I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show at 7:45 a.m. Eastern today to talk about two English martyrs who suffered tremendously when being hung, drawn, and quartered for their priesthood on August 19 in two different years: Blessed Christoper Robinson in 1598 (during the reign of Elizabeth I) and Blessed Hugh Green in 1642 (during the English Civil War).
Blessed Christopher Robinson had witnessed the brutal execution of St John Boste in July, 1594:
[St. John Boste] suffered at Dryburn, outside Durham. He recited the Angelus while mounting the ladder, and was executed with extraordinary brutality; for he was scarcely turned off the ladder when he was cut down, so that he stood on his feet, and in that posture was cruelly butchered alive. An account of his trial and execution was written by an eye-witness, [Blessed] Christopher Robinson, who suffered martyrdom shortly afterwards at Carlisle.
So when the rope broke twice at his execution, he complained of the physical AND mental cruelty of the process, according to Father Henry Garnet, SJ:
'One Robinson, a seminary priest, was lately in a purchased gaol-delivery hanged at Carlisle. The rope broke twice and the third time he rebuked the sheriff for cruelty saying that, although he meant no way to yield but was glad of the combat, yet flesh and blood were weak, and therefore he showed little humanity to torment a man for so long. And when they took order to put two ropes, then, said he, by this means I shall be longer a-dying, but it is no matter, I am willing to suffer all.’
The terms "hung, drawn, and quartered" roll rather trippingly off the tongue, but such a statement reminds us of the endurance these martyrs displayed and the love and passion for Jesus and His Church they had to endure such agony and torture.
Blessed Hugh Green suffered even greater indignity and cruelty, for he had no proper exeuctioner, not even one familiar with human anatomy: the barber forced into service for the purpose spent almost thirty minutes trying to locate his heart, removing his liver instead. A soldier finally beheaded the poor priest, and the Puritans in Dorchester used his head as a football after his death. Brutal.