|Forty Martyrs of England and Wales|
|Died||1535–1679, England and Wales|
|Venerated in|| Catholic Church |
(England and Wales)
|Canonized||25 October 1970, Vatican City, by Pope Paul VI|
|Feast||4 May (England) 25 October (Wales)|
|Notable martyrs||Edmund Campion, S.J.|
The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales are a group of Catholic, lay and religious, men and women, executed between 1535 and 1679 for treason and related offences under various laws enacted by Parliament during the English Reformation. The individuals listed range from Carthusian monks who in 1535 declined to accept Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy, to seminary priests who were caught up in the alleged ‘Popish Plot’ against Charles II in 1679. Many were sentenced to death at show trials, or with no trial at all.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
A show trial is a public trial in which the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal the presentation of both the accusation and the verdict to the public so they will serve as both an impressive example and a warning to other would-be dissidents or transgressors. Show trials tend to be retributive rather than corrective and they are also conducted for propagandistic purposes. The term was first recorded in the 1930s.
The first wave of executions came with the reign of King Henry VIII and involved persons who did not support the 1534 Act of Supremacy and dissolution of the monasteries.Carthusian John Houghton, and Bridgettine Richard Reynolds died at this time.
Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy"; he invested heavily in the Navy, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.
The Acts of Supremacy are two acts passed by the Parliament of England in the 16th century that established the English monarchs as the head of the Church of England. The 1534 Act declared Henry VIII of England and his successors as the Supreme Head of the Church, replacing the Pope. The Act was repealed during the reign of the Catholic Queen Mary I. The 1558 Act declared Queen Elizabeth I and her successors the Supreme Governor of the Church, a title that the British monarch still holds.
In 1570 Pope Pius V, in support of various rebellions in England and Ireland, excommunicated Queen Elizabeth, absolving her Catholic subjects of their allegiance to her. The crown responded with more rigorous enforcement of various penal laws already enacted and passed new ones. 13 Eliz. c.1 made it high treason to affirm that the queen ought not to enjoy the Crown, or to declare her to be a heretic. "An act against Jesuits, seminary priests, and such other like disobedient persons", (27 Eliz.1, c. 2), the statute under which most of the English martyrs suffered, made it high treason for any Jesuit or any seminary priest to be in England at all, and a felony for any one to harbor or aid them.All but six of the forty had been hanged, drawn and quartered, many of them at Tyburn.
Pope Pius V, born Antonio Ghislieri, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1566 to his death in 1572. He is venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman rite within the Latin Church. Pius V declared Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church.
Elizabeth I was Queen of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death on 24 March 1603. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the last of the five monarchs of the House of Tudor.
In English history, penal law refers to a specific series of laws that sought to uphold the establishment of the Church of England against Protestant nonconformists and Catholicism, by imposing various forfeitures, civil penalties, and civil disabilities upon these dissenters. The penal laws in general were repealed in the 19th century during the process of Catholic Emancipation. Penal actions are civil in nature and were not English common law.
Saint John Almond was an English Catholic priest. He was ordained in 1598 and martyred in 1612. Canonized in 1970, John Almond is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Saint Edmund Arrowsmith, SJ, is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales of the Roman Catholic Church. The main source of information on St Edmund is a contemporary account written by an eyewitness and published a short time after his death. This document, conforming to the ancient style of the "Acts of martyrs" includes the story of the execution of another 17th-century Recusant martyr, Richard Herst.
Ambrose Edward Barlow, O.S.B., was an English Benedictine monk who is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. He is one of a group of saints canonized by Pope Paul VI who became known as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Following beatifications between 1886 and 1929, there were already numerous martyrs from England and Wales recognised with the rank of Blessed. The bishops of the province identified a list of 40 further names; reasons given for the choice of those particular names include a spread of social status, religious rank, geographical spread and the pre-existence of popular devotion. The list of names was submitted to Rome in December 1960. In the case of a martyr, a miracle is not required. For a martyr, the Pope has only to make a declaration of martyrdom, which is a certification that the Venerable gave his life voluntarily as a witness of the Faith or in an act of heroic charity for others.
The Archbishop of Westminster, then Cardinal William Godfrey, sent a description of 24 seemingly miraculous cases to the Sacred Congregation. Out of 20 candidate cases for recognition as answered prayers, the alleged cure of a young mother from a malignant tumor was selected as the clearest case. In light of the fact that Thomas More and John Fisher, belonging to the same group of Martyrs, had been canonized with a dispensation from miracles, Pope Paul VI, after discussions with the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, considered that it was possible to proceed with the Canonization on the basis of one miracle.
Pope Paul VI granted permission for the whole group of 40 names to be recognised as saints on the strength of this one miracle. The canonization ceremony took place in Rome on 25 October 1970.
In England, these martyrs were formerly commemorated within the Catholic Church by a feast day on 25 October, which is also the feast of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, but they are now celebrated together with all the 284 canonized or beatified martyrs of the English Reformation on 4 May.
In Wales, the Catholic Church keeps 25 October as the feast of the Six Welsh Martyrs and their companions. The Welsh Martyrs are the priests Philip Evans and John Lloyd, John Jones, David Lewis, John Roberts, and the teacher Richard Gwyn.The companions are the 34 English Martyrs listed above. Wales continues to keep 4 May as a separate feast for the beatified martyrs of England and Wales.
Saint Richard Reynolds, O.Ss.S was an English Brigittine monk executed in London for refusing the Oath of Supremacy to King Henry VIII of England. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970, among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Saint Augustine Webster was an English Catholic martyr. He was the prior of Our Lady of Melwood, a Carthusian house at Epworth, on the Isle of Axholme, in north Lincolnshire, in 1531. His feast day is 4 May.
Saint John Houghton, O.Cart., was a Carthusian hermit and Catholic priest and the first English Catholic martyr to die as a result of the Act of Supremacy by King Henry VIII of England. He was also the first member of his Order to die as a martyr.
Saint Alexander Briant was an English Jesuit and martyr, executed at Tyburn.
Saint John Boste is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, and one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
John Jones, also known as John Buckley, John Griffith, Godfrey Maurice, or Griffith Jones was a Franciscan friar, Roman Catholic priest, and martyr. He was born at Clynnog Fawr, Caernarfonshire (Gwynedd), Wales, and was executed 12 July 1598 at Southwark, England. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
William Exmew, O.Cart., was an English Catholic priest and Carthusian hermit. He died while imprisoned under King Henry VIII and is honored as a martyr by the Catholic Church. Exmew and his brother Carthusian martyrs were beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 9 December 1886.
The Carthusian Martyrs of London were the monks of the London Charterhouse, the monastery of the Carthusian Order in central London, who were put to death by the English state in a period lasting from the 4 May 1535 till the 20 September 1537. The method of execution was hanging, disembowelling while still alive and then quartering. Others were imprisoned and left to starve to death. The group also includes two monks who were brought to that house from the Charterhouses of Beauvale and Axholme and similarly dealt with. The total was 18 men, all of whom have been formally recognized by the Catholic Church as martyrs.
The Douai Martyrs is a name applied by the Roman Catholic Church to 158 Catholic priests trained in the English College at Douai, France, who were executed by the English state between 1577 and 1680.
Irish Catholic Martyrs were dozens of people who have been sanctified in varying degrees for dying for their Roman Catholic faith between 1537 and 1714 in Ireland. The canonisation of Oliver Plunkett in 1975 brought an awareness of the other men and women who died for the Catholic faith in the 16th and 17th centuries. On 22 September 1992 Pope John Paul II proclaimed a representative group from Ireland as martyrs and beatified them. "Martyr" was originally a Greek word meaning "witness". In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter, speaking to those in Jerusalem at Pentecost, claimed he and all the apostles were "martyrs", that is, witnesses, in this case to Jesus's resurrection. Later the word came to mean a person who followed the example of Christ and gave up their lives rather than deny their faith.
Saint Margaret Ward, the "pearl of Tyburn", was an English Catholic martyr who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I for assisting a priest to escape from prison. She was canonized in 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
St. Robert Lawrence was one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn for declining to sign the Oath of Supremacy. His feast day is 4 May.
David Lewis was a Jesuit Catholic priest and martyr who was also known as Charles Baker. Lewis was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales and is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church.
The Eighty-five Martyrs of England and Wales, also known as George Hatdock and Forty-one Companion Martyrs, are a group of men who were executed on charges of treason and related offences in the Kingdom of England between 1584 and 1679. Of the eighty-five, seventy-five were executed under Jesuits, etc. Act 1584.
The Carthusian martyrs are those members of the Carthusian monastic order who have been persecuted and killed because of their Christian faith and their adherence to the Catholic religion. As an enclosed order the Carthusians do not, on principle, put forward causes for their members, though causes have been promoted by others on their behalf.
During the English reformation a number of men were executed at Lancaster in England as a consequence of their Catholic faith. They are commonly referred to as the Lancaster Martyrs and are commemorated locally by the Lancaster Martyrs Memorial Stone which may be found close to the centre of Lancaster city.
Blessed John Haile was an elderly secular priest who was vicar of Isleworth Middlesex in the early 16th century; his significance in history, like that of many of the English martyrs, begins only with the events which led to his death.
Nine Martyrs of England and Wales, also known as Hugh Faringdon and Eight Companion Martyrs are a group of clergy and laypersons who were executed on charges of treason and related offences in the Kingdom of England. Eight of these occurred in 1539, during the reign of King Henry VIII, and one other in 1572. They are considered martyrs in the Roman Catholic Church and were beatified on 13 May 1895 by Pope Leo XIII.
Forty-one Martyrs of England and Wales, also known as Margaret Pole and Forty Companion Martyrs, are a group of clergy and laypersons who were executed on charges of treason and related offences in the Kingdom of England between 1535 and 1583. They are considered martyrs in the Roman Catholic Church and were beatified on 29 December 1886 by Pope Leo XIII.