Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4 Martyrs: Priests and Laymen

Eight martyrs suffered on July 4: four each in 1594 and 1597. These executions are examples of a pattern that only existed during Elizabeth I's reign, when laymen were executed because of the assistance they offered to priests. (James I did not follow this policy of punishing the laity, even though the laws that made such assistance a felony were still "on the books".)

Blessed John Cornelius, SJ priest and martyr
Blessed Thomas Bosgrave, martyr
Blessed John Carey, martyr
Blessed Patrick Salmon, martyr 

John, Thomas, John and Patrick were executed together at Dorchester on July 4, 1594. All of them were from Ireland:

John Cornelius (1557-1594) pronounced Jesuit vows in prison days before he was hanged, drawn and quartered. He met Jesuits while he was studying theology in Rome in 1580 and had asked to enter the Society of Jesus, but was not able to leave the people he served to go to Flanders for the novitiate, which was the normal policy at the time. Before he was able to get to the novitiate, he was arrested in the Dorsetshire castle of the family who had sheltered him for years and sentenced to die for high treason- celebrating Mass and converting people back to Catholicism.

The son of Irish parents living in Cornwall, the priest's true name was John Conor O'Mahony, but used his middle name in a Latinized form. He was expelled from Exeter College, Oxford, for being Catholic and left for the Continent to study. After he was ordained a priest in Rome, he returned to England and made the home of Sir John Arundell his base of operations. He placed himself under the direction of Father Henry Garnet, the superior of the English mission, while he waited for permission to make his novitiate, but was captured before he received an answer. One of the family servants betrayed him to the authorities, and he was arrested April 14, 1594, while hiding in a priest-hole in the Arundell family castle in Dorset. Prison officials in London tortured him in a vain attempt to learn the identities of the families who had sheltered him or those who had attended the Catholic services. Aware that his death was near, he pronounced the vows of the Society before a Jesuit and two lay people as witnesses. 

Bosgrave, Carey and Salmon were pronounced guilty of the felony of aiding and abetting Father John. All that Bosgrave had done was lend Father Cornelius his hat after he'd been arrested! The sentence was the same for all: hanging, drawing, and quartering. 

After the court had published its judgment, it offered all four men a reprieve if they would give up their Catholic faith. All four refused. 

The execution took place at Dorchester two days later. The three laymen were hanged first. Each made a Catholic profession of faith before the trap was sprung. Carey kissed the noose and called it a “precious collar”. Father John then kissed the feet of his hanging companions.  He prayed St. Andrew's prayer, "O good Cross, made beautiful by the body of the Lord: long have I desired you, ardently have I loved you, unceasingly have I sought you out; and now you are ready for my eager soul. Receive me from among men and restore me to my Master, so that he, who, by means of you, in dying redeemed me, may receive me. Amen."

He was not allowed to make any formal statement; but he did manage to state that he had been lately admitted into the Jesuits, and would have been en route to the Jesuit novitiate in Flanders had he not been arrested. After praying for his executioners and for the welfare of the queen, John Cornelius also was executed. The body was taken down and quartered, his head was nailed to the gibbet, but soon removed. These martyrs are honored at the Catholic parish in Chideock.

Note that Sir John Arundell of Lanherne also suffered for his Catholicism:

In 1569 he refused to subscribe to the Act of Uniformity and in the following year he was obliged to enter a recognizance for his ‘good behaviour’, but it was not until 1577 that his Catholicism came to be looked upon as a source of danger to the realm. On 29 Nov. in that year Cuthbert Maine [St. Cuthbert Mayne], the seminary priest, was hanged at Launceston; in his speech from the scaffold he described Arundell as a ‘good and godly’ gentleman with the result that two weeks later Arundell, whose refusal to attend church had been noted, was placed under arrest. On his release he was required to live near London and took up residence in Clerkenwell. During his absence from Cornwall his house was searched and subsequently charges against him were laid before the Council in September 1579. In 1585 Arundell was lodged in the Tower, allegedly because of his association with his wife’s cousin, Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel. At the same time he was fined 1,000 marks in the Star Chamber for contempt of the proclamation regarding recusants. Released from the Tower in 1586, he went to live at Muswell Hill and remained there until the early months of 1590, when he was imprisoned at Ely. He was set free in the summer and settled in Isleworth, where he died on the following 17 Nov. His body was carried with great pomp to Cornwall and buried beside those of his ancestors at St. Columb Major, where a monument was later erected to his memory.

Blessed William Andleby, priest and martyr 
Blessed Henry Abbot, martyr
Blessed Thomas Warcop, martyr
Blessed Edward Fulthorp, martyr

Fr Andleby served in Yorkshire, and Henry, Thomas and Edward were three laymen who assisted and sheltered him; they were executed together at York on July 4 in 1597 under Elizabeth I. Blessed William Andleby was a convert--he had thought to argue Doctor William Allen out of his Catholic faith and instead found himself argued into it:

He was born at Etton in Yorkshire of a well-known gentle family. At twenty-five he went abroad to take part in the religious wars in the Spanish Netherlands, and called at Douai to interview Dr. Allen, whom he attempted to confute in argument. Next day he recognized that Allen was right, was converted, and eventually became a priest. Mention is found of his having served at Mr. Tyrwhitt's, in Lincolnshire, and also of his having succoured the Catholic prisoners in Hull blockhouse. "His zeal for souls was such as to spare no pains and to fear no dangers. For the first four years of his mission he travelled always on foot, meanly attired, and carrying with him usually in a bag his vestments and other things for saying Mass; for his labours lay chiefly among the poor, who were not shocked with such things. Afterwards, humbly yielding to the advice of his brethren, he used a horse and went somewhat better clad. Wonderful was the austerity of his life in frequent watchings, fastings, and continual prayer, his soul so absorbed in God that he often took no notice of those he met; by which means he was sometimes exposed to suspicions and dangers from the enemies of his faith, into whose hands he at last fell after twenty years' labour in the vineyard of the Lord." (Challoner). He was condemned for his priestly character, and suffered with three laymen, John Abbot, Thomas Warcop, and Edward Fulthrop--Abbot and Fulthrop were also converts to Catholicism from the Church of England.

All of these martyrs were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI. Blessed martyrs of England, pray for us!

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