Franciscan Priest and Martyr (1599-1643)
+ Henry was born in Peterborough, England. After completing his studies at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, he was named librarian for the college.
+ In 1622, Henry was received into the Catholic Church and entered the Franciscans in 1625. His religious name was “Paul of St. Magdalen.”
+ Henry obtained permission to return to England in 1643. He hoped to serve the country’s persecuted Catholics.
+ On the night he arrived in London, as he was resting in a doorway, he arrested and accused of being a thief. Papers found in his cap revealed that he was a religious and priest and he was subsequently tried and convicted after he confessed to being a priest.
+ As he was being taken to the place of execution, he reconciled to the Catholic Church one of the criminals who was to be executed with him.
+ On April 17, 1643, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered; the executioners showed mercy and allowed him to hang until he was dead.
+ Blessed Henry Heath was beatified with 84 other martyrs of England and Wales in 1987.
For prayer and reflection
“Rejoice in the measure that you share Christ’s sufferings. When his glory is revealed, you will rejoice exultantly. Happy are you when you are insulted for the sake of Christ, for then God’s Spirit in its glory has come to rest on you.”—1 Peter 4:13-14
God our Father,
you have honored the Church with the victorious witness of Blessed Henry,
who died for his faith.
As he imitated the sufferings and death of the Lord,
may we follow in his footsteps and come to eternal joy.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Liturgy of the Hours: Common of One Martyrs [During the Easter Season])
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.