May 15 – Palms on Palm Sunday lead to his cruel martyrdom

May 14, 2018

Ven. Robert Thorpe

Priest and martyr, b. in Yorkshire; suffered at York, 15 May, 1591. He reached the English College at Reims 1 March, 1583-4, was ordained deacon in December following, and priest by Cardinal Guise in April, 1585. He was sent on the mission, 9 May, 1585, and laboured in Yorkshire. He was arrested in bed very early on Palm Sunday, 1595, at the house of his fellow-martyr, Thomas Watkinson, at Menthorpe in the East Riding of Yorkshire, someone having seen palms being gathered the night before, and having informed John Gates of Howden, the nearest justice of the peace. Watkinson, an old Catholic yeoman who lived a solitary life, is described by the treacherous priest John Cecil as a clerk, so it is possible he was in minor orders.

Hung, Drawn and Quartered. This barbaric form of execution, popular during the reign of Elizabeth I, where they are hanged till they are almost dead, cut down, and quartered alive; after that, their members and bowels are cut from their bodies, and thrown into a fire.

Both, though naturally timorous, met their deaths with great fortitude. Thorpe, condemned as a traitor merely for being a priest, was hanged, drawn, and quartered. Watkinson, condemned as a felon merely for harbouring priests, was only hanged. He was offered his life if he would go to church.

CHALLONER, Missionary Priests, I, no. 86; POLLEN, English Martyrs, 1584-1603 (London, 1908), 200-2; KNOX, Douay Diaries (London, 1878), passim.

John B. Wainewright (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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