Monday 7 December 2015

Carthusians in Tudor England (2), Saint John Houghton, English Martyr (part two), DVD, with photographs - Thomas Cromwell

Saint John Houghton 'O Lord, what will You do with my heart?'
Screenshot from 'Saint John Houghton' DVD
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
In April 1535 the royal commissioners were due to descend upon the Charterhouse to obtain the sworn acceptance of the monks to the Act of Supremacy, or risk being charged with high treason should they refuse. John Houghton asked for three days of special preparation to be held. The first was devoted to prayers and Prior Houghton's homily was a meditation on Psalm 59: 'Save me from my enemies, my God; protect me from those who attack me...' He concluded by saying, 'It is better for us to bear some brief punishment for our faults than to be preserved for eternal torments.' The second day was given over to confession and reconciliation with each other, and the third to a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. It was a most moving experience for all the community. While this triduum was taking place, apparently quite by coincidence, Priors Lawrence and Webster came to London to consult with John Houghton and their brethren.
Thomas Cromwell
© 2015 Mary's Dowry Productions
The three priors sought an interview with Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII's chief secretary and since 1535 Ecclesiastical Vicar General. Cromwell, along with his protégé, Richard Rich, was responsible for the visitation and eventual suppression of the monasteries, euphemistically referred to as the 'dissolution'. This was the man the three monks naively hoped to persuade to give them exemption, or at least to agree a form of oath that would be acceptable to their communities. Cromwell treated them discourteously and refused to listen. He committed all three of them to the Tower and on 20th April they were brought before Cromwell, Rich, Bedyll and others. They remained steadfast in their refusal to take the oath and consistent in the reasons they adduced for doing so. The priors declared themselves willing to take the path if, once again, they could add 'as far as the law of God allows'. But Cromwell would permit no such condition, and insisted that the oath be taken without reservation, which the free priors refused to do.
They were sent to the Tower of London and joined there four days later by Richard Reynolds, a monk of the Bridgettine Order.
Taken from The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales by Malcolm Pullen
Our film about Saint John Houghton will be available on DVD from:

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