Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Today used to be the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. I believe it's another of the feasts the English bishops have played around with, and now they are all lumped together with the Beatified Martyrs in May. Why can't we have two feasts for the Martyrs? I remember as a young man going on the pilgrimage to Aylesford for this feast - presumably that doesn't happen any more? As the Holy Father once said, "heedlessness leads to forgetfulness." It was a felony, punishable by death, simply to be a Catholic priest; it was a felony, punishable by death to aid or hide a Catholic priest. All the persecution was introduced, not by a tyrant or demagogue, but by carefully crafted legislation - the force of the law. Let us not imagine that it cannot happen again - it is already starting in Britain - and it is not far away over here. These great martyrs, priests, religious and wonderful laypeople - should be widely known - and greatly venerated - we will need their prayers!


Mac McLernon said...

Heheheheh... true to form Fr Tim had a votive Mass for the Martyrs!

Liz said...

I discovered Margaret Clitheroe in the year I was becoming Catholic. She was martyred on my birthday, she was a convert whose husband remained Protestant, she was a homeschooling mom, so she definitely was my pick for a saint. I agree that we forget these people at our peril. When I see what's happening in Sweden, when I see atheists saying that we shouldn't be able to teach religion to our children, when I see people saying that religious schools in England shouldn't be able to teach religion as if it were true, well then I know which saints we need to turn to for intercession. It can't happen here we think, but I'll bet that people in England never would have thought it could happen there before Henry decided Anne was a better bed partner than Catherine. England was a solidly Catholic country, Henry even posted a defense of the faith against Luther, but in a very short span of time being Catholic was a crime. Of course the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church and persecution does have a way of weeding out the people who are merely involved for "social" or "cultural" reasons, but persecution has a nasty way of hurting as well.