|A barn in Fr Green's time and now|
a church, one of the best examples
of Catholic 'Reformation' history
Friday, 19 August 2011
Absolved at a distance. This post is not for the faint hearted!
Today is the anniversary of the day that St Hugh Green met his savage death and gained his martyr's crown - 19th August 1642.
This was the England of Charles I and Fr Green had left his flock in Dorset to flee the country when he was arrested. He spent five months under foul conditions in prison before being taken to be executed on the outskirts of Dorchester. The night before his execution he had been warned of what was to take place by three women and they were taken to be hanged in advance of the martyr.
Fr Green was not able to communicate with the women in any way but it had been pre-arranged that, at the moment of execution, at a certain signal, he would give them absolution.
He was taken, strapped to a hurdle, to the scaffold but kept some distance from it until the women had been hanged. The women made their agreed confession at the foot of the gallows, the signal was given and Fr Green gave them absolution from afar.
As they were about to be hanged, two of the women turned towards Fr Green crying out "God be with you Sir" but the third turned her face away from him.
An eye witness account:
"Then it was the turn of the priest. The hanging was cursory and when he was cut down he was able to sit upright: then did the butcher cut him open and turned the flap upon his breast, which the holy man feeling put his hand upon his bowels, and looking on his bloody hand laid it down by his side, and lifting up his right hand crossed himself, saying three times, 'Jesu, Jesu, Jesu mercy!'
The which although unworthy, I am a witness of, for my hand was on his forehead, and many Protestants heard him and took great notice of it; for all the Catholics were pressed away by the unruly multitude except myself, who never left him until his head was severed from his body.
Whilst he was thus calling upon Jesus, the butcher did pull a piece of his liver out instead of his heart, then with his knife raked on the body of the blessed martyr, who even then called on Jesus, and his forehead sweat, then it was cold, presently again burned; his eyes, nose and mouth ran with blood and water, his patience was admirable, though his inward groans gave signs of those lamentable torments which, for more than half-an-hour he suffered"
This statement from a Dame Willoughby.