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 5, 2013

July 5 -- Feast of the Martyrs of Wexford

Dublin County on the East Coast of Ireland is called the Pale, especially when referring to it as the government zone, much as greater Washington DC is called the Beltway.  The Pale goes back to the Latin word palus meaning stake, or by extension, fence.  In the Tudor era, English control of Ireland had diminished considerably.  Much of the country was under Irish control, if you can imagine it.  Most of the rest was under Anglo-Irish lords whom Her Maj might or might not be able to rely on.  Only the Pale was under the direct control of Elizabeth Regina.  Whether as literal as the Berlin Wall or merely as figurative as the Iron Curtain, a line of pali separated the Virgin Queen's Ireland from the hazards that lay beyond the pale.

Wexford is a good bit south of the Pale, and it was there that James Eustace, 3rd Viscount Baltinglass led a revolt against Queen Bess.  The Earl of Desmond was already in the field, but the two forces did not coordinate their strategy and both insurrections were put down.  Forty-five of Baltinglass' men were captured and hanged, but they are not the martyrs of Wexford since they were taken in arms.  Baltinglass, who escaped with his chaplain, Rogert Rockford, and eventually made it to Spain.

The folks who helped the Viscount and Father Rockford were not so lucky.  Matthew Lambert was a baker who hid them until some sailors could smuggle them out to a ship bound for Spain.  Patrick Cavanaugh, Robert Meyler, Edward Cheevers, and a couple of guys whose names did not get written down were the hapless sailors who put them to see.  After a few days of enhanced interrogation, they were all hanged, drawn, and quartered on July 5, 1581.

They might have saved their lives if they had acknowledged Her Maj as the Head of the Church.  Of course, she might have saved their lives, and the lives of countless others, if she had demonstrated a little more religious toleration.  Had it been so, perhaps the Irish would still be counting pounds instead of euros, but alas, it was not to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment