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Blessed Thomas Woodhouse
|Died||19 June 1573|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholicism|
|Beatified||1886 by Pope Leo XIII|
The Blessed Thomas Woodhouse was an English Catholic priest and martyr at Tyburn on 19 June 1573, being disembowelled alive.
Ordained during the latter part of Queen Mary Tudor's reign, he was a Lincolnshire rector for under a year, and in 1560 acted as a private tutor in Wales.However, he resigned that post as well over religious differences.
Mary I, also known as Mary Tudor, was the Queen of England and Ireland from July 1553 until her death. She is best known for her aggressive attempt to reverse the English Reformation, which had begun during the reign of her father, Henry VIII. The executions that marked her pursuit of the restoration of Roman Catholicism in England and Ireland led to her denunciation as "Bloody Mary" by her Protestant opponents.
A rector is, in an ecclesiastical sense, a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations. In contrast, a vicar is also a cleric but functions as an assistant and representative of an administrative leader.
On 14 May 1561, he was committed to the Fleet, London, having been arrested while saying Mass. For the rest of his life he remained in custody, uncompromising in his opposition to heresy, saying Mass in secret daily, and reciting his Office regularly.In early May 1571, having heard that John Story (martyr) had been condemned to death for having supported the Rising of the North two years before, Woodhouse offered to take Story's place on the scaffold. After secret negotiations with the Jesuit Provincial of Paris, he was welcomed by letter into the Society of Jesus, (although the Decree of the Congregation of Rites, 4 December 1886, describes him as a secular priest.)
Fleet Prison was a notorious London prison by the side of the River Fleet. The prison was built in 1197, was rebuilt several times, and was in use until 1844. It was demolished in 1846.
Blessed John Story was an English Roman Catholic martyr and Member of Parliament. Story escaped to Flanders in 1563, but seven years later he was lured aboard a boat in Antwerp and abducted to England, where he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and subsequently executed at Tyburn on a charge of treason.
The Rising of the North of 1569, also called the Revolt of the Northern Earls or Northern Rebellion, was an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.
Treated with considerable leniency till 19 November 1572, he sent the prison washerwoman to Lord Burghley's house with his famous letter. In it he begs him to seek reconciliation with the pope and earnestly to "persuade the Lady Elizabeth, who for her own great disobedience is most justly deposed, to submit herself unto her spiritual prince and father". Some days later in a personal interview he used equally definite language. Confined then by himself he wrote "divers papers, persuading men to the true faith and obedience", which he signed, tied to stones, and flung into the street.
He was repeatedly examined both publicly and privately. The Queen's private council was inclined to dismiss him as mad. Once, when he had denied the queen's title, someone said, "If you saw her Majesty, you would not say so, for her Majesty is great". "But the Majesty of God is greater", he answered.
Tried in mid-April 1573 at the Guildhall, Woodhouse not only refused to recognize the authority of the judges, but also challenged the jurisdiction of the secular court to judge a priest.Found guilty of treason, he was executed at Tyburn on 19 June 1573. He defiantly argued that the queen needed to beg pardon from the Pope, leading some in the crowd to cry out "hang him, hang him, this man is worse than Story".
Guildhall is a municipal building in the Moorgate area of the City of London, England. It is situated off Gresham and Basinghall streets, in the wards of Bassishaw and Cheap. The building has been used as a town hall for several hundred years, and is still the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London and its Corporation. It should not be confused with London's City Hall, the administrative centre for Greater London. The term "Guildhall" refers both to the whole building and to its main room, which is a medieval great hall. The nearest London Underground stations are Bank, St Paul's and Moorgate. It is a Grade I-listed building.
Thomas Woodhouse was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Leo XIII in 1886; the Jesuits consider him the protomartyr of the Company on English soil. Woodhouse is commemorated on 19 June.
Pope Leo XIII was head of the Catholic Church from 20 February 1878 to his death. He was the oldest pope, and had the third-longest confirmed pontificate, behind that of Pius IX and John Paul II.
The Blessed Thomas Abel was an English priest who was martyred during the reign of Henry VIII. The place and date of his birth are unknown.
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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.
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