Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two Yorkshire Martyrs

These two martyrs also died on August 22, in the year 1582, in York.

Blessed William Lacy or Lacey, born and raised in Yorkshire, had been married twice and widowed twice before he went to Rome, studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1581. Lacy had suffered imprisonment for his Catholicism in Yorkshire, paid many fines for not attending Anglican services, and had lost his official post as coroner. Upon his return home he was arrested in York on July 22, 1582 and suffered greatly in prison. He was loaded with heavy irons, confined in an underground dungeon, and subjected to numerous examinations before arraignment on August 11--he was found guilty under the Elizabethan statute that made his presence in England as a priest an act of treason.

He and Blessed Richard Kirkman met in prison. Kirkman was born at Addingham, in the West Riding. He went to Douai in 1577 to study for the priesthood and was ordained at the English College in Reims on Holy Saturday in 1579. He returned to England in August of that year and was arrested a year later on August 8. Before execution, he was moved to an underground dungeon.

Neither priest had much opportunity to serve the Catholics in northern England. Blessed William Lacy is honored on December 1 every year at the Venerable English College in Rome. The students gather in the chapel to sing Te Deum Laudamus before Alberti's Martyrs' Picture (above). Blessed Richard Kirkman is remembered as one of the Martyrs of Douai at Allen Hall in Chelsea, London.

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