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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blessed THOMAS PERCY, Layman, 1572



THE first act of B. Thomas with his companions and followers on entering Durham was to seize the Cathedral and purge it of every heretical token. The Communion table was broken up, the Protestant Bible and Book of Common Prayer were burnt. The Catholic revival spread far and wide with marvelous speed.

Altars were erected, holy water-stoups replaced, and everything prepared for the Holy Sacrifice. On Sunday, St. Andrew's Day 1569, the first High Mass was sung, the whole official choir assisting in the thronged Cathedral, and the reconciliation of Durham to the Church was crowned on December 4, then the second Sunday in Advent, by the priest F. Holmes bearing special faculties from Rome. Mounting the pulpit after preaching on the state of heresy and schism in the religion established by law, he exhorted his hearers to submit once more to the Holy See and to kneel down in proof thereof. He then publicly absolved the prostrate crowd, from their censure, and reconciled them to the Catholic Church. Holy Mass was then offered in reparation and thanksgiving.

"In the same day wherein the heathen had defiled it was it dedicated anew with canticles and harps and lutes and cymbals. And all the people fell upon their faces and adored and blessed up to Heaven Him that had prospered them." 1 MACH. iv. 54, 55.

We even know the identity of the organist at these Masses, one John Brimley.

His gravestone in the Galilee Chapel says:

John Brimleis body here doth li
Who praysed God with hand and voice
By musickes heavenlie harmonie
Dull myndes he maid in God rejoice
His soul into the heavens is lyft
To prayse him stil that gave the Gyft
Obiit Ao.Dni.1576 Octo.13.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Saint SWITHIN WELLS, layman, 1591


“ I have been long in durance and endured much, but the future reward makes pain seem pleasure. And truly now the solitariness causes me not grief, but rather joy, for thereby I can better prepare myself for that happy end for which I was created and placed here by God. I am also sure that however few I see yet I am not deserted, for ‘ whose companion is Christ is never alone.’ When I pray I talk with God ; when I read He talketh to me. Thus, though I am bound and chained with gyves, yet am I loose and unbound towards God, and it is better, I deem, to have the body bound than the soul in bondage. I am threatened, Lord, with danger of death ; but if it be no worse I will not wish it better. God send me the grace, and then I weigh not what flesh and blood can do to me. These answered many anxious and dangerous questions, but I trust with good advisement, not offending my conscience. What will become of it God knows best, to whose protection I commit you. From gaol and chains to the Kingdom. Thine to life’s end.”—(Letter from prison.)

“ So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free, by the freedom whereby Christ has made us free.”—Gal. iv.31.

St Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, who was the name saint of Saint Swithin Wells

Saint SWITHIN WELLS, layman, 1591


His father was renowned in Hampshire as a confessor for the faith, and Swithin himself— kindly, pleasant, courteous, generous, brave, a leader in every kind of field and manly sport— was an example of a Catholic country gentleman. Much of his diversions he gave up, however, to train youths in the faith and learning, who thus became staunch Catholics. Apprehended and condemned for having had Mass said in his house, he was led out to die with his wife, sentenced for the same offence. She was however remanded, and after ten years in Newgate of fasting, watching, and prayer, she died in 1602. On Swithin’s way to the scaffold, which was erected opposite his own door, meeting an old friend he said : “ Farewell all hawking and hunting and old pastimes ; I am now going a better way.” The butchery of Father Genings be­fore his eyes only hastened his own desire to die. “ Despatch,” said he ; “ Mr. Topcliffe, despatch; are you not ashamed to let an old man ^Stand here so long in his shirt in the cold. I pray God make you of a Saul a Paul, of a persecutor a Catholic professor.” And in such-like Speeches, full of Christian charity, piety, and courage, he happily ended his course, December 10, 1591.

 “He began to be mighty on the earth, and he was a stout hunter before the Lord.”—Gen. x, 8,9

Monday, December 15, 2014

Saint EDMUND GENINGS, priest, 1591

Then the Protestant Bishop of London began, 

"You are greatly abused by those whom you call your Superiors. Think now of my counsel, which is to help yourselves, and to acknowledge your fault and error ; then doubtless I dare promise you from the Queen’s Majesty sure pardon. You miserable men do what in you is, to kill yourselves, which is a damnable thing, unless you now repent.’ On this Mr. Genings began to smile, and said that, though young, he thought he could answer the Bishop’s allegation. ‘ Peace,’ said the Bishop, ‘ I see you are all willful. Here I acquit myself before all this audience, that I have given you sound counsel. At the latter day, when you and I shall all stand before the Judge, this my word now shall condemn you,’ and with that the old dissembler wept, as it seemed, and wiped his eyes, trickling down with tears, every one as big as a millstone. ‘ Almighty God pardon your obstinacy. I may not stay to hear the just sentence of blood pronounced against you, because it is not according to my profession; ’ which said, he presently departed from the Bench. Many silly people commended his great charity and tender heart, as I heard them speak.”

“ And they went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the Pasch.”—John xviii. 28.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Saint EDMUND GENINGS, Priest., 1591

On December 4, 1591, Father Genings and his companions were brought upon their trial, and a jury was empanelled to find them all guilty, yet nothing could any prove against them but that one of them had said Mass in Mr. Well’shouse, and that one of them had heard the said Mass. Many bitter words and scoffs were used by the judges and others on the bench, particularly to Father Genings, because he was very young and had angered them with disputes. And the more to make him a scoff to the people, they vested him not now in his priestly garments (in which they had before carried him throughthe streets), but in a ridiculous fool’s coat which they had found in Mr. Well’s house. On his return to Newgate, Topcliffe, Justice Young, and others called on him and offered him life, liberty, a benefice, and promotion if he would go to church and renounce his religion. But finding him constant and resolute they were highly offended, and thrust him into a dark hole, where he could not even see his hands nor get up or down without rjsk to his neck. Here he remained in prayer and contemplation without any food tili the hour of his death.

“And Herod with his army set Him at nought and mocked Him, putting on Him  a white garment, and sent Him back to Pilate.”—Luke xxiii.11.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saint EDMUND GENINGS, priest, 1591


He was executed with St Swithin Wells opposite the latter’s house in Gray’s Inn, where he had said Mass.
On the scaffold, in answer to Topclifife’s gibes, he professed his loyalty to his dear anointed Queen, and declared that being a priest and saying Mass in noways made him a traitor. Of these things he acknowledged him­self guilty, and rejoiced in having done such good deeds, and with God’s help would do them again at the risk of a thousand lives. Topcliffe, angered at this speech, bade them turn the ladder and cut the rope, so that the holy priest stood scarcely stunned on his feet, till the hang­man tripped him up, and quartered him while living. After he was dismembered he cried out in agony, “ It smarts ! ” To which Mr. Wells replied, “ Alas, sweet soul, thy pain is great, but almost past; pray for me now, most holy Saint, that mine may come.” After Father Genings was ripped up and his bowels cast into the fjre, the blessed martyr, his heart being in the executioner’s hands, uttered these words, “ Sancte Gregori, ora pro me,” at which the hangman swore a most wicked oath : “Zounds, his heart is in my hand, and yet Gregory is in his mouth. O egregious Papist.”

“ And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God by the hand of an angel.”—Apoc. viii. 4.

Friday, December 12, 2014

+ Blessed THOMAS HOLLAND, Jesuit, 1642

Born in Lancashire, he was educated at St. Omer’s, where he was repeatedly, on account of his piety, elected prefect of the Sodality of Our Blessed Lady. Thence he was sent to Valla­dolid, and was chosen to make a Latin oration at Madrid before Charles Prince of Wales (Charles I), on occasion of a marriage then pro- posed with the Infanta Maria. Returning to Flanders, he entered the Society of Jesus, and was sent on the English Mission to London, 1634. He was then in very bad health, and his illness was increased by the close confinement imposed upon him by the unremitting house- searching of the pursuivants. Yet, notwith- standing the vigilance of his enemies and his own infirmities, through the various disguises he adopted, so as to be unrecognisable even by his friends, his perfect knowledge of French, Fle­mish, and Spanish languages enabling him to assume any character, he reaped auring two year's labour a rich harvest of souls. At length in 1642 he was apprehended on suspicion and sentenced. In prison his holy counsel and deep spiritual wisdom sanctified the throngs, English and forejgü, who came for his last words. He said Mass and administered the Sacraments up to the day of his execution at Tyburn, Decem­ber 12, 1642.

“ I became all things to all men that I might save all.”—1 Cor. ix. 22.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

+ Blessed ARTHUR BELL, Franciscan, 1643


Born of a good Catholic Worcestershire family, he was educated first at St. Omer’s, then at Valladolid. He asked for admission into the Order of St. Francis in the Province of the Immaculate Conception, and took the habit at the Convent of Segovia, August 9, 1618. He was distinguished by a rare union of learning with a sweet, joyous, and ardent temper, and an over- flowing sympathy with hisfellow-creatures which drew them like a magnet to his side. From his earliest years he had s- special devotion to Our Blessed Lady. He bound himself by vow to recite her office daily, and was in the habit of saying it alternately in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Spanish, French, Flemish, and English. He was successively Guardian of his Order and Professor of Hebrew at Douay, first Provincial in Scotland, and then laboured on the English Mission. Our Lady’s protection was manifested throughout his life. He was professed on the Feast of her Nativity, September 8, 1619. On the same Feast, 1634, he was sent on the Eng­lish Mission, and his death sentence, for which he had prayed her twenty years, and had recited daily the Psalm xxxv., Dixit injustus, was pronounced on the Feast of her Immaculate Con­ception, 1643.

“Blessed is the man that heareth Me, and that watcheth daily at My gates, and waiteth at the posts of My doors.”—Prov. viii. 34

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

+ St Eustace WHITE, priest, 1591


He was born at Louth, Lincolnshire, and his conversion so much offended his father, an earnest Protestant, that he laid his curse upon him ; but God turned the curse to a blessing, and Eustace White became a priest and entered on the English Mission, October 1588. He was apprehended at Blandford, and having confessed himself a priest, a certain minister, one Dr. Houel, a tall man, reputed of great learning, was sent for to dispute with him, but was ignominiously vanquished, as he failed to disprove a certain text which White affirmed to be in the Bible
. At the Bridewell, London, he was once hung by Topcliffe in iron manacles for eight hours together ; but though the torment caused the sweat from his body to wet the ground beneath, nothing could be extracted from him of the least prejudice to Catholics. Under the extremity of his passion he cried out, “ Lord, more pain if Thou pleasest, and more patience.” To his torturer he said, “ I am not angry at you for all this, but shall pray to God for your welfare and salvatiön.” Topcliffe replied in a passion that he wapted not the prayers of heretics, and would have him hung at the next session. Then said the martyr, “ I will pray for you at the gallows, for you have great need of prayers.” He suffered at Tyburn, December 10, 1591.

“And His sweat became as drops of blood running down to the ground.”—Luke xxii. 44. 

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Blessed JOHN MASON, layman, 1591


He had been servant to Mr. Owen of Oxford- hire, who was condemned at the bar as an aider and abettor of priests, and was himself first indicted for knowing and not revealing a seminary priest, but pleaded successfully that the three days allowed for such denunciations had not expired. He was then charged for abetting a priest to escape. On Topcliffe trying to enter the room where Father Gennings
was saying Mass, Mason seized him and thrust him downstairs, falling with him, and Topcliffe met with a broken head. This much the young man confessed. On this charge Mason was condemned, and executed the morrow after. Asked if he were not sorry for the fact, he re- plied, “No; if it were to do again, I would resist the wicked, that they should not have God’s priests, yea, although I were to be punished with twenty deaths.” There suffered with him a fellow-servant, Robert Sydney Hodgson, who, finding himself unpinioned, on the belief that he had recanted, boldly declared that, although he had asked Her Majesty’s pardon, he would not have the judge think that he would deny his faith, for that he would rather die twenty times first. They were suffered to hang tili they were dead, and together they won their crowns.— Tyburn, December 10, 1591.

“ And one of them that stood by, drawing a sword, struck a servant of the High Priest, and cut off his ear.”—MARK xiv. 47.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Feast of Our Lady Vulnerata

The image of Our Lady Vulnerata (the Wounded One), is venerated at the Royal English College of St. Alban in Valladolid, Spain. Originally a beautiful medieval image of Our Lady and the Christ Child, it was horribly mutilated in 1596 by the swords of English soldiers during the 16th century persecution of the Catholic Church. Many of the English martyrs prayed in reparation before this image before returning to their hidden ministry and death in England. Today, the image continues to be venerated with great love, pity and devotion in a spirit of spiritual reparation for all insults to the Mother of God and her Divine Son, and for the courage of missionary evangelization.

The Feast Day is on the Sunday after today's Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

"She shall crush thy head" GEN iii. 15

Saint RALPH SHERWIN, Priest, 1581


A NATIVE of Rodesby, Derbyshire, as a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, he was accounted as an acute philosopher and an excellent Greek and Hebrew scholar. But grace called him to yet higher distinction. He became a Catholic, entered the English College, Rome, (also here for more history) and returned a priest to England in August 1580. After some months' zealous work he was apprehended while preaching in Mr. Roscarrock's house, and imprisoned, first in the Marshalsea and then in the Tower. He was there nearly a year, and in divers conferences with ministers won the admiration of his audience. After his first racking he was set out in great snow, and Mr. Roscarrock was kept in a dark corner hard by to hear his pitiful groans.

After his second racking he lay five days and nights without food and in silence. All this time he slept, as he thought, before our Saviour on the Cross, and on coming round found himself free from pain. Tortures unavailing, the Bishops of Canterbury and London offered him the second Bishopric in England if he would but go to St. Paul's Church. After B. Campion was executed, the hangman took hold of Sherwin with his hand all bloody to terrify him, but the martyr reverently kissed the martyr's blood, and then shed his own, December 1, 1581.

"When He shall give His beloved sleep."— Ps. cxxvi. 2.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Saint JOHN ALMOND, Priest, 1612


AT the scaffold one of the preachers urged that the Catholic Church taught that good works justified faith. Almond answered that faith and good works justified together. The minister said that faith alone justified. He asked what faith an infant could have ere he had the use of reason ? The minister left that question and reason and talked of something else. On the scaffold, kneeling down, he humbly begged God's mercy, not doubting that, many as his sins were, Christ, by His death and the shedding of His blood, would remit and pardon, and that He would now accept his willingness to shed his blood for His greater glory. 

" What," said a minister, " can you match and compare Christ's bloodshedding with yours? Cannot Christ by Himself work your salvation?" "You mistake me," replied the martyr; "my sins, though venial, deserve Christ's wrath and punishment. It is His death alone, and the shedding of His blood alone, that is not only efficient but also sufficient to save us all. I have not much more to say, one hour overtaketh another, and though never so long at last cometh death, and yet not death, for death is the gate of life unto us, whereby we enter into life everlasting, and life is death to those who do not provide for death."

" Faith without works is death."—JAS. ii. 20.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Saint JOHN ALMOND, priest, 1612


ST. PHILIP’S zeal for the faith made him wish to go to the Indies to shed his blood for his Master, but as his Indies were to be in Rome he had a great love for those who were granted the privilege denied to himself. Thus when he met the students of the English College he would salute them with the words, “Salvete Flores, Martyrum,” and one by one the students used to repair to St. Philip’s room to receive the holy old man’s blessing before starting on their mission. It is said that the only Student who did not receive St. Philip’s blessing failed to win his crown, and St. Philip’s sons inherited his de- votion to the future martyrs. In 1602 Father John Almond, a native of Allerton, near Liverpool, as a Student having completed his seven years’ course of philosophy and theology, made his public disputation under the patronage of Cardinal Baronius, 

and when it was over, that maiv-of holy memory, as though foreseeing the Still more glorious defence of the faith he was göing to make before English persecutors, embraced him many times, and kissed his tonsure and that blessed brow which was so soon to be en- circled with the martyr’s crown. 

Cardinal Tarugi, who was also present, paid him like homage.

 “These were purchased from among men, the first fruits of God and to the Lamb, and in their mouth there was found no lie, for they are without spot before the throne of God.”—APOC. xiv. 4, 5.

Friday, December 05, 2014

+ Saint JOHN ALMOND, priest, 1612


ON the scaffold he flung some seven or eight pounds in silver, with his beads, his points, and his discipline, for those to get them who would, and gave to the hangman an angel, not to spare him, but to treat him as he should. He had come hither, he said, to shed his bloöd for his Saviour’s sake, who had shed His blood for his sins. In which respect he wished that every drop that he would shed might be a thousand ; that he might have St. Lawrence’s gridiron to be broiled on, St. Peter’s cross to be hanged on, St. Stephen’s stones to be stoned with, to be ript, ript, ript, and ript again. Then, being in his shirt, he kneeled down, and often repeating “In manus tuas, Domine, &c.”—“Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit ”—he waited tili the hangman was ready without any sign of fear; but, ever smiling, he protested he died chaste, but not through his own ability or worthiness, but by Christ’s special grace, and that he ever hated those carnal sins, for which the Catholic religion had been slandered. At last, the cart was drawn away, and with the words “ Jesu, Jesu,” his soul flewto Him for whom he Shed his blood, Tyburn, December 5, 1612.

“Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His own blood, suffered without the Gate.”— HEB. xiii 12

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Saint ALEXANDER BRIANT, Jesuit, 1581


WHETHER this that I say be miraculous or no, God knoweth. But true it is, and thereof my conscience is a witness before God. And this I say that in the end of the tortures, though my hands and feet were violently racked, and any adversaries fulfilled their wicked lust in practising their cruel tyranny on my body, yet notwithstanding, I was without sense or feeling, well-nigh of grief and pain; and not so only, but as it were comforted, eased, and refreshed of grievousness of the tortures bypast. I continued still with perfect and present senses in quietness of heart and tranquillity of mind; which thing, when the commissioners did see, they departed, and in going forth of the door they gave Orders to rack me again the next day following after the same sort. Now when I heard them say so, it gave me, in my mind, by-and-by, and I did verily believe /and trust that, with the help of God, I should be able to bear and suffer it patiently. In the meantime (as well as I could) I did muse and meditate upon the most bitter Passion of our Saviour, and how full of innumerable pains it was.” 

“For He woundeth and He cureth. He striketh and His hands shall heal.”—JOB v. 18.

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