Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blessed James Thompson, aka James Pierce

Blessed James Thompson was a Yorkshireman who studied at Douai and Rheims, and who after ordination, was sent on the English mission. It was 1581. He and Nicholas Fox were ordained to all the minor orders, diaconate and priesthood within twelve (12) days in May that year. Thompson was very ill at the time and hardly able to stand. Nevertheless, he certainly recovered because he was on his way to the mission by August 10. A year plus a day later on August 11 he was arrested at the house of a Mr Branton in York. He would not acknowledge the Queen to the Supreme head of the Church so it was commanded that in prison he should be loaded with double irons.

He remained like this for 17 days before being led to the castle.On November 25 he was tried and condemned to the death of someone who had been found guilty of high treason. He spent the remainder of his time, day and night, in prayer and in labouring to gain souls to God and His church.

He was taken to the place of execution on a hurdle, where climbing the ladder he declared that he died in the Catholic Faith and for the Catholic Faith and that he had never been guilty of any treason against his queen or country.

So, after praying again for a while, commending his soul to his creator, he was flung off the ladder and was observed, whilst he was hanging, first to lift up his hands towards heaven, then to strike his breast with his right hand, and lastly, to the great astonishment of the spectators, distinctly to form the sign of the cross. He suffered at York on 28 November 1582

Since he was found guilty in 1582, the government had to implicate him in a plot against Elizabeth I, since Parliament had not yet passed the more general treason laws that punished Catholic priests in England or the laity who aided them (1584). Merely denying the Queen's Supremacy--unless he also declared she was a heretic or schismatic--was a felony, not an act of treason. Both were punishable by death, but the death sentence in case of a felony was simply hanging, without the cruel and unusual punishment of being cut open and butchered.

He was beatified in 1886.

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