The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
Year: C(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Red.
|St Ambrose Barlow OSB (1585-1641)|
Ambrose was born at Barlow Hall, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester in 1585. He was the fourth son of the nobleman Sir Alexander Barlow and his wife Mary. Ambrose’s grandfather died in 1584 whilst imprisoned for his beliefs and Sir Alexander Barlow had two thirds of his estate confiscated as a result of his refusing to conform to the new established religion. In 1597, Ambrose was taken into the stewardship of a relative who would care for him whilst he served out his apprenticeship as a page. However, upon completing this service, Barlow realised that his true vocation was for the Catholic priesthood, so he travelled to Douai in France to study at the English College there before attending the College of St Alban in Valladolid, Spain. In 1615, he returned to Douai where he became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict and was ordained as a priest in 1617. He then returned to Morley’s Hall, Astley. From there he looked after the local Catholics, celebrating daily Mass and reciting his Office and Rosary. He would often visit his cousins, the Downes, at their residence of Wardley Hall (now the residence of the Bishop of Salford) and celebrate Mass for the gathered congregation. He was arrested several times during his travels. His parishioners implored him to flee or at least go into hiding but he refused. Their fears were compounded by a recent stroke which had resulted in the 56-year-old priest being partially paralysed. “Let them fear that have anything to lose which they are unwilling to part with” he told them.
On 25 April 1641, Easter Sunday, Ambrose and his congregation of around 100 people, were surrounded at Morley’s Hall, Astley by the Vicar of Leigh and his large (and armed) congregation. Ambrose surrendered, and his parishioners were released after their names had been recorded. The priest was then taken on horseback with a man behind him to prevent his falling, and escorted by a band of some sixty people to the Justice of the Peace at Winwick, before being transported to Lancaster Castle. Ambrose appeared before the presiding judge, Sir Robert Heath, on the 7 September when he professed his adherence to the Catholic faith and defended his actions. On the following day, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Sir Robert Heath found Ambrose guilty, and sentenced him to be executed. Two days later, he was taken from Lancaster Castle, drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, hanged, dismembered, quartered, and boiled in oil. His head was afterwards exposed on a pike. When the news of his death and martyrdom reached his Benedictine brothers at Douai Abbey, a Mass of Thanksgiving and the Te Deum were ordered to be sung.
|Other saints: Saint Egwin, Bishop|
The foundation of the abbey dedicated to Our Lady at Evesham is attributed to an early eighth-century Bishop of Worcester called Egwin. Very little is known about him, since the earliest account of his life, written in Latin c. 1020, is almost entirely composed of fables. However it does contain some local material which may reflect older traditions; among these is the account of the appearance of Our Lady to a swineherd at a place on the Avon where Egwin built the Church in her honour. This would be the earliest record of the appearance the Blessed Virgin Mary in England. Since 1952 Evesham has become the place of an annual pilgrimage to Our Lady; the Catholic Church there is dedicated to St Mary and St Egwin. In the Middle Ages St Egwin was commemorated on 30 December: September 10 is the day of the translation of his relics in 1039.
|Other saints: Blessed Agnellus of Pisa, Priest|
Agnellus was born at Pisa in northern Italy and was received into the Order of Friars in 1211, probably by St Francis himself. In 1224, S. Francis sent him and eight other friars to England where they made a great impression by their penury and simplicity. Agnellus was the first Minister Provincial in this country and founded friaries at Canterbury, London and Oxford. At Oxford, then in the period of the university’s first development, he established a school for the friars which rapidly grew into a major centre of theology, combining apostolic poverty with study based on scriptures. Agnellus died on 7 May 1236, aged 41, and was buried at Oxford. The cult of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa was approved in 1892; September 10 is the date of the arrival of the first Franciscans in Dover in 1224.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 - 1153)|
Bernard was born near Dijon, in France, in 1090, of a noble family. In 1112 he joined the new monastery at Cîteaux. This had been founded fourteen years before, in a bid to reject the laxity and riches of much of the Benedictine Order of the time (as exemplified by the great monasteries such as Cluny) and to return to a primitive poverty and austerity of life.
Bernard arrived at Cîteaux with four of his five brothers and two dozen friends. Within three years he had been sent out to found a new monastery at Clairvaux, in Champagne, where he remained abbot for the rest of his life. By the time of his death, the Cistercian Order (“the Order of Cîteaux”) had grown from one house to 343, of which 68 were daughter houses of Clairvaux itself.
Bernard was a man of great holiness and wisdom, and although he was often in very poor health, he was active in many of the great public debates of the time. He strongly opposed the luxurious lives of some of the clergy, and fought against the persecution of the Jews. He was also a prolific writer, and the Liturgy of the Hours uses extracts from many of his sermons.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Jeremiah 22:3 ©|
Practise honesty and integrity; rescue the man who has been wronged from the hands of his oppressor; do not exploit the stranger, the orphan, the widow; do no violence; shed no innocent blood in this place.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Deuteronomy 15:7-8 ©|
Is there a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any town of yours in the land that the Lord your God is giving you? Do not harden your heart or close your hand against that poor brother of yours, but be open-handed with him and lend him enough for his needs.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Proverbs 22:22-23 ©|
Because a man is poor, do not therefore cheat him, nor, at the city gate, oppress anybody in affliction; for the Lord takes up their cause, and extorts the life of their extortioners.