Friday, August 7, 2015

August Martyrs: Blessed Nicholas Postgate, Popish Plot Victim

Blessed Nicholas Postgate is one of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales and he is also one of the victims of the Popish Plot. Rather like Blessed John Kemble in Monmouthshire whom we will honor later this month, he had served Catholics in his locality, North East Yorkshire for decades without interference from authorities. But the Popish Plot changed that, as this site recounts:

Often disguised as a gardener, and credited with introducing the daffodil to North Yorkshire, he cared for his scattered flock. It is not easy to keep secrets in a rural community and it would seem that it was well known amongst Catholics and many non Catholics that Nicholas Postgate was a priest.

This acceptance was undermined by the so called “Popish Plot” of 1678, a fictitious scare about a plot to kill the King and establish a Catholic government. An exciseman by the name of John Reeves learned of the identity of Nicholas Postgate, and as the priest came to Redbarns at Littlebeck to baptise a child he was arrested. In due course he was taken to the magistrate at Brompton, and sent to the Assizes at York. Here the judge reluctantly found him guilty under the Act of 1585 against Jesuits and seminary priests. Nicholas Postgate was condemned to death. During his imprisonment it is said that he wrote the hymn, which is still sung. He was executed on the Knavesmire on 7th August 1679. In his final words he declared, he was dying for the Catholic Faith, not for any plot but for his religion. He asked the Sheriff, to assure the King that he had never at any time wronged his Majesty in any way whatsoever. He prayed God to grant the King grace and the light of truth, he then declared that he forgave all who had brought him to his death and asked forgiveness for himself from all.

I am glad to report that there is a very active cause in his home diocese for his canonization, with pilgrimages and other events. The Postgate Society and the Middlesborough Diocese are encouraging prayer for his intercession and canonization:

O God who raised up the Glorious martyr
Blessed Nicholas Postgate to be an example for us
today, grant us the grace to walk in his ways
and gain the crown of the Blessed.
Grant us we pray, Almighty God, that we who
admire the courage of your martyrs' glorious
confession of the Faith may witness in ourselves
the power of their loving intercession.
O God, who glorifies those who give you glory,
and are honoured in the valour of your Saints,
grant, we pray you, by the solemn judgement
of your Church, to glorify the Blood of
The Blessed' Nicholas Postgate, and all those
Martyrs who were put to death in England and
Wales for the testimony of Jesus.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN

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