Relics of the English Martyrs
To commemorate today's Feast of the Martyrs of England and Wales, I thought I might post some pictures of relics I came across during my travels around Lancashire. The above picture shows one of the most grisly I've seen - the eyeball of Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ. He was martyred at Worcester in 1606, just after the Gunpowder Plot. After being hanged and disembowelled, he was decapitated and the executioner struck with such force that the martyr's eye flew out. The reliquary is in the shape of ane eye - complete with eye lashes! - and bears the inscription: Oculis dexter P. Ed. Olcorni Soc. Jesu.
The priests of the time went about secretly, wearing disguise and using false names. Above you see a travelling Mass kit (with vestments) used by one of the martyrs and now kept at Stonyhurst. Pious ladies often made vestments for these underground Masses, including this fine seventeenth century example:
Special pieces of furniture, which folded out to become dignified altars, were designed. The one below is now kept at the shrine of Ladyewell. It dates from 1560 and is made in the shape of a bureau. It was used by St Edmund Campion at Eastertide 1581, St Edmund Arrowsmith in 1622 and Blessed John Woodcock.
Finally, also at Ladyewell, a mummified hand that is believed to have belonged to that great Yorkshire woman and martyr, St Margaret Clitherow:
All Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!