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FAITHFUL THROUGH CENTURIES OF PERSECUTIONS

FAITHFUL THROUGH CENTURIES OF PERSECUTIONS

OUR LADY OF KNOCK (1879) CAME TO A COUNTRY WHICH HAD REMAINED FAITHFUL THROUGH CENTURIES OF PERSECUTIONS

Mary came to a country which had remained faithful through centuries of trials and persecutions. Ireland was poverty stricken, with most of its people living in almost unbelievable squalor. The Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 had officially ended three centuries of persecution of the Church. During that time thousands of persons had been put to death for their religion.

THE PERSECUTION HAD TAKEN A MORE INSIDIOUS FORM

After 1829, the persecution simply took a more insidious form. Catholics were no longer slaughtered, but they were offered bribes of food and money to abandon their religion and to send their children to non-Catholic schools. It must have been difficult for a man to refuse such a bribe in the famine years when he saw the thin emaciated faces of his wife and children, but the vast majority of people preferred starvation to renouncing their faith.

THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE PREFERRED STARVATION TO RENOUNCING THE FAITH 

The year 1847 was one of the worst in Ireland’s history. That was the year of the dread potato famine, when thousands died of starvation and thousands of others were forced to leave the country. When it was over, the population of Ireland was half of what it had been, and even today it is much smaller than it was before 1847. There were failures of the potato crop again in 1877, 1878, and 1879.

Typhus fever struck down many of those who escaped death by starvation. At the Cross graveyard in the north of Mayo there were from five to fifteen funerals a day. Because the people were so poor and because so many died, most of them had to be buried without coffins.

Famine, fever, abject poverty, cruel persecution – surely a nation could bear no more. It seemed that the Irish race was destined to be wiped out. Just when conditions were at their worst, Mary appeared at Knock.

– From: “The Woman Shall Conquer” by Don Sharkey, Prow Books/Franciscan Marytown Press, Libertyville, IL, 1954

 

 

 

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ST JULIANA OF FALCONIERI, VIRGIN

ST JULIANA OF FALCONIERI, VIRGIN

ST JULIANA OF FALCONIERI, VIRGIN – MEMORIAL: JUNE 19

Juliana,of the noble Falconieri family, was heard to say the most sweet names of Jesus and Mary spontaneously from the cradle, among the cries from her infant lips.

SHE SOLEMNLY VOWED HER VIRGINITY TO GOD

When she had not yet finished her fifteenth year, giving up early nuptials and her inheritance, although it was a rich one, she solemnly vowed her virginity to God in the presence of St Philip Benizi; and from whom she was the first of all to take the religious habit of the nuns called the Mantellates. When her example was followed by a great number of noble women and her own mother put herself under her daughter’s religious instruction, Juliana did then found the order of the Mantellates.

SHE EXCELLED IN A WONDERFUL HUMILITY

She excelled in a wonderful humility, constant prayer and extraordinary abstinence. When, because of ill health, she could in no way take and retain food, and on that account was kept from the Eucharistic table, she begged the priest to bring her the Divine Bread which she could not take into mouth and, at least, to put it on her heart. When the priest had done this, at that moment the Divine Bread disappeared and Juliana breathed her last with a smiling countenance [in 1341].

PRAYER:

O God, who miraculously fortified blessed Juliana, your Virgin, in her last illness with the precious body of your Son, Grant, we beseech you, that with her merits pleading for us, we also, refreshed and strengthened by the same sacrament in our dying agony, may be brought to our heavenly home. Through the same…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added]

 

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ST MICHAEL, ARCHANGEL – DEFENDER OF GOD’S PEOPLE FROM OF OLD

Both in the Old and the New Testament, the holy Archangel Michael is called the “guardian angel of the people of God”. He is also honoured as the “Herald of the General Judgment” and the “Guardian of Paradise”. It is his office to lead all the elect into the Kingdom of Eternal Glory.

Defender and leader of God’s people in Paradise

The world’s history is replete with instances of St Michael’s solicitude for the children of men during the time of their earthly pilgrimage. He began to fulfil his office as defender and leader of God’s people in the Garden of Paradise. St Ambrose says that God commissioned St Michael to lead Adam into Paradise, to explain to him the purpose of his creation, to guide him and to associate with him in visible form. After the fall of Adam and Eve, this same glorious Archangel stood guard at the gate of Paradise with flaming sword, “to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen 3:24).

The Fathers of the Church tell us that even though in many instances the name of St Michael is not mentioned in Holy Scripture, when reference is made to the services of an angel, we may confidently believe that it was either St Michael himself who rendered assistance, or his angelic subjects, who did so at his command.

Important missions

They speculate that it may have been St Michael who warned Noe [Noah] of the coming flood, and that it was through St Michael that Abraham was named the father of the chosen people and received that wonderful promise which Holy Church has immortalised in her prayers for the dead: “May the holy standard-bearerMichael, introduce them into that holy light which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and his descendants.”

The Angel who appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Ex 3:2) was St Michael, according to the teaching of St Gregory Nazianzen. It was this mighty Angel who performed the wonders which took place at the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and through whom God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. Likewise, the Angel who routed the army of Sennacherib (4 [2] Kings 19:35) was the holy Archangel Michael.

After the death of Moses, according to an ancient Jewish tradition to which St Jude refers to in his Epistle (Jude 1:9), St Michael concealed the tomb of Moses from the people, and also from Satan, who wished to disclose it to the Israelites to seduce them thereby to the sin of false worship.

God revealed to St Michael the designs of His justice and mercy regarding His chosen people. Of this the prophecies of Daniel and Zacharias bear witness. Finally, it was this great celestial prince who aided the Israelites and rendered the army of Judas Macchabeus victorious over their enemies.

(Even to this day the Jews invoke the holy Archangel Michael as the principal defender of the Synagogue and their protector against enemies. On the Feast of the Atonement they conclude their prayers with this beautiful invocation: “Michael, Prince of Mercy, pray for Israel, that it may reign in Heaven, in that light which streams forth from the face of the King who sits upon the throne of mercy.”)

Protector of the Church

Just as the chosen people of the Old Law were marvellously protected by St Michael, so we may believe that this same prince of Heaven protects the Church of God even more wonderfully. Under the New Law, as under the Old, St Michael is the “Vicar of the Most High and the Prince of His people,” ever prepared to render assistance. The Fathers of the Church are of one mind in teaching that St Michael is the guardian angel and the protector of the Catholic Church.

Time and again, in centuries past, St Michael came to the rescue when dreadful wars and persecutions threatened to destroy Christianity. He it was who, at the command of Mary, Queen of Angels, came to the assistance of Constantine the Great in the fourth century and helped his forces to gain a brilliant victory over the pagan Emperor Maxentius. The Archangel himself revealed his identity in this instance. Appearing to Constantine after the completion of a beautiful church, which the latter had erected in his honour in gratitude, he said: “I am Michael, the chief of the angelic legions of the Lord of hosts, the protector of the Christian religion, who while you were battling against godless tyrants, placed the weapons in your hands.” This famous edifice, generally known as the Michaelion, has been the scene of many miracles wrought through the great Archangel.

Many miracles

Later, St Michael proved himself a powerful protector against invasion. The Greek Emperor Justinian erected six churches in his honour, in grateful recognition of his assistance. St Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans, who in the fifteenth century saved France, ascribed her vocation and her victories to St Michael. Three times he appeared to her and informed her that she was called to deliver her country. In the sixteenth century, when it seemed that the Turks (Muslims fighting under the Turkish sultan) would conquer all Europe, St Michael at the command of the Blessed Virgin again championed the cause of the Christian (Catholic) Faith, and a glorious victory was gained over the infidels at the Battle of Lepanto.

Thus has St Michael proved himself a valiant warrior for the honour of God, both in Heaven and on earth. And he still wages incessant war with the archfiend Satan in the great Kingdom of God on earth, the Church.

Victorious St Michael

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich was reputed to have had visions of the past and future combats of the Church. Repeatedly she saw St Michael, in the form of a warrior, standing above the Church, replacing his bloodstained sword in its scabbard as a sign of victory. She was also shown how, in the present-day struggles of the Church, St Michael would bring about a most glorious victory. This thought should be consoling to all faithful Christians who view with alarm the many shafts of persecution now being directed against the Church.

Pope Leo XIII, realising by divine enlightenment the present and future struggles of the Church against the powers of Hell, felt convinced that through the intervention of St Michael, Hell would be conquered and the Church restored to peace and liberty. He therefore composed a prayer in honour of this warrior Archangel and ordered it to be recited daily after low Mass in all the churches throughout the Christian world.

It is said that one day, having celebrated the Holy Sacrifice, the aged Pontiff was in conference with the Cardinals. Suddenly, he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side feared that he had already expired, for they could find no trace of his pulse. However, after a short interval the Holy Father rallied and, opening his eyes, exclaimed with great emotion: “Oh, what a horrible picture I was permitted to see!” He had been shown in spirit the tremendous activities of the evil spirits and their ravings against the Church. But in the midst of this vision of horror, he had also beheld consoling visions of the glorious Archangel Michael, who had appeared and cast Satan and his legions back into the abyss of Hell. Soon afterwards, he composed the well-known prayer: “St Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and the snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray…”

The Church has special need of St Michael’s powerful protection in our times. On all sides she is assailed by strong and bitter enemies. In one country after another, religious persecution rises to an ever higher pitch of hatred and insolence. The terrible crimes which have been committed in recent times, and are still being committed against the Church, both in her sanctuaries and against her members, surely are instigated by the devil. No human mind could be base enough to conceive and put them into execution.

The gates of Hell shall never prevail

We know that the gates of Hell shall never prevail against the Church, for our Lord has promised to be with her till the End of Time, but we must do our part in defending her cause. God might have cast the rebel down into Hell by a single act of His Will, but he chose rather to send against them His armies of loyal spirits under the leadership of the great St Michael. So too, in the present critical times, He could confound the enemies of the Church by merely willing to do so. But He wills, rather, that we should cooperate in her defence under the leadership of the Great Captain of the heavenly hosts.

– From: ‘Neath St Michael’s Shield, Fifth Edition, 1962

 

 

 

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OUTLAWED FOR BEING A CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN: ACCOUNTS OF BRINDLE & HOGHTON TOWER, LANCASHIRE, ENGLAND

From then he was declared an outlaw

“Whether we consider the castellated tower – one of the finest in the kingdom, or the pride of the de Houghtons – or the heroic sacrifice which the head of the family made in leaving it and his country for religion’s sake, or, again, the constancy of the country people which has persevered to this day, despite the forcible Protestantism of the hero’s grandson, on each of these accounts Hoghton and Brindle are unequalled in interest even in Catholic Lancashire.

‘At Houghton Hygh, which is a bower

Of sports and lordly pleasure,

I wept and left that lofty tower

Which was my chiefest treasure.

To save my soule and lose ye reste

Yt was my trew pretence;

Lyke frightened bird, I left my neste

To keep my conscience.’

Mr. Gillow says on the death of his father, August 5, 1558, Thomas Hoghton succeeded to the family estates. At this period William Allen, afterwards Cardinal, visited Lancashire, and was a guest at Hoghton Tower. In common with the gentry and people of Lancashire, Hoghton repudiated the new religion which was being forced upon the country.

Every type of pressure was devised by the government to force Catholic Christians to renounce the Faith

Every kind of pressure was devised by the Council to drive the people into attendance at the Protestant service. Fines and imprisonment were inflicted in rapid succession, and Catholics were outlawed and deprived of all protection. Under these circumstances, feeling that he could not remain in the country and keep his conscience, Hoghton took the advice of his friend Vivian Haydock, and in 1569 he hired a vessel and sailed from his mansion of The Lea, on the Rible, to the coast of France, and thence proceeded to Antwerp. From this he was declared an outlaw, and possession was taken of his estates.

The state took possession of his estates

On March 17, 1576, his half-brother Richard obtained a licence from Queen Elizabeth to visit the exile in Antwerp, with intent to persuade him to submit to the royal pleasure. Hoghton was anxious to return, but could not make terms with the Court to retain his religion; he therefore remained in exile until his death, which occurred at Liege, June 2, 1580, aged sixty-three. He was buried under the high altar of the English College, Douai, which he had helped to found. He charged his executors to remove his body to the place where his ancestors lay in the parish church of Preston, of which the Hoghtons were patrons, when God should have mercy on his country, and restore to it the Catholic Faith and service.

‘Hys lyfe a mirrour was to all,

Hys death wythout offence;

Confessor, then, lett us him call,

O blessed conscience.’

His son and namesake, Thomas Hoghton, went with his father into exile, and was not recognised on the escheat in 1580. He was placed with Dr. Allen at Douai College, whence he left to visit his father in Brabant in 1577. He probably returned, for he matriculated in the University of Douai, was ordained priest, and proceeded to the English Mission. He had no sooner arrived in Lancashire than he was seized and thrown into Salford Gaol, where great numbers of recusants were confined.

The great band of confessors of the Faith who perished in prison unrecorded

There his name appears in the list of priests returned to the Council by Edmund Trafford and Robert Worsley in 1582. He was one of those who ‘do still contynue in their obstinate opynions; neyther do wee see anye likelyhoode of conformytie in any of them.’ His name continues in the lists of recusants imprisoned at Salford until January, 1584, after which it is lost sight of, and in all probability he went to swell the great band of confessors of the Faith who perished in prison unrecorded.

The half-brother of the exile, and curiously his namesake, Thomas Hoghton, was slain in a feud with the Baron of Newton in 1589, and his eldest son, being a minor, was given in ward to Sir Gilbert Gerard, the Master of the Rolls, to be brought up a Protestant. This system of gaining over Catholic families to the new religion was constantly practised, as in the case of Sir Roger Bradshaigh and others who were cruelly robbed of the Faith. All the rest of the family were true to the old religion, and the Hoghtons would still have been Catholics but for this unjust proceeding. Thus wrote Mr. Gillow in 1887, but recently the heir to the Hoghton estates has become a Catholic, and having married a Catholic lady, their children are being educated in the Faith for which the de Hoghton of 1580 was so staunch a confessor.

It is of interest to remember that it was at Hoghton Tower in 1617 that King James, in the present banqueting hall, solemnly knighted the Sirloin of Beef, an incident which the writers of the Victorian History of Lancashire, despite their very full account of Hoghton, have thought fit to omit. Possibly the facts are none too decorous, but the incident tells us much of the manners of the royal guest and his court.

Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith

To turn now to matters more ecclesiastical, the earlier directories of the Archdiocese of Liverpool (e.g., 1915) give the date of the Brindle Mission thus: 16 – , 1786. The latter is the date of the present church, cut in stone above the doorway of the chapel, and very pretentious the date looks. The former figures, 16 -, need some completion. Fortunately, there are plenty of records from which to compile our story.

Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith

Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith

The chief jewel in the crown of the Brindle Mission is the holy martyr Edmund Arrowsmith, who attended to the Catholics in the district for some years, and the story of whose arrest is so graphically given in Dom Bede Camm’s Forgotten Shrines. Father Arrowsmith came to the English Mission in 1613, the year after his ordination, and resided for the most part with relatives of his family at Denham Hall. Mr. Gillow in his Notes on Brindle (Cat. Rec. Soc., vol. 23) mentions that about 1622 Father Arrowsmith was apprehended and brought before Dr. Bridgeman, Bishop of Chester, with whom he had a controversy before being committed to Lancaster Castle. Thence he was released about the time of the negotiations for a marriage between Prince Charles (later Charles II) and a Spanish Princess. Shortly afterwards he joined the Society of Jesus, as he had long desired, making his novitiate on the mission, but spent two or three months in Essex before his profession under the name of Rigby in 1624. From that date he continued to serve the Mission at Brindle and the neighbourhood till his apprehension in 1628. He was arraigned at Lancaster, condemned to death for being a priest, and martyred August 28, 1628, aged forty-three. The martyr’s right hand was secured by the Gerards of Bryn, and to this day is held in great veneration, at Ashton-in-Makerfield.

A spring of very clear water

According to Mr. Gillow, the usual residence of the priest about this time was at St. Helen’s Well, where also was the principal place where Mass was said in the district. The house and well are thus described by Kuerdon, writing about 1675: ‘Over against Swansey House, a little towards the hill, standeth an ancient fabric, once the Manor House of Brindle, where hath been a chappel belonging to the same, and a little above it a spring of very clear water, rushing straight upward into the midst of a fayr fountain, walled square about in stone and flagged in the bottom, very transparent to be seen and a strong stream issuing out of the same. This fountain is called St Ellen’s Well, to which place the vulgar neighbouring people of the Red Letter (Catholics) do much resort with pretended devotion on each year, upon St Ellin’s day (Aug. 18).’

From the Forfeited Estates Papers in the Public Record Office

Mr. Henry Taylor, in his Ancient Crosses and Wells in Lancashire, gives some diagrams of the Well along with his interesting account, in which he says: ‘I could not find the chapel, but some of the stairs in the dilapidated house close by may have formed a portion of such an edifice.’ This was the residence of the Gerards of the Well, and so continued till the early part of the eighteenth century, of whom William married in 1619; Oliver Gerard of the Well was buried in 1664; the will of James Gerard of St Ellen’s Well was proved at Chester in 1665, and that of Alice Gerard of the Well in 1679; besides many later entries in the Brindle parish registers.

This Alice Gerard may justly be considered the foundress of the present Brindle Mission. Previous to her death in 1679, probably about 1677, she gave the site, and built upon it a new chapel and house in Gregson Lane, known as Newhouse. Among the Forfeited Estate Papers in the Public Record Office are several depositions made before the Commissioners in reference to this chapel. ‘George Hinton, of Brindle, Co. Lancaster, swore this 18th July, 1718, saith he hath known Newhouse ever since it was built by Alice Gerard, viz. about forty years ago, that one Green lived there about ten years and died about thirteen years ago, and this deponent did frequently hear the said Green say Mass there, after whose death Mr. Hutchison, a Roman priest, succeeded him, and now usually resides there; That there are about twelve acres of ground belonging to the said house.’ Forty years from 1718, the date of the above deposition, would take us to 1678, which may thus be safely inserted in future Catholic directories as the date of the Brindle Mission.

Similar evidence to that of George Hinton was given by William Hinton, William Turner, Thomas Oram, who mention Mr. Green, Mr. Hutchison, and Mr. Huddlestone as successive priests, and the date at Newhouse of its beginning as forty years previously. Samuel Peploe again, in his account of estates granted to superstitious purposes in and about Preston, Co. Lancs., reported: “Newhouse and grounds belonging to it in Brindle is mostly let in parcels. One Hutchison, a Popish priest, has lived on it some time, who succeeded Mr. Green, a priest, who died there.’

From the above we gather that Mr. Green came to Brindle in 1695. He died in 1704, and was buried at the parish church of Brindle. Mr. Hutchison succeeded, and died at Brindle August 24, 1717. Mr. Huddlestone had charge of the Mission till 1721, when he was succeeded by Dom William Placid Naylor, the most distinguished of the monks in charge of Brindle, who during the last three years he was there was President-General of the English Congregation. His earlier years at Brindle were full of activity. He first acquired a cottage and 3 1/2 acres of land from a family of the name of Coope, and in 1726, with the aid of various benefactions, he obtained possession of Stanfield House with the grounds on which it stood. Mr. George Hull, in his historical sketch of Brindle, mentions that before he built the chapel Father Naylor, like his predecessors, did duty at several Mission stations. One of these was Jack Green, which in 1860 belonged to a Mr. Livesay. When the old house there was pulled down, Father Smith (Brindle, 1829-1874) brought the old chalice and the vestments from the garret to his own house. Another station was at Woodhouse, going towards Clayton Green; another was at Slack, where the Fazackerleys lived; another at Thorpe Green. At these stations the priest celebrated the rites of the Church, and on one Sunday he announced where he would officiate the next; for he could not take them in rotation, because then Catholics had to go to Mass by stealth, and it was dangerous to allow it to be known where services would be held.

It was dangerous to allow it to be known where Mass would take place

Mass was also said at a house, one end of which now faces the entrance to Gregson Lane Mill. This old house has strong claims – even at the risk of a slight digression – to a passing notice here. It is believed to have been erected about 1580, and is a fine example of the comfortable yeoman’s dwelling of that period; an interesting feature of the building being a small room in which the ironwork round the fireplace is hammered into a representation of the wheat and vine, emblematic of the bread and wine used in the Mass. It is said that at the beginning of the eighteenth century this house was the residence of the Gregsons of Gregson Lane, one of whom placed his initials, ‘G. G.,’ with a cross and the date, ‘1700,’ on the lintel of the porch, thus giving later generations the erroneous impression that the building was erected in that year. From it were taken, about 1880, some ancient vestments, which are now in the museum at Stonyhurst College. Near this house, about twenty years ago, was dug up a very ancient font, possibly of the ninth century; and in the garden of a cottage close by stands a beautiful old wayside cross. Local tradition asserts that at this same old house the Venerable Edmund Arrowsmith, the Jesuit martyr, said his last Mass. There are other interesting traditions of his presence in this neighbourhood.

Brindle Presbytery and former chapel, ca. 1923

Brindle Presbytery and former chapel, ca. 1923

He had laboured long in his Mission

Mr. Hull continues his historical sketch: ‘The former priest’s house at Brindle and part of the chapel, Brindle, erected for and by Father Naylor, are still standing. They adjoin the present priest’s house, a portion of which, in its turn, formed part of the second chapel, the present church being really the third building erected for divine worship on this spot.’ As priests could not then hold property, the buildings erected by Father Naylor were conveyed to him in the name of Mr. Woodcock, a Protestant friend, who lived at Walton, and whose successors lived at Bury, where Father Smith saw them, when he arranged for the transfer of the property. Father Naylor, on account of his position as President-General, appears to have been absent from Brindle, on business connected with the Order, from time to time; for it is on record, in the register of the Mission, that he left Brindle for ‘the last time’ on July 16, 1769. He then retired to his Monastery of St. Lawrence at Dieulouard, in Lorraine, and when he got there he told his brethren – to quote Father Smith’s account – ‘that he had laboured long in his Mission and had come to lay his bones in his old monastery. He lived there two years before he went to his rest.’

He had, indeed, laboured hard on the Mission, and most of the time filled important posts in the English Congregation. He was Definitor of the Province in 1733, Definitor of the Regimen 1737, Provincial of York 1741-1766, in which year he became President-General. It was he who built up the Brindle Mission, so that it became the parent of several others in the neighbourhood, and the Catholics of the district owe much to his remarkable foresight and ability.

Many of the judges and magistrates were heartily ashamed 

Not content with labouring hard himself, Father Naylor appears to have done much to induce others to take up the then arduous and perilous work of the priesthood, for there are records of at least three members of his congregation who left Brindle to be educated at the houses belonging to the English Congregation which were then maintained on the Continent. These were the Rev. John Anselm Bolton, who was professed at St Lawrence’s, Dieulouard, in 1751; the Rev. William Dunstan Garstang, professed at St Edmund’s, Paris, in 1753; and the Rev. Ambrose Waring, professed at Dieulouard in 1761. The name of the first of these three – Father Bolton – is connected with what was most probably the last of the trials for high treason to which Catholic priests were liable until the end of the eighteenth century. During the time he was chaplain and incumbent at Gilling Castle, Yorkshire (1764-1793), he was, through the ill-will of a discharged bailiff, accused and tried for his priesthood; or, in other words, simply for having taught the Catholic Catechism to his parishioners. Many of the judges, magistrates, and other authorities of that date were heartily ashamed of the atrocious penal laws which they were called to administer. This seems to have been especially their feeling in the case of Father Bolton, and the learned counsel who appeared for him took full advantage of it.

He procured a catechism, took out its pages, and substituted pages of blank paper. When the proper time came he asked the discharged bailiff who had betrayed Father Bolton if this book, which he held up, was anything like the book from which he had seen Mr. Bolton teach Popery. The ex-bailiff boldly declared that it was ‘the very same book.’ ‘Was he sure?’ ‘Quite sure.’ ‘On his oath?’ ‘Yes.’ Counsel passed the book over to the Judicial Bench, and from there it went to the jury. It was, of course, found to contain not a word of Popery; and the priest was, to the credit of the Court, acquitted. This Father Bolton afterwards had charge of a mission at Ampleforth, in Yorkshire, and from his house, which still stands, grew the noble pile now known as St Lawrence’s Abbey. He died on December 22, 1805, and a fine portrait of him is to be seen at Ampleforth, which has been reproduced by Dom C. Almond in his History of Ampleford Abbey, where he most generously acknowledges the share the good monk from Brindle had in establishing what was to be the successor of his own Alma Mater at Dieulouard.

A succession of remarkable men

Father Naylor’s successor at Brindle was Rev. Joseph Lawrence Hadley, who was there from 1767 to 1802, having acted for two years as Father Naylor’s assistant. Father Hadley built the present spacious and substantial church, which bears the date, as already mentioned, over its main entrance. After serving Brindle for nearly thirty-six years, Father Hadley retired to Liverpool, where he died. He was, in common with other Catholics of that date, interred in the burial-ground of St James Protestant Church, at the top of Parliament Street. At this time the congregation numbered about 600, whilst in 1784 Bishop Mathew B. Gibson confirmed 168 persons at Brindle. About this time the children of the district received such education as could then be afforded them at several small schools. One of them, known as ‘Old Betty Slater’s,’ was at the Straits; another, kept by one ‘Dicky’ Wilson, was at Coupe Green, which is said to have taken its name from the local family already mentioned. On the erection of the present church, the former chapel is believed to have been used as a school.

Immediately after Father Hadley’s retirement in 1802, the Mission was placed under the care of Rev. James Alexius Pope, and of him his successor, Father Smith, said that ‘he believed no mission ever had a more deserving or a better priest than Mr. Pope was.’ But the same words might have been used with equal propriety of Father Smith himself, the truth being that during the long period of 153 years the Brindle Mission was blessed with a succession of remarkable men, the four of them sharing between them the century and a half. Father Smith’s great desire was, if he knew a boy who was promising for the Church, to get him to college and ultimately admitted to Holy Orders. In this he was singularly successful. Among those whom he was instrumental in getting thus trained were Rev. J. C. Proctor, O.S.B.; V. R. Canon Carter, afterwards of Bolton; Rev. M. G. Brierley, O.S.B.; V. R. Canon Baron, afterwards of Corby, Lincolnshire; Rev. Will. Baron; V. R. Canon Walmesley; Rev. William Crook; Rev. Edmund Crook; Rev. Henry Ryley; Rev. James Thompson; Rev. Thos. Parkinson; Rev. J. A. Worden, O.S.B. There was one embargo that Father Smith always put upon the priests who owed their training to his efforts, and that was that in the Holy Sacrifice they should never forget the congregation of Brindle. The good Father died at his post on January 29, 1874, and was interred in the graveyard adjoining the church. In the early days of his incumbency a former Brindle boy, who had risen to a position of affluence by his industry and integrity, built the schools which have now done duty for three generations, and on which the following inscription may still be read: ‘Erected by Mr. Joseph Knight, of Chelsea, for the benefit of the Brindle congregation, and as a token of respect for his native place, A. D. 1831.’

…in times of prosperity as in times of suffering and persecution

The Brindle Mission is the ‘mother’ of Brownedge, Walton, Clayton Green, and Leyland. ‘It is,’ says Mr. Hewitson, in his Country Churches and Chapels, to which we would refer the reader for further ‘racy’ details, ‘an elevated pastoral district, with a peaceable, widely-spread population, and has some of the most puzzling roads in the Western hemisphere. We have managed a few roads in our time, but in all our wanderings we have met with none more mixed up or perplexing then those in the arcadian region of Brindle. It is indeed an old-world spot, the chapel snugly hid away in a deep dell and not seen until one is within fifty yards of it. But it was placed there in times of persecution; and all the surroundings have the same air of peaceful retirement so greatly favoured by our Catholic forefathers.’ But the days of retirement are past, and we may justly hope that Brindle and Hoghton will remember their former glories and be an example to Catholic Lancashire in times of prosperity, even as they were in times of suffering and persecution.”

– Dom F. O. Blundell, O.S.B., Old Catholic Lancashire, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., London 1925

 

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“WE CAN AND SHOULD EXPECT TO BE PERSECUTED AND RIDICULED FOR OUR FAITH”

“We live in a secular society. A secular society prides itself on its tolerance and acceptance of many things.

Ironically, a secular society can be intolerant of religious faith and those who practise and profess it.

Whatever society we live in, secular or not, we can and should expect to be persecuted and ridiculed for our faith.

We should however always be prepared to give the reason for our hope and our joy. We should also be prepared to stand up for the truth of our faith, to uphold the Gospel of life and to resist the culture of death.

We are called to speak the truth in love; proclaim the Gospel of life with love for God and love for our neighbour burning in our hearts.”
– This short meditation was published in “A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2013” by AlivePublishing. For information about their booklets please visit http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk (external link).

 

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