Martyrs Mementoes - Week 3
Last year, Fr Nicholas Schofield kindly presented to the Guild about the inspiring martyrs of England and Wales. (See the replay at https://www.catholicpoliceguild.co.uk/single-post/cpg-talk-the-martyrs-of-england-wales.)
A super little book long out of copyright, Mementoes of the Martyrs and Confessors of England and Wales, tells many stories. [Nibil obstat and Imprimatur, 10 March 1910] It was written by Rev Fr. Henry Sebastien Bowden of the London Oratory, a priest who had a role in the long and eventual death-bed conversion of Oscar Wilde.
These mementoes will be published so far as practicality permits for the benefit of Guild members each week through 2022. They will appear in the London Region's Newsletter which you can sign-up for by contacting Stewart Lawrence. We hope they provide interest and devotion.
WEEK 3: 16-22 JANUARY
This third week focusses on one of the greatest Catholic minds of England, St. Edmund Campion. A strong understanding of the faith led him, and so many others, including Ven. William Paterson to save souls for heaven.
January 16 A BOY ORATOR B. EDMUND CAMPION, S.J., 1581 BORN 1540, of Catholic parents in London, he was educated at Christ's Hospital, Newgate, and for his proved ability was given a scholarship by Sir John White in his new foundation of St. John's College, Oxford. But he was famous for his gift of eloquence from his earliest youth. As a Bluecoat boy of thirteen years of age he made an oration to Queen Mary on her accession, opposite St. Paul's, on behalf of the London scholars, and his modest grace charmed no less than his eloquence. At Oxford his oratorical pre-eminence was attested by the various addresses he was chosen to deliver, but the growing convictions of the truth of Catholicism drove him from the University in 1569 on the completion of the Proctorship. After a visit to Ireland he was reconciled to the Church, repaired to Douay, and there to wipe out by penance the "mark of the beast," as he called his Anglican deaconship, he entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, 1573, and after seven years in Prague he landed at Dover, 1580. For thirteen months he preached, as occasion permitted, twice and thrice a day throughout England, and his fervent eloquence won innumerable souls. After continuous hairbreadth escapes he was arrested at Dame Yates' house at Lyford, July 11, 1581, and taken to the Tower. "And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways." LUKE i. 76. 28
January 17 PRAYER IN SUFFERING B. EDMUND CAMPION, S.J., 1581 IN the Tower, besides the ordinary miseries incident to that kind of imprisonment, being regarded for his controversial writings as well as for his eloquence as in a special way the Pope's champion, he was divers times racked, to force out of him whose houses he had frequented, by whom he was relieved, whom he had reconciled, and such like. At his first racking, they went no further with him; but afterwards, when they saw he could not be won to divulge any matter, at least in religion, which was the thing they most desired, they thought it good to forge matter of treason against him, and framed their demands accordingly; about which he was so cruelly torn and rent upon the torture, the two last times, that he told a friend of his, that found means to speak with him, that he thought they meant to make him away in that manner. Before he went to the rack, he used to kneel at the rack-house door, to commend himself to God's mercy; and upon the rack he called continually upon God, repeating often the holy name of Jesus. He most charitably forgave his tormentors and the causers thereof. His keeper asking him the next day how he felt his hands and feet, he answered, "Not ill, because not at all." "When I am weak, then am I powerful." 2 COR. xii. 10.
January 18 LIFTING THE FEEBLE HANDS B. EDMUND CAMPION, S.J., 1581 AT the Bar he was arraigned with the others and commanded, as custom is in such cases, to hold up his hand; but both his arms being pitifully benumbed by his often cruel racking before, and he having them wrapped in a furred cuff, he was not able to lift his hand so high as the rest did, and as required of him; but one of his companions, kissing his hand so abused for the confession of Christ, took off his cuff, so he lifted up his arm as high as he could, and pleaded not guilty as all the rest did. "I protest," said he, "before God and the holy angels, before heaven and earth, before the world and this Bar whereat I stand, which is but a small resemblance of the terrible judgment of the next life, that I am not guilty of any part of the treason contained in the indictment, or of any other treason whatsoever." Then lifting up his voice he added, "Is it possible to find twelve men so wicked and void of all conscience in this city or land, that will find us guilty together of this one crime, divers of us never meeting or knowing one the other, before our bringing to this Bar?" "Therefore lift up the hands which hang down and the feeble knees." HEB. xii. 12.
January 19 BEFORE THE SANHEDRIM B. EDMUND CAMPION, S.J., 1581 "WHERETO, then, appertaineth these objections of treason? He barely affirmeth; we flatly deny them. But let us examine them; how will they urge us? We fled our country; what of that? The Pope gave us entertainment; how then? We are Catholics; what is that to the purpose? We persuaded the people; what followeth? We are therefore traitors. We deny the sequel; this is no more necessary than if a sheep had been stolen, and to accuse me you should frame this reason: my parents are thieves, my companions suspected persons, myself an evil liver, and one that loveth mutton; therefore I stole the sheep. Who seeth not but these be odious circumstances to bring a man in hatred with the jury, and no necessary matter to conclude him guilty? Yea, but we seduced the Queen's subjects from their allegiance to her Majesty! What can be more unlikely? We are dead men to the world; we only travelled for souls; we touched neither state nor policy; we had no such commission. Where was, then, our seducing? Nay, but we reconciled them to the Pope. Nay, then, what reconciliation can there be to him, since reconciliation is only due to God? Wherefore we pray that better proof may be used, and that our lives may not be prejudiced by conjectures." "Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smitest thou me?" JOHN xyiii. 23.
January 20 TRIBUTE TO CAESAR B. EDMUND CAMPION, S.J., 1581 "HER Majesty herself and the commissioners as well urged me on the point of supremacy, and as to whether the Pope might lawfully excommunicate her! I acknowledged her Highness as my governess and Sovereign: I acknowledged her Majesty de facto et de jure to be Queen: I confessed an obedience due to the Crown as my temporal head and primate. This I said then, so I say now. I will willingly pay to her Majesty what is hers, yet I must pay to God what is His. As to whether the excommunication, admitting that it were of effect, would discharge me of my allegiance, I said this was a dangerous question, and they that demanded this demanded my blood. If I would admit the Pope's authority, and then he should excommunicate her, I would then do as God would give me grace; but I never admitted any such matter, neither ought I to be wrested with any such suppositions. To conclude. They are not matters of fact; they be not in the trial of the country; the jury ought not to take any notice of them; for though they are doubtless very discreet men, and trained in debates pertinent to their own calling, yet they are laymen, they are temporal, and unfit judges to decide so deep a question." "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." MATT. xxii. 21.
January 21 FORTIFIED BY EXAMPLE Ven. REYNOLDS, Pr., and Ven. ROE, O.S.B. 1641 BOTH were converts, Reynolds from Oxford, Roe from Cambridge. Reynolds was ordained at Seville, and returned to England about 1590. For fifty years he laboured in the Mission, was banished, imprisoned, sentenced, reprieved, then suddenly ordered for execution. He was very infirm from age, his great size, and many sufferings. When the summons came he earnestly prayed for fortitude. Roe became a Benedictine at Dieulwart, Lorraine, was there ordained, braved all dangers on the English Mission, was banished, and finally imprisoned for seventeen years. To add to the miseries of his long confinement, he suffered from the stone, and endured cheerfully two operations. He was at last led out to execution with Father Reynolds. Lying down on the hurdle by his side, he felt his pulse, and jokingly asked him how he felt. "In good heart," said Father Reynolds, and blessed God for giving him a companion of such undaunted courage. Their way to Tyburn was like a triumphial procession. The Catholics threw themselves on their knees, begged their blessings, and kissed their hands and garments. Thus both together won their crowns. "A brother helped by a brother is like a strong city." PROV. xviii. 19.
January 22 SCRUPLES CURED Ven. WILLIAM PATTENSON, Pr., 1592 BORN in the county of Durham, he entered Douay College, was ordained priest in 1587, and went upon the English Mission in 1589. After two years work he came up to London to consult some fellow-priests, and so rid himself of certain scruples of conscience with which he was much troubled. He stayed in London at Mr. Laurence Mompesson's house (a Catholic gentleman) in Clerkenwell, where was in hiding another priest, Mr. James Young. On the third Sunday of Advent, after both had said Mass, the pursuivant suddenly entered the house. Mr. Young escaped through the hiding-place, but Mr. Pattenson was caught in attempting to follow him. He was tried at the Old Bailey and condemned. The night before his execution he was put down into the condemned hole with seven malefactors. In his zeal for their salvation all his own troubles, interior scruples, and fear of impending death vanished; he gave himself up entirely to their conversion, and spoke with such effect that six out of the seven were reconciled by him, and died the next morning professing the Catholic faith. The persecutors were so enraged at the conversion of these men, that they caused the martyr to be cut down immediately, so that he was alive and conscious while being cut open. "According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy consolations have given joy to my soul." PS. xciii. 19.