Oh, for an epic muse to compose a poem or novel about today's martyr! George Gervase was born in Bosham on the coast of Chichester in Suffolk in 1571. Orphaned as boy, he was captured by pirates and carried far from home. In despair, he lost all faith in God as he was held in captivity for twelve years!
At last he escaped and went home to England. Then he found out that his brother Henry had left England for Flanders to practice the Catholic faith freely. Reunited with his brother, George returned to the Church. Then he discerned a vocation to the priesthood and studied at Douai from 1595 until he was ordained in 1603. He returned to England again as a missionary priest and was arrested in June 1606 and was exiled during one of James I's more diplomatically lenient periods.
Father George went to Rome on pilgrimage and sought to become a Jesuit; being turned down, he went back to Douai and became a Benedictine. His brother Henry had found him a position in Lille, France, hoping to keep him safe from the persecutions in England.
But George returned to serve the hidden Catholics there and was arrested again soon thereafter. Presented with James I's newfangled Oath of Allegiance, George Gervase, OSB was convicted of being a Catholic priest in England under the Elizabethan statute. He was hung, drawn, and quartered on April 11, 1608 at Tyburn. John Hungerford Pollen included the detail that Blessed George Gervase grasped the knife of the executioner before the disemboweling began; he was completely conscious as the torture commenced, having been hung briefly.
George Gervase, OSB was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. He was only 37 years old when he died, but what a life of adventure, loss and gain, suffering and consolation, exile and homecoming, and achievement he had lived. Blessed George Gervase, pray for us!