Ambrose, Also known as Ambrose Brereton, Ambrose Radcliffe, Edward Ambrose Barlow, was born at Barlow Hall, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester in 1585. He was the fourth son of the nobleman Sir Alexander Barlow and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Urian Brereton of Handforth Hall. The Barlow family had been reluctant converts to the Church of England following the suppression of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Ambrose’s grandfather died in 1584 while imprisoned for his beliefs and Sir Alexander Barlow had two thirds of his estate confiscated as a result of his refusing to conform with the rules of the new established religion. On 30 November 1585, Ambrose was baptised at Didsbury Chapel and his baptism entry reads “Edwarde legal sonne of Alex’ Barlowe gent’ 30.” Ambrose went on to adhere to the Anglican faith until 1607, when he converted to Roman Catholicism.
-baptism entry for St Ambrose Edward Barlow, OSB, please click on the image for greater detail
In 1597, Ambrose was taken into the stewardship of Sir Uryan Legh, a relative who would care for him while he served out his apprenticeship as a page. However, upon completing this service, Barlow realized that his true vocation was for the priesthood, so like the sons of many of the Lancashire Catholic gentry, Edward decided to travel to Douai where, since 1569, an English College created by William Allen had operated.
This missionary college or seminary, working with neighbouring monasteries, was intended to provide university-style education to young men prior to them being sent to England to maintain and promote the Catholic faith. So he travelled to Douai in France to study before attending the Royal College of Saint Alban in Valladolid, Spain. In 1615, he returned to Douai where he became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict, joining the community of St Gregory the Great (now Downside Abbey) and was ordained as a priest in 1617.
The decision by Ambrose to take religious orders is summarized by Richard Challoner author of Memoirs of Missionary Priests: “As he grew up and considered the emptiness and vanity of the transitory toys of this life and the greatness of things eternal, he took a resolution to withdraw himself from the world and to go abroad, in order to procure those helps of virtue and learning, which might qualify him for the priesthood and enable him to be of some assistance to his native country.”
Well aware of the activities of English spies on the Continent looking for persons likely to return to England as priests, Edward operated under his mother’s maiden name, Brereton. Merely entering the country as a Catholic priest was treasonable and hazardous. Ports were dangerous and officials had descriptions from spies of those attempting to return to these shores. In Elizabeth I’s “Proclamation against Jesuits”, 1591 it was said:-
“And furthermore, because it is known and proved by common experience…that they do come into the same (realm) by secret creeks and landing places, disguised both in names and persons, some in apparel as soldiers, mariners or merchants, pretending that they have heretofore been taken prisoners and put into galleys and delivered. Some come as gentlemen with contrary names in comely apparel as though they had travelled to foreign countries for knowledge and generally all, for the most part, are clothed like gentlemen in apparel and many as gallants, yea in all colours and with feathers and such like, disguising themselves and many of them in their behaviour as ruffians, far off to be thought or suspected to be friars, priests, Jesuits or popish scholars.”
After his ordination into the priesthood, Ambrose returned to Barlow Hall, before taking up residence at the home of Sir Thomas Tyldesley, Morleys Hall, Astley. Sir Thomas’ grandmother had arranged for a pension to be made available to the priest which would enable him to carry out his priestly duties amongst the poor Catholics within his parish. From there he secretly catered for the needs of Catholic ‘parishioners’, offering daily Mass and reciting his Office and Rosary for the next twenty-four years. To avoid detection by the Protestant authorities, he devised a four-week routine in which he travelled throughout the parish for four weeks and then remained within the Hall for five weeks. He would often visit his cousins, the Downes, at their residence of Wardley Hall and conduct Mass for the gathered congregation.
Ambrose was arrested four times during his travels and released without charge. King Charles I signed a proclamation on 7 March 1641, which decreed that all priests should leave the country within one calendar month or face being arrested and treated as traitors, resulting in imprisonment or death. Ambrose’s parishioners implored him to flee or at least go into hiding but he refused, reasoning that he could not die a better death than to be martyred for being a Catholic priest.. Their fears were compounded by a recent stroke which had resulted in the 56-year-old priest being partially paralysed. “Let them fear that have anything to lose which they are unwilling to part with”, he told them.
On 25 April 1641, Easter Day, Ambrose and his congregation of around 100 people were surrounded at Morleys Hall, Astley by the Vicar of Leigh and his armed congregation of some 400. Father Ambrose surrendered and his parishioners were released after their names had been recorded. The priest was restrained, then taken on a horse with a man behind him to prevent his falling, and escorted by a band of sixty people to the Justice of the Peace at Winwick, before being transported to Lancaster Castle. It was at this time he had a premonition of what his fate would be since it is reported that Edmund Arrowsmith appeared to him in a dream and said that he too would become a martyr.
-Lancaster Castle, please click on the image for greater detail
Father Ambrose appeared before the presiding judge, Sir Robert Heath, on 7 September when he professed his adherence to the Catholic faith and defended his actions. On 8 September, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Sir Robert Heath found Ambrose guilty and sentenced him to be executed. Two days later, he was taken from Lancaster Castle, drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, hanged, dismembered, quartered and boiled in oil. His head was afterwards exposed on a pike. His cousin, Francis Downes, Lord of Wardley Hall, a devout Catholic rescued his skull and preserved it at Wardley where it remains to this day. When the news of his death and martyrdom reached his Benedictine brothers at Douai Abbey, a Mass of Thanksgiving and the Te Deum were ordered to be sung.
Several relics of Ambrose are also preserved, his jaw bone is held at the Church of St Ambrose of Milan, Barlow Moor, Manchester, one of his hands is preserved at Stanbrook Abbey now at Wass, North Yorkshire and another hand is at Mount Angel Abbey in St Benedict, Oregon.
The skull of St Ambrose Barlow is on display at the top of the main staircase in Wardley Hall, Worsley, Greater Manchester – the official residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Salford. It was discovered in a casket in 1745 in Wardley Hall when a wall of the original chapel was being demolished. The hall has been known as the House of the Skull ever since.
O God, Who were pleased to give light to Your Church by adorning blessed Ambrose with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys.
-by Martin Bouche, print, published 1683, Bl John Gavan, SJ, please click on the image for greater detail
John Gavan, aliàs Gawen, was born in London in 1640, to a family which originally came from Norrington in Wiltshire, England. He was educated at the Jesuit College at St. Omer’s and then at Liège and Watten. He began his priestly office in 1670 in Staffordshire, a county which was one of the strongholds of the Roman Catholic faith in England. He had an affectionate nickname “the Angel”.
Boscobel House – Gavan’s presence here in August 1678 would later have fatal consequences. please click on the image for greater detail.
On the Feast of the Assumption, 15 August 1678, he took his final vows to the Society of Jesus at Boscobel House, the home of the Penderel family, who were famous for sheltering Charles II after he fled from his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Among the witnesses were two other martyrs of the Popish Plot, William Ireland and Richard Gerard of Hilderstone. The ceremony was followed by dinner, and the guests then viewed the Royal Oak, the tree in which the King had hidden after fleeing from Worcester.
This celebration would have fatal consequences for Gavan (and also for two others who were present, William Ireland and Richard Gerard) during the Popish Plot, when Stephen Dugdale, one of the principal informers associated with the Plot, learned of it and accused the party of having gathered at Boscobel in order to plan a conspiracy to kill the King. Until January 1679, Gavan escaped arrest because Titus Oates, who had invented the Plot about a month after Gavan took his vows, did not know him. On receiving Dugdale’s testimony the Government issued a reward for Gavan’s arrest on 15 January.
Gavan fled to London and took refuge at the Imperial Embassy. Arrangements were made to smuggle him out of England; but a spy called Schibber denounced him and he was arrested on 29 January. The ambassador did not claim diplomatic immunity for Gavan, although the Embassies of the Catholic powers, taking their lead from the Spanish ambassador, did claim immunity for other priests, including George Travers. The reason for the ambassador surrendering Gavan was apparently that he was arrested in the Embassy stables, and was thus technically outside the precincts of the Embassy itself when he was taken.
Gavan was tried on 13 June 1679 with Thomas Whitbread, John Fenwick, William Barrow and Anthony Turner. A bench of seven judges tried them, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Sir William Scroggs, a firm believer in the Plot, and deeply hostile to Catholic priests in general. Gavan, who acted as the spokesman for all the five accused, mounted a spirited defence, which led a modern historian to call him one of the ablest priests of his generation. Attempts by Roman Catholic witnesses to prove that Titus Oates had been at St Omer’s on crucial dates when he claimed to be in London failed, as the judges gave a ruling that Catholic witnesses could receive a papal dispensation to lie on oath, and were, therefore, less credible than Protestants. Gavan had far greater success exposing the inconsistencies in Oates’ own testimony: in particular, Oates could not explain why he had not denounced Gavan in September 1678 when he first made his accusations against Whitbread and Fenwick. Gavan concluded his defence with a long and eloquent plea of innocence, despite constant interruption from Scroggs.
Scroggs, in his summing-up to the jury, admitted that he has already forgotten much of the evidence (judges then did not take notes, apparently because they had no desks to write on) but made it clear to the jury that he expected a guilty verdict, which the jury duly brought in after fifteen minutes. The five were sentenced to death the next day.
They were hanged at Tyburn on 20 June 1679. The behaviour of the crowd suggests strongly that public opinion was turning in favour of the victims. According to witnesses, the onlookers stood in perfect silence for at least an hour while each of the condemned men made a last speech maintaining his innocence; finally, Gavan led all five condemned men in an act of contrition. His own last words were reported to have been “I am content to undergo an ignominious death for the love of you, dear Jesus”. As an act of clemency, King Charles II (who was convinced of their innocence, but believed that he could not risk inflaming public opinion by issuing a royal pardon) gave orders that they should be allowed to hang until they were dead, and thus be spared the usual horrors of drawing and quartering. They were buried in the churchyard of St. Giles in the Fields.
“Dearly beloved Country-men, I am come now to the last Scene of Mortality, to the hour of my Death, an hour which is the Horizon between Time and Eternity, an hour which must either make me a Star to shine for ever in the Empyreum above, or a Firebrand to burn everlastingly amongst the damned Souls in Hell below; an hour in which if I deal sincerely, and with a hearty sorrow acknowledge my crimes, I may hope for mercy; but if I falsly deny them, I must expect nothing but Eternal Damnation; and therefore what I shall say in this great hour, I hope you will believe. And now in this hour I do solemnly swear, protest, and vow, by all that is Sacred in Heaven and on Earth, and as I hope to see the Face of God in Glory, that I am as innocent as the Child unborn of those treasonable Crimes, which Mr. Oates and Mr. Dugdale have Sworn against me in my Tryal, and for which, sentence of Death was pronounced against me the day after my Tryal; and that you may be assured that what I say is true, I do in the like manner protest, vow, and swear, as I hope to see the Face of God in Glory, that I do not in what I say unto you, make use of any Equivocation, mental Reservation, and material Prolocution, or any such ways to palliate Truth. Neither do I make use of any dispensations from the Pope, or any body else; or of any Oath of secresie, or any absolution in Confession or out of Confession to deny the truth, but I speak in the plain sence which the words bear; and if I do not speak in the plain sence which the words bear, or if I do speak in any other terms to palliate, hide, or deny the truth, I wish with all my Soul that God may exclude me from his Heavenly Glory, and condemn me to the lowest place of Hell Fire: and so much to that point.
And now, dear Country-men, in the second place, I do confess and own to the whole World that I am a Roman Catholick, and a Priest, and one of that sort of Priests which you call Jesuits; and now because they are so falsly charged for holding King-killing Doctrine, I think it my duty to protest to you with my last dying words, that neither I in particular, nor the Jesuits in general, hold any such opinion, but utterly abhor and detest it; and I assure you, that among the multitude of Authors, which among the Jesuits have printed Philosophy, Divinity, Cases or Sermons, there is not one to the best of my knowledge that allows of King-killing Doctrine, or holds this position, That it is lawful for a private person to kill a King, although an Heretick, although a Pagan, although a Tyrant, there is, I say, not one Jesuit that holds this, except Ma∣riana, the Spanish Jesuit, and he defends it not absolutely, but only problematically, for which his Book was called in again, and the opinions expugned and sentenced. And is it not a sad thing, that for the rashness of one single Man, whilst the rest cry out against him, and hold the contrary, that a whole Religious Order should be sentenc’d? But I have not time to discuss this point at large, and therefore I refer you all to a Royal Author, I mean the wife and victorious King Henry the Fourth of France, the Royal Grandfather of our present gracious King, in a publick Oration which he pronounced himself in defence of the Jesuits, said, that he was very well satisfied with the Jesuits Doctrine concerning Kings, as believing conformable to what the best Doctors of the Church have taught. But why do I relate the testimony of one particular Prince, when the whole Catholick World is the Jesuit’s Advocate? for to them chiefly Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Flanders, trust the Education of their Youth, and to them in a great proportion, they trust their own Souls to be governed in the Sacraments. And can you imagin so many great Kings and Princes, and so many wise States should do or permit this to be done in their Kingdoms, if the Jesuits were men of such damnable principles as they are now taken for in England?
In the third place, dear Country-men, I do attest, that as I never in my life did machine, or contrive either the deposition or death of the King, so now I do heartily desire of God to grant him a quiet and happy Reign upon Earth, and an Everlasting Crown in Heaven. For the Judges also, and the Jury, and all those that were any ways concern’d, either in my Tryal, Accusation, or Condemnation, I do humbly ask of God, both Temporal and Eternal happiness. And as for Mr. Oates and Mr. Dugdale, whom I call God to witness, by false Oaths have brought me to this untimely end, I heartily forgive them, because God commands me so to do; and I beg of God for his infinite Mercy to grant them true Sorrow and Repentance in this World, that they be capable of Eternal happiness in the next. And so having discharged my Duty towards my self, and my own Innocence towards my Order, and its Doctrine to my Neighbour and the World, I have nothing else to do now, my great God, but to cast my self into the Arms of your Mercy, as firmly as I judge that I my self am, as certainly as I believe you are One Divine Essence and Three Divine Persons, and in the Second Person of your Trinity you became Man to redeem me; I also believe you are an Eternal Rewarder of Good, and Chastiser of Bad. In fine, I believe all you have reveal’d for your own infinite Veracity; I hope in you above all things, for your infinite Fidelity; and I love you above all things, for your infinite Beauty and Goodness; and I am heartily sorry that ever I offended so great a God with my whole heart: I am contented to undergo an ignominious Death for the love of you, my dear Jesu, seeing You have been pleased to undergo an ignominious Death for the love of me.”
-by Martin Bouche, print, published 1683, Bl John Fenwick, SJ
John Fenwick, whose real surname was Caldwell, was born in county Durham, of Protestant parents who disowned him when he became a Roman Catholic convert. He took his course in humanities at the College of St. Omer, was sent to Liège to study theology, and entered the Society of Jesus at Watten on 28 September 1660. Having completed his studies, he was ordained a priest, and spent several years, from 1662, as procurator or agent at the College of St. Omer. He was made a professed father in 1676, and was sent to England the same year.
He resided in London as procurator of St. Omer’s College, and was also one of the missionary fathers there. In 1678, on the information of Titus Oates, he was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, and committed to Newgate Prison. He was put in chains and suffered great pain as a result: one of his legs became so infected that amputation was proposed. His correspondence was seized, but to the Crown’s disappointment it turned out to be completely innocuous: as he forcefully pointed out at his second trial, among at least a thousand letters taken from him there was not one which could be construed as treasonable. He was tried for high treason with William Ireland, in that they had conspired to kill King Charles II, a charge fabricated by Oates and later embellished by other informers. Oates claimed that he had overheard some incriminating remarks they made at a meeting of senior Jesuits in late April 1678 in the White Horse Tavern on the Strand: they could truthfully deny this, although they had at the time been at a meeting of senior Jesuits in the Palace of Whitehall. As the evidence of treason was insufficient, since the Crown lacked the requisite two witnesses, he was remanded back to prison.
However, in the political climate of the time, it was unthinkable that so prominent a Jesuit should be allowed to escape with his life: accordingly, he was arraigned a second time at the Old Bailey on 13 June 1679, before all the High Court judges. He was tried together with four other Jesuit fathers (John Gavan, William Harcourt, Thomas Whitebread and Anthony Turner}. Oates and two other notorious informers, William Bedloe and Stephen Dugdale, were the main witnesses against them, and in accordance with the direction of Lord Chief Justice William Scroggs, the jury found the prisoners guilty, despite their spirited defence. At the end of the prosecution case Fenwick made a vigorous protest:
“I have had a thousand letters taken from me: not any of these letters had anything of treason in them. All the evidence comes but to this: there is but saying and swearing.”
The five Jesuits suffered death at Tyburn on 20 June 1679. As an act of clemency, the King, who was well aware that they were innocent, but realised that it would be politically unthinkable to grant a royal pardon or reprieve, ordered that they be allowed to hang until they were dead, and be spared the indignity of drawing and quartering. In a sign that public sympathy was turning against the plot, the large crowd heard their final speeches from the scaffold in respectful silence, as each maintained his innocence. Fenwick’s remains were buried in the churchyard of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
An account of the trial and condemnation of the five Jesuits for High Treason, in conspiring the Death of the King, the Subversion of the Government and Protestant Religion was published by authority at London, 1679.
“Good People, I suppose you expect I should say something as to the Crime I am Condemned for, and either acknowledge my Guilt, or assert my Innocency; I do therefore declare before God and the whole World, and call God to witness that what I say is true, that I am innocent of what is laid to my Charge of Plotting the King’s Death, and endeavoring to subvert the Government, and bring in a foreign Power, as the Child unborn; and that I know nothing of it, but what I have learn’d from Mr. Oates and his Companions, and what comes originally from them. And to what is said and commonly believed of Roman Catholicks, that they are not to be believed or trusted, because they can have Dispensations for Lying, Perjury, killing Kings, and other the most enormous Crimes; I do utterly renounce all such Pardons, Dispensations, and withall declare, That it is a most wicked and malicious Calumny cast on them, who do all with all their hearts and souls hate and detest all such wicked and damnable Practises, and in the words of a dying Man, and as I hope for Mercy at the hands of God, before whom I must shortly appear and give an account of all my actions, I do again declare, That what I have said is most true, and I hope Christian Charity will not let you think, that by the last act of my Life, I would cast away my Soul, by sealing up my last Breath with a damnable Lye.”
-by Martin Bouche, print, 1683, Bl Thomas White, SJ
Thomas White, alias Harcourt, alias Whitbread/Whitebread was a native of Essex, but little is known of his family or early life. He was educated at St. Omer’s, and entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus on 7 September 1635. Coming upon the English mission in 1647, he worked in England for more than thirty years, mostly in the eastern counties. On 8 December 1652, he was professed of the four vows. Twice he was superior of the Suffolk District, once of the Lincolnshire District, and finally, in 1678 he was declared Provincial. In this capacity he refused to admit Titus Oates as a member of the Society, on the grounds of his ignorance, blasphemy and sexual attraction to young boys, and expelled him forthwith from the seminary of St Omer; shortly afterwards Titus, motivated by personal spite against Whitbread, and against the Jesuits generally, fabricated the so-called “Popish Plot”.
It was said later that Whitbread had a miraculous presentiment of the plot, and undoubtedly he preached a celebrated sermon at Liège in July 1678, on the text “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?”, in which he warned his listeners that the present time of tranquillity would not last, and that they must be willing to suffer false accusations, imprisonment, torture and martyrdom. Having completed a tour of his Flanders province, he went to England but at once fell ill with plague.
Whitbread was arrested in London on Michaelmas Day (i.e., 29 September) 1678, but was so ill that he could not be moved to Newgate until three months later. The house in which he and his secretary Fr. Edward Mico (who died in Newgate shortly afterwards) had been lodging was part of the Spanish Embassy in Wild Street, but for whatever reason, there was no claim of diplomatic immunity, as there was in the case of some other priests. He was first indicted at the Old Bailey, on 17 December 1678, but the evidence against him and his companions broke down. Oates testified that he had overheard Whitbread and other senior Jesuits plotting to kill the King in late April 1678 in the White Horse Tavern in the Strand. This was probably garbled second-hand information about an actual Jesuit meeting which was then going on at Whitehall Palace: but no one corroborated Oates’ story, and Whitbread could in good conscience deny the assassination plot, and that he had ever been in the White Horse Tavern.
Given the state of public opinion, it was unthinkable to the Government that Whitbread, whom Oates and the other informers had identified as one of the originators of the Plot, should be allowed to escape punishment. Accordingly he was remanded and kept in prison until 13 June 1679, when he was again indicted for treason, and with four others was found guilty on the perjured evidence of Oates, William Bedloe and Stephen Dugdale. The importance of the trial is shown by the fact that it was heard by a bench of seven judges, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Sir William Scroggs, who was a firm believer in the Plot and deeply hostile to Catholic priests. In the circumstances Whitbread could not have hoped to escape, and, although he strongly maintained his innocence, Kenyon suggests that he had resigned himself to death. Certainly the sermon he had preached at Liège the previous year suggests that he expected to suffer the death of a martyr, sooner or later.
He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn. The King, who knew that he and his fellow victims were innocent, ordered that they be allowed to die before being mutilated. The well-known story that they were offered a pardon on the scaffold if they would confess seems to have no substance. The crowd showed that on this occasion its sympathies were with the victims, and it listened in respectful silence as Whitbread and the others made lengthy speeches protesting their innocence. The others executed with him were John Gavan, John Fenwick, William Harcourt and Anthony Turner. After the execution, his remains, and those of his companions, were buried in St. Giles’s in the Fields.
Whitbread wrote Devout Elevation of the Soul to God and two short poems, To Death and To His Soul, which are printed in The Remonstrance of Piety and Innocence.
“I Suppose it is expected I should speak something to the matter I am condemned for, and brought hither to suffer, it is no less than the contriving and plotting His Majesty’s Death, and the alteration of the Government of the Church and State; you all either know, or ought to know, I am to make my appearance before the Face of Almighty God, and with all imaginable certainty and evidence to receive a final Judgment, for all the thoughts, words, and actions of my whole life: So that I am not now upon terms to speak other than truth, and therefore in his most Holy Presence, and as I hope for Mercy from his Divine Majesty, I do declare to you here present, and to the whole World, that I go out of the World as innocent, and as free from any guilt of these things laid to my charge in this matter, as I came into the World from my Mother’s Womb; and that I do renounce from my heart all manner of Pardons, Absolutions, Dispensations for Swearing, as occasions or Interest may seem to re∣quire, which some have been pleased to lay to our charge as matter of our Practice and Doctrine, but is a thing so unjustifiable and unlawful, that I believe, and ever did, that no power on Earth can authorize me, or any body so to do; and for those who have so falsly accused me (as time, either in this World, or in the next, will make appear) I do heartily forgive them, and beg of God to grant them his holy Grace, that they may repent their unjust proceedings against me, otherwise they will in conclusion find they have done themselves more wrong than I have suffered from them, though that has been a great deal. I pray God bless His Majesty both Temporal and Eternal, which has been my daily Prayers for him, and is all the harm that I ever intended or imagined against him. And I do with this my last breath in the sight of God declare, that I never did learn, teach, or believe, that it is lawful upon any occasion or pretence whatsoever, to design or contrive the Death of His Majesty, or any hurt to his Person; but on the contrary, all are bound to obey, defend, and preserve his Sacred Person, to the utmost of their power. And I do moreover declare, that this is the true and plain sence of my Soul in the sight of him who knows the Secrets of my Heart, and as I hope to see his blessed Face without any Equivocation, or mental Reservation. This is all I have to say concerning the matter of my Condemnation, that which remains for me now to do, is to recommend my Soul into the hands of my blessed Redeemer, by whose only Merits and Passion I hope for Salvation.”
-by Cornelius van Merlen, print, Bl William Barrow, SJ
William Barrow (alias Waring, alias Harcourt, alias Harrison) was born in Lancashire. He made his studies at the Jesuit College, St. Omer’s, and entered the Society of Jesus at Watten in 1632. He was sent to the English mission in 1644 and worked in the London district for thirty-five years, becoming, at the beginning of 1678, its superior.
At the outbreak of the Popish Plot, Barrow was one of the most sought-after of the alleged plotters, although his use of the alias Harcourt caused the Government great confusion, as several other Jesuits also used it. He went into hiding in London, and for several months eluded capture. Finally, in May 1679, he was arrested and committed to Newgate on the charge of complicity in the plot brought against him by Titus Oates. The trial, in which he had as fellow-prisoners his colleagues, Thomas Whit(e)bread, John Fenwick, John Gavan, and Anthony Turner, commenced on 13 June 1679.
Lord Chief Justice Scroggs presided, assisted by no less than six junior judges. Oates, William Bedloe, and Stephen Dugdale were the principal witnesses for the Crown. The prisoners were charged with having conspired to kill King Charles II and subvert the Protestant religion. They defended themselves by the testimony of their own witnesses and their cross-examinations of their accusers. Oates’ claim that he had heard some of them plotting treason in the White Horse Tavern in London in late April 1678 was something they could in could conscience deny, although they did not feel obliged to mention that they had been at a meeting of the Jesuit chapter in Whitehall Palace at the time. John Gavan, the youngest and ablest of the five, bore the main burden of conducting his colleagues’ defence as well as his own.
Scroggs in directing the jury laid down two crucial legal principles-
as the witnesses for the prosecution had recently received the royal pardon, none of their undeniable previous misdemeanours could be legally admitted as impairing the value of their testimony; and
that no Catholic witness was to be believed, as it was to be assumed that he had received a dispensation to lie.
Barrow and the others were found guilty, and condemned to undergo the punishment for high treason. They were executed together at Tyburn, 20 June 1679. The King, who was well aware that they were innocent, ordered as an act of grace that they be spared drawing and quartering, and given proper burial. The behaviour of the crowd, which listened in respectful silence as each man maintained his innocence, suggests that popular opinion was turning against the Plot. They were buried in St Giles in the Fields.
By a papal decree of 4 December 1886, this martyr’s cause was introduced, but under the name of “William Harcourt”. This is the official name of beatification.
“The words of dying persons have been always esteem’d as of greatest Authority, be∣cause uttered then, when shortly after they were to be cited before the high Tribunal of Almighty God, this gives me hopes that mine may be look’d upon as such, therefore I do here declare in the presence of Almighty God, and the whole Court of Heaven, and this numerous Assembly, that as I ever hope (by the Merits and Passion of my sweet Saviour Jesus Christ) for Eternal Bliss, I am as innocent as the Child unborn of any thing laid to my charge, and for which I am here to dye, and I do utterly abhor and detest that abominable false Doctrine laid to our charge, that we can have Licenses to commit perjury, or any Sin to advantage our cause, being expresly against the Doctrine of St. Paul, saying, Non sunt faci∣enda mala, ut eveniant bona; Evil is not to be done that good may come thereof. And therefore we hold it in all cases unlawful to kill or murder any person whatsoever, much more our law∣ful King now Reigning, whose personal and temporal Dominions we are ready to defend against any Opponent whatsoever, none excepted. I forgive all that have contriv’d my Death, and humbly beg pardon of Almighty God. I also pardon all the World. I pray God bless His Majesty, and grant him a prosperous Reign. The like I wish to his Royal Con∣sort the best of Queens. I humbly beg the Prayers of all those of the Roman Church, if any such be present.”
-by Cornelius van Merlen, print, Bl Anthony Turner, SJ
Anthony Turner was born in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, the son of a clergyman, Toby Turner, who was Rector of Little Dalby and Elizabeth, nee Cheseldine. He went to Uppingham School in Rutland, then studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge, where, according to tradition, he converted to Roman Catholicism.
He went to the English College, Rome in October 1650 and then to the Jesuit College, St Omer. He was ordained there on 12 April 1659.
In 1661, he was sent to run the Jesuits’ Worcestershire mission, and he remained there for the rest of his ministry; in due course, he was appointed Jesuit Superior for the District (1670-78).
At the outbreak of the Popish Plot, the Government showed exceptional interest in apprehending Turner. Why he was considered to be of such importance is unclear, but he must have been thought well worth catching, as pursuivants searched for him in three counties.
Turner resolved to suffer for the Church but was urged to flee England by his superiors. He journeyed to London in January 1679 to take refuge in the embassy of one of the Catholic powers and to find a Jesuit who could get him out of the country; his search was unsuccessful and he gave the last of his money to a beggar and turned himself in to the authorities in February 1679.
His motives for doing this are unclear: Jesuits, though were schooled to endure martyrdom where necessary, were not expected to actively seek it, nor does his spirited defence at his trial suggest that he had any such wish. It is most likely, as J. P. Kenyon suggests, that his physical and mental suffering had caused him to suffer a short-lived nervous breakdown.
Although Turner was not on Titus Oates’ list, he was moved to Newgate Prison and tried on 13 June 1679 together with Thomas Whitbread, John Fenwick, John Gavan and William Barrow. No fewer than seven judges sat on the court that tried them, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Sir William Scroggs, who was a convinced believer in the Plot and cherished a deep hatred of Catholic priests. Turner, having recovered his mental balance, defended himself with vigour, although the four older priests allowed the young and able John Gavan to act as the principal spokesman for all five. Attempts to discredit the testimony of Titus Oates, the inventor of the Plot, by proving that he had been in St Omer for six months when he claimed to have been in London failed, as the Court ruled that the witnesses, being Catholics, could receive a dispensation to lie and were therefore not credible. Far more effective were the direct attacks on Oates himself; in particular, the accused were able to show that though Oates knew Whitbread and Fenwick personally, Gavan was a stranger to him. Oates’s evidence against Gavan was so feeble that even Scroggs remarked “I perceive your memory is not good”.
Despite weaknesses in the prosecution case, Scroggs summed up firmly for a conviction (while cheerfully admitting that he had already forgotten most of the evidence), and the jury delivered a guilty verdict within fifteen minutes. All five were hanged at Tyburn on 20 June 1679. The well-known story that they were offered a royal pardon on the scaffold if they would confess seems to have no foundation. Charles II was asked to show clemency, but refused, for fear of inflaming public opinion; the most he would do is order that the five be allowed to hang until they were dead, that they be spared drawing and quartering and given a proper burial.
The crowd showed that its sympathy was with the victims, and stood in respectful silence while each of the condemned men delivered a last speech maintaining his innocence. They were buried in St Giles-in-the-Fields.
“Being now, good People, very near my End, and summon’d by a violent Death to appear before God’s Tribunal, there to render an account of all my thoughts, words, and actions, before a just Judge, I am bound in Conscience to declare upon Oath my Innocence from the horrid Crime of Treason, with which I am falsely accused: And I esteem it a Duty I owe to Christian Charity, to publish to the World before my death all that I know in this point, concerning those Catholicks I have conversed with since the first noise of the Plot, desiring from the very bottom of my heart, that the whole Truth may appear, that Innocence may be clear’d, to the great Glory of God, and the Peace and Welfare of the King and Country. As for my self, I call God to witness, that I was never in my whole life at any Consult or Meeting of the Jesuits, where any Oath of Secrecy was taken, or the Sacrament, as a Bond of Secrecy, either by me or any one of them, to conceal any Plot against His Sacred Majesty; nor was I ever present at any Meeting or Consult of theirs, where any Proposal was made, or Resolve taken or signed, either by me or any of them, for taking away the Life of our Dread Soveraign; an Impiety of such a nature, that had I been present at any such Meeting, I should have been bound by the Laws of God, and by the Principles of my Religion, (and by God’s Grace would have acted accordingly) to have discovered such a devillish Treason to the Civil Magistrate, to the end they might have been brought to condign punishment. I was so far, good People, from being in September last at a Consult of the Jesuits at Tixall, in Mr. Ewer’s Chamber, that I vow to God, as I hope for Salvation, I never was so much as once that year at Tixall, my Lord Aston’s House. ‘Tis true, I was at the Congregation of the Jesuits held on the 24th of April was twelve-month, but in that Meeting, as I hope to be saved, we meddled not with State-Affairs, but only treated about the Governours of the Province, which is usually done by us, without offence to temporal Princes, every third Year all the World over. I am, good People, as free from the Treason I am accused of, as the Child that is unborn, and being innocent I never accused my self in Confession of any thing that I am charged with. Which certainly, if I had been conscious to my self of any Guilt in this kind, I should not so frankly and freely, as I did, of my own accord, presented my self before the King’s Most Honourable Privy Council. As for those Catholicks, which I have conversed with since the noise of the Plot, I protest before God, in the words of a dying Man, that I never heard any one of them, neither Priest nor Layman, express to me the least knowledge of any Plot, that was then on foot amongst the Catholicks, against the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, for the advancing the Catholick Religion. I dye a Roman Catholick, and humbly beg the Prayers of such for my happy passage into a better Life: I have been of that Religion above Thirty Years, and now give God Almighty infinite thanks for calling me by his holy Grace to the knowledge of this Truth, notwithstanding the prejudice of my former Education. God of his infinite Goodness bless the King, and all the Royal Family, and grant His Majesty a prosperous Reign here, and a Crown of Glory hereafter. God in his mercy forgive all those which have falsely accused me, or have had any hand in my Death; I forgive them from the bottom of my heart, as I hope my self for forgiveness at the Hands of God.
O GOD who hast created me to a supernatural end, to serve thee in this life by grace and injoy thee in the next by glory, be pleased to grant by the merits of thy bitter death and passion, that after this wretched life shall be ended, I may not fail of a full injoyment of thee my last end and soveraign good. I humbly beg pardon for all the sins which I have com∣mitted against thy Divine Majesty, since the first Instance I came to the use of reason to this very time; I am heartily sorry from the very bottom of my heart for having offending thee so good, so powerfull, so wise, and so just a God, and purpose by the help of thy grace, ne∣ver more to offend thee my good God, whom I love above all things.
O sweet Jesus, who hath suffer’d a most painfull and ignominious Death upon the Cross for our Salvation, apply, I beseech thee, unto me the merits of thy sacred Passion, and sanctifie unto me these sufferings of mine, which I humbly accept of for thy sake in union of the sufferings of thy sacred Majesty, and in punishment and satisfaction of my sins.
O my dear Saviour and Redeemer, I return thee immortal thanks for all thou hast pleased to do for me in the whole course of my life, and now in the hour of my death, with a firm belief of all things thou hast revealed, and a stedfast hope of obteining everlasting bliss. I chearfully cast my self into the Arms of thy Mercy, whose Arms were stretched on the Cross for my Re∣demption. Sweet Jesus receive my Spirit.”
-“The Crucifixion” is a panel in the central part of the predella of a large altarpiece painted by Andrea Mantegna between 1457 and 1459 for the high altar of San Zeno, Verona (Italy). It was commissioned by Gregorio Correr, the abbot of that monastery. Tempera on panel, 67 cm × 93 cm (26 in × 37 in), The Louvre, Paris. Please click on the image for greater detail.
“What do the martyrs teach us? Today we celebrate the English Martyrs, those heroic men and women who gave their life for the faith in this country in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is stating the obvious to note how different their circumstances were to our own. Why then do we celebrate them today, and what do they teach us?
St John of the Cross once wrote: “in the evening of life, we will be judged by love alone.” The fact that we are celebrating this feast means that these martyrs now enjoy their eternal reward. Judged by love alone, they passed the test with flying colours. So if they teach us about love, how are we to love?
Christ summarises the teaching of the Old Testament on love as the following: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
This tells us who we are to love, but it doesn’t tell us the how.
Christ’s teaching on love is not reducible to a summary of the Old Law. His teaching takes on a far more radical shape: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you”. As I have loved you. This is to give up life itself, for this is what Christ Himself did. That point is made very clear when Jesus goes to say “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”. Christ laid down His life for each one of us, and that is how He calls each one of us to love too.
A love that imitates Christ until death is exactly what we read about St Stephen in the first reading. The story even echoes the events of the cross. Stephen, like Christ, was taken outside of the city to be killed. He too, like Christ, forgave his oppressors, and he too cried out to God with the same words: “receive my spirit”.
A death that echoes that of Christ on the cross can also be seen with many of the English Martyrs that we celebrate today. John Kemple, a secular priest, said to his executioner, who happened to be a friend of his, “My good Anthony, do what you have to do. I forgive you with all my heart…”. Margaret Clitherowe accepted her burden with the same words as Christ prayed in the garden. She said, before she was crushed to death, “I will accept willingly everything that God wills”.
This is why we celebrate the martyrs: they fix our gaze on the cross. It is there we learn how to love.
Christ’s instruction to imitate Him is of course not just reserved for the moment of our death. His instruction to “love one another even as I have loved you” ought to direct our every action. We cannot wait until the possibility of a heroic martyr’s death to begin loving as we ought to love. For the vast majority of us that moment will likely never come. But the opportunity to love as Christ has loved us is already here.
The whole of Jesus’ earthly mission looked forward to the cross. The love He displayed there was the perfection and completion of His ministry of teaching and healing. The cross is the final lesson: by His wounds, we are healed. (cf -Is 53:5-6)
So too in the lives of the martyrs their death was not an isolated incident, of Christ-like, cruciform love. St Stephen was a man ‘full of faith and the Holy Spirit’, who proclaimed words of truth in the midst of a hostile Council. Margaret Clitherowe hid priests and continued to do so even after it was made illegal. She decided not to plead in her trial, thereby hastening her execution, so as to save her children from testifying and likely torture. Her imitation of the cross began long before she breathed her last. How appropriate that she died on 25th March 1586, Good Friday that year.
This is what the martyrs teach us: our imitation of the cross begins now. Every single moment, every single decision, is an opportunity to love as Jesus loved us.
To love like Jesus on the cross is to prefer nothing but the good of our neighbour. (cf – St Thomas Aquinas, OP) It is to forgive those who have most deeply wronged us. It is to speaks words of comfort from a place of hurt. (Ed.’s emphasis) It is to gather together those who are lost. It is to seek to do the Father’s will above all things.
For a very few the imitation of Christ’s love on the cross is literal, for most the circumstances are less dramatic, but for all the demand is the same: love one another as I have loved you. A cruciform-shaped love ought to structure our whole life, from its broadest shape to its most insignificant detail – now, and at the hour of our death.”
Love, Lord, let me love those who have wronged me, caused me to suffer, deprived me in this life,
Blessed Robert Drury was born in Buckinghamshire in about 1567. He studied at the English College, Rheims, France in 1588, and the English College, Valladolid, Spain in 1590. Ordained at Valladolid in 1593. Returned to England in 1593 to minister to covert Catholics around London, England. He was one of the signers of the loyal address of 31 January 1603 which acknowledged the queen as lawful sovereign on earth but maintained their loyalty in religious matters to the Pope. When James I came to the throne, the king required them to sign a new oath that acknowledged his authority over spiritual matters. Robert refused and was arrested in 1606 for the crime of being a priest. He was offered his freedom if he would sign the oath; he declined. Martyred by being hanged, drawn, and quartered on 26 February 1607 at Tyburn, London England.
An invitation from the English Government to these priests to acknowledge their allegiance and duty to the queen (dated 5 November 1602) led to the loyal address of 31 January 1603, drawn up by Dr. William Bishop, and signed by thirteen of the leading priests, including Drury and Roger Cadwallader. In this address, they acknowledged the queen as their lawful sovereign, repudiated the claim of the pope to release them from their duty of allegiance to her, and expressed their abhorrence of the forcible attempts already made to restore the Catholic religion and their determination to reveal any further conspiracies against the Government which should come to their knowledge. In return, they pleaded that as they were ready to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar’s, so they might be permitted to yield to the successor of Peter that obedience which Peter himself might have claimed under the commission of Christ, and so to distinguish between their several duties and obligations as to be ready on the one hand “to spend their blood in defense of her Majesty”, but on the other “rather to lose their lives than infringe the lawful authority of Christ’s Catholic Church”. This repudiation of the papal deposing power was condemned by the theological faculty of the Catholic University of Leuven; but Dr. William Bishop was in the end nominated Bishop of Chalcedon and first vicar Apostolic in England in 1623.
Elizabeth I of England died within three months of the signature of the address, and James I of England was not satisfied with purely civil allegiance. A new oath of allegiance was drawn up. It was imposed 5 July 1606, and about this time Drury was arrested. He was condemned for his priesthood, but was offered his life if he would take the new oath. A letter from Father Robert Persons, S.J., against its lawfulness was found on him. The oath declared that the “damnable doctrine” of the deposing power was “impious and heretical”, and it was condemned by Pope Paul V, 22 September 1606, “as containing many things contrary to the Faith and Salvation”. This brief, however, was suppressed by the archpriest, and Drury probably did not know of it. But he felt that his conscience would not permit him to take the oath, and he died a Catholic martyr at Tyburn, 26 February 1606-7.
-Robert Persons (Parsons), SJ (1546-1610)
Blessed Robert Drury attempted to appease Queen Elizabeth and her government as one of the Appellants. Two of the 13 who signed the Protestation of Allegiance would be executed during the reign of James I of England: today’s martyr and Blessed Roger Cadwallador (in 1610 on August 27). The Appellants opposed the Jesuit methods of leading the Catholic mission to England and attempted to compromise, pleading a divided but honest loyalty–secular loyalty to Elizabeth’s authority as the Queen of England; religious loyalty to Papal authority as the successor to St. Peter. The Appellants also opposed the authority and methods of the Archpriest George Blackwell, whom they thought favored the Jesuit approach. The Jesuit approach, articulated by Father Robert Persons, was uncompromising: total loyalty to the Roman Pontiff and absolute refusal to adopt public acceptance of the Church of England while remaining privately opposed. The Jesuits would not tolerate Church Papists who attended Anglican services to avoid the fines and imprisonments, for example. The Elizabethan regime took advantage of these disagreements to encourage division among Catholics in England.
Even if Elizabeth I had accepted their appeal for relief to her Catholic subjects, the succession of James VI of Scotland ended this attempt–because he would not compromise, either. He demanded that the Appellants accept his authority over both religious and secular matters with the Oath of Allegiance. Members of the Appellant party were divided over whether they could take James I’s new oath. Drury and Cadwallador were arrested and refused to take the oath.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Blessed (then Venerable) Robert Drury:
‘The results of the address were disappointing; Elizabeth died within three months of its signature, and James I soon proved that he would not be satisfied with any purely civil allegiance. He thirsted for spiritual authority, and, with the assistance of an apostate Jesuit, a new oath of allegiance was drawn up, which in its subtlety was designed to trouble the conscience of Catholics and divide them on the lawfulness of taking it. It was imposed 5 July, 1606, and about this time Drury was arrested. He was condemned for his priesthood, but was offered his life if he would take the new oath. A letter from Father Persons, S.J., against its lawfulness was found on him. The oath declared that the “damnable doctrine” of the deposing power was “impious and heretical”, and it was condemned by Pope Paul V, 22 September, 1606, “as containing many things contrary to the Faith and Salvation”. This brief, however, was suppressed by the archpriest, and Drury probably did not know of it. But he felt that his conscience would not permit him to take the oath, and he died a martyr at Tyburn, 26 February, 1606-7. A curious contemporary account of his martyrdom, entitled “A true Report of the Arraignment . . . of a Popish Priest named Robert Drewrie” (London, 1607), which has been reprinted in the “Harleian Miscellany”, calls him a Benedictine, and says he wore his monastic habitat the execution. But this “habit” as described proves to be the cassock and cap work by the secular clergy. The writer adds, “There were certain papers shown at Tyburn which had been found about him, of a very dangerous and traitorous nature, and among them also was his Benedictine faculty under seal, expressing what power and authority he had from the pope to make men, women, and children here of his order; what indulgence and pardons he could grant them”, etc. He may have been a confrater or oblate of the order.’
Almighty and merciful God, who brought your Martyr blessed Robert to overcome the torments of his passion, grant that we, who celebrate the day of his triumph, may remain invincible under your protection against the snares of the enemy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-linen jacket (~1640), woman’s bodice, in which remains were found at Holywell, please click on the image for greater detail
It’s a mystery that has puzzled researchers for almost 150 years. In 1878, a wooden box was discovered in an attic in the Welsh town of Holywell. It contained two skulls and a cluster of other bones, wrapped in a linen jacket.
Jan Graffius is the curator of the Stonyhurst Collections, an eye-popping assembly of Catholic martyrs’ relics at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, northwest England. She believes that she has finally solved the conundrum.
“The starting point is you look at the evidence in front of you,” she told Catholic News Agency in an interview. “So you have two skulls. One has a hole in the cranium, and many of the bones that are associated with the two skulls show evidence of having been cut with a sharp knife.”
“The immediate premise that you draw from that is that at least one of these two was dismembered after death and that one of the heads was stuck on a spike.”
Acknowledging that the details were “quite graphic,” she continued: “I examined the skull to see whether the hole in the top had been inflicted from the outside in or from the inside out. And the way the bone had been damaged indicated that the force had come from within the skull, within the cranium itself. It had also been pierced by something from inside, like a spike.”
“The clinching argument was that the coccyx [pictured above] — the bone at the base of the spine — had been severed very cleanly. And when you’re hanging, drawing, and quartering, the quartering is literal: you cut the body into pieces. And that indicates to me where you would normally expect the cuts to come from severing the legs from the body.”
A second identifying factor, Graffius said, was where the bones were found. They were uncovered in a house connected to the Jesuit order, where relics of English martyrs were previously discovered.
“So there was an association with an English martyr, or a Welsh martyr, and somebody with a Jesuit association,” she explained.
(Holywell is, in addition, home to St Winefride’s Well, the oldest continually visited pilgrimage site in Britain.)
Graffius said that another clue was that the two skulls were found together, suggesting that the two figures were closely associated.
She consulted Maurice Whitehead and Hannah Thomas, academic experts on the Welsh martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries. That led to the breakthrough.
Philip Evans was playing tennis on July 21, 1679, when he heard that he would be executed the following day. He reportedly received the news in good spirits and asked permission to finish the game in the grounds of the prison where he was being held. Not permitted to do so, he took up a harp back in his prison cell and sang praise to God for calling him to be a martyr.
Evans was born around 34 years earlier in Monmouthshire, southeast Wales. He studied at the English Jesuit College at St Omer in Flanders, entering the Jesuits at the age of 20. In 1675, he returned to his homeland to serve as a missionary: a perilous enterprise following the Welsh Reformation.
Priest hunters tracked Evans down on Dec. 2, 1678. After weeks of solitary confinement at Cardiff Gaol, he was allowed to share a cell with another condemned man, John Lloyd.
Lloyd was older than Evans. Born in Brecon, mid-Wales, he trained for the Catholic priesthood in Valladolid, Spain. He came back to Wales in 1654, knowing that he risked his life by doing so.
Evans and Lloyd were condemned to death at the Spring Assizes in 1679. A jailer allowed them considerable freedom in their final months, with Evans playing the harp as well as engaging in racket sports.
On the evening before his execution, Evans wrote to his younger sister, a nun in Paris.
“Dear Sister,” he said. “I know that you are so well versed in the principles of Christian courage as not to be at all startled when you understand that your loving brother writes this as his last letter unto you, being in a few hours hence to suffer as a priest and consequently for God’s sake. What greater happiness can befall a Christian man?”
Evans was the first to be hanged, drawn, and quartered the next day. Witnesses noted that his executioners showed unusual aggression. At executions of groups of Catholic priests, the first killing was often especially savage, in an attempt to persuade those waiting to recant. But Lloyd held fast to the faith to the end.
Graffius said that the experts she consulted suggested that the bones possibly belonged to the two Welsh priests.
“They both said, ‘Look, this must be Evans and Lloyd because they were very closely associated in life.’ They spent their last six months or so together in prison. They were executed at the same time. They were buried, or disposed of, at the same time, and they are always spoken of as a pair, if you like, because of the close friendship they had during life.”
“So it makes perfect logical and historical sense for these two bones of these very closely associated men to have been rescued together, and secreted together.”
The story of the bones’ identification is told in an online exhibition, “‘How bleedeth burning love’: British Jesuit Province’s Relics of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales,” inspired by the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
The exhibition was originally planned as a physical event marking the anniversary of the canonization by Pope Paul VI on Oct. 25, 1970. But the coronavirus crisis forced the organizers to change their plans, offering instead an audio and visual experience to internet users around the world.
It also features relics of the celebrated Jesuit martyrs St. Edmund Campion, St. Robert Southwell, and Blessed Edward Oldcorne, as well as two hats, a crucifix, and part of a hair shirt belonging to St. Thomas More.
Graffius said that she was “just thrilled” when she drew the evidence together and connected the Holywell bones to Evans and Lloyd.
“To be able to say with a good degree of confidence, ‘this is who they are,’ is very exciting,” she said.
-St Philip Evans, SJ
-St Philip Evans, SJ
-17th century chalice believed to have belonged to St Philip Evans, SJ
-carving of St Philip Evans, SJ with his harp
Philip Evans was born in Monmouth in 1645, was educated at Jesuit College of St. Omer (now in France), joined the Society of Jesus in Watten on 7 September 1665, and was ordained at Liège (now in Belgium) and sent to South Wales as a missionary in 1675.
He worked in Wales for four years, and despite the official anti-Catholic policy no action was taken against him. When the Oates’ scare swept the country both Lloyd and Evans were caught up in the aftermath. In November 1678 John Arnold, of Llanvihangel Court near Abergavenny, a justice of the peace and a staunch Calvinist and hunter of priests, offered a reward of an additional £200 (equivalent to £30,000 in 2019) for his arrest. The normal price for a Jesuit was £50.
Despite the manifest dangers Father Evans steadfastly refused to leave his flock. He was arrested at the home of a Mr Christopher Turberville at Sker, Glamorgan, on 4 December 1678. Ironically the posse which arrested him is said to have been led by Turberville’s brother, the notorious priest-taker Edward Turberville.
Father John Lloyd, a Welshman and a secular priest (a priest not associated with any religious order), was a Breconshire man. He was educated in Ghent (now in Belgium), and from 1649 at the English College, Valladolid, Spain. He took the ‘missionary oath’ on 16 October 1649 to participate in the English Mission. Sent to Wales in 1654 to minister to covert Catholics, he lived his vocation while constantly on the run for 24 years. He was arrested at Mr Turberville’s house at Penlline, Glamorgan, on 20 November 1678, and imprisoned in Cardiff Gaol. There he was joined by the Jesuit, Philip Evans.
They waited five months before going to trial because the prosecution could not find witnesses to testify that they were indeed priests. Eventually a woman and her daughter said that they had received the sacraments from the Jesuit, which was true. Both priests were brought to trial in Cardiff on Monday, 5 May 1679. Neither was charged with being associated with the plot concocted by Oates. Nonetheless, they were tried for being priests and coming to England and Wales contrary to the provisions of Jesuits, etc. Act 1584, and were declared guilty of treason for exercising their priesthood.
The executions took so long to be scheduled that it began to appear that they might not take place. The priests were allowed a good deal of liberty, even to leaving the prison for recreation. The executions took place in Pwllhalog, near Cardiff, on 22 July 1679. Two plaques mark the site at what is now the junction of Crwys Road and Richmond Road in Roath, Cardiff, still known as “Death Junction”.
Philip Evans was the first to die. When Evans mounted the ladder at the gallows, he said, “This is the best pulpit a man can have to preach in, therefore, I can not forbear to tell you again that I die for God and religion’s sake. “He addressed the gathering in both Welsh and English saying, ‘Adieu, Father Lloyd! Though only for a little time, for we shall soon meet again’. John Lloyd spoke very briefly saying, “My fellow sufferer has declared the cause of our death, therefore I need not repeat it. Besides, I never was a good speaker in my life. I shall only say that I die in the true Catholic and apostolic faith, according to these words in the Creed, I believe in the holy Catholic Church; and with those three virtues: faith, hope and charity”.
-plaque at Death Junction
“Archbishop George Stack marked the 50th anniversary of the Canonisation of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope Paul VI by holding Mass in the stark and grim bare stone cell at Cardiff Castle where two of these Martyrs were held before their execution on 22 July 1679.
The Archbishop and pilgrims then carried statues of Saint Phillip Evans and Saint John Lloyd to the site of their execution, then called the Gallows Field, and situated outside the Cardiff walls. It is now a busy road junction but the spot is marked by a plaque on the wall of the NatWest bank.
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs
Saint Philip Evans and Saint John Lloyd
triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:
Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,
to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,
that we may receive with them the crown of life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
-The Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs. Note the reliquary, “feretory”, of St John Southworth on the right. Please click on the image for greater detail.
The marble walls and floor were completed in 1931. The life-size figure of St George takes its place as chief patron of the Chapel
St George was a Roman soldier, put to death for his Christian faith about 302AD. His cult was brought to England by the Crusaders, and King Edward III made him patron of England in the fourteenth century.
In this Chapel, which is currently in the process of being decorated with its mosaic scheme, we pray especially for England, and for those who have witnessed to their Catholic faith in our land.
In the center of the floor is a rose, symbol of England; the rose motif is continued behind the altar and around the walls. Either side of the altar the red cross of St George is displayed on marble shields. Panels list servicemen who gave their lives in battle, and who are prayed for in the Cathedral.
On the facing wall is a carving of St George by Lindsey Clarke. Above the altar is the last carving of Eric Gill. It portrays Christ on the cross, not suffering, but gloriously triumphant over death; to his left stands St Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, and to his right St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Both men were executed in 1535 for their refusal to deny the Supremacy of the Pope under King Henry VIII.
Normally, St John Southworth, martyred in 1654 at Tyburn (now Marble Arch) for his Catholic faith, lies in a shrine by the grill. His body was brought to the Cathedral in 1930. It is now temporarily housed in the Chapel of the Holy Souls while the decoration of the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs is completed.
At the entrance to the Chapel is a mosaic representing Christ the Divine Healer, erected in 1952 in memory of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Outside the Chapel, a new mosaic records St Alban, the first to shed his blood for the Christian faith on British soil. Alban was a Roman soldier in the Roman province of Britannia. He sheltered, and then changed places with, a persecuted Catholic priest. When arrested, he refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, and was martyred. The mosaic, by Christopher Hobbs, was unveiled in June 2001.
Lord, we pray for all those who
witness to the Gospel in this land.
May all Christians work to heal
divisions within the Church,
So that together we may bear witness to Jesus Christ.
-reliquary of St John Southworth, the only Reformation martyr whose remains are wholly intact, please click on the image for greater detail.
Saint John Southworth came from a Lancashire family, the principal members of which seemed to have lived at Samlesbury Hall. He is thought to have been born in 1592 and was martyred at Tyburn on 28 June 1654. His family chose to pay heavy fines rather than give up the Catholic faith.
In 1618, John Southworth was ordained a priest at the English College, Douai (Douay) in Northern France. After returning to England, he was arrested and condemned to death in Lancashire in 1626, and imprisoned first in Lancaster Castle, and afterwards in the Clink Prison, London. On 11 April, 1630, at the insistence of Queen Henrietta Maria, he and seventeen others were delivered to the French Ambassador for transportation abroad, but, in 1636, he was reported to have been released from the Gatehouse, Westminster, and was living at Clerkenwell. From there it seems he and Henry Morse, SJ, frequently visited the plague-stricken dwellings of Westminster to administer the sacraments and comfort the sick and the dying. They both also raised money for plague-stricken families. In 1637, he appears to have been based in Westminster, where he was arrested on 28 November, before being again sent to the Gatehouse. From there he was transferred to the Clink and, in 1640, was brought before the Commissioners for Causes Ecclesiastical, who sent him back there. During these various imprisonments Fr Southworth was protected by the Secretary of State to the King, Francis Windebank, who seems to have allowed him relative freedom, and who eventually became a Catholic himself.
On 16 July, John Southworth was again freed, but by 2 December he was once more imprisoned in the Gatehouse. After his final apprehension on 19 June 1654, dragged from his bed by a Colonel Worsley, he was tried at the Old Bailey, where he insisted on pleading guilty to being a priest. He was reluctantly condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered by the Recorder of London, Serjeant Steel, who wept bitterly while reading the sentence. He was permitted to wear his vestments at this execution, a rare honor. He was the only Catholic martyr to die under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. On the day of his martyrdom, he was allowed to make a long speech at the gallows.
Among his last words:
“I am come hither to die, and would willingly speak something…I am a Lancashire man and am brought hither to die not for any crime I have committed against the laws, but for being a priest, and obeying the commandments of my Savior Jesus Christ and for professing the true Roman Catholic and Apostolic Faith, in which I willingly die, and have earnestly desired the same. My study from my infancy was to find out the true and only way to serve God, and having found it, my study was to serve Him. And I have suffered much, and many years imprisonment, to obtain that which I hope ere long I shall enjoy.
Almighty God sent his only Son my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into this world for the redemption of mankind; and although the least of His sufferings was superabundant satisfaction, yet He rested not so contented, but Himself doeth by word and example give us a rule by which we should be guided: He told St. Peter, thou art a rock, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it — which is the true Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.
My faith and obedience to my superiors is all the treason charged against me; nay, I die for Christ’s law, which no human law, by whomsoever made, ought to withstand or contradict… To follow His holy doctrine and imitate His holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look on as His Cross, which I gladly take to follow my Dear Saviour…I plead not for myself…but for you poor persecuted Catholics whom I leave behind me.
My faith is my crime, the performance of my duty the occasion of my condemnation. I confess I am a great sinner; against God I have offended, but am innocent of any sin against man, I mean the Commonwealth, and the present Government.” He was cut short. Closed his eyes, said his prayers, and the trap door of the gallows swung open.
The Venetian Secretary reported on his execution: he was hung, and was not dead when the executioner “cut out his heart and entrails and threw them into a fire kindled for the purpose, the body being quartered . . . Such is the inhuman cruelty used towards the English Catholic religious.”
The Spanish ambassador bought his body for forty guineas from the executioner and, in 1655, returned it to Douai after the corpse had been sewn together and embalmed (parboiled). In 1656 the recovery of Francis Howard, fifth son of the Earl of Arundel, was attributed to St John Southworth’s relics. When England and France went to war in 1793 St John Southworth’s body was buried in a lead coffin in an unmarked grave below the college for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 where it remained hidden until 1927 when the college was demolished to make way for housing.
His major relics were sent to St Edmund’s College, Ware, successor of the English College in Douai. In 1930, his major relics – the only complete body of a Reformation martyr – were brought to Westminster Cathedral, where a shrine was prepared for them.
He was beatified in 1929 and was canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
-please click on the images for greater detail.
So here he lies as he has lain in state
These ninety years in this cathedral crypt
At Westminster. We come to venerate
The relics of a martyr: his heart, ripped
Out of his chest at Tyburn for a priest,
Was sewn back in at Cromwell’s stern behest.
Four times arrested and three times released,
That blessèd little man four times confessed.
His derring-do his daring deeds display,
This doughty representative of Christ.
With face behind a silver mask he lies
And if he cries we cannot see his eyes.
St John Southworth’s feast day is 27 June, which is observed as a Solemnity at the Westminster Cathedral, London, UK.
When Mayne was born, King Henry VIII, who had broken England’s communion with the Holy Father in 1535. His son and successor, Edward VI (1547-1553), had persisted in the schism. Edward’s successor was his Catholic sister Mary (1553-1558), who restored England to the Catholic Church. Mary’s death, however, ended the prospects of a Catholic England. At the beginning of her reign, her sister Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603), a Protestant, reversed Mary’s restoration of Catholicism. The Act of Supremacy of 1558 had reestablished Elizabeth as head of the English church, and the Act of Uniformity of 1559 had made Archbishop Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer the only lawful liturgical book in England. Like her father Henry VIII, Elizabeth brooked little opposition. Catholic priests who had been educated and ordained at William Allen’s seminary for English priests at Douai, in Belgium, particularly incensed her regime. Priests who had been in the country during the reign of Mary (1553-1558) were grudgingly permitted their lives; émigré priests, however, were hunted down and disembowelled.
The religious reign of terror of the regime forced the vast majority of Englishmen, Catholic though they were in their religious preferences, to conform to the “Elizabethan Religious Settlement.” Pockets of Catholics nonetheless soldiered on. As the scholarship of Eamon Duffy shows very clearly, Cuthbert Mayne’s native shire of Devon was particularly loyal to Catholic Christianity. Mayne was raised by an uncle, a priest who had conformed to Anglicanism. Mayne was likewise ordained a priest of the Anglican Church at about eighteen years of age. After ordination, he studied at Oxford University. By 1570, Mayne had received a Master of Arts degree, and in the meantime made the acquaintance of Edmund Campion, a Jesuit. Campion and other Catholics at Oxford had made a deep impression on Mayne, who came to believe in the truth of Catholic Christianity.
From the new seminary for English Catholic priests at Douai, in Belgium, Campion wrote and encouraged Mayne to emigrate and study there for the priesthood. In 1573, Mayne was formally received into the Catholic Church, and became a seminarian. By 1576 he was ordained, and became the fifteenth of the Douai priests to return to England.
-Golden Manor house, Cornwall, UK, ancestral home of Francis Tregian
A Catholic estate-owner by the name of Francis Tregian accepted Mayne as a member of his household. Mayne served outwardly as Tregian’s steward, while secretly ministering as priest. Protestant locals must have grown suspicious and reported the possibility of a Catholic priest in Tregian’s household to the authorities, and pursuivants, as Elizabeth’s secret religious police were known, arrested Mayne for having a copy of the Agnus dei written on a parchment he wore around his neck. Late medieval English Catholics often wore prayers around the neck, as protection against sin and misfortune, a practice Protestants despised as superstition.
The conditions of Mayne’s imprisonment were appalling. Since the case against him was weak, prosecutors were in no hurry to file formal charges against him. In the end, was indicted for “crimes” he had committed while a prisoner. The government accused Mayne of advocating for the papal supremacy among his fellow prisoners, and of having celebrated the Mass in his cell.
While awaiting trial at the circuit assizes in September, Mayne was imprisoned in Launceston Castle. At the opening of the trial on 23 September 1577 there were five counts against him: first, that he had obtained from the Roman See a “faculty” (or bulla), in violation of, the Statute of Praemunire and 13 Elzabeth I, c. 2, making it treason punishable by death to bring into England papal bulls, to possess them, or promulgate them, such as the one in the possession of Cuthbert Mayne containing absolution of the Queen’s subjects; second, that he had published the same at Golden Manor, ancestral home of his friend, host, protector, and benefactor, Francis Tregian, one of the wealthiest men in Cornwall; third, that he had taught the ecclesiastical authority of the pope and denied the queen’s ecclesiastical supremacy while in prison, a violation of 5 Elizabeth I, c. 1, against maintaining and defending the authority and the power of the Bishop of Rome in print, writing, words, or deed ‘making it treasonable to: maliciously, advisedly, and directly publish, declare, hold opinion, affirm or say by any speech express words or saying, that our said sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth during her life is not nor ought not to be Queen of this realm of England and also of the realms of France and Ireland; or that any other person or persons ought of right to be King or Queen of the said being under her Majesty’s obeisance…it also being treason to call the monarch a heretic, schismatic, infidel, or usurper.’ , and 23 Elizabeth I, c. 1, ‘That all persons whatsoever, which have or shall have, or shall pretend to have Power, or shall by any Ways or Means put in Practice to absolve, persuade or withdraw any of the Queen’s Majesty’s Subjects, or any within her Highness Realms or Dominions, from the their Natural Obedience to her Majesty: (2), Or to withdraw them from that Intent from the Religion now by her Highness Authority established within her Highness Dominions, to the Romish Religion, (3) or to move them or any of them to promise and Obedience to any pretended Authority of the See of Rome, or to any other Prince, State or Potentate, to be had or used within her Dominions, (4) or shall do any overt Act to the Intent or Purpose; and every of the shall be to all Intents adjudged to be Traytors, and being thereof lawfully convicted shal have Judgement, suffer and forfeit, as in Case of High Treason.’; fourth, that he had brought into the kingdom an Agnus Dei (a Lamb of God sealed upon a piece of wax from the Paschal candle blessed by the pope) and delivered it to Francis Tregian; fifth, that he had celebrated Mass.
Mayne answered all counts. On the first and second counts, he said that the supposed “faculty” was merely a copy printed at Douai of an announcement of the Jubilee of 1575, and that its application having expired with the end of the jubilee, he certainly had not published it either at Golden (the manor house of Francis Tregian) or elsewhere. On the third count, he said that he had asserted nothing definite on the subject to the three illiterate witnesses who swore to the contrary. On the fourth count, he said that the fact he was wearing an Agnus Dei at the time of his arrest did not establish that he had brought it into the kingdom or delivered it to Tregian. On the fifth count, he said that the presence of a Missal, a chalice, and vestments in his room did not establish that he had said Mass.
Irregularities of procedure plagued the case against Mayne, but the government was determined to take his life, and the court condemned him to death. Mayne responded, “Deo gratias!”
The day before his execution, the government offered to spare his life in exchange for acknowledgement of the queen’s supremacy and renouncing Roman Catholicism, by testifying against Tregian and revealing other Catholics. Declining both offers, he kissed a copy of the Bible, declaring that, “the queen neither ever was, nor is, nor ever shall be, the head of the church of England”
The following day, Mayne was hanged for about one minute, cut down still alive, most sources say unconscious since his head had hit the scaffolding with such a force it knocked his eyeballs from their sockets, and butchered. Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1970. No one whom Mayne, the first of the Elizabethan priest-martyrs, received into the Catholic Church ever relapsed. Not even persecution could rob his ministry of its fruits. He was the first seminary, as opposed to religious order priest, or proto-martyr, for secular/seminary priests to be martyred in England.
-skull of St Cuthbert Mayne, Carmelite Convent, Lanherne, Cornwall, UK
-reliquary of St Cuthbert Mayne in situ, sitting above the coffin detritus in the grave identified as that of Captain Gabriel Archer, Jamestown, Virginia, USA. In the harsh winter of 1609-1610, settlers at Jamestown placed a small silver case with a slide opening etched with a single letter ─ M ─ carefully on top of a white oak coffin and then covered it with the hard, cold dirt of the New World. Inside the silver encasing were seven bone fragments and two lead ampulae filled with water, oil, dirt, or blood.
-reliquary after preservation. The fine silver work of the hexagonal tube is juxtaposed with the crudely made M, scratched on the slide opening.
“Holding the reliquary in the palm of one’s hand is instructive. It is small, measuring just under three inches in length and an inch and a half in diameter. Conservators at Jamestowne Rediscovery have meticulously restored it, freeing its silver encasement of the green oxidation from sitting in the invariably wet clay soil of James Fort for over four hundred years. It has heft. As it is moved back and forth you can hear and feel that there are loose things inside, imbuing it with a sense of mysterious liveliness. Its slide top has corroded shut. The contents, however, are clear, thanks to CT scans which revealed the bone fragments to be tibia and allowed the conservators, archaeologists, and anthropologists at Jamestowne Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to know the exact dimensions of the contents.4 They have created a reproduction, which helps further our understanding of the sealed object (Fig. 3). In essence, the reliquary is a combination object; it holds seven human bones and other effluvia, presumably human.” –https://mavcor.yale.edu/conversations/essays/jamestown-s-relics-sacred-presence-english-new-world
-reproductions of Jamestown, VA reliquary (1609/10) and contents
Relics of Mayne’s body survive. A portion of his skull is in the Carmelite Convent at Lanherne, Cornwall. Christopher M. B. Allison suggests that the silver reliquary discovered in 2015 at Jamestown, Virginia in the grave of Captain Gabriel Archer (died 1609/10) may contain a relic of Mayne.
Litany of St Cuthbert Mayne, Priest & Martyr
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Queen of the English, pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Saint Cuthbert Mayne, pray for us.
Who wast of mild nature and sweet behaviour, pray for us.
Who didst repent of the trappings of false religion, pray for us.
Who didst at length embrace the True Faith, pray for us.
Who didst flee abroad to be priested, pray for us.
Who didst study for the priesthood at Douai, pray for us.
Who wast desirous as a priest to honour God, pray for us.
Who wast desirous to offer reparation for sin, pray for us.
Who wast inflamed with zeal to save souls, pray for us.
Who wast sent in secret to England, pray for us.
Who didst labour in Cornwall, enduring danger and peril, pray for us.
Who didst reconcile so many to the Church, pray for us.
Who wast seized by evil men, pray for us.
Who wast cruelly imprisoned, pray for us.
Who wast wrongfully tried, pray for us.
Who wast unjustly convicted, pray for us.
Who didst refuse to swear the unlawful oath, pray for us.
Who wast condemned to death, pray for us.
Who didst pray so earnestly, pray for us.
Who wast illumined by a great light, pray for us.
Who wast hung, drawn, and quartered, pray for us.
Protomartyr of Launceston, pray for us.
Protomartyr of Douai, pray for us.
Protomartyr of Oxford, pray for us.
Protomartyr of the seminary priests, pray for us.
Of whose converts none ever recanted, pray for us.
Whose relics work miracles, pray for us.
Who dost reign with Christ for ever, pray for us.
All ye holy Martyrs of England and Wales, pray ye for us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin, deliver us, O Lord.
From the snares of the devil, deliver us, O Lord.
From anger, and hatred, and all ill will, deliver us, O Lord.
From error, dissension, and division, deliver us, O Lord.
From heresy and schism, deliver us, O Lord.
From everlasting death, deliver us, O Lord.
By thine eternal priesthood, deliver us, O Lord.
By that ministry whereby thou didst glorify thy Father upon earth, deliver us, O Lord.
By thine institution of the most holy Eucharist, deliver us, O Lord.
By thy bloody immolation of thyself made once upon the cross, deliver us, O Lord.
By that same sacrifice daily renewed on the altar, deliver us, O Lord.
By that divine power, which thou, the one and invisible priest, dost exercise in thy priests, deliver us, O Lord.
By the triumph of thy grace in all thy holy martyrs, deliver us, O Lord.
We sinners, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to rule and preserve thy holy Church, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to preserve the Apostolic See, and all ecclesiastical orders, in holy religion, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to humble the enemies of holy Church, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to grant peace and unity to all Christian people, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to recall all the erring to the unity of the Church, and to lead all unbelievers to the light of the Gospel, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to send faithful and unshakeable workers into thy harvest, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou wouldst deign to deliver us from all heresy, faithlessness, and blindness of heart, we beseech thee, hear us.
Son of God, we beseech thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Our Father… (in secret until)
V/. And lead us not into temptation.
R/. But deliver us from evil.
Ant. Under the altar of God I heard the voice of the slain saying: Why dost thou not avenge our blood? And they received the divine response: Wait yet a little while, until the number of your brethren be fulfilled. (P.T. Alleluia.)
V/. What torments were suffered by all the saints.
R/. That they might securely come to the palm of martyrdom.
V/. The bodies of the saints are buried in peace.
R/. And their names shall live for evermore.
V/. Precious in the sight of the Lord.
R/. Is the death of his saints.
V/. The saints have entered the kingdom with palms.
R/. They have merited crowns of beauty from the hand of God.
V/. O ye Martyrs of the Lord, bless ye the Lord for ever.
R/. O ye choir of Martyrs, praise ye the Lord in the highest.
V/. Thee the white-robed army of Martyrs praise, O Lord.
R/. Thee the holy Church throughout the world doth confess.
V/. Make us to be numbered with thy saints.
R/. In glory everlasting.
V/. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R/. And let my cry come unto thee.
Let us pray.
O God, who didst grant to blessed Cuthbert before the other seminary priests to run the road of torments for the salvation of souls: grant to us in thy mercy, that inflamed with the same zeal for souls, we may not hesitate to lay down our lives for others.
Increase in us, O Lord, faith in the resurrection, who dost work wonders by the relics of thy Saints: and make us partakers of that immortal glory, a pledge of which we venerate in their ashes.
Stir up in us, O Lord, the Spirit that the blessed Martyrs of Douai obeyed: that being filled with the same, we may study to love what they loved, and to do the works that they taught.
O God, who didst strengthen thy blessed Martyrs Cuthbert and his companions with unconquerable courage, that they might fight for the true faith and the primacy of the Apostolic See: by hearkening unto their prayers, we beseech thee to help our frailty, that, strong in faith, we may be able to resist the enemy even to the end.
O God, who didst raise up thy blessed Martyrs Bishop John, Thomas, and their companions from every walk of life to be champions of the true faith and of the Supreme Pontiff: by their merits and prayers, grant that, by profession of the same faith, all may be made and remain one, as thine own Son prayed.
We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to receive the prayers of thy Church: that, all adversities and errors being destroyed, she may serve thee in secure freedom.
O God, who dost correct those who have erred, and dost gather those who were scatttered, and dost preserve those who have been gathered together: we beseech thee, clemently pour forth upon Christian people the grace of union with thee, that, rejecting division, and joining themselves to the true shepherd of thy Church, they may be able to worthily serve thee. Through our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son, who with thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
V/. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R/. And let my cry come unto thee.
V/. By the intercession of blessed Cuthbert, may almighty God bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
V/. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
-Agnus Dei discs from the collection of Gary Minella, Queens, New York. The wording on the disc on the left reads: “ECCE AGN DEI … PECC . MUNDI” and “PIUS XI PM … ANNO P XIV MCMXXXV”.
Agnus Dei sacramental
The Agnus Dei is an ancient sacramental―a sacred object, or action, which the believer uses for the purpose of obtaining spiritual favors through the Church’s intercession. It might possibly be the Church’s oldest sacramental. There are historical accounts as to their existence even as far back as the sixth century. However, most people these days are completely unaware of them. In fact, some of the brightest theological minds in the Church have never even seen an Agnus Dei.
The Agnus Dei, whose name means “Lamb of God,” is a blessed wax disc impressed with the figure of the Lamb of God. But just as the St. Benedict Medal is not merely blessed but also exorcised, so too is the Agnus Dei consecrated rather than merely blessed by a reigning pope.
Traditionally Agnus Deis are consecrated only during the first year of a pope’s pontificate, and then again every seven years.
They are either round or oval. The lamb depicted upon them usually bears a cross or a flag. It’s not uncommon that images of saints or the name and arms of the consecrating pope are embossed on the reverse. This sacramental may be worn suspended around the neck or preserved as an object of devotion.
Centuries ago, popes would consecrate these sacramentals on Holy Saturday. They were made of the reworked wax from the previous year’s Paschal candles, to which chrism and balsam was added. Later, the Agnus Deis were consecrated on the Wednesday of Easter week and distributed on the Saturday of the same week.
In recent centuries, the task of preparing them was given to monks and nuns who would similarly collect the previous year’s Paschal candles. Cardinals visiting the pope would be given a disk to mark their visit. The cardinals would then in turn place them in their miter—probably because they didn’t have pockets back then. The Cardinals would then distribute the Agnus Deis to those in need of them.
The sacramental is rich in symbolism, mostly from the Old Testament. As in the Paschal candle, the wax symbolizes the virgin flesh of Christ. This is because medieval people believed that the bee was the only animal that reproduced without the benefit of sexual congress—thus, the fruit of their bodies, the wax, was produced “virginally.”
The lamb bearing a cross embossed on the disk is to remind the Christian of the Mosaic sacrifice in which a lamb was offered to God as an expiation of sins. The lamb’s shed blood would then protect Jewish households from the destroying angel (Exodus 12:1-28). Thus, the Agnus Dei emulates and reflects this blessing protecting the bearer from all malign influences. The prayers used in preparing the wax medallions make special mention of protection against storms, pestilence, fire, floods, and the dangers to which women are exposed during pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, several miracles have been attributed to these sacramentals including extinguished fires and stayed floods. In fact, Pope St. Pius V, fearing that the rising Tiber would flood Rome, threw an Agnus Dei into the river which immediately subsided.
In their writings, Popes Urban V, Paul II, Julius III, Sixtus V and Benedict XIV specifically mention some of the special virtues attributed to the Agnus Dei:
foster piety, banish tepidity, deliver from temptation, preserve from vice, preserve from eternal ruin and dispose to virtue.
cancel venial sins and purify from the stain left by grievous sin after it has been remitted in the Sacrament of Penance.
protection against sudden and spiritually unprovided death. (i.e., securing a happy death)
banish evil spirits.
dispel fears occasioned by evil spirits.
protection in combat, and the power to ensure victory.
protection against poison
protection against the snares of the wicked.
protection against false accusations.
protection against illness and an efficacious remedy against illnesses.
protection against the ravages of pestilence, epidemics and infectious diseases.
protection against bouts of epilepsy.
protection for mothers and babies against peril and provide for a safe and easy delivery.
protection against shipwrecks.
protection against lightning and floods.
protection against hailstorms, tempests, tornados, lightning and hurricanes which are circumvented or dispelled.
that at the sight or touch of the Lamb impressed on these waxen discs, the faithful should be inspired to dwell on the Mysteries of our Redemption recalled by this symbol, be moved to praise, venerate, and extol God’s goodness to us, hoping to obtain pardon for their sins, and to be cleansed from all stain of sin.
protection against poison and its effects.
through Divine Intervention, protection against the snares, wiles and frauds of Satan which should not prevail.
Like all sacramentals, this object serves to remind us of God and His place in our lives. It reminds us to serve Him and love our neighbor. It’s absolutely not a charm or talisman to bring “good luck” or repel evil, as that would be blasphemy. The medal has no intrinsic “magic ability.” (It should be pointed out that all power in the universe is in God’s hands and doesn’t reside elsewhere. In other words, people who claim to have magic powers are deluded or lying.)
To be clear, the Agnus Dei has no power in and of itself. It is, after all, only so much wax. To act as if it’s magical is sacrilege and assuredly the best way to make sure you don’t receive its spiritual benefits. Rather, its graces and favors are due to our faith in Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer, to the efficacious prayers of the pope who consecrated it (James 5:16) and to the abundant blessings which the Church has bestowed upon those who wear and pray with the sacramental.
This sacramental is highly esteemed by the Church and it’s often given to those who are spiritually afflicted or harassed. Considering their holiness and their inherent rarity, limited to the amount of wax salvaged from the previous year’s Paschal candles collected in the churches of Rome, Agnus Deis were greatly cherished by the faithful and passed down from generation to generation. Apparently, they caused so much fear and consternation among the enemies of the Church that Catholic-bashing Queen Elizabeth I of England outlawed their importation into her realm, calling them “popish trumperies.”
Though the origins of the Agnus Dei are lost to history, it’s most likely a Christian substitute for unenlightened pagan charms and amulets. It’s not impossible to think that the Agnus Dei was meant to ween pagans from their peculiar demons and bring them into the Light of Christ. Thus, instead of believing in sympathetic magic somehow “inherent” in their amulets, they were given the Agnus Dei to save them from themselves. If such is the case, we can comfortably trace the origins of the Agnus Dei back to the fifth century, in which we can say that Rome was finally made a Christian city.
From the time of Amalarius (c. 820) onwards we find frequent mention of the use of Agnus Deis. Popes often gave them as presents to monarchs and other distinguished personages. This first historical mention of this particular sacramental describes them as having been made from the previous year’s Paschal candles. Ennoldius (c. 510) specifically mentions that the fragments of the Paschal candles were used as a protection against tempests and blight.
The earliest examples of an Agnus Dei still in existence come from the reign of Pope Gregory XI (AD 1370).
After the shards of the Paschal candles are harvested from Rome’s churches, melted and poured into forms, they are given to the pope and he dips them in water which had been blessed and mingled with balsam and chrism. At that, the Holy Father prays over them, asking God to impart to all those who are given the Agnus Deis true faith and sincere piety.
Once the cardinal or bishop was given an Agnus Dei, they in turn either gave it as a present to someone or, more likely, broke off small pieces of the wax disk so as to make sure as many people as possible could benefit from it. The small piece of wax was then kept in a locket or other suitable container.
Inexplicably, the practice of consecrating the Agnus Dei sacramental was abandoned following the Second Vatican Council. The last pope to consecrate them was Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958), who created them in 1945 and 1952.
Perhaps, one day, the Church will reinstitute this beautiful custom. Or perhaps she won’t. Either way, we can still be assured of the pope’s prayers for us, his spiritual children—and, of course, the blessings of Christ and His Mother and, indeed, all the angels and saints. As Christians, we don’t believe in magic. In fact, we have something by far better―salvation.
A papal bull had to be issued several centuries ago warning the Faithful not to buy these sacramental—not because of simony, which is a horrible sin in and of itself—but rather because those being sold were most likely forgeries. Do not procure them from the internet, despite the claims people make there.
A prayer for those who carry or wear an Agnus Dei
Jesus, my Savior, true Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, by Thine infinite mercy, I beseech Thee to pardon my iniquities. By Thy sacred Passion, I beseech Thee, preserve me this day from sin and shield me from all evil. To Thine honor and glory, I carry about with me this blessed Agnus Dei as a protection to my soul and body, and as an incentive to practice the virtues which Thou hast inculcated, especially meekness, humility, purity and charity.
In memory of that sacrifice of love which Thou didst offer for me and all mankind on Calvary, I consecrate my whole being to Thee. Thou didst die on the cross for love of me; let me die to self for love of Thee! Keep me in Thy love and Thy grace to the end of my life, that I may bless Thee forever with the saints to Heaven. Amen.
The “Agnus Dei” disc dates to the 5th century and was made from the wax of the Paschal candle.
Sacramentals have been part of the Catholic Church in various ways from the very beginning. They are known as extensions of the seven sacraments and naturally flow from them.
Broadly speaking, sacramentals can be any number of actions or blessings that the Church has instituted over the years. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how sacramental blessings can be invoked over “persons, meals, objects, and places” (CCC 1671). These blessings call down God’s grace upon a particular individual or object and ask for lasting spiritual protection.
One object of the Church that is among the oldest known sacramentals is the “Agnus Dei” disc. This is a disc of wax with the figure of a lamb impressed upon it. Historically these discs were worn around the neck and were made from the previous year’s Paschal candle. They were originally created on Holy Saturday morning and distributed to the people on the following Saturday.
The tradition dates to around the 5th century, and later the pope was more intimately involved with the sacramental. It became a reserved blessing of the pope, who consecrated these pieces of wax during the first year of his pontificate and every seven years after that. It is believed that Pope Pius XII was the last reigning pontiff to bestow such a blessing.
The sacred wax was a constant reminder of Christ’s Easter victory. According to various papal writings, those who wore it were instructed, “that at the sight or touch of the Lamb impressed on these waxen discs, the faithful should be inspired to dwell on the Mysteries of our Redemption recalled by this symbol, be moved to praise, venerate, and extol God’s goodness to us, hoping to obtain pardon for their sins, and to be cleansed from all stain of sin.”
Below is a prayer for those who wear an Angus Dei sacramental that summarizes the spiritual disposition that the piece of wax was supposed to cultivate in the person wearing it. The prayer can still help us today to meditate on that saving action of the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus and how that event should influence our lives.
My Lord Jesus Christ, the true Lamb who takest away the sins of the world, by thy mercy, which is infinite, pardon my iniquities, and by thy Sacred Passion preserve me this day from all sin and evil. I carry about me this holy Agnus Dei in thy honor, as a preventative against my own weakness, and as an incentive to the practice of that meekness, humility, and innocence which Thou hast taught us. I offer myself up to Thee as an entire oblation, and in memory of that sacrifice of love which Thou didst offer for me on the cross, and in satisfaction for my sins. Accept this oblation, I beseech Thee, O my God, and may it be acceptable to Thee in the odor of sweetness. Amen.
Some historians place the origin of the Agnus Dei as early as the time of the Emperor Constantine, near the beginning of the 4th century. The discovery of the Agnus Dei in the tomb of the pious Empress Maria Augusta is the strongest evidence of the antiquity of it’s introduction among Christians.
The Catholic dictionary placed the beginning of the custom as early as the time of Pope Zosimus, who ascended the throne of Peter in the year 417. When the Pascal candle was finally extinguished on Ascension Day the people were accustomed to procure small portions of what was left of it and carry them home as a protection against tempests. All authors agree that it was from this custom of the people that the Agnus Dei had it’s origin.
His demeanor was uncharacteristic of a man to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. An eye-witness to Robert Nutter’s execution wrote that he went “to the gallows, with as much cheerfulness and joy as if he had been going to a feast, to the astonishment of the spectators” (Modern British Martyrology, 197).
Cheerfulness and joy? In the face of death? Did he not know that in a few moments he was to have his beating heart torn out of his chest? Surely he had gone mad! The execution of this subversive and treasonous Englishman was supposed to extinguish his hope, not cause it to burst forth in euphoric praise of God!
“Blessed are you when men hate you … Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in heaven.” (Lk 6:22-23)
Blessed Robert Nutter is counted among the Douai martyrs, a group of English Catholic priests martyred in 16th and 17th century England. Each of these men was trained at a single English seminary in Douai, a city in northern France. It briefly relocated to Rheims for about 15 years, at which time Nutter received his theological formation. Why France? In an effort to eradicate Catholicism from the country, the English crown had forcibly closed and repurposed all churches, schools, and seminaries. In effect, they attempted to abolish the Catholic Church in England—no small feat.
The Douai seminary was established for the purpose of training Englishmen to be diocesan priests so that they could return as missionaries to their homeland, where the Church was enduring severe persecution. Indeed, during this time, agents of the British crown systematically hunted down, arrested, tortured, and executed Catholic priests, charging them with high treason. Before being put to death, these priests could spend years in prison; interestingly enough, it was during this time that Nutter professed vows as a Dominican friar.
Of the 300 priests ordained at the Douai seminary during this period, 158 were put to death for bringing the sacraments back to their fellow countrymen. One could be so bold as to say that Robert Nutter and the Douai martyrs were not only ordained to be priests, but martyrs as well: they knew that their priesthood would likely culminate in the shedding of their blood. In perfect conformity to Jesus Christ—the Eternal High Priest—priests like Robert Nutter knew the stakes, but counted them as nothing compared to possessing the heart of Christ and bringing the sacraments to souls.
It is difficult to imagine the mindset of men like Nutter. In the depths of his heart, he desired to be a priest of Jesus Christ. He knew that he would be despised by his own government. He knew that while living out his priesthood, he would do so secretly, always aware that someone—anyone—could betray him. He realized that this could very well mean his own death, a death that would come only after gruesome periods of torture. If he survived, there would be no recognition or thanks from those he served.
Therein lies the aim of priesthood: to forget yourself, to become another Christ, and to mount the cross for the salvation of souls—so as to make present once again the saving mysteries of God. Nutter knew that the ultimate reason for his priesthood and martyrdom was the salvation of the Englishmen he served.
What can the priest of today learn from a man like Nutter?
Without hesitation, he ought to learn that as a priest, his life and his heart are no longer his own. Instead, his life and his heart belong to Christ alone. Conversely, in an abundantly generous grace, Christ offers his own Sacred Heart to his priest, so that he may live and love as another Christ. The priest who does not have the heart of Christ approaches “in sheep’s clothing, but underneath is a ravenous wolf” (Jn 7:15). Pray and fast often that our priests’ hearts would be conformed to the crucified heart of Christ!
Given the nature of being hanged, drawn, and quartered, it is quite plausible that Nutter would have actually seen the hands of his executors reaching into his chest to cut out his heart. Every priest, martyr or not, should cry out the words: “I give you everything Jesus! I give you my very own heart! You may have all!”
Bl. Robert Nutter, pray to the good Lord for us, and ask him to send holy priests who, by an interior martyrdom of the heart, are willing to make as their only desire the salvation of souls.”
Philip Howard (1557-1595), handsome, clever, rich – also impeccably aristocratic – seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence. His conscience, however, and still more his wife, prevented his sinking into the abyss of privilege.
Born at Arundel House in the Strand, Philip was the only child of Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk, and his wife Mary, daughter of the 12th Earl of Arundel. Philip of Spain, later King Philip II, became his godfather. He was baptized at Whitehall Palace with the royal family in attendance, and was named after his godfather, King Philip II of Spain. His home from the age of seven was a former Carthusian monastery.
Philip’s mother died shortly after his birth. His father, by his next wife, had two more sons and three daughters. Then, through a third match, to Elizabeth, widow of the 4th Baron Dacre, he acquired four stepchildren. In 1571 Philip was married at the age of fourteen to Anne, the eldest Dacre daughter, his step-sister. It was an arranged marriage, which Philip resented at first.
Widowed again in 1567, his father, the Duke of Norfolk, intrigued on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots, whom he hoped to marry. Instead, he was executed in 1572 and the dukedom lapsed.
Philip, after two years at St John’s College, Cambridge, took up residence at court in the hope of restoring his family to favor. His wife he left neglected in the country. His life had been a frivolous one, both at Cambridge and at Court.
Queen Elizabeth, however, never warmed to him, even though in 1578 Philip spent a fortune entertaining her at Kenninghall in Norfolk. His mother’s family, the Fitzalans, were far from impressed by his conduct. Nevertheless, in 1580 Philip succeeded his maternal grandfather as 13th Earl of Arundel.
He was present at the debate held in 1581 in the St John Chapel of the Tower of London, between Father Edmund Campion, a Jesuit, Father Ralph Sherwin and a group of Protestant theologians over Campion’s Decem Rationes. He was so impressed by the Catholics that he experienced a spiritual conversion. He renounced his previous, frivolous life and was reconciled with his wife.
Howard’s conversion influenced his behavior at Court and the change did not go unnoticed. Although he maintained his duties at Court and in Parliament, Howard did not go to any Anglican services. He had been one of the most spendthrift and gallant of Elizabeth’s courtiers, neglecting his wife; now Howard was solemn and devoted to Anne.
By 1585, it was a felony to aid a Catholic priest and an act of treason for an English Catholic priest to be in the country. Howard had a Catholic chaplain in his house in London and his castle at Arundel.
Another Jesuit missionary, Father William Weston, received Howard into the Catholic Church on September 30, 1584, three years after those debates in the Tower.
Unable to support the pains of recusancy, he determined to flee England and join recusants in Flanders. Anne, who was pregnant with his son, Thomas, would join him later. He would never see either of them again. Philip was a man of high profile, and his movements were closely watched by Queen Elizabeth’s spies. Arrested at sea, he was arraigned before the Star Chamber, and imprisoned in the Tower.
His father and grandfather (the poet, Henry, Earl of Surrey) had both been beheaded. Now Philip appeared to face the same fate.
In 1588 a Catholic priest called Fr William Bennet, imprisoned with him in the Tower, confessed under torture that Howard had instructed him to say Mass on behalf of the Spanish Armada. Bennet, however, later admitted he “confessed everything that seemed to content their humour”.
Howard was condemned to death, though the sentence was never carried out. Disdaining the offer of freedom should he return to the state religion, he passed his imprisonment in translating and writing spiritual works.
Queen Elizabeth never signed the death warrant, but Howard was not told this. He was kept constantly in fear of execution, although comforted by the companionship of a dog, which served as a go-between by which Howard and other prisoners, most notably the priest Robert Southwell, could send messages to each other. Although these two men never met, Howard’s dog helped them to deepen their friendship and exchange encouragement in each other’s plight. Philip Howard loved his pet, who is remembered along with him in a statue at Arundel Cathedral.
Howard spent ten years in the Tower, until his death from dysentery, was the official story. He petitioned the Queen as he lay dying to allow him to see his wife and his son, who had been born after his imprisonment. The Queen responded that “If he will but once attend the Protestant Service, he shall not only see his wife and children, but be restored to his honors and estates with every mark of my royal favor.” To this, Howard is supposed to have replied: “Tell Her Majesty if my religion be the cause for which I suffer, sorry I am that I have but one life to lose.” He remained in the Tower, never seeing his wife or daughter again, and died alone on Sunday 19 October 1595. He was immediately acclaimed as a Catholic (dry) Martyr.
He died on October 19 1595 after an illness of two months. Poisoning was suspected. “The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world,” ran the Latin inscription in his room, “the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next.”
His son Thomas (1586-1646) succeeded as Earl of Arundel. Philip Howard was canonized in 1970.
-martyrs chapel, Horsham, England, please click on the image for greater detail.
-organ at the Arundel Cathedral of Our Lady and Saint Philip Howard, Arundel, West Sussex, England
Blessed Charles Mahoney. This Irish Franciscan was another victim of the evil Titus Oates.
Charles Mahoney (alias Meehan) was born in Ireland around 1639/40. He and his three brothers, James, Terence and Christopher, were educated by their uncle, Fr Bonaventure OSF, who was guardian of St Anthony’s College in Louvain. Three of the boys, Charles, Terrence and James, followed in their uncle’s footsteps and became priests.
In 1674, several years after his ordination, Charles was sent to Germany to study theology. He remained there for two years then spent another two years in Rome, preaching and teaching at the Irish Franciscan College of St Isadore. Then, in 1678, Charles was sent back to Ireland. Charles was aboard a ship heading for home when disaster struck. In a raging storm his ship was wrecked off the coast of Wales. With some of his belongings, he managed to swim ashore near Milford Haven in West Wales.
The plucky Franciscan decided to travel North, on foot, in the hope of finding a ship bound for Ireland. Unfortunately, Charles didn’t get very far. In June 1678 he was arrested not far from Denbigh and imprisoned in Denbigh Gaol. In the spring of 1679, Charles Mahoney was tried, found guilty of being a Catholic priest, which was considered treason, and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, the usual punishment for treason.
On 12th August 1679, Fr Charles Mahoney was taken from his prison, tied to a horse-drawn hurdle and dragged to a spot outside the town. Here the awful sentence was carried out.
The months of July and August 1679 were busy ones for the anti-Catholic authorities. Titus Oates and his fellow perjurers must have been smugly satisfied too. Executions of Catholic priests were being carried out in various parts of England and Wales. In Wales, Fr Philip Evans SJ and a secular priest, Fr John Lloyd, were barbarously executed in Cardiff on 22nd July. Just over the border, in Hereford, eighty year old Fr John Kemble, another secular priest, met his fate on 22nd August. Fr Kemble, a cousin of St David Lewis, had spent fifty-four years ministering to the Catholics of Herefordshire and Monmouth. On that same day Fr John Wall, a Franciscan, was executed at Red Hill, Worcester. Fr Wall, who ministered mainly in the Worcester area, was a classmate and friend of our Last Welsh Martyr, St David Lewis. Fr David Lewis SJ followed his friends and fellow priests to martyrdom on 27th August at Usk. All five were canonised in 1970 when Pope Paul VI canonised the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
The British Museum is in possession of a one page document entitled “The Last Speeches of Three Priests that were executed for Religion, Anno Domini 1679”. The document reads; “An Account of the words spoken by Mr Charles Mahony, an Irish priest of the holy Order of St Francis, who was executed in his Habit at Ruthin in North Wales, August 12, 1679.
‘Now God Almighty is pleased I should suffer Martyrdom, His Holy Name be praised, since I dye for my religion. But you have no right to put me to death in this country, though I confessed myself to be a priest, for you seized me as I was going to my native country, Ireland, being driven at Sea on this coast, for I never used my Function in England before I was taken, however, God forgive you, as I do and shall always pray for you, especially for those that were so good to me in my distress. I pray God bless our King, and defend him from his enemies, and convert him to the Holy Catholick Faith. Amen.’ His age was under forty. He was tryed and condemned at Denby confessing himself to be a priest.”
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "“Si comprehendus, non est Deus.” -St Augustine, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "And above all, be on your guard not to want to get anything done by force, because God has given free will to everyone and wants to force no one, but only proposes, invites and counsels." –St. Angela Merici, “Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours, so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company, that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him . . . God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people, by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.” —St. Teresa of Avila, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "We cannot always have access to a spiritual Father for counsel in our actions and in our doubts, but reading will abundantly supply his place by giving us directions to escape the illusions of the devil and of our own self-love, and at the same time to submit to the divine will.” —St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder . . . What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection." –St. Padre Pio, "Screens may grab our attention, but books change our lives!" – Word on Fire, "Reading has made many saints!" -St Josemaría Escrivá, "Do you pray? You speak to the Bridegroom. Do you read? He speaks to you." —St. Jerome, from his Letter 22 to Eustochium, "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, "God here speaks to souls through…good books“ – St Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle, "You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine, "Without good books and spiritual reading, it will be morally impossible to save our souls." —St. Alphonsus Liguori "Never read books you aren't sure about. . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?" -St. John Bosco " To teach in order to lead others to faith is the task of every preacher and of each believer." —St. Thomas Aquinas, OP. "Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading." –St. Isidore of Seville “The aid of spiritual books is for you a necessity.… You, who are in the midst of battle, must protect yourself with the buckler of holy thoughts drawn from good books.” -St. John Chrysostom