Above: Flag of England
MARTYRED ON MAY 4, 1535
Saint John Houghton
Saint Robert Lawrence
Saint Augustine Webster
MARTYRED ON JUNE 19, 1535
Blessed Humphrey Middlemore
Blessed William Exmew
Blessed Sebastian Newdigate
With this post I honor six more Roman Catholic martyrs of the British Isles. Martyrdom in those islands has crossed denominational lines; I seek to learn of as many of these holy men and women as possible.
St. John Houghton (1487-1535), born in Essex, England, became a parish priest then a Carthusian. He served as Prior of the Beauvale Charterhouse, Northhampton, for a few months before assuming duties at the London Charterhouse. In 1534 authorities arrested Houghton and his procurator, Blessed Humphrey Middlemore, for refusing to accept the Act of Succession, which recognized the legitimacy of the future Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. The two Carthusians accepted the law “as far as the law of God allows” and were released.
The following year, authorities arrested Houghton with St. Robert Lawrence and St. Augustine Webster for refusing to accept the Act of Supremacy. Lawrence was the Prior of the Beauvale Charterhouse and Webster was the Prior of the Axholme Charterhouse at the time of the arrests. These three men died on May 4, 1535, by hanging, drawing, and quartering.
Middlemore, Blessed William Exmew, and Blessed Sebastian Newdigate assumed leadership of the London Charterhouse after Houghton’s martyrdom. They also refused to accept the Act of Supremacy. And they suffered the same fate as the previous three martyrs on June 19, 1535. Exmew had been subprior and Newdigate had been a courtier of Henry VIII.
I, of course, am an Episcopalian, so the origin of my denomination owes much to Tudor Dynasty politics. As much as I honor the Anglican and Protestant martyrs of the 1500s and 1600s, I do the same for their Roman Catholic counterparts. It is unseemly for Christians to martyr each other.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
MARCH 22, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT DEOGRATIAS, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CARTHAGE
THE FEAST OF JAMES DEKOVEN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST
THE FEAST OF SAINTS NICHOLAS OWEN, THOMAS GARNET, MARK BARKWORTH, EDWARD OLDCORNE, AND RALPH ASHLEY, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS
Almighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your love in the hearts of your holy martyrs
Saint John Houghton,
Saint Robert Lawrence,
Saint Augustine Webster,
Blessed Humphrey Middlemore,
Blessed William Exmew,
and Blessed Sebastian Newdigate:
Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love,
that we who rejoice in their triumph may profit by their examples;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
Psalm 124 or 31:1-5
1 Peter 4:12-19
—Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 715