Martyrs Mementoes - Week 6

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.


Previous instances: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5


WEEK 5: 6–12 FEBRUARY


This sixth week, St John Fisher, a resolute and courageous Bishop at the start of the Protestant Reformation who put faith first and became a shining example to English Catholics. Sainthood is not at all reserved for the clergy; everyone can live witness to the one faith of the Catholic Church and attain everlasting glory as show the first two stories.



February 6 

THE SUNAMITESS REWARDED 
MARGARET POWELL, 1642 

OF good birth, she was reduced to great poverty through her sufferings for the faith.  Her chief devotion was ministering to the priests in prison, and, though her husband was a Protestant, she generally managed to maintain one in her house.  It was under her roof in the city of London that Father Bullaker was seized while saying Mass, and Margaret and her boy, aged twelve, who was serving the Mass, were taken with him.  At her trial, in October 1642, being threatened with death for her religion, she expressed her joy at the prospect of laying down her life for the faith in which she had been born, and which she hoped with God's mercy to bear unspotted to the grave.  When the judge, who was a Puritan, urged her to think of her soul and her family and embrace the national religion, instead of dying for papistical superstition, she replied that Parliament must first choose what that religion was to be, for at present it was a matter of dispute.  She was sent back to prison, and there, on hearing that Father Bullaker was condemned to death, but that her sentence was deferred, she burst into tears; yet quickly recovering her self, she offered her new lease of life to God as obediently as she had accepted death. 

"Now there was a great woman there who detained him (Eliseus) to eat bread, and as he often passed that way, he turned into her house to eat bread." 4 KINGS iv. 8. 



February 7 

TRUE TO A TRUST 
B. THOMAS SHERWOOD, L., 1578 

His parents both suffered much for the faith.  His mother was a sister of Mr. Francis Tregian, in whose house B. Cuthbert Mayne was taken.  Their son Thomas, one of fourteen children, followed his father's trade of draper, intending however to cross to Douay and become a priest.  One day when walking in the streets of London he was seized on the cry of "Stop the traitor!" raised by a youth Martin Tregony, a virulent papist-hunter.  His mother, Lady Tregony, was a pious Catholic, and Sherwood frequently visited her, and Martin suspected him of assisting in having Mass said in her house.  At his condemnation Sherwood declared that the Pope and not the Queen was the head of the Church in England, and was then most cruelly racked to discover where he had heard Mass.  He could not be induced, however, to betray or bring any man into danger.  After this he was cast into a filthy, dark dungeon, swarming with loathsome and ferocious rats, and only left it twice during three months to be again tortured on the rack.  He had lost the use of his limbs, was starving, and searched with pain, but no compromising words passed his lips. He was executed at Tyburn, February 7, 1578, aged twenty-seven.
 
"Keep that which is committed to thy trust." 
2 TIM. vi. 20. 



February 8 

PRAYERS WITH TEARS 
B. JOHN FISHER, Card. B., 1535 

"HE never omitted so much as one collect of his daily service, which he used commonly to say to himself alone, without the help of any chaplain, not in such speed or hasty manner to be at an end, as many will do, but in most reverent and devout manner, so distinctly and tractably pronouncing every word, that he seemed a very devourer of heavenly food, never satiated nor filled therewith.  Insomuch that talking on a time with a Carthusian monk, who much commended his zeal and diligent pains in compiling his book against Luther, he answered again, saying that he wished that time of writing had been spent in prayer, thinking that prayer would have done more good and was of more merit. 

"And to help this devotion he caused a great hole to be digged through the wall of his church at Rochester, whereby he might the more commodiously have prospect into the church at Mass and Evensong times.  When he himself used to say Mass, as many times he used to do, if he was not letted by some urgent and great cause, ye might then perceive in him such earnest devotion that many times the tears would fall from his cheeks."

"With a strong cry and tears offering up prayers." HEB. v. 7.  


St. John Fisher


February 9 

THE STONES OF ISRAEL 
B. JOHN FISHER, Card. B,. 1535 

AFTER reminding our Lord of His promise that the Gospel should be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, he recalls how the Apostles were but soft and yielding clay till they were baked hard by the fire of the Holy Ghost, and then offered a prayer to be fulfilled in himself.  "So, good Lord, do now in like manner again with Thy Church militant, change and make the soft and slippery earth into hard stones.  Set in Thy Church strong and mighty pillars, that may suffer and endure great labours watching, poverty, thirst, hunger, cold, and heat which also shall not fear the threatenings of princes, persecution, neither death, but always persuade and think with themselves to suffer, with a good will, slanders, shame, and all kinds of torments for the glory and laud of Thy Holy Name.  By this manner, good Lord, the truth of Thy Gospel shall be preached throughout the world. ... Oh ! if it would please our Lord God to show this great goodness and mercy in our days, the memorial of His so doing ought, of very right, to be left in perpetual writing, never to be forgotten of all our posterity, that every generation might love and worship Him time without end."
 
"His bow rested upon the strong, and the bands of his arms and his hands were loosed, by the hands of the mighty one of Jacob, thence forth he came forth a pastor, the Stone of Israel." GEN. xlix. 24. 



February 10 

FATHER OF THE POOR 
B. JOHN FISHER, Card. B., 1535 

To poor sick persons he was a physician, to the lame he was a staff, to poor widows an advocate, to orphans a tutor, and to poor travellers a host. Wheresoever he lay, either at Rochester or elsewhere, his order was to inqui