+ William was a printer and bookseller who had been apprenticed to a Catholic in London and who later served as secretary for a professor of Greek at Oxford University who was serving a prison sentence for his adherence to the Catholic Faith.
+ He was arrested in 1575 (for the first time) on the charge of “printing lewd [i.e. Catholic] pamphlets and for owning a history of the Church in England; he would be arrested several times in the following years.
+ William’s final arrest occurred in 1581, after he published A Treatise of Schism, a booklet written in the hopes of preventing Catholics from becoming members of the state-sponsored Church of England. His home was invaded and various liturgical vestments and other Catholic publications were found. After his wife, Jane, was tricked into providing damning evidence against her husband, William was tortured in the hopes he would reveal the names of prominent Catholics.
+ Imprisoned in the Tower of London for another eighteen months (during which time his wife died), William was condemned to death on the charges of treason after only 15 minutes of deliberation. William spent that time making his final confession to a priest who was being tried with him.
+ Blessed William Carter was hanged, drawn, and quartered on January 11, 1584, and beatified with 84 other martyrs in 1987.
“Among these eighty-five martyrs we find priests and laymen, scholars and craftsmen. The oldest was in his eighties, and the youngest no more than twenty-four. There were among them a printer, a bartender, a stable-hand, a tailor. What unites them all is the sacrifice of their lives in the service of Christ their Lord.”—Pope Saint John Paul II, Beatification of the Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales
Almighty ever-living God,
by whose gift blessed William
fought for righteousness’ sake even until death,
grant, we pray, through his intercession,
that we may bear every adversity for the sake of your love
and hasten with all our strength
towards you who alone are life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Prayer from The Roman Missal: Common of Marytrs—For One Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here