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Sunday, February 27, 2011

A peaceful transition?

Rev. Fr Hugh Green O.F.M.

There are some who believe that the Reformation in England was, by and large, a fairly slow and peaceful affair, with the old Catholic Religion giving place to the new protestant one. Nothing could, in fact, be further from the truth. Catholics were bitterly and brutally persecuted in an attempt to force them into submission. The following relation of the martyrdom of Rev. Fr Hugh Green, O.F.M. was especially moving and I felt it should be published for all to see so that the sufferings that Catholics have had to endure for their Faith may not be forgotten. It is the manuscript account of a pious Catholic woman who was present at his execution and forms part of his life written by Bishop Richard Challoner in his “Memoirs of Missionary Priests and other Catholics” which will soon be able to be found in our library. It is quite long and so part of it has been hidden and can be shown by clicking the “Read more” link.

Upon Wednesday before the sentence of death being given against him by judge Foster, he said, Sit nomen Domini Jesu benedictum in sæcula. "May the name of the Lord Jesus be for ever blessed." He should have died upon Thursday, and to that end the furze was carried to the hill to make the fire, and a great multitude of people were in the streets, and at the gate, and lanes, to see the execution. But our great martyr, did desire to die on Friday, the which was by a friend of his procured of the sheriff, though with very much difficulty, being opposed by Millard, the master keeper. And it was noted, that after his sentence he never went to bed, and eat but very little, scarce enough to sustain nature; yet he was very cheerful and full of courage to the last. Now I beseech our Lord to put his words into my memory, that I may especially relate them, for I have a great scruple to add or take away: and therefore I have had the help of a true servant of God, who was attentive at his death…. Much admired was his devotion: he kneeling on the hurdle made his prayer, and kissed it before he lay down upon it, and continued his prayers until he came to the place of execution. Then he was taken from the hurdle, and stayed on the hill a good stance from the gallows, until three poor women were hanged: two of them had sent him word the night before, that they would die in his faith. O! what comfort was this to God's true servant who did all which was possible to see and to speak with them, but could not. Then they sent again to desire him, that when they had made a confession of their sinful life at the gallows, and should give him a sign, that he then should absolve them. The which with great joy on his part, and much benefit, (I hope,) on theirs, was performed: they two turning their faces towards us, and throwing forth their arms, cried out to him, God be with you, sir; and so died: but the third woman turned from us, towards the press of people, and so she died, her face or speech never tending towards us. Now, I also noted that our martyr's charity in this short time of life was not unrewarded; for God of his mercy was pleased to yield him the like comfort, by a reverend father of the Society of Jesus, who was there on horseback to absolve him, the which with great devotion and reverence, taking off his cap, and lifting up his eyes and hands to heaven, he received from him. I cannot but bless God to see the magnanimity of these two, the holy martyr and that reverend father. The one being at the point of death, with such comfort as his cheerful countenance expressed; and the other not apprehending the great danger he was in to be taken by the rude multitude, of whom he should have found no mercy. Now, is our martyr brought to the foot of the ladder by the sheriff, where falling upon his knees, he remained in devout prayer almost half an hour: then he took his crucifix and Agnus Dei from his neck, and gave them to this devout gentlewoman, my assistant in this relation; and his beads he gave to another; also he gave the master-keeper his handkerchief. And last of all to me most unworthy, he gave his book of litanies, &c., also from the gallows he threw me down his band, spectacles, and priest's girdle. Then turning himself to the people, and blessing himself with the sign of the cross, he began:Read more >>


Felix said...

How moving and edifying! Deo gratias for the two women who converted.

Holy martyr, pray for us, and particularly for priests.

DomJP said...

Astonishing courage and grace! Holy Man of God pray for our poor country and for me a sinner!

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