The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 4 May 1535

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Blessed John Houghton, Carthusian prior
Blessed Augustine Webster, Carthusian prior
Blessed Robert Lawrence, Carthusian prior
Blessed Richard Reynolds, priest, Bridgittine
Blessed John Haile, secular priest

Blessed John Houghton was born in Essex. He was the Prior and proto-martyr of the London Charterhouse, and was also the proto-martyr of the one hundred and five glorious martyrs of Tyburn. When, in 1535, the Act of the Royal Supremacy was published, he went, together with the Carthusian Priors of Beauvale and Axholme, to plead that the monks might be held exempt from the Oath, or that it might be mitigated for them, though with one voice they had chosen to die rather than swerve in their allegiance to the Holy See. Thomas Cromwell’s answer was to send the three Priors to the Tower. They were tried and sentenced to death. Clad in their white habits, and stretched on hurdles, they came to Tyburn as gladly as to a marriage feast. Blessed John Houghton was the first to win his crown. He was cut down while still conscious, and bore the butchery inflicted on him with invincible meekness. “Good Jesu! what will Ye do with my heart?” he cried as it was torn from his breast.

Blessed Richard Reynolds was perhaps the most learned monk of his time in England, and certainly one of the holiest. He was known to all as the “Angel of Sion,” a title he won by his saintly life in the Bridgittine Monastery of Isleworth. It was felt that the submission of such a man to the King’s new statutes would act powerfully upon the whole country, and he was put to the test accordingly. But this project entirely failed, his allegiance to the Holy See remained unshaken, and the terrible sufferings of dungeon and gibbet only served to add to the high opinion men had of him.

Blessed John Haile was far advanced in years when he was brought to trial on the charge of maliciously slandering the King. Unlike some of the Martyrs, he felt the full horror and dread of death, and this circumstance, aggravated by age and sickness, made his end all the more admirable, for he never swerved, but offered the sacrifice of his life with as much love and fortitude as the most light-hearted among them.

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