Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The Martyrs of Lancaster

Today, for the first time, the Church in this diocese celebrates a feast of the Martyrs of Lancaster. Many Catholics were imprisonned in Lancaster Castle; a number were executed (usually hung, drawn and quartered) on the hill above the Cathedral. On the Sanctuary at the Cathedral there is a plaque bearing their names. Today, for their feast, it is decorated with flowers and candles.

Fourteen of those who died are recognised as martyrs: Blessed John Finch (died 1548), Blessed Robert Nutter (1600), Blessed Edward Thwing (1600), Blessed Thurstan Hunt (1601), Blessed Robert Middleton (1601), Venerable Lawrence Bailey (1604), Blessed John Thules (1616), Blessed Roger Wrenno (1616), Saint Edmund Arrowsmith (1628), Blessed Richard Hurst (1628), Saint Ambrose Barlow (1641), Blessed John Woodcock (1646), Blessed Thomas Whittaker (1646), Blessed Edward Bamber (1646). In 2003 a donor paid for a window depicting St Edmund Arrowsmith to be installed in the Cathedral entrance.

St Edmund is seen in his vestments (he was a Jesuit priest), carrying a cross and a martyr's palm (a sign of victory over death). Behind him is Lancaster Castle, where he was imprisoned up to the day of his execution in August 1628.
The feast is kept with Mass at 12:15pm; Exposition 5-6pm with sung vespers at 5:30pm. This afternoon a group of parishioners will walk up to the site of the execution to pray the Rosary there at 3pm.