Friday, December 1, 2017

Blessed Richard Langley, Executed in York

John Hungerford Pollen, SJ writes about today's martyr in his Acts of the English Martyrs:

Richard Longley [Langley], Esq., was taken about the 21st of September in his own house by officers and a large band of soldiers, who had invested it. Among them was a certain Archdeacon (after the manner of the heretics) named Ramesdell, with some magistrates, Gayes, Vaughan, and Bethel, and there were taken with him two priests, who afterwards escaped out of prison. Mr. Longley was of such pleasant manners that he won the friendship of the gaoler, who in spite of his being a malicious heretic could scarcely refrain from tears when he was led out to execution. He was moreover of good family and fortune, yet he despised all these things, and declared before the Judges, that if he had greater riches and a hundred lives, he would willingly spend them all in that cause. 

The accusation against him was that he had relieved the enemies of the Queen (for so they styled God’s priests), whereupon he was urged to beg pardon for his crime of God and of the Queen. He answered with constancy that he had received them as messengers sent by God, and that therefore while he considered he had done an action pleasing to God, he could not admit that he had thereby done any injury to the Queen. This answer so irritated the Judges that they thought him unworthy of any grace, not even was the favour of an honourable burial allowed him, however much his friends begged for it. Permission was even refused for his corpse to be wrapped in the linen shroud he had prepared, and after his body had been thrown into the pit, the bodies of ten thieves were cast in over him. He died by hanging. 

During the whole time of his imprisonment, he was so merry that many wondered at him, for he had always been shy at home, yet when brought out for execution he showed such alacrity of mind as to go to the scaffold even before the Sheriff, as if he were a bridegroom going to his nuptials. He suffered on December the 1st, 1586.

John Hungerford Pollen, SJ was also known as John Hungerford Pollen, Jr. because he was the son of John Hungerford Pollen, Sr.! Pollen, Sr. was a Catholic convert and associate of Blessed John Henry Newman. Pollen, Sr. worked on the church for the Catholic University of Ireland in Dublin and on the Birmingham Oratory. Father Pollen was one of ten children and was ordained in 1891; he wrote several books about the English martyrs, including A Jesuit Challenge: Edmund Campion's Debates at the Tower of London in 1581 and The English Catholics in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth and died in 1925. He also wrote for the Catholic Encyclopedia, including this substantial article on the Counter-Reformation. More about Father Pollen here from the Jesuits in Britain.

Pope Pius XI beatified Richard Langley among many others in 1929.

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