Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September Martyrs: Blessed George Douglas

One of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales: In his earlier years, George Douglas, of Edinburgh, Scotland, worked as a schoolmaster in the English county of Rutland. He subsequently journeyed overseas to Paris, where he studied for the priesthood and was ordained. There are uncertainties in the biographical details of his life, including the specific year of his ordination. He may have been a member of a religious congregation, perhaps the Franciscan Order, but this cannot be established. Father Douglas came to England about ten years after his ordination to serve the country’s Catholics persecuted under Queen Elizabeth I. It was while laboring thus that he was arrested a first time, but was thereafter released. He was arrested a second time at Ripton in the northern county of Yorkshire. Father Douglas was sentenced to death for “persuading to popery,” that is, for winning converts to the Catholic faith. At York he was executed by drawing and quartering on September 9, 1587, manifesting great fortitude during his torments. He was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1987, more than 400 years after his martyrdom.

If Father Douglas was found guilty, not of being a Catholic priest in England, but of "persuading to popery" under the 1581 “Act to retain the Queen’s Majesty’s Subjects in their due Obedience”, authorities must not have been able or thought it not necessary to prove that their prisoner was a Catholic priest. If they had proved him guilty of the latter, he was would have been sentenced as a traitor under the 1585 "An act against Jesuits, seminary priests, and such other like disobedient persons." Finding him guilty of bringing others to Catholicism was also to find him guilty of treason and thus he was hung, drawn, and quartered in York.

Blessed George Douglas, pray for us!

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