This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27 -- Feast of Venerable Mark Barkworth

Scene from a film about St. Ann Line; Barkworth at right
Last year, in my post on Saint Ann Line, I said that the story of Mark Barkworth did not impress me as worth telling.  This year, I find the record of his death remarkable enough to repeat.  An Englishman, he began studies at the Jesuit college in Douai, France, but completed his studies in Spain.  On his way to Spain, he had a vision of Saint Benedict telling him he would be martyred in a Benedictine habit.  There are some of us who would take that as a warning and never don a Benedictine habit, but not Mark.  He rushed headlong toward the martyr's crown.

He narrowly escaped the Huguenots, but got busted by the Anglicans.  He spent six months in Newgate Prison, which is a miracle in itself given the squalor in which prisoners lived.  He was transferred to Bridewell for his trial, but returned to Newgate's infamous death row dungeon Limbo following his condemnation. 

Apparently he was a congenial and fearless guy.  When they marched him up to the gallows, from which the corpse of Ann Line was already dangling, he kissed the hem of her skirt and said, "Ah, sister, thou hast got the start of us, but we will follow thee as quickly as we may." 

His knees had been toughened from hours of kneeling in prayer.  After Mark had been hanged, drawn, and quartered, someone from the crowd jumped up, held up a leg, and asked "Which of you Gospellers can show such a knee?"  Gruesome scene, really, but a point worth making.

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