Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Martyrs on February 18 in 1594 and 1601

Blessed William Harrington was born in 1566. When he was 15 years old, the hunted priest, Edmund Campion visited his family home, Mount St. John. Impressed by the future martyr and saint, William left England and studied for the priesthood and prepared for the Jesuit order in 1582. He had to return to England however, because he became ill. In February, 1591, however, he was able to return once more to Reims, and, having been ordained, returned at midsummer 1592. The next May he fell into the hands of the English authorities, and nine months later was executed at Tyburn on 18 February 1594.

One of those who had assisted the young priest (he was about 28 years old when he suffered), was Henry Donne, John Donne's brother. Henry was arrested, implicated William Harrington under torture, and died of the plague in Newgate Prison. John and Henry's mother, Elizabeth Heywood was the great niece of St. Thomas More, and their family was a devoutly Catholic recusant family. John Donne would eventually leave the Catholic Church and take orders in the Church of England, serving as Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral during the reigns of James I and Charles I.

Blessed John Pibush was born at Thirsk, Yorkshire, England, the son of Thomas and Jane Pibush. Educated at Rheims, France beginning 4 August 1580. Deacon in 1586. Ordained on 14 March 1587. Returned to England as missioner on 14 January 1588. Arrested at Morton-in-Marsh, Gloucester in the northern Cotswolds in 1593 for the crime of priesthood. Spent a year in Gatehouse prison, Westminster. Returned to Gloucester, he escaped on 19 February 1594; he was captured the next day at Matson. Sent back to Westminster, he was convicted on 1 July 1595 for the treason of Catholic priesthood. He spent over five years in Queen's Bench prison awaiting execution, ministering to fellow prisoners whenever he could. He was finally hung, drawn, and quartered on 18 February 1601 at Saint Thomas's Waterings, Camberwell, England

St. Thomas's Waterings or St. Thomas-a-Watering was an execution site on the Old Kent Road, and Chaucer's pilgrims passed it on the way to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket in Canterbury.

Both martyrs were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

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