Saturday 19 August 2017

A priest's defense of the Most Holy Eucharist - Elizabethan England, English Martyr, Saint Polydore Plasden

A Priest's Defense of the Most Holy Eucharist

In 2010, Mary's Dowry Productions produced three films, intricately linked, on the lives and missions of three English Martyrs, who were also three friends: Saint Edmund Gennings, Saint Swithun Wells and Saint Polydore Plasden. Saint Swithun was an Elizabethan gentleman with connections to Shakespeare, who left his countryside sporting life to relocate to the heart of London. There he established a safe house for hunted Catholic priests complete with a hidden, upstairs secret room where the outlawed Mass could be offered. 

Two missionary priests and friends, Saint Edmund Gennings (24 years old) and Saint Polydore Plasden (28 years old) traveled to Swithun's home in Autumn of 1591 where they greeted once more Swithun, his wife, daughter and staff, and stayed at the safe house to offer Mass.
It was during Mass that Queen Elizabeth I's chief priest-hunter, a ruthless torturer named Richard Topcliffe, stormed the house with an army of men to arrest all in attendance, especially the two priests. Young Father Polydore bargained with Topcliffe at the door that should they be permitted to finish Mass they would go quietly with him. Surprisingly, the priest catcher agreed.
Father Polydore took meticulous care to consume every fragment and particle of the Most Holy Eucharist and purify every sacred vessel used in the Holy Sacrifice, knowing that Topcliffe was waiting to drag he and Father Edmund to the Tower to torture and then execute them both. Despite imminent terror and crushing oppression, this devout, calm and deeply reverent English priest was determined that the Most Holy Eucharist would not be subjected to sacrilege or desecration at the hands of the impious Topcliffe and his men.

Father Polydore Plasden, along with Father Edmund Gennings, several laymen and women, servants and Swithun's wife, were taken under guard to be questioned, imprisoned and tortured.
On a cold, dreary December morning, Saint Polydore joyfully went to his death, parting with his friends, Saint Edmund and Saint Swithun who were executed outside Saint Swithun's house, to the infamous Tyburn Triple gallows.

Saint Polydore Plasden's incredible witness to the Catholic Faith at the gallows so moved the crowd that among them, Sir Walter Raleigh, stepped up to stop the execution. He sent a message to the Queen to spare Father Polydore, but the Queen refused. Sir Walter Raleigh insisted that this brave, young Catholic priest be allowed to hang until dead before his body was brutally butchered.

Our films about these heroic witnesses to the Faith are available on DVD through our online shop.
As seen on EWTN

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