English Martyrs

English Martyrs gave their live so the Catholicism could be preserved - Homily by Fr Ray Staunton

The English Martyrs

On Monday 4 May we celebrate the feast of the English Martyrs, and call to mind not only the forty priests, religious and lay men and women canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, but the further two hundred and forty-two declared ‘blessed’ and those many unknown Catholics who died defending the faith in a period of around 150 years following the Reformation.

For most of us practising our faith in this country today, the idea of laying down our lives for the supremacy of the Pope, the unity of the Church, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is a remote concept. True the Church here has its struggles - where does it not - but few of us would worry about persecution unto death and it is for this very reason that today’s feast is of such importance. It reminds us of the selfless sacrifice made by so many that the faith might live in England through the shedding of their blood, and of the continuing sacrifice made by so many in others in less tolerant areas of the world today.

Much has been written on the sufferings of these martyrs; they often endured trials that are difficult for us to dwell upon today and yet their sacrifice was not in vain. Quoting Tertullian, Pope Paul VI in his homily at the canonisation of the forty martyrs wrote; “‘The blood of Christians is the seed that is sown.’ As it was with the shedding of Christ’s own blood, so it is with the sacrificial offering of her Martyrs in union with His: a source of life and of spiritual fecundity for the Church and the entire world.”

As it was then, so it is today; the sacrifice of the martyrs, united to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, goes far beyond the geographical constraints of nation states and the limits of their own time, to provide a rich source of spiritual life and nourishment upon which the Church can draw in times of peace and travail.

Prayer:

Lord have mercy on us.

Christ have mercy on us.

Lord have mercy on us. Christ hear us.

Christ graciously hear us.

God the Father, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.

Mary, Queen of Apostles, Pray for us.
Mary, Queen of Martyrs, Pray for us.

St John Houghton, Pray for us.
St Richard Reynolds, Pray for us.
St Augustine Webster, Pray for us.
St Robert Lawrence, Pray for us.
St John Stone, Pray for us.
St Cuthbert Mayne, Pray for us.
St Edmund Campion, Pray for us.
St Ralph Sherwin, Pray for us.
St Alexander Briant, Pray for us.
St John Payne, Pray for us.
St Luke Kirby, Pray for us.
St Richard Gwyn, Pray for us.
St Margaret Clitherow, Pray for us.
St Margaret Ward, Pray for us.
St Edmund Gennings, Pray for us.
St Swithun Wells, Pray for us.
St Polydore Plasden, Pray for us.
St Eustace White, Pray for us.
St John Boste, Pray for us.
St Robert Southwell, Pray for us.
St Henry Walpole, Pray for us.
St Philip Howard, Pray for us.
St John Jones, Pray for us.
St John Rigby, Pray for us.
St Anne Line, Pray for us.
St Nicholas Owen, Pray for us.
St Thomas Garnet, Pray for us.
St John Roberts, Pray for us.
St John Almond, Pray for us.
St Edmund Arrowsmith, Pray for us.
St Ambrose Barlow, Pray for us.
St Alban Roe, Pray for us.
St Henry Morse, Pray for us.
St John Southworth, Pray for us.
St John Plessington, Pray for us.
St Philip Evans, Pray for us.
St John Lloyd, Pray for us.
St John Wall, Pray for us.
St John Kemble, Pray for us.
St David Lewis, Pray for us.

Let us pray.

Oh God, in whom there is no change or shadow of alteration, you gave courage to the Holy Martyrs. Grant unto us, we beseech you, through their intercession, the grace to always value the Holy Mass. May we be strengthened to serve you in imitation of the courage of these Holy Martyrs. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever. Amen.

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