Friday 4 May 2007

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!

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Blogger English Catholic said...

The hand of St Margaret Clitherow is also supposed to be at the Bar Convent in York.

However I have heard that it probably isn't her hand so maybe Ladyewell do have it...

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the Feast of the Martyrs of England & Wales haphazardly coincide with today's regional and local elections?

5:04 pm  
Blogger Lawrence Lew OP said...

What amazing relics... Thank you for posting them today Father.

5:31 pm  
Blogger Mulier Fortis said...

Oh wow, fabulous post, Fr N !!

BTW the Tyburn Walk is this Sunday!

10:36 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that Somngs of Praise on BBC TV this Sunday is from Ladyewell.

11:34 pm  
Blogger Michelle Therese said...

The eyeball is NASTY!! But your blog is really cool Father!!

God bless!

-Michelle in Scotland

9:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I had the joy yesterday of venerating the other hand of St Margaret Clitherow at the Bar Convent, along with people attending a pilgrimage organised by the Society of St Pius X.

English Catholic, please note: the saint had TWO hands, like the rest of us! I don't see why they shouldn't both be genuine. The hand at the Bar Convent looks very like the one in the picture - dark and shrivelled but incorrupt.

Sancta Margarita Eboracensis, ora pro nobis.

12:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for the inspiration. I plan on visiting nothing but the Catholic shrines/places of martyrdom and monasteries when I visit England.
My 25 yr. old daughter from San Francisco, California will be in London 18 months for her company, starting in August.
She will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation May 17 in SF.
Please pray that she be imbued with the faith,strength and love for His Church displayed by these precious souls who now intercede for us...
"THIS IS LOVE"......

Vanessa's mom

3:51 pm  
Blogger ali mata said...

Question for the Padre...

how can a lay person go about gettin a second or third degree relic? I assume getting a first degree is just for churches or religious orders. Gracias.

5:56 pm  
Blogger Jay said...

Maybe I am overreacting, but your comment about eyeball of the Saint sound like a blasphemy, Coffee Wife. Repent and pray, may God have mercy on you!

4:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for refreshing my knowledge of the 3 women of the "40 English Martyrs" whose feast day is today. Margaret Clitherow, Anne Line, Margaret Ward. I feel honoured to be an English Catholic who has benefitted from their legecy of determined committment to 'the Faith'.

6:52 pm  

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