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Monday, 20 May 2019

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - James Walsh - CTS Saints of the Isles Series

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
CTS Saints of the Isles Series
James Walsh
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781860820212
ISBN 1860820212
ISBN 9780851830537
CTS Booklet B446


I have become addicted to books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I first really encountered them just over a year ago while doing research on a specific author. Since that time I have read and reviewed over 70 offerings from this publisher. There are many great books and many great series from CTS. This ‘Saints of the Isles’ series is one of my favourite series to date. This is the sixth book in this series from the Catholic Truth Society that I have read. I just love this series that focuses on the Saints of the Isles. It truly is inspiring, challenging, and encouraging to read about the Saints and Martyrs of the British Isles. I hold a religious studies degree, with a focus on Roman Catholic Thought, I had encountered saints from all over the world, and the great and lesser known saints of Europe. But this series is opening my eyes to Saints that are part of my heritage, saints from Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. These are incredible books about amazing saints. It is a part of our history we need to be reminded of, and to be inspired by. But this book is different than any of the others in this series.

This book was compiled by Compiled by Father James Walsh, SJ, the Vice-Postulator for the Cause of the English Martyrs. It is a series of very brief introductions to the forty martyrs that were canonised by Pope Paul VI on the 25th of October 1970. Most of them are about one page in length. They are short, concise and to the point. They outline the individual’s background, conversion or ordination story, details of their arrest and trials, and their executions. They are:

Almond, John 
Arrowsmith, Edmund 
Barlow, Ambrose 
Boste, John 
Briant, Alexander 
Campion, Edmund 
Clitherow, Margaret 
Evans, Philip 
Garnet, Thomas 
Gennings, Edmund 
Gwyn, Richard 
Houghton, John 
Howard, Philip 
Jones, John 
Kemble, John 
Kirby, Luke 
Lawrence, Robert 
Lewis, David 
Line, Anne 
Lloyd, John
Mayne, Cuthbert 
Morse, Henry 
Owen, Nicholas 
Paine, John 
Plasden, Polydore 
Plessington, John 
Reynolds, Richard 
Rigby, John 
Roberts, John 
Roe, Alban 
Sherwin, Ralph 
Southwell, Robert 
Southworth, John 
Stone, John 
Wall, John 
Walpole, Henry 
Ward, Margaret 
Webster, Augustine 
Wells, Swithun 
White, Eustace 

A few of these forty have books dedicated to them in this Saints of the Isles Series. These martyrs died because of a series of laws that banned and persecuted Catholics in England and Wales. There are others who suffered the same fate in Scotland. Those in this book were tried under several different laws and acts; from the act of treason, to acts specifically against the Jesuits. Most chapters focus on a single martyr. Except for the first chapter which profiles Saints John Houghton, Robert Lawrence, and Augustine Webster, as they were together martyred on May 4th 1535. They were the first to dies in this English Reformation. Much of this book is unpleasant to read, the tortures some of the people endured. Their brutal deaths. At times it is overwhelming. I am now almost done this book for a second time. And I have picked several of the Saints to research and find out more about.

I believe there are three printings of this booklet, 1970, 1972, and 1997, which ever version you can get your hands on it is worth the read! Reading the news about events in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, there are more martyrs today for being Christian or specifically being Catholic. In those cases it is not always the government or government sanctioned but it soon could be. This book will serve to remind us of those who have gone before us, and possibly strengthen us for what is yet to come. It is a book that will inspire, and hopefully also encourage and challenge.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books in the Saints of the Isles Series:

Edmund Arrowsmith - John S. Hogan 
Margaret Clitherow - Jean Olwen Maynard
Edmund Campion - Alexander Haydon
John Southworth Priest and Martyr - Michael Archer
Saint Thomas More - Alvaro de Silva
John Ogilvie - Eleanor McDowell
Frances Taylor - Eithne Leonard
Mary Potter - Elizabeth Gilroy
John Fisher - Richard L. Smith 
Robert Southwell - Fiorella Sultana De Maria
Ignatius Spencer - Fr. Ben Lodge
Sr Elizabeth Prout - Dominic Savio Hamer 
Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - James Walsh
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