« AnteriorContinua »
I am not guilty of any treason, or any other capital crime; but I confess I am a priest, and that I was taken at mass ; nor will ever deny my priesthood, though I were to die a thousand deaths for it: but to say I am guilty in being a priest, as if there were any guilt in the matter, whereas, nothing can be more honourable, that I will never do. Here they made a great outcry, as if I had said, I was not guilty of any sin: I told them they did not take me right, for I acknowledged myself the greatest sinner upon earth ; but what I meant was, that my being a priest or saying mass, was no guilt or sin. Then the recorder said, Mr. Bullaker, you have here confessed over and over again, that you are a priest, plead therefore to your indictment directly, guilty or not guilty. I answered as before, I am not guilty of any treason, but a priest I am. He urged, your being a priest makes you guilty of treason, by your transgressing the laws of the land. I answered, that those laws were not to be regarded which were repugnant to the law of God: that the heathens of old, and the Mahometans at present had laws, by which it was death to preach to them the law of Christ, but that the transgression of such laws as these could be no treason. I added, that the parliament which had made that law, by which priests were declared traitors, was certainly not infallible in making laws, a privilege which they would not allow even to the universal church of God, which St. Paul calls, The pillar and ground work of the truth.' So far, we have abridged the confessor's own account of himself.
The recorder directed the jury to bring him in guilty of the indictment: and though, as my author says, they boggled at it, and were for having the case referred to the parliament, he proceeded to pronounce sentence upon him, in the usual form. F. Bullaker could not contain his joy upon this occasion, but falling down on his knees, with hands and eyes lifted up towards heaven, sung the Te Deum in thanksgiving to God; then rising, made a profound 'reverence to the court, thanking them for the great favour they had done him; and so with a remarkable cheerfulness and serenity in his countenance, was conducted back to Newgate, where he employed the short time that remained of his mortal life in private devotions, and spiritual conferences with such of the faithful, as applied 10 him about the concerns of their souls.
On Wednesday, the 12th of October, 1642, he was brought out of prison, and laid on the sledge, and so drawn to Tyburn, show. ing all the way a wonderful cheerfulness in his countenance. At the place of execution, he spoke to the people upon the text, Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech, Psal. cix. He offered to speak of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the blessed sacrament, but was interrupted by the ministers ; and after a little time was ordered by the officer to make an end; he readily obeyed, giving them hearty thanks for bringing him thither to die for the defence of his faith ; a happiness which he said he had always aspired after, though he acknowledgrd himself unworthy of it. He received absolution from one of his brethren, upon giving the sign agreed upon before : and then, he employed a short time in silent
prayer, standing, as it were, in contemplation, till the cart was drawn away. He was cut down before he was fully dead, dismembered, bowelled, and quartered. His heart was saved from the flames by a priest of the same order, whom we just now mentioned: his head was set up on London bridge, and his quarters, upon the gates of the city. He suffered in the thirty-eighth year of his age, the nineteenth of his religious profession, the fourteenth of his priesthood, and the twelfth of his mission.
THOMAS HOLLAND, PRIEST, S. J.*
Thomas HOLLAND was born in Lancashire in the year 1600, and was sent over very young to the English college of St. Omer's, where he employed six years in his studies, giving so great edification to his fellow students, that he was more than once chosen by their votes prefect of the sodality of our blessed lady: and was remarkable for his talent in exhorting and encouraging his companions to piety and devotion. When he had finished his rhetoric, he was sent into Spain, to the English semivary of Valladolid, in August 1621, where he went through the course of his philosophy. Whilst he was here, Charles, Prince of Wales, arrived at Madrid, on occasion of the match then proposed with the Infanta Maria ; and it was thought proper, that the English seminaries in that kingdom, should make their compliments to their prince upon his safe arrival : Mr. Holland was made choice of for this office, by the seminary of Valladolid, and performed his part, by a Latin oration, pronounced before the prince, which is said to have given great satisfaction to his royal highness and his attendants.
Afier three years, Mr. Holland returned to Flanders, and entering into the society of Jesus, made his noviceship at Watten; and studied his divinity at Liege, where also he was made priest. From Liege, he was sent to St. Omer's, where he was confessor to the scholars, and deservedly gained the esteem and love of all, by his prudence, sweetness, and dexterity in the management of youth, and imprinting in their tender minds the fear and love of God. From St. Omer's he passed to. Ghent, where he was for some time, minister of the house. He made his last vows, May 28, 1634 ; and the following year, was sent upon the English mission, in hopes of recovering his health, which at that time was in a very bad state.
The change of air brought no advantage to his health ; for the pursuivants being very busy in those days, in making strict search after priests ; he was forced to lie concealed in the day, (London being the seat of his mission,) under so close a confinement, that he scarce durst, for months together, walk out so much as into the garden of the house where he was harboured; by which means, after some time, he in a manner, quite lost all appetite, and had even a loathing for his food. Yet, notwithstanding these disadvantages, F. Holland found means, es
* From his life, published in Latin at Antwerp, anno 1645; from the testimony of. eye-witnesses, and persons most worthy of credit.
pecially for the two last years of his mission, when the times were the worst, to be very serviceable to the souls of many, by making frequent excursions amongst the poor, under the favour of the darkness of the night, or early in the morning, and under various disguises, necessary in those evil days, in which he succeeded so well, that sometimes, his most intimate friends could not know him in his borrowed dress.
At length, he was apprehended on suspicion, October 4, 1642, and committed to the New prison, where he was detained for about two months, till his trial coming on, he was removed to Newgate. His behaviour in prison, was such as very much edified all that came near him, and it was, in particular noted, that he seldom went into bed, but spent a great part of the night in prayer. Yet he was very cautious to give his adversaries no advantage or opportunity of gathering from his carriage or behaviour, that he was a priest ; so that when he was brought to ihe bar, December the 7th, to take his trial at the Old Baily, though four witnesses appeared against him, they could alledge no substantial proofs of his priesthood, but only bare suspicions and presumptions. However, upon these presumptions, and his resusing to swear that he was not a priest, the jury, to the surprise of the lord mayor, and others in the court, brought him in guilty; and on the tenth of the same month, the recorder pronounced sentence of death against him in the usual form. At the hearing of which, F. Holland calmly said, Deo gratias, thanks be to God: and being sent back to prison, invited some other catholics there, to join with him, in reciting the hymn of thanksgiving, Te Deum laudamus.
He had now but a short time to live, being to suffer on Monday, the 12th of December ; and for this short time, the prison was thronged with people of all conditions, as well English, as foreigners, that came to visit him. He received them all wiih a religious modesty, joined with a remarkable cheerfulness and courage; spoke handsomely to them with a smiling countenance, in their respective languages, (for he was a perfect master of the French, Spanish, and Dutch,) and his words made a strong impression upon thein. The duke of Vendosme, who was then at London, offered him his service, to endeavour to put a stop to the execution : but F. Holland humbly thanked his grace, and desired he would put himself to no trouble about him : as he had some time before, when he was first apprehended, earnestly entreated his superiors by letter, that they would put themselves to no charges on his account, nor make any interest to save his life.
After F. Holland had allowed a great part of the Saturday to receiving of these visits, he then desired to be alone for the remainder of the evening: and on the Sunday morning, having heard the confessions of many, he celebrated mass, and administered the blessed sacrament to his penitents; afier whiclı, he spent some time by himself, in recollection, and the rest of the day in offices of charity to tħe souls of his neiglıbours. On this day, the Spanish ambassador sent a gentleman to him, recommending the king and kingdom of Spain to his prayers; and letting him know that he had ordered prayers in his chapel for his happy conflict. The father returned thanks for all favours conferred on him and his, by his excellence and the king his master, and pro
mised that he would pray to God to be their rewarder ; and would, for that end, offer up his last mass on the ensuing morning, for that king and kingdom.
On the next day, being the 12th of December, having celebrated early in the morning the sacred mysteries, he was called down to the sledge about ten, to be drawn to Tyburn. It was observed that neither the sheriff of London, nor the sheriff of Middlesex, was present on this occasion, which some interpreted as a testimony of their being conscious that the prisoner was unjustly condemned. Great multitudes resorted to the place of execution, to be spectators of the last conflict of this servant of God : amongst the rest, the Spanish ambassador with almost all his family. When the sledge was arrived at 'Tyburn, a father of the Society, who had assisted F. Holland in prison, taking him by the hand, bid him be of good courage, and behave himself like a man. To whom the confessor of Christ replied, With the grace of God, you need not fear; I shall not want courage. Then arising from the sledge, and perceiving the people to be very silent and attentive, in expectation of what he should say, he began to speak to them, (making the sign of the cross,) to this effect.
• That he was brought thither to die, for being a Roman catholic priest; though this had not been made out by any legal proofs, for which he durst appeal to all and every one present at his trial. However, for the satisfaction of such as desired to know the truth, he there freely acknowledged that he was a catholic and a priest, and by God's great goodness, a religious man of the Society of Jesus, and the first of that order that had been sentenced to death since the beginning of this parliament: for all which favours, he returned hearty thanks to the divine goodness. Then he proceeded to tell the people, that there could be but one true faith, one true church, and no salvation out of it; when the ordinary of Newgate interrupted him, and bid him say his prayers to himself, whilst he talked with the two inalefactors that were to die ihat day, and sung psalms with them. The father did so, and when the minister had finished, he began to pray with a loud voice that all might hear him, and made fervent acts of faith, hope, charity, and contrition, offering his life and his whole being to his Maker, and begging that his sufferings and death might be accepted of, through Jesus Christ's passion, &c., declaring withal, that he forgave from his heart, the judge, jury, witnesses, and all that had any ways concurred to his deaih ; and praying for the king, queen, and all the royal family, for the parliament, and the whole nation ; for whose prosperity and conversion to the catholic faith, if I had, said he, as many lives as there are hairs on my head, drops of water in the ocean, or stars in the firmament, I would most willingly sacrifice them all.' Which last words were received with a shout of the people, in testimony of their appro. bation.
After this the father turning himself to Gregory, the executioner, told him he forgave him also, and presented him two crowns of money, which was all he had left. Then shutting his eyes for a while in silent prayer, and a little after opening them, and looking towards his confessor, who was there in the crowd, at this signal given, received his
last absolution ; after which the cart was drawn away, and he was left hanging till he quietly expired ; his eyes being observed to remain fixed on heaven, and his hands all the while joined before his breast. The minister would have had the hangman cut the rope before he was dead, but Jack Catch was more humane than the parson, and delayed till his pious soul was let loose from the body; and then he performed the usual butchery. Many of the catholics found means to carry off something of his blood, &c. as relics. And even there were not wanting some amongst the protestants themselves, who highly admired and praised his virtues.
Father Holland suffered December 12, 1642, ætatis 42, societatis 19. His true character was, “That he had extraordinary talents for promoting the greater glory of God, and that he made an extraordinary use of them. His knowledge in spirituals was such, that he was termed The Library of Piety, Bibliotheca Pietatis : and whenever he was in company, whatever the subject of the conversation happened to be, he would, by a dexterous turn, bring it to some moral or gospel instruction, for the advantage of the company; imitating the great saint Xaverius, of whom it used to be said, that in his conversation with the people of the world, he would go in at their door, and come out at his own.'
1643.—This year, two venerable priests were put to death at Tyburn, both of the order of St. Francis; the first was
HENRY HEATH, PRIEST.-0. S. F.*
Henry Heath was born at Petersborough, about the year 1600. His parents were protestants, who brought him up to learning, and sent him to St. Bennet's college in Cambridge, where he remained about five years. The life he led here, whilst yet a protestant, was far more religious than that of his companions ; and his ardour for learning was so great, that he rose at two in the morning, winter and summer, to his studies : being now made bachelor of arts, and chosen librarian of the college, and having before observed, as he thought, some defects in the principles of his religion, he was resolved, having gotten books and opportunity, to examine the matter more thoroughly. Wherefore being willing to hear both sides speak in their own cause, he first reads Bellarmin, and then Whitaker against him. But behold, instead of satisfying his doubts by this inquiry, he discovers another defect, viz., the unfair dealing of Whitaker in citing his authors, whereas he found Bellarmin always faithful in his quotations. This made him think better of the catholic religion, and eager to look farther into it. Upon this he reads the ancient fathers, and finding them to deliver the catholic faith, he is inflamed with the love of the old religion, and seeks to communicate the same sentiments to his fellow collegians ; four of whom by his means not only left the college, but soon asier the world too, and all became religious inen, three in the holy or
From Certamen Seraphicum, p. 63, and from his life, printed in English, at Douay, anno 1674.