Many years ago, when I wrote a book of historical poetry and monologues on Fountains Abbey, I had access to two libraries' special collections. I also had a Reader's Pass to the British Library.
In these collections, I discovered books of the actual letters of Thomas Cromwell's visitators to the abbeys and monasteries of England and Wales. As the master-mind behind the suppression of the monasteries, Cromwell dictated the rules, organized the men, and oversaw the systematic theft, destruction, and murder of the land, buildings, and inhabitants, not only of Fountains, but the hundred of other holy houses.
Cromwell oversaw and caused the downfall of SS. John Fisher and Thomas More, as well as the persecution of Katherine of Aragon and the death of Anne Boleyn. Cromwell said of the excellent Queen Katherine, (who should be canonized), that "If not for her sex, she could have defied all the heroes of History".
He master-minded the complete change of the face of English spirituality. At the beginning of his several steps of suppression, there were at least 900 religious houses, including monasteries, priories and convents, involving over 12,000 persons in the land. He was responsible for the destruction of the shrine of Thomas a Becket, among all the other shrines, including Walsingham, the only place where Mary had appeared in England and, like Canterbury, one of the two major pilgrimage sites in England. All these places not only were physically destroyed, but ruined in memory.
At the end of the few years of violence, only a handful of religious houses remained, those which had gone over to Henry, all under the control of Cromwell. The Visitators were led and controlled by a group of commissioners of theValor Ecclesiaticus, and the later general visitation of 1535, Richard Layton, Thomas Leigh, John ap Rice and John Tregonwell, who "visited" the holy houses themselves and wrote back to Cromwell. One of the Visitators sent to Walshingham was the grandfather of St. Robert Southwell, Sir Richard Southwell, who became wealthy from his part of the theft. John Tregonwell, for example, went to Oxford to force the religious to take the Oath of Supremacy. At first, the suppression was supposedly a commission to collect data on the wealth of the religious houses, but quickly these visitations included the forcing of the oath, and the destruction of the houses.
Cromwell also raised Hugh Latimer and others to positions of great power in the newly formed Anglican "church". The fact that letters remain testifies to the vast organization which Cromwell establish in order to destroy the Catholic Church.
Reading the actual letters of these men who were sent to Walsingham, Glastonbury, Furness, Buckfast and the long list, including Fountains, chilled my heart. Here is a list of the dissolved monasteries. Such phrases relating to the monks and priests, such as this one, that they were"sore bent rathre to die then to yelde to this youre royals style" indicate the great spiritual and physical battles surrounding the dissolution. Such phrases are found in the Original Letters, Three Chapters of Letters and other books complied and edited by such scholars as Ellis, Wright and Thompson, as well as State Papers, Published under the Authority of His Majesty's Commission. There are other compilations as well.
Today, one can estimate that the worth of the land, buildings, altar ware, goods, including sheep and cattle stolen would be over 1.07 billion pounds sterling. Even though the visitators claimed that many of the monks, priests and nuns were evil, some of the letters indicate that the vast majority were good, Godly people. We know this from many sources, that the evils of the monasteries were not only exaggerated, but downright deceitful reports, created in order to suppress the houses and kill the monks, nuns, and laity who were faithful. Most became the great martyrs and homeless of England and Wales--some, like St. John Houghton, killed at Tyburn, and some dying on the roads in ditches and hovels far from their original monasteries. One of the greatest scholars tracing the evils of this time is David Knowles.
Blaspheming God and committing the sin of sacrilege, such as at Fountains, when the men threw the Consecrated Hosts, the Body of Christ on the ground and forced their horses to trample God, these men then wrote back to the commissioners and Cromwell as to their "successes". The letters remain as proof of the greatest sins men can commit against Christ Himself in the Eucharist.
Some types of sacrilege cannot be published on this blog.
As a young person, I was shocked to realize that the vast majority of the men involved in violence against God, God's Church, the People of God, had been born and raised Catholic.
When I first did research into the dissolution, in 1979, I had somewhat of an idea of the horror which blighted the religious landscape of England and Wales. When I had finished my many months, and eventually years, of researching, reading and reflecting, I knew that we would see times like this again. We would witness Catholics destroying the Church of Christ, causing Christ to suffer the pains of Calvary again and again and again.
All these men, who perpetrated the murder of the martyrs and the desecration of the Eucharist had been or were still Catholics.
These men were Catholics who instructed the bullies to take the nuns out of the convents and push them onto the streets and wild roads of all the counties and shires of England and Wales. The bullies were or had been Catholics.
These men were Catholics who became wealthy lords, feasting on the backs of those who had provided livelihoods in farming, the wool trade, and even shoe-making for thousands of lay people, lay people who either lost their jobs, homes, and were separated from families, or who succumbed to the oath.
These men were Catholics who committed the sins of blasphemy and sacrilege in the name of king, country and even the new false religion, with a new God of hatred and compromise, not the Trinity revealed and revered by those they sent to Tyburn, and other places of death.
These men were Catholics who killed such women as SS. Anne Line, Margaret Clitherow, Blessed Margaret Pole and others.
As I sit in my little "cell" in a country which is fast losing its Catholic identity, I consider the number of Catholics who are aiding this destruction of the Catholic Church from within. I consider the weak and heterodox priests, who have led their sheep into stinking marshes of falsehood, instead of green pastures with fresh water.
I have discovered the lies of some priests giving sinful advice to the laity. Priests and laity are men who are Catholics, creating a mind-set of anti-Catholicism from within the Church, which will end here, in this gorgeous country, with the abandonment and destruction of some of the most beautiful churches in the world,
Those who were Catholics destroyed Fountains. But, they also help to destroy souls. This is happening here.
These priests are Catholics who preach and encourage not only contraception, but fornication, and even the supposed goodness of homosexual lust.
These men are Catholics who want to sell the beautiful churches, altar ware, vestments, and give the money to the poor, not realizing that it is their duty to clothe the naked and feed the poor. God deserves beauty and honor, and theirs is enough wealth here to keep all the churches and still care for the homeless and unemployed. But, such are the lies of the worldly, those Catholics who hate the Church, hate the Incarnate One, and hate the teachings of the Church.
May God preserve Europe and America. He did not preserve England and Wales, allowing free will to have supremacy in the mystery of His Divine Providence.
Therefore, we honor Edmund Campion, John Fisher, Thomas More, Oliver Plunkett and the myriad martyrs of England and Wales, the stars in the Church Triumphant, some tortured, some mutilated, all killed by those who were. at one time in their lives, Catholics.