Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Fortnight for Freedom: July 4 Martyrdoms

Thus far in my series on martyrdoms that occurred in England during this fortnight, except for the first martyr St. John Rigby, it has been priests who suffered. Today on July 4, we have examples of a pattern that only existed during Elizabeth I's reign, when laymen were executed because of the assistance they offered to priests. (James I did not follow this policy of punishing the laity, even though the laws that made such assistance a felony were still "on the books".)

Thus, today on the last day of The Fortnight for Freedom we have two groups of Catholic martyrs in Elizabethan England, in 1594 in Dorchester and in 1597 in York, which are both comprised of a priest and the laymen who assisted and protected him:

Blessed John Cornelius, SJ priest and martyr
Blessed Thomas Bosgrave, martyr
Blessed John Carey, martyr
Blessed Patrick Salmon, martyr

John, Thomas, John and Patrick were executed together at Dorchester on July 4, 1594. All of them were from Ireland:

John Cornelius (1557-1594) pronounced Jesuit vows in prison days before he was hanged, drawn and quartered. He met Jesuits while he was studying theology in Rome in 1580 and had asked to enter the Society of Jesus, but was not able to leave the people he served to go to Flanders for the novitiate, which was the normal policy at the time. Before he was able to get to the novitiate, he was arrested in the Dorsetshire castle of the family who had sheltered him for years and sentenced to die for high treason- celebrating Mass and converting people back to Catholicism.

The son of Irish parents living in Cornwall, the priest's true name was John Conor O'Mahony, but used his middle name in a Latinized form. He was expelled from Exeter College, Oxford, for being Catholic and left for the Continent to study. After he was ordained a priest in Rome, he returned to England and made the home of Sir John Arundell his base of operations. He placed himself under the direction of Father Henry Garnet, the superior of the English mission, while he waited for permission to make his novitiate, but was captured before he received an answer. One of the family servants betrayed him to the authorities, and he was arrested April 14, 1594, while hiding in a priest-hole in the Arundell family castle in Dorset. Prison officials in London tortured him in a vain attempt to learn the identities of the families who had sheltered him or those who had attended the Catholic services. Aware that his death was near, he pronounced the vows of the Society before a Jesuit and two lay people as witnesses.


Bosgrave, Carey and Salmon were pronounced guilty of the felony of aiding and abetting Father John. All that Bosgrave had done was lend Father Cornelius his hat after he'd been arrested! The sentence was the same for all: hanging, drawing, and quartering.

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

The execution took place at Dorchester two days later. The three laymen were hanged first. Each made a Catholic profession of faith before the trap was sprung. Carey kissed the noose and called it a “precious collar”. Father John then kissed the feet of his hanging companions.  He prayed St. Andrew's prayer, "O good Cross, made beautiful by the body of the Lord: long have I desired you, ardently have I loved you, unceasingly have I sought you out; and now you are ready for my eager soul. Receive me from among men and restore me to my Master, so that he, who, by means of you, in dying redeemed me, may receive me. Amen."

He was not allowed to make any formal statement; but he did manage to state that he had been lately admitted into the Jesuits, and would have been en route to the Jesuit novitiate in Flanders had he not been arrested. After praying for his executioners and for the welfare of the queen, John Cornelius also was executed. The body was taken down and quartered, his head was nailed to the gibbet, but soon removed. These martyrs are honored at the Catholic parish in Chideock.

Note that Sir John Arundell of Lanherne also suffered for his Catholicism:

In 1569 he refused to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity and in the following year he was obliged to enter a recognizance for his ‘good behaviour’, but it was not until 1577 that his Catholicism came to be looked upon as a source of danger to the realm. On 29 Nov. in that year Cuthbert Maine [St. Cuthbert Mayne], the seminary priest, was hanged at Launceston; in his speech from the scaffold he described Arundell as a ‘good and godly’ gentleman with the result that two weeks later Arundell, whose refusal to attend church had been noted, was placed under arrest. On his release he was required to live near London and took up residence in Clerkenwell. During his absence from Cornwall his house was searched and subsequently charges against him were laid before the Council in September 1579. In 1585 Arundell was lodged in the Tower, allegedly because of his association with his wife’s cousin, Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel. At the same time he was fined 1,000 marks in the Star Chamber for contempt of the proclamation regarding recusants. Released from the Tower in 1586, he went to live at Muswell Hill and remained there until the early months of 1590, when he was imprisoned at Ely. He was set free in the summer and settled in Isleworth, where he died on the following 17 Nov. His body was carried with great pomp to Cornwall and buried beside those of his ancestors at St. Columb Major, where a monument was later erected to his memory.

Blessed William Andleby, priest and martyr
Blessed Henry Abbot, martyr
Blessed Thomas Warcop, martyr
Blessed Edward Fulthorp, martyr

Fr Andleby served in Yorkshire, and Henry, Thomas and Edward were three laymen who assisted and sheltered him; they were executed together at York on July 4 in 1597 under Elizabeth I. Blessed William Andleby was a convert--he had thought to argue Doctor William Allen out of his Catholic faith and instead found himself argued into it:

He was born at Etton in Yorkshire of a well-known gentle family. At twenty-five he went abroad to take part in the religious wars in the Spanish Netherlands, and called at Douai to interview Dr. Allen, whom he attempted to confute in argument. Next day he recognized that Allen was right, was converted, and eventually became a priest. Mention is found of his having served at Mr. Tyrwhitt's, in Lincolnshire, and also of his having succoured the Catholic prisoners in Hull blockhouse. "His zeal for souls was such as to spare no pains and to fear no dangers. For the first four years of his mission he travelled always on foot, meanly attired, and carrying with him usually in a bag his vestments and other things for saying Mass; for his labours lay chiefly among the poor, who were not shocked with such things. Afterwards, humbly yielding to the advice of his brethren, he used a horse and went somewhat better clad. Wonderful was the austerity of his life in frequent watchings, fastings, and continual prayer, his soul so absorbed in God that he often took no notice of those he met; by which means he was sometimes exposed to suspicions and dangers from the enemies of his faith, into whose hands he at last fell after twenty years' labour in the vineyard of the Lord." (Challoner). He was condemned for his priestly character, and suffered with three laymen, John Abbot, Thomas Warcop, and Edward Fulthrop--Abbot and Fulthrop were also converts to Catholicism from the Church of England.

All of these martyrs were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

Friday, July 3, 2015

The Fortnight for Freedom: Recusants Yesterday and Today

In the midst of The Fortnight for [Religious] Freedom (which ends tomorrow) came the Supreme Court's decision on so-called "same sex marriage" which has raised more concerns for religious freedom than even the ACA and its contraception mandate. The dissenting judges and the deciding judges both addressed the issue. Justice Kennedy said:
Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines,may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.
So don't worry--religious people can still advocate and teach and privately live their religious beliefs about marriage--even though they are bigoted and mistaken. Chief Justice John Roberts notes the problems with Kennedy's emphasis:
Federal courts are blunt instruments when it comes to creating rights. They have constitutional power only to resolve concrete cases or controversies; they do not have the flexibility of legislatures to address concerns of parties not before the court or to anticipate problems that may arise from the exercise of a new right. Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution. Amdt. 1.
Respect for sincere religious conviction has led voters and legislators in every State that has adopted same-sex marriage democratically to include accommodations for religious practice. The majority’s decision imposing samesex marriage cannot, of course, create any such accommodations. The majority graciously suggests that religious believers may continue to “advocate” and “teach” their views of marriage. Ante, at 27. The First Amendment guarantees, however, the freedom to “exercise” religion. Ominously, that is not a word the majority uses.
Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples. Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this Court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.
Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. The majority offers a cursory assurance that it does not intend to disparage people who, as a matter of conscience, cannot accept samesex marriage. Ante, at 19. That disclaimer is hard to square with the very next sentence, in which the majority explains that “the necessary consequence” of laws codifying the traditional definition of marriage is to “demea[n] or stigmatiz[e]” same-sex couples. Ante, at 19. The majority reiterates such characterizations over and over. By the majority’s account, Americans who did nothing more than follow the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history—in particular, the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage—have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,” “disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. Ante, at 17, 19, 22, 25. These apparent assaults on the character of fairminded people will have an effect, in society and in court. See post, at 6–7 (ALITO, J., dissenting). Moreover, they are entirely gratuitous. It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s “better informed understanding” as bigoted. Ante, at 19.
This post also includes the comments made by Thomas, Alito, and Scalia, noting that Kennedy et al have effectively narrowed the meaning of religious liberty to "advocating" and "teaching" a faith's doctrine on marriage. After two thousand years in the Catholic Church, for example, of consistent teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman, and is as indissoluble as Jesus's love for His Church, that doctrine is now bigoted and "mean", and anyone who upholds it is a mean bigot. To quote Alito:
Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences.
It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. E.g., ante, at 11–13. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.
Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. Ante, at 26–27. We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.
And it is already happening: there is already a call for ending tax exemptions for churches that do not accept the Supreme Court's new definition of marriage. Dissent will not be tolerated. A newspaper won't allow any letters arguing against so-called "same sex marriage" and then had the temerity to exult at the ruling and say: "And we are all more free as a result." Except for those people not free to express their opinions in the The Patriot-News, of course, if they defend traditional marriage, because those viewpoints are now considered the same as "racist, sexist or anti-Semitic" comments--if you're not for so-called "same sex marriage", you are against it; if you are for traditional marriage (one man and one woman) you are against so-called "same sex marriage". Either way, you are a mean bigot. The editor was shocked that readers thought he was squelching discussion, even though he was. Somehow he could not express himself clearly: if what he wanted to limit was insulting speech or personal attacks, he did not say that and their policy still does not say that.

The Federal Government of the United States of America, through the Supreme Court and with the support of the President of the United States (who hopes others will evolve as he has), has issued new acts of Uniformity and Supremacy. 

As Father Robert Barron reminds us, we've been here before:
In the earliest centuries of the Church’s life, thousands—including Peter, Paul, Agnes, Cecelia, Clement, Felicity, Perpetua, Sebastian, Lawrence, and Cyprian—were brutally put to death by officials of the Roman Empire. In the fourth century, St. Ambrose was opposed by the emperor Theodosius; in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII locked horns with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV; in the nineteenth century, Bismarck waged a Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church in Germany, and in the twentieth century, more martyrs gave their lives for the faith than in all the previous centuries combined.
And George Weigel reminds us of the Catholic recusants of England--who would not swear to the religious doctrine proclaimed and enforced by Elizabeth I and her Parliaments:
In sum, we are already in new penal times, with the penalties in question being cultural reprobation (through public shaming and bullying) as well as legal sanction. The latter is going to intensify after Obergefell v. Hodges, and so, almost certainly, will the former. The cultural forces that believe themselves vindicated by Obergefell may take a few days to celebrate; but magnanimity in argument has not been their strong suit to date, and there is little reason to think that magnanimity in victory is on their future agenda. So what are today’s recusant Catholics (and other recusants) to do?
Weigel cites St. Edmund Campion as an example:
A healthy dose of Campion’s wit and intelligence will serve recusant Catholics and other recusant Americans well in a post-Obergefell United States. For the argument over marriage was lost in the culture before it was lost in the law. And therefore the only answer to this new moment of irrationality, and the various forms of persecution that will be part of it, is to convert the culture, calling it back to its Biblical and philosophical roots — and doing so by displaying, as Campion did, the nobility of lives lived in solidarity with others, speaking the truth persuasively and with wit out of concern for their happiness and salvation. It won’t be the rack and the Tyburn Tree, this time around. But legal pressure, ridicule, bullying, social ostracism, and professional disadvantage are going to be as likely after Obergefell as they were ubiquitous before.
And then he recalls Blessed John Henry Newman:
Some 300 years after Campion, and 44 years after Catholic emancipation, another saintly English scholar, John Henry Newman, spoke at the opening of a seminary in Olcott, offering this caution to the faculty and students gathered for the dedication ceremonies: "The trials which lie before us are such as would appall and make dizzy such courageous hearts as St. Athanasius, St. Gregory I, or St. Gregory VII. And they would confess that, dark as the prospect of their own day was to them severally, ours has a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it." Why? Because the new “darkness,” grounded in a religious indifference that would inevitably turn into anti-religious hostility, would be one in which Catholics would once again be “regarded as . . . the enemies . . . of civil liberty and of national progress.”
To bring the warning even more up-to-date, Pope Benedict XVI referred to Tyburn Tree during the vigil before John Henry Newman's beatification in September 2010:
Newman’s life also teaches us that passion for the truth, intellectual honesty and genuine conversion are costly. The truth that sets us free cannot be kept to ourselves; it calls for testimony, it begs to be heard, and in the end its convincing power comes from itself and not from the human eloquence or arguments in which it may be couched. Not far from here, at Tyburn, great numbers of our brothers and sisters died for the faith; the witness of their fidelity to the end was ever more powerful than the inspired words that so many of them spoke before surrendering everything to the Lord. In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied. And yet, the Church cannot withdraw from the task of proclaiming Christ and his Gospel as saving truth, the source of our ultimate happiness as individuals and as the foundation of a just and humane society.
The recusant martyrs of England, whom I have been highlighting during this Fortnight for Freedom really suffered--as did those who did everything but suffer execution through fines, imprisonment, and exile, thwarted hopes and contributions to their native culture. Some of the martyrs were brutally tortured, racked, chained, pressed to death, flogged, and hung, drawn, and quartered. We have seen nothing yet approaching their sufferings here.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Fortnight for Freedom: 480 Years Ago: St. Thomas More Prepares for Death

After returning to the Tower of London from Westminster Hall, Thomas More continued his preparation for death by composing this prayer: The Devout Prayer. It begins with a Pater Noster, an Ave Maria, and the Credo, and then he makes a general examination of conscience and prays for conversion and repentance, much as he did in his Godly Meditation ("Give me, good Lord, the grace"):

O Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three equal and coeternal Persons and one Almighty God, have mercy on me, vile, abject, abominable, sinful wretch, meekly knowledging before Thine High Majesty my long-continued sinful life, even from my very childhood hitherto.
In my childhood (in this point and that point). After my childhood (in this point and that point, and so forth by every age).


Now, good gracious Lord, as Thou givest me Thy grace to knowledge them, so give me Thy grace not only in word but in heart also, with very sorrowful contrition to repent them and utterly to forsake them. And forgive me those sins also in which, by mine own default, through evil affections and evil custom, my reason is with sensuality so blinded that I cannot discern them for sin. And illumine, good Lord, mine heart, and give me Thy grace to know them and to knowledge them, and forgive me my sins negligently forgotten, and bring them to my mind with grace to be purely confessed of them.

Glorious God, give me from henceforth Thy grace, with little respect unto the world, so to set and fix firmly mine heart upon Thee, that I may say with Thy blessed apostle St. Paul: "Mundus mihi crucifixus est et ego mundo. Mihi vivere Christus est et mori lucrum. Cupio dissolvi et esse cum Christo."
[The world is crucified to me and I to the world. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. I wish to be dissolved and be with Christ. (Gal. 6:14 and Phil 1:21-23)]

Give me Thy grace to amend my life and to have an eye to mine end without grudge of death, which to them that die in Thee, good Lord, in the gate of a wealthy life.

Almighty God, Doce me facere voluntatem Tuam. Fac me currere in odore unguentorum tuorum. Apprehende manum meam dexteram et deduc me in via recta propter inimicos meos. Trahe me post te. In chamo et freno maxillas meas constringe, quum non approximo ad te.
[Teach me to do your will. Make me run in the scent of your unguents. Take my right hand, and lead me in the right path because of my enemies. Draw me after you. With a muzzle and bridle restrain my jaws when I do not draw near to you. (Psalm 31:9)]

O glorious God, all sinful fear, all sinful sorrow and pensiveness, all sinful hope, all sinful mirth and gladness take from me. And on the other side, concerning such fear, such sorrow, such heaviness, such comfort, consolation, and gladness as shall be profitable for my soul: Fac mecum secundum magnam bonitatem tuam Domine. [Deal with me according to your great goodness, O Lord. (Psalm 118:124)]

Good Lord, give me the grace, in all my fear and agony, to have recourse to that great fear and wonderful agony that Thou, my sweet Saviour, hadst at the Mount of Olivet before Thy most bitter passion, and in the meditation thereof to conceive ghostly comfort and consolation profitable for my soul.

Almighty God, take from me all vain-glorious minds, all appetites of mine own praise, all envy, covetise, gluttony, sloth, and lechery, all wrathful affections, all appetite of revenging, all desire or delight of other folk's harm, all pleasure in provoking any person to wrath and anger, all delight of exprobation or insultation against any person in their affliction and calamity.

And give me, good Lord, an humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, charitable, kind, tender, and pitiful mind with all my works, and all my words, and all my thoughts, to have a taste of Thy holy, blessed Spirit.

Give me, good Lord, a full faith, a firm hope, and a fervent charity, a love to the good Lord incomparable above the love to myself; and that I love nothing to Thy displeasure, but everything in an order to Thee.

Give me, good Lord, a longing to be with Thee, not for the avoiding of the calamities of this wretched world, nor so much for the avoiding of the pains of purgatory, nor of the pains of hell neither, nor so much for the attaining of the joys of heaven in respect of mine own commodity, as even, for a very love to Thee.

And bear me, good Lord, Thy love and favour, which thing my love to Thee-ward, were it never so great, could not, but of Thy great goodness deserve.

And pardon me, good Lord, that I am so bold to ask so high petitions, being so vile a sinful wretch, and so unworthy to attain the lowest. But yet, good Lord, such they be as I am bounden to wish, and should be nearer the effectual desire of them if my manifold sins were not the let. From which, O glorious Trinity, vouchsafe, of Thy goodness to wash me with that blessed blood that issued out of Thy tender body, O sweet Saviour Christ, in the divers torments of Thy most bitter passion.

Take from me, good Lord, this lukewarm fashion, or rather key-cold manner of meditation, and this dulness in praying unto Thee. And give me warmth, delight, and quickness in thinking upon Thee. And give me Thy grace to long for Thine holy sacraments, and specially to rejoice in the presence of Thy very blessed body, sweet Saviour Christ, in the holy sacrament of the altar, and duly to thank Thee for Thy gracious visitation therewith, and at that high memorial with tender compassion to remember and consider Thy most bitter passion.

Make us all, good Lord, virtually participant of that holy sacrament this day, and every day. Make us all lively members, sweet Saviour Christ, of Thine holy mystical body, Thy Catholic Church.

Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
[Deign, O Lord, on that day to preserve us without sin.]
Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri. [Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.]
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te. [Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we have hoped in you. (Psalm 32:22)]
In te, Domine, speravi, non confundar in æternum. [In you, O Lord, I have hoped, let me not be confounded in eternity. (Psalm 30 2)]
R. Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei genitrix. [Pray for us, holy Mother of God]
V. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi. [That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.]

Then he prayed for his friends and enemies:

Pro amicis.

Almighty God, have mercy on N. and N. (with special meditation and consideration of every friend, as godly affections and occasion requireth).

Pro inimicis.

Almighty God, have mercy on N. and N., and on all that bear me evil will, and would me harm, and their faults and mine together by such easy, tender, merciful means as Thine infinite wisdom best can devise, vouchsafe to amend and redress and make us saved souls in heaven together, where we may ever live and love together with Thee and Thy blessed saints, O glorious Trinity, for the bitter passion of our sweet Saviour Christ. Amen.


God, give me patience in tribulation and grace in everything, to conform my will to Thine, that I may truly say: "Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in coelo et in terra".
[Thy will be done on earth and it is in heaven. (Pater Noster)]

The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me Thy grace to labour for. Amen.

What a model of devotion, faith, and thoughtfulness. Yale's university library has Thomas More's prayer book in its Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library:

It is not known how the prayer book survived after More was executed. It first surfaced in an exhibition in 1929 and was purchased by the Beinecke Library in 1965. It actually comprises two printed books: a book of Hours and a Psalter. Printed in 1522 and 1525 in Paris for the English market, the books retain their original simple black binding.

The annotations on the book of Hours were gathered by More’s nephew, William Rastell, and published in his 1557 edition of the English works of Thomas More. (Starting in 1958, Yale’s St. Thomas More Project, an international scholarly collaboration, edited and published 16 volumes of More’s writings; they are all still in print.) These verses show More wrestling with, and reconciling himself to, a painful death and the possible ruin of his family for his religious convictions. They are his best-known spiritual writings.

At one time Yale University Press published a facsimile of his prayer book.

St. Thomas More, pray for us!

The Fortnight for Freedom: Blesseds George Beesley and Montford Scott

Two Recusant Martyrs tortured by Richard Topcliffe and beatified by Pope St. John Paul II!

Blessed George Beesley was born at The Hill in Goosnargh parish, Lancaster, England, of an ancient Catholic family; died 2 July, 1591. He was ordained priest at the English College at Reims, 14 March, 1587, and left for England, 1 November, 1588. A man of singular courage, young, strong, and robust, he was captured by Topcliffe late in 1590, and was by his tortures reduced to a skeleton. He endured all with invincible courage and could not be induced to betray his fellow Catholics. He suffered by the statute of 27 Eliz., merely for being a priest, in Fleet Street, London. His last words were "Absit mihi gloriari nisi in Cruce Domini Nostri Jesu Christi" and, after a pause, "Good people, I beseech God to send all felicity". 

Blessed Montford Scott, who suffered on the same scaffold was born in Norfolk, England; martyred at Fleet Street, London, on 2 July, 1591. He went to Douai College in 1574, being one of the earliest students at that seminary, and studied theology. The next year he was made subdeacon, and accompanied Dominic Vaughan to England. In Essex they fell into the hands of the Government, Dec., 1576, and under examination, Vaughan was weak enough to betray the names of Catholics both in London and Essex. They were then given over by the Privy Council to the Archbishop of Canterbury for further examination, but nothing more was elicited, and they were afterwards set at liberty. Scott returned to Douai on 22 May, 1577, and having been ordained priest at Brussels set out for the English mission on 17 June. The vessel in which he crossed to England was attacked by pirates, but he escaped with some loss of his goods. He is mentioned as having laboured in Kent (1580), Norfolk, Suffolk (1583), Lincolnshire and Yorkshire (1584). On 24 April, 1584, John Nedeham and others were indicted at Norwich for having on 1 June, 1582, received blessed beads from him. In 1584 he was captured at York at brought to London, where he remained a prisoner for seven years. His release was procured by a money payment of one Baker, on condition of his leaving the country, but Topcliffe immediately procured his re-arrest. Meanwhile he had visited the confessors in Wisbech Castle. He was brought to trial at the sessions at Newgate in company of Blessed George Beesley (30 June, 1591), ad was condemned on account of his priesthood and of his being in the country contrary to the Statute. The next day he was drawn to Fleet Street, where he suffered martyrdom. Topcliffe said that he had that day done the queen and the kingdom a singular piece of service in ridding the realm of such a praying and fasting papist as had not his peer in Europe. 

Fleet Street is near the site of the Knights Templar's church and the home of the fictional Demon Barber, Sweeney Todd. The Wisbech Castle referred to above was set aside in 1580 by Elizabeth I's Privy Council as a special prison for recusants. In Cambridgeshire, it was the site of the Wisbech Stirs as the priests interned there argued over who had authority over the order of life in the castle, how regularly they should keep the fast days, etc. The Jesuit faction was more strict, while the secular priests' leader Christopher Bagshawe called them Puritans and Calvinists! Catholic priests were also held in internment "camps" in Framlingham Castle, Suffolk.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Fortnight for Freedom: 480 Years Ago Today: The Trial of St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More was brought to Westminster Hall for trial on July 1, 1535. Those set to try him were: Sir Thomas Audley, Lord Chancellor, Sir Richard Leicester, Thomas Duke of Norfolk, Sir John Port, Sir John Fitz-James, Sir John Spelman, Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Baldwin Sir Walter Luke, and Sir Anthony Fitz-Herbert. Like St. John Fisher, he was very weak after his long imprisonment in the Tower of London and was allowed to sit at his trial. Those set to judge him as his jury were: Sir Thomas Palmer, KNT., Falper Leake, Gent., Sir Thomas Peirt, Knt. William Browne, Gent., George Lovell, Esq; Thomas Billington, Gent.,Thomas Burbage, Esq; John Parnel, Gent., Geoffry Chamber, Gent. Richard Bellame, Gent., Edward Stockmore, Gent. George Stoakes, Gent.--and after hearing the evidence against More, which was mostly Sir Richard Rich's perjury, they found him guilty within 15 minutes!

Perhaps the most interesting part of the trial--and certainly one of most amazingly convoluted sentences ever spoken--came when Audley started to pronounce sentence and More had to remind him of proper procedure, that he should have an opportunity to state why Judgement should not be declared against him. Audley wanted to get this trial over, I'm sure, because the former Chancellor had already presented an excellent defense against Richard Rich's perjury (and Rich's other witnesses would not back him up), but More presented another dilemma to the justice of this court:

For as much as, my Lords, this Indictment is grounded upon an Act of Parliament, directly repugnant ,to the Laws of God and his Holy Church, the Supreme Government of which, or of any part thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St. Peter, and the Bishops of Rome his Successors only, whilst he lived, and was personally present here on Earth: it is therefore, amongst Catholic Christians, insufficient in Law, to charge any Christian to obey it. And in order to the proof of his Assertion, he declared among other things, that whereas this Kingdom alone being but one Member, and a small part of the Church, was not to make a particular Law disagreeing with the general Law of Christ's universal Catholic Church, no more than the City of London, being but one Member in respect to the whole Kingdom, might enact a Law against an Act of Parliament, to be binding to the whole Realm: so he shewed farther, That Law was, even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King's Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations. So great was Sir Thomas's Zeal, that he further alleged, that it was worse in the Kingdom of England to rest1se Obedience to the See of Rome, than for any Child to do to his natural Parent: for, as St. Paul said to the Corinthians, I have regenerated you, my Children, in Christ; so might that worthy Pope of Rome, St. Gregory the Great, say of us Englishmen, Ye are my Children, because I have given you everlasting Salvation: for by St. Augustine and his followers, his immediate Messengers, England first received the Christian faith, which is a far higher and better Inheritance than any carnal Sather can leave to his Children; for a. Son is only by generation, we are by Regeneration made the spiritual Children of Christ and the Pope.

Here the Lord Chancellor took him up and said; that seeing all the Bishops, Universities, and the most learned Men in the Kingdom had agreed to that Act, it was much wondered that he alone should so stiffly stickle, and so vehemently argue there against it.

HIS Answer was, That If the Number of Bishops and Universities were so material as his Lordship seemed to make it; then, my Lord, I see no reason why that thing should make any Change in my Conscience: for I doubt not, but of the learned and virtuous Men now alive, I do not speak only of this Realm, but of all Christendom, there are ten to one of my mind in this matter;  if I should take notice of those learned Doctors and virtuous Fathers that are already dead, many of whom are Saints in Heaven, I am sure there are far more, who all the while they lived thought in this Café as I do now. And therefore, my Lord, I do not think my self bound to conform my Conscience to the Counsel of one Kingdom, against the general Consent of all Christendom.

Here it seems the Lord Chancellor, not willing to take the whole Load of this Condemnation up­on himself, asked In open Court the Advice of Sir John Fitz-James, the Lord Chief Justice of England, Whether the Indictment was valid, or no? Who wisely answered thus: My Lords all, By St. Gillian (for that was always his Oath) I must needs confess, that if the Act of Parliament be not unlawful, then the indictment is not in my Conscience invalid. Some have wrote, That the Lord Chancellor should hereupon say, Quid adhuc desideramus testimonium, reus est mortis, and then presently proceeded to give Sentence to this effect: That he should be carried back to the Tower of Lon­don, by the Help of William Kingston, Sheriff, and from thence drawn on a Hurdle through the City of London to Tyburn, there to be hanged till he should be half dead; that then he should be cut down alive, his Privy Parts cut off, his Belly ripped, his Bowels burnt, his four Quarters sit up over four Gates of the City: and his Head upon London-Bridge.

"I must needs confess, that if the Act of Parliament be not unlawful, then the indictment is not in my Conscience invalid." -- the grammatical convolutions of this sentence, with the double negatives, all center on that word "if" which Audley dared not investigate further. Thomas More left Westminster Hall to return to the Tower of London: his son John and daughter Margaret were there to see his progress. Margaret pushed past the guards twice to embrace her father, actions he would later commend her for with great affection.

More detail here. In 2008, First Things posted an article reviewing the issues and the conduct of the trial.

The Fortnight for Freedom: Blessed Thomas Maxfield

A martyrdom in London during James I's reign was an event with international implications--the Spanish ambassadors were quite active around this time in pursuing pardons or even exile (knowing the priest would very likely return). 

Blessed Thomas Maxfield was born in Stafford gaol, about 1590, martyred at Tyburn, London, Monday, 1 July, 1616. He was one of the younger sons of William Macclesfield of Chesterton and Maer and Aston, Staffordshire (a firm recusant, condemned to death in 1587 for harbouring priests, one of whom was his brother Humphrey), and Ursula, daughter of Francis Roos, of Laxton, Nottinghamshire. William Macclesfield is said to have died in prison and is one of the prætermissi as William Maxfield; but, as his death occurred in 1608, this is doubtful. Thomas arrived at the English College at Douai on 16 march, 1602-3, but had to return to England 17 May, 1610, owing to ill health. In 1614 he went back to Douai, was ordained priest, and in the next year came to London. Within three months of landing he was arrested, and sent to the Gatehouse, Westminster. After about eight months' imprisonment, he tried to escape by a rope let down from the window in his cell, but was captured on reaching the ground. This was at midnight 14- 15 June, 1616. For seventy hours he was placed in the stocks in a filthy dungeon at the Gatehouse, and was then on Monday night (17 June) removed to Newgate, where he was set amongst the worst criminals, two of whom he converted. 

On Wednesday, 26 June, he was brought to the bar at the Old Bailey, and the next day was condemned solely for being a priest, under 27 Eliz., c, 2. The Spanish ambassador* did his best to obtain a pardon, or at least a reprieve; but, finding his efforts unavailing, had solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in his chapel during the martyr's last night on earth. The procession to Tyburn early on the following morning was joined by many devout Spaniards, who, in spite of insults and mockery, persisted in forming a guard of honour for the martyr. Tyburn-tree itself was found decorated with garlands, and the ground round about strewn with sweet herbs. The sheriff ordered the martyr to be cut down alive, but popular feeling was too strong, and the disemboweling did not take place till he was quite senseless. 

He was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II as one of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Downside Abbey, the Tyburn Convent near Marble Arch, and Holy Trinity Catholic in Staffordshire each honor his relics. See this site for a picture of an altar in Holy Trinity depicting the martyr.

*The Spanish Ambassador at that time was Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, 1st Count of Gondomar, who had succeeded in obtaining the release of Luisa de Carvajal in 1614.

The Fortnight for Freedom: St. Oliver Plunkett

St. Oliver Plunkett was the last Catholic priest executed at Tyburn Tree (on July 1, 1681); he was the last victim of the Popish Plot's anti-Catholic hysteria to be executed--but he was not a Jesuit, nor an English missionary priest. St. Oliver Plunkett was the Archbishop of Armagh, the Primate of Catholics in Ireland. He was the ultimate bogey-man to the Anglicans of England, for he was the embodiment of Catholic resistance to English rule in Ireland and all the English attempts, from Elizabeth I's reign, to bring Catholic Ireland under Anglican rule. He was tried twice on charges of conspiracy against Charles II--once in Ireland where he was acquitted and again in England where he was found guilty. He could not be found guilty for being a priest in England under the old Elizabethan statute since he had been brought to England by authorities, and there was no real proof of any conspiracy with the French to overthrow Charles II, but he was still found guilty:

On the day of the trial, Oliver who was again not allowed any defence counsel, disputed the right of the court to try him in England and he also drew attention to the criminal past of the witnesses. The Lord Chief Justice replied: "Look you Mr. Plunkett, do not waste your time by talking about these things…The bottom of your treason, which is treason of the highest order, was the setting up of your false religion and there is nothing more displeasing to God than it". The jury retired to consider the charge of high treason and returned within fifteen minutes with a guilty verdict. Archbishop Oliver, knowing the horrible punishment for treason, was to be hung, drawn and quartered and realising that he was to be martyred for his faith, simply replied to the court: "Deo Gratias" or God be thanked. The Lord Chief Justice pronounced sentence: "You shall be drawn through the City of London to Tyburn, there you shall be hanged by the neck but cut down before you are dead, your bowels shall be taken out and burnt before your face, your head shall be cut off and your body be divided into four quarters." Oliver addressed the court and said that he could easily have gained his freedom, as he had already been offered it, if he would confess his guilt and condemn others, adding that he would rather die ten thousand deaths than wrongfully take a farthing of any man's goods, one day of his freedom or a minute of his life.

On the 1st July 1681, he was dragged on a sledge from Newgate prison, before a noisy crowd, a distance of three kilometers to Tyburn. The keeper of Newgate when asked how the prisoner was, replied that he had slept soundly and that he was as unconcerned as if he was going to a wedding. From the three cornered gallows at Tyburn, Archbishop Oliver in a prepared speech, refuted his accusers point by point and forgave all of them, including the judges, and those who had given evidence against him at the trial: "I beg of my Saviour to grant them true repentance, I do forgive them with all my heart."

Oliver's theme of reconciliation continued, by his asking forgiveness of all those whom he had ever offended by thought, word or deed. He prayed: "I beseech your Divine Majesty by the merits of Christ and the intercession of his Blessed Mother and all the holy angels and saints to forgive me my sins and to grant my soul eternal rest."

Kneeling he recited an act of contrition, the Miserere psalm and he repeated before his death, the prayer of Jesus on the cross: "Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my Spirit". St. Oliver worked tirelessly as Archbishop for ten years, paying the ultimate price of martyrdom without seeing the fruits of his labours, and his crowning glory was the manner of his death, humble, heroic and holy. Several priests were close by and they blessed and absolved him at the point of his death. He may have been already dead when he was taken down and the further mutilation began. A fire had been prepared to consume his remains, his head was thrown into it, but it was quickly recovered and scorch marks may still be discerned on the left cheek. His demeanour and his speech from the scaffold were well received and it was patently obvious to many that he was innocent, as the plot had already shown signs of crumbling.


Charles II knew that Archbishop Plunkett was being framed but he did nothing because it was not politically expedient to protect a Catholic priest from injustice. The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Earl of Essex, Arthur Capell, recognized the injustice of Plunkett's trial, conviction, and execution and Charles excoriated him: "his blood be on your head - you could have saved him but would not, I would save him and dare not". Oliver Plunkett was beatified by Pope Benedict XV and Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1975.

When Pope Paul VI canonized the martyr, he began his remarks in Gaelic:
Dia's muire Dhíbh, a chlann Phádraig! Céad mile fáilte rómhaibh! Tá Naomh nua againn inniu: Comharba Phádraig, Olibhéar Naofa Ploinéad. (God and Mary be with you, family of Saint Patrick! A hundred thousand welcomes! We have a new Saint today: the successor of Saint Patrick, Saint Oliver Plunkett). Today, Venerable Brothers and dear sons and daughters, the Church celebrates the highest expression of love-the supreme measure of Christian and pastoral charity. Today, the Church rejoices with a great joy, because the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, is reflected and manifested in a new Saint. And this new Saint is Oliver Plunkett, Bishop and Martyr-Oliver Plunkett, successor of Saint Patrick in the See of Armagh-Oliver Plunkett , glory of Ireland and Saint, today and for ever, of the Church of God, Oliver Plunkett is for all-for the entire world-an authentic and outstanding example of the love of Christ. And on our part we bow down today to venerate his sacred relics, just as on former occasions we have personally knelt in prayer and admiration at this shrine in Drogheda.
There are many resources on the life and times of St. Oliver Plunkett available here.

God our Father, you filled St. Oliver with your Spirit of fortitude, enabling him to feed your flock with his word and lay down his life for his sheep. Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught, and to follow the way of reconciliation, which he showed by his example. Grant this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Fortnight for Freedom: Blessed Philip Powell, OSB

Blessed Philip Powell (sometimes spelled Philip Powel) (2 February 1594–30 June 1646) was a lawyer who became a Benedictine monk and priest, serving as a missionary in England during the period of recusancy. He was martyred at Tyburn. Powell is usually said to have been born in Tralon, Brecknockshire, Wales. From his youth he was a student of law, taught principally by David Baker, (who would later become a Benedictine himself, taking the name Augustine Baker). At the age of sixteen he went to study at one of the Inns of Court, London, and afterwards practiced civil law.

So he must have conformed and taken the Allegiance Oath required by James I after 1606, if he was studying and practicing civil law in London--thus he must have experienced some kind of reversion or conversion, discerned a vocation, left England, and studied for the priesthood. Perhaps like David Baker's family, Powell's parents were Church Papists, avoiding the fines by attending Church of England services, but also attending Catholic Mass whenever they could.

Three or four years later he received the Benedictine habit, becoming part of the community of St. Gregory at Douai (now at Downside Abbey, near Bath). The Benedictine monastery in Douai was named for Pope St. Gregory the Great; founded in 1605, its first prior was St. John Roberts, OSB, martyred at Tyburn on December 10, 1610. The biographies I've found do not state that he attended the English College at the University of Douai (pictured left), but that was the usual process. 

In 1618 Powell was ordained a priest and in 1622 left Douai to go on mission in England. In around 1624 he became chaplain to the Poyntz family at Leighland, Somerset. According to this British History site, the Poyntz family maintained a close relationship with the Benedictine order:

About 1624 Philip Powell or Morgan, later martyred at Tyburn, became chaplain to the Poyntz family at Leigh Barton. Powell left Leigh c. 1642, and was followed by a succession of priests, usually Benedictines, who regarded Leighland as the centre of a mission in West Somerset. In 1627 Giles Poyntz built a chapel and an annexe for the priest behind his house. Giles was one of a group of 8 recusants reported in 1642, and 12 were presented in 1664. Prudence Poyntz (d. 1691), Giles's second wife, leaving Leigh to her kinsman Robert Rowe, apparently required that Rowe should either maintain a chaplain in the house or pay him for an agreed number of masses. Should the family fail to keep a chaplain they were to pay £300 to the Benedictine province. There were resident chaplains at Leigh until 1767, but thereafter the chapel was used only occasionally. A priest celebrated monthly for five 'reputed papists' in 1776, and a priest from Dunster was evidently visiting Leigh later in the century. A French émigré priest may have used the chapel c. 1808.

When the English Civil War broke out he retired to Yarnscombe and Parkham in Devon. He then served for six months as chaplain to the Catholic soldiers in General Goring's army in Cornwall, and, when that force was disbanded, took ship for South Wales. The vessel was captured on 22 February 1646, and Powell was recognized and denounced as a priest.

On 11 May he was sent to London and confined in St. Catherine's Gaol, Southwark, where his treatment brought on a severe attack of pleurisy. His trial, which had been fixed for 30 May, did not take place till 9 June, at Westminster Hall. He was found guilty of being a priest and was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. It is recorded that that when informed of his death sentence, Powell exclaimed "Oh what am I that God thus honours me and will have me to die for his sake?" and called for a glass of sack (or sherry).  The martyr's crucifix, which had formerly belonged to Feckenham, last Abbot of Westminster, is preserved at Downside, with some of his hair and a cloth stained with his blood.

He was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. He is one of the six Gregorian martyrs: Blessed George Gervase (1608) ; Saint John Roberts (1610); Blessed Maurus Scott (1612); Saint Ambrose Barlow (1641); Blessed Philip Powell (1646), and Blessed Thomas Pickering (1679) honored at Downside Abbey, established after the French Revolution led to the suppression of the monastery at Douai.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Casting of Dorian Gray


Turner Classic Movies showed the 1945 MGM version of The Picture of Dorian Gray Saturday night. The crisp black and white film gives way to technicolor for the sight of the famous portrait and Dorian Gray's Mayfair house is gorgeously filled with works of art and culture. Hurd Hatfield plays Dorian and according to the TCM article, his casting as the evil Dorian Gray was thought so perfect that it hurt him for other roles. He did play Pontius Pilate in King of Kings, but did not have the career success expected from such a good beginning, although some critics said he was too impassive and restrained.

MGM added a subplot: a romance between Peter Lawford and Donna Reed. After I watched the movie, I wondered if Peter Lawford should have played Dorian Gray instead of Hurd Hatfield. His physical beauty equaled Hatfield's and he would have added some joie de vivre to the role. Lawford as Gray would have been more emotional and moved by the pleasures he sought. It would have been unexpected casting and could have even affected the audience more to see such a handsome and wholesome looking young man turn to such evil hedonism. Hatfield seemed so different from the start, such a pristine and perfect Adonis, as Lord Henry Wotton called him. As Lord Henry, George Sanders is perfect from the beginning of the picture, reading Les Fleurs de Mal in his carriage and proclaiming Wilde's "mal mots" with world-weary languor and humor.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Fortnight for Freedom: St. John Southworth

The Archdiocese of Westminster celebrates its martyr saint today, St. John Southworth, executed for the crime of being a priest in 1654. He had been arrested and protected by Queen Henrietta Maria and suffered imprisonment and exile. Returning to London, he assisted St. Henry Morse, SJ, during an attack of the plague. Finally, he was arrested and executed during Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate:

He pleaded guilty to exercising the priesthood and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. At his execution at Tyburn, London, he suffered the full pains of his sentence and was hanged, drawn and quartered. He was allowed to speak before his sentence was carried out. Among his last words:

“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."

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 returned his corpse to Douai for burial. His corpse was sewn together and parboiled, to preserve it. Following the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in Westminster Cathedral in London. He was beatified in 1929. In 1970, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. The Cathedral honors him with a guild.

St. John Southworth, pray for us!