Thursday 4 May 2017

Why venerate the martyrs? "Our forefathers in the faith are indeed exceedingly honourable" - The Martyrs of England and Wales

The Faith of our Fathers in England and Wales
4th May 2017
The Martyrs
Mass in a forest - the life of an English Martyr
Our film production apostolate, Mary's Dowry Productions, was founded in 2007 because of an English Martyr. Saint Philip Howard, the Earl of Arundel.
Since then, we have managed to present the accounts of several English Martyrs in film biographies as a way of making their heroic witnesses, missions and love for the Catholic Faith in England, more well known. Many of these have been broadcast on EWTN, thus reaching people all over the globe. We have had many letters and emails from people, especially in the USA, who have been amazed to learn the history of the English Martyrs, and the history of the Catholic Faith in England especially during penal times.
As a daily remembrance of our forefathers in the faith, we recall the historical records of their lives and times as well as their own writings.
The claims of the martyrs on our devotion need hardly be expressed. If the apostle of every country is specially venerated as the means by which the faith was first received, what honour is due to this goodly company of our own race and speech which at so great a cost preserved the faith for us?
Its members are our patrons, then, by the double tie of nature and grace.
Saint Henry Morse in prison © 2014 Mary's Dowry Productions
"Look," says the Prophet, "to the rock whence you are hewn, to the hole of the pit whence you were dug out." And our forefathers in the faith are indeed "exceedingly honourable." Fisher, the saintly cardinal; More, the illustrious chancellor; Campion, the "golden-mouthed"; Southwell, the priest poet; Margaret Pole, the last of the Plantagenets; Margaret Clitherow, in the "winepress alone", Ralph Milner, the sturdy yeoman; Philip Howard, the victim of Herodias; Swithun Wells, a "hunter before the Lord"; Horner the tailor, with his vestments of salvation; Mason, the serving-man; Plunketh, last in time, not least in dignity or holiness. All these, high or humble, with the sons of SS. Augustine, Benedict, Bridget, Bruno, Francis, Ignatius, and the crowd of secular priests, bear the same palm and shine with the same aureole, for they confessed una voce the same faith and sealed it with their blood, and for this land of ours.
(From the Preface of the Mementoes of the Martyrs and Confessors of England and Wales by Henry Sebastian Bowden)
Protomartyr Saint John Houghton, who was executed on 4th May 1535
Some of our films about the English Martyrs are available to watch on Youtube, thus reaching a different audience as well as being shown to classes.
All of our films are available on DVD worldwide in all region formats from:

Wednesday 3 May 2017

3rd May 1606 - an English Martyr - The execution of Father Henry Garnet, Jesuit

3rd May 1606
On this day in England in 1606, Father Henry Garnet was executed at Tyburn, London.
For some centuries, a second feast, the Invention of the Cross, was celebrated on May 3 in the Roman and Gallican churches, following a tradition that marked that date as the day on which Saint Helena discovered the True Cross. In Jerusalem, however, the finding of the Cross was celebrated from the beginning on September 14.  Pope Saint John XXIII removed this duplication in 1960, so that the General Roman Calendar now celebrates the Holy Cross only on September 14.
At the time of Father Henry Garnet's execution, he highlighted the date of the Feast of the Holy Cross and reaffirmed his innocence of the crimes of which he was charged.
Father Henry Garnet was an important figure in England during the time of the Martyrs, as the head of the Jesuits in England and a deeply holy priest.
We have included Father Henry Garnet in several of our film biographies of the English Martyrs, especially in our film SAINT NICHOLAS OWEN: THE PRIEST HOLE MAKER.
Here is an account of this day in 1606:
3rd May 1606 - Father Henry Garnet's execution
After about three months spent in the Tower, on Saturday 3 May 1606 Garnet was strapped to a wooden hurdle and taken by three horses to the churchyard of St Paul's. He wore a black cloak over his clothes and hat, and spent much of the journey with his hands together and eyes closed. Present in the churchyard were the Sheriff of London, Sir Henry Montague, George Abbot and John Overal. When asked if he had knowledge of any further treasons, Garnet replied that he had nothing to say. He rejected any entreatments to abandon his faith for Protestantism, and said that he had committed no offence against the king. The only thing he thought he might be condemned for was for abiding by the terms of the confessional, and if by that action he had offended the king or state, he asked for forgiveness. The recorder announced that this was an admission of guilt, but Garnet reiterated his not guilty plea and continued to argue the point.
Garnet highlighted the date of his execution, 3 May, the Feast of the Cross, and reaffirmed his innocence. He defended Anne Vaux against claims that their relationship had been inappropriate. He then prayed at the base of the ladder, disrobed down to his long, sewn-up shirt, "that the wind might not blow it up", and mounted the ladder. He ignored a Protestant minister who came forward, replying to an objectionable member of the audience that he "ever meant to die a true but perfect Catholic". Bishop Overal protested that "we are all Catholics", although Garnet disagreed with this. He once again said his prayers, and was then thrown off the ladder. Before the executioner could cut him down alive, many in the crowd pulled on his legs, and as a result, Garnet did not suffer the remainder of his grim sentence.
Henry Garnet conceals St. Nicholas Owen in one of
St. Nicholas Owen's own priest holes before he and
his fellow Jesuits hide themselves
Screenshot © 2010 St. Nicholas Owen DVD
 There was no applause when the executioner held Garnet's heart aloft and said the traditional words, "Behold the heart of a traitor". His head was set on a pole on London Bridge, but crowds of onlookers fascinated by its pallid appearance eventually forced the government to turn the head upwards, so its face was no longer visible.
A bloodstained straw husk saved from the scene of the execution and said to bear Garnet's image became an object of curiosity. It was smuggled out of the country into the possession of the Society of Jesus, before being lost during the French Revolution (from Wikipedia)
Henry Garnet features in several of our films.
Visit us online for a full listing of films including
Saint Nicholas Owen and Saint Helen:

A meditation on the English Martyrs, Mary's Dowry Productions, Feast Day May 4th

Here is a meditation on the
for their feast day on May 4th
For films about individual English Martyrs visit:
In this video you will see some new footage of 'St. Thomas Garnet' which we filmed for in March. A new film biography of his life and martyrdom will be available this year (2017).
Meanwhile, we have a variety of films of the English Martyrs in stock, shipped worldwide in all region formats, some of which have been broadcast on EWTN.

THE WITNESS OF TRADITION - St Richard Reynold, English Martyr, May 2017

St. Richard Reynolds - Bridgettine monk
Martyred on May 4th 1535
St. Richard Reynolds was hanged, drawn and quartered with St. John Houghton.
Here is today's reading taken from:
Mementoes of the Martyrs and Confessors of England and Wales
by Henry Sebastian Bowden
The Witness of Tradition
INTERROGATED by Chancellor Audley as to why he persisted in an opinion against which so many lords and bishops in Parliament and the whole realm had decreed, Reynolds replied:
"I had intended to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ when He was questioned by Herod and not to answer. But since you compel me to clear both my conscience and that of the bystanders, I say that if we propose to maintain opinions by proofs, testimonies and reasons, mine will be far stronger than yours, because I have all the rest of Christendom in my favour.
I dare even say all this kingdom, although the small part holds with you, for I am sure the larger part is at heart of our opinion, although outwardly - partly from fear and partly from hope - they profess to be of yours."
On this he was commanded, under the heaviest penalties of the law, to declare who held with him. He replied,
"All good men of the kingdom hold with me," and added, "As to proofs of dead witnesses, I have in my favour all the general councils, all the historians, the holy doctors of the Church for the last fifteen hundred years, especially St Ambrose, St Jerome, St Augustine and St Gregory."
St. Richard Reybolds was dragged to Tyburn on a hurdle and gained the martyrs crown on 4th May 1535.
For film biographies of the English Martyrs visit: