Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Blesseds John Slade and Bodey, Lay Martyrs

John Slade was executed on October 30 and John Bodey or Body (as Challoner names him) executed on All Souls Day, November 2, 1583 for being Catholics and not accepting Elizabeth I's Royal Supremacy over the Christian Church in England. The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on their martyrdoms focuses on Blessed John Bodey:

Martyr, b. at Wells, Somerset: 1549; d. at Andover, Wilts., 2 November, 1583. He studied at Winchester and New College, Oxford, of which he became a Fellow in 1568. In June, 1576, he was deprived, with seven other Fellows, by the Visitor, Horne, Protestant Bishop of Winchester. Next year he went to Douay College to study civil law, returned to England in February, 1578, and probably married. Arrested in 1580, he was kept in iron shackles in Winchester gaol, and was condemned in April, 1583, together with John Slade, a schoolmaster, for maintaining the old religion and denying the Royal Supremacy. There was apparently a feeling that this sentence was unjust and illegal, and they were actually tried and condemned again at Andover, 19 August, 1583, on the same indictment. Bodey had a controversy with Humphreys, Dean of Winchester, on the Nicene Council, and the martyr's notes from Eusebius still exist. After his second trial, he wrote from prison to Dr. Humphrey Ely, "We consider that iron for this cause borne on earth shall surmount gold and, precious stones in Heaven. That is our mark, that is our desire. In the mean season we are threatened daily, and do look still when the hurdle shall be brought to the door. I beseech you, for God's sake, that we want not the good prayers of you all for our strength, our joy, and our perseverance unto the end. . . . From our school of patience the 16th September, 1583."

At his martyrdom, Bodey kissed the halter, saying, "O blessed chain, the sweetest chain and richest that ever came about any man's neck", and when told he died for treason, exclaimed, "You may make the hearing of a blessed Mass treason, or the saying of an Ave Maria treason . . . but I have committed no treason, although, indeed, I suffer the punishment due to treason". He exhorted the people to obey Queen Elizabeth and died saying, "Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus". His mother made a great feast upon the occasion of her son's happy death, to which she invited her neighbours, rejoicing at his death as his marriage by which his soul was happily and eternally espoused to the Lamb.

In his Memoirs of the Missionary Priests, Bishop Richard Challoner provides more background on John Slade, who had also traveled to Douai to study both civil and canon law, having been born in Dorsetshire. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered in Winchester.

John Bodey and John Slade were included in the beatifications of 1929. They are included in the list of the Martyrs of Douai, which was celebrated on October 29 in the Archdiocese of Westminster.

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