April 11 – Convicted for being a priest

April 9, 2018

George Gervase

(Jervise.)

This is an illustration, said to be from about 1680, of the permanent gallows at Tyburn, which once stood where Marble Arch now stands. There was a three-mile cart ride in public from Newgate prison to the gallows, with large spectator stands lined along the way, so many people could see the hangings (for a fee). Huge crowds collected on the way and followed the accused to Tyburn.

Priest and martyr, born at Boscham, Suffolk, England, 1571; died at Tyburn, 11 April, 1608. His mother’s name was Shelly, and both his father’s and mother’s families had been long established in the County of Suffolk. Losing both parents in boyhood, he was kidnapped by pirates and carried off beyond seas, remaining in captivity over twelve years. He lost his religion during that period; but, when at last he was able to return to England, and found that his brother Henry had become a voluntary exile in Flanders in order to be able to practise his religion, George followed him there, and was soon reconciled with the Church. He entered the English College at Douai in 1595, and was ordained priest in 1603. He at once went to the English mission. He laboured very successfully for over two years, but was arrested in June, 1606, and banished with several other clergy. He then made a pilgrimage to Rome, and there endeavoured to enter the Society of Jesus, but, not being admitted for some unknown reason, he returned to Douai, where he received the Benedictine habit. His brother Henry had obtained for him a comfortable living near Lille, being anxious to preserve him from the persecution then raging in England. But George was determined to labour for the conversion if his native land, and succeeded in returning to his native England, but was soon arrested and incarcerated. Refusing to take the new oath of allegiance on account of its infringing on spiritual matters where Catholics were concerned, he was tried, convicted of the offense of merely being a priest, under the statute 27 Elizabeth, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. Some authorities say he did not receive the Benedictine habit until a short time before his death from Father Augustine Bradshaw.

Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s. v.; Challoner, Memoirs, II; Snow, Benedictine Necrology.

C. F. Wemyss Brown (Catholic Encyclopedia)

He was beatified in 1929 by Pope St. Pius X.

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