Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August Martyrs: Blesseds Christopher Robinson and Hugh Green

Other than their priesthood and their secret mission to England, these two martyrs from two different centuries have in common not just the method of their martyrdom but the horrendous ineptitude of their executioners:

Blessed Christopher Robinson, martyred on August 19, 1598, had witness the brutal execution of St. John Boste, so he knew what he faced. He was from Woodside, England, and studied for the priesthood at the English College at Reims, France. After being ordained in 1592, he returned to England and served Catholics in the regions of Cumberland and Westmoreland. In 1594 he witnessed Father John Boste's execution in Durham, writing a detailed account. Father Robinson was arrested on March 4, 1597 and confined until his execution, being visited often by Anglican ministers urging him to conform. On the day of his execution, the rope to be used to hang him broke twice, and he protested to the executioner that this delay was cruel, testing his resolve and spirit. Since the ropes broke, he would have fallen to the ground and that increased his suffering. The executioner then used two ropes the third time and then proceeded with the hanging, quartering, and beheading.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, those cruelties pale in comparison with what Blessed Hugh Green endured on August 19, 1642 at the hands of an inept executioner:

His parents, who were Protestants, sent him to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1605, but was afterwards converted and entered Douai College in 1610. He left again in 1612 to try his vocation among the Capuchins. From want of health or some other cause, he was unable to continue, and became a chaplain at Chideock Castle, Dorsetshire, the home of Lady Arundell of Lanherne. On 8 March, 1641, Charles I, to placate the Puritan Parliament, issued a proclamation banishing all priests from England, and Green resolved to obey this order. Unfortunately the news had been late in reaching him, and when he embarked the month of grace given for departure was just over. He was therefore arrested, tried, and condemned to death in August. In prison his constancy so affected his fellow-captives that two or three women sentenced to die with him sent him word that they would ask his absolution before death. They did so after confessing their sins to the people, and were absolved by the martyr. A providential reward for his zeal immediately followed. A Jesuit Father, despite the danger, rode up in disguise on horseback, and at a given sign absolved the martyr, who made a noble confession of faith before death. As the executioner was quite unskilled, he could not find the martyr's heart, and the butchery with appalling cruelty was prolonged for nearly half an hour. After this the Puritans played football with his head, a barbarity happily not repeated in the history of the English martyrs.

Christopher Robinson was beatified by Pope John Paul II amidst the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales; Hugh Green by Pope Pius XI in 1929. Blessed Hugh Green is honored among the Chideock Martyrs and with the Douai Martyrs; Blessed Christopher Robinson is also numbered among the Douai Martyrs.

Blessed Christopher Robinson, pray for us!
Blessed Hugh Green, pray for us!

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