Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sir William Paulet, Willow Tree; St. John Ogilvie, Oak Tree

According to the History of Parliament online, Sir William Paulet always conformed to the religious practice and command of the King or Queen he served, and thus was able to adjust his religious beliefs to serve Henry VIII, Edward VI, (Lady Jane Grey/the Duke of Northumberland), Mary I, and Elizabeth I:

Paulet was named as executor of Henry VIII’s will, taking precedence after Archbishop Cranmer and the chancellor, and was one of the five Councillors to receive a bequest of £500. According to the testimony given by Secretary Paget as to the King’s intentions, he was also to have had lands and an earldom, but he had to wait for promotion in the peerage until after the overthrow of the Protector Somerset. He had already added extensively to his inheritance by grant and purchase [from the Dissolution of the Monasteries] and under Edward VI he obtained further lands in Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Somerset and Wiltshire, being one of the five major recipients of crown lands by gift. For a few months in 1547 he served as lord keeper of the great seal after the dismissal of Wriothesley and was holding the office when the first Parliament of the reign was summoned. Shortly after his appointment he was one of the seven Councillors who signed a request to the young King for a commission empowering the Council to wield full authority during the minority. He was an assiduous attendant at Council meetings, several of which were held at his house in London and at Basing in 1549 and 1552.9

. . . As befitted one who, in the words of Sir Robert Naunton†, was ‘always of the King’s religion, and always [a] zealous professor’, and despite his uncharacteristic vote against the Act of Uniformity in 1559, he had no difficulty in accommodating himself to the Elizabethan settlement. Although he refused to take the oath incorporated in the Act of Succession he remained in the forefront of national affairs until the summer of 1570, when apparently on account of ill-health he withdrew to Basing. He absented himself from the Parliament of 1571 and was excused attendance at the trial of the 4th Duke of Norfolk early in 1572.11

He benefited thus from the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the fall of Somerset, and survived the fall of Northumberland/Lady Jane Grey. Before that, he had received St. Thomas More's Chelsea estate. If Barbara Walters had asked him the infamous "What kind of tree are you?" question she asked Katherine Hepburn, he would have had the opposite answer, although he would have had to translate it for her: He was a willow tree not an oak:

Paulet died intestate on 10 Mar. 1572 at Basing and was buried there. He had spent lavishly on his building there and at Chelsea (where he had been granted Sir Thomas More’s house in 1536) and at his death he owed over £34,000 to the crown and some £12,000 to individuals. Several portraits of Paulet survive. According to Naunton, Paulet ascribed his retention of high office under four sovereigns to his ability to bend (Ortus sum ex salice, non ex quercu) and (Sir) Richard Morison saw in him one who had ‘a tongue fit for all times, with an obedience ready for as many new masters as can happen in his days’. But many men were as ready as Paulet to trim to Tudor winds of change, and it was another hostile critic, John Knox, who came nearer the truth when, speaking of those who governed for Edward VI, he asked, ‘Who could best dispatch business, that the rest of the Council might hawk and hunt, and take their pleasure? None like unto [Paulet]’.12

Compare him to St. John Ogilvie, SJ, who suffered and died on March 10, 1615. He stood firm like an oak tree and received a crown of martyrdom:

He is the only canonized martyr of the Scottish Reformation.

Born in Scotland in 1579 and raised as a Protestant, Ogilvie was sent abroad for studies and converted to Catholicism. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Vienna in 1599 and was ordained to the priesthood in Paris in 1610.

Ogilvie returned to his native Scotland in 1613 and within a year was arrested in Glasgow. He spent many months in prison and was tortured, but he refused to denounce the pope’s supremacy. On March 10, 1615, he was tried for high treason, found guilty, and executed.

The year after his death, Ogilvie's Relatio, his own account of his arrest, imprisonment, and torture that he wrote in prison, was printed in various cities in Europe and circulated secretly in England and Scotland.

He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in Rome in 1976.

Prayer to St. John Ogilvie, SJ
(from the Jesuits in Britain)

St. John Ogilvie, by your devotion to Christ
you held fast to the faith, even unto martyrdom.
With the grace of God, may I have a loving heart in the midst of trials.
May I, like you, “be of good cheer” and trust in the love of God.

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