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CANONIZATION OF 40 ENGLISH AND WELSH MARTYRS [Catholic Caucus] ^ | 29 October 1970 | Paolo Molinari, S.J.

Posted on 10/25/2010 4:45:31 PM PDT by Salvation


Paolo Molinari, S.J.

In the Consistory of May 18th, 1970 the Holy Father announced the forthcoming canonization of 40 new saints, the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales. After asking—in accordance with one of the most ancient forms of the exercise of collegiality—the opinion of the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops and Abbots Nullius present, and receiving their unanimous answer in favour of the Canonization, Paul VI said:

"We greatly rejoice that unanimously you have asked that these blessed Martyrs of England and Wales be canonized; this is also our desire. It is our intention to enroll them among the saints and to declare them worthy of the honours that the Church attributes to those holy persons who have obtained their heavenly reward. With God's help, we will do this on the twenty-fifth day of October of this year in the Vatican Basilica".

This announcement marked the end of the preparatory phase of the Canonization of these Martyrs. For long years research and study had been necessary to throw light on a large number of varied and complex problems in the spiritual, theological historical ecumenical and pastoral fields. The voluminous collection of documents and studies, carried out in Rome and in England, is considered by many an essential contribution to knowledge of the stormy history of England and Wales in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is also an extremely interesting and convincing documentation of the authenticity of the martyrdom of the 40 new saints and the opportuneness of their Canonization. It is not surprising, therefore, that those who had had the opportunity to study these volumes thoroughly—and among them over forty Cardinals of the Roman Curia and from other countries who took part in the Consistory—did not hesitate to judge the Cause favourably.

Who the Forty Martyrs are

The forty Martyrs are among the best known of the many Catholics who gave their lives in England and Wales during the 16th and 17th centuries owing to the fact that their religious convictions clashed with the laws of the State at that time.

As is known, King Henry VIII had proclaimed himself supreme head of the Church in England and Wales, claiming for himself and his successors power over his subjects also in spiritual questions. According to our Catholic faith, this spiritual supremacy is due only to the Vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff. The Blessed Martyrs, and with them many other Catholics, though they wished to be, and actually were, loyal subjects of the Crown in everything belonging to it legitimately according to the ideas of that time, refused for reasons of conscience to recognize the "spiritual supremacy" of the King and to obey the laws issued by the political power on purely spiritual questions such as Holy Mass, Eucharistic Communion and similar matters. This was what led many people to face and meet death courageously rather than act against their conscience and deny their Catholic faith as regards the spiritual Primacy of the Vicar of Christ and the dogma of the Blessed Sacrament. From the ecumenical point of view, it is extremely important to realize the fact, proved historical, that the Martyrs were not put to death as a result of internal struggles between Catholics and Anglicans, but precisely because they were not willing to submit to a claim of the State which is commonly recognized today as being illegitimate and unacceptable.

If—as has always been clearly recognized in the case of St. Thomas More—it would be a serious error to consider him a leading figure in the opposition between Catholics and Anglicans, whereas he must be considered a person who rose in defence of the rights of conscience against State usurpation, the same can be said of the 40 Martyrs, who died for exactly the same reasons.

And this is just what the Church intends to stress with their Canonization. It was and is her intention to hold up to the admiration not only of Catholics, but of all men, the example of persons unconditionally loyal to Christ and to their conscience to the extent of being ready to shed their blood for that reason. Owing to their living faith in Christ, their personal attachment to Him, their deep sharing of His life and principles, these persons gave a clear demonstration of their authentically Christian charity for men, also when—on the scaffold—they prayed not only for those who shared their religious convictions, but also for all their fellow-countrymen it; and in particular for the Head of the State and even for their executioners.

This firm attitude in defence of their own freedom of conscience and of their faith in the truth of the Primacy of Christ and of the Holy Eucharist is identical in all the 40 Martyrs. In every other respect, however, they are different as for example in their state in life, social position, education, culture, age, character and temperament, and in fact in everything that makes up the most typically personal qualities of such a large group of men and women. The group is composed, in fact, of 13 priests of the secular clergy, 3 Benedictines, 3 Carthusians, 1 Brigittine, 2 Franciscans, 1 Augustinian, 10 Jesuits and 7 members of the laity, including 3 mothers.

The history of their martyrdom makes varied and stimulating reading as the different characters are revealed, not without a touch of typically English humour.

The torments they underwent give an idea of their fortitude. The priests—for example—were hanged, and shortly after the noose had tightened round their neck they were drawn and quartered. In most cases the second operation took place when they were still alive, for they were not left hanging long enough to bring about their death, sometimes only for a very few seconds.

For the others—that is, those who were not priests—death by hanging was the normal procedure. But before their execution the Martyrs were usually cruelly tortured, to make them reveal the names of any accomplices in their "crime", which was having celebrated Holy Mass, having attended it or having given shelter to priests. In the course of the trial, and during the tortures, they were offered their life and freedom on condition they recognized the king (or the queen, according to the period), as head of the Church of England.

And here are some particular features that drive home to us the spirituality of these Martyrs and how they faced death.

Cuthbert Mayne, a secular priest, replied to a gaoler who came to tell him he would be executed three days later: "I wish I had something valuable to give you, for the good news you bring me...". Edmund Campion, a Jesuit, was so pleased when taken to the place of execution that the people said about him and his companions: "But they're laughing! He doesn't care at all about dying...'.

Ralph Sherwin, the first of the martyrs from the English College in Rome had heavy chains round his ankles that rattled at every step he took. "I have on my feet—he wrote wittily to a friend of his—some bells that remind me, when I walk, who I am and to whom I belong. I have never heard sweeter music than this..." He was executed immediately after Campion; he piously kissed the executioner's hands, still stained with the blood of his fellow martyr.

Alexander Briant—the diocesan priest who entered the Society of Jesus shortly before his death—had made himself a little wooden cross during his imprisonment, and held it clasped tightly between his hands all the time, even during the trial. It was then, however that they snatched it away from him But he replied to the judge: "You can take it out of my hands, but not out of my heart". The cross was later bought by some Catholics and is now in the English College in Rome.

John Paine (a secular priest, whose death was long mourned in the whole of Chelmsford) kissed the gallows before dying; and Richard Gwyn, a layman helped the hangman, overcome with emotion, to put the rope round his neck Some strange and extremely revealing episodes are told about Gwyn. Once for example, when he was in prison he was taken in chains to a chapel and obliged to stand right under the pulpit where an Anglican preacher was giving a sermon. The prisoner then began to rattle his chains, making such a din that no one could hear a word of what was being said. Taken back again to his cell, he was approached by various Protestant ministers. One of them, who had a purple nose, wanted to dispute about the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and asserted that God had given them also to him, not just to St. Peter. "There is a difference", Richard Gwyn retorted "St. Peter was entrusted with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, while the keys entrusted to you are obviously those of the beer cellar".

Cultured Elizabethan society has its representatives among the martyrs Swithun Wells was one of them. He had travelled a great deal; he had also been in Rome, and knew Italian well. He was a sportsman, particularly fond of hunting. On his way to the gallows, he caught sight of an old friend among the crowd and said to him: 'Farewell, my dear! And farewell too, to our fine hunting-parties. Now I've something far better to do...". It was December 10th, 1591, and bitterly cold. When they stripped him, he turned to his main persecutor, Topcliffe, and said in a joking tone: "Hurry up, please Mr. Topcliffe. Are you not ashamed to make a poor old man suffer in his shirt in this cold?"

Catholic priests managed to exercise the ministry thanks to the precious collaboration of the faithful. who welcomed them and kept them hidden in their homes and facilitated the celebration of Holy Mass. As can well be understood, now and again some one would betray them. The Jesuit laybrother, Nicholas Owen, was famous for the many hiding-places he built in numerous houses all over England. Arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London, he died while being brutally tortured.

Of the forty Martyrs, the one who underwent the most torture was Henry Walpole, a Jesuit priest. His exceptional physique resisted the most atrocious forms of torture for as many as 14 times, until the gallows put an end to his sufferings.

The following inscription can still be read in the Tower of London, in one of the cells in which the Martyrs were detained: "Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae in futuro" (the more suffering for Christ in this life, the more glory in heaven). The words were carved by Philip Howard, Earl of Arundell. He was the queen's favourite when he made his appearance at court, at the age of 18, leading a dissolute life. At the age of 24, he happened to be present at a discussion between Campion and some Protestant ministers. The holy Jesuit's words made a deep impression on him; as a result he was converted to Catholicism. As he was about to flee to the continent. he was captured and thrown into prison. He spent eleven long years there, reading, praying and meditating. He was condemned to death, but the sentence was postponed by the Queen's intervention. He fell seriously ill and died in prison.

A curious fact happened to the Franciscan John Jones. At the time of his execution, the hangman found he had forgotten the rope. The martyr took advantage of the hour's wait to speak to the crowd and to pray.

What is most striking is the serenity with which they all met death. Some of them even made witty, humorous remarks.

Thus, for example the Benedictine; John Roberts, seeing that a fire was being lit to burn his entrails—after hanging and quartering—made the sally: "I see you are preparing us a hot breakfast!".

When someone shouted at the Jesuit Edmund Arrowsmith: "You've got to die, do you realize?", he replied calmly: "So have you, so have you, my good man...". It is testified that Alban Roe a Benedictine religious, was a very entertaining fellow. In spite of the torture that was inflicted on him in prison he found the courage to invite the wardens to play cards with him, telling funny stories. He gave all the money he had to the executioner to drink to his health, warning him not to get drunk, however.

Philip Evans, having found a particularly kind judge, was treated somewhat indulgently in prison, so much so that he could even play tennis. Well, it was just during a game that the news of his condemnation to death arrived. He continued to play, as if nothing had happened. Then he picked up his harp and began to play.

John Kemple, a secular priest, was the only one who always refused to go into biding. "I'm too old now—he would say—and it is better for me to spend the rest of my life suffering for my religion". Of course he was caught and arrested. Before he was hanged, he asked to be allowed to smoke his inseparable pipe. The executioner, who happened to be an old friend of his, was overcome with emotion when the moment came to carry out his task and showed his hesitation. Then it was the martyr who urged him on, saying: "My good Anthony, do what you have to do. I forgive you with all my heart...".

The martyrdom of Margaret Clitherow is particularly moving. She was accused "of having sheltered the Jesuits and priests of the secular clergy, traitors to Her Majesty the Queen"; but she retorted: "I have only helped the Queen's friends". Margaret knew that the court had decided to condemn her to death and, not wanting to make the jury accomplices in her condemnation, she refused the trial. The alternative was to be crushed to death. When the terrible sentence was passed, Margaret said: "I will accept willingly everything that God wills".

On Friday March 25th, 1588, at eight o'clock in the morning, Margaret, just thirty-three years old, left Ouse Bridge prison, barefooted, bound for Toll Booth, accompanied by two police superintendents, four executioners and four women friends; she carried on her arm a white linen garment. When she arrived at the dungeon, she knelt in front of the officials, begging that she should not be stripped, but her prayer was not granted. While the men looked away, the four pious women gathered round her and before Margaret lay down on the ground they spread over her body the white garment that the prisoner had brought with her for that purpose. Then her martyrdom began.

Her arms were stretched out in the shape of a cross, and her hands tightly bound to two stakes in the ground. The executioners put a sharp stone the size of a fist under her back and placed on her body a large slab onto which weights were gradually loaded up to over 800 pounds. Margaret whispered: "Jesus, have mercy on me". Her death agony lasted for fifteen minutes, then the moaning ceased, and all was quiet.

These brief remarks on some outstanding episodes of the martyrdom of the 40 Martyrs, and the quoting of some of the words they uttered at the gallows, are sufficient to show what was the ultimate reasons for their death and, at the same time, the sublimely Christian state of mind of these heroes of the faith.

The history of the Cause

The history of the Beatification and Canonization Cause of our forty blessed Martyrs is part of. the wider history of a host of Martyrs who shed their blood in defence of the Catholic religion in England, from the schism that began in the reign of Henry VIII down to the end of the 17th century.

As early as the end of 1642 the first steps were taken to initiate the canonical process, but owing to the persecutions that were still rife, this initiative had soon to be suspended Nevertheless the victims of the persecution continued to be considered and venerated as martyrs. The Cause to prove their martyrdom and the existence of their cult was presented in Rome only in the second half of the last century, that is, following upon the reconstitution of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, which took place in 1850.

The Cause of 254 martyrs was introduced on December 9th, 1886, by Leo XIII. Shortly afterwards, on December 29th 1886, the cult of 54 martyrs was confirmed by special decree, then on May 13th, 1895, 9 others. Finally, with the Apostolic Letter Atrocissima tormenta passi on December 15th, 1929, Pius XI beatified 136 victims of this persecution, and on May 19th 1935 he solemnly canonized Cardinal John Fisher and Chancellor Thomas More.

In still more recent times, the Hierarchy of England and Wales, conscious of the deep devotion to the martyrs who on different occasions had been declared blessed by the apostolic See, and aware that this devotion was addressed especially to some of the most popular of them was induced by the requests of the faithful and the multiplicity of favours obtained, to promote the canonization not of the whole host of these martyrs, but of a limited group of them. Right from the beginning of the negotiations, the Canonization Cause of these Martyrs was entrusted by the Hierarchy of England and Wales to Fr. Paolo Molinari, Postulator General of the Society of Jesus and President of the College of Postulators. He in turn nominated as Assistant Postulators Father Philip Caraman and James Walsh of the English Province of the Society. When the former was put for some years at the disposal of the Bishop of Oslo for certain important tasks, Father Clement Tigar, S.J. took his place.

After patient and laborious work, the list of the 40 martyrs chosen was presented by Fr. Molinari to the Holy See on December 1st, 1960. After the usual practices the latter proceeded, on May 24th 1961, with the so-called re-opening of the Cause by means of the Decree <Sanctorum Insula>, issued by order of Pope John XXIII.

Eleven of these forty martyrs had been included among the blessed solely by a decree confirming their cult. It was now necessary, in view of the hoped-for canonization, to make a thorough historical re-examination of their martyrdom, which had not been done ex professo when the Positio super introductione causue was prepared last century. As is customary, this task was entrusted to the Historical Section of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Availing itself essentially of the studies carried out under its direction by the General Postulation of the Society of Jesus and by the office of the English Vice-Postulation, it made a very favourable pronouncement on the material and formal martyrdom of the eleven Blessed in question. The other studies prescribed by law having been completed, His Holiness Paul VI signed the special Decree of the Declaratio Martyrii of these eleven Blessed Martyrs, on May 4th 1970. In preparing for this Decree, two volumes were published in English and in Italian respectively of the Positio super Martyrii et cultu ex officio concinnata (Official Presentation of Documents on Martyrdom and Cult) (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1968, pp. XLIV, 375 in folio) which in the judgment of international critics is a real model of scientific editing of old texts.

Miracles attributed to the Forty Blessed Martyrs

Even before the rehearing of the Cause, many reports of favours and apparently miraculous cures attributed to the intercession of our Blessed Martyrs, had come to the knowledge of the Catholic Hierarchy of England and Wales, which hastened to inform the competent Roman Authorities.

From the time when the Cause of the 40 Blessed Martyrs was reopened, the ecclesiastical Hierarchy called for a prayer campaign in all English dioceses. Its most outstanding manifestations were various pilgrimages to the shrines of the Martyrs, diocesan and interdiocesan rallies, and particularly "<Martyrs' Sunday>", the yearly celebration of the memory of these Martyrs by all dioceses and parishes.

As a result of the intensification of the devotion of the faithful and their prayers, a good many events took place which looked like miracles. Sufficient data were collected about them to induce the Archbishop of Westminster, then Cardinal William Godfrey, to send a description of 24 seemingly miraculous cases to the Sacred Congregation.

The most striking of these and of the others that continued to be notified to the Postulation were first examined with special care by doctors of high repute. On the basis of their answers, two cases were chosen and the usual Apostolic Proceedings were instituted, and the acts were sent to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome.

In the meantime requests and pleas continued to arrive for the canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales as soon as possible. His Holiness Paul VI, duly informed about the extremely favourable outcome of the discussion of the Medical Council regarding one of the two above-mentioned cases, and keeping in mind the fact that the blessed Thomas More and John Fisher, belonging to the same group of Martyrs, had been canonized with a dispensation from miracles, considered that it was possible to proceed with the Canonization on the basis of this one miracle, after further discussions at the S. Congregation for the Causes of Saints had taken place.

The same S. Congregation, having issued the special Decree on July 30th, 1969, proceeded with the examination of the miracle, that is, the cure of a young mother affected with a malignant tumour (fibrosarcoma) in the left scapula, a cure which the Medical Council had judged gradual, perfect, constant and unaccountable on the natural plane.

After due assessment of the case and the usual discussions within the S. Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which concluded with an extremely favourable result on May 4th, 1970, his Holiness Paul VI confirmed the preternatural character of this cure brought about by God at the intercession of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales.

From the point of view of canonical procedure, the way was now open for solemn Canonization if the Sovereign Pontiff so decided.

There still remained another problem, however, which had been carefully taken into account by the Postulation right from the beginning, but which now had to be solved on the basis of another thorough study, that is, the problem of the opportuneness of this Canonization. While in fact the vast majority of English Catholics—Bishops, clergy and laity—thorough study, that is, the problem of faith to be raised to the honours of the altar, some voices had been raised in repeated circumstances to say that canonization of these Martyrs might be inopportune for ecumenical reasons.

Opportuneness of the Canonization

In more recent times—November 1969—the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ramsey, had expressed his apprehension that this Canonization might rekindle animosity and polemics detriment to the ecumenical spirit that has characterized the efforts of the Churches recently. But the reaction of the press, lay, Anglican and Catholic, showed clearly that this concern—though shared by some Anglicans and Catholics—did not correspond to the view of the vast majority. Many people, in fact, both Anglicans and Catholics, were aware of the fact that, right from the beginning of the re-opening of the Cause, the policy of its Promoters had been characterized by an extremely serene and ecumenical note; what is more, they realized the positive repercussions it offers just in this field if it is presented in this very spirit.

Right from the first announcement of the Re-opening of the Cause of the 40 Martyrs, decreed by Pope John XXIII on 24 May 1961, the Hierarchy of England and Wales let it be clearly under stood that nothing was further from the intentions of the Bishops than to stir up bad feelings and quarrels of the past.

The aim of the Postulator General Paolo Molinari S.J. and his collaborators, James Walsh S.J., Philip Caraman S.J. and Clement Tigar S.J., while they were carrying out the historical research and investigation, was to ensure that the Cause would be presented in an authentically ecumenical way.

For this reason the Postulator General, always working in close contact with the authorities of the S. Congregation that deals with the Causes of Saints and in agreement with the Hierarchy of England and Wales, asked Cardinal Agostino Bea, then President of the Secretariat for the Union of Christians, to act as the Cardinal Ponens of the Cause Aware of its ecumenical significance, he sustained, promoted and encouraged its course until he died. After his death the Secretariat itself continued to follow attentively the individual phases of the Cause and not only did not find any contrary motive but collaborated skillfully to ensure that the approach would benefit the ecumenical cause, instead of hampering it. (See in this connection the address that the present President of the Secretariat, Card. Willebrands, delivered in the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool during his recent visit to England).

The vast majority of people understood all this. The most authoritative voice in this sense was that of the British Council of Churches, which made a public declaration on the matter on December 17th, 1969. Not only does it recognize the importance for the Catholic Church to venerate its Martyrs, to whom the survival of the Catholic Church in England and Wales is essentially due, but it also expressed satisfaction that the various Christian denominations are united today in recognizing the tradition of the Martyrs as a common element from which we must all draw strength disregarding denominational frontiers.

Quite a few authoritative persons—including several Anglican Bishops—keeping in mind and appreciating the actions of considerable ecumenical value of Pope Paul VI on various occasion—expressed the view and the hope that the Canonization of the 40 Martyrs might be an opportunity for the members of other Christian denominations to make a positive gesture that would funkier the cause of union, by joining in the admiration of Catholics for these Martyrs.

Ecumenical exchanges

Some months before the Consistory the General Postulation, as well as the Vice-Postulation, had charged specialized agencies with following the whole national and provincial press of England and Wales, together with the European and American press, and sending it constantly everything that was published in connection with the Cause. At the same time it redoubled its efforts to obtain the widest and most accurate information not only on the attitude of English and Welsh Catholics, but above all on that of the Anglicans, with many of whose best qualified representatives there had long existed relations marked by sincere and brotherly frankness and a genuine spirit of mutual understanding and collaboration. The Hierarchy of England and Wales, in its turn, and in the first place Card. Godfrey's successor, His Eminence Card. Heenan, Vice-President of the Secretariat for the Union of Christians, made a point of establishing and maintaining exchanges of views with the competent authorities of the various Christian denominations in their country.

On the basis of this huge mass of material, it was established beyond al] shadow of doubt that at least 85 per cent of what had been printed in England and Wales, both on the Catholic and the non-Catholic side, far from being unfavourable to the Cause, was clearly in favour of it or at least showed great understanding for the opportuneness of the canonization. This applies to publications such as "Church Times", or the "Church of England Newspaper." and the most widely read English national papers such as "The Times", "The Guardian", "The Economist", "The Spectator" "The Daily Telegraph", "The Sunday Times" and many others.

On the other hand some foreign publications—including some well-known papers of protest—raised difficulties. It was at once clear, however, that these were based on insufficient knowledge of the complicated historical situation in which the Martyrs sacrificed their lives, and, to an even greater degree, of the present ecumenical situation in England. The latter calls for at least a minimum of concrete knowledge and cannot easily be understood by those who do not take the trouble to study it thoroughly Of course, everything possible has been done, by means of press conferences and other opportune methods, to eliminate this type of misunderstanding, generally most successfully.

A serious, serene and objective study of the whole situation led to the conclusion, therefore, that besides the numerous reasons clearly in favour of the canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs, there were no real ecumenical objections to it, on the contrary the canonization offered considerable advantages also from the genuinely ecumenical point of view.

It was precisely these ideas that His Holiness Paul VI expressed and explained in a masterly fashion in the address he delivered on the occasion of the Consistory on May 18th, 1970, in which he announced his intention to proceed with the solemn canonization of the 40 blessed Martyrs of England and Wales on October 25th, 1970. In this address the Holy Father, besides pointing out, with serene frankness and great charity, the ecumenical value of this Cause, also laid particular stress on the fact that we need the example of these Martyrs particularly today not only because the Christian religion is still exposed to violent persecution in various parts of the world, but also because at a time when the theories of materialism and naturalism are constantly gaining ground and threatening to destroy the spiritual heritage of our civilization, the forty Martyrs—men and women from all walks of life—who did not hesitate to sacrifice their lives in obedience to the dictates of conscience and the divine will, stand out as noble witnesses to human dignity and freedom.

This declaration of the Sovereign Pontiff was received with practically unanimous approval, which showed how right the decision had been to proceed with the canonization. His address was given a great deal of attention and certainly contributed effectively to dispelling any doubts that may still have existed in certain quarters.

At the same time the Pope's words drive home to us unmistakably why the Church continues to propose new Saints. The formal recognition of the holiness of some of her members has the aim of presenting to the faithful and to all men the unshaken loyalty with which they followed Christ and his law. It aims at letting us have, in a living and existential way, the message that God addressed to us in his Son, who came on earth to make us share his life and his love. It aims at making us understand that, by welcoming his teaching and receiving Christ our Lord with sincere hearts we already become participants in that life that will be granted to us in its fullness when, having finished the course of our earthly existence after being faithful to Him, we are admitted to his presence (cfr. Lumen Gentium, 48).

Through these Saints it is God himself who is speaking to us and helping us to understand how, in the shifting circumstances of life, we must live our union with Him more and more intensely and thus grow in holiness:

"For when we look at the lives of those who have faithfully followed Christ, we are inspired with a new reason for seeking the city which is to come (Heb. 13:14; 11:10). At the same time we are shown a most safe path by which among the vicissitudes of this world and in keeping with the state in life and condition proper to each of us, we will be able to arrive at perfect union with Christ, that is, holiness. In the lives of those who shared in our humanity and yet were transformed into especially successful images of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18), God vividly manifests to men His presence and His face. He speaks to us in them, and gives us a sign of His kingdom, to which we are powerfully drawn, surrounded as we are by so many witnesses (cf. Heb. 12:1), and having such an argument for the truth of the gospel" (Lumen Gentium, No. 50).

The situations in which we live may vary, but in the last analysis they have a deep element in common which transcends time and circumstances. At the root of our existence there is God's invitation, his offer to open our hearts to his love and respond in our lives with authentic responsibility and consistency, to the claims of the love of Him who gave his life for us.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
29 October 1970

L'Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
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TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; england; saints; wales
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Their feast day is October 25th.
1 posted on 10/25/2010 4:45:36 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: All
Additional information here.

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

25 October; formerly 4 May
Following the dispute between the Pope and King Henry VIII in the 16th century, faith questions in the British Isles became entangled with political questions, with both often being settled by torture and murder of loyal Catholics. In 1970, the Vatican selected 40 martyrs, men and women, lay and religious, to represent the full group of perhaps 300 known to have died for their faith and allegiance to the Church between 1535 and 1679. They each have their own day of memorial, but are remembered as a group on 25 October. They are

2 posted on 10/25/2010 4:47:37 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - October 25 Feast Day
Catholic, Anglican bishops honor first English martyr of Reformation

3 posted on 10/25/2010 4:50:19 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Margaret Clitherow, pray for us.

4 posted on 10/25/2010 5:20:48 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o (Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.)
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To: Salvation
We should also remember the Protestant Martyrs dealt with by Mary during her prior bloody reign:

Notable Martyrs of the Persecution (1555-1558)

This is not a comprehensive list ( over 300 burnt)


William Hunter, burnt 27 March, Brentwood

Robert Ferrar, burnt 30 March, Carmarthen

Rawlins White, burnt, Cardiff

George Marsh, burnt 24 April, Chester

John Schofield, burnt 24 April, Chester

William Flower, burnt 24 April, Westminster

John Cardmaker, burnt 30 May, Smithfield

John Warne, burnt 30 May, Smithfield

John Simpson, burnt 30 May, Rochford

John Ardeley, burnt 30 May, Rayleigh

Dirick Carver of Brighton, burnt 6 June, Lewes

Thomas Harland of Woodmancote, burnt 6 June, Lewes

John Oswald of Woodmancote, burnt 6 June, Lewes

Thomas Avington of Ardingly, burnt 6 June, Lewes

Thomas Reed of Ardingly, burnt 6 June, Lewes

Thomas Haukes, burnt 6 June, Lewes

Thomas Watts

Nicholas Chamberlain, burnt 14 June, Colchester

Thomas Ormond, burnt June 15, 1555, Manningtree, Buried in St. Micheals & All Angels Marble placed in 1748

William Bamford, burnt 15 June, Harwich

Robert Samuel, burnt 31 August, Ipswich

John Newman, burnt August 31, Saffron Walden James Abbes Shoemaker, of Stoke by Nayland burnt at Bury St Edmunds August 1555

William Allen, Labourer of Somerton burnt at Walsingham September 1555

Robert Glover, burnt 20 September at Coventry

Cornelius Bongey (or Bungey), burnt 20 September at Coventry

Nicholas Ridley, burnt 16 October outside Balliol College, Oxford

Hugh Latimer, burnt 16 October outside Balliol College, Oxford

John Philpot, burnt 1556

Agnes Potten, burnt 19 February, Ipswich, Cornhill

Joan Trunchfield, burnt 19 February, Ipswich, Cornhill

Thomas Cranmer, burnt 21 March, outside Balliol College, Oxford

Thomas Hood of Lewes, burnt about 20 June, Lewes

Thomas Miles of Hellingly, burnt about 20 June, Lewes

John Tudson of Ipswich, burnt at London

Thomas Spicer of Beccles, burnt there 21 May

John Deny of Beccles, burnt there 21 May

Edmund Poole of Beccles, burnt there 21 May

Joan Waste, 1 August, burnt at Derby


William Morant, burnt at end of May, St. George's Field, Southwark [11]

Stephen Gratwick, burnt at end of May, St. George's Field, Southwark [11]

(unknown) King, burnt at end of May, St. George's Field, Southwark [11]

Richard Sharpe, burnt 7 May, Cotham, Bristol

William and Katherine Allin of Frittenden and five others, burnt 18 June at Maidstone

Richard Woodman of Warbleton, burnt 22 June, Lewes

George Stevens of Warbleton, burnt 22 June, Lewes

Alexander Hosman of Mayfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes

William Mainard of Mayfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes

Thomasina Wood of Mayfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes

Margery Morris of Heathfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes

James Morris, her son, of Heathfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes

Denis Burges of Buxted, burnt 22 June, Lewes

Ann Ashton of Rotherfield, burnt 22 June, Lewes

Mary Groves of Lewes, burnt 22 June, Lewes

John Noyes of Laxfield, Suffolk, burnt 22 September

Joyce Lewis of Mancetter, burnt at Lichfield on 18 December[12].


Roger Holland, burnt at Smithfield with seven others

William Pikes or Pickesse of Ipswich, burnt 14 July, Brentford with five others

Alexander Gooch of Melton, Suffolk, burnt 4 November, Ipswich Cornhill

Alice Driver of Grundisburgh burnt 4 November, Ipswich Cornhill

P Humphrey, burnt November, Bury St Edmunds

J. David, burnt November, Bury St Edmunds

H. David, burnt November, Bury St Edmunds

5 posted on 10/25/2010 5:25:16 PM PDT by Timocrat
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To: Timocrat

They were not martyrs. They were heretics.

These were the martyrs:

List of Catholic clerics executed in England 1534 - 1680
1534 - 1560

Thomas Abel, priest, 1540
John Allen, priest, 1538
George Ashby (Asleby), monk, 1537
Ralph Barnes, monk, 1537
Elizabeth Barton, Benedictine nun, 1534
John Beche, Abbot, Chester, 1539
Thomas Belchiam, Franciscan friar, 1538
Arthur Bell, Franciscan friar, 1543
Richard Bere, Carthusian monk, 1537
Robert Bird, priest, 1540
William Bird, priest, 1540
Laurence Blonham, monk, 1537
Edward Bocking, Benedictine, 1537
Edmund Brindholme, priest, 1544
Anthony Brookby, Franciscan, 1538
Thomas Brownel, Brigittine brother
Edward Burden, priest, 1538
William Burraby, priest, 1537
James Cockerell, Prior of Gisborough Priory, 1537
William Coe, monk, 1537
Lawrence Cook, Carmelite. Prior of Doncaster Friary, 1540
Richard Coppinger, Benedictine, 1558
Thomas Cort, Franciscan, 1537
Martin Coudres, Augustinian monk, 1544
William Cowper, monk, 1537
George Croft, priest, 1538
John Davy, Carthusian, 1537
John Dering, Benedictine, 1537
John Eastgate, monk, 1537
Richard Eastgate, monk, 1537
Thomas Empson, Benedictine, 1540
William Exmew, Carthusian monk, 1535
John Eynon, Benedictine monk, 1539
Hugh Faringdon, Abbot of Reading, 1539
Richard Featherstone, Archdeacon, 1540
John Fisher, Saint, Bishop, 1535
John Forrest, Franciscan friar, 1538
John Francis, monk, 1537
German Gardiner, 1548
Henry Gold, priest, 1537
William Greenwood, Carthusian brother, 1537
William Gylham, monk, 1537
John Haile (or Hale), priest, 1535
Richard Harrison, Abbot of Jervaulx, 1537
William Haydock, monk, 1537
Nicholas Heath, Prior of Lenton, 1537
John Henmarsh, priest, 1537
Robert Hobbes, Abbot of Woburn, 1537
John Houghton, Saint, Carthusian prior, 1535
John Ireland, priest, 1544
Roger James, Benedictine, 1539
Henry Jenkinson, monk, 1537
Thomas Kendal, priest, 1537
John Larke, priest, 1543
Robert Lawrence, Carthusians monk, Prior of the Beauvale Charterhouse, 1535
Richard Laynton, monk, 1537
Robert Leeche, layman, 1537
Hugh Londale, monk, 1537
Matthew Mackerel, Premonstratensian abbot, titular bishop of Chalcedon, 1537
James Mallet, priest, 1537
Richard Masters, priest, 1537
Humphrey Middlemore, Carthusian monk, 1535
Sebastian Newdigate, Carthusian monk, 1535
John Paslew, Abbot of Whatley, 1537
Paul of Saint William, Augustinian monk, 1544
William Peterson, priest, 1540
John Pickering, Benedictine, prior of York, 1537
John Pickering, priest, 1537
Walter Pierson, Carthusian, 1537
Edward Powell, priest, 1540
Thomas Redforth, priest, 1537
Richard Reynolds, Brigittine monk, 1535
Hugh Rich, Franciscan friar, 1534
William Richardson, priest, 1540
Richard Risby, Franciscan friar, 1534
John Rochester, Carthusian monk, 1537
John Rugg, monk, Reading, 1539
Adam Sedbar, Abbot of Jervaulx, 1537
Robert Singleton, priest, 1544
Thomas Slythurst, priest, 1560
John Stone, Saint, friar, 1538
William Swale, monk, 1537
John Tenant, monk, 1537
John Thorne, monk, Glastonbury, 1539
William Thyrsk, Cistercian, 1537
William Trafford, Abbot of Sawley, 1537
John Travers, monk, 1539
Richard Wade, monk, 1537
Friar Waire, Franciscan, 1539
James Walworth, Carthusian monk, 1537
Augustine Webster, Saint, Carthusian monk, 1535
Sister Isabel Whitehead, Benedictine nun
Richard Whiting, Abbot of Glastonbury, 1539

1561 - 1600

John Ackridge, priest, 1585
Thomas Ackridge, Franciscan, 1583
John Adams, priest, 1586
Thomas Alfield, priest, 1585
John Almond, Cistercian, 1585
John Amias, priest, 1589
Robert Anderton, priest, 1586
William Andleby, priest, 1597
William Baldwin (Bawden), priest, 1588
Christopher Bales, priest, 1590
Thomas Bedal, priest, 1590
George Beesley, priest, 1591
William Blackburne, priest, 1586
John Bodey, priest, 1583
John Boste, Saint, priest, 1594
Richard Bowes, priest, 1590
Alexander Briant, Jesuit priest, 1581
James Brushford, priest, 1593
Christopher Buxton, priest, died Canterbury, 1588
Edmund Campion, Jesuit priest, 1581
James Claxton (Clarkson), priest, 1588
James Clayton, priest, 1588
Henry Cole, priest, 1580
Laurence Collier, Franciscan, 1590
John Collins, priest, 1584
Henry Comberford, priest, 1584
John Cornelius, Jesuit priest, 1594
Thomas Cotesmore, priest, 1584
Thomas Cottam, Jesuit priest, 1582
Richard Creagh, archbishop of Armagh, 1585
Ralph Crockett, priest, 1588
Alexander Crowe, priest, 1587
Thomas Crowther, priest, 1585
Robert Dalby, priest, York, 1589
William Davies, priest, 1594
William Dean, priest, 1588
Richard (Robert) Dibdale, priest, 1586
Francis Dicconson, priest, 1590
Roger Dicconson, priest, 1591
George Douglas, priest, 1587
Anthony Draycott, priest, 1570
Edmund Duke, priest, 1590
Edward Edwardes (alias Campion), priest, 1588
John Feckenham, Benedictine, abbot of Westminster, 1585
Thomas Felton, Franciscan, 1588
James Fenn, priest, 1584
John Finch, 1584
John Finglow, priest, 1586
William Freeman, priest, 1595
Thomas Gabyt, Cistercian, 1575
Nicholas Garlick, priest, 1588
Edmund Gennings, priest, 1591
Miles Gerard, priest, 1590
Nicholas Grene, priest, 1571
- Gretus, priest
John Griffith (alias Jones), Saint, Franciscan friar, 1598
William Gunter, priest, 1588
William Hambledon, priest, 1585
John Hambley, priest, 1587
Everard Hanse, priest, 1581
Nicholas Harpsfield, priest, 1575
William Harrington, priest, 1594
John Harrison, priest, 1586
William Harrison, priest, 1594
William Hart, priest, 1583
William Hartley, priest, 1588
Thomas Harwood, priest, 1586
Richard Hatton, priest, 1584
George Haydock, priest, 1584
Thomas Hemerford, priest, 1584
John Hewitt, priest, 1588
Richard Hill, priest, 1590
John Hogg, priest, 1590
Thomas Holford, priest, 1588
Richard Holiday, priest, 1590
Robert Holmes, priest, 1584
Richard Horner, priest, 1598
Francis Ingleby, priest, 1586
John Ingram, priest, 1594
Edward James, priest, 1588
Edmund Jennings (Genings), Saint, priest, 1591
John Jetter, priest, 1585
Lawrence Johnson, priest, 1582
Robert Johnson, priest, 1582
Edward Jones, priest, 1590
Luke Kirby, Saint, priest, 1582
Joseph Lambton, priest, 1592
Richard Leigh, priest, 1588
James Lomax, priest, 1584
John Lowe, priest, 1586
Robert Ludlam, priest, 1588
William Marsden, priest, 1586
Roger Martin, priest, 1592
Cuthbert Mayne, Saint, priest, 1577
Thomas Metham, Jesuit, 1592
Anthony Middleton, priest, 1590
Robert Morton, priest, 1588
Thomas Mudde, Cistercian, 1583
John Munden, priest, 1584
John Nelson, priest, 1577
George Nichols, priest, 1589
John Nutter, priest, 1584
Robert Nutter, priest, 1600
Edward Oldcorne, Jesuit priest, 1561
Edward Osbaldeston, priest, 1594
Antony Page, priest, 1593
Thomas Palasor, priest, 1600
William Patenson, priest, 1592
John Payne, Saint, priest, 1582
Thomas Pilchard, priest, 1587
Polydore Plasden, priest, 1591
Thomas Plumtree, priest, 1570
Edward Pole, priest, 1585
Thomas Pormort, priest, 1592
Alexander Rawlins, priest, 1595
Christopher Robinson, priest, Carlisle, 1598
John Robinson, priest, 1588
John Roche, priest, 1588
Stephen Rowsham, priest, 1587
John Sandys, priest, 1586
Montford Scott, priest, 1591
Thomas Sedgwick, priest, 1573
Richard Sergeant, priest, 1586
Martin Sherson, priest, 1587
John Shert, priest, 1582
Peter Snow, priest, 1598
Robert Southwell, priest, 1595
William Spenser, priest, 1589
Thomas Sprott, priest, 1600
James Stonnes, priest, 1585
John Story, Chancellor to Bishop Bonner, 1571
Edward Stransham, priest, 1586
Robert Sutton, priest, 1587
Edmund Sykes, priest, 1587
Richard Simpson (or Sympson, or Robert Sympson), priest, 1588
Gabriel Thimelby, priest, 1587
Richard Thirkeld, priest, 1583
James Thompson, priest, York, 1582
John Thompson, Jesuit
William Thomson, priest, 1586
Hugh Taylor, priest, York, 1585
Robert Thorpe, priest, 1591
Edward Thwing, priest, 1600
Lawrence Vaux, priest, 1585
Roger Wakeman, priest, 1584
Sir Edward Waldegrave, 1561
Henry Walpole, Saint, priest, 1595
Edward Waterson, priest, 1593
William Way (alias May or Flower), priest, 1588
Swithin Wells, priest, 1591
Richard Weston, Jesuit
Christopher Wharton, priest, 1600
Eustace White, priest, 1591
Robert Wilcox, priest, 1588
Richard Williams, priest, 1592
Thomas Wood, priest, 1588
John Woodcock, Franciscan, 1646
Nicholas Woodfen, priest, 1586
Richard Yaxley, priest, 1589

1601 - 1680

Placid Aldham (Adelham), Benedictine, 1679
William Allison, priest, 1681
John Almond, Saint, priest, 1612
Edmund Arrowsmith, Jesuit priest, 1628
Ralph Ashley, Jesuit priest, 1606
William Atkins, Jesuit, 1681
Nicholas Atkinson, priest, 1610
Thomas Atkinson, priest, 1616
Edward Bamber, priest, 1646
Mark Barkworth, Benedictine, 1601
Ambrose Edward Barlow, Saint, priest, 1641
Thomas Bedingfeld, Jesuit, 1678
William Bentney (alias Bennet), Jesuit, 1692
Richard Birkett, priest, 1680
Thomas Blount, priest, 1647
Richard Bradley, Jesuit, 1645
Matthew Brazier (alias Grimes), Jesuit, 1650
James Brown, Benedictine, 1645
Thomas Bullaker, priest, 1642
Roger Cadwallador, priest, 1610
Edmund Cannon, priest, 1651
Brian Cansfield, Jesuit, 1643
Edmund Catheriok, priest, 1642
Walter Coleman, Franciscan, 1645
Benedict Constable, Benedictine, 1683
Ralph Corbie, Jesuit, 1644
Robert Cox, Benedictine, 1650
Christopher Dixon, Augustinian, 1616
Robert Drury, priest, 1607
John Duckett, priest, 1644
Thomas Dyer, Benedictine, c.1618-1630
Robert Edmonds, Benedictine, 1615
Philip Evans, Jesuit, 1679
John Fenwick, Jesuit priest, 1679
Roger Filcock, priest, 1601
Matthew Flathers, priest, 1607
Thomas Foster (Forster), Jesuit, 1648
Andrew Fryer (alias Herne or Richmond), priest, 1651
Henry Garnet, Jesuit, 1606
Thomas Garnet, Saint, Jesuit priest, 1608
John Gavan, Jesuit priest, 1679
John Gerard (Jesuit), priest, Jesuit, 1637
George Gervase, Benedictine, 1608
John Goodman (Jesuit), priest, 1645
Hugh Green, priest, 1642
William Harcourt, Jesuit, 1679
James Harrison, priest, 1602
Henry Heath, Franciscan friar, 1643
Ildephonse Hesketh (alias William Hanson), Benedictine, 1644
Thomas Holland, priest, 1642
Thomas Hunt, priest, 1600
Thurstan Hunt, priest, 1601
William Ireland, Jesuit priest, 1679
Thomas Jennison, Jesuit, 1679
John Kemble, Saint, priest, 1679
David Joseph Kemys (Kemeys), monk, 1680
Richard Lacey, Jesuit, 1680
Francis Levison, Franciscan, 1679
David Lewis, Jesuit, 1679
John Lloyd, Saint, priest, 1679
William Lloyd, priest, 1679
John Lockwood, priest, 1642
Laurence Mabbs, Benedictine, 1641
Charles Mahoney (alias Meehan), Franciscan friar, 1679
Thomas Maxfield, priest, 1616
Edward Mico, Jesuit, 1678
Robert Middleton, priest, 1601
William Middleton (alias Heathcote), Benedictine, 1644
Thomas Molineux, Jesuit, 1681
Edward Morgan, priest, 1642
Henry Morse, Saint, Jesuit priest, 1645
George Napper, priest, Oxford, 1610
Francis Nevil, Jesuit, 1679
Richard Newport, priest, 1612
Francis Page, Jesuit, 1602
Placid Peto, Benedictine, 1642–1643
John Pibush, priest, 1601
Thomas Pickering, Benedictine, 1679
William Plessington, priest, 1679
Nicholas Postgate, priest, 1679
Philip Powel, Benedictine, 1646
Thomas Preston (alias Roger Widdrington), Benedictine, 1640
Francis Quashet, priest, 1642
Thomas Reynolds (alias Green), priest, 1642
William Richardson, priest, 1603
John Roberts, Saint, Benedictine, 1610
Alban Bartholomew Roe, Saint, Benedictine monk, 1642
William Scot (Maurus Scott) 1612
Thomas Somers, priest, 1610
William Southerne, priest, 1618
Saint John Southworth, priest, 1654
John Sugar, priest, 1604
John Thulis, priest, 1616
Thomas Thwing, priest, 1679
Thomas Tichborne, priest, 1602
Cuthbert Tunstall, priest, 1616
Thomas Tunstall, priest, 1616
Anthony Turner, Jesuit, 1679
Edward Turner, Jesuit, 1681
John Wall, Saint, Franciscan friar, 1679
William Ward, Saint, priest, 1641
Robert Watkinson, priest, 1602
Thomas Whitaker, priest, 1646
Thomas Whitbread, Jesuit, 1679
Edward Wilkes, priest, 1642
Thomas Woodhouse, priest, 1572
Peter Wright, Jesuit, 1651

No precise date of martyrdom available

Richard Adams, priest
Thomas Belser, priest
William Bannersley, priest
Humphrey Browne, Jesuit
George ab Alba Rose, Augustinian
James Gerard, priest
John Hudd, Jesuit
Thomas Moyne
John Pearson, priest
John Penketh, Jesuit
Cuthbert Prescott, Jesuit
Ignatius Price, Jesuit
Charles Pritchard, Jesuit
Thomas Ridall, priest
John Rivers (alias Austen Abbot), priest
Francis Simeon, Jesuit
James Swarbrick, priest
Charles Thursley, Jesuit
Thomas Vaughan, priest
John Young, priest
Boniface Wilford, Benedictine

During Mary’s reign heretics were executed. During Henry VIII’s and Elizabeth I’s reign (and others’ reigns) Catholics were martyred for holding to the only faith anyone in their homeland had ever known for nearly a thousand years.

6 posted on 10/25/2010 6:14:25 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: Timocrat

Thank you for mentioning that. I didn’t know much about persecution under Queen Mary. Very violent people on both sides, I guess.

7 posted on 10/25/2010 6:25:58 PM PDT by married21 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.)
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To: vladimir998

Thanks, vlad.

8 posted on 10/25/2010 6:28:55 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: vladimir998

Why was the government under Mary executing heretics?

Thank God I live in the US, where I don’t have to worry about fanatics on either side trying to burn me at the stake.

9 posted on 10/25/2010 6:45:07 PM PDT by GAB-1955 (I write books, love my wife, serve my nation, and believe in the Resurrection.)
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To: GAB-1955

You wrote:

“Why was the government under Mary executing heretics?”

1) It was the law.
2) Some were responsible for murders, or theft, and causing massive upheavel.
3) They did not pay attention to warnings to leave England and take their heretical views with them.

“Thank God I live in the US, where I don’t have to worry about fanatics on either side trying to burn me at the stake.”

Not nowadays - until the Muslims take power (God help us!). Thankfully the days of Protestants persecution of Catholics ended long ago in the US. They no longer burn our convents or attack our churches as they once did.

10 posted on 10/25/2010 6:59:25 PM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: vladimir998
During Mary’s reign heretics were executed. During Henry VIII’s and Elizabeth I’s reign (and others’ reigns) Catholics were martyred for holding to the only faith anyone in their homeland had ever known for nearly a thousand years.

One man's heretic is anothers martyr. Interesting to see the shade of Torquemada still lurking in the shadows.

11 posted on 10/25/2010 7:14:25 PM PDT by Timocrat
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To: vladimir998
What a strange view! Because it was lawful to execute Protestants it was morally right? Whatever happened to “Venegance is mine, I will repay?”

Even stranger that someone holds to it in 2010.

If someone comes after me because I am a Protestant, they will find I push back.

12 posted on 10/25/2010 7:24:37 PM PDT by GAB-1955 (I write books, love my wife, serve my nation, and believe in the Resurrection.)
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To: vladimir998; GAB-1955
You wrote: “Why was the government under Mary executing heretics?”

1) It was the law.

2) Some were responsible for murders, or theft, and causing massive upheavel.

3) They did not pay attention to warnings to leave England and take their heretical views with them.

Exactly the same rationale that was used to persecute the Catholics under Elisabeth I.

The disarray and corruption in the Catholic Church during the Late Middle ages and early Rennaisance was enough to put anyone off the established church.

See this extract from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay.

Collapsing Institutions

In the midst of all these upheavals, the Church was scarcely in a position to offer comfort. Since 1309 the Pope had resided at Avignon in southern France, rather than Rome. The "Babylonian Exile" began after the King of France attempted to tax the incomes of Church officials. The Pope responded by forbidding secular rulers to tax the Church and threatening to excommunicate the King, whereupon agents of the King attempted to kidnap the Pope. When a French Pope was elected in 1309, he moved to Avignon for safety and to be closer to his French mistress.(?????)

At Avignon, the corruption and moral laxity of the Church reached all-time lows. Tuchman states flatly that in all the secular literature of the time, "clerical celibacy is a joke."

The Italian writer Petrarch called Avignon "the Babylon of the West." Avignon was governed by one simple rule: absolutely everything in the Church was for sale, ecclesiastical offices, pardon for sins, holy relics.

Pope Clement VI, hardly a spiritual man himself, at one point launched a tirade against his fellow churchmen:

What can you preach to the people? If on humility, you yourselves are the proudest of the world, puffed up, pompous and sumptuous in luxuries. If on poverty, you are so covetous that all the benefices of the world are not enough for you. If on chastity - but we will be silent on this, for God knows what each man does and how many of you satisfy your lusts.

The Pope was still ruler of much of central Italy - the Papal States, but that rule turned out to be impossible to enforce from Avignon. Revolts were frequent, inspired by resentment at the Papal exile, the general air of corruption, and heavy taxes to support the lush lifestyles of Avignon. They were fanned by the city-states of northern Italy, who were profoundly uncomfortable at having French power on both sides and who hoped to pick up any pieces of the Papal States that broke off.

During one revolt, Cardinal Robert of Geneva subdued the town of Cesena and had about 5,000 civilians massacred, for which he earned the undying hatred of the Italians and the nickname "Butcher of Cesena."

When Florence offered Rome inducements to join the revolts, it became obvious that the Pope had to return to Rome or lose it. Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome in 1377 and died the next year. With the French cardinals divided among themselves and Italian mobs demanding an Italian Pope, the Cardinals elected the apparently harmless Urban VI, who promptly launched a campaign to end some of the more flagrant forms of Church corruption. Urban made peace with the northern Italian city states and refused to leave Rome, earning the support of the Italians and the enmity of the French.

However, Urban quickly went beyond rational reform and became progressively more irrational and megalomaniacal as his reign wore on. He also began meddling in secular politics in a way that directly threatened French interests. Within a few months the French cardinals declared the election invalid, claiming Italian coercion to name an Italian Pope, They called a conclave of their own and elected as Clement VII none other than Robert of Geneva, the "Butcher of Cesena."

Faced on the one hand with the megalomania of Urban and the stupefying French arrogance in naming the one man most hated by the Italians as Pope on the other, even the articulate Tuchman is almost at a loss for words. She comments: "Perhaps by this time the 14th century was not quite sane. If enlightened self-interest is the criterion of sanity, in the verdict of [historian Jules] Michelet, 'no epoch was more naturally mad.'"

The so-called Great Western Schism lasted until 1447, during which time there were rival Popes in Rome and Avignon. Since the Catholic Church based its claim to authority on an unbroken succession of Popes, the existence of two parallel papacies was more than just a power struggle; it was a fundamental challenge to the whole medieval world-view. The corruption of the papal court at Avignon reached legendary proportions and the priestly vows of poverty and celibacy were widely viewed as jokes by the general public. Public disgust with Church scandals fueled some of the earliest stirrings of the Protestant Reformation.

The Englishman John Wycliff and the Bohemian Jan Hus were the first of the reformers. Hus was burned at the stake as a heretic in 1415; Wycliff died a natural death in 1384 but was tried for heresy after the execution of Hus and his bones dug up and burned.

Not exactly a model of rectitude and moral enlightenment.

13 posted on 10/25/2010 8:04:14 PM PDT by Timocrat
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To: Salvation


14 posted on 10/25/2010 8:14:46 PM PDT by Slyfox
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To: Timocrat
This is a Catholic Caucus thread.

Guidelines for Catholic Caucus Threads

15 posted on 10/25/2010 8:20:28 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: GAB-1955
This is a Catholic Caucus thread.

Guidelines for Catholic Caucus Threads

16 posted on 10/25/2010 8:22:04 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation; GAB-1955
This is a Catholic Caucus thread.

Allrighty then. I'm leaving. And anyway I wouldn't want to belong to a caucus that would have me as a member epecially one that thinks there's no moral equivalence between one set of Human beings burning another set and then the others returning the favor.

GAB I hope you leaving too. This is a thread for upholding the old established traditions of the Catholic Church - such as burning heretics, infallibility in matters spiritual and suppressing dissent. I'm off to the NON Catholic Caucus, I just hope they don't approve of burning people.

17 posted on 10/25/2010 10:13:09 PM PDT by Timocrat
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To: Salvation

I was very surprised during the recent visit by Benedict XVI when they said 10% of England was Catholic; I had no idea that it was so low (especially in light of the number of people recruited to work there from Ireland in WWII, while their menfolk were away at war).

18 posted on 10/26/2010 1:49:01 AM PDT by kearnyirish2
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To: GAB-1955

You wrote:

“What a strange view! Because it was lawful to execute Protestants it was morally right?”

Who said that?

“Whatever happened to “Venegance is mine, I will repay?””

Who said it was about vengence?

“Even stranger that someone holds to it in 2010.”

Who holds it now?

19 posted on 10/26/2010 4:24:58 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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To: Timocrat

You wrote:

“Exactly the same rationale that was used to persecute the Catholics under Elisabeth I.”

1) There were no longstanding laws against the Catholic faith. There were longstanding laws against heresies (e.g. Protestantism).

2) The Catholics martyred by Elizabeth committed or participated in no murders, no thefts and few if any upheavals. Most tried very hard to not do anything other minister to their flocks. They usually made no public statements, issued no public writings, called for no violence and encouraged no violence.

3) Since the Catholics were not heretics - as recognized by longstanding English law - they could not be correctly accused of such or correctly warned to leave for harboring heretical views.

Your assertions fail utterly.

Also, I would not be so quick to trust your source. This is the guy’s expertise:

B.A. 1969, University of California/Berkeley (geology) M.Phil 1974, Columbia University (geology) Ph.D. 1976, Columbia University (structural geology)

He’s NOT a historian by training to say the least. Also, it uses sources no serious historian would rely on. The express purpose of the passage is to explain the history of technology, not history of religious or political events. Also, he should have listed the end of the Western Schism as 1417 - the Council of Constance - not 1447.

Also, I don’t even know what the purpose of your extract is in your post. 1) Even if there was “disarray and corruption in the Catholic Church during the Late Middle ages and early Rennaisance” - a claim that an increasing number of historians now recognize as more Protestant propaganda than historical fact - how does that: a) square with the ending quote from your new found historical source, “By 1400, the worst of the upheavals had passed and European society was on the mend.” That would mean the “worst of the upheavals” would have been long over by the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century!!! And b) how would any amount of supposed “disarray and corruption in the Catholic Church” change the fact that the faith the Church espoused was still true? It wouldn’t. And then there’s this huge, gaping hole in your presentation: it’s essentially rubbish:

20 posted on 10/26/2010 4:47:39 AM PDT by vladimir998 (Part of the Vast Catholic Conspiracy (hat tip to Kells))
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