During the ‘English Reformation’ hundreds of brave men and women suffered persecution to cling to the Catholic Faith that had been integral to the life of this nation for over a thousand years. Many were heavily fined, exiled or imprisoned. Priests, or anyone assisting a Priest, could expect the death sentence. Fr Marcus Holden & Fr Nicholas Schofield lead us on a journey to discover more about these Saints, the times in which they lived, and their significance for Catholics today.
From the lives of well-known Saints like Thomas More, Margaret Clitherow and Edmund Campion, to lesser-known figures, the message of the English Martyrs is re-presented for a contemporary audience. It is a message of great Faith and profound courage. Along the way we discover places such as Stonor Park and Wardley Hall, Tyburn & Rievaulx Abbey.
Interviews with Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Bishop Terence Brain, Lord Camoys and others help to re-tell the stories of those who laid down their lives to preserve the Faith of Our Fathers.
These heroic Catholics help to encourage and inspire us in living our Catholic Faith in this same land, amidst the challenges of our own times, and for the New Evangelization.
“Potius hodie quam cras, as Saint Ralph Sherwin said when asked to take the missionary oath, “rather today than tomorrow”. These words aptly convey his burning desire to keep the flame of faith alive in England, at whatever personal cost. Those who have truly encountered Christ are unable to keep silent about him.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict to the students of the Venerable English College on the occasion of being received in Private Audience, 3rd December 2012.
In December 2012, the students of the Venerable English College in Rome were granted a private audience with Pope Emeritus Benedict in the ‘Sala Clementina’ of the Apostolic Palace.
At that audience, Pope Benedict venerated the relic of St Ralph Sherwin, protomartyr of the Venerable English College’s forty-four martyrs. Nearly all of these martyrs died for the Faith in their early twenties by being hanged, drawn and quartered.
When news of a martyrdom reached Rome, the students sang a ‘Te Deum’ before the C16 ‘Martyrs’ Picture’ in the College Church. Undaunted, many of those who sang the Te Deum would themselves return to their homeland and receive ‘their own’ Te Deum in praise of the God who gave them the grace to clothe themselves in the white robes, washed clean in the ‘Blood of the Lamb’ (Cf. Apoc. 7:13ff).