Category Archives: Jesuit Martyrs

Jul 4 – Martyrs of Dorchester, (d. 1594), Bls John Cornelius, SJ, Thomas Bosgrave, John Carey, Patrick Salmon – “Oh, Precious Collar!!”

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-Dorset Martyrs Memorial, Gallows Hill, Dorchester, England

There is a very special communion between the laity and the ordained. Not merely too many calories delivered to rectories at holidays, or generous gifts for Father from time to time; one priest who received a new car famously quipped, “All THIS!!!! AND eternal life, too!!!”

It is recorded, often, in history, when oppressed, persecutors believed by destroying the priesthood, they would succeed in in destroying the faith. Untrue, time and time, again. When Asian missionaries returned, it is recorded, to Far Eastern missions where once they evangelized after several hundred years of absence, the clandestine faith still survived, albeit adapted to life without clergy, but it persisted. It is stronger than that. It always has been. So, “though the mountains fall into the sea”, yet shall we trust in His promises. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against us.

Persecution in England in the late 17th century was part of a crackdown by the Elizabethan government after the Decree of 1585, which made it an offense punishable by death to seek ordination to the priesthood oversees and return to England. This story, like others just like it, is of Catholic laity and that special communion with the ordained.

John, Thomas, John and Patrick were executed together at Dorchester on July 4, 1594: John Cornelius, who trained for the priesthood at Douai and Rome, was arrested in April; his companions were arrested for assisting him. John became a Jesuit while imprisoned in London. All of them were from Ireland:

Father John Cornelius, their leader, was born in 1557 to Irish parents who had moved to Great Britain. A Dorsetshire Catholic knight, Sir John Arundel, sent him to Oxford University to study. But John was too Catholic in his convictions to be pleased with the “new religion” that dominated the University. Feeling called rather to the Catholic priesthood, he crossed the Channel and enrolled at the English college in Rheims for holy orders. From Rheims he went on to the English College in Rome to complete his theology, and it was at Rome that he was ordained a priest.

Return to England as a Catholic priest was at that time forbidden under pain of death. But Father John, a man of prayer and zeal, saw in that law a challenge rather than a deterrent, as did the rest of the contemporary English priests who set service to persecuted Catholics as their top priority. His assignment was to the Catholics of Dorset. These priests’ ministry was a “cloak-and-dagger” operation, since they were always in danger of discovery and arrest. Their capture could mean also the arrest and punishment of anybody who assisted them.

Naturally, the missionaries’ terms of service were usually short, for the police were alert and aggressive. Cornelius (he also went by the alias of Mohun, although his real surname seems to have been O’Mahony) was finally seized by the sheriff of Dorset on April 24, 1594, at the Chideock Castle of Lady Arundel.

Having seized the priest by surprise, the Sheriff was about to hurry him off hatless. Now, in that hat-conscious age, to be hatless was to appear uncivilized. Thomas Bosgrave, a gallant young Cornish nephew of Sir John Arundel and a witness to the arrest, stepped forward and offered Father John his own hat. “The honor I owe to your function,” he declared, “may not suffer me to see you go bareheaded!” It was a simple gesture of charity to a priest, but he was to pay for his piety. The Sheriff promptly arrested Bosgrave, too, for “aiding” a Catholic clergyman. He likewise arrested two serving-men of this Catholic household, Dubliners John Carey and Patrick Salmon. Content, no doubt, with the day’s work, the county official then led his catch off to jail.

Cornelius, the most important of them, was taken to London to be examined by Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council. The Council had him stretched on the rack to force him to name all those who had given him shelter or assistance. Torture would not open his lips, however, so he was sent back to Dorchester for trial, along with the three lay captives. On July 2, the court declared the priest guilty of high treason under the law that forbade Catholic priests to enter England and remain there. Bosgrave, Carey and Salmon were pronounced guilty of felony for aiding and abetting Father John. The sentence was the same for all: hanging, drawing, and quartering.

After the court had published its judgment, it offered all four men a reprieve if they would give up their Catholic faith. All four refused.

The execution took place at Dorchester two days later. The three laymen were hanged first. John Carey is reported to have said as the noose hung before his face, kissing the rope, “Oh! Precious collar!” Each made a Catholic profession of faith before the trap was sprung. Father John then kissed the feet of his hanging companions. He then kissed the gallows with the words of Saint Andrew, “O Cross, long desired.” He was not allowed to make any formal statement; but he did manage to state that he had been lately admitted into the Jesuits, and would have been en route to the Jesuit novitiate in Flanders had he not been arrested.

Dorset Martyrs Memorial, Gallows Hill, Dorchester

The Dorset Martyrs Memorial at Gallows Hill on South Walks, Dorchester was created by Dame Elisabeth Frink and was erected in 1986. It was funded by institutions and individuals of all denominations and the Arts Council of Great Britain through South West Arts.

The memorial represents two martyrs facing Death and commemorates all Dorset men and women who suffered for their faith and, in particular, seven known Catholics who were executed where the Memorial now stands, including —

John Cornelius SJ, Priest, executed 4 July 1594

John Cornelius was born in Bodmin of Irish descent and was sent to Exeter College, Oxford by Sir John Arundell. He was ordained in 1584 at the English College in Rome.

John Cornelius was a Chaplain to the Arundell family at Chideock Castle where he was arrested after a search of the castle and sent to Dorchester to be tried for high treason along with

Thomas Bosgrave, John Carey and Patrick Salmon. Executed on 4 July 1594, along with Fr Cornelius, SJ.

Thomas Bosgrave was the son of Leonard Bosgrave and the grandson of Sir John Arundell, making him the great-great-grandson of Thomas Gray, 1st Marquis of Dorset and half-brother to Elizabeth of York, Queen Consort of King Henry VII.

Thomas Bosgrave, together with John Carey and Patrick Salmon, servants at Chideock Castle, was arrested and taken with John Cornelius to Dorchester where they were charged with harbouring a priest contrary to the statute of 1585.

Gallows Hill

dorchester
-please click on the image for a more detailed view

John Speed’s map of Dorchester was published in 1610. It shows the position of the gallows on Gallows Hill on the bottom of the map towards the right,close to the modern junction of Icen Way and South Walks. The gallows was made of two uprights and a crossbeam connecting them with enough space for a two-wheeled cart to pass through and enough space for multiple hangings. At that time the County Gaol wa son High East Street near Icen Way, which used to be called Gaol Lane.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the penalty for high treason was to be hung, drawn and quartered. The victim was tortured, imprisoned, then taken to the gallows. He or she would be cut down after a short hanging, sometimes still alive, and cruelly butchered, with the limbs being torn from the body. The dismembered corpse was often placed on gateways. This is how John Cornelius, SJ and many more died.

The gallows was removed to Maumbury Rings around 1703, which means that many of the 74 prisoners condemned to death during the ‘Bloody Assize’ following the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685 will also have been executed there.

Love,
Matthew

Psalm 130 – De Profundis clamavi ad te Domini

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda
-Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 70r – De Profundis, the Musée Condé, Chantilly.

For 800 yrs Dominicans have lined the hallways of their priories, where they have buried their dead, and sung the De Profundis, in remembrance. Very moving to experience. I also have the pleasure of owning and having read Fr. Ciszek’s, SJ, book He Leadeth Me.

Profound sinner though I am, I pray, Lord, if it be Your holy will, allow me the privilege and grace to suffer and die for You!! Better yet, let me despise my many sins, and live instead in faithfulness to You and Your will. Amen.

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine!
Out of the depths, I cry to You, O Lord!

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-by Br Philip Nolan, OP

“After years of interrogation at the hands of the Soviet secret police, the American Jesuit Walter Ciszek reached a breaking point. He had been falsely accused of spying for the Vatican and was subjected to isolation and near starvation. As he records in his autobiographical account He Leadeth Me, under this strain his prayer life and mental stability both collapsed in a moment of despair: “I knew that I had gone beyond all bounds, had crossed over the brink into a fit of blackness I had never known before.” The cause of this crisis? He had always conceived of his “role—man’s role—in the divine economy as an active one,” but now, brought to destitution & desolation, he hadn’t the strength to go on. Thus for “one sickening split second,” he gave up on his life and on his salvation.

He came out of this experience only after being stripped of all trust in his own strength: “I realized I had been trying to do something with my own will and intellect that was at once too much and mostly all wrong.” He discovered that he had to see that every action, every impulse, was a moment for cooperation with the directive love of God.

While Ciszek came to understand what it meant to rely on God’s grace through extraordinary suffering, it’s something we all have to learn. And for all of us, it involves suffering—primarily, the suffering of dying to self. How do we let go of that trust in ourselves that makes us so defensive when challenged, so worried when we’re uncertain about the future, and so frustrated when things don’t go according to our plans? So much of our mental and spiritual energy goes into protecting that center of false self-reliance that its removal seems impossible for us. And, for man, it is impossible.

The psalmist tells God, “It was good for me to be afflicted / to learn Your will.” That’s fairly easy to say in a moment of contentment, but if someone told that to me during the miseries of the stomach flu, let alone in a Soviet prison camp, I’d find it much harder to believe. But notice that the psalmist says it was good—he’s reflecting on the past. He didn’t necessarily see or appreciate the point of afflictions while they happened, but in retrospect he can begin to see why God had allowed the difficulties in his life. His understanding came from a habit of reflecting about what had happened to him, what God had allowed. [PRAISE HIM!!! PRAISE HIM!!!]

I’m reminded of the title character in Marilynne Robinson’s novel Lila. She spends much of the book musing: “I just been wondering lately why things happen the way they do.” It sounds like a simple question, but the very phrasing of it implies a deep insight—things happen. Like the psalmist and Ciszek, Lila, too, had suffered. She had known what it was to be powerless. She had lived a childhood that would have been disorienting and traumatizing to the steadiest disposition. If someone told her she was the maker of her own destiny, it would have sounded a farce to her. As a result, she lives a posture towards her own life that is one of wonder—“I just been wondering”—even if it’s a wonder that is often confused and frightened.

Things happen to us and we don’t know why. We don’t create our lives; we haven’t chosen many of their events. We both participate in the story of our lives and observe them. As we live, and suffer, we have the opportunity again and again to wonder and ponder why things happen the way they do. Over time, we can hope with Ciszek “to see [God’s] will in all things, … to accept every situation and circumstance and let oneself be borne along in perfect confidence and trust.” [PRAISE HIM!!! PRAISE HIM!!!]

Love & trusting in the the Divine Will. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!!!
Matthew

Dec 26 – St Noel Chabanel, SJ, (1613-1649): Priest & Martyr, “resist your temptation to put down your Cross”

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When making the Stations of the Cross, particularly in stations 3, 7, 9, where Jesus falls, I meditate on this truth most fully. Why not stay down? The release of not carrying the full weight must be welcome, but the fall hurt, too. The Roman soldiers will beat Him to death where He lay if He does not move. He still has His most important work to do, as do we. Jesus, help me rise as You did, when I fall from the exhaustion, horror, and great burden of my own crosses. I have work to do, Lord. Be my help, my strength, and my salvation.

The Jesuit priest St. Noel Chabanel, SJ was one of the North American Martyrs; he worked among the Huron Indians with St. Charles Garnier. Missionaries often become very sympathetic toward those to whom they minister, but this was not the case for Fr. Noel; he felt a strong repugnance for the Indians and their customs. This, along with difficulty in learning their language and similar challenges, caused him a lasting sense of sadness and spiritual suffocation. How did he respond? By making a solemn vow never to give up or to leave his assignment — a vow that he kept until the day of his martyrdom.

-by PETER AMBROSIE

A CALL TO COURAGE

“I am going where obedience calls me, but whether I stay there or receive permission from my superior to return to the mission where I belong, I must serve God faithfully until death.” These, perhaps his last recorded words, Rev. Noel Chabanel, SJ spoke on the very day of his death, Dec. 8, 1649 to the Fathers in charge of St. Matthias mission among the Petuns. They give us the measure of this unique Martyr and Saint. Mere Marie de l’Incarnation in a letter to her son dated Aug.30, 1650 said of him, “Whatever may be, he died in the act of obedience.”

What kind of man was Noel Chabanel? From the viewpoint of the length, intensity and success of their missionary activities the eight North American Martyrs fall into two groups: the “big four” and the “little four.” Brebeuf, Daniel, Garnier and Jogues belong to the first class; Lalemant, Goupil, de la Lande and Noel Chabanel, to the second. The “little four” suffer by contrast with the herculean labors of the “big four.” But all of them equally shed their blood in witness to Christ and His message.

EARLY YEARS

Noel Chabanel was the youngest of the priests and the last of the band of eight to suffer martyrdom in the new world. His birthplace in south-eastern France, the village of Saugues about a hundred miles northwest of the port of Marseilles, nestled in hill country which was the source of four rivers, the Loire, Seine, Garonne and Rhone. Here on the banks of the Lozere, a tributary of the Loire, Chabanel was born on Feb. 2, 1613, the feast of the Purification of Our Lady. His father, a notary, and his mother sprung from merchant stock, raised their four children, Pierre, Claude, Antoinette and Noel, the youngest, in comfort, yet in the firmness of the traditional Catholic upbringing of early 17th century France.

Though the details of his boyhood are somewhat scanty, we know that Noel was first educated in the basic humanities in the Chapter school in Saugues and then as a teenager in higher studies at an unknown college. His brother Pierre entered the Society of Jesus in 1623 and Noel, just past seventeen years old, entered the Jesuit novitiate in Toulouse on Feb. 8, 1630. After a two years novitiate and his first vows he taught rhetoric quite successfully in the college of that city from 1632-1639.

From 1639 to 1641 he did his studies in theology there, followed by his Tertianship, a third probationary year, still in Toulouse, 1641-1642. In 1641 he was ordained a priest. His years of training ended in a classroom teaching rhetoric again, this time at the college of Rodez The Jesuit catalogue for the Province of Toulouse leaves this pointed portrait of Chabanel: “Serious by nature – energetic – great stability -better than average intelligence.”

BIRTH OF A MISSIONARY

During his twelve years as a Jesuit the young Society of Jesus knew its golden age in France, multiplying into five Provinces or territorial divisions between the years 1545 and 1616. Jesuit foreign missionary activity, too, spread east, west and south. From the famous Jesuit Rela-tions Noel learned of the heroic work of his fellow Jesuits in New France. In the seventeenth century sophisticated France was thrilled with the tales graphically written each year by the Jesuits in New France. These were the Jesuit Relations – one of the world’s most famous records of adventure, history and heroic sanctity, unique be-cause they were history written on the spot in the hour of its making.

Especially during his Tertianship the tiny flame of his ambition to become a missionary fanned into a fierce desire. In the words of his chief chronicler, Paul Ragueneau, “God gave him a strong vocation for this country.” Twice he wrote to the General of the Society of Jesus in Rome, Mutius Vitelleschi. The first time requesting that his studies be curtailed and that he be sent immediately to answer the urgent call for missionaries in New France. The reply of the General on November 15, 1642, though negative, left the door open. Finally on April 4, 1643 his obedient patience was rewarded when a reply from the General to his second letter allowed him to leave for New France.

On May 8,1643 Noel’s dream became a reality. As he stood aboard-ship in the port of Dieppe, this young priest, thirty years old, looked west across the Atlantic with its bright promise of adventure for Christ. Little did he suspect how strange, how mysterious, how demanding the adventure in New France was to be for a sensitive young man raised and schooled in the comparative comfort, shelter and luxury of old France.

With Noel travelled two Jesuits, Gabriel Druillet and Leonard Garreau, a native of Limoges of the Province of Aquitaine. Could Noel suspect that Father Garreau would be the last Jesuit he would see and confide in, on the eve of his death?

ARRIVAL IN QUEBEC

The perilous crossing of the Atlantic in the early 17th century with its many hazards has often been described in the Jesuit Relations. This was Noel’s special introduction to the new world and a presage of what was in store for him. After a three months’ voyage they landed in the settlement of Quebec on August 15. Ironically, the Relation of that year records that his confreres in Quebec were overjoyed at the arrival of “three worthy workers, Religious of our Society, and very apt for the language.” The life of Chabanel was to prove how unprophetic these words were to be for him! For, of the five Jesuit Martyrs killed in Canada, Noel was the only one who had no flair for the native languages.

INSECURITY OF THE FRENCH SETTLEMENTS

The picture in New France was anything but bright the past year. 1642 was a year of great crisis for the missionaries in Huronia. The Huron mission had been cut off from Quebec by the Iroquois blockade. No flotilla of Huron canoes had come down to Quebec for the yearly trade. By the same token no provisions had made their way back to the isolated mission in Huronia. Finally in the summer of 1642 Isaac Jogues, a veteran of six years in the Huron missions, was picked to break through the blockade for desperately needed supplies. Miraculously he made the journey to Quebec after thirty-five days canoeing. On his return trip to Sainte-Marie Jogues and Rene’ Goupil were am-bushed and taken captive into Iroquois territory, where Goupil, sur-geon and saint, suffered martyrdom on September 29,1642, the first of the band of eight to die a martyr. Even the inhabitants of Quebec, Three Rivers and the recently founded settlement of Ville Marie (Montreal) did not escape the cruel and daring raids of the prowling Iroquois. It was during this period of fear and uncertainty that Noel landed in Quebec. Although warmly welcomed by his Jesuit brothers -and this compensated somewhat for the crude conditions he found – he could feel the atmosphere of danger, fear and insecurity.

A highlight of Noel’s winter stay in Quebec was meeting the senior veteran missionary, Rev. Jean de Brebeuf,SJ who had left Huronia in 1641 suffering from a broken left clavicle sustained while on a mission among the Neutrals. In Quebec during his recuperation period Brebeuf served as procurator or supplier for the Huron mission. Because of the hazard of journeying that fall of 1643 to the Huron mission, Noel Chabanel had to stay in Quebec that winter getting his first initiation of missionary work in and around the settlement. Like all newly arrived blackrobes, his ignorance of the difficult Indian languages – so different from his polished French – would curtail his initial apostolate among the native people. So Father Noel would do chaplain duty at the Ursuline Convent and work with the colonists and soldiers of the little settlement.

HURONIA BOUND -1644

When the ice went out of the St. Lawrence in the spring of 1644, Father Bressani made a desperate attempt to carry aid to the isolated Fathers in distant Huronia. He and his party were ambushed and taken captive by the lurking Iroquois. In late spring a few christian Hurons managed to arrive in Quebec from Huronia with word of the dire needs of the blackrobes there. On their return trip after trading they too were seized by the enemy. Finally, Governor Montmagny decided to send an armed escort of a score of French soldiers to Sainte-Marie, the black-robe missionary centre on the Wye River in Huronia. So in midsummer of 1644 Fathers Brebeuf, Chabanel and Garreau left Quebec in an attempt to reach Huronia.

ARRIVAL AT STE-MARIE AMONG THE HURONS

The treacherous northern water route via the Ottawa was another cruel initiation for Noel. The party reached the Residence of Ste-Marie on the Wye on September 7, 1644. Almost at once Noel Chabanel took up the study of the Huron language. For the next five years of his life Chabanel’s world was to be encompassed by his life at Ste-Marie and a few missionary excursions, working first with Jean de Brebeuf and finally with Charles Garnier.

Here at Ste-Marie, face to face with the harsh realities of the coun-try, Noel’s zeal was spurred when he met the veteran missionaries of Huronia. From time to time they returned from their mission outposts to Ste-Marie which served as their base of operations, their council chamber, their refuge and place of recollection, their haven for spiritual and social comfort.

THE LANGUAGE BARRIER

The Relation for this year informs us that Noel was destined at first to work with the nomadic Algonkins who were resident in the Huron dis-trict. After a winter’s hard work at learning the Indian language he came to a shocking realization. Try as he would, he could not master the intricate Indian tongue. Paul Ragueneau, his superior at Ste-Marie, best describes this tragedy. “Once here, even after three, four, five years of study of the Indian language, he made such little progress that he could hardly be understood even in the most ordinary conversation. This was no small mortification for a man burning with the desire to convert the Indians. Besides, it was particularly painful, for his memory had always been good, as were his other talents, which was proven by his years of satisfactory teaching of rhetoric in France.”

In one of the most touching documents of the Jesuit Relations, Ragueneau gives a poignant picture of the struggles of this heroic man who wrote of himself as a “bloodless martyr in the shadow of martyrdom.” To make matters worse his tastes were so delicate and sensitive that he found everything about the Indian customs and culture crude, foreign, even revolting. One would think that this is more than enough suffering for one man to bear. But there is more. “When in addition God withdraws His visible graces, and remains hidden, although a person sighs for Him alone and when He leaves the soul a prey to sadness, disgust and natural aversions; these are trials which are greater than ordinary virtue can bear.” Certain it is that, without the strength of God which Chabanel incessantly prayed for, his courage would have broken under the severe strain.

For five frightful years Chabanel had to endure this desolating martyrdom. During this agony Noel saw Brebeuf, Daniel, Garnier and others of his brothers competent and successful at their work. Here he was, frustrated before he could begin, denied the one essential tool for success – the ability to communicate with his native flock. Perhaps, though, the most bitter pill of all was the scorn and ridicule the natives heaped on him for his courageous but abortive attempts to speak their language – this, even from the children! He seemed easy prey to the subtle temptation assailing him again and again to leave this primitive country and return to France where there was plenty of work more suited to his character and talents.

Yet, Noel, though severely tested, refused to come down from the cross on which God had placed him. In fact to bind himself more irrevocably to his cross he made a vow to remain on it for life. The Relation of 1650 preserves for us the wording of this vow which he pronounced at Ste-Marie on June 20, 1647 on the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is worth quoting in full as it reveals the steely quality of this person who, though sensitive by nature, by God’s grace persevered to the bitter end.

“My Lord, Jesus Christ, Who, by the admirable dispositions of Divine Providence, hast willed that I should be a helper of the holy apostles of this Huron vineyard, entirely unworthy though I be, drawn by the desire to cooperate with the designs which the Holy Ghost has upon me for the conversion of these Hurons to the faith; I, Noel Chabanel, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament of Your Sacred Body and Most Precious Blood, which is the Testament of God with man; I vow perpetual stability in this Huron Mission; it being understood that all this is subject to the dictates of the Superiors of the Society of Jesus, who may dispose of me as they wish. I pray, then, 0 Lord, that You will deign to accept me as a permanent servant in this mission and that You will render me worthy of so sublime a ministry. Amen.”

That heroic vow won for Chabanel, in this life, strength to endure every hardship, and, on the day of the canonization of the Martyrs, the distinction of standing as an equal beside those whom he regarded as his superiors. As Christ did in His passion, Noel repeated in his life the struggle against the powers of darkness, a struggle sustained only through persevering prayer.

Despite his crucifixion of loneliness and discouragement, with the support of his superior, Father Ragueneau, and his spiritual guide, Father Pierre Chastelain, Noel carried on, day by day, as best he could, serving in whatever way he could, but always in a secondary role, in the shadow of his more successful brother missionaries. While residing at Ste-Marie, 1644 to 1645, Chabanel found innumerable tasks to keep him busy, ministering to the many needs in the European residence and the Indian compound. Was a companion needed to go to one of the missionary stations? To help in the Indian hospital, to baptize, to assist the dying, to catechize the children? Chabanel was always ready to do his humble best.

OSSOSSANE’, MISSION OF LA CONCEPTION

In 1646 Noel was sent to the mission of the Immaculate Conception at Ossossane’, called La Rochelle by the French, on Nottawasaga Bay south west of Ste-Marie. So Christian was this Huron village that it was called the “believing village” by the natives. In three years time, 1649, from this village some three hundred Huron warriors were to put up a courageous last ditch stand against a thousand Iroquois before they were eventually wiped out at the village of St. Louis. Working here under Simon le Moyne, Chabanel found a model mission well advanced in Christianity. Besides, he could visit from time to time his “oasis of peace,” Ste-Marie, a short distance away where he could consult with his spiritual adviser, Pierre Chastelain, SJ.

On Oct. 21,1646 Noel pronounced his final vows as a Jesuit, promising before Paul Ragueneau the superior his “perpetual obedience in the Society of Jesus.” While Chabanel was making his spiritual immolation to his Lord, unknown to him and his brothers, a mere two days before in New York State Isaac Jogues and John de la Lande had already offered their life’s blood to the same Christ Noel was serving in a bloodless martyrdom. Only too soon the shadow of the cross which had already enveloped three martyrs of that glorious band of eight would reach into Huronia to claim yet five more victims for the sacrifice.

During his stay at Ossossane’ Noel met Charles Garnier on his way to establish a new mission, the farthest outpost, among the Petun nation about fifty miles south west of Ste-Marie. Little did Noel think that one day he would join Garnier in that mission and finally gain the coveted palm of martyrdom for which he longed and of which he deemed himself so unworthy.

BACK TO STE-MARIE

In the spring of 1647, he was recalled to Ste-Marie to help with the stream of Huron refugees who fled there panic stricken from the invading Iroquois. It was while here in June that he made his annual retreat and pronounced his heroic vow of stability in the Canadian mission. Though he did not possess the gift of the Huron tongue as did Brebeuf, though he did not have the charm to attract the Indians as did Garnier and Daniel, Noel asked but the grace to persevere till death as a helper of these holy missionaries.

From 1647 to 1648 Chabanel humbly and obediently carried out his appointed tasks both at Ste-Marie and in the various mission villages dependent on Ste-Marie. That year of 1648 the shadow of the Iroquois menace darkened the skies of Huronia. The enemy were closing in taking first the outlying missions. On July 4th, tragedy struck closer to home base. Teanaostaiae, the mission of St. Joseph, eleven miles south east of Ste-Marie was seized and destroyed by the Iroquois. Anthony Daniel, its amiable pastor fell defending his flock. Panic spread throughout Huronia. St. Ignace I, because of the Iroquois danger was moved closer to Ste-Marie about six miles to the east on the Sturgeon River. Brebeuf was the master builder of St. Ignace II and was put in charge of this station along with its sister mission, St. Louis, half way between the new St. Ignace II and Ste-Marie. He asked for missionary help. Father Ragueneau sent him Noel Chabanel.

AT ST. IGNACE II

In the autumn of 1648 Noel left Ste-Marie to join Brebeuf at St. Ignace. He worked with Brebeuf until February, 1649, considering it a great privilege to be associated with this giant so courageous by nature and so endowed by grace. There was work to be done that fall and winter to put the finishing touches to St. Ignace II. The weeks flew by. In February, 1649, Father Chabanel was replaced by the frail and delicate Gabriel Lalemant, a novice of but a few months in Huronia. Chabanel, more robust in health was needed in the hardy mission of the Petuns, St. Jean, to the south west near modern Stayner, to help Charles Garnier. Accustomed by now to these quick changes Noe~~l left for his new mission post on February 17, sad to leave Bre’beuf, but without a murmur.

As Noel took his last leave of Ste-Marie, his final farewell to Father Chastelain betrayed a premonition of martyrdom. “This time I hope to give myself to God once and for all and to belong to Him entirely.” Shortly after, Chastelain remarked to a friend, “I have just been deeply moved. That good Father spoke to me with the look and voice of a victim offering up his sacrifice. I do not know what God has in store for him, but I can see that He wants him to be a great saint.”

ST. JEAN AMONG THE PETUNS

Hardly had Noel spent a month at his new post when the shocking news reached him that the Iroquois had attacked and ravaged St. Ignace and St. Louis on March 16. Both Brebeuf and Noel’s replacement Gabriel Lalemant, were martyred. In a touching letter to his Jesuit brother, Pierre, Noel wrote betraying his wistful yearning: “Father Gabriel Lalemant. . . had replaced me at the village of St. Louis just a month before his death, while I, being stronger, was sent to a more distant and more difficult mission, but one not so fertile in palms and crowns as the one for which my laxity rendered me unworthy before God.” Robbed of the martyrdom he coveted when it was within his grasp! Surely this was the supreme test of his complete obedience to God’s pleasure. But no, a second time this was to happen, and soon!

COLLAPSE OF HURONIA

Tragedy and complete collapse came to Huronja that fatal year, 1649. With village after village pillaged by the Iroquois, with the total breakdown of Huron morale, with the mass hysteria and exodus of the Hurons from Huronia, the Jesuit missionaries came to a painful decision: without a flock what purpose was there in their staying! On May 15, Ste-Marie, the work of ten years, was abandoned and deliberately destroyed by the missionaries themselves. They and the remnant of their sheep resettled temporarily on St. Joseph (Christian Island). The new home was called Ste-Marie II.

All fall of 1649 Chabanel labored among the Petuns with Charles Garnier at St. Jean. On December 5th., he again received orders from his superiors, this time to leave St. Jean and make his way to Christian Island. There were two reasons for this decision: first, the extreme famine conditions among the Petuns, and secondly, his superiors felt they should not expose two missionaries in this dangerous outpost..

Obedience was by now second nature to Chabanel. He bade farewell to Garnier on December 5th., and immediately headed north towards Christian Island. Two days later he feared that St. Jean had fallen to the Iroquois and that Garnier had won a martyr’s crown. A second time was Chabanel cheated of martyrdom! But this time he was not to be denied for long.

The day following Garnier’s death, December 8th., Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Noel Chabanel’s life of “bloodless martyrdom” ended in a martyrdom of blood.

INITIAL MYSTERY SURROUNDING NOEL’S DEATH

At first the details of Noel’s disappearance were vague and uncertain. But thanks to the painstaking care and precision of his chief chronicler, Paul Ragueneau, we are now able to reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to Noel’s martyrdom. There are two accounts of Noel’s death written by Ragueneau. The first, in the 1650 Relation, written shortly after Noel’s disappearance, recounts his death but reveals no knowledge of the motives for the slaying. Only months later did the real story come to Ragueneau. This more accurate information was the basis of his second account.

THE FIRST ACCOUNT

The first account as given by Ragueneau in the 1650 Relation goes as follows. On Dec. 5th., 1649 Noel, as ordered, left St. Jean to proceed to Christian Island. On his way north he stopped at the village of St. Matthias, a Petun mission where two Fathers, Greslon and Garreau were stationed. It was here Noel spoke his last recorded words to Father Garreau who had sailed to New France with him six years previously. On the morning of Dec. 7th., he left them accompanied by seven or eight christian Hurons. After covering a distance of six long leagues over difficult wintry roads night came upon them. While his companions slept, Noel remained awake to pray. Suddenly the silence of the night was pierced by shouts and noises. Some of these came from the victorious Iroquois who had ravaged St. Jean; some came from the prisoners taken there. Noel quickly awakened his companions who immediately scattered in flight leaving Chabanel alone. The Christians who had escaped from danger reached the Petun nation and reported that Noel tried to follow them, but when he could no longer keep up with them, fell on his knees saying: “What difference does it make if I die or not? This life does not count for much. The Iroquois cannot snatch the happiness of heaven from me.”

At daybreak (December 8th.) Chabanel continued north towards his destination, Christian Island. (From this point on the testimony becomes garbled and untrustworthy, as Ragueneau suspected and was to confirm later.) One of the Hurons said he saw Father Chabanel standing on the bank of a river which lay across his path (the Notta-was aga). This witness added that he had passed Chabanel in his canoe and that he saw Noel throw away his coat, sack and blanket in order to expedite his escape. Ragueneau remarks, “Since that time we have not been able to get news of the Father. We cannot be sure how he died.” He then gives three possibilities: Noel fell into the hands of the enemy who killed him; perhaps he lost his way and died of hunger and cold; or, more probably, he was killed by the Huron who was the last to see him. This man had been a Christian and had since become an apostate who was quite capable of killing Noel to rob him of his little possessions.

Ragueneau concludes his first account by saying that he felt it wiser in this time of public calamity to stifle their suspicions – their only concern being the service of God. Prudent, sober man that he was, he strongly doubted the testimony of this apostate Huron who was known to be no angel.

THE SECOND ACCOUNT

Now for the second, more informed account, of Chabanel’s death, written in 1652 from Quebec. This is found in an autograph note of Paul Ragueneau, appended to the precious MS of 1652, and affirmed under oath. This testimony clears up the first obscurity of Noel’s death. Ragueneau testifies that he obtained from most trustworthy witnesses the following details. The Huron apostate named Louis Honareenhax finally publicly confessed, and even bragged that he had killed Father Noel with a hatchet blow and thrown his body in the half frozen Nottawasaga river, out of hatred for the faith.

For, ever since he and his family had embraced the faith, all kinds of misfortunes had befallen them. These he blamed on Chabanel and in his superstition believed he had rid his people of a menace. It was also a known fact that Louis had been a trouble maker and had previously tried to stir up his tribesmen to get rid of Chabanel and Garnier.

This clear testimony made under oath by a man of Ragueneau’s integrity leaves no doubt as to the real slayer of Noel and the true motivation for his crime, namely out of hatred for the faith on which he blamed all his troubles. Ragueneau himself was certain his friend Chabanel had died a martyr.

EPILOGUE

Thanks to Raguencau the long silence shrouding the greatness of Noel Chabanel has been broken.

Only in the twentieth century is Noel Chabanel’s poignant life and unique martyrdom coming to be appreciated. Like the life of the suffering Christ he served so faithfully, Noel’s life seemed one of apparent failure. Noel Chabanel is the silent hero of the hard trail, a patron of misfits, patron of the lonely, disappointed and abandoned, the patron of all square pegs in round holes. In the official picture (iconography) of the Jesuit Martyrs of North America, the closed book in his hand is a grim symbol of his life.

Because of Noel’s heroic obedience to and generous acceptance of God’s will, God, Who is never outdone in generosity, rewarded him with the glory of martyrdom. Like his Master, Noel died as he lived, a lonely man, a man in the shadows. Somewhere along the snow-covered path by the Nottawasaga river, Noel’s grim trail merged into the green pastures of eternity. He was struck down in the dark night by an apostate Huron’s tomahawk and his body thrown into the Nottawasaga River. There perhaps somewhere along its murky bottom lie the bodily remains of this unique man. And so at the age of thirty-six years, nineteen as a Jesuit, five as a Huron missionary, Noel Chabanel, one of the “little four” merited to be crowned a martyr and saint alongside the “big four.”

Our modern world, shocked with the rapidity of constant change, needs more saints of the calibre of Noel Chabanel.

Noel Chabanel, obedient throughout life, persisted obedient unto death because he was a man of unshakable faith and persevering prayer, a man, therefore, who refused to quit in the face of overwhelming odds. The call to faith is a call to obedience, a call to adjust to the new and trying situations God is continually moving man into, a call to resist the powers of darkness that subtly tempt man to come down from the cross of his human condition.”

Saint Noël Chabanel, whose heart burned with the desire to sacrifice all for the glory and honor of God, obtain for me a right appreciation of the trials and sufferings of this life.

Let not disappointments discourage me nor crosses weigh me down, so that strengthened by the example of your heroic constancy and perseverance in the service of God on earth, I may some day share your reward in heaven. Amen.

jesuit_martyrs_na
(-please click on the image for greater detail)

Love,
Matthew

Mar 5 – Bls André de Soveral, SJ, Ambrósio Francisco Ferro, and Twenty-eight Companions, (d. 1645), Martyrs

brazil protomartyrs

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“I will praise you, O God my Savior; I will give thanks to Your Name, for You have been … my helper and have delivered my body” (Sir 51: 1-2).

The two episodes of the martyrdom of Bl. Andre de Soveral, Bl Ambrosio Francisco Ferro and 28 Companions occurred in this context. In Rio Grande do Norte there were only two parishes: Our Lady of the Presentation in Natal, of which Fr Ambrosio Francisco Ferro was parish priest, and Our Lady of the Purification in Cunhau, directed by Fr Andre de Soveral. These two parish communities were victims of harsh religious persecution by the Calvinists.

Bl. Andre de Soveral was born around 1572 in Sao Vicente, Brazil, the principal town on the island of Santos. He most likely studied at Children of Jesus College in his home town and it is there that his Jesuit vocation began. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1593 and made his novitiate in Bahia. After studying Latin and moral theology and learning the Indios’ language, he was sent to the College of Olinda, a catechetical centre for the Indios throughout the region. He had his first missionary experience in Rio Grande do Norte in 1606 among the Potiguar Indios. On that occasion he entered a native village headed by an indigenous woman, Antonia Potiguara, whom he converted and baptized along with other Indios, and blessed her marriage. By 1614 he was parish priest of Cunhau and a member of the diocesan clergy.

The martyrdom of Fr Andre Fr Ambrosio and their faithful parishioners occurred on different days but in the same historical context. The first took place at Our Lady of the Presentation Chapel in Cunhau. On Sunday, 16 July 1645, Fr Andre de Soveral had gathered for Mass about 69 of the faithful, mostly farmers and workers employed in Cunhau’s sugar cane factory.

The Dutch sent one of their emissaries to Cunhau, an unscrupulous and cruel German named Jakob Rabe, who presented himself as the envoy of the Supreme Dutch Council of Recife, saying that he would communicate its orders at the end of Mass. But this was merely a pretext, for after the consecration a band of Dutch soldiers, accompanied by Indios, burst into the chapel, blocked the exits and ferociously attacked the defenseless faithful. Fr Andre realized the gravity of the situation and interrupted Mass to urge the faithful to prepare for death. Although he had told the tyrants not to touch the minister of God and the sacred vessels, he was killed by an axe hurled at him by an Indio.

The second episode of martyrdom occurred on the banks of the Uruaqu River, about 20 kilometres from Natal, on 3 October 1645. Here the victims were the city’s parishioners, led by their parish priest, Fr Ambrosio Francisco Ferro. Terrorized by the bloodshed that had occurred at Cunhau, the Catholics of Natal took refuge in several places, but in vain. The Dutch authorities forced them to go to a pre-arranged site where they were awaited by soldiers and a group of 200 Indios. Many of the faithful were tortured with their priest in various ways until they died. The chroniclers of the time describe the means of torture: their limbs were severed, their heads cut off; they were burned, their eyes, tongues and noses were torn off. A child was pinned to a tree trunk and another sliced in half with a sword. Mateus Moreira had his heart ripped out through his back, as he cried: “Praised be the Blessed Sacrament”. Those martyred include 27 Brazilians, one Portuguese, one Spaniard and one Frenchman.

Homily of John Paul II, Mar 5, 2000, In Celebration of Brazil’s Quincentennial of Catholic Faith

“You, Lord, have been my helper! I hear these words from the Book of Sirach echoing in my heart as I contemplate the wonders God has wrought in the lives of these brothers and sisters in the faith who have won the palm of martyrdom. Today I have the joy of raising them to the glory of the altars, presenting them to the Church and to the world as a shining witness to God’s power in the frailty of the human person.

You, Lord, have delivered me! This is the cry of André de Soveral, Ambrósio Francisco Ferro and 28 Companions, diocesan priests, lay men and women…

Yes, the Almighty was their powerful help in their time of trial and now they are experiencing the joy of eternal reward. Although these humble servants of the Gospel, whose names are for ever written in heaven, lived in different historical periods and in very diverse cultural contexts, they are linked by an identical experience of fidelity to Christ and to the Church. They are united by the same unconditional trust in the Lord and the same deep passion for the Gospel.

I will praise you, O God my Saviour! With their lives offered for the cause of Christ, these new blesseds, the first of the Jubilee Year, proclaim that God is “Father” (cf. ibid., v. 10), God is “protector” and “helper” (cf. v.2); he is our Saviour who listens to the appeals of those who trust in Him with all their heart (cf. v. 11).

2. These are the sentiments that fill our hearts as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of Brazil, which occurs this year. In this immense country, the implanting of the Gospel encountered many difficulties. The Church’s presence was gradually strengthened through the missionary activity of various orders and religious congregations and by priests of the diocesan clergy. The martyrs beatified today came, at the end of the 17th century, from the communities of Cunhaú and Uruaçu in Rio Grande do Norte. Fr André de Soveral, Fr Ambrósio Francisco Ferro and 28 lay companions belong to this generation of martyrs who watered their homeland, making it fertile for a generation of new Christians. They are the first fruits of the missionary work, the protomartyrs of Brazil. One of these, Mateus Moreira, had his heart ripped out through his back while he was still alive, and yet he had the strength to proclaim his faith in the Eucharist, saying:  “Praised be the Blessed Sacrament”…

7. “Fear not, therefore” (Mt 10: 31). This is Christ’s invitation. It is also the exhortation of the new blesseds, who remained steadfast in their love of God and of their brothers and sisters, even in the midst of trial. This invitation comes to us as an encouragement in the Jubilee Year, a time for conversion and profound spiritual renewal. Let us not be afraid of trials and difficulties; may we not be hindered by obstacles from making courageous decisions consistent with the Gospel!

What do we have to fear, if Christ is with us? Why doubt, if we remain on Christ’s side and accept the commitment and responsibility of being his disciples? May the celebration of the Jubilee strengthen our determination to follow the Gospel. The new blesseds are an example to us and they offer us their help.

May Mary, Queen of Martyrs, who at the foot of the Cross shared fully in her Son’s sacrifice, sustain us in courageously bearing witness to our faith!”

-from http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/2000/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20000305_beatifications.html

Love,
Matthew

Apr 7 – Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ, (1561-1606), Priest & Martyr

after Unknown artist, line engraving, 1608
after Unknown artist, line engraving, 1608

Edward Oldcorne was born in York, England of a non-Catholic father and a Catholic mother. He gave up medical studies and enrolled at the English College in Rheims, France in 1581 before going on to Rome to complete his studies and was ordained. Soon after, he joined the Society of Jesus and was allowed to complete his novitiate in a very short time because of the difficult conditions he would face upon his return to England.

Fr Oldcorne stayed with Fr Garnet, the superior of the English Jesuits upon arrival but after a few months he was assigned to Hinlip Hall outside Worcester where he was to spend sixteen years. The master of Hinlip Hall was an ardent Catholic who was in prison and had left the property in the care of his sister, Dorothy, a Protestant who had been at the court of Elizabeth. While priests still found hospitality in Hinlip Hall, she merely tolerated their presence. Many priests had tried to reconcile her to the Church without success. It was left to Fr Oldcorne to find the way. She listened to his instructions and sermons, unconvinced; but when she learned that he had been fasting for days to bring about her conversion, she finally yielded to God’s grace and her conversion led many others in Worcester to return to the faith of their ancestors. The Hall became the Jesuit’s base of operations where many came to seek the sacraments and hear Fr Oldcorne’s preaching. His health was poor ever since he returned to England and he had throat cancer that left him with a hoarse and painful voice, but did not keep him from preaching. His cancer was healed following a pilgrimage to St Winifred’s shrine in 1591.

Catholics in England were looking forward to the end of persecution when Queen Elizabeth died and James I ascended the throne in 1603 as he had promised to be more tolerant, but in fact, the persecution increased. This angered some Catholics who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the king’s visit on Nov 5, 1605. The plot was discovered and with that the hatred for Catholics intensified. The government was determined to implicate the Jesuits in the so-called “Gunpowder Plot” despite the capture of the men behind it. The Jesuit superior Fr Garnet decided to leave London and seek shelter at the Hall, which had more hiding places than any other mansion in England. Bro Nicholas Owen, the person who constructed all the priest-hiding places was with him and they joined Frs Oldcorne and Ashley.

The sheriff of Worcestershire and 100 of his men arrived at the Hall and spent several days searching for priests together with a certain Humphrey Littleton who betrayed Fr Oldcorne. The sheriff stationed a man in each room of the house and ordered others to tap on the walls in the hope of locating concealed priest-holes. By the end of the third day they found eleven such hiding places, but no priests, On the fourth day, starvation and thirst forced Br Ashley and Br Owen to emerge from their hole. Some say the religiously professed brothers real motive was to surrender themselves, focus attention on themselves and their capture, and distract the persecutors long enough for Frs Oldcorne and Garnet to escape.  They had hoped the sheriff would think that he had finally caught his prey and end the search, leaving the two priests in safety. But the sheriff was determined and his men continued their close examination of the house. Finally on the eighth day, Jan 27, 1606 Frs Oldcorne and Garnet were discovered when they emerged white, ill and weak. All four were taken to the Tower of London.

When the prison officials failed in their efforts to eavesdrop and record any conversation which could link the two priests to the Gunpowder plot, Fr Oldcorne was tortured on the rack five hours a day for five consecutive days. Yet he refused to say anything. When they were put on trial, Fr Oldcorne denied the charge of being involved so well that the charge against him was changed to simply being a Jesuit priest. On this new charge, Fr Oldcorne was found guilty and ordered to be executed. Just before he was hanged, his betrayer asked for pardon, which Fr Oldcorne readily granted, and he also prayed for the king, his accusers and the judge and jury who condemned him. He was pushed from the ladder and was cut down before he was dead and then beheaded and quartered.

Edward_Oldcorne;_Nicholas_Owen_by_Gaspar_Bouttats
-Edward Oldcorne; Nicholas Owen, by Gaspar Bouttats, National Portrait Gallery, London, UK.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013 12:48 am
http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=22875

Eye relic of the Blessed Edward Oldcorne

Martyr’s eye returns to Worcester for school anniversary celebrations

“Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcestershire, UK will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this month with Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Birmingham and the veneration of a relic of the Jesuit martyr after whom the college is named – his right eye! The college is also planning to erect a memorial plaque on the site of his execution and to publish a history of the school… It is said that the force of the executioner’s blow was so extreme when he was decapitated that one of his eyes flew out of its socket. It has since been preserved in a silver casket and kept at Stonyhurst College.”

Blessed Lent!

Love,
Matthew

Feb 1 – St Henry Morse, SJ, (1595-1645) – Priest & Martyr

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Henry Morse, born in Brome, Suffolk, England, in 1595, was raised a Protestant. He enrolled as a law student in London’s Inns of Court. While there, however, he became increasingly dissatisfied with the established religion and more convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith.

Crossing the English Channel, he went to Douai, France, which was then an English Catholic center. Once received into the Church, he decided to study for the priesthood, and made his studies first at Douai, then at the English College in Rome, as Douai had too many students. Although ordained in Rome as a secular priest, he secured permission from the Father General of the Jesuits to be admitted to the Society of Jesus once he got back to England.

Father Morse had scarcely landed in Britain and been accepted as a Jesuit candidate when he was arrested and imprisoned in York Castle.   Upon arrival at a port in England, he was asked by the English port authorities to take the oath of allegiance acknowledging the king’s supremacy in religious matters. The recent convert resolutely refused and was arrested and imprisoned for four years and was released in 1618 when the king decided to get rid of hundreds of religious dissenters by banishing them to France.  He was ordained in 1623.

He had not yet had time to make the novitiate required of those who aspired to Jesuit vows. Providentially, however, he found another Jesuit imprisoned in York Castle. This Father Robinson supervised his novitiate in prison! Therefore, when his three-year term was up, he emerged a full-fledged junior member of the Society.

Banished to the Continent on his release, Father Morse spent some time as a chaplain to English soldiers who served the King of Spain in the Low Countries. Then in 1633 he returned to England secretly, using the name “Cuthbert Claxton,” and he spent the next four years ministering in London.

Now, in 1636-1637 the dread “Black Plague” again became epidemic in London. Morse was kept doubly busy taking care of bodies as well as souls. He made up a list of 400 infected families, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, whom he regularly visited. He himself caught the disease three times, but each time he recovered. His zeal and thoughtfulness were deeply appreciated and nearly 100 families on his list eventually asked to be reconciled to the Catholic Church.

Unfortunately, the police also learned about Morse’s activities, and arrested him on February 27, 1636. The charges were that he was a priest and that he had “perverted” several hundred of “His Majesty’s Protestant subjects.” Put on trial, he was acquitted of the second charge but not of the first. However, he was bailed out through the intervention of Charles I’s Catholic wife, Queen Henrietta Maria. Then, in 1641, the king was forced to decree the exile of all Catholic priests. Father Henry, unwilling to embarrass his bail bondsmen, returned to Flanders and resumed his work as chaplain of the English soldiers there.

In 1643 Father Morse’s Jesuit superiors sent him back to the mission, this time in northern England, where he was less known.  He accidentally walked into a group of soldiers late one night who suspected he was a priest.  He was arrested and held overnight in the home of a local official.  He escaped with the aid of the Catholic wife of one of his captors.  He enjoyed freedom for 6 weeks but one day he and his guide lost their way in the countryside and innocently knocked on the door of a house to ask for directions. The man who answered was one of the soldiers who had recently apprehended him and remembered him well and there would be no fifth escape.  Tried once more, he was sentenced to death in accord with the law that forbade exiled priests to return to Britain.  He was visited in prison by the ambassadors of other Catholic countries.

On the day of his execution, February 1, 1645, Father Morse was able to celebrate Mass. Then four horses were harnessed to the wicker hurdle on which he was dragged to the gallows that stood on Tyburn Hill. As usual, there was a crowd of the curious on hand to see the show. But also in attendance, to pay their respects, were the French ambassador and his suite, the Spanish and Portuguese ambassadors, and the Flemish Count of Egmont.

As was customary, the condemned priest was allowed to make some final remarks. “I am come hither to die for my religion……I have a secret which highly concerns His Majesty and Parliament to know. The kingdom of England will never be truly blessed until it returns to the Catholic faith and its subjects are all united in one belief under the Bishop of Rome.” He ended by saying: “I pray that my death may be some kind of atonement for the sins of this kingdom.” Then he said his prayers and asked that the cap be pulled over his eyes; beat his breast 3 times, giving the signal to a priest in the crowd to impart absolution. He then said: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” After he was dead his body was torn open, his heart removed, his entrails burned and body quartered. In accordance with the custom that followed executions, his head was exposed on London Bridge and his quartered body was mounted on the city’s four gates.

Egmont and the French ambassador had their retainers dip handkerchiefs in the martyr’s blood. Later on, these relics were the occasion of cures.

San Enrique Morse

St. Henry Morse, pray that we may be as resilient and resolute in our duty to serve the King of the Universe as you were while you were here on earth, and beset by the injustices of your day and age. Pray that our priests will serve Our King as you have done. Pray that we too will serve the King, and our brethren, with such charity, tenacity, and fortitude, as labor in spreading the Good News while we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Feb 21 – St Robert Southwell, SJ, (1561-1595) – Poet, Priest & Martyr

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As February is thought of as a month of love, it is terribly fitting, IMHO, to remember this great lover and poet, and most importantly, as always, The Object of his love.

Robert Southwell was born at Horsham St. Faith’s, Norfolk, England, in 1561, the third of eight children. His grandfather, Sir Richard Southwell, had been a wealthy man and a prominent courtier in the reign of Henry VIII, and the family remained among the elite of the land. He was so beautiful as a young boy that a gypsy stole him. He was soon recovered by his family and became a short, handsome man, with gray eyes and red hair.

It was Richard Southwell who in 1547 had brought the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, to the block, and Surrey had vainly begged to be allowed to “fight him in his shirt”. Curiously enough their respective grandsons, Robert Southwell and Philip, Earl of Arundel, were to be the most devoted of friends and fellow-prisoners for the Faith. On his mother’s side the Jesuit was descended from the Copley and Shelley families, whence a remote connection may be established between him and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Despite their Catholic sympathies, the Southwells had profited considerably from King Henry VIII’s Suppression of the Monasteries.

Even as a child, Southwell was distinguished by his attraction to the old religion. Protestantism had come to England, and it was actually a crime for any Englishman who had been ordained as a Catholic priest to remain in England more than forty days at a time. In order to keep the faith alive, William Allen had opened a school at Douai, where he made a Catholic translation of the Bible, the well-known Douai version. Southwell attended this school and asked to be admitted into the Jesuits. At first the Jesuits refused his application, but eventually his earnest appeals moved them to accept him. He wrote to the Jesuits “How can I but waste in anguish and agony that I find myself disjoined from that company, severed from that Society, disunited from that body, wherein lyeth all my life, my love, my whole heart and affection.” (Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu, Anglia 14, fol. 80, under date 1578).  He was ordained a priest in 1584. Two years later, at his own request, he was sent as a missionary to England, well knowing the dangers he faced.  A poet and a scholar, his poetry would have a profound influence on the moral climate of the age.

A spy reported to Sir Francis Walsingham the Jesuits’ landing on the east coast in July, but they arrived without molestation at the house at Hackney of William Vaux, 3rd Baron Vaux of Harrowden. For six years they kept him under surveillance. He assumed the last alias “Cotton” and found employment as a chaplain to Ann Howard, Lady Arundel, her husband being accused of treason for being a Catholic and in prison.  Southwell wrote a prose elegy, Triumphs over Death, to the earl to console him for a sister’s premature death. Although Southwell lived mostly in London, he traveled in disguise and preached secretly throughout England, moving from one Catholic family to another. His downfall and capture came about when he became friendly with a Catholic family named Bellamy.

Southwell was in the habit of visiting the house of Richard Bellamy, who lived near Harrow and was under suspicion on account of his connection with Jerome Bellamy, who had been executed for sharing in Anthony Babington’s plot, which intended to assassinate the Queen and place Mary, Queen of Scots, on the English throne.

One of the daughters, Anne Bellamy, was arrested and imprisoned in the gatehouse of Holborn for being linked to the situation. Having been interrogated and raped by Richard Topcliffe, the Queen’s chief priest-hunter and torturer, she revealed Southwell’s movements and Southwell was immediately arrested. When Bellamy became pregnant by Topcliffe in 1592, she was forced to marry his servant to cover up the scandal.

Southwell was first taken to Topcliffe’s own house, adjoining the Gatehouse Prison, where Topcliffe subjected him to the torture of “the manacles”. He remained silent in Topcliffe’s custody for forty hours. The queen then ordered Southwell moved to the Gatehouse, where a team of Privy Council torturers went to work on him. When they proved equally unsuccessful, he was left “hurt, starving, covered with maggots and lice, to lie in his own filth.” After about a month he was moved by order of the Council to solitary confinement in the Tower of London. According to the early narratives, his father had petitioned the queen that his son, if guilty under the law, should so suffer, but if not should be treated as a gentleman, and that as his father he should be allowed to provide him with the necessities of life. No documentary evidence of such a petition survives, but something of the kind must have happened, since his friends were able to provide him with food and clothing, and to send him the works of St. Bernard and a Bible. His superior St Henry Garnet, SJ, later smuggled a breviary to him. He remained in the Tower for three years, under Topcliffe’s supervision.

Tortured thirteen times, he nonetheless refused to reveal the names of fellow Catholics. During his incarceration, he was allowed to write. His works had already circulated widely and seen print, although their authorship was well known and one might have expected the government to suppress them. Now he added to them poems intended to sustain himself and comfort his fellow prisoners. He wrote “Not where I breathe, but where I love, I live; Not where I love, but where I am, I die.” He was so ill treated, his father petitioned the Queen that he be brought to trial.

February 21, 1595, Southwell was brought to Tyburn, where he was to be hung and then quartered for treason, although no treasonous word or act had been shown against him. It was enough that he held a variation of the Christian faith that frightened many Englishmen because of rumors of Catholic plots.  He addressed the crowd gathered, “I am come hither to play out the last act of this poor life.”  He prayed for the salvation of the Queen and country.

Execution of sentence on a notorious highwayman had been appointed for the same time, but at a different place — perhaps to draw the crowds away — and yet many came to witness Southwell’s death. Eyewitness accounts, both Catholic and Protestant, are unanimous in describing Southwell as both gracious and prayerful in his final moments.

When cut loose from the halter that tied him to the cart, he wiped his brow with a handkerchief and tossed the “sudarium” into the crowd, the first of what would become his relics. When asked if he would like to speak, Southwell crossed himself and first spoke in Latin, quoting Romans 14:8:“Sive uiuimus, Domino uiuimus, sive morimur, Domino morimur, ergo uiuimus, sive morimur, Domini sumus.” (If we live, we live in the Lord. If we die, we die in the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or we die, we are in the Lord.)  The sheriff made to interrupt him; but, was allowed to continue for some time.  He then addressed himself to the crowd, saying he died a Catholic and a Jesuit, offenses for which he was not sorry to die. He spoke respectfully of the Queen, and asked her forgiveness, if she had found any offense in him.

Then, after the hangman stripped him down to his shirt and tightened the noose around his neck, Robert Southwell spoke his last words (found in both Psalm 30 and the Gospel of Luke),“In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. Redemisti me, Domine Deus veritatis,” while repeatedly making the sign of the cross. “Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit. You have redeemed me, Lord God of truth.”

At the third utterance of these words, the cart rolled away and Southwell hung from his neck. Those present forbade the hangman cutting him down to further the cruelties of drawing and quartering before Southwell was dead.  He hung in the noose for a brief time, making the sign of the cross as best he could. As the executioner made to cut him down, in preparation for disembowelling him while still alive, Lord Mountjoy and some other onlookers tugged at his legs to hasten his death.  Yet, despite their efforts, according to one account, he was still breathing when cut down. When the hangman lifted Southwell’s head up before the crowd, no one cried “Traitor.” Even a pursuivant present admitted he had never seen a man die better.

Southwell’s writings, both in prose and verse, were extremely popular with his contemporaries, and his religious pieces were sold openly by the booksellers though their authorship was known. Imitations abounded, and Ben Jonson declared of one of Southwell’s pieces, The Burning Babe (below), that to have written it he would readily forfeit many of his own poems. Mary Magdalene’s Tears, the Jesuit’s earliest work, licensed in 1591, probably represents a deliberate attempt to employ in the cause of piety the euphuistic prose style, then so popular. Triumphs over Death, also in prose, exhibits the same characteristics; but this artificiality of structure is not so marked in the Short Rule of Good Life, the Letter to His Father, the Humble Supplication to Her Majesty, the Epistle of Comfort and the Hundred Meditations. Southwell’s longest poem, St. Peter’s Complaint (132 six-line stanzas), is imitated, from the Italian Lagrime di S. Pietro of Luigi Tansillo. This with some other smaller pieces was printed, with license, in 1595, the year of his death. Another volume of short poems appeared later in the same year under the title of Maeoniae. Perhaps no higher testimony can be found of the esteem in which Southwell’s verse was held by his contemporaries than the fact that, while it is probable that Southwell had read Shakespeare, it is practically certain that Shakespeare had read Southwell and imitated him.

Robert_Southwell

-Line engraving by Matthaus Greuter (Greuther) or Paul Maupin, published 1608, frontispiece to St Peter’s Complaint.

“The Chief Justice asked how old he was, seeming to scorn his youth. He answered that he was near about the age of our Saviour, Who lived upon the earth thirty-three years; and he himself was as he thought near about thirty-four years. Hereat Topcliffe seemed to make great acclamation, saying that he compared himself to Christ. Mr. Southwell answered, ‘No he was a humble worm created by Christ.’ ‘Yes,’ said Topcliffe, ‘you are Christ’s fellow.'”—Father Henry Garnet, “Account of the Trial of Robert Southwell.” Quoted in Caraman’s The Other Face, page 230.

Southwell: I am decayed in memory with long and close imprisonment, and I have been tortured ten times. I had rather have endured ten executions. I speak not this for myself, but for others; that they may not be handled so inhumanely, to drive men to desperation, if it were possible.

Topcliffe: If he were racked, let me die for it.

Southwell: No; but it was as evil a torture, or late device.

Topcliffe: I did but set him against a wall. (The “Topciliffe Rack” was vertical, against a wall, not horizontal, adding the victim’s own weight to his pain, with never a relief.)

Southwell: Thou art a bad man.

Topcliffe: I would blow you all to dust if I could.

Southwell: What, all?

Topcliffe: Ay, all.

Southwell: What, soul and body too?

robert_southwell

The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter’s night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat,
Which made my heart to glow;

And lifting up a fearful eye,
To view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright
Did in the air appear;

Who, scorched with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,
With which His tears were fed.

“Alas,” quoth He, “but newly born,
In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts,
Or feel my fire, but I;

“My faultless breast the furnace is,
The fuel, wounding thorns:
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
The ashes, shame and scorn;

“The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men’s defiled souls,

“For which, as now on fire I am
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in My blood.”

With this he vanish’d out of sight,
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind,
That it was Christmas day.

-Robert Southwell, SJ

A VALE OF TEARS.
By Robert Southwell, SJ

A vale there is, enwrapt with dreadful shades,
Which thick of mourning pines shrouds from the sun,
Where hanging cliffs yield short and dumpish glades,
And snowy flood with broken streams doth run.

Where eye-room is from rock to cloudy sky,
From thence to dales with stony ruins strew’d,
Then to the crushèd water’s frothy fry,
Which tumbleth from the tops where snow is thaw’d.

Where ears of other sound can have no choice,
But various blust’ring of the stubborn wind
In trees, in caves, in straits with divers noise;
Which now doth hiss, now howl, now roar by kind.

Where waters wrestle with encount’ring stones,
That break their streams, and turn them into foam,
The hollow clouds full fraught with thund’ring groans,
With hideous thumps discharge their pregnant womb.

And in the horror of this fearful quire
Consists the music of this doleful place;
All pleasant birds from thence their tunes retire,
Where none but heavy notes have any grace.

Resort there is of none but pilgrim wights,
That pass with trembling foot and panting heart;
With terror cast in cold and shivering frights,
They judge the place to terror framed by art.

Yet nature’s work it is, of art untouch’d,
So strait indeed, so vast unto the eye,
With such disorder’d order strangely couch’d,
And with such pleasing horror low and high,

That who it views must needs remain aghast,
Much at the work, more at the Maker’s might;
And muse how nature such a plot could cast
Where nothing seemeth wrong, yet nothing right.

A place for mated mindes, an only bower
Where everything do soothe a dumpish mood;
Earth lies forlorn, the cloudy sky doth lower,
The wind here weeps, here sighs, here cries aloud.

The struggling flood between the marble groans,
Then roaring beats upon the craggy sides;
A little off, amidst the pebble stones,
With bubbling streams and purling noise it glides.

The pines thick set, high grown and ever green,
Still clothe the place with sad and mourning veil;
Here gaping cliff, there mossy plain is seen,
Here hope doth spring, and there again doth quail.

Huge massy stones that hang by tickle stays,
Still threaten fall, and seem to hang in fear;
Some wither’d trees, ashamed of their decays,
Bereft of green are forced gray coats to wear.

Here crystal springs crept out of secret vein,
Straight find some envious hole that hides their grace;
Here searèd tufts lament the want of rain,
There thunder-wrack gives terror to the place.

All pangs and heavy passions here may find
A thousand motives suiting to their griefs,
To feed the sorrows of their troubled mind,
And chase away dame Pleasure’s vain reliefs.

To plaining thoughts this vale a rest may be,
To which from worldly joys they may retire;
Where sorrow springs from water, stone and tree;
Where everything with mourners doth conspire.

Sit here, my soul, main streams of tears afloat,
Here all thy sinful foils alone recount;
Of solemn tunes make thou the doleful note,
That, by thy ditties, dolour may amount.

When echo shall repeat thy painful cries,
Think that the very stones thy sins bewray,
And now accuse thee with their sad replies,
As heaven and earth shall in the latter day.

Let former faults be fuel of thy fire,
For grief in limbeck of thy heart to still
Thy pensive thoughts and dumps of thy desire,
And vapour tears up to thy eyes at will.

Let tears to tunes, and pains to plaints be press’d,
And let this be the burden of thy song,—
Come, deep remorse, possess my sinful breast;
Delights, adieu! I harbour’d you too long.

St Robert Southwell, SJ,’s Prayer for the Church:

“We therefore are under an obligation to be the light of the world by the modesty of our behaviour, the fervour of our charity, the innocence of our lives, and the example of our virtues.

Thus shall we be able to raise the lowered prestige of the Catholic Church, and to build up again the ruins that others by their vices have caused. Others by their wickedness have branded the Catholic Faith with a mark of shame, we must strive with all our strength to cleanse it from its ignominy and to restore it to its pristine glory. Amen.”

Love,
Matthew

Oct 19 – St John de Brebeuf, SJ, (1593-1649), Priest & Martyr, Apostle of the Huron

brebeuf_portrait

NAMartyrs

The word martyr comes from the Greek μάρτυς, or mártys, which translates as “witness”.  This is in as to witness, to give proof of one’s conviction and commitment to what one holds to be the Truth.  This proof is given in one’s dying and suffering torment rather than apostatizing that Truth, or living under extremely difficult circumstances, or counter-cultural ways, or even just inconvenience/unpopularity/what is generally considered the minority opinion/way rather than make life easier for oneself/make oneself more popular by apostatizing that Truth.

Jean de Brébeuf was born in Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France on 25 March 1593. He was the uncle of the poet Georges de Brébeuf. He studied near home at Caen.  Jean could have elected a life of comfort near his family in France, but wanted to join the Society of Jesus from an early age. In humility, Jean’s desire was to become a Jesuit lay brother, but, in contrast to that, his superior convinced him to study for the priesthood.  He entered the Society of Jesus as a scholastic, 8 November, 1617, aged 24 years.

Though of unusually robust physical strength, massive in physical stature his contemporaries describe him, his health gave way completely when he was twenty-eight to tuberculosis, which interfered with his studies and permitted only what was strictly necessary, so that he never acquired any extensive theological knowledge.  He was almost expelled from the Society because his illness prevented both his studying and instruction for the traditional periods.

After teaching at a secondary school-college in Rouen, on February 19, 1622 Jean de Brebeuf was ordained.  He became the treasurer of the college.

The tall, rugged Jesuit responded to an appeal made two years later by the Franciscan Recollects who asked other religious orders to help with the missions in New France.  Against the voiced desires of Huguenot Protestants, officials of trading companies, and some native North Americans, he was granted his wish and in 1625 he sailed to Canada as a missionary, arriving on June 19, and lived with the Huron natives near Lake Huron, learning their customs and language, of which he became an expert (it is said that he wrote the first dictionary of the Huron language). He has been called Canada’s “first serious ethnographer.”

Arriving 19 June, 1625, in Quebec, with the Recollect, Joseph de la Roche d’ Aillon, and in spite of the threat which the Calvinist captain of the ship which had transported him made to carry him back to France, he remained in the colony. Jean overcame the dislike of the colonists for Jesuits and secured a site for a residence on the St. Charles, the exact location of a former landing of Jacques Cartier, the famous original French explorer of New France.

During that summer came a group of Hurons to Cap de la Victoire to barter for trade goods. Brébeuf, another Jesuit and a Franciscan went to meet them and asked to accompany them back to their homelands.  The Hurons were willing to take the first two, but not Brébeuf who towered over them and was much too big for their canoes; they were afraid he would be too much work to carry. The missionaries offered enough gifts to overcome reluctance, and Brébeuf was permitted into a canoe on the condition he would not move. On July 26, 1626 Brébeuf began his journey to Huronia. When the travelers came to cascades or places where they had to carry the canoes and all the gear overland, Brébeuf’s great strength won his hosts’ admiration.

HuronLonghouse01a
HuronLonghouse01c
IndianPalisadeFallenTimbers
IndianCampfire

He immediately took up his abode in the Native American wigwams, and has left us an account of his five months’ experience there in the dead of winter. In the spring he set out with the Huron on a journey to Lake Huron in a canoe, during the course of which his life was in constant danger. With him was Father de Noüe, and they established their first mission near Georgian Bay, at Ihonatiria, but after a short time his companion was recalled, and he was left alone.

Brébeuf met with no success. The only converts he made during the winter of 1628 were the dying whom he baptized.

Because of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), in which France was engaged, Brébeuf was forced to return to France.  He was summoned back to Quebec because of the danger of extinction to which the entire colony was then exposed, and arrived there after an absence of two years, 17 July, 1628.  An English blockade had kept the French from resupplying the colony, so Brébeuf took 20 canoes loaded with grain to Quebec.

On 19 July, 1629, Champlain surrendered to the English, and the missionaries returned to France. For two years Brébeuf resumed his work at the college in Rouen.  Four years after its fall, the colony was restored to France, and on 23 March, 1633, Brébeuf again set out for Canada. While in France he had pronounced his solemn vows as spiritual coadjutor.

As soon as he arrived, viz., May, 1633, he attempted to return to Lake Huron. The Indians refused to take him, but during the following year he succeeded in reaching his old mission along with Father Daniel. It meant a journey of thirty days and constant danger of death. The next sixteen years of uninterrupted labors among the Native Americans were a continual series of privations and sufferings which he used to say were only roses in comparison with what the end was to be.  Brébeuf told many of his experiences in Canada in the “Jesuit Relations”, an invaluable source of early Canadian history.

He was head of the Huron mission, a position he relinquished to Father Jérôme Lalemant in 1638. His success as a missionary was very slow and it was only in 1635 that he made his first converts [Jesuit Relations, p. 11, vol. X]. He claimed to have made 14 as of 1635, and as of 1636 he said the number went up 86 [Jesuit Relations, p. 11,vol. X]. The Jesuits were frequently blamed for disasters like epidemics, battle defeats, and crop failures and once Brébeuf was condemned to death and another time beaten.

In 1640 he set out with Father Chaumonot to evangelize the Neutres/Neutrals, a tribe that lived north of Lake Erie.  It is reported while there, in prayer, Jean de Brebeuf witnessed a large cross in the night sky over Iroquois territory.  After a winter of incredible hardship the missionaries returned unsuccessful. Jean had to flee to Quebec after he was accused of plotting with Huron enemies, the Seneca Clan of the Iroquois, to betray his hosts.

Jean was given the care of the Indians in the Reservation at Sillery for three years.  He returned to the Huron in 1644 and finally experienced some success. By 1647 there were thousands of converted Huron. In 1643 he wrote the Huron Carol, a Christmas carol which is still, in a very modified version, used today.

Brébeuf’s charismatic presence in the Huron country helped cause a split between traditionalist Huron and those who wanted to adopt European culture.  Montreal-based ethnohistorian Bruce Trigger argues that this cleavage in Huron society, along with the spread of disease from Europeans, left the Huron vulnerable.

However, the Iroquois began to win their war with the Hurons.  About the time the war was at its height between the Hurons and the Iroquois, Jogues and Bressani had been captured in an effort to reach the Huron country, and Brébeuf was appointed to make a third attempt. He succeeded. With him on this journey were Chabanel and Garreau, both of whom were afterwards murdered. They reached St. Mary’s on the Wye, which was the central station of the Huron Mission.

image
-Wyandot (Huron) warrior

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-Iroquois warrior

By 1647 the Iroquois had made peace with the French, but kept up their war with the Hurons, and in 1648 fresh disasters befell the work of the missionaries — their establishments were burned and the missionaries slaughtered. On 16 March, 1649, 1200 Iroquois captured the mission of St Ignace.  They then attacked St. Louis and seized Brébeuf and fellow Jesuit, Fr. Gabriel Lallemant, SJ.  A renegade Huron among the attackers let the Iroquois know that they had captured the mighty Echon, most powerful of the Jesuit medicine men. Both could have escaped.  The Hurons at St Louis knew of the attack at St Ignace.  They sent their women and children into the forest to hide and could have left, but remained.  The Jesuit Fathers remained with their flock.  All the men knew exactly what that meant.  The two priests were dragged back to St. Ignace.

After some preliminary torture, the Jesuits and the Huron captives were forced to run naked through the snow.  On entering the village, they were met with a shower of stones, cruelly beaten with clubs, and then tied to posts to be burned to death. Brébeuf is said to have kissed the stake to which he was bound. The fire was lighted under them, and their bodies slashed with knives. One of his Iroquois tormentors, crying out, ran towards him.  “You have always told people it was good to suffer,’ he shouted. “Thank us for this!”  And he dropped over Brebeuf’s head a cumbrous necklace of tomahawks, red-hot. Sputtering and hissing they began to eat their way into his flesh. His tormentors covered him with resinous bark which they set aflame. He continued encouraging his fellow Christians to remain strong. Then the Jesuit’s captors cut off his nose and forced a hot iron down his throat to silence him. The Jesuit priests were then tortured by scalping, mock baptism using boiling water, their feet were cut off, and their hearts were torn out.  The torture-to-death went on for three hours.

Brébeuf did not make a single outcry while he was being tortured.  It is recorded when Jesuits in New France would muse together if they should receive the crown of martyrdom, how would they stand it?  Brebeuf commented, “I wouldn’t be thinking of myself.  I would be thinking of God.”  As every Saint before his time and since, John de Brebeuf knew well, you can’t put limits on love. If you succeed, all you really know is that love is dead.

The bravery the Iroquois witnessed that day from Brebeuf astounded even his most ardent tormentors and executioners.  They admired courage during torture as witnessed by the silence of victim.  Jean Brebeuf knew this.  The Iroquois ate his heart in hopes of gaining his courage.  A highest gallows compliment? Brébeuf was fifty-five years old.  The Iroquois withdrew when they had finished their work.

Brébeuf’s body was recovered a few days later. His body was boiled in lye to remove the flesh, and the bones were reserved as holy relics. His flesh was buried, along with Lalemant’s, in one coffin, and today rests in the Church of St. Joseph at the reconstructed Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons across Highway 12 from the Martyrs’ Shrine Catholic Church near Midland, Ontario.  These martyrdoms and those of the other North American Martyrs created a wave of vocations and missionary fervor in France, and it gave new heart to the missionaries in New France.

A plaque near the grave of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant was unearthed during excavations at Ste Marie in 1954. The letters read “P. Jean de Brébeuf /brusle par les Iroquois /le 17 de mars l’an/1649” (Father Jean de Brebeuf, burned by the Iroquois, 17 March 1649).  The skull of St Jean Brébeuf, SJ, is still kept as a relic at the Hôtel-Dieu, Quebec.

brebeuf_skull
-St Jean de Brebeuf, SJ

St Jean de Brebeuf, SJ’s memory is cherished in Canada and has a pre-eminent position more than that of many of the other early missionaries. Their names appear with his in letters of gold on the grand staircases of public buildings in Canada.  His memory is held sacred due to his heroic virtues, manifested in such a remarkable degree at every stage of his missionary career, his almost incomprehensible endurance of privations and suffering, and the conviction that the reason of his death was not his association with the Hurons, but hatred of Christianity.

15 September 1985, Pope John Paul II prayed over Brebeuf’s skull before saying an outdoor Mass on the grounds of the Martyrs’ Shrine, www.martyrs-shrine.com, one of nine National Shrines in Canada to the martyrs of North America in, including, among others, St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, and other shrines in the territory of the United States. Thousands of people came to hear the Pope speak from a platform built especially for the day.

Groupe_Huron-Wendat_Wendake_1880

-Groupe Huron-Wendat Wendake, 1880.

The Huron People

(Ouendat/Wyandotte Nation/Wyandot/Wendat), “Dwellers of the Penninsula/Islanders”, as Wendat historic territory was bordered on three sides by the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe.  Early French explorers referred to these natives as the Huron, either from the French huron (“ruffian”, “rustic”), or from hure (“boar’s head”). According to tradition, French sailors thought that the bristly hairstyle of Wendat warriors resembled that of a boar.  They called their traditional territory Wendake/Quendake.

A Roman cassock often has a series of buttons down the front – sometimes thirty-three (symbolic of the years of the life of Jesus). A Jesuit cassock, although Jesuits have no official habit or distinctive religious garb, in lieu of buttons, has a fly fastened with hooks at the collar and is bound at the waist with a black cincture knotted on the right side.  It was the common priestly dress of St Ignatius’ day, who founded the Society of Jesus. During the missionary periods of North America, the various native peoples referred to Jesuits as “Blackrobes” because of their black cassocks.

The Wendat called St Jean de Brebeuf, SJ, “Echon”. [“Echon” pronounced like “Ekon” – this name meaning “Healing Tree”, as a representation of how much Brébeuf had helped the Hurons and of the medicines he brought them from Europe. An alternate definition for “Echon” is “he who bears the heavy load”, as Brébeuf was massive in stature and carried more than his share when working with the Ouendat people.  John Steckley wrote that Jean de Brébeuf was the first of the Jesuits (hatitsihenstaatsi’, ‘they are called charcoal’) due to their coal black cassocks, to become fluent in their language.

The Huron were surprised at his endurance in the harsh and hearty climate of what is now Ontario.  His massive size made them think twice about sharing a canoe with him for fear it would sink. Brebeuf had great difficulty learning the Huron language.

“When you come to us (Brebeuf wrote to Jesuits in France) we will receive you with open arms into the vilest dwelling imaginable. A mat, or at best a skin, will be your bed and often enough you will not sleep at all because of the vermin that will swarm over you. If you have been a great theologian in France, you will have to be a humble scholar here and taught by an unlearned person, or by children, while you furnish them no end of amusement. Here you will merely be a student, and with what teachers! The Huron language will be your Aristla crosse.  The Huron tongue will be St. Thomas and Aristotle, and you will be happy if after a great deal of hard study you are able to stammer out a few words.

The winter is almost unendurable. As for leisure time, the Hurons will give you no rest night or day.

You may expect to be killed at any moment, and your cabin, which is highly flammable, may often take fire through carelessness or malice. You are responsible for the weather, be it foul or fair, and if you don’t bring rain when it’s needed you may be tomahawked for your lack of luck. And there are foes from without to reckon with. On the 13th of this month a dozen Hurons were killed at Contarea, which is only a few days’ distance from here; and a short time ago a number of Iroquois were discovered in ambush quite close to the village.

In France you are surrounded by splendid examples of virtue. Here, all are astonished when you speak of God. Blasphemy and obscenity are common things on their lips. Often you are without your Mass, and when you do succeed in saying it the cabin is full of smoke or snow. Your neighbors never leave you alone and are continually shouting at the top of their voices.

The food will be insipid, but the gall and vinegar of Our Blessed Saviour will make it like honey on your lips. Clambering over rocks and skirting cataracts will be pleasant if you think of Calvary; and you will be happy if you have lost the trail, or are sick and dying with hunger in the woods…

There is no danger for your soul, if you bring into this Huron country the love and fear of God. In fact I find many helps to perfection. For in the first place, you have only the necessaries of life, and that makes it easy to be united with God.

As for your spiritual exercises you can attend to them; you have nothing else to do except study Huron and talk with the Indians. And what pleasure there is for a heart devoted to God to make itself a little scholar of children, thereby gain them for God!

How willingly and liberally God communicates Himself to a soul who practices such humility through love of Him. The words he learns are so many treasures he amasses, so many spoils he carries off from the common enemy of mankind. And so the visits of the Indians no matter how frequent cannot be annoying to such a man. God teaches him the beautiful lesson he taught of old to St. Catherine of Siena  to make of his heart a room or temple for Him where he will never fail to find him as often as he withdraws into it so that, if he encounters people there, they do not interfere with his prayers, they serve only to make them more fervent; from this he takes occasion to present these poor people to His Sovereign Goodness, and to entreat Him warmly for their conversion.

Of course you have nothing in the way of externals to increase your devotion, but God makes up for it. Have we not the Blessed Sacrament in the house? Moreover, we have to trust in God: there is no other help available.

And now, if after contemplating the sufferings that await you, you are ready to say “Amplius, Domine! Still more, Lord!” then be sure that you will be rewarded with consolations to such a degree that you will be forced to cry: “Enough, O Lord, enough!”

Jean Brebeuf, SJ, eventually wrote a catechism in Huron, and a French-Huron dictionary for use by other missionaries.

The Huron

The total population of the Huron at the time of European contact has been estimated at about 20,000 to 40,000 people.  From 1634 to 1640, the Huron were devastated by Eurasian infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox, to which they had no immunity. Epidemiological studies have shown that beginning in 1634, more European children immigrated with their families to the New World from cities in France, England, and the Netherlands that had endemic smallpox. Historians believe the disease spread from the children to the Huron and other nations. Numerous Huron villages and areas were permanently abandoned. About two-thirds of the population died in the epidemics, decreasing the population to about 12,000.

Before the French arrived, the Huron had already been in conflict with the Iroquois nations to the south. Several thousand Huron lived as far south as present-day central West Virginia along the Kanawha River by the late 16th century, but they were driven out by the Iroquois’ invading from present-day New York in the 17th century.

Once the European powers became involved in trading, the conflict among natives intensified significantly as they struggled to control the trade. The French allied with the Huron, because they were the most advanced trading nation at the time. The Iroquois tended to ally with the Dutch.  Introduction of European weapons and the fur trade increased the severity of inter-tribal warfare, “Le Longue Carabine”.

In James Fenimore Cooper’s Feb 1826 novel, “The Last of the Mohicans”, first published in Philadelphia, set in 1757 in what is now New York state, the antagonist, Magua, is a Huron chief.

Surviving Jesuits burned the mission of St Ignace after abandoning it to prevent its capture. The Iroquois attack shocked the Huron. By May 1, 1649, the Huron burned 15 of their villages to prevent their stores from being taken and fled as refugees to surrounding tribes. About 10,000 fled to Gahoendoe (Christian Island).

Most who fled to the island starved over the winter, as it was a non-productive settlement and could not provide for them. Those who survived were believed to have resorted to cannibalism to do so. After spending the bitter winter of 1649-50 on Gahoendoe, surviving Huron relocated near Quebec City, where they settled at Wendake. Absorbing other refugees, they became the Huron-Wendat Nation. Some Huron, along with the surviving Petuns, whose villages were attacked by the Iroquois in the fall of 1649, fled to the upper Lake Michigan region, settling first at Green Bay, then at Michilimackinac.  The western Wyandot eventually re-formed across the border in the area of present-day Ohio and southern Michigan in the United States. Some descendants of the Wyandot Nation of Anderdon still live in Ohio and Michigan.

In the 1840s, most of the surviving Wyandot people were displaced to Kansas through the US federal policy of forced Indian removal. Using the funds they received for their lands in Ohio the Wyandot purchased 23,000 acres (93 km2) of land for $46,080 in what is now Wyandotte County, Kansas in the Kansas City, Kansas area from the Delaware who were grateful for the hospitality the Wyandot had shown them in Ohio. It was a more-or-less square parcel north and west of the junction of the Kansas River and the Missouri River.

In February 1985 the U.S. government agreed to pay descendants of the Wyandot $5.5 million. The decision settled the 143-year-old treaty, which in 1842 forced the tribe to sell their Ohio lands for half of its fair value.

In 1999, representatives of the far-flung Wyandot bands of Quebec, Kansas, Oklahoma and Michigan gathered at their historic homeland in Midland, Ontario. They formally re-established the Wendat Confederacy.

Each modern Wyandot community is an autonomous band:

  • Huron-Wendat Nation, at Wendake, now within the Quebec City limits, approximately 3,000 members
  • Wyandot Nation of Anderdon, in Michigan, with headquarters in Trenton, Michigan, perhaps 800 members
  • Wyandot Nation of Kansas, with headquarters in Kansas City, Kansas, perhaps 400 members
  • Wyandotte Nation, a federally recognized tribe headquartered in Wyandotte, Oklahoma, with 4,300 members.

The approximately 3,000 Wyandot in Quebec are primarily Catholic and speak French as a first language. They have begun to promote the study and use of the Wyandot language among their children.

St Jean de Brebeufs, SJ’s Legacy

Many Jesuit schools are named after St John de Brebeuf, SJ, such as Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal, Brébeuf College School in Toronto and Brebeuf High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is also St. John de Brebeuf Catholic High School in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada; and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. There is also Eglise St-Jean de Brebeuf in Sudbury, Ontario.

St John de Brebeuf’s feast day in Canada is celebrated on September 26, while in the United States it is celebrated on October 19.

It is said that the modern name of the Native North American sport of lacrosse was first coined by Brébeuf who thought that the sticks used in the game reminded him of a bishop’s crosier (crosse in French, and with the feminine definite article, la crosse).

Brebeuf’s Instructions to the Missionaries: In 1637, Father Brebeuf drew up a list of instructions for Jesuit missionaries destined to work among the Huron. They reflect his own experience, and a genuine sensitivity toward the native people.

  • You must love these Hurons, ransomed by the blood of the Son of God, as brothers.
  • You must never keep the Indians waiting at the time of embarking.
  • Carry a tinder-box or a piece of burning-glass, or both, to make fire for them during the day for smoking, and in the evening when it is necessary to camp; these little services win their hearts.
  • Try to eat the little food they offer you, and eat all you can, for you may not eat again for hours.
  • Eat as soon as day breaks, for Indians when on the road, eat only at the rising and the setting of the sun.
  • Be prompt in embarking and disembarking and do not carry any water or sand into the canoe.
  • Be the least troublesome to the Indians.
  • Do not ask many questions; silence is golden.
  • Bear with their imperfections, and you must try always to appear cheerful.
  • Carry with you a half-gross of awls, two or three dozen little folding knives, and some plain and fancy beads with which to buy fish or other commodities from the nations you meet, in order to feast your Indian companions, and be sure to tell them from the outset that here is something with which to buy fish.
  • Always carry something during the portages.
  • Do not be ceremonious with the Indians.
  • Do not begin to paddle unless you intend always to paddle.
  • The Indians will keep later that opinion of you which they have formed during the trip.
  • Always show any other Indians you meet on the way a cheerful face and show that you readily accept the fatigues of the journey.

The Huron Carol

The “Huron Carol” (or “‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime”) is a Canadian Christmas hymn (Canada’s oldest Christmas song), written in 1643 by Jean de Brébeuf.  Brébeuf wrote the lyrics in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people; the song’s original Huron title is “Jesous Ahatonhia” (“Jesus, he is born”). The song’s melody is based on a traditional French folk song, “Une Jeune Pucelle” (“A Young Maid”). The well-known English lyrics were written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton.

The English version of the hymn uses imagery familiar in the early 20th century, in place of the traditional Nativity story. This version is derived from Brebeuf’s original song and Huron religious concepts. In the English version, Jesus is born in a “lodge of broken bark”, and wrapped in a “robe of rabbit skin”.

He is surrounded by hunters instead of shepherds, and the Magi are portrayed as “chiefs from afar” that bring him “fox and beaver pelts” instead of the more familiar gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The hymn also uses a traditional Algonquian name, Gitchi Manitou, for God. The original lyrics are now sometimes modified to use imagery accessible to Christians who are not familiar with Native-Canadian cultures.

The song remains a common Christmas hymn in Canadian churches of many Christian denominations. Canadian singer Bruce Cockburn has also recorded a rendition of the song in the original Huron. It was also sung by Canadian musician Tom Jackson during his annual Huron Carole show. The group ‘Crash Test Dummies’ recorded this hymn on their album “Jingle all the Way” (2002). In the United States, the song was included as “Jesous Ahatonia” on Burl Ives’s 1952 album Christmas Day in the Morning and was later released as a Burl Ives single under the title “Indian Christmas Carol.” The music has been rearranged by the Canadian songwriter Loreena McKennitt under the title “Breton Carol” in 2008.

The Hurons who escaped the Iroquois attacks preserved the hymn.  Father Étienne de Villeneuve, SJ recorded the words of the hymn, which were found among his papers following his death in 1794.

We see in this carol a fine instance of genuine inculturation, as St. Jean de Brébeuf, SJ, strove to express the universal truths of Christian faith in an idiom intelligible to the Hurons among whom he preached.

Guide to Pronunciation:
e – like ‘eh’
8 = ‘w’ before vowel
‘u’ before consonant
i – like ‘ee’ in ‘freeze’,
= ‘y’
a – like ‘ah’
th = t followed by an aspiration
on – as in the French word ‘bon’ en – as in the French word ‘chien’
an – as in the French word ‘viande’
Accents tend to fall on the 2nd last syllable

Iesous Ahatonnia (ee-sus a-ha-ton-nyah= Jesus, he is born)
Estennia,on de tson8e Ies8s ahatonnia
eh-sten-nyah-yon deh tson-weh ee-sus a-ha-ton-nyah

Have courage, you who are humans, Jesus, he is born

Onn’a8ate8a d’oki n’on,8andask8aentak
on-nah-wah-teh-wah do-kee non-ywah-ndah-skwa-en-tak

Behold, the spirit who had us as prisoners has fled

Ennonchien sk8atrihotat n’on,8andi,onrachatha
en-non-shyen skwah-tree-hotat non-ywa-ndee-yon-rah-shah-thah

Do not listen to it, as it corrupts our minds

Iesus ahatonnia

A,oki onkinnhache eronhia,eronnon
ayo-kee on-kee-nhah-sheh eh-ron-hya-yeh-ron-non

They are spirits, coming with a message for us, the sky people

iontonk ontatiande ndio sen tsatonnharonnion
yon-tonk on-tah-tya-ndeh ndyo sen tsah-ton-nha-ron-nyon

they are coming to say, “Rejoice” (ie., be on top of life)

8arie onna8ak8eton ndio sen tsatonnharonnion
wah-ree on-nah-wah-kweh-ton ndyo sen tsah ton-nha-ron-nyon

“Marie, she has just given birth. Rejoice.”

Ies8s ahatonnia

Achink ontahonrask8a d’hatirih8annens
a-shien-k on-tah-hon-rah-skwah dhah-tee-ree-hwan-nens

Three have left for such a place, those who are elders

Tichion ha,onniondetha onh8a achia ahatren
tee-shyon ha-yon-nyon-deh-tha on-hwah a-shya ah-hah-tren

A star that has just appeared over the horizon leads them there

Ondaiete hahahak8a tichion ha,onniondetha
on-dee teh-hah-hah-hah-kwah tee-shyon ha-yon-nyon-deh-tha

He will seize the path, he who leads them there

Ies8s ahatonnia

Tho ichien stahation tethotondi Ies8s
thoh ee-shyen stah-hah-tyon teh-tho-ton-ndee ee-sus

As they arrived there, where he was born, Jesus

ahoatatende tichion stan chi teha8ennion
ah-ho-a-tah-ten-nde tyee-shyon stan shee teh-hah-wen-nyon

the star was at the point of stopping, he was not far past it

Aha,onatorenten iatonk atsion sken
a-hah-yon-ah-to-ren-ten yah-tonk ah-tsyon sken

Having found someone for them, he says, “Come here”

Ies8s ahatonnia

Onne ontahation chiahona,en Ies8s
on-nen on-tah-hah-tyon shyah-hon-ah-yen ee-sus

Behold, they have arrived there and have seen Jesus

Ahatichiennonniannon kahachia handia,on
ah-hah-tee-shyen-non-nyan-non kah-hah-shyah hah-ndyah-yon

They praised (made a name) many times, saying “Hurray, he is good in nature”

Te honannonronk8annnion ihontonk oerisen
teh-hon-an-non-ron-kwan-nyon ee-hon-tonk o-eh-ree-sen

They greeted him with reverence (i.e., greased his scalp many times), saying “Hurray”

Iesus ahatonnia

Te hek8atatennonten ahek8achiendaen
teh-heh-kwah-tah-ten-non-ten ah-heh-kwah-shyen-ndah-en

“We will give to him praise for his name”

Te hek8annonronk8annion de son,8entenrande
teh-heh-kwan-non-ron-kwan-nyon deh son-ywen-ten-ran-ndeh

“Let us show reverence for him as he comes to be compassionate to us.”

8to,eti sk8annonh8e ichierhe akennonhonstha u-to-yeh-tee
skwan-non-hweh ee-shyeh-rheh ah-keh-non-hon-sthah

“It is providential that you love us and wish, “I should adopt them.”

Ies8s ahatonnia

Translated by Mildred Milliea, edited by Eskasoni Elder’s Committee, and sung by the Eskasoni Trio. copyright (c) 2001

Na kesikewiku’sitek jipji’jk* majita’titek
It was in the moon of the wintertime when all the birds had fled

Kji-Niskam petkimasnika ansale’wilitka
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angels

Kloqoejuitpa’q, Netuklijik nutua’tiji.
On a starlit night hunters heard

Se’sus eleke’wit, Se’sus pekisink, ewlite’lmin
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In-ex-cel-sis-gloria

Ula nqanikuomk etli we’ju’ss mijua’ji’j
Within the lodge of bark the tender Babe was found

Tel-klu’sit euli tetpoqa’tasit apli’kmujuey
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped His beauty round

L’nu’k netuklijik nutua’tiji ansale’wiliji.
But as the hunter braves drew near the angel’s song rang loud and high

Se’sus eleke’wit, Se’sus pekisink, eulite’lmin
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born, In-ex-cel-sis-gloria

O’ mijua’ji’jk nipuktukewe’k, O’ Niskam wunijink
O children of the forest free, O God’s children

Maqmikek aq Wa’so’q tley ula mijua’ji’j
The Holy Child of Heaven and Earth

Pekisink kiskuk wjit kilow, pekisitoq wantaqo’ti.
Has come today for you has brought peace

Se’sus eleke’wit, Se’sus pekisink, eulite’lmin
Jesus the King is born, Jesus has come, In-ex-cel-sis-gloria

*The Mi’kmaw word “sisipk” is preferred by many to “jipji’jk” for “birds”.

Listen:
http://firstnationhelp.com/06_huron_carol.mp3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6IG6F6E5Ac

Spiritual Formation of St Jean de Brebeuf, SJ

“His death has put the crown upon his life.” So Father Ragueneau, SJ, as on that distant April day at Fort Ste. Marie he concluded.  He closed the little spiritual diary of the Saint which had lain open before him. It was difficult to brush away the haunting recollections of this man who just a few weeks ago had died a martyr at St. Ignace a mere six miles away. Sternly he set himself to completing the more prosaic details of his 1649 report to his superior back in France.  Father Ragueneau, SJ, who had lived intimately with Father de Brefeuf for the last twelve years and who knew him well, was right. Fr. Jean de Brebeuf, SJ, by deliberate choice had worn the red, regal robes of a martyr ever since he entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Rouen thirty-one years before, and for love of Him who had previously passed that way had trodden, the rest of his days, down the long Royal Road of the Cross. On March 16, 1649, he found shining at its end the reward  the crown accorded Paul and Lawrence and Sebastian and legions of Christ’s nobility before him. The fitting culmination of a martyr’s life was a martyr’s death.

Although he came from a France then in spiritual ferment, Brebeuf’s inner life remained to the end simple, direct, resolvable into one or two easily recognized elements. Its fibrous centre was the Jesuit Rule, its inspirational source the Passion of Our Lord, its overall characteristic daily, hourly martyrdom.

For almost twenty years before his death, Brebeuf’s resolution had been: “I’ll burst rather than voluntarily break any rule.” Such a resolve, if kept (and on the testimony of Ragueneau we know that it was kept), would alone be enough to make a man a Saint. It had been enough already to make a Saint of his fellow Jesuit, the Belgian John Berchmans, who died at Rome 1621, the year that Brebeuf became a sub-deacon.

Brebeuf’s forced return to France in 1629, his hopes for a missioner’s life and for a martyr’s death apparently dashed forever, was a spiritual milestone. He spent three brief years in France at this time, pegged to the distracting job of Bursar in a busy college. Yet for him these years were what a near lifetime passed in desert solitude might have been to some early eremite. They were fruitful years of probing self-knowledge, of, deepening and of simplification. During this period, his inner life assumed characteristics that would remain and single him out, among a hundred apparently similar saints, to the end of his days. This was the time when he set the perfect observance of the Rule of the Society of Jesus at the very centre of his spiritual life. It was during this period, as well, that he began really to lay bare the inexhaustible riches of Our Lord’s Passion. Now too came more sharply into focus his program of daily, hourly, self-inflicted martyrdom, since the possibility of that other martyrdom seemed forever removed. And at this time he was initiated, briefly, into the mystical life.

When David Kirke forced the French regime and the Jesuit missionaries temporarily out of New France he was doing a better thing than he knew. He was instrumental in providing strong impetus to the formation of a mystic and a saint.

Brebeuf was a giant, physically and spiritually, and so we are not surprised when he goes forward with great strides where other men, even other saints, appear to creep. But the reason for his swift progress lay ultimately in the motive which prompted him, the Love of God, the strongest as well as the highest of all possible motives. This is especially apparent when he starts earnestly and methodically to weave the red strands of the Passion into the pattern of his life. Many a holy man has, at least in the beginning, been impelled to a life of reparative suffering at the thought of his own earlier sins. Not so Brebeuf. With him it was love for Love. In his heart the pained cry of the first St. Ignatius, “My Love is crucified!” found true and responsive echo.

“I feel a great longing to suffer something for Christ,” he wrote in January, 1630 simply that, without further qualification except to say that God is treating him so gently these days that he is beginning to fear that he must be lost. Later in the same month he speaks of his sins, but only to balance them off against God’s goodness to him, and ingratitude to ask, “Lord, make me a man after Thine own Heart.” And paraphrasing that other great lover, St. Paul, he goes on to protest: “Nothing henceforward shall separate me from Thy love, not nakedness, not the sword, not death.”

-The Inner Flame of St John Brebeuf”, Elmer O’Brien, SJ

Prayer of St John de Brebeuf, SJ:

“Jesus, my Lord and Savior, what can I give You in return for all the favors You have first conferred on me? I will take from Your hand the cup of Your sufferings and call on Your name. I vow before Your eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, before Your most holy Mother and her most chaste spouse, before the angels, apostles and martyrs, before my blessed fathers Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier–in truth, I vow to You, Jesus my Savior, that as far as I have the strength, I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if someday You in Your infinite mercy should offer it to me, Your most unworthy servant…My beloved Jesus, here and now I offer my body and blood and life. May I die only for You, if You will grant me this grace, since You willingly died for me. Let me so live that You may grant me the gift of such a happy death. In this way, my God and Savior, I will take from Your hand the cup of Your sufferings and call on Your name: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!”

North-American-Martyrs

Father, You consecrated the first beginnings of the faith in North America by the preaching and martyrdom of Saints John and Isaac and their companions. By the help of their prayers may the Christian faith continue to grow throughout the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sainte-Marie_among_the_Hurons_Brebeuf_and_Lalement_grave_site

-Brebeuf & Lalemant gravesite

Saint Jean de Brébeuf, obtain for me, through your intercession, courage to overcome all human respect, resignation in times of trial, confidence in God’s power and goodness, and zeal for my spiritual welfare; so that, raised above the things of earth, I may lead a truly Christian life and gain merit for eternity. Amen.

brebeuf

ehc-stjdebrebeuf_grande

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.  And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I hand over my body to be burned so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
-1 Cor 13:1-3

Love,
Matthew

Apr 7 – St Henry Walpole, SJ, (1558-1595), Martyr, Poet, Priest

walpole

Son of Christopher & Margery, from a large family of boys, witty & bon vivant, in his early twenties, Henry Walpole was indifferent to sufferings of his fellow Englishmen for their beliefs until he attended the execution of the well known Edmund Campion, SJ, and blood from the martyr fell upon him.  A baptism?  Surely.  Of the most profound kind.  Henry Walpole was inspired by the courage of the Jesuit martyr to become a priest for his native England.  A conversion had begun…deep and profound.  Falling in love.

He was arrested, however, almost as soon as he set foot on English soil and spent more time being tortured in prison than some Jesuits spent ministering the sacraments. Walpole had been born Catholic but was not sure which direction to follow in the religious controversy that roiled England. He attended the discussions that Campion held with Anglican divines and been impressed with the Jesuit’s zeal and preaching.   He was also present at the Jesuit poet’s execution. A drop of Campion’s blood fell on his clothes from the martyr’s quartered body, confirming his sense that God was calling him to follow in Campion’s footsteps. He even wrote a poem honoring the dead Jesuit.

“Why do I use my paper, ink and pen?
Or call my wits counsel what to say?
Such memories were made for mortal man,
I speak of saints, whose names cannot decay.
Angel’s trump were meter far to sound
Their glorious deaths, if such on earth were found.
His native flowers were mixed with herb of grace.
His mild behavior tempered well with skill.
A lowly mind possessed a learned place.
A sugared speech, rare and virtuous will.
A saint like man set in earth below.
The Tower says the truth he did defend,
The Bar bears witness of his guiltless mind.
Tyburn doth tell, he made a patient end.
In every gate his martyrdom we find
In vain you wrought, that would obscure his name,
For heaven and earth will still record the same.
You thought perhaps when learned Campion dies,
His pen must cease, his sugared tongue be still.
But you forget how loud his death it cries,
How far beyond the sound of tongue and guile.
You did not know how rare and great and good,
It was to write his precious gifts in blood.”

Walpole studied at Cambridge and then moved to London to study law, but then changed direction and decided to become a priest. Described a year later after witnessing Campion’s execution as “discreet, grave, and pious”, he entered the English College in Rheims, France in July 1582 and then moved to Rome nine months later. On Feb. 4, 1584 he joined the Society of Jesus and completed his studies at the Scots College at Pont-à-Mousson, France. After he was ordained in Paris, he was assigned to be chaplain to English Catholic refugees serving in the Spanish army in the Low Countries.

He spent a year in prison after he was captured by the Calvinists in 1589, and then worked at the English seminary in Valladolid, Spain until he was finally asked to return to England in 1593. The Jesuit, his brother and an English soldier sailed together on a French ship headed for Scotland because the southern ports of England were closed because of the plague.

On Dec. 4, 1593, the three passengers were put ashore at Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, after 10 days of stormy sailing, but separated on land. Father Walpole was resting at an inn 10 miles inland when he was arrested for being a priest; he had been betrayed by a fellow passenger who was earning money to buy his way out of prison.

One night of freedom in England was followed by 16 months of imprisonment.  Walpole admitted during his first interrogation that he was a Jesuit and had come to England to convert people. He was transferred to York Castle for three months, and was permitted to leave the prison to discuss theology with Protestant visitors. Then he was transferred to the Tower of London at the end of February, 1594, so that the notorious priest-torturer Richard Topcliffe could wrest information from him. Walpole was tortured brutally on the rack and was suspended by his wrists for hours, but Topcliffe stretched the tortures out over the course of a year to prevent an accidental death.  While still able to write, Henry wrote to a fellow Jesuit at a monastery in Yorkshire about his ordeal, he wrote: “…I hope, through the merits of my most sweet Saviour and Lord, that I shall be always ready, whether living or dying, to glorify Him, which will be for my eternal happiness.”

Walpole endured torture 14 different times before being returned in 1595 to York to stand trial under the law that made it high treason for an Englishman simply to return home after receiving Holy Orders abroad. The man who had once aspired to be a lawyer defended himself ably, pointing out that the law only applied to priests who had not given themselves up to officials within three days of arrival. He himself had been arrested less than a day after landing in England, so he had not violated that law.  The judges responded by demanding that he take the Oath of Supremacy, acknowledging the queen’s complete authority in religion. He refused to do so and was convicted of high treason.

On April 7, Walpole was dragged out of York to be executed along with another priest, Bl. Alexander Rawlins of the Diocese of Gloucester, who was killed first. Then the Jesuit climbed the ladder to the gallows and asked the onlookers to pray with him. After he finished the Our Father but before he could say the Hail Mary, the executioner pushed him away from the ladder; then he was taken down and dismembered.  In St Henry Walpole, SJ, Catholics received yet another example of fidelity and courage.

When asked to join in prayer with Protestants for his own peaceful death he said “that by the grace of God he was in peace with all the world, and prayed God for all, particularly those who were the cause of his death; but as they were with them; yet he heartily prayed for them, that God would enlighten them with His truth, bring them back to His Church, and dispose them for His mercy” …he also prayed: “…may His Divine Majesty never suffer me to consent to the least thing by which He may be dishonored, nor you to desire it of me, and God is my witness, that to all here present, and particularly to my accusers, I wish as to myself the salvation of their souls, and to this end they may live in the true Catholic Faith, the only way to eternal happiness.”

img-Saint-Henry-Walpole

henry_walpole_inscription
-inscription left by St Henry Walpole, SJ, in his prison cell in the Salt/Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London.  Below his name, more lightly inscribed, he imprinted the Latin names of Sts Paul & Peter, along with those of Sts Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, & Gregory, four Doctors of the  early Church.

Almighty and everlasting God,
Who kindled the flame of Your love in the heart of Your holy martyr
St Henry Walpole, SJ,
Grant to us, Your humble servants,
a like faith and power of love
that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their example;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Love,
Matthew

Decem Rationes – St Edmund Campion, SJ (1540-1581)

st-edmund-campion-jesuit-english-martyr-painting-dvd-marys-dowry-productions-elizabethan-saint

Edmund Campion, to the Learned Members of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Greeting.

Last year, Gentlemen, when in accordance with my calling in life I returned under orders to this Island, I found on the shore of England not a little wilder waves than those I had recently left behind in the British Seas. As thereupon I made my way into the interior of England, I had no more familiar sight than that of unusual executions, no greater certainty than the uncertainty of threatening dangers. I gathered my wits together as best I could, remembering the cause which I was serving and the times in which I lived. And lest I might perhaps be arrested before I had got a hearing from any one, I at once put my purpose in writing, stating who I was, what was my errand, what war I thought of declaring and upon whom. I kept the original document on my person, that it might be taken with me, if I were taken. I deposited a copy with a friend, and this copy, without my knowledge, was shown to many. Adversaries took very ill the publication of the paper. What they particularly disliked and blamed was my having offered to hold the field alone against all comers in this matter of religion, though to be sure I should not have been alone had I disputed under a public safe conduct. Hanmer and Chartres have replied to my demands. What is the tenour of their reply? All off the point. The only honest answer for them to give is one they will never give: “We embrace the conditions, the Queen pledges her word, come at once.” Meanwhile they fill the air with their cries: “Your conspiracy! your seditious proceedings! your arrogance! traitor! aye marry, traitor!” The whole thing is absurd. These men are not fools: why are they wasting their pains and damaging their own reputation?

Nevertheless, in reply to these two gentlemen (one of whom has chosen my paper to run at for his amusement, the other more maliciously has confused the whole issue) there has recently been presented a very clear memorial setting forth all that need be said about our Society and their calumnies and the part that we are taking. The only course left open to me (since as I see, it is tortures, not academic disputations, that the high-priests are making ready) was to make good to you the account of my conduct; to show you the chief heads and point my finger to the sources from whence I derive this confidence; to exhort you also, as it is your concern above others, to give to this business that attention which Christ, the Church, the Common Weal, and your own salvation demand of you. If it were confidence in my own talents, erudition, art, reading, memory, that led me to challenge all the skill that could be brought against me, then were I the vainest and proudest of mortals, not having considered either myself or my opponents. But if, with my cause before my eyes, I thought myself competent to show that the sun here shines at noon-day, you ought to allow in me that heat which the honour of Jesus Christ, my King, and the unconquered force of truth have put upon me. You know how in Marcus Tullius’s speech for Publius Quintius, when Roscius promised that he should win the case if he could make out by arguments that a journey of 700 miles had not been accomplished in two days, Cicero not only had no fear of all the force of the pleading of the opposing counsel, Hortensius, but could not have been afraid even of greater orators than Hortensius, men of the stamp of Cotta and Antonius and Crassus, whose reputation for speaking he set higher than that of all other men: for truth does sometimes stand out in so clear a light that no artifice of word or deed can hide it. Now the case on our side is clearer even than that position of Roscius. I have only to evince this, that there is a Heaven, that there is a God, that there is a Faith, that there is a Christ, and I have gained my cause. Standing on such ground should I not pluck up heart? I may be killed, beaten I cannot be. I take my stand on those Doctors, whom that Spirit has instructed who is neither deceived nor overcome.

I beg of you, consent to be saved. Of those from whom I obtain this consent I expect without the least doubt that all the rest will follow. Only give yourselves up to take interest in this inquiry, entreat Christ, add efforts of your own, and certainly you will perceive how the case lies, how our adversaries are in despair, and ourselves so solidly founded that we cannot but desire this conflict with serene and high courage. I am brief here, because I address you in the rest of my discourse. Farewell.

RATIONES OBLATI CERTAMINIS

“I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist and gainsay.” Luc. 21. 15.

Rationum capita

1. Holy Writ.
2. The Sense of Holy Writ.
3. The Nature of the Church.
4. Councils.
5. Fathers.
6. The Grounds of Argument Assumed by the Fathers.
7. History.
8. Paradoxes.
9. Sophism.
10. All Manner of Witness.

FIRST REASON

HOLY WRIT

Of the many signs that tell of the adversaries’ mistrust of their own cause, none declares it so loudly as the shameful outrage they put upon the majesty of the Holy Bible. After they have dismissed with scorn the utterances and suffrages of the rest of the witnesses, they are nevertheless brought to such straits that they cannot hold their own otherwise than by laying violent hands on the divine volumes themselves, thereby showing beyond all question that they are brought to their last stand, and are having recourse to the hardest and most extreme of expedients to retrieve their desperate and ruined fortunes. What induced the Manichees to tear out the Gospel of Matthew and the Acts of the Apostles? Despair. For these volumes were a torment to men who denied Christ’s birth of a Virgin, and who pretended that the Spirit then first descended upon Christians when their peculiar Paraclete, a good-for-nothing Persian, made his appearance. What induced the Ebionites to reject all St. Paul’s Epistles? Despair. For while those Letters kept their credit, the custom of circumcision, which these men had reintroduced, was set aside as an anachronism. What induced that crime-laden apostate Luther to call the Epistle of James contentious, turgid, arid, a thing of straw, and unworthy of the Apostolic spirit? Despair. For by this writing the wretched man’s argument of righteousness consisting in faith alone was stabbed through and rent assunder. What induced Luther’s whelps to expunge off-hand from the genuine canon of Scripture, Tobias, Ecclesiasticus, Maccabees, and, for hatred of these, several other books involved in the same false charge? Despair. For by these Oracles they are most manifestly confuted whenever they argue about the patronage of Angels, about free will, about the faithful departed, about the intercession of Saints.

Is it possible? So much perversity, so much audacity? After trampling underfoot Church, Councils, Episcopal Sees, Fathers, Martyrs, Potentates, Peoples, Laws, Universities, Histories, all vestiges of Antiquity and Sanctity, and declaring that they would settle their disputes by the written word of God alone, to think that they should have emasculated that same Word, which alone was left, by cutting out of the whole body so many excellent and goodly parts! Seven whole books, to ignore lesser diminutions, have the Calvinists cut out of the Old Testament. The Lutherans take away the Epistle of James besides, and, in their dislike of that, five other Epistles, about which there had been controversy of old in certain places and times. To the number of these the latest authorities at Geneva add the book of Esther and about three chapters of Daniel, which their fellow-disciples, the Anabaptists, had some time before condemned and derided.

How much greater was the modesty of Augustine (“De doct. Christ. lib.” 2, c. 8.), who, in making his catalogue of the Sacred Books, did not take for his rule the Hebrew Alphabet, like the Jews, nor private judgment, like the Sectaries, but that Spirit wherewith Christ animates the whole Church. The Church, the guardian of this treasure, not its mistress (as heretics falsely make out), vindicated publicly in former times by very ancient Councils this entire treasure, which the Council of Trent has taken up and embraced. Augustine also in a special discussion on one small portion of Scripture cannot bring himself to think that any man’s rash murmuring should be permitted to thrust out of the Canon the book of Wisdom, which even in his time had obtained a sure place as a well-authenticated and Canonical book in the reckoning of the Church, the judgment of ages, the testimony of ancients, and the sense of the faithful. What would he say now if he were alive on earth, and saw men like Luther and Calvin manufacturing Bibles, filing down Old and New Testament with a neat pretty little file of their own, setting aside, not the book of wisdom alone, but with it very many others from the list of Canonical Books? Thus whatever does not come out from their shop, by a mad decree, is liable to be, spat upon by all as a rude and barbarous composition.

They who have stooped to this dire and execrable way of saving themselves surely are beaten, overthrown, and flung rolling in the dust, for all their fine praises that are in the mouths of their admirers, for all their traffic in priesthoods, for all their bawling in pulpits, for all their sentencing of Catholics to chains, rack and gallows. Seated in their armchairs as censors, as though any one had elected them to that office, they seize their pens and mark passages as spurious even in God’s own Holy Writ, putting their pens through whatever they cannot stomach. Can any fairly educated man be afraid of battalions of such enemies? If in the midst of your learned body they had recourse to such trickster’s arts, calling like wizards upon their familiar spirit, you would shout at them, – you would stamp your feet at them. For instance I would ask them what right they have to rend and mutilate the body of the Bible. They would answer that they do not cut out true Scriptures, but prune away supposititious accretions. By authority of what judge? By the Holy Ghost. This is the answer prescribed by Calvin (“Instit.” lib. I, c. 7), for escaping this judgment of the Church whereby spirits of prophesy are examined. Why then do some of you tear out one piece of Scripture, and others another, whereas you all boast of being led by the same Spirit?

The Spirit of the Calvinists receives six Epistles which do not please the Lutheran Spirit, both all the while in full confidence reposing on the Holy Ghost. The Anabaptists call the book of Job a fable, intermixed with tragedy and comedy. How do they know? The Spirit has taught them. Whereas the Song of Solomon is admired by Catholics as a paradise of the soul, a hidden manna, and rich delight in Christ, Castalio, a lewd rogue, has reckoned it nothing better than a love-song about a mistress, and an amorous conversation with Court flunkeys. Whence drew he that intimation? From the Spirit. In the Apocalypse of John, every jot and tittle of which Jerane declares to bear some lofty and magnificent meaning, Luther and Brent and Kemnitz, critics hard to please, find something wanting, and are inclined to throw over the whole book. Whom have they consulted? The Spirit. Luther with preposterous heat pits the Four Gospels one against another (“Praef. in Nov. Test.”), and far prefers Paul’s Epistles to the first three, while he declares the Gospel of St. John above the rest to be beautiful, true, and worthy of mention in the first place, – thereby enrolling even the Apostles, so far as in him lay, as having a hand in his quarrels. Who taught him to do that? The Spirit. Nay this imp of a friar has not hesitated in petulant style to assail Luke’s Gospel because therein good and virtuous works are frequently commended to us. Whom did he consult? The Spirit. Theodore Beza has dared to carp at, as a corruption and perversion of the original, that mystical word from the twenty-second chapter of Luke, “this is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which (chalice) shall be shed for you” [Greek: potaerion ekchunomenon], because this language admits of no explanation other than that of the wine in the chalice being converted into the true blood of Christ. Who pointed that out? The Spirit. In short, in believing all things every man in the faith of his own spirit, they horribly belie and blaspheme the name of the Holy Ghost. So acting, do they not give themselves away? are they not easily refuted? In an assembly of learned men, such as yours, Gentlemen of the University, are they not caught and throttled without trouble? Should I be afraid on behalf of the Catholic faith to dispute with these men, who have handled with the utmost ill faith not human but heavenly utterances?

I say nothing here of their perverse versions of Scripture, though I could accuse them in this respect of intolerable doings. I will not take the bread out of the mouth of that great linguist, my fellow-Collegian, Gregory Martin, who will do this work with more learning and abundance of detail than I could; nor from others whom I understand already to have that task in hand. More wicked and more abominable is the crime that I am now prosecuting, that there have been found upstart Doctors who have made a drunken onslaught on the handwriting that is of heaven; who have given judgment against it as being in many places defiled, defective, false, surreptitious; who have corrected some passages, tampered with others; torn out others; who have converted every bulwark wherewith it was guarded into Lutheran “spirits,” what I may call phantom ramparts and parted walls. All this they have done that they might not be utterly dumbfounded by falling upon Scripture texts contrary to their errors, texts which they would have found it as hard to get over as to swallow hot ashes or chew stones.

This then has been my First Reason, a strong and a just one. By revealing the shadowy and broken powers of the adverse faction, it has certainly given new courage to a Christian man, not unversed in these studies, to fight for the Letters Patent of the Eternal King against the remnant of a routed foe.

SECOND REASON

THE SENSE OF HOLY WRIT

Another thing to incite me to the encounter, and to disparage in my eyes the poor forces of the enemy, is the habit of mind which they continually display in their exposition of the Scriptures, full of deceit, void of wisdom. As philosophers, you would seize these points at once. Therefore I have desired to have you for my audience.

Suppose, for example, we ask our adversaries on what ground they have concocted that novel and sectarian opinion which banishes Christ from the Mystic Supper. If they name the Gospel, we meet them promptly. On our side are the words, “this is my body, this is my blood.” This language seemed to Luther himself so forcible, that for all his strong desire to turn Zwinglian, thinking by that means to make it most awkward for the Pope, nevertheless he was caught and fast bound by this most open context, and gave in to it (Luther, epistol. ad Argent.), and confessed Christ truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament no less unwillingly than the demons of old, overcome by His miracles, cried aloud that He was Christ, the Son of God. Well then, the written text gives us the advantage: the dispute now turns on the sense of what is written. Let us examine this from the words in the context, “my body which is given for you, my blood which hall be shed for many.” Still the explanation on Calvin’s side is most hard, on ours easy and quite plain. What further? Compare the Scriptures, they say, one with another. By all means. The Gospels agree, Paul concurs. The words, the clauses, the whole sentence reverently repeat living bread, signal miracle, heavenly food, flesh, body, blood. There is nothing enigmatical, nothing befogged with a mist of words.

Still our adversaries hold on and make no end of altercation. What are we to do? I presume, Antiquity should be heard; and what we, two parties suspect of one another, cannot settle, let it be settled by the decision of venerable ancient men of all past ages, as being nearer Christ and further removed from this contention. They cannot stand that, they protest that they are being betrayed, they appeal to the word of God pure and simple, they turn away from the comments of men. Treacherous and fatuous excuse. We urge the word of God, they darken the meaning of it. We appeal to the witness of the Saints as interpreters, they withstand them. In short their position is that there shall be no trial, unless you stand by the judgment of the accused party.

And so they behave in every controversy which we start. On infused grace, on inherent justice, on the visible Church, on the necessity of Baptism, on Sacraments and Sacrifice, on the merits of the good, on hope and fear, on the difference of guilt in sins, on the authority of Peter, on the keys, on vows, on the evangelical counsels, on other such points, we Catholics have cited and discussed Scripture texts not a few, and of much weight, everywhere in books, in meetings, in churches, in the Divinity School: they have eluded them. We have brought to bear upon them the “scholia” of the ancients, Greek and Latin: they have refused them. What then is their refuge? Doctor Martin Luther, or else Philip (Melancthon), or anyhow Zwingle, or beyond doubt Calvin and Besa have faithfully laid down the facts. Can I suppose any of you to be so dull of sense as not to perceive this artifice when he is told of it? Wherefore I must confess how earnestly I long for the University Schools as a place where, with you looking on, I could call those carpet-knights out of their delicious retreats into the heat and dust of action, and break their power, not by any strength of my own, – for I am not comparable, not one per cent., with the rest of our people; – but by force of strong case and most certain truth.

THIRD REASON

THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH

At hearing the name of the Church the enemy has turned pale. Still he has devised some explanation which I wish you to notice, that you may observe the ruinous and poverty-stricken estate of falsehood. He was well aware that in the Scriptures, as well of Prophets as of Apostles, everywhere there is made honourable mention of the Church: that it is called the holy city, the fruitful vine, the high mountain, the straight way, the only dove, the kingdom of heaven, the spouse and body of Christ, the ground of truth, the multitude to whom the Spirit has been promised and into whom He breathes all truths that make for salvation; her on whom, taken as a whole, the devil’s jaws are never to inflict a deadly bite; her against whom whoever rebels, however much he preach Christ with his mouth, has no more hold on Christ than the publican or the heathen.

Such a loud pronouncement he dared not gainsay; he would not seem rebellious against a Church of which the Scriptures make such frequent mention: so he cunningly kept the name, while by his definition he utterly abolished the thing, He has depicted the Church with such properties as altogether hide her away, and leave her open to the secret gaze of a very few men, as though she were removed from the senses, like a Platonic Idea. They only could discern her, who by a singular inspiration had got the faculty of grasping with their intelligence this aerial body, and with keen eye regarding the members of such a company. What has become of candour and straightforwardness? What Scripture texts or Scripture meanings or authorities of Fathers thus portray the Church? There are letters of Christ to the Asiatic Churches (Apoc. i. 3), letters of Peter, Paul, John, and others to various Churches; frequent mention in the Acts of the Apostles of the origin and spread of Churches. What of these Churches? Were they visible to God alone and holy men, or to Christians of every rank and degree?

But, doubtless, necessity is a hard weapon. Pardon these subterfuges. Throughout the whole course of fifteen centuries these men find neither town, village nor household professing their doctrine, until an unhappy monk by an incestuous marriage had deflowered a virgin vowed to God, or a Swiss gladiator had conspired against his country, or a branded runaway had occupied Geneva. These people, if they want to have a Church at all, are compelled to crack up a Church all hidden away; and to claim parents whom they themselves have never known, and no mortal has ever set eyes on. Perhaps they glory in the ancestry of men whom every one knows to have been heretics, such as Aerius, Jovinianus, Vigilantius, Helvidius, Berengarius, the Waldenses, the Lollards, Wycliffe, Huss, of whom they have begged sundry poisonous fragments of dogmas.

Wonder not that I have no fear of their empty talk: once I can meet them in the noon-day, I shall have no trouble in dispelling such vapourings. Our conversation with them would take this line. Tell me, do you subscribe to the Church which flourished in bygone ages? Certainly. Let us traverse, then, different countries and periods. What Church? The assembly of the faithful. What faithful? Their names are unknown, but it is certain that there have been many of them. Certain? to whom is it certain? To God Who says so! We, who have been taught of God – stuff and nonsense, how am I to believe it? If you had the fire of faith in you, you would know it as well as you know you are alive. Let in as spectators, could you withhold your laughter?

To think that all Christians should be bidden to join the Church; to beware of being cut down by the spiritual sword; to keep peace in the house of God; to trust their soul to the Church as to the pillar of truth; to lay all their complaints before the Church; to hold for heathen all who are cast out of the Church; and that nevertheless so many men for so many centuries should not know where the Church is or who belong to it! This much only they prate in the darkness, that wherever the Church is, only Saints and persons destined for heaven are contained in it.

Hence it follows that whoever wishes to withdraw himself from the authority of his ecclesiastical superior has only to persuade himself that the priest has fallen into sin and is quite cut off from the Church. Knowing as I did that the adversaries were inventing these fictions, contrary to the customary sense of the Churches in all ages, and that, having lost the whole substance, they still wished in their difficulties to retain the name, I took comfort in the thought of your sagacity, and so promised myself that, as soon as ever you had cognisance of such artifices by their own confession, you would at once like men of mark and intelligence rend asunder the web of foolish sophistry woven for your undoing.

FOURTH REASON

COUNCILS

In the infant Church a grave question about lawful ceremonies, which troubled the minds of believers, was solved by the gathering of a Council of Apostles and elders. The Children believed their parents, the sheep their shepherds, commanding in their words, “It hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us” (Acts xv). There followed for the extirpation of various heresies in various several ages, four Oecumenical Councils of the ancients, the doctrine whereof was so well established that a thousand years ago (see St. Gregory the Great’s Epistles, lib. i. cap. 24) singular honour was paid to it as to an utterance of God. I will travel no further abroad. Even in our home, in Parliament (ann. 1 Elisabeth), the same Councils keep their former right and their dignity inviolate. These I will cite, and I will call thee, England, my sweet country, to witness. If, as thou professest, thou wilt reverence these four Councils, thou shalt give chief honour to the Bishop of the first See, that is to Peter: thou shalt recognise on the altar the unbloody sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ: thou shalt beseech the blessed martyrs and all the saints to intercede with Christ on thy behalf: thou shalt restrain womanish apostates from unnatural vice and public incest: thou shalt do many things that thou art undoing, and wish undone much that thou art doing. Furthermore, I promise and undertake to show, when opportunity offers, that the Synods of other ages, and notably the Synod of Trent, have been of the same authority and credence as the first.

Armed therefore with the strong and choice support of all the Councils, why should I not enter into this arena with calmness and presence of mind, watchful to keep an eye on my adversary and see on what point he will show himself? I will produce testimonies most evident that he cannot wrest aside. Possibly he will take to scolding, and endeavour to talk against time, but he will not elude the eyes and ears of men who will watch him hard, as you will do, if you are the men I take you for.

But if there shall be any one found so stark mad as to set his single self up as a match for the senators of the world, men whose greatness, holiness, learning and antiquity is beyond all exception, I shall be glad to look upon that face of impudence; and when I have shown it to you, I will leave the rest to your own thoughts. Meanwhile I will say thus much: The man who refuses consideration and weight to a Plenary Council, brought to a conclusion in due and orderly fashion, seems to me witless, brainless, a dullard in theology, and a fool in politics. If ever the Spirit of God has shone upon the Church, then surely is the time for the sending of divine aid, when the most manifest religiousness, ripeness of judgment, science, wisdom, dignity of all the Churches on earth have flocked together in one city, and with employment of all means, divine and human, for the investigation of truth, implore the promised Spirit that they may make wholesome and prudent decrees.

Let there now leap to the front some mannikin master of an heretical faction, let him arch his eyebrows, turn up his nose, rub his forehead, and scurrilously take upon himself to judge his judges, what sport, what ridicule will he excite! There was found a Luther to say that he preferred to Councils the opinions of two godly and learned men (say his own and Philip Melanchthon’s) when they agreed in the name of Christ. Oh what quackery! There was found a Kemnitz to try the Council of Trent by the standard of his own rude and giddy humour. What gained he thereby? Infamy. While he, unless he takes care, shall be buried with Arius, the Synod of Trent, the older it grows, shall flourish the more, day by day, and year by year. Good God! what variety of nations, what a choice assembly of Bishops of the whole world, what a splendid representation of Kings and Commonwealths, what a quintessence of theologians, what sanctity, what tears, what fears, what flowers of Universities, what tongues, what subtlety, what labour, what infinite reading, what wealth of virtues and of studies filled that august sanctuary! I have myself heard Bishops, eminent and prudent men, – and among them Antony, Archbishop of Prague, by whom I was made Priest, – exulting that they had attended such a school for some years; so that, much as they owed to Kaiser Ferdinand, they considered that he had shown them no more royal and abundant bounty than this of sending them to sit in that Academy of Trent as Legates from Bohemia. The Kaiser understood this, and on their return he welcomed them with the words, “We have kept you at a good school.”

Invited as our adversaries have been under a safe conduct, why have they not hastened thither, publicly to refute those against whom they go on quacking like frogs from their holes? “They broke their promise to Huss and Jerome,” is their reply. Who broke it? “The Fathers of the Council of Constance.” It is false; they never gave any promise. But anyhow, not even Huss would have been punished had not the perfidious and pestilent fellow been brought back from that flight which the Emperor Sigusmund had forbidden him under pain of death; had he not violated the conditions which he had agreed to in writing with the Kaiser and thereby nullified all the value of that safe-conduct. Huss’s hasty wickedness played him false. For, having instigated deeds of savage violence in his native Bohemia, and being bidden thereupon to present himself at Constance, he despised the prerogative of the Council, and sought his safe-conduct of the Kaiser. Caesar signed it; the Christian world, greater than Caesar, cancelled the signature. The heresiarch refused to return to a sound mind, and so perished. As for Jerome of Prague, he came to Constance protected by no one; he was detected and arraigned; he spoke in his own behalf, was treated very kindly, went free whither he would; he was healed, abjured his heresy, relapsed, and was burnt.

Why do they so often drag out one case in a thousand? Let them read their own annals. Martin Luther himself, that abomination of God and men, was put in court at Augsburg before Cardinal Cajetan: there did he not belch out all he could, and then depart in safety, fortified with a letter of Maximilian? Likewise, when he was summoned to Worms, and had against him the Kaiser and most of the Princes of the Empire, was he not safe under the protection of the Kaiser’s word? Lastly, at the Diet of Augsburg, in presence of Charles V., an enemy of heretics, flushed with victory, master of the situation, did not the heads of the Lutherans and Zwinglians, under truce, present their Confessions, so frequently re-edited, and depart in peace? Not otherwise had the letter from Trent provided most ample safe-guards for the adversary; he would not take advantage of them. The fact is, he airs his condition in corners, where he expects to figure as a sage by coming out with three words of Greek: he shrinks from the light, which should place him in the number of men of letters [“lilleratorum” {transcribers note: the Latin is interpolated into the translation here}] and call him to sit in honourable place. Let them obtain for English Catholics such a written promise of impunity, if they love the salvation of souls. We will not raise the instance of Huss: relying on the Sovereign’s word, we will fly to Court.

But, to return to the point whence I digressed, the General Councils are mine, the first, the last, and those between. With them I will fight. Let the adversary look for a javelin hurled with force, which he will never be able to pluck out. Let Satan be overthrown in him, and Christ live.

FIFTH REASON

FATHERS

At Antioch, in which city the noble surname of Christians first became common, there flourished “Doctors,” that is, eminent theologians, and “Prophets,” that is, very celebrated preachers (Acts xiii. 1). Of this sort were the scribes and wise men, learned in the kingdom of God, bringing forth new things and old (Matth. xiii. 52; xxiii. 34), knowing Christ and Moses, whom the Lord promised to His future flock. What a wicked thing it is to scout these teachers, given as they are by way of a mighty boon! The adversary has scouted them. Why? Because their standing means his fall. Having found that out for certain beyond doubt, I have asked for a fight unqualified, not that sham-fight in which the crowds in the street engage, and skirmish with one another, but the earnest and keen struggle in which we join in the arena of yon philosophers: foot to foot, and man close gripping man.

If ever we shall be allowed to turn to the Fathers, the battle is lost and won: they are as thoroughly ours as is Gregory XIII. himself, the loving Father of the children of the Church. To say nothing of isolated passages, which are gathered from the records of the ancients, apt and clear statements in defence of our faith, we hold entire volumes of these Fathers, which professedly illustrate in clear and abundant light the Gospel religion which we defend. Take the twofold “Hierarchy” of the martyr Dionysius, what classes, what sacrifices, what rites does he teach? This fact struck Luther so forcibly that he pronounced the works of this Father to be “such stuff as dreams are made of, and that of the most pernicious kind.” In imitation of his parent, an obscure Frenchman, Caussee, has not hesitated to call this Dionysius, the Apostle of an illustrious nation, “an old dotard.” Ignatius has given grievous offence to the Centuriators of Magdeburg, as also to Calvin, so that these men, the offscouring of mankind, have noted in his works “unsightly blemishes and tasteless prosings.” In their judgment, Irenaeus has brought out “a fanatical production”: Clement, the author of the “Stromata,” has produced “Tares and dregs”: the other Fathers of this age, Apostolic men to be sure, “have left blasphemies and monstrosities to posterity.” In Tertullian they eagerly seize upon what they have learned from us, in common with us, to detest; but they should remember that his book “On Prescriptions,” which has so signally smitten the heretics of our times, was never found fault with. How finely, how, clearly, has Hippolytus, Bishop of Porto pointed out beforehand the power of Antichrist, the times of Luther! They call him, therefore, “a most babyish writer, an owl.” Cyprian, the delight and glory of Africa, that French critic Caussee, and the Centuriators of Magdeburg, have termed “stupid, God-forsaken corrupter of repentance.” What harm has he done? He has written “On Virgins, On the Lapsed, On the Unity of the Church,” such treatises as also such letters to Cornelius, the Roman Pontiff, that, unless credence be withdrawn from this Martyr, Peter Martyr Vermilius and all his associates must count for worse than adulterers and men guilty of sacrilege. And, not to dwell longer on individuals, the Fathers of this age are all condemned “for wonderful corruption of the doctrine of repentance.” How so? Because the austerity of the Canons in vogue at that time is particularly obnoxious to this plausible sect which, better fitted for dining-rooms than for churches, is wont to tickle voluptuous ears and to sew “cushions on every arm” (Ezech. xiii. 18). Take the next age, what offence has that committed?

Chrysostom and those Fathers, forsooth, have “foully obscured the justice of faith.” Gregory Nazianzen whom the ancients called eminently “the Theologian,” is in the judgment of Caussee “a chatter-box, who did not know what he was saying.” Ambrose was “under the spell of an evil demon.” Jerome is “as damnable as the devil, injurious to the Apostle, a blasphemer, a wicked wretch.” To Gregory Massow, “Calvin alone is worth more than a hundred Augustines.” A hundred is a small number: Luther “reckons nothing of having against him a thousand Augustines, a thousand Cyprians, a thousand Churches.” I think I need not carry the matter further. For when men rage against the above-mentioned Fathers, who can wonder at the impertinence of their language against Optatus, Hilary, the two Cyrils, Epiphanius, Basil, Vincent, Fulgentius, Leo, and the Roman Gregory.

However, if we grant any just defence of an unjust cause, I do not deny that the Fathers wherever you light upon them, afford the party of our opponents matter they needs must disagree with, so long as they are consistent with themselves. Men who have appointed fast-days, how must they be minded in regard of Basil, Gregory, Nazianzen, Leo, Chrysostom, who have published telling sermons on Lent and prescribed days of fasting as things already in customary use? Men who have sold their souls for gold, lust, drunkenness and ambitious display, can they be other than most hostile to Basil, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, whose excellent books are in the hands of all, treating of the institute, rule, and virtues of monks?

Men who have carried the human will into captivity, who have abolished Christian funerals, who have burnt the relics of Saints, can they possibly be reconciled to Augustine, who has composed three books on Free Will, one on Care for the Dead, besides sundry sermons and a long chapter in a noble work on the Miracles wrought at the Basilicas and Monuments of the Martyrs? Men who measure faith by their own quips and quirks, must they not be angry with Augustine, of whom there is extant a remarkable Letter against a Manichean, in which he professes himself to assent to Antiquity, to Consent, to Perpetuity of Succession, and to the Church which, alone among so many heresies, claims by prescriptive right the name of Catholic?

Optatus, Bishop of Milevis, refutes the Donatist faction by appeal to Catholic communion: he accuses their wickedness by appeal to the decree of Melchiades: he convicts their heresy by reference to the order of succession of Roman Pontiffs: he lays open their frenzy in their defilement of the Eucharist and of schism: he abhors their sacrilege in their breaking of altars “on which the members of Christ are borne,” and their pollution of chalices “which have held the blood of Christ.” I greatly desire to know what they think of Optatus, whom Augustine mentions as a venerable Catholic Bishop, the equal of Ambrose and of Cyprian; and Fulgentius as a holy and faithful interpreter of Paul, like unto Augustine and Ambrose.

They sing in their churches the Creed of Athanasius. Do they stand by him? That grave anchor who has written an elaborate book in praise of the Egyptian hermit Antony, and who with the Synod of Alexandria suppliantly appealed to the judgment of the Apostolic See, the See of St. Peter. How often does Prudentius in his Hymns pray to the martyrs whose praises he sings! how often at their ashes and bones does he venerate the King of Martyrs! Will they approve his proceeding? Jerome writes against Vigilantius in defence of the relics of the Saints and the honours paid to them; as also against Jovinian for the rank to be allowed to virginity. Will they endure him? Ambrose honoured his patron saints Gervase and Protase with a most glorious solemnity by way of putting the Arians to shame. This action of his was praised by most godly Fathers, and God honoured it with more than one miracle. Are they going to take a kindly view off Ambrose here? Gregory the Great, our Apostle, is most manifestly with us, and therefore is a hateful personage to our adversaries. Calvin, in his rage, says that he was not brought up in the school of the Holy Ghost, seeing that he had called holy images the books of the illiterate.

Time would fail me were I to try to count up the Epistles, Sermons, Homilies, Orations, Opuscula and dissertations of the Fathers, in which they have laboriously, earnestly and with much learning supported the doctrines of us Catholics. As long as these works are for sale at the booksellers’ shops, it will be vain to prohibit the writings of our controversialists; vain to keep watch at the ports and on the sea-coast; vain to search houses, boxes, desks, and book-chests; vain to set up so many threatening notices at the gates. No Harding, nor Sanders, nor Allen, nor Stapleton, nor Bristow, attack these new-fangled fancies with more vigour than do the Fathers whom I have enumerated. As I think over these and the like facts, my courage has grown and my ardour for battle, in which whatever way the adversary stirs, unless he will yield glory to God, he will be in straits. Let him admit the Fathers, he is caught: let him shut them out, he is undone.

When we were young men, the following incident occurred. John Jewell, a foremost champion of the Calvinists of England, with incredible arrogance challenged the Catholics at St. Paul’s, London, invoking hypocritically and calling upon the Fathers, who had flourished within the first six hundred years of Christianity. His wager was taken up by the illustrious men who were then in exile at Louvain, hemmed in though they were with very great difficulties by reason of the iniquity of their times. I venture to assert that that device of Jewell’s, stupid, unconscionable, shameless as it was, qualities which those writers happily brought out, did so much good to our countrymen that scarcely anything in my recollection has turned out to the better advantage of the suffering English Church. At once an edict is hung up on the doors, forbidding the reading or retaining of any of those books, whereas they had come out, or were wrung out, I may almost say, by the outcry that Jewell had raised. The result was that all the persons interested in the matter came to understand that the Fathers were Catholics, that is to say, ours. Nor has Lawrence Humphrey passed over in silence this wound inflicted on him and his party. After high praise of Jewell in other respects, he fixes on him this role of inconsiderateness, that he admitted the reasonings of the Fathers, with whom Humphrey declares, without any beating about the bush, that he has nothing in common nor ever will have.

We also sounded once in familiar discourse Toby Matthews, now a leading preacher, whom we loved for his good accomplishments and the seeds of virtue in him; we asked him to answer honestly whether one who read the Fathers assiduously could belong to that party which he supported. He answered that he could not, if, besides reading, he also believed them.[1] This saying is most true; nor do I think that either he at the present time, or Matthew Hutten, a man of name, who is said to read the Fathers with an assiduity that few equal, or other adversaries who do the like, are otherwise minded.

Thus far I have been able to descend with security into this field of conflict, to wage war with men, who, as though they held a wolf by the ears, are compelled to brand their cause with an everlasting stigma of shame, whether they refuse the Fathers or whether they call for them. In the one case they are preparing to run away, in the other they are caught by the throat.

SIXTH REASON

THE GROUNDS OF ARGUMENT ASSUMED BY THE FATHERS

If ever any men took to heart and made their special care, – as men of our religion have made it and should make it their special care, – to observe the rule, “Search the Scriptures” (John v. 39), the holy Fathers easily come out first and take the palm for the matter of this observance. By their labour and at their expense Bibles have been transcribed and carried among so many nations and tongues by the perils they have run and the tortures they have endured the Sacred Volumes have been snatched from the flames and devastation spread by enemies: by their labours and vigils they have been explained in every detail. Night and day they drank in Holy Writ, from all pulpits they gave forth Holy Writ, with Holy Writ they enriched immense volumes, with most faithful commentaries they unfolded the sense of Holy Writ, with Holy Writ they seasoned alike their abstinence and their meals, finally, occupied about Holy Writ they arrived at decrepit old age.

And if they also frequently have argued from the Authority of Elders, from the Practice of the Church, from the Succession of Pontiffs, from ecumenical Councils, from Apostolic Traditions, from the Blood of Martyrs, from the decrees of Bishops, from Miracles, yet most persistently of all and most willingly do they set forth in close array the testimonies of Holy Writ: these they press home, on these they dwell, to this “armour of the strong” (Cant. iii. 7), for the best of reasons, is the first and the most honourable part assigned by these valiant leaders in their work of forgiving and keeping in repair the City of God against the assaults of the wicked.

Wherefore I do all the more wonder at that haughty and famous objection of the adversary, who, like one looking for water in a running stream, takes exception to the lack of Scripture texts in writings crowded with Scripture texts. He says he will agree with the Fathers so long as they keep close to Holy Scripture. Does he mean what he says? I will see then that there come forth, armed and begirt with Christ, with Prophets and Apostles, and with all array of Biblical erudition, those celebrated authors, those ancient Fathers, those holy men, Dionyius, Cyprian, Athanasius, Basil, Nazianzen, Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, and the Latin Gregory. Let that faith reign in England, Oh that it may reign! which these Fathers, dear lovers of the Scriptures, build up out of the Scriptures. The texts that they bring, we will bring: the texts they confer, we will confer: what they infer, we will infer. Are you agreed? Out with it and say so, please. Not bit of it, he says, unless they expound rightly. What is this “rightly”? At your discretion. Are you not ashamed of the vicious circle?

Hopeful as I am that in flourishing Universities there will be gathered together a good number, who will be no dull spectators, but acute judges of these controversies and who will weigh for what they are worth the frivolous answers of our adversaries, I will gladly await this meeting-day, as one minded to lead forth against wooded hillocks [cf. Cicero “in Catilinam” ii. 11], covered with unarmed tramps, the nobility and strength of the Church of Christ.

SEVENTH REASON

HISTORY

Ancient History unveils the primitive face of the Church. To this I appeal. Certainly, the more ancient historians, whom our adversaries also habitually, consult, are enumerated pretty well as follows: Eusebius, Damasus, Jerome, Rufinus, Orosius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret Cassiodorus, Gregory of Tours, Usuard, Regino, Marianus, Sigebert, Zonaras, Cedrinus, Nicephorus. What have they to tell? The praises of our religion, its progress, vicissitudes, enemies. Nay, and this is a point I would have you observe diligently, they who in deadly hatred dissent from us, – Melancthon, Pantaleon, Funck, the Centuriators of Magdeburg, – on applying themselves to write either the chronology or the history of the Church, if they did not get together the exploits of our heroes, and heap up the accounts of the frauds and crimes of the enemies of our Church, would pass by fifteen hundred years with no story to tell.

Along with the above-mentioned consider the local historians, who have searched with laborious curiosity into the transactions of some one particular nation. These men, wishing by all means to enrich and adorn the Sparta which they had gotten for their own, and to that effect not passing over in silence even such things as banquets of unusual splendour, or sleeved tunics, or hilts of daggers, or gilt spurs, and other such minutiae having any smack of revelry about them, surely, if they had heard of any change in religion, or any falling off from the standard of early ages, would have related it, many of them; or, if not many, at least several; if not several, some one anyhow. Not one, well-disposed or ill-disposed towards us, has related anything of the sort, or even dropped the slightest hint of the same.

For example. Our adversaries grant us, – they cannot do otherwise, – that the Roman Church was at one time holy, Catholic, Apostolic, at the time when it deserved these eulogiums from St. Paul: “Your faith is spoken of in the whole world. Without ceasing I make a commemoration of you. I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the abundance of the blessing of Christ. All the Churches of Christ salute you. Your obedience is published in every place” (Rom. i. 8, 9; xv. 29; xvi. 17, 19): at the time when Paul, being kept there in free custody, was spreading the gospel (Acts xxviii. 31) : at the time when Peter once in that city was ruling “the Church gathered at Babylon” (1 Peter v. 13): at the time when that Clement, so singularly praised by the Apostle (Phil. iv. 3) was governing the Church: at the time when the pagan Caesars, Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Antoninus, were butchering the Roman Pontiffs: also at the time when, as even Calvin bears witness, Damasus, Siricius, Anastasius and Innocent guided the Apostolic bark. For at this epoch he generously allows that men, at Rome particularly, had so far not swerved from Gospel teaching.

When then did Rome lose this faith so highly celebrated? When did she cease to be what she was before? At what time, under what Pontiff, by what way, by what compulsion, by what increments, did a foreign religion come to pervade city and world? What outcries, what disturbances, what lamentations did it provoke? Were all mankind all over the rest of the world lulled to sleep, while Rome, Rome I say, was forging new Sacraments, a new Sacrifice, new religious dogma? Has there been found no historian, neither Greek nor Latin, neither far nor near, to fling out in his chronicles even an obscure hint of so remarkable a proceeding?

Therefore this much is clear, that the articles of our belief are what History, manifold and various, History the messenger of antiquity, and life of memory, utters and repeats in abundance; while no narrative penned in human times records that the doctrines foisted in by our opponents ever had any footing in the Church. It is clear, I say, that the historians are mine, and that the adversary’s raids upon history are utterly without point. No impression can they make unless the assertion be first received, that all Christians of all ages had lapsed into gross infidelity and gone down to the abyss of hell, until such time as Luther entered into an unblessed union with Catherine Bora.

EIGHTH REASON

PARADOXES

For myself, most excellent Sirs, when, choosing out of many heresies, I think over in my mind certain portentous errors of self-opinionated men, errors that it will be incumbent on me to refute, I should condemn myself of want of spirit and discernment if in this trial of strength I were to be afraid of any man’s ability or powers. Let him be able, let him be eloquent, let him be a practised disputant, let him be a devourer of all books, still his thought must dry up and his utterance fail him when he shall have to maintain such impossible positions as these. For we shall dispute, if perchance they will allow us, on God, on Christ, on Man, on Sin, on Justice, on Sacraments, on Morals. I shall see whether they will dare to speak out what they think, and what under the constraint of their situation they publish in their miserable writings. I will take care that they know these maxims of their teachers:

OF GOD. – “God is the author and cause of evil, willing it, suggesting it, effecting it, commanding it, working it out, and guiding the guilty counsels of the wicked to this end. As the call of Paul, so the adultery of David, and the wickedness of the traitor Judas, was God’s own work” (Calvin, “Institut”. i. 18; ii. 4; iii. 23, 24). This monstrous doctrine, of which Philip Melanchthon was for once ashamed, Luther however, of whom Philip had learned it, extols as an oracle from heaven with wonderful praises, and on that score puts his foster-child all but on an equality, with the Apostle Paul (Luther, “De servo arbitrio”). I will also enquire what was in Luther’s mind, whom the English Calvinists pronounce to be “a man given of God for the enlightenment of the world,” when he wished to take this versicle out of the Church’s prayers, “Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.”

OF CHRIST. – I will proceed to the person of Christ. I will ask what these words, “Christ the Son of God, God of God,” mean to Calvin, who says, “God of Himself” (“Instit.” i. 13); or to Beza, who says, “He is not begotten of the essence of the Father” (Beza in Josue, nn. 23, 24). Again. Let there be set up two hypostate unions in Christ, one of His soul with His flesh, the other of His Divinity with His Humanity (Beza, “Contra Schmidel”). The passage in John x. 30, “I and the Father are one,” does not show Christ to be God, consubstantial with God the Father (Calvin on John x.), the fact is, says Luther, “my soul hates this word, homousion.” Go on. Christ was not perfect in grace from His infancy, but grew in gifts of the soul like other men, and by experience daily became wiser, so that as a little child He laboured under ignorance (Melanchthon on the gospel for first Sunday after Epiphany). Which is as much as to say that He was defiled with the stain and vice of original sin. But observe still more direful utterances. When Christ, praying in the Garden, was streaming with a sweat of water and blood, He shuddered under a sense of eternal damnation, He uttered an irrational cry, an unspiritual cry, a sudden cry prompted by the force of His distress, which He quickly checked as not sufficiently premeditated (Marlorati in Matth. xxvi.; Calvin “in Harm. Evangel.”). Is there anything further? Attend. When Christ Crucified exclaimed, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” He was on fire with the flames of hell, He uttered a cry of despair, He felt exactly as if nothing were before Him but to perish in everlasting death (Calvin “in Harm. Evangel.”).

To this also let them add something, if they can. Christ, they say, descended into hell, that is, when dead, He tasted hell not otherwise than do the damned souls, except that He was destined to be restored to Himself: for since by His mere bodily death He would have profited us nothing, He needed in soul also to struggle with everlasting death, and in this way to pay the debt of our crime and our punishment. And lest any one might haply suspect that this theory had stolen upon Calvin unawares, the same Calvin calls “all of you who have repelled this doctrine, full as it is of comfort, God-forsaken boobies” (Institut. ii. 16). Times, times, what a monster you have reared! That delicate and royal Blood, which ran in a flood from the lacerated and torn Body of the innocent Lamb, one little drop of which Blood, for the dignity of the Victim, might have redeemed a thousand worlds, availed the human race nothing, unless “the mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. ii. 5) had borne also “the second death” (Apoc. xx. 6), the death of the soul, the death to grace, that accompaniment only of sin and damnable blasphemy! In comparison with this insanity, Bucer, impudent fellow that he is, will appear modest, for he (on Matth. xxvi.), by an explanation very preposterous, or rather, an inept and stupid tautology, takes “hell” in the creed to mean the tomb.

Of the Anglican sectaries, some are wont to adhere to their idol, Calvin, others to their great master, Bucer; some also murmur in an undertone against this article, wishing that it may be quietly removed altogether from the Creed, that it may give no more trouble. Nay, this was actually tried in a meeting at London, as I remember being told by one who was present, Richard Cheyne, a miserable old man, who was badly mauled by robbers outside, and, for all that, never entered his father’s house.[2]

OF THE MAN. – And thus far of Christ. What of Man? The image of God is utterly blotted out in man, not the slightest spark of good is left: his whole nature in all the parts of his soul is so thoroughly overturned that, even after he is born again and sanctified in baptism, there is nothing whatever within him but mere corruption and contagion. What does this lead up to? That they who mean to seize glory by faith alone may wallow in the filth of every turpitude, may accuse nature, despair of virtue, and discharge themselves of the commandments (Calvin, “Instit.” ii. 3).

OF SIN. – To this, Illyricus, the standard-bearer of the Magdeburg company, has added his own monstrous teaching about original sin, which he makes out to be the innermost substance of souls, whom, since Adam’s fall, the devil himself engenders and transforms into himself. This also is a received maxim in this scum of evil doctrine, that all sins are equal, yet with this qualification (not to revive the Stoics), “if sins are weighed in the judgment of God.” As if God, the most equitable judge, were to add to our burden rather than lighten it; and, for all His justice, were to exaggerate and make it what it is not in itself. By this estimation, as heavy an offence would be committed against God, judging in all severity, by the innkeeper who has killed a barn-door cock, when he should not have done, as by that infamous assassin who, his head full of Beza, stealthily slew by the shot of a musket the French hero, the Duke of Guise, a Prince of admirable virtue, than which crime our world has seen in our age nothing more deadly, nothing more lamentable.

OF GRACE. – But perchance they who are so severe in the matter of sin philosophise magnificently on divine grace, as able to bring succour and remedy to this evil. Fine indeed is the function which they assign to grace, which their ranting preachers say is neither infused into our hearts, nor strong enough to resist sin, but lies wholly outside of us, and consists in the mere favour of God, – a favour which does not amend the wicked, nor cleanse, nor illuminate, nor enrich them, but, leaving still the old stinking ordure of their sin, dissembles it by God’s connivance, that it be not counted unsightly and hateful. And with this their invention they are so delighted that, with them, even Christ is not otherwise called “full of grace and truth” than inasmuch as God the Father has borne wonderful favour to Him (Bucer on John i: Brent hom. 12 on John).

OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. – What sort of thing then is righteousness? A relation. It is not made up of faith, hope and charity, vesting the soul in their splendour; it is only a hiding away of guilt, such that, whoever has seized upon this righteousness by faith alone, he is as sure of salvation as though he were already enjoying the unending joy of heaven. Well, let this dream pass: but how can one be sure of future perseverance, in the absence of which a man’s exit would be most miserable, though for a time he had observed righteousness purely and piously? Nay, says Calvin (“Instit.” iii. 2), unless this your faith foretells you your perseverance assuredly, without possibility of hallucination, it must be cast aside as vain and feeble. I recognise the disciple of Luther. A Christian, said Luther (“De captivitate Babylonis”), cannot lose his salvation, even if he wanted, except by refusing to believe.

OF THE SACRAMENTS. – I hasten to pass on to the Sacraments. None, none, not two, not one, O holy Christ, have they left. Their bread is poison; and as for their baptism, though it is still true baptism, nevertheless in their judgment it is nothing, it is not a wave of salvation, it is not a channel of grace, it does not apply to us the merits of Christ, it is a mere token of salvation (Calvin, “Instit.” iv. 15). Thus they have made no more of the baptism of Christ, so far as the nature of the thing goes, than of the ceremony of John. If you have it, it is well; if you go without it, there is no loss suffered; believe, you are saved, before you are washed. What then of infants, who, unless they are aided by the virtue of the Sacrament, poor little things, gain nothing by any faith of their own? Rather than allow anything to the Sacrament of baptism, say the Magdeburg Centuriators (Cent. v. 4.), let us grant that there is faith in the infants themselves, enough to save them; and that the said babies are aware of certain secret stirrings of this faith, albeit they are not yet aware whether they are alive or not. A hard nut to crack! If this is so very hard, listen to Luther’s remedy. It is better, he says (“Advers. Cochl.”), to omit the baptism; since, unless the infant believes, to no purpose is it washed. This is what they say, doubtful in mind what absolutely to affirm. Therefore let Balthasar Pacimontanus step in to sort the votes. This father of the Anabaptists, unable to assign to infants any stirring of faith, approved Luther’s suggestion; and, casting infant baptism out of the churches, resolved to wash at the sacred font none who was not grown up. For the rest of the Sacraments, though that many headed beast utters many insults, yet, seeing that they are now of daily occurrence, and our ears have grown callous to them, I here pass them over.

OF MORALITY. – There remain the sayings of the heretics concerning life and morals, the noxious goblets which Luther has vomited on his pages, that out of the filthy hovel of his one breast he might breathe pestilence upon his readers. Listen patiently, and blush, and pardon me the recital. If the wife will not, or cannot, let the handmaid come (“Serm. de matrimon.”); seeing that commerce with a wife is as necessary to every man as food, drink, and sleep. Matrimony is much more excellent than virginity. Christ and Paul dissuaded men from virginity (“Liber de vot. evangel.”). But perhaps these doctrines are peculiar to Luther. They are not. They have been lately defended by my friend Chark but miserably and timidly. Do you wish to hear any more? Certainly. The more wicked you, are, he says, the nearer you are to grace (“Serm. de. pisc. Petri”). All good actions are sins, in God’s judgment, mortal sins; in God’s mercy, venial. No one thinks evil of his own will. The Ten Commandments are nothing to Christians. God cares nought at all about our works. They alone rightly partake of the Lord’s Supper, who bury consciences sad, afflicted, troubled, confused, erring. Sins are to be confessed, but to anyone you like; and if he absolves you even in joke, provided you believe, you are absolved. To read the Hours of the Divine Office is not the function of priests, but of laymen. Christians are free from the enactments of men (Luther, “De servo arbitrio, De captivilate Babylon”).

I think I have stirred up this puddle sufficiently. I now finish. Nor must you think me unfair for having turned my argument against Lutherans and Zwinglians indiscriminately. For, remembering their common parentage, they wish to be brothers and friends to one another; and they take it as a grave affront, whenever any distinction is drawn between them in any point but one. I am not of consequence enough to claim for myself so much as an undistinguished place among the select theologians who at this day have declared war on heresies: but this I know, that, puny as I am, I run no risk while, supported by the grace of Christ, I shall do battle, with the aid of heaven and earth, against such fabrications as these, so odious, so tasteless, so stupid.

NINTH REASON

SOPHISM

It is a shrewd saying that a one-eyed man may be king among the blind. With uneducated people a mock-proof has force which a school of philosophers dismisses with scorn. Many are the offences of the adversary under this head; but his case is made out by four fallacies chiefly, fallacies which I would rather unravel in the University than in a popular audience.

The first vice is [Greek: skiamachia], with mighty effort hammering at breezes and shadows. In this way: against such as have sworn to celibacy and vowed chastity, because, while marriage is good, virginity is better (1 Cor. vii.), Scripture texts are brought up speaking honourably of marriage. Whom do they hit? Against the merit of a Christian man, a merit dyed in the Blood of Christ, otherwise null, testimonies are alleged whereby we are bidden to put our trust neither in nature nor in the law, but in the Blood of Christ. Whom do they refute? Against those who worship Saints, as Christ’s servants, especially acceptable to Him, whole pages are quoted, forbidding the worship of many gods? Where are these many gods? By such arguments, which I find in endless quantity in the writings of heretics, they cannot hurt us, they may bore you.

Another vice is [Greek: logomachia], which leaves the sense, and wrangles loquaciously over the word. “Find me Mass or Purgatory in the Scriptures,” they say. What then? Trinity, Consubstantial, Person, are they nowhere in the Bible, because these words are not found? Allied to this fault is the catching at letters, when, to the neglect of usage and the mind of the speakers, war is waged on the letters of the alphabet. For instance, thus they say: “Presbyter to the Greeks means nothing else than elder; Sacrament, any mystery”. On this, as on all other points, St. Thomas shrewdly observes: “In words, we must look not whence they are derived, but to what meaning they are put.”

The third vice is [Greek: homonumia], which has a very wide range. For example: “What is the meaning of an Order of Priests, when John has called us all priests?” (Apoc. v. 10). He has also added this: “we shall reign upon the earth”. What then is the use of Kings? Again: “the Prophet” (Isaias lviii.) “cries up a spiritual fast, that is, abstinence from inveterate crimes. Farewell then to any discernment of meats and prescription of days.” Indeed? Mad therefore were Moses, David, Elias, the Baptist, the Apostles, who terminated their fasts in two days, three days, or in so many weeks, which fasting, being from sin, ought to have been perpetual. You have already seen what manner of argument this is. I hasten on.

Added to the above is a fourth vice, “Vicious Circle,” in this way. Give me the notes, I say, of the Church. “The word of God and undefiled Sacraments”. Are these with you? “Who can doubt it?” I do, I deny it utterly. “Consult the word of God.” I have consulted it, and I favour you less than before. “Ah, but it is plain.” Prove it to me. “Because we do not depart a nail’s breadth from the word of God.” Where is your persecution? Will you always go on taking for an argument the very point that is called in question? How often have I insisted on this already? Do wake up: do you want torches applied to you? I say that your exposition of the word of God is perverse and mistaken: I have fifteen centuries to bear me witness stand by an opinion, not mine, nor yours, but that of all these ages. “I will stand by the sentence of the word of God: the Spirit breatheth where it will” (John iii. 8). There he is at it again; what circumvolutions, what wheels he is making! This trifler, this arch-contriver of words and sophisms, I know not to whom he can be formidable: tiresome he possibly will be. His tiresomeness will find its corrective in your sagacity: all that was formidable about him facts have taken away.

TENTH REASON

ALL MANNER OF WITNESS

“This shall be to you a straight way, so that fools shall not go astray in it” (Isaias xxxv. 8).

Who is there, however small and lost in the crowd of illiterates, that, with a desire of salvation and some little attention, cannot see, cannot keep to the path of the Church, so admirably smoothed out, eschewing brambles and rocks and pathless wastes! For, as Isaias prophesies, this path shall be plain even to the uneducated; most plain therefore, if you choose, to you.

COELITES. – Let us put before our eyes the theatre of the universe: let us wander everywhere: all things supply us with an argument. Let us go to heaven: let us contemplate roses and lilies, Saints empurpled with martyrdom or white with innocence: Roman Pontiffs, I say, three and thirty in a continuous line put to death: Pastors all the world over, who have pledged their blood for the name of Christ: Flocks of faithful, who have followed in the footsteps of their Pastors: all the Saints of heaven, who as shining lights in purity and holiness have gone before the crowd of mankind. You will find that these were ours when they lived on earth, ours when they passed away from this world. To cull a few instances, ours was that Ignatius, who in church matters put no one not even the Emperor, on a level with the Bishop; who committed to writing, that they might not be lost, certain Apostolic traditions of which he himself had been witness. Ours was that anchoret Telesphorus, who ordered the more strict observance of the fast of Lent established by the Apostles. Ours was Irenaeus, who declared the Apostolic faith by the Roman succession and chair (lib. iii. cap. 3). Ours was Pope Victor, who by an edict brought to order the whole of Asia; and though this proceeding seemed to some minds, and even to that holy man Irenaeus, somewhat harsh, yet no one made light of it as coming from a foreign power. Ours was Polycarp, who went to Rome on the question of Easter, whose burnt relics Smyrna gathered, and honoured her Bishop with an anniversary feast and appointed ceremony. Ours were Cornelius and Cyprian, a golden pair of Martyrs, both great Bishops, but greater he, the Roman, who had rescinded the African error; while the latter was ennobled by the obedience which he paid to the elder, his very dear friend. Ours was Sixtus, to whom, as he offered solemn sacrifice at the altar, seven men of the clergy ministered. Ours was his Archdeacon Lawrence, whom the adversaries cast out of their calendar, to whom, twelve hundred years ago, the Consular man Prudentius thus prayed:

What is the power entrusted thee,
And how great function is given thee,
The joyful thanks of Roman citizens prove,
To whom thou grantest their petitions.
Among them, O glory of Christ,
Hear also a rustic poet,
Confessing the crimes of his heart
And publishing his doings.
Hear bountifully the supplication
Of Christ’s culprit Prudentius.

Ours are those highly-blest maids, Cecily, Agatha, Anastasia, Barbara, Agnes, Lucy, Dorothy, Catherine, who held fast against the violent assault of men and devils the virginity they had resolved upon. Ours was Helen, celebrated for the finding of the Lord’s Cross. Ours was Monica, who in death most piously begged prayers and sacrifices to be offered for her at the altar of Christ. Ours was Paula, who, leaving her City palace and her rich estates, hastened on a long journey a pilgrim to the cave at Bethlehem, to hide herself by the cradle of the Infant Christ. Ours were Paul, Hilarion, Antony, those dear ancient solitaries. Ours was Satyrus, own brother to Ambrose, who, when shipwrecked, jumped into the ocean, carrying about his neck in a napkin the Sacred Host, and full of faith swam to shore (Ambrose, “Orat. fun. de Satyro”).

Ours are the Bishops Martin and Nicholas, exercised in watchings, clad in the military garb of hair cloths, fed with fasts. Ours is Benedict, father of so many monks. I should not run through their thousands in ten years. But neither do I set down those whom I mentioned before among the Doctors of the Church. I am mindful of the brevity imposed upon me. Whoever wills, may seek these further details, not only from the copious histories of the ancients, but even much more from the grave authors who have bequeathed to memory almost one man one Saint. Let the reader report to me his judgment concerning those ancient blessed Christians, to what doctrine they adhered, the Catholic or the Lutheran. I call to witness the throne of God, and that Tribunal at which I shall stand to render reason for these Reasons, of everything I have said and done, that either there is no heaven at all, or heaven belongs to our people. The former position we abhor, we fix therefore upon the latter.

DAMNATI. – Now contrariwise, if you please, let us look into hell. There are burnt with everlasting fire, who? The Jews. On what Church have they turned their backs? On ours. Who again? The heathen. What Church have they most cruelly persecuted? Ours. Who again? The Turks. What temples have they destroyed? Ours. Who once more? Heretics. Against what Church are they in rebellion? Against ours. What Church but ours has opposed itself against all the gates of hell?

IUDAEI. – When, after the driving away of the Hebrews, Christian inhabitants began to multiply at Jerusalem, what a concourse of men there was to the Holy Places, what veneration attached to the City, to the Sepulchre, to the Manger, to the Cross, to all the memorials in which the Church delights as a wife in what has been worn by her husband. Hence arose against us the hatred of the Jews, cruel and implacable. Even now they complain that our ancestors were the ruin of their ancestors. From Simon Magus and the Lutherans they have received no wound.

ETHNICI. – Among the heathen, they were the most violent who, throughout the Roman Empire, for three hundred years, at intervals of time, contrived most painful punishments for Christians. What Christians? The fathers and children of our faith. Learn the language of the tyrant who roasted St. Lawrence on the gridiron:

That this is of your rites
The custom and practice, it has been handed down to memory:
This the discipline of the institution,
That priests pour libations from golden cups.
In silver goblets they say
That the sacred blood smokes;
And that in golden candlestick, at the nightly sacrifices,
There stand fixed waxen candles.
Then is it the chief care of the brethren,
As many-tongued report does testify,
To offer from the sale of estates,
Thousands of pence.
Ancestral property made over
To dishonest auctions,
The disinherited successor groans,
Needy child of holy parents.
These treasures are concealed in secret,
In corners of the churches;
And it is believed the height of piety
To strip your sweet children.
Bring out your treasures,
Which by evil arts of persuasion
You have heaped up and hold,
Which you shut up in darkling cave.
Public utility demands this,
The privy purse demands it, the treasury demands it,
That the soldiers may be paid for their services,
And the commander may benefit thereby.
This is your dogma, then:
Give every man his own.
Now Caesar recognises his own
Image, stamped on the coin.
What you know to be Caesar’s, to Caesar
Give; surely what I ask is just.
If I am not mistaken, your Deity
Coins no money,
Nor when he came did he bring
Golden Jacobuses[3] with him;
But he gave his precepts in words,
Empty in point of pocket.
Fulfil the promise of the words
Which you sell the round world over.
Give up your hard cash willingly,
Be rich in words.
(Prudentius, “Hymn on St. Lawrence”).

Whom does this speaker resemble. Against whom does he rage? What Church is it whose sacred vessels, lamps, and ornaments he is pillaging, whose ritual he overthrows? Whose golden patens and silver chalices, sumptuous votive offerings and rich treasure, does he envy? Why, the man is a Lutheran all over. With what other cloak did our Nimrods[4] cover their brigandage, when they embezzled the money of their Churches and wasted the patrimony of Christ? Take on the contrary Constantine the Great, that scourge of the persecutors of Christ, to what Church did he restore tranquillity? To that Church over which Pope Silvester presided, whom he summoned from his hiding-place on Mount Soracte that by his ministry he might receive our baptism. Under what auspices was he victorious? Under the sign of the cross. Of what mother was he the glorious son? Of Helen. To what Fathers did he attach himself? To the Fathers of Nice. What manner of men were they? Such men as Silvester, Mark, Julius, Athanasius, Nicholas. What seat did he ask for in the Synod? The last. Oh how much more kingly was he on that seat than the Kings who have ambitioned a title not due to them! It would be tedious to go into further details. But from these two [Emperors, Decius and Constantine], the one our deadly enemy, the other our warm friend, it may be left to the reader’s conjecture to fix on points of closest resemblance to the one and to the other in the history of our own times. For as it was our cause that went through its agony under Decius, so our cause it was that came out triumphant under Constantine.[5]

TURCAE. – Let us look at the doings of the Turks. Mahomet and the apostate monk Sergius lie in the deep abyss, howling, laden with their own crimes and with those of their posterity. This portentous and savage monster, the power of the Saracens and the Turks, had it not been clipped and checked by our Military Orders, our Princes and Peoples, so far as Luther was concerned (to whom Solyman the Turk is said to have written a letter of thanks on this account), and so far as the Lutheran Princes were concerned (by whom the progress of the Turks is reckoned matter of joy), – this frantic and man-destroying Fury, I say, by this time would be depopulating and devastating all Europe, overturning altars and signs of the cross as zealously as Calvin himself. Ours therefore they are, our proper foes, seeing that by the industry of our champions it was that their fangs were unfastened from the throats of Christians.

HAERETICI. – Let us look down on heretics, the filth and fans and fuel of hell[6] the first that meets our gaze is Simon Magus. What did he do? He endeavoured to snatch away free will from man: he prated of faith alone (Clen. lib. i. recog.; Iren. l. 1, c. 2). After him, Novatian. Who was he? An Anti-pope, rival to the Roman Pontiff Cornelius, an enemy of the Sacraments, of Penance and Chrism. Then Manes the Persian. He taught that baptism did not confer salvation. After him the Arian Aerius. He condemned prayers for the dead: he confounded priests with bishops, and was surnamed “the atheist” no less than Lucian. There follows Vigilantius, who would not have the Saints prayed to; and Jovinian, who put marriage on a level with virginity; finally, a whole mess of nastiness, Macedonius, Pelagius, Nestorius, Eutyches, the Monothelites, the Iconoclasts, to whom posterity will aggregate Luther and Calvin. What of them? All black crows,[7] born of the same egg, they revolted from the Prelates of our Church, and by, them were rejected and made void.

Let us leave the lower regions and return to earth. Wherever I cast my eyes and turn my thoughts, whether I regard the Patriarchates and the Apostolic Sees, or the Bishops of other lands, or meritorious Princes, Kings, and Emperors, or the origin of Christianity in any nation, or any evidence of antiquity, or light of reason, or beauty of virtue, all things serve and support our faith.

SEDES APOSTOLICA. – I call to witness the Roman Succession, “in which Church,” to speak with Augustine (Epist. 162: “Doctr. Christ”. ii. 8), “the Primacy of the Apostolic Chair has ever flourished”. I call to witness those other Apostolic Sees, to which this name eminently belongs, because they were erected by the Apostles themselves, or by their immediate disciples.

DISIUNCTTISSIMAE TERRAE. – I call to witness the Pastors of the nations, separate in place, but united in our religion: Ignatius and Chrysostom at Antioch; Peter, Alexander, Athanasius, Theophilus, at Alexandria; Macarius and Cyril at Jerusalem; Proclus at Constantinople; Gregory and Basil in Cappadocia; Thaumaturgus in Pontus; at Smyrna Polycarp; Justin at Athens; Dionysius at Corinth; Gregory at Nyssa; Methodius at Tyre; Ephrem in Syria; Cyprian, Optatus, Augustine, in Africa; Epiphanius in Cyprus; Andrew in Crete; Ambrose, Paulinus, Gaudentius, Prosper, Faustus, Vigilius, in Italy; Irenaeus, Martin, Hilary, Eucherius, Gregory, Salvianus, in Gaul; Vincentus, Orosius, Ildephonsus, Leander, Isidore, in Spain; in Britain, Fugatius, Damian, Justus, Mellitus, Bede. Finally, not to appear to be making a vain display of names, whatever works, or fragments of works, are still extant of those who sowed the Gospel seed in distant lands, all exhibit to us one faith, that which we Catholics profess to-day. O Christ, what cause can I allege to Thee why Thou shouldst not banish me from Thine own, if to so many lights of the Church I should have preferred mannikins, dwellers in darkness, few, unlearned, split into sects, and of bad moral character!

PRINCIPES. – I call to witness likewise Princes, Kings, Emperors, and their Commonwealths, whose own piety, and the people of their realms, and their established discipline in war and peace, were altogether founded on this our Catholic doctrine. What Theodosiuses here might I summon from the East, what Charleses from the West, what Edwards from England, what Louises from France, what Hermenegilds from Spain, Henries from Saxony, Wenceslauses from Bohemia, Leopolds from Austria, Stephens from Hungary, Josaphats from India, Dukes and Counts from all the world over, who by example, by arms, by laws, by loving care, by outlay of money, have nourished our Church! For so Isaias foretold: “Kings shall be thy foster-fathers, and queens thy nurses” (Isaias xlix. 23). Listen, Elizabeth, most powerful Queen, for thee this great prophet utters this prophecy, and therein teaches thee thy part. I tell thee: one and the same heaven cannot hold Calvin and the Princes whom I have named. With these Princes then associate thyself, and so make thee worthy of thy ancestors, worthy of thy genius, worthy of thy excellence in letters, worthy of thy praises, worthy of thy fortune. To this effect alone do I labour about thy person, and will labour, whatever shall become of me, for whom these adversaries so often augur the gallows, as though I were an enemy of thy life. Hail, good Cross. There will come, Elizabeth, the day, that day which will show thee clearly which have loved thee, the Society of Jesus or the offspring of Luther.

NATIONES AD CHRISTAM TRADUCTAE. – I proceed. I call to witness all the coasts and regions of the world, to which the Gospel trumpet has sounded since the birth of Christ. Was this a little thing, to close the mouth of idols and carry the kingdom of God to the nations? Of Christ Luther speaks: we Catholics speak of Christ. “Is Christ divided?” (1 Cor. i. 13). By no means. Either we speak of a false Christ or he does. What then? I will say. Let Him be Christ, and belong to them, at whose coming in Dagon broke his neck. Our Christ was pleased to use the services of our men, when He banished from the hearts of so many peoples – Jupiters, Mercuries, Dianas, Phoebades, and that black night and sad Erebus of ages. There is no leisure to search afar off, let us examine only neighbouring and domestic history. The Irish imbibed from Patrick, the Scots from Palladius, the English from Augustine, men consecrated at Rome, sent from Rome, venerating Rome, either no faith at all or assuredly our faith, the Catholic faith. The case is clear. I hurry on.

CUMULUS TESTIUM. – Witness Universities, witness tables of laws, witness the domestic habits of men, witness the election and inauguration of Emperors, witness the coronation rites and anointing of Kings, witness the Orders of Knighthood and their very mantles, witness windows, witness coins, witness city gates and city houses, witness the labours and life of our ancestors, witness all things great and small, that no religion in the world but ours ever took deep root there.

These considerations being at hand to me, and so affecting me as I thought them over that it seemed the part of insolence, nay of insanity, to renounce all this Christian company and consort with the most abandoned of men, I confess, I felt animated and fired to the conflict, a conflict wherein I can never be worsted until it comes to the Saints being hurled from heaven and the proud Lucifer recovering heaven. Therefore let Chark, who reviles me so outrageously, be in better conceit with me, if I have preferred to trust this poor sinful soul of mine, which Christ has bought so dearly, rather to a safe way, a sure way, a royal road, than to Calvin’s rocks or woodland thickets, there to hang caught in uncertainty.

CONCLUSION

You have from me, Gentlemen of the University, this little present, put together by the labour of such leisure as I could snatch on the road. My purpose was to clear myself in your judgment of the charge of arrogance, and to show just cause for my confidence, and meanwhile, until such time as along with me you are invited by the adversaries to the disputations in the Schools, to give you a sort of foretaste of what is to come there. If you think it a just, safe, and virtuous choice for Luther or Calvin to be taken for the Canon of Scripture, the Mind of the Holy Ghost, the Standard of the Church, the Pedagogue of Councils and Fathers, in short, the God of all witnesses and ages, I have nothing to hope of your reading or hearing me. But if you are such as I have pictured you in my mind, philosophers, keen-sighted, lovers of the truth, of simplicity, of modesty, enemies of temerity, of trifles and sophisms, you will easily see daylight in the open air, seeing that you already see the peep of day through a narrow chink. I will say freely what my love of you, and your danger, and the importance of the matter requires. The devil is not unaware that you will see this light of day, if ever you raise your eyes to it. For what a piece of stupidity it would be to prefer Hanmers and Charks to Christian antiquity! But there are certain Lutheran enticements whereby the devil extends his kingdom, delicate snares whereby that hooker of men has caught with his baits already many of your rank and station. What are they! Gold, glory, pleasures, lusts. Despise them. What are they but bowels of earth, high-sounding air, a banquet of worms, fair dunghills. Scorn them. Christ is rich, who will maintain you: He is a King, who will provide you: He is a sumptuous entertainer, who will feast you; He is beautiful, who will give in abundance all that can make you happy. Enrol yourselves in His service, that with Him you may gain triumphs, and show yourselves men truly most learned, truly most illustrious. Farewell. At Cosmopolis, City of all the world, 1581.”

Love,
Matthew