Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Blessed John Hambley, Pray for Us!

Just a reminder that I'll be on the Son Rise Morning Show during the EWTN hour this morning (5:00 to 6:00 a.m. Central Daylight Savings Time/6:00 to 7:00 a.m. Eastern DST) to talk about the Stations of the Cross, Blessed John Henry Newman's Meditation on the Ninth Station, and Blessed John Hambley! Listen live here. Remember that you can catch up with the podcasts on the Son Rise Morning Show here.

Then check out my latest blog for the National Catholic Register where I discuss those three subjects more completely than is possible in a brief radio interview, especially the story of Blessed John Hambley, who is remembered on the Roman Martyrology today:

All the priests who came to England knew that they could suffer imprisonment, torture, and horrendous execution. They had the example of their protomartyr, Father Cuthbert Mayne in 1577, and then of Fathers Edmund Campion, Ralph Sherwin, and Alexander Briant—and others—in 1581. Nearly every year they learned of another priest being martyred. The Venerable English College in Rome, where many priests studied, started the tradition of a seminarian preaching a sermon on martyrdom before the pope on the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr. The founder of the Oratorians, St. Philip Neri, greeted the students in the streets with the salutation, “Salvete flores martyrum” (Hail! flowers of the martyrs).

But Father John Hambley, in spite of all these examples, was not ready to suffer. He had given up everything to become a Catholic and a priest, but the threat of physical suffering undid him, according to the 1914 edition of The Lives of the English Martyrs. He was born around 1560 in an Anglican family, but a Catholic friend encouraged him to read a book by Father Robert Persons, SJ and soon he became a Catholic. Because he had stopped attending Church of England services, he left his native Cornwall and then left England for the Continent. Hambley studied for the priesthood in Reims and was ordained on September 22, 1584. On April 6, 1585 he returned to England as a missionary priest under the guidance of Father John Cornelius, SJ (who would be martyred in 1594).

Before Easter in 1586, he was arrested in Taunton, Somerset, tried for being a priest, convicted, and sentenced to death. To save his life, Hambley promised to renounce his Catholic faith; then he escaped from prison. Recaptured on August 14, he faced the same horrible death of being hanged, drawn and quartered—and he fell again. He not only promised to become an Anglican, but he told the authorities everything he knew. Hambley told them about where he said Mass, who attended, who helped him; he told them the names of 15 other priests serving in England and others who are studying abroad. 

Strangely, the judges did not trust his statements, perhaps because he gave them so willingly, so Hambley was held in prison in Salisbury until the next public trials, the Assizes, in March of 1587. The judge asked him again if he was ready to renounce the Catholic faith, and Father Hambley said he was—his third fall. Awaiting release, he was given a letter; after he read it, he changed. The next day, he told the judge that he would not renounce the faith and that he regretted his weakness. This time, the threat of “a most cruel death” did not move him to cowardice, and he suffered execution bravely.

Blessed John Hambley, pray for us! Help us to be resolute in our Lenten devotions and in our journey to eternal life!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Three Falls and Martyrdom

I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show during the first local Cincinnati hour on Sacred Heart Radio this morning a little after 6:45 a.m. Central DST/7:45 a.m. Eastern DST to talk about Blessed John Hambley, one of the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987. The Son Rise Morning Show will then repeat the interview on Wednesday, March 29 during the earlier EWTN hour. March 29 is the date assigned to him on the Roman Martyrology: the date is uncertain but he was executed around Easter 1587 in Salisbury. He offers us a great example of repentance and resolution.

Listen live here today and here tomorrow--and also read my post at the National Catholic Register blog here tomorrow.

Father John Hambley fell three times on his way to the scaffold, denying his faith and even revealing information about who had assisted him and heard Mass when he celebrated it in the English Catholic underground. In my blog post I discuss how Jesus, in the Traditional Stations of the Cross, fell three times on the way to Calvary and Blessed John Henry Newman's interpretation of those three falls:

We are told in Holy Scripture of three falls of Satan, the Evil Spirit. The first was in the beginning; the second, when the Gospel and the Kingdom of Heaven were preached to the world; the third will be at the end of all things. . . .

These three falls--the past, the present, and the future--the Evil Spirit had in mind when he moved Judas to betray Our Lord. This was just his hour. Our Lord, when He was seized, said to His enemies, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." Satan knew his time was short, and thought he might use it to good effect. . . . he smote Him once, he smote Him twice, he smote Him thrice, each successive time a heavier blow.

The picture (c) 2017, Stephanie A. Mann, is of the Ninth Station in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Wichita, Kansas.

Monday, March 27, 2017

James VI and I, RIP

James VI and I of Scotland and England died on March 27, 1625 at Theobalds House. He was 58 years old; he had been the King of Scotland almost all of those 58 years (with regents when he was an infant and young boy, of course); he had just celebrated the 22nd anniversary of his accession as as King of England three days earlier.

This comparative book review discusses the changing reputation of James VI and I, who

. . . has been thoroughly reassessed in the past twenty years. The obvious target was David Willson's toxic treatment in
King James VI & I (Jonathan Cape; London, 1956). Jenny Wormald's seminal article 'James VI and I: Two Kings or One?' (History, 68 (1983), 187-209) challenged the hostile historiography which enveloped James, pondering how it was that the Scots and English held such different views of the same monarch. Wormald deconstructed the contemporary (primarily printed) sources that had shaped historians' treatment of the king, particularly polemics by Anthony Weldon, Arthur Wilson, and Francis Osborne. She emphasised their inherent English xenophobia, designed to further a project of Stuart vilification which began in the 1620s and rose to a fever pitch in the 1650s. Having set scholars the task of recovering the authentic James, many took up the call. The results have cast in a more favourable light James' effectiveness with religion, diplomacy, patronage and finance, and the governance of multiple kingdoms. The missing element in this revisionist project has been a full-length study of James capable of supplanting Willson.

Pauline Croft's
King James now offers the best overview. Croft brings two substantial strengths to her political study of James in his three kingdoms: an understanding of the period grounded in extensive experience as a published archival historian; and practice coming to grips with her subject in the classroom. Croft has published widely on the first decade of James' reign, with particular emphasis on parliament, finance, and Robert Cecil - her 'modern' study of Cecil is forthcoming. The devil is in the details with subjects like these and those details are in the Jacobean archives that Croft knows well. At the same time, while acknowledgments like Croft's which thank her students sometimes appear clich├ęd, no one who has taught James' reign can fail to appreciate how valuable the classroom or lecture hall is for working through an understanding of such a 'dauntingly complex' subject. Drawing on these strengths, Croft has produced an interpretive synthesis which is confident, agile, and judicious.

A generation of Scottish historians have fashioned an increasingly nuanced picture of James as king of Scots. We now have assessments of his education and formative years, the politics of his minority, his evolving notions of imperial kingship, and the long struggle to translate his political ideas into practice in the secular, religious, and territorial realms. This is Croft's starting point, which produces a credible assessment of James . . .

Croft's overall assessment of James is appropriately mixed. She recognises his good intentions in matters like Anglo-Scottish union, his openness to different points of view, and his agenda of a peaceful foreign policy within his kingdoms' financial means. His actions moderated frictions between his diverse peoples. Yet he also created new ones, particularly by supporting colonisation that polarised the crown's interest groups in Ireland, obtaining insufficient political benefit with his open-handed patronage, an unfortunate lack of attention to the image of monarchy (particularly after the image-obsessed regime of Elizabeth), pursuing a pro-Spanish foreign policy that fired religious prejudice and opened the door for Arminians within the English church, and enforcing unpalatable religious changes on the Scottish kirk. Many of these criticisms are framed within a longer view of James' reigns, including the legacy - now understood to be more troubled - which he left Charles I. Elements of all these judgments can be debated. With respect to Caroline Scotland, Charles should hardly be forgiven the Act of Revocation, his long-delayed and Anglocentric coronation at Holyrood, or the Laudian canons and prayer book of 1636-37. Yet in such debates we begin to approach an authentic appraisal of James that escapes both the hostile historiography of the past and worn-out frames of reference. We at last assess James on his own terms, as an imperial monarch governing multiple peoples and kingdoms.
Please read the rest there.
According to Martin J. Havran's 1962 book, The Catholics in Caroline England, Catholics were concerned about the forthcoming marriage between James's heir, Charles, and the French princess, Henrietta Maria. James died before the final, religious arrangements were made. Pope Urban VIII granted the necessary dispensations and Catholics thought again that they would be more free to practice their faith under the terms of the marriage agreement. Queen Henrietta Maria would have access to the Catholic Mass and Catholics at Court also hoped to have access to her chapel and worship, but after a time, Charles would not countenance that.

Image Credit: King James I being carried to heaven by angels, on the ceiling of the Banqueting House, painted by Peter Paul Rubens.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Heinrich Isaac, RIP

On the Gramophone magazine blog, Peter Phillips of The Tallis Scholars writes about Heinrich Isaac, who died 500 years ago today:

Heinrich Isaac died in Florence on March 26, 1517.

We know what happened to the reputations of renaissance composers: they bombed from the moment the composer died, were occasionally mentioned in treatises over the following centuries, until finally groups like mine took their music up and established a following for them on the contemporary concert-giving scene. There have been just a few exceptions: those who wrote for the Anglican church have been sung almost without break in religious services; Palestrina was put on a pedestal; and Josquin’s good name survived for more decades than most after his death, until he too vanished from sight.

The one deviation to this parade of death and resurrection is Heinrich Isaac. Having established a standing in his lifetime, after he died he continued uniquely to flourish. This was made possible by the fact that his music came to be worshipped by German musicians as the source of their national musical culture. This devotion has had its ups and downs historically – Hitler was not slow to tap into it – but the essence was that Isaac’s music had so dominated the musical life of the Hapsburg court in Vienna from 1497 until his death exactly 500 years ago, that the tradition there always acknowledged his influence. It is perhaps no accident that the peak of his posthumous fame was achieved in the Vienna of the 1890’s which resulted, for example, in a critical edition of one of his publications by Anton von Webern, prefaced by a remarkable essay on Isaac’s counterpoint. An irony here is that while the Nazis lauded Isaac, they suppressed Webern.

But long before the Romantics got hold of him Isaac had been prized – by Protestants as well as Catholics and not least by JS Bach. One source of the fascination was his simple but supremely beautiful valedictory song Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen which, with the text modified as O Welt, ich muss dich lassen, had been naturalised as a Lutheran chorale and set by Bach.

More about the CD here. It also includes several beautiful Marian motets! The Tallis Scholars have loaded one on YouTubeVirgo prudentissima. On my wish list!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Lady Mass by Nicholas Ludford for Henry and Katherine

The Vynes is a Tudor era house maintained by the National Trust. It's in Hampshire near Basingstoke and Henry VIII visited it, since it was the home of William Sandys, 1st Baron Sandys, one of his favorite courtiers.

The National Trust has organized an aural experience which recreates a sixteenth century celebration of Holy Mass:

An audio illusion that brings to life the sounds of a Tudor Lady Mass has been unveiled at The Vyne, where Henry VIII would have heard it almost 500 years ago. This unique National Trust soundscape immerses listeners in the prayers, chants, even movements of choristers and clergy.

You’ll hear the subtle change in volume of the priest’s voice as he turns from the altar, the clink of the thurible chain as incense is blessed, even the faint rustle of clothing. These details have been captured to enhance the sense of reality in The Vyne’s 16th-century chapel.

This is the first time a ‘soundscape’ of the Lady Mass – in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary - has been created as Henry VIII would have known it. It features 16th-century composer Nicholas Ludford’s elaborate polyphonic music for boys’ voices.

Nicholas Ludford was a favorite composer of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon, according to this website:

The Lady Masses are the sole contents of Royal Appendix MSS. 45-48, four very neat and accurately copied partbooks which have the arms of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon stamped on their leather covers. Since a manuscript devoted to a single composer's works is exceptional, one wonders if Ludford himself produced them as a gift to the royal couple. The presence of Catherine's arms as well as Henry's gives as the outside dates for the manuscript's production 1509, the year of the royal marriage, and 1533, the year of the divorce; but the latest probable date would be several years before 1533, because the two royal establishments were separate from 1531, and the divorce had been in Henry's mind since the late 1520s.

The Lady Masses constitute the only sizeable body of three-part church music surviving from sixteenth-century England. The scoring for treble, mean and countertenor, without use of the bass register, and the frequent presentation of cantus firmi in the lowest voice are traits as apparently old-fashioned as the choice of three parts itself, but the style and cadence practice of the Lady Masses are very much of the early sixteenth century; in particular imitation is often present, and there are occasional brief sequences. Much of Ludford's writing in the Lady Masses has a notable grace and fluency, with a fondness for movement in parallel thirds which is slightly more pronounced in his work than in that of other composers.

And Gramophone reviewed this recording of one of Ludford's Lady Masses:

Nicholas Ludford is one of the most intriguing of early Tudor composers, a healthy proportion of whose surviving work has made it to the discography. Somewhat surprisingly, though, none of his set of seven Lady Masses has so far been committed to disc as far as I know. This new recording fills a gap in the catalogue, then – indeed, it does rather more than that, for these three-voice works are subtly different in style from Ludford’s festal Masses, the polyphony less florid, though just as beguiling. Ludford set only alternative verses of the Mass sections, leaving the others to be sung in plainchant, but Ensemble Scandicus go one better here, setting some of these plainchant verses polyphonically in an improvised style known as ‘faburden’, at times stretching to three added voices. This practice, though well documented, is seldom attempted in modern-day recordings, so their initiative is particularly welcome, opening as it does a window on to a literally unsung aspect of early Renaissance polyphony.

Good Friday on March 25

One thing I did not explain in my post for March 25 in the National Catholic Register blog roll was the tradition that the Annunciation of Our Lord and Good Friday occurred on the same date, March 25. A Clerk of Oxford explained the tradition last year:

This year Good Friday falls on Lady Day, the feast of the Annunciation. This is a rare occurrence and a special one, because it means that for once the day falls on its 'true' date: in patristic and medieval tradition, March 25 was considered to be the historical date of the Crucifixion. It happens only a handful of times in a century, and won't occur again until 2157.

These days the church deals with such occasions by transferring the feast of the Annunciation to another day, but traditionally the conjunction of the two dates was considered to be both deliberate and profoundly meaningful. The date of the feast of the Annunciation was chosen to match the supposed historical date of the Crucifixion, as deduced from the Gospels, in order to underline the idea that Christ came into the world on the same day that he left it: his life formed a perfect circle. March 25 was both the first and the last day of his earthly life, the beginning and the completion of his work on earth. The idea goes back at least to the third century, and Augustine explained it in this way:
He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since.
This day was not only a conjunction of man-made calendars but also a meeting-place of solar, lunar, and natural cycles: both events were understood to have happened in the spring, when life returns to the earth, and at the vernal equinox, once the days begin to grow longer than the nights and light triumphs over the power of darkness. . . . 

As John Donne wrote when Good Friday did occur on March 25 in 1608, it brings the great theological mysteries of the Incarnation and the Passion together:

The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the
Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.

That's why the feast of St. Dismas is on March 25; his feast is on the date he entered into eternal life in Heaven, the traditional date of the Crucifixion. 

Image Credit: Saint John the Baptist, Annunciation, Crucifixion, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Francesc Comes, circa 1400, provenance unknown.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Preparing for March 25

As a public service to all Catholics interested in liturgical, sanctoral, historical, and literary events, the National Catholic Register will publish a blog post today about the significance of tomorrow, Saturday, March 25, and how to properly celebrate such a tremendous day. The post will appear here sometime during the day. I asked them to post it a day early to give readers some time to prepare!

What's so special about Saturday, March 25? We are celebrating, and should reflect on, these events:

I.   The Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord

II.  The feasts of St. Dismas, the Good Thief, and of St. Margaret Clitherow, English martyr

III. The landing of the Ark and the Dove in Maryland, establishing an English colony that promoted religious tolerance and freedom

IV. Tolkien Reading Day

V.  The birth of Flannery O'Connor

My post offers background on each event and some suggestions for appropriate celebration: attending Mass, praying for religious freedom, reading The Lord of the Rings aloud, etc.

Regarding V., our Eighth Day Institute Sisters of Sophia met on Tuesday evening and enjoyed a great presentation on the life and work of Flannery O'Connor. In April, our heroine will be St. Mary Magdalen, my confirmation patron saint. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Variations on the Stations

So I was doing some research for a blog post for the National Catholic Register on the Stations of the Cross and how they've developed. The 14 Stations most of us see in our parish churches were fostered by the Franciscans in Spain during the 17th century. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, various popes helped with the spread of these Stations and devotion to the Way of the Cross:

Realizing that few persons, comparatively, were able to gain these by means of a personal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Innocent XI, in 1686, granted to the Franciscans, in answer to their petition, the right to erect the Stations in all their churches, and declared that all the indulgences that had ever been given for devoutly visiting the actual scenes of Christ's Passion, could thenceforth be gained by Franciscans and all others affiliated to their order if they made the Way of the Cross in their own churches in the accustomed manner. Innocent XII confirmed the privilege in 1694 and Benedict XIII in 1726 extended it to all the faithful. In 1731 Clement XII still further extended it by permitting the indulgenced Stations to all churches, provided that they were erected by a Franciscan father with the sanction of the ordinary. At the same time he definitely fixed the number of Stations at fourteen. Benedict XIV in 1742 exhorted all priests to enrich their churches with so great a treasure, and there are few churches now without the Stations. In 1857 the bishops of England received faculties from the Holy See to erect Stations themselves, with the indulgences attached, wherever there were no Franciscans available, and in 1862 this last restriction was removed and the bishops were empowered to erect the Stations themselves, either personally or by delegate, anywhere within their jurisdiction.

The usual list of 14 stations, or stops along the Way of the Cross, combine scriptural and traditional events:

1. Christ condemned to death;
2. the cross is laid upon him;
3. His first fall;
4. He meets His Blessed Mother;
5. Simon of Cyrene is made to bear the cross;
6. Christ's face is wiped by Veronica;
7. His second fall;
8. He meets the women of Jerusalem;
9. His third fall;
10. He is stripped of His garments;
11. His crucifixion;
12. His death on the cross;
13. His body is taken down from the cross; and
14. laid in the tomb

Although that is not the usual wording for some of the stations. There has been a desire for more scriptural stations, without the  traditional events--Stations which can be connected with definite events in the Gospel accounts. Pope St. John Paul II used a different set of stations in 1991 and then Pope Benedict XVI approved them for public use:

1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested
3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin
4. Jesus is denied by Peter
5. Jesus is judged by Pilate
6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
7. Jesus takes up his cross
8. Jesus is helped by Simon of Cyrene to carry his cross
9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
10. Jesus is crucified
11. Jesus promises his kingdom to the repentant thief
12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other
13. Jesus dies on the cross
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb

Reading that list, I realized that I had seen Stations of the Cross like that before--in Paris, in the church of St. Roch in the First Arrondisement! I had taken pictures of two of them, the second and the third stations:

The second Station shows Judas embracing Jesus and preparing to betray Him with a kiss while the Apostles are startled on the right and the guards are carrying weapons and torches on the left.

The third Station shows Jesus before Caiaphas. I have not been able to find out, and wasn't able to in 2006 when I first visited Saint Roch, why this church had a different set of Stations. They are not exactly the same as the Scriptural Way of the Cross presented by John Paul II, but they are different than the traditional 14 Stations!

St. Roch is a huge Baroque style church filled with art; you may see more examples here.

If anyone knows more about these stations, and why they are different, please let me know by leaving a comment below. The parish does have Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, so the devotional for those prayers may exist somewhere but I have not found it!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Silence of St. Nicholas Owen

St. Nicholas Owen, SJ, the Jesuit lay brother and carpenter extraordinaire, died under torture on March 22, 1606. The Jesuits in Britain website notes this about him:

Many of the martyrs of England died very public deaths on the scaffold of Tyburn, but Nicholas died as he had lived; in secret. We have no memorable saying of his to meditate on – his priest holes, which are his wordless prayers, are all that remain. Nicholas in his agonised, furtive death had finished with all concealment and disguises and was welcomed by Campion and all the martyrs into a fellowship where there is no use for human language.

We do, however, have the record of what he said under torture in 1606:

He confesses that he has known and sometimes attended Henry Garnett, the Provincial of the Jesuits for around four years.

He confesses that he was at the house of Thomas Throgmorton called Coughton at the beginning of November last year, when the Lady Digby was there and by the watch that was in town they knew that Robert Catesby, Thomas Percy, and the rest of the gun powder plotters were up in arms.

That on All Saints Day last year, Garnett said Mass at Coughton House, and that at that Mass there were around half a dozen people.

That Henry Garnett was at Henlipp, the house of Thomas Abington some six weeks before he was apprehended and Hall the Jesuit was there about three days before the house of Mr Abington was searched.

That while he was staying with Garnett, he made his fire and served him and that both he and Garnett hid in a secret room below the dining room.

As the Jesuit website notes:

There was no new information in these confessions and the authorities lost patience. The tortures became more violent and on the next day, despite a plate they had fitted around Nicholas to prevent the torture further damaging his pre-existing injuries, Nicholas died, quite literally broken apart by the torture.

The authorities were now in an awkward position. Not only had they been torturing illegally an already injured man, but they had murdered him before extracting a confession. A cover up was swiftly arranged with an inquest returning a verdict of suicide.

The cover up was as bad as the crime.

There is no portrait of St. Nicolas Owen, but on this other page at the Jesuits in Britain website there is a depiction of him, the other Jesuit brother captured, tortured, and martyred, Blessed Ralph Ashley, and Father Henry Garnet, who was also captured tortured and martyred along with Blessed Edward Oldcorne, but has never been beatified or canonized because of concern about his involvement with the Gunpowder Plot. All four of them were arrested at Hindlip Hall on January 23, 1606. They were all hiding in the priest holes St. Nicholas Owen had created, but were without food and water and had to surrender--the pursuivants had not found the hiding places Owen had built!

St. Nicholas Owen, pray for us!

Image credit: the original Hindlip Hall.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Blesseds Pilchard, Pike, and Flathers at Dorchester and York

Both of these priestly martyrs had been arrested and banished, but returned to England and suffered martyrdom when arrested again, one during the reign of Elizabeth I and the other during the reign of James I.

The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the life and death of Blessed Thomas Pilchard or Pilcher, incuding among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1987:

He was born at Battle, Sussex, 1557; died at Dorchester, 21 March 1586-7. He became a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford, in 1576, and took the degree of M.A., in 1579, resigning his fellowship the following year. He arrived at Reims 20 November, 1581, and was ordained priest at Laon, March, 1583, and was sent on the mission. He was arrested soon after, and banished; but returned almost immediately. He was again arrested early in March, 1586-7, and imprisoned in Dorchester Gaol, and in the fortnight between committal to prison and condemnation converted thirty persons. He was so cruelly drawn upon the hurdle that he was fainting when he came to the place of execution. When the rope was cut, being still alive he stood erect under the scaffold. The executioner, a cook, carried out the sentence so clumsily that the victim, turning to the sheriff, exclaimed "Is this then your justice, Mr. Sheriff?" According to another account "the priest raised himself and putting out his hands cast forward his own bowels, crying 'Miserere mei'". Father William Warford, a contemporary of Blessed Thomas Pilchard, says: "There was not a priest in the whole West of England, who, to my knowledge, was his equal in virtue."

He is honored at the Dorset Martyrs Memorial on Gallows Hill, Dorchester, which includes Blessed William Pyke or Pike, a layman reconciled to the Catholic Church by Blessed Thomas Pilchard. Some sources give his date of execution at December 22, 1591 but others say that the date is uncertain and so he is remembered with his confessor. He was also hanged, drawn, and quartered because he had converted to Catholicism, which was an act of treason. He also answered the Bloody Question incorrectly according to authorities, denying Elizabeth I's ecclesiastical authority. He was a joiner, or carpenter, and was resolute.

The Catholic Encyclopedia records another brutal execution on March 21, in 1607, of Blessed Matthew Flathers in York:

An English priest and martyr; b. probably c. 1580 at Weston, Yorkshire, England; d. at York, 21 March, 1607. He was educated at Douai, and ordained at Arras, 25 March, 1606. Three months later he was sent to English mission, but was discovered almost immediately by the emissaries of the Government, who, after the Gunpowder Plot, had redoubled their vigilance in hunting down the priests of the proscribed religion. He was brought to trial, under the statute of 27 Elizabeth, on the charge of receiving orders abroad, and condemned to death. By an act of unusual clemency, this sentence was commuted to banishment for life; but after a brief exile, the undaunted priest returned to England in order to fulfil his mission, and, after ministering for a short time to his oppressed coreligionists in Yorkshire was again apprehended. Brought to trial at York on the charge of being ordained abroad and exercising priestly functions in England, Flathers was offered his life on condition that he take the recently enacted Oath of Allegiance. On his refusal, he was condemned to death and taken to the common place of execution outside Micklegate Bar, York. The usual punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering seems to have been carried out in a peculiarly brutal manner, and eyewitnesses relate how the tragic spectacle excited the commiseration of the crowds of Protestant spectators.

He was also included among the 85 Martyrs of England and Wales beatified in 1987. Our Lady and All Saints Catholic Church in Otley honors him as a local martyr.

Remember that hanging, drawing and quartering was live vivisection: a fumbling, inept executioner could prolong the suffering. It was a mercy if the hangman allowed the victim to die while hanging, or at least be unconscious.

Image credit: © Copyright Becky Williamson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Martyrs' Memorial, Gallows Hill, Dorchester, taken 2 years ago
This memorial was erected in 1986 to commemorate all Dorset men and women who were martyred for their faith, particularly during the religious troubles of the 16th and 17th centuries. 

The artist who created the sculptures was Elizabeth Frink.