Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Four More at Tyburn, May 30, 1582
Blessed Thomas Cottam, SJ was born 1549, in Lancashire; executed at Tyburn, 30 May, 1582. His parents, Laurence Cottam of Dilworth and Anne Brewer, were Protestants. Having completed his studies at Brasenose, Oxford (M.A., 14 July, 1572) he became master of a grammer school in London. Converted there to the faith by Thomas Pound he went over to Douai, and was ordained deacon at Cambrai, Dec., 1577. Desirous of the Indian mission, he went to Rome and was received (8 April, 1579) as a Jesuit novice at Sant' Andrea. Attacked by fever about October, he was sent to Lyons to recuperate, and went thence to the College at Reims, considering himself as accepted for India, if his health improved by a visit to England. In May (probably 28th), 1580, he was ordained priest at Soissons, and started (5 June) with four companions for England. Through the treachery of an English spy by the name of Sledd he was immediately arrested at Dover, but by a ruse of Dr. Ely, one of his fellow-travellers, reached London safely. Ely being imperilled through this friendly act, Cottam voluntarily surrendered himself and was committed "close prisoner" to the Marshalsea, where he perhaps said his first Mass. After being tortured, he was removed, 4 December, 1580 to the Tower, where he endured the rack and the "scavenger's Daughter". He was arraigned with Campion and others and (16 November, 1581) condemned to death. His execution was deferred till 30 May, 1582 (see Munday's 'Breefe Reporte"), when with William Filby, Luke Kirby and Laurence Richardson, secular priests (all beatified 29 December, 1886), he was drawn to Tyburn and executed. His portrait, with martyrdom misdated, is reproduced in Foley, "Records", VII (1) 174; his relics are the Mass corporal used by him and four other martyrs in the Tower (cf. Camm, English Marytrs, II, 563) and perhaps his autograph in the registers of Sant' Andrea.
Blessed Lawrence Johnson and Blessed William Filby:
Laurence, a son of Richard Johnson, of Great Crosby, Lancashire, was a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford, in or before 1569, and supplicated B.A. 25, November, 1572. In 1573 he was at Douai, and on 23 March, 1577, was ordained priest at Cateau-Cambresis. He was sent on the mission 27 July following, and laboured in Lancashire. He was arrested in London on his way to France and imprisoned in Newgate, where he remained until the day of his indictment, 16 November, 1581, when he was committed to the Queen's Bench Prison, and on the day of his condemnation, 17 November, to the Tower, where he had no bedding for two months.
Filby, born in Oxfordshire between 1557 and 1560; suffered at Tyburn, 30 May, 1582. Educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, he was admitted to the seminary at Reims, 12 October, 1579. He was ordained priest at Reims, 25 March, 1581, and shortly after left for the mission. He was arrested in July, committed to the Tower, removed 14 August to the Marshalsea, and thence back to the Tower again. He was sentenced 17 November, and from that date till he died was loaded with manacles. He was also deprived of his bedding for two months.
For St. Luke Kirby, please see this blog, authored by a Benedictine Monk in Ireland with the same last name. An excerpt:
Saint Luke Kirby, priest and martyr. Born in 1549 in England under Edward VI -- an England severed from its Catholic roots -- Saint Luke was educated at Cambridge. He abjured Protestantism and was reconciled to the Catholic Church at Louvain. He studied for the priesthood at Douai College, then in Rome, and was ordained at Cambrai in 1577 for the English mission.
A Catholic Priest
As the world measures such things, Father Kirby's missionary apostolate was a failure because it lasted but a few hours. He set out for England in the same valiant band that included Saint Edmund Campion, Saint Ralph Sherwin, and others, and made his way eventually to Dunkirk. He was arrested immediately upon landing at Dover in June 1580. His crime: simply being a Catholic priest. The threat he posed to national security: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered according to the Roman Missal. The young Father Kirby risked his life, and lost it, to bring the Sacrifice of the Mass to England.
For the Love of Christ
Records from the seminary at Douai tell of his wholehearted and virile piety and especially of his patience in bearing a painful disease for the love of Christ. In the hope of gaining an increase of physical strength for his priestly vocation, he submitted bravely to a gruesome surgical operation. Though the operation was successful, Saint Luke Kirby remained frail for the remainder of his life. One can only imagine how he must have suffered from the hardships of imprisonment and the savage tortures inflicted on him.