Friday 21 March 2008

Good Friday - and the 400th Anniversary of a Martyrdom

Just returned from today's Solemn Liturgy, followed by some time in the confessional. Switching on EWTN I was pleased to be able to watch some of the action from St Peter's and also to see that the three chasubles we wore here in Hackney were not dissimilar to that worn by the Holy Father (see pictures above, courtesy of NLM)!

On Good Friday we commemorate the death of Our Lord and we pray for the strength to carry our own crosses, whatever they might be. Today, as it happens, is the 400th anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed Matthew Flathers, who had a very obvious share in Good Friday.

A Yorkshire man by birth, he was educated at Douai and ordained at Arras in 1606. Soon afterwards he returned to the English Mission and was arrested almost immediately, in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot.He was banished but managed to return to Yorkshire and, after his second capture, condemned to death 'for his priestly character.' He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Micklegate, York on 21 March 1608.

According to Bishop Challoner, 'he was butchered in a most barbarous manner; for he was no sooner turned off the ladder [to hang], but immediately cut down; and rising upon his feet, attempted to walk, as if half stunned; but one of the Sheriff's men quickly stopt his journey, by giving him a desperate cut on the head with his halberd; another violently flung him down, and held him fast while the executioner ripped up his breast, pulled out his heart, and so completed the butchery.'

Blessed Matthew Flathers, pray for us!

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Blogger Adulio said...

Thank you for this post Father. It makes me ashamed to think that I murmur against God over trivial things, when martyrs like this brave man suffered horrendously without complaint.

I do hope the Holy Father demands an apology one day from the Church of England, for the persecution of Catholics during the English Reformation.

1:38 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Art or other images of the Martyrs of England and Wales is VERY hard to find...

Any suggestion for internet sourceS?

5:05 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

"I do hope the Holy Father demands an apology one day from the Church of England, for the persecution of Catholics during the English Reformation. "

It is an odd sort of contradiction to the "wisdom of the world" that we can't very well be sorry the martyrs were given so very glorious an opportunity to die for Christ and His Church. We almost owe them a thank you for giving us these saints.

The apology we would hope for but will NEVER get is an apology for having cleaved so many from the True Faith. But actually, that happens, I suppose, with each conversion.

10:17 am  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Beyond the google image search, I don't know of any internet pictorial resources for the English Martyrs. As you say, there aren't a great deal of images out there and those that do exist tend to be over-used.

I've got some seventeenth century prints of the martyrs which I found very cheap on e-bay and they come from a Dutch book about Church history. We often forget that the martyrs made quite an impression in Catholic Europe at the time so there may be a number of pictorial sources out there that are not familiar in the Anglophone world.

10:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YIKES! Spare us the details Fr! lol

A very Happy & Holy Easter

5:13 pm  
Blogger M.J. said...

Happy Easter Father! ¬°Feliz Pascua!

10:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Daphne Pollen's famous painting of the English Martyrs kept at Stonor Park, in Oxfordshire. They have plenty of postcards in the shop. Then there is the beautiful painting by Geoffrey Webb in St James's, Spanish Place, and Rex Whistler's of St John Fisher and St Thomas More, with a central panel of Tyburn, in the London Oratory. I realize that the originals of the latter were stolen long ago but the splendid photographic reproductions have stood the test of time. Surely they sell pictures at the Tyburn Convent?

5:21 pm  

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