Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15, 1539--Glastonbury and Reading Abbeys

Blesseds Richard Whiting (Abbot), John Thorne and Roger James were executed on Glastonbury Tor in Somerset in the southwest of England, while Blesseds Hugh Faringdon (Abbot), John Rugge, and John Eynon were executed in Berkshire at Reading Abbey, all on November 15, 1539. The ruins of their abbeys, Glastonbury and Reading, are pictured above (Wikipedia sources). A third Abbot, Blessed John Beche (aka Thomas Marshall) would be executed on December 1 that year--more about him soon.

As I've been working on the chapter on these martyrs in Their Faith Was Their Crime, I've had a nagging thought about the relative paucity of martyrs among the 8,000 monks and nuns affected by the dissolution. Of course, the Observant Franciscian friaries, the Brigdittine Abbey of Syon, and the Carthusian Charterhouses were destroyed earlier in the course of Henry VIII's power grab--and many of their members suffered horrendously. But out of the 8,000 monks and nuns whose houses were suppressed, not very many stood up against Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell's officials.

The four last abbots of Fountains Abbey (William Thirsk), Jervaulx Abbey (Adam Sedbergh or Sedbar), Barlings (Matthew Mackarel), and Sawley (William Trafford) and some companion monks, were executed for their part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, but they have never been recognized as martyrs--and I am not sure why.

Of course, I must remember that only one bishop stood up to Henry VIII to suffer martyrdom.

Remember that I will be discussing my article on the Dissolution of the Monasteries in OSV's The Catholic Answer Magazine with Al Kresta on his radio show this afternoon at 4:40 p.m. Eastern/3:40 p.m. Central--listen live here. UPDATE: Dr. Matthew Bunson, editor of the magazine, let me know that the article is available free of charge here. Such a deal!

Serra Club Metro members in Wichita will hear my presentation on the English Reformation and the Catholic Martyrs at the Spiritual Life Center tonight.


  1. One time, I read the lyrics of a Satanic song by a band called "Nunslaughter". It described in explicit detail, the vandalism of a Catholic church. First, he "sings"(or growls) about desecrating the altar and vestments and crushing the sacred vessels. Then the describes violating the Eucharist. The chorus of the song is about burning churches. Other songs by this group are about killing priests or nuns or destroying sacred things. Instantly, I had two thoughts.

    It's interesting that Satan worshipers never go after protestantism, but almost always, the Catholic Church.

    This reminds me a lot of the "reformation". It especially reminds me of the English and Scottish "reformation".

  2. Thanks to you, Ma'am, I know of those monastics who did resist.