20130318 Martyrs died for the Church 為教會捨生

King Henry VIII (1491-1547) married six times. His decision to divorce his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, resulted in him asking the parliament to declare him as the supreme head of the Church in England.

Henry was determined to impose his will upon the people, and required his subjects to take the Oath of Supremacy—swore allegiance to the monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church in England. He punished severely those who refused to take the oath.

John Fisher & Thomas More

St. John Fisher (1469-1535) was Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge University. He laid the foundation of the library at Cambridge University with his personal collection of books. He began to study Greek at forty-eight, and began to study Hebrew at fifty-one.

Fisher refused the Oath of Supremacy and said, “I dare not tear the seamless robe of Christ”. Fisher defended the marriage of Henry VIII with Catherine of Aragon, and pointed out that St. John the Baptist died defending the sanctity of marriage.

John Fisher was named cardinal a month before his death. He was executed on June 22, 1535.

St. Thomas More (1478-1535) was a lawyer. He held a number of public offices and eventually became the Chancellor of England.

When Henry VIII broke with the Church, Thomas More did his best to recall him to his senses. Thomas More refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, and he was deprived of his high office and property.

On July 6, 1535 Thomas More was beheaded. He said, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Edmond Campion & Margaret Clitherow

            Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII, reigned from 1558 to 1603. She began a campaign of legislation against the Catholic Church and was excommunicated by Pope St. Pius V in 1570. Elizabeth started a bloody persecution of the Catholic Church in 1571.

St. Edmond Campion (1540-1581) was the first Jesuit martyr in England. He took the Oath of Supremacy and was an Anglican deacon. The study of the Church Fathers brought him back to the Catholic Faith.

Edmond Campion became a Jesuit at thirty-three. Five years later, he was ordained a priest, and about two years later he disguised as a jewel merchant and returned to England to minister to the faithful.

Edmond Campion used writings to defend and uphold the Catholic Faith. After about one year of fruitful ministry in English, Campion was arrested.

Before he was sentenced to death, Campion said, “In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors—all the ancient priests, bishops and kings—all that was once the glory of England.”

Campion suffered martyrdom on December 1, 1581.

St. Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586) was a convert to Catholicism after her marriage. Each morning she did one and a half hour of prayer and meditation. She also confessed twice a week and fasted four times a week.

Under Elizabeth I, it was a crime to harbor priests and to attend Mass. The house of Margaret was searched and altar furnishings were found. She was arrested on 10 March, 1586.

Since the only witnesses against Margaret would be her own little children and servants, whom she could not bear to involve in the guilt of her death, she refused to plead, but would only answer, “Having made no offense, I need no trial.”

Margaret was sentenced to be pressed to death, and she said, “God be thanked, I am not worthy of so good a death as this”.

She was executed on March 25, 1586, and her last words during an agony of fifteen minutes, were “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! have mercy on me!”

The two sons of Margaret became Catholic priests, and her daughter became a nun.

英皇亨利八世(1491-1547)結婚六次。當他要擯棄髮妻另娶時,即與聖教會決裂。

 

亨利八世因個人私慾,把連串的法律強加於英國國民身上。他要國會承認他是英國唯一的政教掌權者,並要所有國民宣誓只效忠和聽命於他,叛逆教廷,否則遭受酷刑,甚至格殺勿論。

 

若望和多默

 

聖若望.費休 (1469-1535) 是路卻斯特主教及劍橋大學校長,一手建樹大學圖書館,捐出大量私人藏書;年四十八歲學習希臘文,五十一歲進修希伯來文。

 

費休主教拒絕遵從英皇亨利八世叛逆教廷的宣誓;他揚言:「我絕不敢把基督那無縫的袍服撕裂!」他更指出「聖若翰洗者為了保衛合法婚姻,反對非法苟合,不惜以身殉道。」

 

公元1535年六月二十二日,聖若望.費休終為聖教捨生,死前一個月,被教廷擢升為樞機主教。

 

聖多默.謨爾 (1478-1535) 原是一位律師,曾任多項公職,且榮任英國首相。

 

當英皇亨利八世要與聖教會決裂時,多默.謨爾一方面力加勸阻,另方面不肯向英皇自詡的宗教權力宣誓效忠,最後被英皇褫奪所有職銜,充公全部家財。公元1535年七月六日被斬首殉道。聖人曾道:「我是國王的忠僕,但更是天主的忠僕。」

 

愛德沐和瑪加利大

 

英女皇依麗莎白一世是英皇亨利八世的女兒,自1558年統治英國至1603年。她繼續對抗教廷,1570年被教宗聖庇約十世開除教籍;翌年,依麗莎白開始以血腥手段迫害天主教。

 

聖愛德沐.江本 (1540-1581) 是第一位在英國殉道的耶穌會會士。他原擁護英皇,被委以聖公會牧職,後因閱讀教父們的著作而被感化,暗中離開祖國,重回真道。

 

愛德沐.江本三十三歲時入耶穌會,五年後晉鐸,約兩年後,喬裝珠寶商潛返英國,冒險展開傳教活動。他善於寫文章,箸作廣泛流傳,捍護天主教信仰,首年已見佳績,可惜最後被捕。

 

聖人被判死刑,他說:「今天,你們譴責我們,等於譴責你們的先人—-包括古時的神父、主教及王帝們—-這一切曾是英國的光榮。」

 

聖愛德沐.江本於公元1581年十二月一日殉道。

 

聖瑪加利大. 格利塞羅 (1556-1586) 婚後皈依聖教。每天早晨,瑪加利大均用個半小時祈禱默想,每週辦兩次告解和守四次守齋。

 

英女皇依麗莎白一世下令不可藏匿天主教神父、不可參與天主教彌撒。瑪加利大的房子被搜出開彌撒的用品,因而在1586年三月十日被逮捕。

 

官方要把瑪加利大入罪,需要她的兒女傭僕的指證;為避免他們被為難,瑪加利大無畏地說:「我沒有犯過罪,我不需要審訊。」

 

被判處死刑時,聖婦說道:「謝謝天主。我實在不配受到這樣光榮的一種死亡。」

 

聖瑪加利大.格利塞羅被判用巨大的重物活活壓死。死前,在痛苦中,她猶從口中吐出最後兩句話:「耶穌、耶穌,請矜憐我!」就義日為1586年三月二十五日。

 

瑪加利大幼女成為修女,兩個兒子亦晉陞鐸品。

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