jeudi 12 février 2015


Bienheureux Thomas Hemmeford, Jacques Fenn, Jean Nutter, Jean Munden et Georges Haydock, prêtres et martyrs

Sous la reine Elisabeth Ière, ces prêtres catholiques furent condamnés, suppliciés et éviscérés à Tyburn, près de Londres, en 1584 pour leur fidélité à la sainte Église romaine.

Bienheureux Georges HAYDOCK
Prénom: Georges
Pays: Grande Bretagne
Mort: 1584
Etat: Prêtre - Martyr du Groupe des 85 martyrs de Grande Bretagne (1584-1679)  2

Béatification: 22.11.1987  à Rome  par Jean Paul II

Fête: 12 février (4 mai)

Réf. dans l’Osservatore Romano: 1987 n.48
Réf. dans la Documentation Catholique: 1988 p.59 & 127

Blessed James Fenn and Companions (AC)

Died 1584. A group of martyrs consisting of James Fenn, John Nutter, John Munden, and Thomas Hemerford, who were martyred at Tyburn, England, and beatified in 1929. While they died during the same persecution and were beatified at the same time, they are not included among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

James Fenn was born in Montacute near Yeovil, Somerset, and was educated at Corpus Christi College and Gloucester Hall at Oxford. He became a school master and married. Upon his wife's death, he studied in Rheims and was ordained to the priesthood in 1580.

John Nutter was born near Burnley, Lancastershire, and was a fellow of Saint John's College, Cambridge. He studied for the priesthood at Rheims and was ordained in 1581.

John Munden, a native of Coltley, South Maperton, Dorset, studied at New College, Oxford, became a school master, went to Rheims and to Rome for his ecclesiastical training and was ordained in 1582.

Thomas Hemerford, a native of Dorsetshire, was educated at Saint John's College and Hart Hall, Oxford. He studied for the priesthood at the English College in Rome, where he was ordained in 1583--just a year before his death (Benedictines).


On November 22, 1987, Pope John Paul II beatified Blessed George Haydock and 84 other men who died for their faith in England during the Reformation. The rite of beatification at St. Peter's in Rome was a notable British celebration. A large delegation from England and Wales was on hand: 32 bishops, 300 priests, and a crowd of layfolk, including blood descendants of 12 of the new “blesseds”.
The beatification crowned a study of the deaths of the 85 candidates that had lasted for 12 years, and had produced seven volumes of information, totaling 2667 pages, about their lives and deaths.
The time of these martyrdoms extended from 1584, when Bl. William Carter, a printer, was hanged, until 1679, when the last of the 85 died on the scaffold - Blessed Charles Meehan, an Irish Franciscan priest. Most of the group were diocesan priests; a few like Blessed Charles belonged to religious orders; and 22 were laymen of various estate: landowners, teachers, a bartender, a stableboy, etc
As they represented every level of society, so they represented every adult age from the 20's to the 80's. The government books declared that they had been executed for “treason” or “felony”. What the historical investigation proved was that the priests' “treason” was simply that they had been ordained as priests and went about Britain fulfilling their priestly duties. A law of 1585 had declared that any Catholic priest who ministered in England was by that fact a traitor, deserving of hanging.
The non-priests of the group were not condemned for treason, but for aiding these “traitors”. They had opened their homes to the Catholics for Mass; they had hidden the priests from the police; they had done them a thousand loyal services to show their devotion and gratitude. They had, so to speak, offered these “apostles” a “cup of cold water”. But this sort of aid to priests was a felony according to the anti-Catholic law; and felony, too, was punishable by death. These laity, therefore, collaborated gladly with the clergy for the glory of God, even to the point of sharing death with them.
When the new list of blesseds was announced, some asked why no women were among them. Certainly there were women - over 20 of them - who suffered for their Catholic faith, some of them the wives of those who were executed. Three of these women have already been canonized, and one beatified. But these four had been executed. Generally, British law felt a delicacy about executing women. Therefore, most of the Catholic women who died for the faith died in prison; and it is harder to judge in those cases whether they are to be considered as “martyrs” or “confessors” (tortured for the faith, but not executed).
Another question raised was the effect of the beatifications on ecumenical relations. Would it not alienate the Anglicans, whose heads, the queen (or king) were responsible for the Catholic martyrs' deaths? Or was it fair to proclaim Catholic martyrs while saying nothing of the 200 Protestants who were executed for religious reasons by Catholic Queen Mary Tudor? After all, Vatican II declared that the human person should never be forced to act against his conscience (Declaration of Religious Liberty, 2).
If complaints have been made in the past about beatifications of English Catholic Reformation martyrs, these criticisms were mostly absent in the present case. Sincere ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans since Vatican II has changed the whole outlook. This time the Church of England even sent a bishop to represent it at the beatification ceremony. This time, too, Archbishop Robert Runcie, Anglican primate of Canterbury, and Cardinal George Basil Hume, Catholic archbishop of Westminster, answered the question in a joint statement. They prayed together, “God our Father, giver of all peace and concord, forgive the sins which we have committed against each other, heal our divisions and bring us to peace and unity through the prayer of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
--Father Robert F. McNamara

Ven. George Haydock

English martyr; born 1556; executed at Tyburn, 12 February, 1583-84. He was the youngest son of Evan Haydock of Cottam Hall, Lancashire, and Helen, daughter of William Westby of Mowbreck Hall, Lancashire; was educated at the English Colleges at Douai and Rome, and ordained priest (apparently at Reims), 21 December, 1581. Arrested in London soon after landing, he spent a year and three months in the strictest confinement in the Tower, suffering from the recrudescence of a severe malarial fever first contracted in the early summer of 1581 when visiting the seven churches of Rome. About May, 1583, though he remained in the Tower, his imprisonment was relaxed to "free custody", and he was able to administer the Sacraments to his fellow-prisoners. During the first period of his captivity he was accustomed to decorate his cell with the name and arms of the pope scratched or drawn in charcoal on the door or walls, and through his career his devotion to the papacy amounted to a passion. It therefore gave him particular pleasure that on the following feast of St. Peter's Chair at Rome (16 January) he and other priests imprisoned in the Tower were examined at the Guildhall by the recorder touching their beliefs, though he frankly confesses it was with reluctance that he was eventually obliged to declare that the queen was a heretic, and so seal his fate. On 5 February, 1583-4, he was indicted with James Fenn, a Somersetshire man, formerly fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the future martyr William Deane, who had been ordained priest the same day as himself, and six other priests, for having conspired against the queen at Reims, 23 September, 1581, agreeing to come to England, 1 October, and setting out for England, 1 November. In point of fact he arrived at Reims on 1 November, 1581. On the same 5 February two equally ridiculous indictments were brought, the one against Thomas Hemerford, a Dorsetshire man, sometime scholar of St. John's College, Oxford, the other against John Munden, a Dorsetshire man, sometime fellow of New College, Oxford, John Nutter, a Lancashire man, sometime scholar of St. John's College, Cambridge, and two other priests. The next day, St. Dorothy's Day, Haydock, Fenn, Hemerford, Munden, and Nutter were brought to the bar and pleaded not guilty.

Haydock had for a long time shown a great devotion to St. Dorothy, and was accustomed to commit himself and his actions to her daily protection. It may be that he first entered the college at Douai on that day in 1574-5, but this is uncertain. The "Concertatio Ecclesiae" says he was arrested on this day in 1581-2, but the Tower bills state that he was committed to the Tower on the 5th, in which case he was arrested on the 4th. On Friday the 7th all five were found guilty, and sentenced to death. The other four were committed in shackles to "the pit" in the Tower, but Haydock, probably lest he should elude the executioner by a natural death, was sent back to his old quarters. Early on Wednesday the 12th he said Mass, and later the five priests were drawn to Tyburn on hurdles; Haydock, being probably the youngest and certainly the weakest in health, was the first to suffer. An eyewitness has given us an account of their martyrdom, which Father Pollen, S.J., has printed in the fifth volume of the Catholic Record Society.

He describes Haydock as "a man of complexion fayre, of countenance milde, and in professing of his faith passing stoute". He had been reciting prayers all the way, and as he mounted the cart said aloud the last verse of "Te lucis ante terminum". He acknowledged Elizabeth as his rightful queen, but confessed that he had called her a heretic. He then recited secretly a Latin hymn, refused to pray in English with the people, but desired that all Catholics would pray for him and his country. Whereupon one bystander cried "Here be noe Catholicks", and another "We be all Catholicks"; Haydock explained "I meane Catholicks of the Catholick Roman Church, and I pray God that my bloud may encrease the Catholick faith in England". Then the cart was driven away, and though "the officer strock at the rope sundry times before he fell downe", Haydock was alive when he was disembowelled. So was Hemerford, who suffered second. The unknown eyewitness says, "when the tormentor did cutt off his members, he did cry, 'Oh! A!'; I heard myself standing under the gibbet". As for Fenn, "before the cart was driven away, he was stripped of all his apparell saving his shirt only, and presently after the cart was driven away his shirt was pulled of his back, so that he hung stark naked, whereat the people muttered greatly". He also was cut down alive, though one of the sheriffs was for mercy. Nutter and Munden were the last to suffer. They made speeches and prayers similar to those uttered by their predecessors. Unlike them they were allowed to hang longer, if not till they were dead, at any rate until they were quite unconscious. Haydock was twenty-eight, Munden about forty, Fenn, a widower, with two children, was probably also about forty, Hemerford was probably about Haydock's age; Nutter's age is quite unknown.


GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., III, 202; cf. III, 265; V, 142, 201; CATHOLIC RECORD SOCIETY, publications (London, 1905-), II, V, passim, III, 12-15; IV, 74; FOLEY, Records Eng. Prov. S.J., VI (London, 1875-1883), 74, 103; BRIDGEWATER, Concertatio Ecclesiae Catholicae (Trier, 1588), passim; WAINEWRIGHT in CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY's pamphlets: George Haydock; James Fenn; John Nutter; Two English Martyrs; POLLEN, Acts of English Martyrs (London, 1891), 252, 253, 304.


"Sadness turned into Joy"

by Barry Coldrey and Leo Griffin

(Melbourne, 2001. Available from Tamanaraik Press, 7/67 Collins Street, Thornbury, Vic, 3071, tel (03) 9480 2119. Spiral bound, $9.95 post free)

This is the third book in a series of modern lives of the English martyrs, commenced by Br Leo Griffin CFC 10 years ago. The first was a Life of St Margaret Clitherow, published in 1992, and the second, The Life of St Philip Howard, Martyr, released in 1998.

On this occasion, Br Griffin is joined by another author, and fellow Christian Brother, in completing the work, as advancing years and arthritis have taken some toll.

During penal times in Elizabethan England the principal stronghold of the Catholic survivors of persecution and repression was the county of Lancashire where a cluster of reasons guaranteed the survival of the Old Faith.

Lancashire was a large, sparsely-populated county remote from the wealth and commerce of the south- east and distant from the seat of government in London.

However, the principal reason for the survival of Catholicism was the strength of the Catholic gentry.
The Haydocks were Lancashire gentry, their estates centred on Cottam, near Preston. Their forbears had been prominent in the political and social life of the county for generations. In the religious turmoil of the 16th century the family remained firmly Catholic through trial and persecution.

This account is focused on the story of Blessed George Haydock, the martyr, but there were three priests from the family ministering during Elizabeth's reign - George himself, his father, Vivian, and his older brother, Richard.

In a sense, the book is a glimpse at Catholic life in Lancashire in penal times, focused on the Haydock family.

Priestly vocations

In the "lives" a little piece of 16th-century England comes alive, on the one hand its excitement and splendour - it is the age of Shakespeare and exploration of the New World of the Americas - and, on the other, the reality of its awfulness and tragedy.

In spite of the risks of capture, imprisonment, torture and a gruesome death, there was no shortage of vocations to the priesthood.

During Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603), 815 young Englishmen fled England to be trained as priests in continental seminaries; 547 were ordained and returned to England secretly, of whom more than one-half were captured and imprisoned and between 120-130 of them were executed. And 60 lay men and women were executed for assisting priests in some way.

While the story focuses on the Haydock family, there are many vignettes of life in the English Church in penal times.

There was Mistress (Mrs) Margaret Line who managed a secret hostel in London for some years for priests who came to the capital on business. Eventually she was caught and condemned to death for "harbouring a priest". "Pity it wasn't a thousand," she remarked to the judge.

There were the Vaux sisters whose vast semi-fortified mansion at Badderly Clinton in a remote part Warwickshire was used for priests' meetings and retreats.

There is the finance officer in the municipality of Newcastle-on- Tyne outlining the substantial costs of arranging an execution of a priest and keen on finding cheaper suppliers.

This is an interesting portrait of the English-speaking Church in an heroic age.

Reprinted from 'The Catholic Weekly', Sydney.


Beato Tomás Hemmeford y compañeros, Presbíteros y Mártires
Febrero 12

Martirologio Romano: En Londres, en Inglaterra, beatos mártires Tomás Hemmeford, Jacobo Fenn, Juan Nutter y Juan Munden, presbíteros, que, por fidelidad a la Iglesia romana y ante la pretensión de la reina Isabel I de atribuirse el primado en lo espiritual, fueron condenados a muerte, y descuartizados mientras aún respiraban (1584).

Fecha de beatificación: 15 de diciembre de 1929 por el Papa Pío XI.

Tomás Hemmeford nació en Dorsetshire (hoy Dorset), un contado de Inglaterra. Estudió en Oxford y, convertido al catolicismo, fue a culminar sus estudios religiosos en el Colegio Inglés en Roma. Ordenado sacerdote en 1583 retornó a su patria.

Jacobo Fenn nació en Montacute, Inglaterra. Hizo sus estudios en el internado del Corpus Christi College y en el Gloucester Hall de la Universidad de Oxford. Se casó y fue profesor. Luego de enviudar, ingresó al colegio inglés en Reims (Francia) emprendiendo estudios religiosos, se ordenó de sacerdote en 1580.

Juan Nutter hermano del beato Robert Nutter, nació en Burnley, Inglaterra. Estudió en el Saint John´s College de Cambridge, pero para continuar sus estudios religiosos se cambió al colegio inglés en Reims (Francia). Fue ordenado sacerdote en 1581.

Juan Munden nació en Coltley, Inglaterra, estudió en el New College de Oxford, y sus estudios religiosos los sigue en el colegio inglés en Reims (Francia). Fue ordenado sacerdote en 1582.

Sus normales vidas sacerdotales tuvieron contexto dentro de la trágica persecución perpetrada contra la Iglesia Católica por los monarcas británicos. En aquel período la reina Isabel I, quien deseaba se reconociera su supremacía incluso en el ámbito espiritual, condenó a la muerte a muchos católicos por su fidelidad al Romano Pontífice, entre ellos a los jesuitas Tomás Hemmeford, Jacobo Fenn, Juan Nutter y Juan Munden, junto a Jorge Haydock, sacerdote del vicariato apostólico de Inglaterra (este último beatificado el 22 de noviembre de 1987 por el Papa Juan Pablo II). Todos ellos fueron descuartizados vivos en Tyburn, cerca de Londres, el 12 de febrero de 1584.

Estos mártires fueron beatificados el 15 de diciembre de 1929 por el Papa Pío XI, y desde ese día el Martirologió Romano conmemora el día de hoy su nacimiento al reino de los cielos.


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