A book review of ‘The Lives And Times of The Forty Martyrs of England And Wales‘ by Malcolm Pullan.
This is a remarkable and inspiring book. Scores of moving accounts which bear witness to the eternal Truth of The Roman Catholic Faith in the face of relentless State persecution and tyranny. Christian martyrdom began two thousand years ago and continues to this day around the world. Perhaps the most compelling of all the short biographies written are those which bear witness to the times of the Elizabethan martyrs. Biographical details of these lives animate names familiar to many Catholics such as the saints; Edmund Campion, Cuthbert Mayne, Robert Southwell and Margaret Clitherow. Saints of later years – martyred during the reign of King Charles II – for instance, John Kemble and John Wall, provides the reader with the information necessary to gain some understanding of their sacrifice which is both fascinating and moving. The eloquence and incredible courage of the Forty Martyrs defy a secular authority intent on securing its ill-gotten gains.
Henry Morse (1595-1645) was another martyr condemned to death in this instance by a Puritan led English Parliament. His crime was to be a Catholic Priest and for administering the Sacraments to Catholics many of whom were suffering from the plague. After many years saving souls in the slums of London he also became ill but miraculously recovered. Henry Morse continued to care for the poor and those afflicted with the plague until he was arrested in another government inspired purge on Roman Catholics. Taken into captivity he spent his remaining time in Newgate prison where he was visited by scores of people who sought his blessing and prayers. On the morning of his execution and standing before a large crowd he announced: “I have a secret to declare! Gentlemen, take notice, the kingdom of England will never be truly blessed until it returns to the Catholic Faith.”
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