Sunday, January 8, 2017

Blessed Edward Waterson: From Turkey to Newcastle through Rome

Today's martyr was a world traveler before he finally returned to England was a missionary priest and then suffered imprisonment and martyrdom.

As a young (Anglican) man Edward travelled to Turkey with some English merchants. There he met and was befriended by a wealthy Turk who liked Edward so much that he offered his daughter in marriage if the Englishman would convert to Islam. Edward declined, but the incident set his mind on spiritual matters. 

You might remember that last year a book was published about the trade agreements between Elizabeth I and the Ottoman Empire. So Edward Waterson's travels to Turkey with English merchants were occasioned by the queen's alliance with the Sultan Murad III. Although she intended this alliance to help her blunt the attempts of Catholic Spain to aid Catholicism in England--and especially the Spanish Armada--in Waterson's case it led to him thinking more about his religious faith and finally becoming not only a Catholic but a Catholic priest and missionary.

His route home ran through Rome and Edward converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism in 1588. He visited the English College in Rome from November 29 to December 11, 1588. Entered the seminary at Rheims, France on January 24, 1589, received the tonsure and minor orders on  August 18, 1590, subdiaconate on September 21, 1591, diaconate on February 24, 1592, and was ordained a priest on March 11, 1592. Returned to England on June 24,  1592 to minister to his countrymen in hiding for their faith. Arrested for the crime of priesthood soon after, he was abused in prison for several months before being martyred. 

He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on January 8, 1593 at Newcastle-on-Tyne in northeast England, and there are some interesting details about his execution: the prison horses refused to drag Edward on the hurdle to the scaffold and when the guards finally got him there, the ladder jumped around to keep them from climbing it until Edward made the Sign of the Cross over it. Father Waterson was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

Blessed Edward Waterson's intrepidness as a world traveler and his faithfulness to Christ served and prepared him well for his efforts as a missionary in England. As this commentator notes"Twice tested for his Christian faith, he had passed the test. He is an interesting illustration of how varied in background were the men and women who were martyred during the English Reformation. Their witness to the faith is a many-splendored memory."

No comments:

Post a Comment