Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Blessed Richard Herst

This martyr, a farmer with a family, was a public recusant in Lancashire. He was executed on August 29 in 1628 after a rigged trial. 

According to this blog

A CONVICTED recusant, he was ploughing his field when one Dewhurst came to serve him with a warrant. Herst fled, and Dewhurst, following in pursuit, received a blow from Herst's maid, and afterwards in the heat of the pursuit fell and broke his leg. From that wound in the leg he died, yet Herst, who had never been within thirty yards of him, was charged with his death. Herst's pardon was offered him if he would take the oath, but he refused, and he declined also to go to church, so he was trailed there by his legs and much hurt. In the church he stopped his ears, not to hear false doctrine, and, on returning, said, "They have tortured my body, but, thank God, they have not hurt my soul." At his trial at Lancaster, though his innocence of Dewhurst's death was evident, the judge told the jury that he was a recusant, had resisted the Bishop's authority, and that they must find it murder for an example, which was done. At the gallows he said to the hangman, who was bungling with the rope, "Tom, I think I must come and help you." Then, after repeating the holy names of Jesus and Mary, he passed to immortality, Lancaster, August 29. 

He corresponded with his confessor while in prison awaiting his execution: 

THIS is his last letter to his confessor when about to suffer : "Now I take my last leave; now I am dying, and am as willing to die as ever I was to live, I thank my Lord and Saviour, who I trust will never fail me. I have comfort in Christ Jesus and His Blessed Mother, my good angel, and all the blessed Saints, and in the valiant and triumphant martyr, B. Arrowsmith, who is gone before me. How I have been used you will hear, and likewise what I had offered me if I would have taken the oath. I hope my friends will truly understand that my greatest desire is to suffer, and I would I had as many lives to offer as I have committed sins. Now, dear Sir, prepare yourself also to suffer, and animate your ghostly children in suffering. Once again, I desire you to say and to procure some Masses for my sinful soul, and if it please God to receive me into His kingdom, I shall not be unmindful of you and of all my good friends. I pray you remember my poor children, and encourage my friends about my debts which my chief worldly care is to satisfy. Once again, adieu. I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ Jesus." 

The B. Arrowsmith he refers to is, of course, St. Edmund (Bryan) Arrowsmith, SJ who had been executed the day before. 

According to this blog, Blessed Richard Hurst reflected on the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist before his execution:

He kissed the gallows on reaching the place of execution, and disregarding the ministers present, recommended himself to God, and begged the prayers of the Blessed Virgin, his angel guardian, and all the saints, especially St. John the Baptist, it being the day of his decollation. Ascending the ladder, he repeated the names of Jesus and Mary, and so was put to death.

Image: The Beheading of St John the Baptist by Jan Rombouts. You might note that St. John is baptizing Jesus in the Jordan in the upper right hand corner with the Holy Spirit pictured as a dove above them.

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