The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 4. Liturgical Colour: Red.
John Wall was born 1620 near Preston in Lancashire. He was the son of wealthy and staunch Lancashire Catholics. He was sent to Douai for his schooling. He enrolled at the English College in Rome in 1641 (as John Marsh, one of various aliases he used during his ministry), was ordained priest in 1645 and sent to the English mission in 1648. In 1651 he received the Fransiscan habit at St Bonaventure’s Friary, Douai. He returned to England some years later, and worked as a priest for more than twenty years, mainly based at Harvington Hall in Worcestershire. He was arrested in December 1678 during the flurry following the Titus Oates Plot, at Rushock Court near Bromsgrove, where the sheriff’s man came to seek a debtor. Once it was clear that he was a priest, he was ordered to take the Oath of Supremacy; on refusing to do so he was committed to Worcester. He was tried on the charges of receiving and exercising his priesthood, and of refusing the oaths. He was duly sentenced to death, and sent to London. On being sentenced he said: “Thanks be to God; God save the King; and I beseech God to bless your lordship and all this honourable bench” Under further questioning he was offered his life if he would abjure his religion. He later wrote: “I told them I would not buy my life at so dear a rate as to wrong my conscience.” He was brought back to Worcester, and was executed at Redhill. His quartered body was given to his friends, and was buried in St Oswald’s churchyard. The long speech he composed for his execution was circulated among Catholics after his death; and the authorities issued as a broadsheet the public account of his execution containing “a true copy of the speech…with animadversions upon the same”.
|Saint John Wall (1620-1679)|
John Wall came from a Norfolk gentry family but was born in Lancashire in 1620. His parents were fervent Catholics and sent him, when he was thirteen, to Douai College in northern France; from there he went to the English College in Rome and was ordained priest at 25. He then joined the Franciscan Order at the friary at Douai. When he was 36 he was sent secretly to England to work as a priest in Worcestershire. For 22 years he ministered to Catholics, moving from place to place, often using an assumed name to avoid capture. In 1678 he was arrested at Rushock Court near Bromsgrove as part of the scare caused by the fictitious “Popish Plot”. He was condemned to death at the Worcester Spring Assizes in 1679 and was hanged, drawn and quartered on Red Hill at Worcester on 22 August 1679. In his speech at the gallows he said: “I will offer my life in satisfaction for my sins and for the Catholic cause. I beseech God... to turn our captivity into joy; that they who sow in tears may reap in joy”. He was canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs.
|In other years: St Rose of Lima (1586 - 1617)|
She was born in Lima, in Peru. She lived a life of selflessness and devotion from an early age. She refused to marry, and became a Dominican tertiary at the age of 20. Her asceticism and her intense spiritual experiences excited the criticism of her friends and family and the suspicion of the Church authorities.
She cared for the sick, the poor, Indians, and slaves.
She was the first person in the Americas to be canonized, and is a patron saint of South America.
|Other saints: Saint Eugene (- c.618)|
Eoghan or Eugene of Ardstraw was a native of Leinster, and, after presiding over the Abbey of Kilnamanagh (Co. Wicklow) for fifteen years, settled in the valley of Mourne (Co. Tyrone), his mother’s country, about the year 576. He was followed by many disciples. He was consecrated first Bishop of Ardstraw in about 581. His name is generally latinised as Eugenius, but the Irish form is Eoghan (Owen), hence Tir Eoghain, or Tyrone.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)|
Augustine was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church early and spent a great deal of time seriously seeking the truth, first in the Manichaean heresy, which he abandoned on seeing how nonsensical it was, and then in Neoplatonism, until at length, through the prayers of his mother and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christianity and baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death.
Augustine had a brilliant legal and academic career, but after his conversion he returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous amount and left a permanent mark on both philosophy and theology. His Confessions, as dazzling in style as they are deep in content, are a landmark of world literature. The Second Readings in the Office of Readings contain extracts from many of his sermons and commentaries and also from the Confessions.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||1 Peter 5:10-11 ©|
You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will see that all is well again: he will confirm, strengthen and support you. His power lasts for ever and ever. Amen.
|Noon reading (Sext)||James 1:12 ©|
Happy the man who stands firm when trials come. He has proved himself, and will win the prize of life, the crown that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Wisdom 3:1-2,3 ©|
The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, but they are at peace.