Imatges de pàgina

On the day of execution, being called for by the officers of justice, he readily obeyed the summons, and immediately went down into the street, where the sledge was placed, with a modest cheerfulness in his looks. He offered to lay himself down on the ground to be drawn in that manner over the stones and through the mire ; but this was not allowed; so he was laid on the sledge, and drawn according to sentence to Tyburn: when he came thither he readily and cheerfully got up into the cart under the gallows, saying with an audible voice, Into thy hands, O Lord I commend my spirit. The rope being about his neck, and having obtained leave to speak, he protested that his return into England, was for no other design, but that he might spend his life and labours in the conversion of his country; and that this was the only cause for which he was brought to that place to suffer an ignominious death. But a minister interrupted him, saying, that he was not condemned for religion, but for seducing the people. Father Heath, calmly replied, with no other justice, can I be called a seducer by you, than with what my Lord Jesus rist was called a seducer by the Jews. Here he was commanded to be silent, and he readily obeyed; and not being able to obtain what he desired, (viz : to hang naked like his crucified Saviour,) joining his hands before his breast, his eyes shut, he employed about half an hour in profound recollection and silent prayer, without any other sensible motion but now and then a devout sigh. After that he had recited aloud the church hymn for a martyr, Martyr Dei qui unicum, &c., it being the day of St. Anicetus pope and martyr, for his last prayer, he made use of these short aspirations; my Jesus, pardon me my sins ! Jesus, convert England! Jesus, have mercy on this country! O England, turn thyself to the Lord thy God! After which the cart was drawn away, and he left hanging, his hands lifted up towards heaven, and his eyes cast down, and in this posture he quietly expired. After his death he was cut down, bowelled and quartered; and his quarters fixed upon four of the city gates, and his head upon London bridge.

N. B. He reconciled in the very cart, one of the malefactors that were executed with him.

He suffered on the 17th of April, 1643, in the forty-third year of his age, and the twentieth of his religious profession.

Father Heath, a little before the sentence of death was passed upon him, wrote out of prison, the following letter to a priest, his intimate friend.

* VERY REVEREND FATHER, • Your consolations have rejoiced my soul. The judges have not yet given sentence. I beseech the divine goodness, that it may answer my desires, that I may suffer death for my Lord Jesus Christ. Alas, father! what other thing can I desire than to suffer with Christ, to be reproached with Christ, to be crucified with Christ, to die a thousand deaths that I may live for ever with Christ? for if it be the glory of a soldier to be made like his lord, God forbid I should glory in any thing but in the cross of my crucified Lord. Let then the executioners come, let them come, let them tear my body in pieces, let them gnaw my flesh with their teeth, let them pierce me through and through, and

grind me to dust. For I know, I know full well how profitable it will be for me to die for Christ. The moment of this suffering doth work an eternal weight of glory in heaven. May your reverend paternity be pleased to pray for me, a miserable sinner, who will ever be in the wounds of Christ, until death be swallowed up in victory. Your reverence's most humble servant,

F. Paul, of St. Magdalen.

It is also remarked of F. Heath, in Mr. Ireland's diary of Douay college, that he declared in prison, though he always was convinced that the martyrs found much joy and consolation when they were to suffer for Christ, yet he never could have imagined this delight to be so exceeding great, as he now found by his own experience.

It is likewise the tradition of the English Franciscans in Douay, that when F. Heath was executed at Tyburn, the first that had the news of it in their convent, was his aged father, then a lay-brother amongst them, informed by a vision of his son.

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ARTHUR BELL, whọ in religion was called father Francis, was born August 13, 1590, at Temple Broughton, the seat of his father, in the parish of Hanbury, six miles from Worcester ; his parents were both virtuous, and of good families, his mother being sister to Francis Daniel, Esq., of Acton Place, near Long Melford, in Suffolk. He was brought up in the fear of God, and in grammar learning, privately at home in his mother's house, who was left a widow when he was eight years of age ; afterwards he lived for some years with his uncle Daniel in Suffolk. At the age of twenty-four he went over to the English college of St. Omer's, where he employed a year in the study of rhetoric; and then was sent, by the fathers of the society, to the English college of St. Alban, the martyr, in Valladolid ; where he studied his philosophy, and some part of his divinity, and was made priest; and not long after, took the habit of St. Francis, in the convent of Segobia, August 9, 1618, and having very much edified the whole community during the year of his probation, he was, by the unanimous votes of all, admitted to his solemn vows and profession, September 8, 1619. Not long after, F. Gennings, being about the restoring the English Franciscan province, and having authority from the general to call to him for this purpose the English friars, wherever they were to be found, sent for F. Bell from Spain to the English convent newly erected at Douay, where he employed two years more in the study of divinity, and then was made confessor, first of the poor Clares, at Graveline, and afterwards of the

From Certamen Seraphicum, p. 127, &c., and from a manuscript sent me from St. Omer's.

nuns of the third order of St. Francis, at that time residing in Brussels, till about the year 1630, when he was chosen guardian for the first time of the convent of the English Franciscans at Douay, and made definitor of the province, discharging at the same time the office of lector or professor of the Hebrew tongue. . But before he had gone through the usual term of his guardianship, he was called to Brussels by F. Joseph Bergaigne, the commissary-general of the order, (afterwards archbishop of Cambray,) and for the restoring the province of Scotland, was appointed its first provincial, and sent in that quality to the general chapter then held in Spain. After his return he was sent by the state commissary. general upon the English mission, where he arrived September 8, 1634. He laboured with great zeal, for nine years, in the mission, in converting souls to Christ, and then received the crown of martyrdom for his reward, which for the space of twenty years he had earnestly prayed for.

He was apprehended on the 6th of November, 1643, at Stevenedge, in Hartfordshire, by the parliament soldiers, upon suspicion of his being a spy, who, upon a strict search, found in his bags some papers, in which he had written out the lessons of the office of the blessed sacrament, and a form of blessing the cord of the confraternity of St. Francis, &c., which, after sending for the school-master of the town to interpret them, appeared, (not only to these military men, but also afterwards to to the committee of the parliament) dangerous matters, especially the form of blessing the cord, which they imagined to be some spell or conjuration. That day and the following night he passed under the guard of four soldiers, and the next morning was searched again, when they found about him a letter in Spanish, addressed to, or designed for the Spanish ambassador, then residing in London, in which was made mention of his being of the order of St. Francis; so that now they resolve to secure him, no longer as a spy, but as a suspected priest. This drew many officers and others to the place where he was detained. One of them asked him of what religion he was of? he readily answered, • I am a catholic. What! said the other, a Roman catholic ? How do you mean a Roman? said father Bell. I am an Englishman. There is but one catholic church, and of that I am a member. They all said, he was in the right to own his religion. That, said he, I will do, with the grace of God, to my last breath. Another asked him if he believed the pope to be the head of the catholic church? He answered in the affirmative; upon which there arose a dispute concerning the church and the pope, but in a confused manner, as is usual to this kind of disputants, who are ever running from one point to another: they brought their bibles to confute him, but in vain, for he showed them that they had shamefully corrupted even their very scriptures. In conclusion, he told them their arguing against church authority and infallibility, and grounding all things in religion upon the weak and uncertain bottom of private judgment, and private interpretation of the scriptures, (liable, as they acknowledged, to error,) was not a way to invite him to their religion ; for that it would be a very unequal change to part with a church (which he was assured was an infallible guide, by the divine promises, as recorded in scripture,) for a religion which owned itself liable to error, and

could give no assurance to its followers that it was not leading them on in the broad way of eternal damnation. Such an exchange as this, said he, would be like that which your soldiers have obliged me to make, who have taken away my clothes that were whole, and given me nothing but rags in their place. In fine, at parting, he told them, plainly and sincerely, that no salvation could be hoped for out of the catholic church, and that he wished them all to be, even as he was, excepting his present state of confinement.

From Stevenedge, he was carried before the committee then sitting in Hartfordshire, to whom all his papers were delivered ; with a particular caution to look well to him, for that he had a spell amongst his papers, by means of which, he could get out of any prison or dungeon ; for such they supposed to be that form of the benediction of the cord of St. Francis, which was found amongst his papers. Here he was examined, whether he had ever been beyond the seas? He answered, yes. Whether he had taken holy orders there? He answered, that as this was, by their laws deemed a crime, he was not to be his own accuser. Upon this, he was given over to Jones, the city marshal, to be by him conducted the next day to town; who stript him of what the soldiers had left, and set him on horseback, half naked as he was, in his rags, and so carried him to London, making him a subject of mockery to the people, in all the towns and villages through which they passed; whilst F. Bell, as appears by his own written relation, so far from taking this in evil part, thought this cavalcade of his too great a pomp for one whose profession obligeth him to take up his cross every day, and follow Christ. When they were arrived in town, the marshal, (who before in searching him, had found the key of his trunk, found means to get the trunk into his hands, and seized upon it, and all its contents, as a lawful prize. 'Tis true, the committee of the parliament, by whom F. Bell was shortly after examined, upon hearing the case, ordered the marshal to return his goods ; for as he was not as yet, convicted, he had certainly a right to keep what was his. But the marshal, though he promised to return them, never did it. I shall never hear any more, says F. Bell, of my goods, till the day of judgment; and then, I fear I shall be blamed for transgressing holy poverty, by having so many goods to lose : for I firmly believe these men were appointed by God 10 put me in mind of my vocation. Thanks be to God for it.' Such were the dispositions of this holy man.

In his examination before the committee of the parliament, being questioned concerning the Spanish letter that was found about him, he acknowledged that he was a poor penitent of the order of St. Francis, but would not satisfy them as to the point of his priesthood : so he was committed to Newgate, in order to take his trial at the next sessions. But before these things were transacted, his brethren had made choice of him, to be for the second time, guardian or superior of their convent at Douay, which office had been vacant ever since the martyrdom of F. Heath, who was actually guardian when he came over to England, where he so quickly met with the crown he sought. F. Bell had not been full four and twenty hours in Newgate, when his provincial's letter was brought to him, requiring of him, in virtue of obedience, to fill

up the vacancy: and not long after, he received the patents for that of. fice from F. Marchant, the commissary general. His answers, both to the one and the other, are worthy io be recorded. - To his provincial, he writes as follows:

• RevEREND FATHER – I received your command with all humility and readiness at the very time that I was putting it in execution : for I took possession of F. Paul's place in Newgate, about twenty hours before yours came to my knowledge. As to what remains, 1 beg your prayers that I may persevere to the end ; and I beg of all christians, with St. Andrew, that they would not hinder my sufferings, &c. Your poor Brother,

F. BELL.' To the commissary general, he returned the following answer:

Most Reverend Father, obedience and reverence. * I received the command of your most reverend paternity, with humility, and am disposed with all possible readiness, to put it in execution, as soon as this present impediment which stands in the way, shall be removed. Now the impediment is this. On the 6th of November, 0. S. I was apprehended on my way to London, by the parliamentary soldiers, and being examined, and found to be a catholic, I was put under the custody of four soldiers night and day. And after I had been stript of all things, sword, money, clothes, and even my very shirt, and clad in an old tattered coat of some poor soldier, I was brought before the parliament at London, where being again examined, I was found out by certain arguments, to be a friar minor, which I did not deny ; and being withal, suspected to be a priest according to the order of the Roman church, I was for this reason, committed to the prison of Newgate. I am to be tried on the 5th of December, what will then be done with me, my Lord Jesus Christ knows, with whom, I am ready to go to the cross, and to death, if his mercy will vouchsafe to extend itself so far, as to be willing to accept of the sacrifice of such and so great a sinner: but if I am still necessary to his people, the will of our Lord be done. I have begged death for Christ. This I will continue to beg for. My sinful life has been a long time hateful to me. Pardon me, I know what is for my profit; to die is my gain I humbly beg your prayers, and those of my brethren, that if, (as I wish,) it be my lot to die, I may depart with obedience in the grace of Christ ; and with St. Andrew I beseech all christian people not to be a hindrance to my death. If I shall not be condemned to die, I will labour by all lawful means, to procure my liberty, that I may be able to obey, as it is my duty, the command 'I have received. God preserve your re verence,' &c.

Newgate, November 22, 1643. F. Bell was not tried on the 5th of December, as he expected, but on the 7th of that month. The witnesses that appeared against him, were Wadsworth, Mayo, and Thomas Gage, all apostates from the catholic religion, and the last also from his religious vows. Wadsworth deposed, that he knew him twenty years before at Brussels, in the habit of St. Francis, and that he was esteemed by all, as an

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