avoid useless bloodshed, they dispersed. The cold-blooded revenge of Elizabeth displayed at once her avarice and cruelty. The gentlemen and yeomen were allowed to escape with a fine, but the peasants were hung by hundreds. The Earl fled to Scotland, and, consenting to meet an envoy from the Regent, was treacherously captured and confined in Lochleven. Thence after two years and a half imprisonment he was handed over to Elizabeth, who thirsted for his blood, for 2000 pounds. He was conveyed to York, where, after refusing to save his life by apostasy, he won his crown, August 22, 1572.

"But they appointed him thirty pieces of silver, and from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray Him."—MATT. xxvi. 16.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

+ Blessed HUGH GREEN, Priest, 1642



"AFTER he was cut down he came to his perfect senses," writes Dame Willoughby, " and sat upright. Protestants heard him and took great notice of it; for all the Catholics were pressed away by the unruly multitude except myself, who never left him until his head was severed from his body. Whilst he was thus calling upon Jesus, the butcher did pull a piece of his liver out instead of his heart, then with his knife raked on the body of the blessed martyr, who even then called on Jesus, and his forehead sweat, then it was cold, presently again burned ; his eyes, nose, and mouth ran with with blood and water. His patience was admirable, though his inward groans gave signs of those lamentable torments which for more than half-an-hour he suffered."
Then the people pulled him down by the rope which was about his neck ; then did the butcher cut him open, and turned the flap upon his breast, which the holy man feeling put his hand upon his bowels, and looking on his bloody hand laid it down by his side, and lifting up his right hand crossed himself, saying three times, * Jesu, Jesu, Jesu mercy !' The which, although unworthy, I am a witness of, for my hand was on his forehead, and many

" My eyes have failed with weeping, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured out upon the earth."—-LAM. ii. 11.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blessed ROGER CADWALLADOR, Priest, 1610



A NATIVE of Herefordshire, very learned and a noted Greek scholar, he began his priestly labours in England about 1594, and during sixteen years won many souls to the Church. Apprehended on Easter Day, in the house of Mrs. Winefride Scroope, near Hereford, he acknowledged to the Protestant Bishop that he was a priest, and added that he supposed that this would not be against him with the Bishop, whose special concern it was to maintain the sacerdotal dignity. " For, my Lord, either you must admit yourself to be a priest, or I can prove you to be no Bishop." 

The Bishop, Herbert Westphaling (above) insisted that Christ was the only sacrificing priest of the New Testament, in that sense of the word, which is not common to all Christians, and hoped thus to free himself from being a priest. On which the Martyr replied, " Make that good, I pray you, my Lord, for so you will prove that I am no more a priest than other men, and consequently no traitor or offender against your law"; on which one, Holkins, to cover the Bishop's disgrace, said that the King himself had said that these kind of men were so numerous that he should never have done if he put them all to death.

"But this (Jesus) for that He continueth for ever hath an everlasting priesthood."—HEBR. vii. 24

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blessed THOMAS HOLFORD, Priest, 1588



THE son of a Protestant minister in Cheshire, he was reconciled by Father Davis, and ordained, and his life as a priest seems to have been a fulfilment of the Gospel precept of flight under persecution. " He was first searched for," says Father Davis, "in the house where I lay, on All Souls' Day, but escaped. Again, after being nearly taken in the search for Babington, he repaired again to a house where I was staying, but we escaped to a hay-barn, through a secret place at the foot of the stairs. He then laboured for souls in his own county, Cheshire, was apprehended, sent to London, and lodged in an inn at Holborn. Then, rising early, he managed to pass the pursuivants, who had drunk hard and were asleep. On Holborn Viaduct he met a Catholic gentleman, who, seeing him half-dressed, thought him a madman. Pulling off his yellow stocking and white boot-hose, he walked barefoot by unfrequented paths till he arrived, late at night, at a house where I lay, about eight miles from London. He had eaten nothing, and his feet were bleeding and torn with briars and thorns. My hosts and their daughters tended him and put him to bed. The next year he was apprehended, and executed, August 28, at Clerkenwell."

" They wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being in want, distressed, afflicted, of whom the world was not worthy."—HEB. xi.37, 38.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Blessed HUGH GREEN, Priest, 1642 on the Scaffold



"THERE be four things more: one God, one faith, one baptism, one Church. That there is one God we all acknowledge, in whom, from whom, and by whom all things remain and have their being. That there is one faith appears by Christ's praying that St. Peter's faith (He said not faiths) should never fail; and He promised to be with it to the end of the world. That there is one baptism : we are all cleansed by the laver of water in the Word. That there is one Church, holy and sanctified : doth not St. Paul say that it is a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing? Now the marks of this Church are sanctity, unity, antiquity, universality, which all of us in all points of faith believe. But some will say we are fallen off from this Church of Rome, but in what pope's time, in what prince's reign, or what are the errors, none can discover. No, this holy Church of Christ did never err. By the law I am now to die for being a priest. Judge you, can these new laws overthrow the authority of God's Church ? Nevertheless, I forgive you, and pray God for all."

"That they may be one, as we also are one."—JOHN xvii. 22.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blessed HUGH GREEN, Priest, 1642 on the Scaffold



"THERE be four principal things which all men ought to remember : death, judgment, Heaven and Hell. Death is a horror to nature, but that which followeth is much more terrible, viz. judgment, if we die not as we ought; and as we dispose ourselves to good or evil in this life, so shall the measure of our punishment or glory succeed. I am here condemned to die for my religion and for being a priest: we know there must be priests, for God, foretelling of the Church by the prophets, saith, 'Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech' (Ps. cix.). 'And from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof, there shall be a clean sacrifice offered in My Name (Mai. i.11). Now'four things are to be considered : a God, a sacrifice, a priest, a man : such am I, and therefore I must die. Wherefore do we receive holy unction and are made priests but to offer sacrifice to God ? But I am condemned for -being ordained by the See of Rome. St. Paul saith, 'the Romans have the Catholic faith' and gives God thanks that their faith and his were one, of which Catholic faith I am."

"In all thy works remember thy last end and thou shalt never sin."—ECCLUS. vii. 40

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Blessed HUGH GREEN, Priest, 1642


BORN in London, and a convert from Cambridge, he was arrested in attempting to leave England, in consequence of King Charles I's banishment of priests, and sentenced after five months' imprisonment. 

Dame Bridgette Willoughby, an eye-witness, says, that "his devotion on his way to death was most edifying. He was taken from the hurdle and kept on the hill at some distance from the scaffold until three poor women were hanged. Two of them had sent him word the night before that they would die in his faith. This comforted him much, for he had done his utmost to speak with them, but failed. They therefore sent again to desire him that when they had made a confession of their sinful lives at the foot of the gallows, on their making the sign he should absolve them. This with great joy iin his heart, and much benefit (as it is hoped) on theirs, was performed. They then turned their faces towards us, and throwing forth their arms cried out to him, ' God be with you, sir,' and so died. But the third woman turned from us towards the press of people, her face or speech never tending towards us."

" The Spirit breatheth where He will."—JOHN iii. 8.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham

for the Conversion of England.

The conversion of England was long dreamed about by St. Paul of the Cross. We too should pray daily for the return of England to the One True Church.

"O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our own most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy Dowry, and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. Through thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our Hope was given unto the world; and he hath given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated English brethren, that they may be united with us in the one true Fold. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works, we may all deserve to see and praise God together with thee in our heavenly home. Amen."

Other prayers for the Conversion of England.

O MERCIFUL God, let the glorious intercession of Thy saints assist us, particularly the most blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Thy only-begotten Son, and Thy holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, to whose patronage we humbly recommend this country. Be mindful of our fathers, Eleutherius, Celestine, and Gregory, bishops of the Holy City; of Augustine, Columba, and Aidan, who delivered to us inviolate the faith of the Holy Roman Church. Remember our holy martyrs, who shed their blood for Christ: especially our first martyr, Saint Alban, and Thy most glorious bishop, Saint Thomas of Canterbury. Remember all those holy confessors; bishops, and kings, all those holy monks and hermits, all those holy virgins and widows, who made this once an island of saints, illustrious by their glorious merits and virtues. Let not their memory perish from before Thee, O Lord, but let their supplication enter daily into Thy sight; and do Thou, who didst so often spare Thy sinful people for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, now, also, moved by the prayers of our fathers, reigning with Thee, have mercy upon us, save Thy people, and bless Thy inheritance; and suffer not those souls to perish, which Thy Son hath redeemed with His own most Precious Blood, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, world without end. Amen.

Let us pray.
O most loving Lord Jesus, Who, hanging on the Cross, didst commend us all in the person of Thy disciple John, to Thy most sweet Mother, that we might find in her our refuge, our solace, and our hope; look graciously upon our beloved country, and on those who are bereaved of so powerful a patronage; that, acknowledging once more the dignity of this holy Virgin, they may honour and venerate her with all affection of devotion, and own her as Queen and Mother. May her sweet name be lisped by the little ones, and linger on the lips of the aged and the dying; and may it be invoked by the afflicted, and hymned by the joyful; that this Star of the Sea being their protection and their guide, all may come to the harbour of eternal salvation. Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

Cardinal Manning on Hindrances to the spread of the Catholic Church

"Hindrances to the Spread of the Catholic Church in England

In a series of autobiographical Notes, written in the summer of 1890, Cardinal Manning entered into a most searching inquiry into the 'Hindrances' which stand in the way of the spread of Catholicism in England. In these Notes Cardinal Manning relates, with admirable force and directness, the difficulties which he had to encounter, not so much from opposition on the part of the people of England, as from apathy, ignorance, and prejudice on the part of Catholics themselves. Although written more than a century ago, the essence of what he says could be applied today and for that reason it merits an attentive reading.

July 19th 1890.
A still greater obstacle to the spread of the Faith is the shallowness of our preaching. This appears to me to come - first, from a want of wise choice of the subjects we preach upon; and, secondly, from a shallow mode of treatment.
As to the choice of subjects: compare the Epistles of St. Paul with a volume of modern sermons. The chief and prominent topics of St. Paul are - God, the Incarnation, the Holy Ghost, that is, the Eternal Truths from which all other truths descend. These are always present. Whatever details follow, they are as consequence from the theology, which is always present as the sun at noonday.
St. Paul tells the Corinthians that he knew nothing among them but ' Jesus Christ and Him crucified.' This truth contains and justifies the whole faith and piety of the Gospel. But how often do we hear it preached upon? If the great Truths are not perpetually held up, all consequent truths seem to be arbitrary and mere assertion; e.g. the title 'Mother of God' is incomprehensible without the explicit knowledge of the Incarnation, and the Incarnation itself without the explicit knowledge of the Holy Trinity.

A French priest of Pontigny published a book on " The Deified Soul " of our Lord, because he had found the Apollinarian heresy so widely held by pious Catholics. The articles of the Apostolic Creed ought to be so continually held up before the intelligence of the faithful that all other subjects, such as the dignity and sanctification of the Blessed Virgin, the real and substantial presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, may be seen to be direct and evident consequences.

There is also a majesty and greatness in these divine and eternal realities that subdue and attract the intellect and conscience. It would seem inevitable that our preachers should preach the Gospel in all its length and truth and depth and height.

The confraternities of the Sacred Heart and the Most Precious Blood, the devotion of the Five Sacred Wounds, the mysteries of the Rosary and the Crucifix, all are the Gospel in its fullness. So also the work of the Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier and the Absolver, with the Sacrament of Penance, enable us to preach and to out-preach all Evangelists, Methodists, and Salvationists that were made. Why then do we not draw men as Spurgeon and "General" Booth or Hugh Price Hughes? I am afraid that there are two obvious reasons. We choose topics unwisely, and we are not on fire with the love of God of souls.

Nevertheless, when we give retreats or missions our priests preach the Eternal Truths and the Gospel as fully and as powerfully as anybody. But why reserve these vital and sovereign Truths to once a year? Surely they ought to be proclaimed "upon the housetops." If they were, the English people would feel that we are more scriptural and more evangelical than their own preachers. When we preach pieties and controversies it does not touch their souls. They are neither won nor moved by us. But surely we ought to win and move, and draw and soften the souls of men as our Lord did, and by the same truths. His preaching of the Eternal Truth was "as fire, and as the hammer that breaketh the rocks in pieces."

So also was the preaching of the Apostles, when they preached in the name of Jesus. This preaching converted the world, and no other will convert England. The English people as a whole, still believe in our Lord, His love, His passion, His absolution, His most Precious Blood - and also in repentance, grace, and conversion. Why do not we meet these Truths in their minds and the needs of their souls, by offering to them all these things in greater freshness and beauty? They come to hear us hoping for these things, and they go empty away, saying that our preaching does not come home to them, and is not what they need. When we have got them to confession we can teach them Rosaries and the use of Holy Water.

The other cause of our shallowness is our shallow treatment of the subject we have chosen. No doubt overwork is the reason with some. But a priest who is overworked in the saving of souls can never be much at a loss to preach the Gospel. He is always habitually speaking of God, His will, His kingdom, and he has only to think aloud. Our difficulty is in ourselves. It is what we are that preaches, and we are not only what we know but what we feel, what we realise, what by experience has become a part of ourselves.

Every man speaks readily of that which chiefly fills his mind. If we lived more for God, with God, and in God, we should have little difficulty of speaking about Him. But is this true of us? Even good priests preach daily: and choose dogmatic or moral subjects rather than mystical or ascetic. By mystical I do not mean in the sense of St. Teresa’s visions – but on such texts as Quam magna multitudo, etc., or Gustate et videte quonium suavis est Dominus. Is not this because our wells are shallow, or dry?

Another cause is hurry and haste. I have known men who have not even chosen their subjects or their text until they are on their way to the church. Surely this is tempting God; if not doing His work deceitfully. Others again take the first subject that comes to their mind, or that comes most easily to them because they have so often talked about it. But surely we ought first to think about what our people most need."

Feast of St Eusebius

Protector of the Icon of our Lady of Consolation, long venerated in England.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blessed THOMAS PERCY, Layman, 1572



THE freedom to practise their religion, which Catholics had regained under Mary, was rudely swept away by Elizabeth. By the Act of Supremacy the authority of the Pope was abolished, and his jurisdiction transferred to the Crown. By the Act of Uniformity the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was prohibited, and in alj churches the Protestant Book of Common Prayer was alone to be used. Transgression of the above Acts incurred for the first offence forfeiture of property, for the second perpetual imprisonment, for the third death. Thus the sanctuaries revered for ages became empty sepulchres. The Royal Arms were substituted for the Crucifix, the images of Our Lady and the Saints were torn down, and the innumerable altars overturned and desecrated. Non-attendance at the Protestant Church was punishable with a fine ; the exercise of any priestly office with imprisonment—if repeated, with death. This sacrilegious usurpation of religious authority by the Crown, the privation of the Sacraments even at the hour of death, the absolute hopelessness of obtaining any constitutional redress, led to the Northern Rising, in which B. Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, laid down his life for the faith.

"And behold our sanctuary and our beauty and our glory is laid waste, and the Gentiles have defiled them. To what end, then, should we live any longer?"—1 MACH. ii. 12.

Monday, August 11, 2014



Biography of the Pope St Pius V

To the leaders of the Rising, the Earls of Westmorland and Northumberland, who sought his advice, the Pope replied as follows : "Our Lord Jesus Christ has inspired you with this resolution (which is worthy of your zeal for the Catholic faith) to endeavour, by delivering yourselves and your kingdom from a woman's passion, to restore it to its ancient obedience to the Holy Roman See. And if in maintaining the Catholic faith and authority of this Holy See your blood should be shed, it is far better to pass quickly to Eternal life than to live on in shame and ignominy to the loss of your souls, subject to a feeble woman's passion. For think not, beloved sons in Christ, that those Bishops or other leading Catholics of your country whom you mention have made an unhappy end; who for their refusal to give up their confession of the Catholic faith have been either cast into prison or unjustly visited with other penalties. For their constancy, which has been encouraged by the example (still, as we believe, effective) of the B. Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, can be praised by none as much as it deserves. Imitate this constancy yourselves. Be brave and firm in your resolve, and abandon not your undertaking through fear or threat of danger."

" Behold, He shall neither slumber nor sleep that keepeth Israel."—Ps. cxx. 4.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blessed JOHN WOODCOCK, Franciscan, 1646



BORN in Lancashire of a Protestant father, through his mother, a pious Catholic, he was educated at St. Omer's  and the English College, Rome. There he conceived the desire for a higher penitential life, and found admission with the Capuchins in Paris. "I have put on the habit,I praise sweet Jesus, almost three months," he wrote ; but his joy was short. Owing to the opposition of his relatives in England to his entering religion, and his weak health, in spite of his extraordinary piety he was dismissed the Order. He felt these reasons to be insufficient, and his aim never slackened to be a religious, and, further, to go on the English Mission. Eventually, after many difficulties, through the advocacy of his old friend Father William Anderton, a Recollect, he obtained admission into that Order. His illnesses were now frequent and grave, and he was sent to Spa for the waters. There he met with the Commissary General of his Order, and obtained at last leave to sail to England. H e had scarcely landed when he was apprehended, and, owing to the Civil War, remained for two years in Lancaster gaol, till he was sentenced and executed, and his perseverance was rewarded.

" One thing I do : forgetting the things that are behind, I press forward to the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus."—PHIL. iii. 13

Saturday, August 09, 2014

+ Venerable THOMAS PALASOR, Priest, 1600



A YORKSHIRE man by birth, he was apprehended as a priest in the house of Mr. John Norton in that county, with his host and Mr. John Talbot, and all three were confined in Durham gaol. There at dinner some broth was set before Mr. Palasor, and, on his preparing to taste it, the bone of mutton in the dish ran blood in the form of crosses, and of O's in the broth. He therefore abstained from taking it. The maid, noticing this, carried the broth back to her mistress, who spiced it over and sent it by the same maid to Mr. Talbot and Mr. Norton, when the same phenomenon was repeated. The maid, by name Mary Day, seeing this, came to Palasor, confessed that the broth had been poisoned by the malice of her mistress, the gaoler's wife, and on her knees begged his forgiveness, and asked him to make her one of his faith. She was instructed and reconciled, and became servant to a Catholic gentlewoman, Eleanor Forcer, who bore testimony to the above occurrence. Palasor was condemned to death for returning to England as a priest, contrary to the statute, and Mr. Norton and Mr. Talbot received the same sentence for harbouring and assisting him, and all three together were executed at Durham.

"They shall take up serpents, and, if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them."—MARK xvi. 18.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Blessed JOHN FELTON, Layman, 1570


As a cruel persecutor of the faith she had sworn to defend, Elizabeth was excommunicated and deposed by St. Pius V, February 24, 1570, and the Bull of excommunication was found on May 25, the Feast of Corpus Christi, on the gates of the Bishop of London's palace, where it had been placed by John Felton, a brave and zealous Catholic gentleman. After this act he refused to fly, trusting, he said, to God's grace for whatever might happen, and when the escort arrived for his arrest, he voluntarily surrendered himself. Both at his apprehension and his trial, he openly acknowledged having posted up the Bull, and said that, as he held the Pope to be the Vicar of Christ, what came from him ought to be duly venerated. Notwithstanding this public confession, he was three times racked in the vain hope of extracting from him admission, compromising others. In his satin doublet, on the day of his martyrdom, as he faced the crowd, calm and unmoved, he looked indeed a royal champion, and he told the people that he died for the Catholic faith. His last words on being disembowelled were " Jesus, Jesus." He sent the Queen, from the scaffold, a ring worth ^400, showing he bore her personally no ill-will. He suffered, St. Paul's Churchyard, London, August 8.

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church."—MATT. xvi. 18.

Other martyrs connected with the Excommunication
Martyrs connected with the Excommunication: Thomas Plumtree p., 4 Jan., 1571; John Storey, D.C.L., 1 June, 1571; Thomas Percy. Earl of Northumberland, 22 Aug., 1572; Thomas Woodhouse p., 13 June, 1573.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

+ Blessed EDWARD BAMBER, Priest, 1646


BORN at the Moor, the ancient place of his family in Lancashire, he made his studies at Valladolid

and returned to England a priest. The brief memoirs of his life speak of his indefatigable labours in saving souls, his unwearied diligence in instructing Catholics and converting Protestants, the good he did in times and places of the greatest danger, and the courage he displayed as above the strength of man. He was apprehended during the Civil War, and was kept thereafter in Lancaster Castle for three years without trial. At length the Sessions were re-opened, and, on the worthless evidence of two apostates, he was sentenced. On August 7th he and two fellow-priests were drawn to the place of execution, and one Croft, a wretched felon, was brought to die with them. Father Bamber used all his efforts to save the man's soul, promising him, if he would only repent, declare himself a Catholic, and publicly confess some of his more public sins, he would absolve him. In spite of the threats and clamours of the officials and minister, the prisoner openly declared he died a Catholic, publicly confessed some of his most scandalous crimes, and was publicly absolved by Father Bamber. The priest and the penitent then sealed their profession with their blood.

"Confess your sins one to another."—JAS. v. 16.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Blessed John Woodcock, Franciscan, 1646


On hearing his sentence he was filled with inexpressible joy and exclaimed, "Praise be to God ; God be thanked." FF. Bamber and Whitaker, two secular priests, were condemned at the same time. The following night Father Woodcock spent in prayer and joyful contem­plation. At the dawn of day, August 7th, he and his two companions were led out in the usual way to execution. An immense and noisy crowd fol­lowed them with abuse and insult. The Catholics who were present were greatly edified and con­soled, and not a few Protestants were astonished at their constancy. Father Woodcock was the first to mount the ladder. After he had said a few words on the Catholic and Roman faith he was cast off, but by some accident,or through the carelessness of the executioner, the rope broke and he fell to the ground. He was stunned for a moment, but quickly recovered himself and rose to his feet unhurt. At the Sheriff's order he mounted the ladder again, and, after being thus hanged a second time, he was cut down and butchered alive. As the executioner's hand was within his body, " Jesus " broke from his lips.

" Thy dead men shall live, my slain shall rise again : awake and give praise, ye that dwell in the dust : for thy dew is the dew of the light: and the land of the giants thou shalt pull down into ruin."—ISA. xxvi. 19.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Blessed NICHOLAS POSTGATE, Priest, 1679



Hunted about during the Oates persecution, he was at last arrested and condemned, not as a plotter, but for high treason as a priest. On the eve of his martyrdom at York came, with other visitors, Mrs. Charles Fairfax and Mrs. Meynel of Kilvington in great grief at taking leave of him. But the Confessor, bright and cheerful, laid his right hand on one and his left on the other and said, " Be of good heart, you shall both be delivered of sons, and they will be both saved." The two ladies gave birth to sons, who were baptised and died in infancy. In his weary hunted life he prayed as follows :—

And thus, dear Lord, I fly about In weak and weary case ; And, like a dove in Noe's Ark, I find no resting-place.
My weaned limbs, sweet Jesus, mark ; And when Thou thinkest best, Stretch forth Thy hand out of the ark And take me to Thy breast.

The new Mission of Pickering is a memorial of the Martyr's ministry.

" Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest."—Ps. liv. 7.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Blessed NICHOLAS POSTGATE, Priest, 1679



BORN in Yorkshire of parents great sufferers for the faith, he returned from Douay to the English Mission, June 1630. He laboured in his native county and converted hundreds from sin and heresy. With all his active work he led the life of a solitary in a hut on Blackamoor, which is thus described by a contemporary :—

Nor spared they Father Posket's blood, A reverend priest, devout and good, Whose spotless life in length was spun To eighty years and three times one. Sweet his behaviour, grave his speech, He did by good example teach. His love right bent, his will resigned, Serene his look and calm his mind ; His sanctity to that degree As Angels live, so lived he.

A thatched cottage was the cell Where this contemplative did dwell, Two miles from Mulgrave Castle 't stood,
Sheltered by snow-drifts, not by wood. Tho' there he lived to that great age It was a dismal hermitage, But God placed there the Saint's abode For Blackamoor's greater good.

" You are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God."—COL. iii. 3.

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.

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.

Saint RALPH SHERWIN, Priest, 1581

left Rome today in 1577.

His last words when he was martyred on December 1, 1581 were:

"Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus" Jesus, Jesus, Jesus be for me Jesus"

These are inscribed over the altar in the crypt of Tyburn Convent in London to this day. The altar is surrounded by relics of the martyrs. Sadly, a new "peoples'" altar has been placed in front of it in recent years. Ironic given the martyrs were the firmest opponents of protestants with their communion tables substituting for altars.

Friday, August 01, 2014

JOHN THOMAS, Layman, 1593


HE was condemned, together with Bird, but, horrified at the sentence of death, promised the judge he would go to Church. The judge could not recall the sentence given, so countermanded his execution till the Queen's pardon should arrive. On his return to prison, helped probably by Bird's exhortations, he conquered the fear of death by the fear of Hell, and sent word at once to the judge that he repented of his cowardice, and would do nothing contrary to his duty as a Catholic. The judge said, " Is he in such a hurry for the gallows ? Let him not be afraid ; if he persists we can hang him at the next assizes." Yet he appeared at the gallows with the other criminals, carrying his winding-sheet, and said to the Sheriff he had been condemned and had come to die. But the Sheriff said that, though he would meet his wishes with the greatest pleasure, were it in his power, he could not do so, as his name was not on the list. So Thomas retired, lamenting his sin and his past life, for he had been a Calvinist minister ; but God did not fail him, and, purged by a long penance, with a large increase of merits, in the August following he obtained what he desired, at Bardich, Winchester.

" And the Lord turning looked on Peter . . . and Peter going out wept bitterly."—LUKE xxii. 61, 62.

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