Thursday, July 11, 2013

Benedictine Martyrs of the English Reformation

Since July 11 is the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, founder of Western style monasticism, it seems only right for me to post some background on the Benedictine martyrs of the English Reformation. According to my categorization of the different causes of martyrdom during and after the Long English Reformation, Benedictines suffered as Supremacy Martyrs during the reign of Henry VIII, as Recusant Martyrs during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I, and one as a Popish Plot martyr during the reign of Charles II.

The Benedictine Supremacy martyrs are:

Blessed John Beche, Abbot of Colchester, 1 December 1539
Blessed Hugh Faringdon, Abbot of Reading, 14 November 1539
Blessed Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glastonbury, 15 November 1539
Blessed John Rugg, 15 November 1539
Blessed John Thorne, 15 November 1539
(All beatified on 13 May 1895 by Pope Leo XIII)

The Benedictine Recusant martyrs are:

St. John Roberts, 10 December 1610
St. Alban Bartholomew Roe, 21 January 1642
Blessed Mark Barkworth, 27 February 1601
Blessed George Gervase, 11 April 1608
Blessed Maurus Scott, 30 May 1612
Blessed Philip Powell (sometimes spelled Philip Powel), 30 June 1646
(The first two canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI, the others beatified either by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929 or Blessed John Paul II on 22 November 1987)

The Benedictine Popish Plot martyr is:

Blessed Thomas Pickering, 9 May 1679 (Benedictine lay brother) (Beatified by by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929)

Other Benedictines, like Elizabeth Barton and her confessors, suffered for their faith, but have not been beatified or canonized. The Supremacy martyrs were those abbots and monks who suffered during the Dissolution of Monasteries, and again, there were other Benedictines or Cistercians who suffered after the Pilgrimage of Grace who have not been designated as holy martyrs for some reason. Mary I restored the Benedictine order at Westminster Abbey, but with her death, Elizabeth I dissolved the order again. By 1607, there was only one Benedictine monk of the pre-Reformation era alive, Dom Sigebert Buckley, and he is the bridge for the order in the seventeenth century--down to one man!

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