Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Facts Illustrative of the times of Elizabeth Queen Of England. Part 3.

Jesuits In Conflict: Or Historic Facts Illustrative of the labours of the English Mission and Province Of The Society Of Jesus. In the times of Queen Elizabeth and her successors. By a member Of The Society Of Jesus.

I. Thomas Pounde, formerly of Belmont, Esquire, who though probably but little known to many of the present day, yet was one of the most, if not the most, glorious of the confessors of the faith in England of his time, pregnant as it was with noble champions of the Church. A notice of this remarkable man cannot fail to be historically useful, illustrating in itself, as it does on the one hand, the brutal ferocity and systematic persecution carried on with unrelenting rage by the professors of the reformed religion, of every social grade, against those who held the ancient Catholic faith of our forefathers, to which reference has been made; and on the other, of the terrible afflictions of every kind, in person and property, and the marvellous patience and long suffering of the oppressed Catholics.

To avoid confusion this history will be divided into two heads.

1. The personal history of the confessor, gathered from various sources, Father Bartoli, S.J., Istoria S.J. I'Inghilterra; Father Tanner, S.J., Apostolorum Imitatrix, and Father Henry More, S.J., Historia Provinciae Anglicanae &c. &c.

2. An account of his connection with Father Edmund Campion, the blessed martyr, and Father Robert Parsons, to whom, and to the Catholic cause generally, he rendered such great assistance. Also, a copy of his famous "Six reasons," with some interesting letters and papers of his, which have been procured from the State Papers in the Public Record Office, having found their way into that interesting depot from the Sheriff of Wilts, in which county they were seized.

The history of Thomas Pounde, undoubted as are the facts, reads more like a tale of fiction than one of real life. If we consider his wonderful conversion, his long and painful imprisonment of thirty years, shifted from dungeon to dungeon, becoming an inmate of no less than ten or eleven different prisons, the extreme severity exercised towards him, with the self-imposed addition of the severest corporal austerities, his undaunted courage in facing the adversary, his petitioning for and reception into the Society of Jesus in prison, in 1579, spending his whole Religious life there, until 1602-3, when, upon the accession of James L, being released, he was, by order of his Superiors, sent to his paternal mansion at Belmont, and died there in the very same room in which, seventy-six years before, he had first seen the light of day, the whole seems rather the production of man's invention than what it is—the sober record of undoubted facts. As to our confessor's degree in the Society of Jesus, having received a liberal education, partly at Winchester College, and partly in London, studying civil law there to prepare himself for the Bar, and being besides naturally a man of considerable talent,. good wit, and ready speech, we may presume that, under ordinary circumstances, his Superiors would have designed him for the degree of the Priesthood, but as his long and unbroken imprisonment rendered this quite impossible, either the Temporal Coadjutors must claim the honour of possessing this great athlete of Christ, or he must be regarded as a Scholastic awaiting an opportunity of being advanced to the Priesthood. We may imagine his making his vows of Religion to Father Weston, alias Edmonds, when confined in Wisbeach Castle with him. He may, too, have found occasional opportunities of making the accustomed renovation of vows to our Fathers of the Society or other Priests he may have met with in some of the various prisons, and he may also have made his solemn vows in like manner, though there is no record of the fact Nevertheless, he truly made a good noviceship!

II. George Gilbert, formerly of Suffolk, Esquire, the dear friend of Thomas Pounde, another noble sample of the same type; an English young gentleman who, having embraced the Catholic faith, in which he had not been brought up, devoted himself to works of charity, and who, more fortunate than his friend Thomas Pounde, after doing all he could for his religion at home, and suffering the confiscation of his ample estates and fortune, being hotly pursued by the pursuivants, retired abroad, and proceeding to Rome, gave himself up to the service of God and his neighbours, intending to enter the Society of Jesus, which he dearly loved and admired. It pleased God to accept this intention; for, being seized with mortal sickness, he was both admitted to the Society as a Novice, and allowed to make the vows of Religion in artiulo mortis. (a)

III. The Rev. Father Thomas Darbyshire, a learned and eminent Father of the Society of Jesus, and an exile for his faith, and who, under God, was the first means of the conversion of George Gilbert to the true faith. An Oxford man, and in the reign of Mary a high dignitary of the Catholic Church in England. He was nephew of Bonner, the famous Catholic Bishop and confessor, who died of his sufferings in prison under Elizabeth.

(a) Father Henry More, SJ., Hist. Prov. Angl S.J.; Father Bartoli, Istoria della Comp. di Gcsu Inghilterra; Father Tanner, Soc. Jesu Apost. Imitatrix; Life of Campion, by Robert Simpson, Esq., &c