Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
I found this very interesting video over at Catholic with Attitude where there is always something interesting. Pop over to Catholic with Attitude and I am sure you will agree that the posts there are informative, stimulating and interesting. Oh yes, I hope you enjoy this video which I think is great!
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
John Arnold and a number of like minded Protestants presented to Parliament a detailed account of Catholic activities in Monmouth and Hereford. They claimed to be alarmed at the growing strength of popery in the region. Arnold and Scudamore appeared before the House of Commons to expound their already wide-ranging account of Catholic activities. Of course, the Cwm was mentioned but there was no suggestion of any political activity there. Then Titus Oates and his Popish Plot burst onto the scene! Originally, Fr David Lewis was the only Jesuit at the Cwm who was mentioned in the Plot. Later, when Chepstow born William Bedloe was inspired by monetary gain to throw in his lot with the perjurer Oates, Fr Charles Pritchard was accused of being one of the murderers of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. Things became very dangerous for the priests at the Cwm so Fr Lewis, who was the Superior, decided to evacuate the College. The priests hurriedly hid books, altar plate, vestments, and anything relating to Catholic service and practice. Then they dispersed, some to the homes of loyal friends but most to battle with the rough terrain and pitiless weather conditions.
In December 1678 the Lords ordered an investigation of the Jesuit College. The Bishop of Hereford, Herbert Croft, was appointed to head this investigation and he was enthusiastically assisted by John Arnold, John Scudamore and Charles Price. By this time, apart from a few servants, the College was deserted. The miscreants gleefully went about their work, removing books and papers from a room which had a hidden entrance. The Government ordered that all Catholic books were to be burnt and, should any be retained, these were to be catalogued. Many books disappeared but more than a hundred still survive in the library of Hereford Cathedral. These stolen books had been taken there by Bishop Croft to replenish the Cathedral’s own depleted library.
A collection of altar plate seized in the raid came into the hands of Charles Price. Despite orders to the contrary, he refused to hand over the ill-gotten loot. The Privy Council commanded that all title deeds to Jesuit property should be sent immediately to Whitehall. However, nothing was forthcoming and Bishop Croft was ordered to appoint someone to administer the Cwm in the interest of the Crown.
The lease on the premises did not expire until 1737 but tragically the Cwm was never again occupied by a Jesuit presence. Most of the original College was demolished and, in 1830, the present house was built. Some oh so appropriate lines of T S Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” come to mind; “From such ground springs that which forever renews the earth though it is forever denied.”
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Since medieval times Jesse has been placed at the base of Christ’s Family Tree. From the eleventh century the Tree of Jesse has been portrayed in religious iconography. In the representation of the Tree, it is usual for Jesse to be portrayed recumbent with a tree rising from his body and the ancestors of Christ portrayed in its branches, with Christ at the summit.
St David Lewis was born in Abergavenny in 1616. Although his mother, Margaret Pritchard, was a devout Catholic, David’s Protestant father, Morgan Lewis, brought David up in the Protestant faith. As a Protestant, David would have been baptised and attended services at St Mary’s Priory Church in the town. This beautiful and ancient church still serves Abergavenny today. Led by its popular and dedicated vicar, St Mary’s is a vibrant parish. Its recently restored Tithe Barn is a delightful and informative place to visit but the Priory Church itself is chock full of interesting features and historic treasures. Perhaps its most famous is its Jesse!
The Abergavenny Jesse is a 15th century figure carved from a single piece of oak. This recumbent Jesse was the base of the Jesse Tree and the Virgin & Child were at the top. The tree was probably around 30 feet high and it is thought to have been a reredos. Originally, the Abergavenny Jesse Tree was vividly coloured and it is still possible to see traces of colour in the details. This magnificent work is one of the finest medieval sculptures in the world. It is our good fortune that, despite the wanton vandalism of Henry VIII in the 16th century and Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century, this beautiful piece of artwork survives.
It gladdens the heart to think that St David Lewis might have looked upon the same Jesse that we can contemplate today. If you live within visiting distance, make it part of your Advent preparations for the coming of Christ. Marvel at the work of this unknown artist then treat your soul to a few quite moments meditating on the words of Isaiah; “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots:”
Saturday, 4 December 2010
RELATED POST: ST JOHN DE BREBEUF
Sunday, 28 November 2010
The generally accepted site of the grave of the last Welsh Catholic Martyr, St David Lewis, is just outside the door of the west porch of the Priory Church of St Mary, Usk. John Hobson Matthews arrived at a different conclusion. This presents another mystery – where is St David Lewis buried?
Matthews was archivist for the Cardiff Corporation and one of the original members of the Catholic Records Society. The Catholic Records Society holds valuable information relating to Catholics in south east Wales and much of this was gathered by Matthews. He died at Ealing on 30th January 1914. I have had a rummage through the Catholic Records available on the internet and was intrigued with what I found.
Matthews wrote: “Close to the north-west angle of the west porch is a plain and massive slab of grey stone. No inscription is now visible, and the stone is fractured across the middle. It bears faint traces of ornamental carving, and of the shaft of a long cross. This is traditionally regarded by the local Catholics as the grave of the Ven. David Lewis, S.J., alias Charles Baker, who was executed at Usk in 1679 for alleged complicity in the bogus Popish Plot.
In 1889 I was told that this grave was still cleaned and decorated every year, by an aged Catholic Irishwoman of Usk, on the 27th of August, the anniversary of the martyrdom.
In the year 1904 the tradition had grown faint, and I took steps to renew it before it should expire. The following are portions of letters written by the Rev. Isidore Heneka, priest in charge of the mission of Usk, and the late Rev. Thomas Burgess Abbot, for over 50 years rector of the Monmouth mission.”
The following letter, dated 24th August 1901, supports the accepted position of the martyr’s grave.
On 24 Aug. 1901, the Rev. Mr. Abbot wrote:
“Father Baker (or Lewis), S.J., martyred at Usk in August 1679 and buried in the church yard, where the present gravel walk passes from the street to the church door, and about 10 paces from the door of the church as old Mr. McDonnell of Usk pointed out to me where, as a boy, he had seen the " square stone " marking the grave of the Popish Recusant. He told us also that he was pointed out the part of the “island" on the other side of the Usk, as the place of his martyrdom.”
The following letter from Rev Heneka also supports this.
“USK, 18 Feb. 1904.
Dear Mr. Matthews,
I am afraid that we shall never be at a certainty as to Ven. Father Lewis grave. I have searched the whole churchyard to find a stone with an inscription, without result. We can only go by tradition. The old people of Usk, Catholic and Protestant alike, point out the grave at the left corner next the porch. The stone is broken, but without any sign of inscription, right or left.
However, in April of the following year, 1905, Rev Heneka wrote a somewhat startling letter which could cause us to reconsider. It convinced Mr Matthews!
“USK, 13 April 1905.
Dear Mr. Matthews,
Today I had removed the broken gravestone of the supposed grave of the Ven. David Lewis, S.J., near the west porch of Usk parish church. I found under it some broken pieces of a gravestone with the inscription "April 18 aged 62"; and a full-sized stone halfway under the priest’s, with the words "Mary Low of this town 1721. IHS." I also found in the same spot a small bone which evidently got there when they made some alterations in the church and reburied remains taken from there. Strange that local tradition has not kept up the grave!
Mr Matthews said: “It would appear from the evidence of Father Heneka’s letter of 1905, that the stone traditionally regarded as that of the Ven. David Lewis was removed to its present site some years later than 1721.”
Matthews also quotes Brother Foley who stated that the holy priest’s body was “interred in the porch of the church”. This, claims Mr Matthews, is the statement made by most writers as to Father David Lewis resting-place.
John Hobson Matthews concluded: “After studying the question carefully for years, my own belief is that the martyr lies buried in the west porch, and that his gravestone was ousted from its original site sometime early in the 19th century when the pavement of the porch was repaired.”
The original gravestone, the “plain and massive slab of grey stone”, of which Mr Matthews speaks was replaced after the canonisation of Saint David Lewis. This old stone now lies at the side of the Catholic Church of Ss Francis Xavier and David Lewis, in Usk. On 24th October 2010, in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the canonisation of St David Lewis and the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, a new plaque beside the old stone was unveiled and blessed.
Despite the very interesting findings and conclusion of the respected Mr John Hobson Matthews, it is generally accepted that our Saint is buried just outside the west porch. The grave is fittingly marked by a well appointed stone, placed there about 1979. I too accept this commonly held opinion.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
In 1678, the Popish Plot, also known as the Oates Plot, was spawned in the perverted mind of Titus Oates, who was encouraged and spurred on by his friend, Israel Tonge. It wasn’t long before the country was engulfed in the tide of anti-Catholic passion which it engendered.
The Government offered a reward of £50 for the apprehension of any priest and to this John Arnold of Llanvihangel Crucorney added his own reward of £200. Arnold, a Justice of the Peace and Member of Parliament, was a fanatical priest hunter but he had always feigned friendship for Fr Lewis. Three hundred and thirty-two years ago today, 17th November 1678, Arnold’s true nature was revealed and Fr David Lewis S J took his first steps on the road to martyrdom. It was a Sunday morning, about daybreak, and the Jesuit was preparing to celebrate Holy Mass. Six armed dragoons, sent by John Arnold, burst into the little cottage and arrested Fr Lewis. They confiscated all the altar furnishings and anything which they considered ‘popish’. With the prisoner, they set out for Monmouth, stopping first at the house of Charles Price at Llanfoist, where Price, John Arnold and Thomas Lewis, another J P, awaited their arrival.
Of his arrest Fr Lewis wrote: “After my full thirty years poor missionary labours in South Wales, on Sunday morning, a little before day, being the 17th November 1678, I was taken by six armed men sent by Mr John Arnold and Mr Charles Price, until then my two very good friends and acquaintances. I was taken in a little house in the parish of St Michael-Llantarnam in the County of Monmouth. From thence by the soldiers, together with such church stuff of mine they there found, carried I was to the house of Mr Charles Price in Llanfoist”
The horror was just beginning!
Sunday, 7 November 2010
In 1638, Morgan and Margaret (Pritchard) Lewis died of fever. David decided to become a priest and, after his parent’s death and with the financial assistance of Fr Charles Gwynne (alias Brown), he entered the English College in Rome. Fr Gwynne, Rector of the Jesuit College at the Cwm, had obtained from his uncle, Hugh Owen, funds for maintaining a Welsh Scholar at Rome. David Lewis was ordained priest in July 1642 and in April of 1645 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sant’ Andrea. Fr Lewis was sent to Wales in 1647 but was soon recalled to Rome to become Spiritual Director at the College there. However, in 1648 he returned to his homeland and the College of St Francis Xavier at the Cwm. For more than thirty years Fr David Lewis laboured for the people of Monmouthshire and the Welsh Marches. He served two terms as Rector of the College, commonly known as ‘The Cwm’.
Under the anti-Catholic laws of the time, being a Catholic was dangerous and being a Catholic priest was even more dangerous! The Welsh were, for the most part, tolerant of their Catholic neighbours, friends, and, in many cases, family members, who tenaciously clung to ‘the Old Faith’. The Catholics were commonly known by the lovely name of the ‘plant Mair’, that is ‘children of Mary’. However, there were those who, harbouring fierce hatred of Catholics, sought to eradicate them entirely. Consequently, the priests had to be very careful so as not to bring suffering on themselves or those who aided them. For this reason, Fr Lewis was in the habit of making dangerous journeys in the dead of night in order to care for his flock. The compassion and goodness of Fr David Lewis was not limited to Catholics only and his great kindness to all earned for him the name ‘Tad y Tlodion’, ‘Father of the Poor’.
For many generations the wealthy Morgans of Llantarnam were loyal Catholics. They were instrumental in the establishment of the Jesuit College at the Cwm and, as recusants, regularly paid heavy fines for themselves and others of their household who were fined for non-attendance at Protestant Services. They also maintained a Catholic Chapel in their home. Lady Frances Morgan was an aunt of Fr David Lewis and for a time he lived with the family at Llantarnam. From this base he brought the comfort of religion to the careworn Catholics of the area and regularly celebrated Holy Mass for them in the Morgan Chapel.
The Popish Plot was first brought to the attention of the King, Charles II, on 13th August 1678. The Popish Plot, also known as the Oates Plot, was the invention of a reprobate, the convicted perjurer Titus Oates. Charles did not believe a word of the so called ‘plot’ but certain politicians seized upon this opportunity to enforce the anti-Catholic Statutes and Laws which were still in force but not always acted upon. Considering the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I, ill-advised Papal involvement with planned attacks upon England, and the failed Catholic plots of recent memory, it was not difficult for Oates and his partners in crime to convince the populace that King, country and the Protestant religion were endangered. It was easy to convince them that Catholics, led by the Jesuits, were plotting to kill the Protestant King and replace him with his Catholic brother, James. The Government offered a reward of £50 for the apprehension of any Catholic priest. By autumn 1668 the terror had begun. It spread throughout England and its foul fingers soon clutched at the ‘plant Mair’ in Wales.
Perceiving the danger in which he placed the Morgans, Fr Lewis moved out of their home to a cottage nearby. It was at this cottage at Llantarnam that Fr Lewis was arrested on 17th November 1678. It was a Sunday morning and the priest had been preparing to say Mass. He was arrested by armed dragoons, sent by the uncompromising and fanatical hater of Catholics and persecutor of priests, John Arnold of Llanvihangel Crucorney. Arnold, a Member of Parliament and Justice of the Peace, offered his own reward of £200 for the capture of any priest. Arnold had always shown friendship to Fr Lewis and right up to his imprisonment, the Jesuit believed Arnold to be a friend. Sadly, bigotry is without honour.
Fr David Lewis was imprisoned at Monmouth until January 1679. He was then moved to the new County Gaol at Usk. After a fixed trial at Monmouth Assizes, David Lewis was found guilty of being a Catholic priest and of saying Mass. He was condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. This was the usual sentence meted out to traitors and to be a Catholic priest was considered High Treason. In the spring, Fr Lewis, along with several other priests, was ordered to London to be examined by the despicable Oates and his equally despicable co-conspirators. No evidence could be found to implicate Fr Lewis in the imaginary plot so he was sent back to Usk to await his execution.
On 27th August 1679, Fr David Lewis was taken from Usk Gaol, tied to a hurdle, head towards the ground, and dragged along the river path to the place of execution. Fr Lewis was hanged but, mercifully, allowed to die before he was cut down and his body mutilated and decapitated. He was not quartered. It is an indication of the love the people had for the martyred priest that the authorities permitted his remains to be reverently carried to the churchyard of the Priory Church of St Mary. Here he was interred near the door of the west porch of the church.
The Popish Plot resulted in the deaths of many innocent Catholics, both priests and lay people. Some were executed, some died in prison and some died on the run, hunted like animals in the bitter winter weather. The eighth and final Jesuit to be executed as a direct consequence of the warped and evil mind of Titus Oates, Fr David Lewis S J, was beatified in 1929. On 25th October 1970 he was canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. An annual pilgrimage to the grave of St David Lewis, the Last Welsh Martyr, takes place on the Sunday nearest to 27th August.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
This beautiful prayer in song is dedicated to all the Holy Souls and I thank Helen at Catholicseeking where I spotted this lovely video. Helen's blog is well worth visiting so click on the link and see for yourself.
Monday, 1 November 2010
Monday, 25 October 2010
For that joyful occasion, Sister Canisius, a Sister of St Joseph of Annecy at Llantarnam Abbey, composed a hymn in honour of St David Lewis. St David Lewis had lived for awhile at Llantarnam Abbey and from this base he ministered to the persecuted Catholics in the area. Llantarnam Abbey is near the site of the arrest of St David Lewis. Here are the words of the hymn, sung to the tune of Hyfrydol. (You can even sing along with the video!)
HYMN IN HONOUR OF SAINT DAVID LEWIS
Holy Martyr, David Lewis,
Monmouth County's glorious Saint.
Father of the Poor they named you,
When you lived and toiled in Gwent.
Priestly work was undertaken,
Danger-fraught from dawn till dusk.
Gladly still you served your people,
Till you died for them at Usk.
From your capture at Llantarnam,
Through your time in Monmouth Gaol,
Threats and tortures could not shake you,
For your faith would never fail.
Bravely then you faced the gallows,
Crudely fashioned for your death,
Further torment someone spared you,
Till you drew your latest breath.
Great and glorious David Lewis,
Staunch and steadfast in the strife,
Bless your people here in Monmouth,
Those for whom you gave your life.
Help us to be strong, courageous,
Loyal to our loving God,
To Him then will glory flourish,
In the places you have trod.
To mark the fortieth Anniversary of the canonisation of St David Lewis and the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, a very special ceremony took place yesterday 24th October 2010, at Usk, near the spot where Fr Lewis was martyred in 1679. After 10:00 a m Mass at the Church of St Francis Xavier and St David Lewis, Sr Celsus SSJ of Llantarnam Abbey unveiled a plaque which was then blessed by Fr Richard Reardon, the Parish Priest. The plaque, which was erected by the group Friends of St David Lewis, is at the side of the church on Porth-y-Carne Street and it marks the original stone which lay on the grave of the martyr. After the canonisation of Fr David Lewis, this old and broken stone was removed and a new one placed on his grave in the churchyard of St Mary’s Priory Church. The old stone was reassembled by the side of the Catholic Church where it remains to this day.
Thursday, 21 October 2010
In 1642, Fr Médaille returned to Toulouse for his final formal period of formation. A colleague at that time was Fr Noël Chabanel. At the end of this year of formation, Fr Chabanel was sent on mission to Canada where he was martyred in 1649. The youngest of the Canadian Martyrs, Fr Noël Chabanel was canonised in 1930.
About 1646 Fr Médaille formed an association of six women which was called the ‘Little Design’. This group of women, filled with love of God and neighbour, was dedicated to working for the disadvantaged and neglected. The group officially became known as the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in 1650. On 15th October of that year the Bishop of LePuy gave them canonical status.
In 1946 the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy moved to Llantarnam Abbey, Cwmbran. Llantarnam Abbey was the site of a Cistercian Abbey which was suppressed during the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII and his lackey, Thomas Cromwell. It eventually came into the ownership of the wealthy Morgan Family. Generations of the Morgans were Catholic and, despite the severe Penal Laws against Catholics, they maintained a chapel in their home where Catholics of the area could attend Mass. The Morgans were instrumental in establishing the Jesuit College of St Francis Xavier at the Cwm, Hereford. One of the Superiors of the College was Fr David Lewis.
Fr Lewis was born in Abergavenny in 1616. A Protestant, he converted to Catholicism and, in 1642, he was ordained priest. Following his uncle, John Pritchard, he joined the Jesuits in Rome and was sent on the English Mission in 1647. Except for a brief period in Rome, Fr David Lewis spent the remainder of his life ministering to the persecuted Catholics of Monmouthshire and surrounding area.
The Sisters at Llantarnam Abbey have continued to honour his memory and a portrait of the Saint who once lived there hangs in the hallway. Several years ago one of the Sisters from the Abbey founded a group, Friends of Saint David Lewis, which aims to spread devotion to St David Lewis. This Sister was also the driving force behind the installation of a plaque at the Old Post Office, Llantarnam, Cwmbran. The plaque marks the site of the arrest of St David Lewis.
Friday, 15 October 2010
In the late summer of 1678 Titus Oates set off a frenzy of fear, suspicion and hatred that resulted in the deaths of many innocent Catholics. Oates fabricated a story, remembered in history as the Oates Plot or the Popish Plot, in which Catholics, led by the Jesuits, were planning to restore the country to Catholicism by murdering the King and bringing down the Protestant Establishment. As the fury grew, Oates found others willing to join him in his heinous deception, notably William Bedloe and Stephen Dugdale. Of course, money was also a great incentive as the Government offered a reward for the capture of any priest. As expected, this brought in many a rogue who was willing to perjure himself.
Through all this, Fr Harcourt urged his fellow Jesuits to flee abroad. However, he remained in London and did his utmost to care for his imprisoned brethren. The priest changed his residence daily but he was betrayed by a servant at one of the houses and, on 7th May 1679, he was arrested. He was thrown into Newgate Prison, joining fellow Jesuits Thomas Whitbread, John Fenwick, John Gavan and Anthony Turner. With the others, Fr Harcourt came to trial on 13th June.
Although his real name was William Barrow a Papal Decree of 4th December 1886 introduced his cause for canonisation under the name of William Harcourt. It was under the name of William Harcourt that he was beatified in 1929.
LINKS TO THIS POST:
THE PERJURER TITUS OATES AND EIGHT JESUITS (PART1)
(PART 2) (PART 3) (PART 4) (PART 5) (PART 6)
Saturday, 9 October 2010
(1)Lewis Wallis m Lucy
Dr David Lewis (2) Maud Lewis m William Baker
(3) Margaret Baker m Henry Pritchard
(4) Margaret Pritchard m Morgan Lewis
(5) St David Lewis
Thursday, 7 October 2010
Although there have been changes to the name and date of the Feast of the Holy Rosary, one thing has remained constant. That is the sincere devotion to Mary and the Holy Rosary. Through the centuries, Catholics have turned to Mary in times of joy and times of sorrow. In the Mysteries of the Rosary, and accompanied by Mary, they have walked with Jesus from Bethlehem to Calvary and beyond.
Even during the life of King Henry VIII, those who clung to the Old Faith also clung to Mary. Ten years after the bloody martyrdoms began, Henry’s famous flagship, ‘Mary Rose’, went down off the Isle of Wight in 1545. In the early 1980s ‘Mary Rose’ was raised and many well preserved items were recovered. Among the recovered items was a wooden Rosary! Some long ago Tudor sailor’s love of Mary and the Rosary was stronger than all the King’s wrath.
In Penal times, both in England and its overseas colonies, the Rosary helped keep the faith alive. With no priest available to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments, Catholics would gather in secret to recite the Rosary. In Penal Days in Ireland, the Penal Rosary, a string of ten beads designed to be used discretely up a sleeve or in a pocket, was widely used. Not many original Penal Rosaries survive, but modern versions are readily available.
The martyrs too were devoted to Mary and the Rosary. St Henry Walpole, St Luke Kirby, and St Thomas Garnet, to name but a few, mounted the gallows steps with the ‘Hail Mary’ on their lips. Some sources say that St John Boste was saying the Angelus as he mounted the gallows while other sources state that he was praying the Rosary. Angelus or Rosary, John Boste sought the assistance of the Mother of God!
Shortly before his execution, twenty-five year old St Alexander Briant wrote to the English Jesuits; “The same day that I was first tormented on the rack, before I came to the place, giving my mind to prayer, and commending myself and all mine to Our Lord, I was replenished and filled up with a kind of supernatural sweetness of spirit; and even while I was calling upon the name of Jesus and upon the Blessed Virgin Mary (for I was saying the Rosary), my mind was cheerfully disposed, well comforted, and readily prepared and bent to suffer and endure those torments which even then I most certainly looked for."
St John Ogilvie was martyred at Glasgow Cross on 10th March 1615. He had secreted on his person his treasured Rosary beads and, after he was pushed off the gallows steps, he triumphantly flung his beads into the crowd. It was said that the beads were caught by one of his enemies who eventually became a Catholic.
The Blessed Virgin Mary herself has asked us to pray the Rosary daily. On this beautiful Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, let us be diligent in responding to her plea.
Monday, 4 October 2010
Today is the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. To celebrate this important Feast Day, I am posting about a worthy son of St Francis, the courageous Martyr, St John Wall. The photo is of the beautiful plaque which is in the Catholic Church at Harvington Hall. It depicts St John Wall in the guise of a gentleman of the period. At that time, priests worked covertly so it was not a good idea to advertise the fact that you were a priest. John’s Franciscan identity is evoked by the animals and birds which surround him. Of all the portrayals I have seen of St John Wall, I think this is my favourite. (Click on the picture to enlarge it for a better view.)
John Wall was born in Lancashire in 1620 into a pious Catholic family. He was baptised by Edmund Arrowsmith, who would suffer martyrdom in 1628. John was still quite young when his parents sent him to the English College at Douai. In those days of Penal Laws and harsh persecution of Catholics, there was always the risk of Government spies infiltrating the Colleges. For this reason, it became the practice for students to assume an alias in the slim hope of affording a little protection to themselves and to their families at home. At Douai, John adopted the alias of John Marsh.
A fellow Friar, William Leveson, visited Fr Wall during his imprisonment. The English Franciscans at Douai are in possession of a letter written by Fr Leveson. In this letter, dated 25th August 1679, Fr Leveson wrote: “I found, contrary in both his and my expectation, the favour of being with him alone; and the day before his execution, I enjoyed that privilege for the space of four or five hours together; during which time I heard his confession, and communicated him to his great joy and satisfaction. I ventured likewise, through his desire, to be present at his execution, and placed myself boldly next to the Under-Sheriff, near the gallows, where I had the opportunity of giving him the last absolution, just as he was turned off the ladder.”
One week later, on 27th August, Fr John Wall’s classmate and good friend, Fr David Lewis, suffered martyrdom at Usk. On 15th December 1929, the Franciscan and the Jesuit were beatified by Pope Pius XI. Forty-one years later, on 25th October 1970, Pope Paul VI canonised the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Fr David Lewis S J and Fr John Wall O F M were among the Forty.
On the beautiful feast of St Francis of Assisi, 4th October 2009, I timidly ventured into an unknown country. Blogland! So, today is my First Anniversary as a blogger. How has it been? Well, I am still finding my way around this vast cyber territory but I am no longer timid and I think I have learned a lot. I know that out there in Blogland there are so many, many great people and, to my own wonder and surprise, quite a few of them I regard as dear friends. A year ago I was of the opinion that calling someone you hadn’t actually met a “friend” was a seriously foolish notion. How wrong I was! Here we are, my blog and I, a whole year older and I am so pleased to call you friends. For me, as you know, this has been a year of more “downs” than “ups” and that is where you bloggers have shown real friendship. For that I thank you all. As I begin my second year of blogging to promote our wonderful Welsh Jesuit Martyr, St David Lewis, I look forward to your visits and comments and to visiting all of you. While cherishing the old friends, I welcome the new. Thank you, my friends, and may God bless you all.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
St Michael’s Mount has belonged to the National Trust since 1939 and, with its magnificent views and ancient history, it is much favoured by hikers. It is said that Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s deputy, used to walk there when he was held at nearby Maindiff Court during WWII.
What of the pilgrims? Do they still come? Indeed they do! Every September, St Michael is honoured on his Feast Day as pilgrims wend their way to the summit, to the site of the ancient chapel where their ancestors risked danger and even death to remember Michael the Archangel and to practise their cherished Catholic faith.
*an ecclesiastical ruling - a formal reply by the pope or some other high dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church on a matter of doctrine or discipline
Sunday, 26 September 2010
Friday, 24 September 2010
Thursday, 23 September 2010
On Sunday, 25th October 1970, Pope Paul VI canonised the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. The forty were selected from among the hundreds who, during the 16th and 17th centuries, had given their lives for the faith.
The new saints were a very mixed group of priests and laypeople whose martyrdoms spanned the years from 1535 to 1679. The group was comprised of 3 Carthusians; 1 Augustinian friar; 1 Brigittine; 2 Franciscans; 3 Benedictines; 10 Jesuits; 13 Priests of the Secular Clergy; 4 lay men and 3 lay women.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, I have four little booklets to give away. The booklet is published by the Catholic Truth Society and although just 56 pages long, it tells the story of each of the martyrs from the first martyr of the Reformation, St John Houghton in 1535 to St David Lewis in 1679.
If you would like one of these interesting and informative little booklets, just leave your name and mailing address in the comments below. I have activated ‘comment moderation’ so your details will be strictly private. The first four bloggers to leave their details will receive one of the books. You have one week to get your name in, from today up to and including 30th September. So come on, don’t be shy! I promise to keep your details private and to destroy them as soon as I have sent the books to the winners. And, because the books are small, I will post them anywhere so don’t be put off because you live in another country or on another continent! Remember, I will post them to anywhere. Let’s hear from you bloggers.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
The Government’s objective was to eradicate Catholicism in the land. Therefore, laws and statutes were introduced which imposed dire penalties on any who had the audacity to practise their Catholic Faith. Of course without priests, there could be no Mass, no Sacraments and no help for those who still clung to the Old Faith. There were no longer any seminaries in England. In an effort to redress this problem, Cardinal William Allen established seminaries on the Continent specifically to train priests for England and Wales. These brave men went in secret to the seminaries and, after ordination, they returned, again in secret, to minister to their persecuted countrymen. Cardinal Allen established the English College in Rome in 1579.
In 1653, Anthony left the English College in Rome and travelled to Flanders where he entered the Jesuit Novitiate. He was ordained in 1659 and two years later, in 1661, he returned to England where he spent the next eighteen years ministering in Worcestershire.
A week later, on 20th June 1679, Fr Turner was taken to Tyburn where the sentence was to be carried out. At the last minute, which also appears to be the custom, a messenger arrived from the King offering a pardon. All the priest had to do was to admit his guilt and tell all he knew of the plot. Fr Turner replied that no plot existed. He could not disclose details of a plot that existed only in the putrid mind of the perjurer, Titus Oates. The Jesuit was not willing to lie to save his life. In a speech from the gallows, he told the spectators: “I am bound in conscience to do myself that justice as to declare upon oath my innocence from the horrid crime of treason with which I am falsely accused. I am as free from the treason I am accused of as a child that is just born. I die a Roman Catholic and humbly beg the prayers of such for my happy passage into a better life”. He prayed privately for a few minutes then the cart was pulled away.
After the gruesome sentence was carried out, the brutalised remains of Fr Turner were taken away by friends who buried them in the churchyard of St Giles in the Fields. In December 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Jesuit Martyr, Fr Anthony Turner.
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John Gavan was born in London in 1640. The young Gavan went to St Omer and, in 1660, he entered the Jesuits. He was ordained in Rome in 1670. Like all priests who returned to minister in England, Fr Gavan was fully cognisant of the dangers under the severe Penal Laws which existed at that time. Nonetheless, Fr Gavan returned to his homeland in 1671 and commenced his work, chiefly in the Staffordshire area, where he laboured untiringly.
At the height of the Oates Plot, the Government offered a £50 reward for the apprehension of any priest. This lead to a vigorous search for and betrayal of priests, Jesuit and otherwise, up and down the country. In the hope of escaping to the Continent, Fr Gavan made his way to London. Unfortunately, that was not to be and he was apprehended on 23rd January 1679. Along with four other Jesuits, Fr John Gavan was brought to trial at the Old Bailey on 13th June 1679.
Fr Gavan was an erudite and articulate priest and he skilfully defended the group. In this instance, the skill and honesty of the Jesuit were no match for the false witnesses, prejudiced Judge and rigged jury. As was expected, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Fr John Gavan was martyred at Tyburn on 20th June 1679. His mutilated and quartered remains were claimed by friends and buried in St Giles in the Fields.
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