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A Beautiful Story on the Persecuted Catholics of Elizabethan England October 4, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, catachesis, Christendom, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, history, manhood, persecution, reading, religious, Restoration, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
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I just finished reading a book on the English revolt against the Church, entitled the Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism.  It’s a long book and a bit strange, containing contributions from several authors across different periods and consisting of almost as much commentary as it does the original upon which it was based – Fr. Nicolas Sander’s critique of the Tudor persecution of Catholics.  Still it’s a very worthwhile read, and an eminently timely one given the recent trend in some circles of the Church to celebrate the greatest single revolt against Church authority in history, the revolt of the myriad, multiplying, always disagreeing protestant heretics.

It is impossible to read any Catholic – or even unbiased, non-protestant – history of the so-called Reformation and not come away with the impression that the men who led and foisted this panoply of divergent sects upon the people were, to a man, the furthest possible exemplars from the original Apostles.  This is particularly true in England, where “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” is an almost laughable compendium compared to the torrents of Catholic blood spilt not over a few years, but over centuries.  Even more laughably, many promoters of modern sexular paganism and the notion of libertine democracy point to the English Reformation as the first blooming of the supposedly new ideals of liberty and freedom, when, in fact, the Tudor state under Henry VIII and Elizabeth the Sterile (and not for want of trying) was probably the first example of a modern authoritarian totalitarian state.  There were spies everywhere, liberties for “recusants” (faithful Catholics) were non-existent, new laws were made up on the fly and retroactively applied, and parliament was just a stacked body of unthinking yes men who did whatever the King or Queen demanded of them –  on pain of a wretched death if they refused to go along.  Both Henry and his illegitimate daughter Elizabeth (born from Anne Boleyn, who Sanders argues was actually Henry’s own daughter – yuck) led amazingly immoral lives, and used their hatred and fear of the Church as a vehicle to acquire absolute power for themselves.  The degree to which the state expanded and intruded into the deepest corners of conscience and privacy was unprecedented for the time, and yet, it was sold as being this great harbinger of “freedom from the tyranny of Rome,” when Rome had never dared, nor desired, to ever make such unyielding demands of the people.

The article excerpted below gives just a few examples of both how the totalitarian Tudor state persecuted Catholics, and how the Catholics of England  and abroad, under unbelievably difficult circumstances, managed to keep their faith through nearly three centuries of unprecedented, unrelenting persecution (seriously – the English persecution of Catholics made those of the Roman Empire seem modest by comparison).  You should read the whole thing, it’s not long and tells some history that is far too little known, even among Catholics:

A strange sight greeted those assembled at Tyburn one January morning in 1601. The executions of two Catholic priests – Mark Barkworth and the Jesuit, Roger Filcock – and one Catholic lay woman, Anne Line, were set to provide the day’s spectacle………..[Such executions, sometimes of single individuals, sometimes of entire groups, occurred almost monthly, and sometimes weekly, at Tyburn]

……….However, the gathered throng must have been momentarily taken aback, for Barkworth had somehow procured a Benedictine habit and was tonsured. Such an attire had not been worn in England since before Elizabeth I had ascended the throne more than 40 years earlier but there, before the mob, stood a Benedictine monk.

Any hesitation caused by such a spectacle was not enough to save Barkworth – in fact, some cruel wretch even shouldered the monk’s body weight during his hanging to ensure that he was fully conscious for the subsequent drawing and quartering. Yet Barkworth’s death marked the start of an English Benedictine presence that remains to this day.

Barkworth himself had been trained as a priest at the English College, Valladolid, but, on his way to England as a missionary, he had been received as a novice at the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria in Irache, and was told he would die a martyr, in the Benedictine habit. Many of the first wave of Englishmen to become Benedictines after the Reformation similarly entered the religious life in Spain………

……The significance of what they represented was not lost on them: as several monks testified at their martyrdoms, they were from the same order as the first missionary to England, St Augustine of Canterbury, “from whom,” as George Gervase, executed in 1608, put it, “England acknowledged that she had received the Christian faith”. [A sick sad note: toward the end of his reign, Henry VIII figured out that devotion to St. Thomas Beckett represented a threat to his false rule over the schismatical and heretical “church” of England.  After all, Beckett was martyred over his refusal to permit the self-serving Henry II to dictate policy and belief to the Church.  So, Henry had Beckett’s shrine at Canterbury trashed – and it was a major one, it’s the shrine described in The Canterbury Tales – with his bones removed from the church and burned. He had all the precious artifacts, works of art, and gifts taken from the shrine and delivered to his treasury. And he had the income from this shrine, along with many other dioceses and abbeys, diverted to his treasury.  Thus, the great leader and founder of the English church.]

Like the other missionary clergy who had been secretly entering England since the 1570s, these missionary monks brought with them the Catholic Reformation. Imbued with the zeal of a movement then sweeping Catholic Europe and, increasingly, far-flung parts of the globe from Asia to America, they were agents for the transfer of religious and intellectual ideas gaining ground in mainland Europe.

But nor were they solely about the new: they also tracked down the last surviving monk of Westminster Abbey. By the start of the 17th century, the infirm Sigebert Buckley lived under a form of house arrest. In 1607, he aggregated two of the new monks to him, thereby ensuring the continuity of the English Benedictines from the medieval period. [Heck, from the end of antiquity] As the new monastic movement grew and the monks re-founded the English Benedictine Congregation in 1619, this symbolic act took on greater significance.

It meant that the English Benedictines of the 17th century could lay claim to the old monastic properties which the Order had once enjoyed. As such, the English Benedictines throughout the period elected priors of, for example, Durham, Canterbury and Ely cathedrals, ready for the moment when England – as they believed, inevitably – returned to the Catholic faith.

This did not stop the monks forming new houses in exile, three of which remain to this day. St Gregory’s, founded at Douai in northern France in 1606, is now better known as Downside Abbey; St Laurence’s, founded in the town of Dieulouard in Lorraine in 1608, is now Ampleforth Abbey; St Edmund’s, Paris, founded in 1616, is now settled at Woolhampton, Berkshire, as Douai Abbey.

As I said, go read the rest.  Very interesting.  What a scandal protestantism represents.  It is unbelievable how men in leadership positions in the Church at all levels have chosen to forget or ignore this.  There but for the grace of God……

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Comments

1. Multi Nucleate - October 5, 2017

Had no idea executions of Catholic were so frequent…and here I thought ISIS was abnormally brutal. Some Protestants were just as vicious!!

2. Canon212 Update: Only Heretic Popes Propagate Multiple Heresies. What’s So Complicated? – The Stumbling Block - October 5, 2017

[…] MARTYRS OF ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND: WHAT A SCANDAL PROTESTANTISM […]

3. Tim - October 5, 2017

I remember going to the Tyburn Tree plaque in London in 2013 on the Remnant Tour after the Chartres Pilgrimage and praying on our knees next to the plaque in the pouring rain. Also got to go to the Tower of London. They weren’t going to let us in to see St. Thomas More’s tomb but Fr. Pendergraft talked to the Anglican Chaplain and the chaplain gave us a private tour. One thing I’ll never forget as we knelt and prayed at St. Thomas More’s tomb, the Anglican chaplain was speaking about it and said, “this is the tomb of Sir Thomas More, the traitor you Catholics love to venerate.” Not very “ecumenical”!, but appreciated his efforts to get us in there.

https://www.londonremembers.com/memorials/tyburn-tree-pavement-plaque

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6848

4. Jim in Seattle - October 6, 2017

Tantamergo, thanks for your book reviews! I have broken my book-purchase-budget over the years getting the little-known books you review, but that is okay since I have also expanded my knowledge about the Catholic faith and history.


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