Sunday 13 December 2015

Yesterdays Martyrs, the priests, laymen and laywomen of England, Beatification 1987

Homily of Pope Saint John Paul II at the Beatification of 85 English Martyrs
Sunday 22nd November 1987
Mary's Dowry Productions was able to attend the Beatification of the 85 English Martyrs in Rome on 22nd November 1987 (some of us at the young ages of six and ten!)
This pilgrimage with many from our parish of the English Martyrs here in Goring-by-Sea certainly began our journey of devotion to the English Martyrs. We founded Mary's Dowry Productions 20 years later to bring the lives of the English Martyrs to others through film.
The cover of our Mass book for the Beatification in 1987
© Mary's Dowry Productions
In 2007 Mary’s Dowry Productions was formed to present the lives of many of our English Martyrs in a new form of film media. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with our Saints.
We were so blessed to meet Pope Saint John Paul II at the Beatification of
the 85 English Martyrs in 1987.
Pope Saint John Paul II with Emily and Bernadette, aged 10 and 6
(both shown here in our photograph).
© 1987 Mary's Dowry Productions
The Eighty-five Martyrs of England and Wales are a group of men who were executed on charges of treason and related offences in the Kingdom of England between 1584 and 1679. Of the eighty-five, seventy-five (sixty-one priests and fourteen laymen) were executed under Jesuits, etc. Act 1584.
They were beatified on 22 November 1987 by Pope John Paul II.
In England, these martyrs, together with those beatified between 1886 and 1929, are commemorated by a feast day on 4 May. This day also honours the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who hold the rank of saint; the Forty Martyrs were honoured separately on 25 October until the liturgical calendar for England was revised in the year 2000.
In Wales, 4 May specifically commemorates the beatified martyrs of England and Wales. At least two of the martyrs named in this group of 85 - William Davies and Charles Mahoney - have Welsh connections. In the Welsh calendar, 25 October is still kept as a distinct feast of the 'Six Welsh Martyrs and their companions', as the Forty canonised Martyrs are known in Wales.
Saint Edmund Campion, Jesuit priest, one of the 40 Martyrs
This scene was filmed in 2008 under our own SISTINE CHAPEL CEILING
on the roof of our parish of the English Martyrs, Goring-by-Sea
© 2008 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Edmund Campion' DVD
Here is the text of Pope Saint John Paul II's homily given at the Beatification:
"This feast of Christ the King proclaims that all earthly power is ultimately from God, that his Kingdom is our first and lasting concern and that obedience to his laws is more important than any other obligation or loyalty.
Thomas More, that most English of saints, declared on the scaffold: “I die the King’s good servant but God’s servant first". In this way he witnessed to the primacy of the Kingdom.
Today we have declared Blessed another eighty-five martyrs: from England, Scotland and Wales, and one from Ireland. Each of them chose to be "God’s servant First". They consciously and willingly embraced death for love of Christ and the Church. They too chose the Kingdom above all else. If the price had to be death they would pay it with courage and joy.
Margaret Roper tries to speak with her father, Saint Thomas More
as he is led from his trial at Westminster to the Tower
© 2012 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Thomas More' DVD
Blessed Nicholas Postgate welcomed his execution "as a short cut to heaven". Blessed Joseph Lambton encouraged those who were to die with him with the words "Let us be merry, for tomorrow I hope we shall have a heavenly breakfast". Blessed Hugh Taylor, not knowing the day of his death, said: "How happy I should be if on this Friday, on which Christ died for me, I might encounter death for him". He was executed on that very day, Friday 6 November 1585. Blessed Henry Heath, who died in 1643, thanked the court for condemning him and giving him the "singular honour to die with Christ".
Our photograph of the altar decorated for the English Martyrs in Saint Peter's Basilica
© 1987 Mary's Dowry Productions
Among these eighty-five martyrs we find priests and laymen, scholars and craftsmen. The oldest was in his eighties, and the youngest no more than twenty-four. There were among them a printer, a bartender, a stable-hand, a tailor. What unites them all is the sacrifice of their lives in the service of Christ their Lord.
The priests among them wished only to feed their people with the Bread of Life and with the Word of the Gospel. To do so meant risking their lives. But for them this price was small compared to the riches they could bring to their people in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The twenty-two laymen in this group of martyrs shared to the full the same love of the Eucharist.
Saint Edmund Gennings was only 24 years of age when he was executed
© 2010 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Edmund Gennings' DVD
 They, too, repeatedly risked their lives, working together with their priests, assisting, protecting and sheltering them. Laymen and priests worked together; together they stood on the scaffold and together welcomed death. Many women, too, not included today in this group of martyrs, suffered for their faith and died in prison. They have earned our undying admiration and remembrance.
Saint Anne Line, one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales
prepares a secret room in a safe house that she cared for
© 2010 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint Anne Line' DVD
These martyrs gave their lives for their loyalty to the authority of the Successor of Peter, who alone is Pastor of the whole flock. They also gave their lives for the unity of the Church, since they shared the Church’s fait, unaltered down the ages, that the Successor of Peter has been given the task of serving and ensuring "the unity of the flock of Christ". He has been given by Christ the particular role of confirming the faith of his brethren.

Our photograph of the special display in Saint Peter's Basilica - 1987
© 1987 Mary's Dowry Productions
The martyrs grasped the importance of that Petrine ministry. They gave their lives rather than deny this truth of their faith. Over the centuries the Church in England, Wales and Scotland has drawn inspiration from these martyrs and continues in love of the Mass and in faithful adherence to the Bishop of Rome. The same loyalty and faithfulness to the Pope is demonstrated today whenever the work of renewal in the Church is carried out in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and in communion with the universal Church.
Central to this renewal, to which the Holy Spirit calls the Church, is work for that unity among Christians for which Christ himself prayed. We must all rejoice that the hostilities between Christians, which so shaped the age of these martyrs, are over, replaced by fraternal love and mutual esteem.
© 1987 Mary's Dowry Productions
Seventeen years ago forty of the glorious company of martyrs were canonized. It was the prayer of the Church on that day that the blood of those martyrs would be a source of healing for the divisions between Christians. Today we may fittingly give thanks for the progress made in the intervening years towards fuller communion between Anglicans and Catholics. We rejoice in the deeper understanding, broader collaboration and common witness that have taken place through the power of God.
In the days of the martyrs whom we honour today, there were other Christians who died for their beliefs. We can all now appreciate and respect their sacrifice. Let us respond together to the great challenge which confronts those who would preach the Gospel in our age. Let us be bold and united in our profession of our common Lord and Master, Jesus Christ." - Pope Saint John Paul II.

For films about the English Martyrs:

Saint Margaret Clitherow DVD
One of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales
© 2009 Mary's Dowry Productions

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Fantastic post - love the photographs and the work that you are doing to make known the lives of the English Martyrs.