Tuesday, July 9, 2013
July 9 -- Feast of Blessed Adrian Fortescue
An English Roman Catholic priest named Adrian Henry Timothy Knottesford Fortescue -- a polyglot, adventurer, author, archeo-liturgist, and triple doctor -- who lived from 1874 to 1923. He'd be an Indiana Jones sort of guy, a college prof trekking through the Ottoman Empire on the trail of the holiest mysteries and even shooting some guy (a tantalizingly incomplete tale), except of course that former girlfriends like Karen Allen would not keep popping up. For that to have happened, he would have to have been an Anglican priest like his dad. But beatification is not among the many accomplishments of Dr. Adrian H.T.K Fortescue. That recognition is accorded to his ancestor and namesake, Sir Adrian Fortescue.
Sir Adrian Fortescue was a faithful subject of the Crown and occasional courtier of King Henry VIII. He attended Henry VII's funeral, fought the English wars in France, showed up in his best finery at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and was a Knight of the Bath. He might have also been a member of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (aka the Knights of Malta, the Knights Hospitaller). The Catholic Encyclopedia declares his membership unambiguously, but at least one other source suggests that the Knights of Malta took up his cause for canonization in the eighteenth century on the uncertain belief that he might have been a member.
The cause of his execution (officially a martyrdom) seems equally shadowy. Frequent readers know that I am no big fan of Fat Hank Tudor, so it will come as no surprise that I incline toward the belief that Blessed Adrian was killed without cause. He was named in a bill of attainder (legislative death warrant without judicial review) that included a bunch of unrepentant Catholics, but again, the scholar John Dillon asserted that his missal and Book of Hours show that he had conformed with Fat Hank's demands. True, he was a second cousin of Anne Boleyn, but if Fat Hank had killed every second cousin of his ex-wives, he would have run out of aristocracy before The Royal Wedding: Part VI.
Perhaps he was a crypto-Catholic who would not betray his faith when the Big Bust finally came. Then again, perhaps he was a dutiful subject who got on someone's stercus-list and sent to the chopping block with some notable Papists like Cardinal Pole. The Knights of Saint John were happy to push his Cause, believing him to be one of their own. The Church too was happy to claim him as a martyr, and to reclaim his descendant, the brilliant-but-short-lived Triple Doctor.
Posted by Tom Major at 4:00 AM