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.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26 -- Feast of the Durham Martyrs (sort of...)

First, an acknowledgement: The feast of Saint John Boste was July 24, but I, in my sloth, ran a rerun. Today is the feast of Blessed George Swallowell and Blessed John Ingram.  All three were executed on their respective feasts in 1594, during the reign of Her Maj, Elizabeth Regina, Protectress from the Plots of Papists.

As I type this, I have been suffering a strained back for about twenty-five hours.  I was injured while laundering.  It hurts when I stand, when I twist, when I bend.  I am practicing picking things up with my toes.  I am afraid to shower, but I am also disgusted by the thought of not showering.  I mention all this as prelude to contemplation of the hardships endured by today's saint and beati.  I understand the hygienic facilities  for prisoners at at York, Newcastle, and Durham were subpar, the laundry facilities non-existent, and the rack on which these men were interrogated was somewhat tougher on the back than I hope to learn.  In fact, poor John Boste was crippled on the rack down at the Tower of London, and then they still dragged him all the way up north before his partial hanging and full quartering.  They quartered him on his feet, which had to have been messy.

The crime of these three men, of course, was unrepentant Catholicism, which was one of the qualifications of treason in Queen Bess' reign.  Father John Boste, who used to sneak around dressed as a messenger before vesting up and saying clandestine masses, was public enemy No. 1 in the northern counties.  Father John Ingram, who wrote Latin epigrams in addition to his secret priestly duties, was hanged, drawn, and quartered in Newcastle-on-Tyne.  George Swallowell, of whose name I am not making fun, was a Protestant minister and schoolteacher who converted to Catholicism.  Under the strain of torture, he reverted to the Church of England, but the encouragement of Father John Boste brought him back to Roman Catholicism.  No doubt Father Boste's public absolution of George Swallowell (still not taking the cheap jokes) -- in court, no less -- made it just a little harder on both of them.  Blessed George was executed in Darlington.  

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