Thursday, November 26, 2015

Blesseds Marmaduke and Hugh in York

Two of the Eighty-five Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope St. John Paul II, a layman Blessed Marmaduke Bowes and a priest, Blessed Hugh Taylor suffered in York on November 26, 1585 in York. 

The most important point about these two martyrs is that they were the first to be executed under the 1584 act against the Jesuits (or any other Catholic priests) who had been born in England or Wales and then traveled to the Continent for ordination and then returned as missionaries to the recusant Catholic community, and against those who assisted them.

Blessed Marmaduke Bowes was born in Ingram Grange in Yorkshire: Married layman and father. Fearful of the persecutions of the day, he was a covert Catholic who put in appearances in the Established church to keep the authorities away. He sheltered priests on the run, and had his children raised Catholic. In 1585 his children's tutor was arrested and bribed to apostatize, turn informer, and denounce Bowes for helping priests. Bowes and his wife were arrested and imprisoned in York; she was released, but Marmaduke was convicted on the statements of the tutor. 

He was the first layman executed under the law that made helping priests a felony. He was hung on the 26th of November in 1585, along with Blessed Hugh Taylor, who had just arrived in York in March 1585, after his ordination in Rheims in 1584. We don't have much other detail about Blessed Hugh Taylor: I suppose we could imagine him growing up in a recusant family and being prepared to endure exile, danger, and death for his parents' Catholic faith. Or, he could have grown up in an Anglican family, read the Fathers, questioned the validity of the Church of England and secretly converted, traveling to Rheims for study and ordination, returning to England to almost immediate capture.

Father Taylor was the first to suffer under the Statute 27 Eliz. c. 2. against priests as traitors passed by Parliament in 1584. Most of the Catholics executed after 1584 suffered under this statute (there were a few executed under the 1571 and 1581 statutes which made it treasonous to call the monarch a heretic or to convert or induce someone else to become Catholic, respectively). Blessed John Britton was martyred under the 1571 Statute, for example, in 1598. Blessed George Errington suffered hanging, drawing, and quartering in 1596 under the 1581 Statue, in another example, The priests who suffered before 1584 were found guilty of simple treason, which usually, as in the case of Saints Campion, Briant and Sherwin coming up on December 1, meant that the Crown accused the priests of some conspiracy against the Queen. 

Blessed Marmaduke may be called a martyr in spite of himself--he had tried to maintain a public face of conformity, attending Church of England services to avoid suspicion or fines, but secretly he helped priests and raised his children in the Catholic Faith. Betrayed by a Catholic, he was arrested and charged based on evidence offered by his children's tutor.

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