The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 19 May 1651

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Venerable Peter Wright, priest, S.J.

He was the son of poor parents, and was born at Slipton, in Northamptonshire. On the death of his father, he entered the service of a country lawyer. After making a pilgrimage to Rome, he was received into the novitiate of the Jesuits in Ghent. During the Civil Wars he was sent on a Mission to the English soldiers, and was afterwards chaplain to the Winchester family, with whom he lived until he was captured by priest-catchers on Candlemas Day, 1651.

On the morning of his martyrdom, hearing a knock at the iron grill, he took it as a summons from Heaven, and cried out: “I come, sweet Jesus, I come.” It was said by an eyewitness that “the Blessed Father was drawn like a triumphal victor to Tyburn.” Two hundred coaches and five hundred horsemen thronged the way. Many sought his last blessing from their windows, balconies and carriages, or pressing forward to the hurdle, kissed his hands and cut pieces from his garments for relics. Tyburn fields presented one waving mass, the concourse being reckoned to number 20,000.

Even in his death-agony, the Martyr’s countenance was seen to be smiling and beautiful. “And as he drew his last breath, lo! a little bird on a sudden flew through the forest of javelins, between the gallows and the Martyr’s head, and poising its wings . . seemed . . . to perch there like a sacerdotal crown. . .”

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