Monday 28th September 2020

Home » saints » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . The English Carthusian Martyrs

June 11, 2020 saints No Comments


“Reformation.” “Dissolution of the monasteries.” The words sound so calm and reasonable. As if English Catholicism just faded away when, in truth, it was attacked by a despot who caused such harm to the faith that the people have never recovered.
We speak, of course, of King Henry VIII. What is profoundly sad is that this king, once a faithful Catholic himself, had made the pilgrimage to honor Our Lady of Walsingham, and had even written a defense of the sacraments. For this he was honored with a special title, Defender of the Faith, which British monarchs ironically still lay claim to today.
Prior John Houghton was a man who preferred the quiet life, yet was elected head of the “charter house monks,” the London Carthusians. Their monastery, built in the fourteenth century, is located on the grounds of the largest mass burial ground of plague victims in the city. Some say this is why they chose this location, to pray for those souls.
The Carthusian charism does not focus on community life, but rather they live as “choir monks” or hermits, in cells. Some may be lay brothers. The day is kept silent, with Carthusians speaking only when necessary, and devoting themselves to prayer and study. Silence allows one to perpetually listen, as if to say: “Speak Lord, for thy servant is listening.” The first of the ten Carthusian monasteries in the British Isles was built by King Henry II, as penance for the murder of St. Thomas Becket.
A new proclamation, the 1534 Act of Succession, declared Anne Boleyn must be recognized as queen, her children as future heirs of King Henry VIII. It is simplistic to repeat what Protestant history books repeat: that Henry married only to have a son. Who marries this many times and beheads even his wives if he is not cruel and domineering? Filled with lust, he was a tyrant and as fear of him grew, so did his prideful behavior which brooked no defiance. And he married Anne, though doing so meant excommunication by the Pope, who had told Henry his marriage to Catherine of Aragon would not be annulled.
Carthusian prior John Houghton and lawyer Humphrey Middlemore were arrested for hesitating to agree to the proclamation assenting that Anne was queen. In the end, after a month of thought, a determination was made that the oath could be taken “as far as God permits,” given that royal succession was not crucial to Catholic belief. St. Thomas More himself certainly agreed to it, as well.
Vengeful Henry VIII would not let well enough alone. He declared himself head of the English church with the passing of the Act of Supremacy in 1534, thus dooming Catholics across his kingdom.
The Carthusians prepared spiritually for battle by immediately embarking on a Triduum of prayer.
Then, in a tragic step, John Houghton took it upon himself to seek out Vicar-General Thomas Cromwell, joined by two other priors, Robert Lawrence of Beauvale Charterhouse and Augustine Webster of Axholme Charterhouse. They hoped to plead for exemption, or be allowed to take the oath with the words, “as far as God allows” added. Cromwell threw them all straight away into the Tower of London. There they were joined by Bridgettine monk Richard Reynolds and, at trial, the elderly priest John Haile. Despite their reluctance to condemn, the jury’s fear of Cromwell was greater than their pity for the Carthusians and all were sentenced to death.
These holy men were taken to Tyburn in London May 1545, where they were hung, drawn and quartered. This means they were hung till nearly suffocated, but then cut down, cut open and disemboweled while alive, with their remains generally thrown in a pit. Executions were public, and drew wide audiences.
St. John Houghton was the first Tudor martyr of the Reformation, followed by the others. It is stated that when his heart was torn out, he was still alive and cried, “Oh Jesus, what wouldst thou do with my heart?” The remnants of the men were parboiled and scattered barbarically around London, with Houghton’s arm nailed above the entrance to his former monastery.
Immediately after the first three were gone, the authorities paid another visit to the charterhouse. One monk, Sebastian Newdigate, had been a friend of the king’s at court. Yet three weeks later his “friend” had him jailed, along with companions Humphrey Middlemore and William Exmew. Though it is said Henry VIII showed up in disguise to try and dissuade Newdigate from refusing to swear to the Act, all stood fast and were likewise tried, convicted, and executed in the same manner at Tyburn, a mere 21 days after their brothers in Christ.
Two more martyrdoms followed: Monks John Rochester and James Walworth were hung in chains from the York battlements. What happened next must have been even more painful; 20 of the remaining London Carthusians agreed to sign the Act of Supremacy. Knowing what was to come, this was no doubt out of fear. But it must be recalled that every English bishop would fold to Henry’s will, too, except St. John Fisher. So then there were ten remaining Carthusians, all of whom were imprisoned in Newgate Prison, where they were left to starve to death.
St. Thomas More had seen the first three martyrs going to their death, just as he watched St. John Fisher go to his eternal reward and rejoiced. Two months after the death of the first three English Tudor martyrs, he was himself beheaded. Yet no doubt he interceded a bit when Margaret Clement, More’s ward, bribed a jailor to sneak into Newgate to feed the poor Carthusians.
Despite the massive dread which reigned in England, her own father executed for treason, she did not hesitate to do her best to feed and clean the Carthusians. She even tried to lower food from the roof, but this was too difficult. Impatience grew when the men weren’t dead yet, and the jailer banned her coming anymore for fear of reprisals. Margaret, staunch in her faith, was a scholar like More’s biological daughter, also named Margaret, and kept her father’s hair shirt as a relic.
In the end, all ten died of starvation excepting the last, who, still alive, was taken to Tyburn and executed as were so many others.
All the Carthusian martyrs were beatified in 1886. Houghton, Lawrence, and Webster were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Their feast day is May 4.
The debauched King would dance on these graves and many others; he’d had wife Anne Boleyn beheaded for treason the year before, then ordered Cromwell beheaded three years later, on the date of his marriage to Katherine Howard, whom he would also subsequently behead. The charterhouse became a remodeled palace for the rich just eight years after its monks died.
And yet . . . Cromwell’s illegitimate daughter, Jane, her husband and daughter, were recusant (staunch underground Catholics) known to agents of Elizabeth I. She, like the family of St. Thomas More and many others, survived. And they looked to the cross, for as the Carthusian motto so aptly states, “Stat crux volvitus orbis. . . . The cross is steady while the world is turning.”

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Beware of those who claim to be progressive and yet place the environment. certain social ills, same sex attraction and also social ills that have plagued us for years on the same level as abortion. Makes no sense.

Load More...

‘All-star,’ ‘brilliant jurist’: Pro-life leaders thrilled Trump nominated Barrett to Supreme Court

September 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett is “an absolute all-star” and “a judicial role model for the next generation,” pro-life leaders said today.  If confirmed, Barrett will replace pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died just…Continue Reading

Farewell, Uncle Di: Father Paul Mankowski, RIP

My editorial career has brought me into close contact with quite a few impressive thinkers. I have worked with famous authors, with noted theologians and philosophers, with canny political strategists, with at least a half-dozen Nobel Prize winners. Among them…Continue Reading

VIDEO: BLM mob threatens, chases Rand Paul down streets of DC

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky found himself the target of left-wing violence yet again Thursday night as protesters swarmed him as he was leaving the White House, chasing him and his wife…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood acknowledges Margaret Sanger’s ‘racist legacy’, continues abortions

CNA Staff, Jul 21, 2020 / 11:05 am MT (CNA).- The New York affiliate of the nation’s largest abortion provider said Tuesday it will remove the name of its founder, Margaret Sanger, from its Manhattan building because of her support…Continue Reading

Statue of Virgin Mary beheaded at Tennessee parish

CNA Staff, Jul 15, 2020 / 10:40 am MT (CNA).- A statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was attacked this weekend at a parish in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the third reported incident against a statue of Mary occuring in the same…Continue Reading

21 doctors tell bishops Communion on tongue ‘safer’ than in hand

June 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Twenty-one Austrian doctors have authored a letter appealing their country’s Bishops’ Conference to lift the de facto ban on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, which has been enforced since Communion in the hand was…Continue Reading

Catholic priest among defenders of St Louis statue

CNA Staff, Jun 27, 2020 / 09:36 pm MT (CNA).- Fr. Stephen Schumacher, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was among the defenders of a prominent statue of the city’s namesake as protesters called for its removal Saturday.…Continue Reading

‘I cannot remain silent’: Madison Catholic bishop condemns destruction of religious statues

Denver Newsroom, Jun 24, 2020 / 04:08 pm MT (CNA).- As rioters across the United States target statues depicting historical figures, the Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday denounced that destruction, along with calls to destroy some depictions of Jesus…Continue Reading

John Roberts tries to suppress Reagan’s letter

After three and a half years of legal wrangling, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in August of 1985 ordered the 16,433 mangled babies’ bodies found in Woodland Hills in 1982 to be turned over to the Guerra-Gutirrez-Alexander Mortuary…Continue Reading

Pope Francis declares Catholic sister killed in Satanic ritual a martyr

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2020 / 12:40 pm MT (CNA).- Pope Francis declared Friday that Sister Maria Laura Mainetti, an Italian religious sister killed by three teenage girls in a Satanic sacrifice, was a martyr for the Catholic faith. The…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: Catholics and Muslims share no common faith in God, no common adoration

June 8, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider has once more raised his voice concerning the controversial February 4, 2019 Abu Dhabi Statement on Human Fraternity where Pope Francis and a Grand Imam jointly declared, among other problematic statements, that God wills…Continue Reading

German cardinal criticizes ‘synodal path,’ exhorts German Church to ‘remain Catholic’

COLOGNE, Germany, June 5, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, the head of the Archdiocese of Cologne in Germany, has called on the Church in Germany to strengthen its identity as part of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

Trump nominates Catholic mom of 7 Judge Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump officially announced he intends to fill the open seat on the Supreme Court with pro-life Catholic Judge Amy Coney Barrett. If confirmed by the Senate, the 48-year-old will take the place of pro-abortion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18. “I love the United States and I love the United States Constitution,” Barrett told the peopl

Archbishop Cordileone: San Francisco Mass restrictions ‘mocking God’

CNA Staff, Sep 20, 2020 / 02:00 pm MT (CNA).- Catholics in San Francisco marched in Eucharistic processions across the city on Sunday to protest the city’s continued restrictions on public worship. “For months I have pleaded with the City on your behalf, advocating for your need of the consolation of the Mass, and the consolation you derive from the practice of your faith and connection with your faith community. City Hall ignored us,” Archbishop…Continue Reading

Father Altman stands by previous message denouncing Catholic Democrats in new video

In a new video, Father James Altman of La Crosse said he stands by his messages from a past video that Catholic Democrats are impostors, and adds that “hell” is seen in “left wing cancel culture.” “At this moment, allow me to respond to what has become somewhat of an intense, often belligerent reaction to a recent, and simply-stated truth: You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat,” he said, calling his original video “beautiful,” and praising the…Continue Reading

">Fr. Altman: Liberal Catholics are Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Pro-abortion Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87, 45 days before election

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died today at 87 years of age. She was the oldest of the nine justices. “May God have mercy on her soul,” said John-Henry Westen, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of LifeSiteNews. “Justice Ginsburg was known for her friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a pro-life Catholic who attended the Traditional Latin Mass. We hope that his faith had an…Continue Reading

The Bishop Strickland Hour – Week of September 8

Divergent Paths

By DONALD DeMARCO To the general public, National Basketball Players can seem larger than life. However, can this perceived stature, in any way, translate into political effectiveness? On the night of August 26, six NBA teams boycotted their games as a reaction to the ongoing social justice that victimizes African-American citizens. The boycott spread to…Continue Reading

Last Best Chance to Capture Supreme Court

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are on the cusp of making history.With Trump having named two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, they have an opening to elevate a third justice to fill the seat of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, thereby securing the…Continue Reading

U.S. Commission Says… Vatican-China Deal Should Focus On Religious Freedom

(CNA) — Religious freedom must be the result of any renewed Vatican agreement with China, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom emphasized on September 15, noting that underground Catholics in the country remained “persecuted.”On September 14, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Pietro Cardinal Parolin, said that a renewal of the Holy See’s 2018 deal…Continue Reading

93-Page “Biden Report”. . . Exposes Democrat Candidate’s Strongly Anti-Catholic Platform

By MARTIN BURGER MADISON, Wis. (LifeSiteNews) — A Catholic advocacy group has released a 93-page report detailing how Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, a baptized Catholic, has a record of embracing policy positions contrary to the Catholic faith. CatholicVote will be spending almost $10 million, targeting Catholic voters in key swing states, to expose Biden’s…Continue Reading

A Book Review… A Hefty Work, But Worth Its Heft

By JOHN LYON Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the Great War. Harper Collins: 2005. Each of us comes to a substantial historical work such as this with particular predispositions and preconceptions relevant to the subject matter and the manner in which it will…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: We are in the process of reducing our supply of books and are offering them to interested readers at a substantial discount. The books available, all in mint condition, are Catholic Replies and Catholic Replies 2 (both $17.95), All Generations Will Call Me Blessed and Who Do You Say That I Am? (both $10.95), and Catholicism & Reason…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… People Will Die: But Only Fear Sin

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The COVID-19 phenomenon is not just about a disease. It’s also about exposing the maladies afflicting our society and our world. And in the Church as well. “People will die,” we’re told.“People will die,” we’re told, if we don’t wear a mask, wash hands, anti-socially distance, and stay home. Some people, however, are dying because…Continue Reading

The Freedom Of The Children Of God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 18:25-28Phil. 2:1-11Matt. 21:28-32 In the second reading today, St. Paul tells us we must have the same attitude as Christ. St. Paul goes on to explain that our Lord was humble and obedient. His humility was so great that He, who is the Second Person of the…Continue Reading

Bishop Strickland . . . Faith And The Future . . . Build On The Rock Of Jesus

By MOST REV. JOSEPH STRICKLAND Part 1 In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we read these words from Jesus to His disciples concerning how they should live their lives: “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. We recently celebrated the feast of the Queenship of Mary, but a Protestant friend says that there is nothing in the Bible to justify calling Mary a queen. How do I answer this person? — T.L.H., via e-mail.A. As we have mentioned before, a belief does not have to be explicitly mentioned in the Bible to be true. Mary’s…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Michael

By DEB PIROCH At the end of the month (September 29) we celebrate the feast of some of the greatest angels honored by the Church: Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. St. Michael is an archangel, biblically referred to as a “prince” and, one of seven archangels, ordered in the second highest choir of the angels. Theologians still debate his exact…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Kateri Tekakwitha

By DEB PIROCH The Lily of the Mohawks, as she is known, was born near Auriesville, N.Y., in 1656. As you will know, here the North American Martyrs sowed the seeds of early martyrdom in the New World and St. Isaac Jogues had been martyred merely a decade earlier. Kateri’s mother was a Christian Algonquin. The Algonquins and the Mohawks…Continue Reading