The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 1 July 1616

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Venerable Thomas Maxfield, secular priest

He was born in Staffordshire of a distinguished family of that county. His chief studies were made abroad, and he began to work on the Mission in England in 1615. After exercising the apostolate for barely three months he was apprehended, and there ensued a period of ill-treatment, which only ended with his death on the gibbet. The most inhuman of the tortures inflicted on him was his confinement in a pair of stocks so contrived that his body could find no relief either by standing upright or lying down. The darkness and filth of the dungeon where he was placed added to his sufferings. Before his trial he had the consolation of reconciling to God two from among a gang of felons who were also awaiting the death sentence. When Father Maxfield was brought to the place of sacrifice, whither he was accompanied by a multitude on horse and foot, the gallows were found to be adorned with garlands of fragrant flowers, and the ground strewn with sweetsmelling herbs and branches of bay and laurel. The Martyr, feeble and emaciated by eight months of confinement and torture, but no less cheerful than he had ever been hitherto, rejoiced to be “a member of that blessed house of Douai that hath afforded our poor barren country so much good and happy seed.”

His remains were thrown into a pit under fifteen other bodies, two of which were those of felons executed a month before. This, however, did not deter his devoted friends of the Spanish Embassy from coming by night to rescue his mangled body.

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