Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Could you crack a joke in the face of death?

Today is the Feast of St Cuthbert Mayne, first of the secular martyr priests. A man who was sought by the Queen's men and, when finally confronted by the High Sheriff and a gang of 100 followers, was ice cool but still showing a great sense of humour.

The High Sheriff was one, Richard Greenville and he and his men had surrounded the house of a Mr Tregan near Launceston, Cornwall in the hope of capturing the priest.

When Fr Mayne confronted them he said: Who are you looking for? Much as Our Lord once said: "Whom seek ye?"

Greenville replied: "We are looking for a man"

And, quick as a flash Fr Mayne responded: "Well, I am a man"

I believe that riposte was not only funny but, also, a reply that was honest. He was not going to lie and try to pretend that he was not Cuthbert Mayne.

Of course, they seized him and, in so doing, found about his neck an "Agnus Dei" a small disc made of wax imprinted with the symbol of a lamp.

Fisheaters describe the origins of the Agnus Dei -

The symbolism of the Agnus Dei is the same as that of the Paschal Candle; the wax is the pure flesh of Christ, and their protective qualities are like those of other blessed objects, with the Pope's blessing mentioning specifically protection in combat, and protection against tempests, lightning, fire and water; malice of demons and of every adversity; pentilence, sickness, and a sudden and unprovided death.

Normally, the disc would have the imprint of a lamb (Lamb of God) or, as in Fr Mayne's case, a lamp symbolising Christ the light of the world. These discs would also have been blessed by the Pope and were much loved by the Recusant priests.

Fr Mayne was thrown into prison while charges of High Treason were trumped up in order to secure his execution.
Finally, he went to trial but the jury found no charge against him. Nonetheless,  Judge Manhood instructed them that the guilty verdict had to be imposed,
 alleging "that where plain proofs were wanting strong presumptions ought to take their place." Not a very safe basis of law.

Three days before he was executed his gaoler came to tip him off regarding his impending death and he replied: !I wish that I had something valuable to give you for the good news you bring to me..."

The night before he faced the gallows a bright light was seen emanating from his cell, a not uncommon occurrence for those about to receive their martyr's crown (St Maximilian Kolbe's cell also showed the strong, bright light before he died).

A day or two prior to his execution his jailers had approached him offering pardon if he would swear upon the Bible that the Queen was the Supreme Head of the Church of England.

He answered that "the Queen neither ever was nor is nor ever shall be the head of the Church in England" and that answer sealed his fate.

On November 30, 1577, after having been dragged through the streets of Launceston feet first, he was hanged by the neck and then his body was drawn and quartered.

He was not allowed, as was customary, to make a gallows address to the crowd. Instead he humbly bowed his head in silent prayer.

One of The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales he is witness to the great sacrifices made by our priests both then and today.

                     St Cuthbert Mayne Ora pro nobis

Posted by Richard Collins - Linen on the Hedgerow


  1. Hi Dylan,

    "Jam lucis orto sidere"

    I am appearing in Dartford County Court today at 2.30pm.

    Orbit South have placed a black hearted agent provocateur inside 1-24 Badlow Close at No 1. Orbit South's STREET BLOCK VOICE has branded me an unqualified, insane thug, and his claim has been further compounded by the lies and actions of three of Orbit South's staff who have quite unbelievably made unsubstantiated claims that I have made written DEATH TO THE CORE GROUP threats to kill on November 7th 2011.

    I will of course be challenging the RSL from Hell's malevolent bundle of evidence with "THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH" when I appear as a pennyless defendent today in Court.


    God our Father, source of life and freedom, through Your Holy Spirit, you gave the Carmelite, Titus Brandsma the courage to affirm human dignity even in the midst of suffering and degrading persecution. Grant us that same spirit so that, in refusing all compromise with error we may always and everywhere give coherent witness to Your abiding presence among us. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen http://guildofblessedtitus.blogspot.com/

  2. @ A Reluctant Sinner aka Dylan Parry & The Guild of the Blessed Titus Brandsma too

    Thank you for publishing my HEART 'n' SOUL SURVIVOR'S prayerful cry for JUSTICE NOT VENGEANCE 1991-2011 today.

    I have just beaten Orbit South the zeitgeist 'RSL from Hell', and their Solicitor in Dartford County Court before District Judge Greenfield. You should have seen their faces. They failed with their wicked lies and inhuman injunction to limit my 'Unity in the Community' activity, and I now have until the 27th December 2011 to submit my defence for a Civil Court trial sometime in April 2012. By then the IPCC, MPA & Police Professional Standards will be all over Orbit South's malevolent liars like a rash after I pinpoint their £128 Million Larner Road Regeneration Scheme's Project Manager's false allegation that I wrote DEATH TO THE CORE GROUP in a letter to them. If I had done that then I would be facing the charge of Threats to Kill, not the spurious Harassment without violence charge that I have referred to the IPCC.

    God save the Queen!

    Our Lady of the Rosary ( http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/2011/05/visit-to-tomb-of-blessed-john-paul-ii.html ) pray for us!


    Best regards

    Roy Hobson aka Our Lady's "Vesper" ON-LINE +

    ROY HOBSON FCInstCES1990, FRICS1984, Grad Dipl QS

  3. @Richard Collins

    I remember you and your beautiful daughter well from the inaugural meeting of Guild of the Blessed Titus Brandsma at Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.

    Father Finigan knows that I have received very special treatment from the POWERS THAT BE since I stood up against wicked NF/BNP entry-ism into London's Sporting/Planning Arena at the Old Addeyans FC/Densitron International PLC development here in South East London 1990/91.

    Twenty years later I am still fighting for JUSTICE NOT VENGEANCE and I believe that today may have well been the breakthrough that I have been seeking.

  4. Vesper - good that you have won your battle, or, at least, made a breakthrough.


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