Monday, 10 November 2014

The Life Of Fr John Gerard S.J. (A Hunted Priest) Part 43.

1606 to 1609.

Father Gerard has told us that he crossed the Channel on the 3rd of May, 1606, the very day on which Father Garnet was martyred in St. Paul's Churchyard. The " certain high personages" in whose suite he says he passed over, were the Ambassadors of Spain and Flanders. 1 Who they were, and what was said on Father Gerard's arrival in Belgium we learn from a letter 2 from Father Baldwin then at Brussels to Father Persons at Rome, dated May 20, 1606. The deciphering is in a contemporary hand. " Since my last, five days ago, arrived at —5 (St. Omers) 469 (Father Gerard), where also is one [Richard Fulwood] whom 456 (H. Garnet) was wont to use in all his chief business of passage, receiving and retaining all things. I take it he be 229 (Jesuit) also. They are yet 267 (secret), and so it is requisite for a time, especially in that the 194 225 (Marquis Ambassador) brought them, and by his dexterous and courteous manner had great care of them. The Marquis of St. Germain came hither two days ago, and both he and Don Blasco de Arragon came as well informed of our English matters as I could wish. They have made relation accordingly to the Nuncio, and this morning to me, who have been with them for a long while. They praise the courage and constancy of Catholics marvellously, and have an apprehension of the daily increase of them; also that the better sort in England are inclined Catholicly and such in profession. They speak much of the zeal of the Lady of Shrewsbury and of the indignation of the King, who hearing of the manner of Father Old-corned death and requesting all Catholics to pray for him and say De profundis, there were found so many to say that aloud as they were esteemed a great part of the number, and so many by signs and voices to have given show of Catholic profession as all were amazed. Thus they report; and also that Father Garnet was to be executed the day which they came away, in Paul's Churchyard, although another writing from St. Omers says that it was deferred the day following, for that the day first appointed was May Day, and Father Garnet, being advertised of his death, should answer, ' What then, will you make a May-game of me ?' Howsoever, it is held for certain that he is dead, and that Marquis told the Nuncio that therefore he departed the sooner, as unwilling to be present at such a tragedy. ... I think Father Gerard may live in these countries after that Mr. Owen is delivered (of whom the Archduke mindeth to have great care), yet he who is said to have had correspondence with him, one Philips [Phelippes] 3 the decipherer, is now committed to the Tower. And it were very necessary one of ours remain in Paris, for which place Father Keynes may serve for a time, at least in that he is a man not noted, and hath the French tongue, as having lived there. Father Schondonch [Rector of St. Omers] is of my opinion, and Father Gerard will do well in his place [at St. Omers] after some month or two, if things alter not much; for he can hardly be in any other place in regard of his indisposition, if it be as I have heard. I shall soon know more thereof. Father Lee were good in England in my opinion, for the consolation of many of ours, and Father Gerard's friends, all which I remit to your consideration."

Father Gerard must have remained six weeks at St Omers, recovering from the illness caused by all he had passed through. On the 3rd of July, 1606, Father Baldwin wrote 4 again from Brussels to Father Persons. " I have not as yet received from England from any of our Fathers ; only John Powell, the interpreter of the Spanish .Ambassador, relateth what passed at the execution of Father Garnet, upon the 13th May stylo novo and the 3rd stylo vetere. He hath given exceeding satisfaction to all sorts, and much confounded our enemies of the one sort and other. He was drawn according to the usual manner to Paul's Churchyard upon a hurdle and straw; his arms were not bound, neither when he was executed. Such concourse of people as hath not been seen. . . . The Spanish Ambassador would not remain in London that day; he hath got his shirt, and some of his blood is sent to Spain, which I have seen here, also his apparel is gotten, as I hear. Here now is Richard Fulwood, who telleth me that Father Gerard is very sick at St. Omers ; that said you would have him come to Rome. I fear me that journey will kill him."

Father Gerard rallied quickly from his sickness at St. Omers, for in less than a fortnight after this he wrote from Brussels to Father Persons, under the pseudonym of Francis Harrison. The letter is so characteristic of the man that, though long, we give it in full from the original at Stonyhurst. 5

"July 15, 1606.
 "Jesus . Maria.
" My dear and respected Father,—I have received your letters of the — last, wherein you show your fatherly care and undeserved love unto me, as were sufficient to bind unto you any grateful heart, although he were not tied with former obligations. But I am so much and so many ways bound unto you before by favours of the highest kind, that these do only tie me unto you with new knots, though I was before so wholly yours and so firmly tied, that sincerely I had rather not to be than to be untied. I beseech you, sir, that you will be pleased to present my humble duty unto Father General, in whose favour through your good word do procure me that place which I can no ways deserve, yet this I hope you may promise for me, that I will now begin to do my best endeavours, that I may be framed in all things as is fit for a child of that most holy family whereof he hath the care, that both by my voice and hands he may acknowledge me for his child, the better to deserve the blessing of so great and good a Father. I would now acknowledge my duty by letters, but that I am ashamed of my Latin, and loth to trouble with so rude lines, unless there were further occasion or that you thought it needful. But I hope to come and do my duty in person so soon that it will not be necessary to signify it by letters. I will stay as you appoint until I have your letters for coming forward, and in the meantime will not be solicitous one whit, having no desire in the world whereof I would not most willingly leave the whole care unto you, and indeed desiring to have no other desires but yours so far as I may be able to discern them, after that I have expressed my reasons as I know you would have me to do, and after that you know me better and my many great wants, which, that they may be more exactly known unto you, makes me so desirous to be with you for some time, howsoever it may please you to dispose of me afterwards.

" And if the chief cause why you think it best for me to stay a while in these parts be for that you would have me secret as yet, and especially not to be seen with you there [in Rome] whilst the appellants are negotiating their uncharitable accusations of their brethren, then I suppose you will think I may be fully as secret there as here, if I be first wary in my coming into the town, and then be your prisoner for some time (which I most desire), and then go to St. Andrew's [the Noviciate of the Society on the Quirinal], without visiting any holy places and being seen in the town until you think it convenient. And because, in my second and third letters, I expressed my earnest desire of this private course at my first coming, I suppose I shall hear from you in your next letter or the next but one, that you think best I come forward, unless you wish my stay for some other reasons than the desire of my being secret.

" I grant I might perform my desire of some time of recollection either in Louvain or in the new house [the proposed English Noviciate] if it go forwards, under Father Talbot [the Master of Novices]; but I have many reasons why I desire to be with you for some time, which I think you would allow of if you know them. And I would be glad also if it might be to begin in St. Andrew's, to draw there some lively water out of the chiefest fountain, and this rather in the winter than to come the next spring, because I much fear my health if I be there in the heats. But after I have been there for some time, for so long a time as you shall think it convenient that I stay in that school, I shall be Father Talbot's Minister here, or to have some office of action under him, if my health do require any exercise of body. I hear there is one prepared for Minister that is very fit, but I could have care of the Church, and then perhaps shall get some stuff to furnish it from some friends of mine in England ; or I could have care of the garden, for I am excellent at that (if you will permit me to praise myself) for that was much of my recreation in England, and I hope my brother [probably Sir Oliver Manners] will witness with me that he hath seen a good many plants of my setting, and tasted the fruit of some of them. But indeed, dear Father, if it may stand with your liking, I would be very glad to see you and be with you for some days before I settle anywhere, how private soever my abode there be, either at the first or for the whole time of my stay, as yourself shall see it best.

"As for the settling of any with my friends, I have done it before my departure, leaving my old companion and dear friend Father Percy in the place where I was, who is so much esteemed and desired by them, as none can be likely to be more profitable. Most of my other special friends I commended partly to Father Anthony [Hoskins] and partly to him, both which are most grateful [pleasing] to all my friends and acquaintance, and indeed I know not any two there that, in my simple opinion, better deserve it. As concerning Father Roger Lee's going into England, if you please that I write justly that I think, there be divers reasons for which I think it, at this time, very inconvenient First, in that he is so profitable where he is [Minister at St. Omers], that it will not be easy to find another [who] will do so much good in that place; and, in one word to express my opinion, for aught I see, the most good of the house, both for external discipline and for progress in spirit, dependeth upon his care and effectual industry, wherein I should think it more needful to provide him more helpers of like desires and practical endeavours, who would conspire with him and have talents to effect, both with the good Rector [Father Schondonch] and with the scholars, that which they should together find to be most expedient The Fathers which be there do very well, but are not of like apprehensions and proceedings, and I suppose if yourself did see all particulars, you would think Father Roger to be a strong helper to the good of that house, and that it would flourish much if it had some others of his like. I know not where to name one upon the sudden, unless it be Father Henry Flud [Floyd], whose zeal and practical proceedings I think would be very profitable for that house, if he may be spared; and truly in my opinion, upon the good of that house dependeth much the good and quiet of the other Colleges, besides much edification to many, both friends and enemies, unto whom this is a continual spectacle.

"But besides this reason (which alone I take to be sufficient) I wish Father Roger's stay for the good he may hereafter do in England, which I do hope will be great, and therefore great pity it should now be lost before the fruit of so likely a tree can come to ripeness. For, sir, yourself can better judge that none can be much profitable in England until he have gotten acquaintance there, and until his acquaintance by their trial of him have gotten a great opinion and estimation of him, which then they will spread from one to another, and every one will bring his friend, who upon hearing will be desirous to try, but after trial will say unto the friend that brought him, Jam non propter sermonem tuum credimus sed ipsi, &c. By this means one shall have, after some continuance, more acquaintances and devoted friends than he can satisfy, and more business in that kind than he can turn his hands unto ; but this is supposing he may at the first go up and down to get this acquaintance, and to be so known unto many; and until he have means so to do, if he have never so good talents, yet he shall not do so much good as a meaner person that is better acquainted. Now in this time I do verily think, if the laws be put in execution, there will be no means at all to get acquaintance, but the best acquainted shall have difficulty to help his known friends, and to be helped by them with safe places of abode as [I have declared at] large in my last letters, and they must lie much still and private and do [good part of] their [work by means of le]tters. Therefore, although I know Father Roger would be much esteemed of my special friends as any that could be sent (unless my brother had served his apprenticeship and were made a journeyman, for of his skill and workmanship in framing the best wedding garment there is great and general hope conceived) yet, things staying as they do in England, and Father Roger so well acquainted now with the place as himself (which truly I think would be hard to find) my friends also being already furnished in England : these reasons move me to think it neither needful nor best that Father Roger go thither as yet; which yet in a more quiet time I shall be bold to beg for, if I see the College where he is so furnished that without great loss it might want him. I find Father Roger desirous of England if it were thought best, but wholly desirous to do that which you yourself do think most convenient; but when I urge him to speak his very thoughts whether he do think the College would be at want, he cannot deny but that the College hath need rather of more than less help, and surely I think if it were another's case of whom he might with humility acknowledge how profitable he is, I do think he would absolutely do his best to hinder it, as I do.

" For the answer to your questions, though in my last long letters I did in part answer to most of them before I received yours, yet now I will briefly again set down my opinion to the several points, Father Baldwin having written of them in his last, I being at St. Omers ; but now I am come to him, being advised by the physician there to go to the Spa for the drying up of my rheum, which here I shall take further counsel of, how far it is needful, and whether the great rains have not made the waters of less force. I am here private, and more private than I could be at St. Omers whilst the banished priests 7 are passing by. I think I shall hear within two or three posts your further pleasure; if not, I will return [to St. Omers] and then begin to talk with the youths there, or do any service I can as you appointed in your last. In the meantime, with many humble thanks for your many undeserved favours, I rest this 15th of July [1606].

" Your Reverence's son and servant wholly to command,

"Fr. Harrison."

Addressed— AI molto Rev. in Chris to Padre, il Padre Roberto Parsonio, Rettore del Collegio delli Inglesi, Roma.

It was probably very soon indeed after this that Father Gerard received directions from Father Persons to go to Rome, for the order must have come so soon that in his autobiography he puts it that " he went straight to Rome." We learn from Father More 8 that he was sent thence to Tivoli for a while, for rest of mind and body. Father Persons was staying there for his health, as we learn from a letter 9 of his dated the 8th of October, 1606 ; and, as a further pleasure for Father Gerard, Brother John Lilly, who had twice risked everything to set him free, was at Tivoli with Father Persons.

We have a letter, 10 dated "this Simon and Jude's day, 1606," from Father Andrew Whyte, afterwards the Apostle of Maryland, addressed "To his especial good friend Mr. Garret give these at Rome." This Father Whyte was one of the banished priests, and he would therefore know for certain that at the time he wrote his letter at the end of October Father Gerard had gone towards Rome. He wrote to ask him to speak to Father Persons to get Richard Green received into the Society, who had been sent to College by Father Gerard, and had been imprisoned "about the time of this late commotion." Green "was received very kindly by Father Walley [Garnet] and provided for very charitably in a manner as one of the Society, with a promise that the year following he should be received without fail;" but now, as " few or none of Father Walley's writings or determinations were found, and Richard Fulwood gone which should have given particular testimony," Father Whyte begs that "he may either be sent to the Novitiates of other countries with the licence of the General, or else may have a promise to be the next that is received at Louvain."

On the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury in the same year, December 29, 1606, Father Gerard had not yet returned from Tivoli to Rome, for on that day Father Persons wrote 11 from Rome to "Customer," that is the archpriest, in the words already quoted respecting his innocence of the Gunpowder Plot. " The man you name, to wit Ger., passed this way some months gone, but made little or no abode lest offence might be taken thereat. Only I can say that during the few days which he remained, he gave great edification for his behaviour and sundry great testimonies of his rare virtue, but most of all of his innocency concerning that crime whereof he was imputed in the proclamation, about which himself procured that his General should officially examine, in presence of divers witnesses, commanding him in virtute sanctÓ• obedientiÓ• to utter the truth therein to his Superior, whereupon he swore and protested that he was wholly innocent therein, which the rest of his behaviour doth easily make probable. I shall cause him to be advertised by the first commodity of the note you write about his friend."

Early probably in 1607 Father Gerard left Tivoli for Rome, where he was appointed English Penitentiary 12 at St. Peter's. The confessionals of that Basilica, like those of the Holy House at Loretto, were served by a College of Jesuit Fathers, and both Churches required confessors of every nationality. There was thus an English Father employed at each of these sanctuaries ; but unfortunately our records are very fragmentary, and of the Penitentiaries we have little information beyond that which has been left us by Father Christopher Grene, who at the distance of nearly a century succeeded Father Gerard as English Penitentiary at St. Peter's. How long Father Gerard was there we are left to gather from other sources, and there is little to rely upon except the date that we attribute to his autobiography and the signs of its having been written in Belgium. Of the latter there cannot be any doubt when we notice that towards its conclusion the writer says, " I went straight to Rome, and being sent back thence to these parts, was fixed at Louvain." At Louvain therefore it was written, and the time, as we have seen, was later than John Lilly's departure to England in June 1609, and of course later than his own solemn Profession of the four vows, which was on the 3rd of May 1609.

His Profession, nearly twenty-one years after his admission into the Society, may have been at Rome just before leaving or at Louvain just after arriving. We are in possession of the confidential report which was made to Father General respecting him, previous to his Profession. By a singular chance the paper in which it is contained is the only one of similar reports that has come to our hands. The Latin original, from which we translate, is amongst the Stonyhurst manuscripts. 13 Father Gerard's name is the ninth on the paper. " Father John Gerard, English, forty-five years old, nineteen in the Society [that is, reckoning from the time when he took his scholastic vows, at the end of his two years' novice-ship], twenty-one on the English mission. He studied at Rome in the English College controversy and cases of conscience for four years [including, it is to be supposed, his period of study at Rheims]. He was admitted [to his scholastic vows] in England, where he made his novice-ship. He is a very spiritual man ; he is endowed with an admirable power of gaining souls ; he has also more than a middling talent for preaching ; and he is held to be not unfit for government. If these talents can supply the defect of learning, taking also into account all that he has suffered for the Catholic faith, then he is proposed for the four vows. It would be a consolation both to himself and to the many Catholics of note by whom he is held in high esteem. But if not, then he is proposed for profession of the three vows."

Both Father Bartoli and Father More remark that Father Gerard was admitted to the solemn vows of a Professed Father by a special favour, as his learning, owing to the short course of study through which he had passed, fell short of that which the Society requires as a condition of Profession. Father Bartoli says 14 that this " most rare but most just privilege" was conferred on him, " as virtue, in which he exceeded the standard, supplied for the studies in which he fell short of it."

His first employment as a Professed Father of the Society was to be Socins or Companion of Father Thomas Talbot, who was Rector and Master of Novices in the English Novitiate house at Louvain. It was of this house that he spoke in his letter to Father Persons on his arrival in Belgium in July 1606, expressing his "desire of some time of recollection," which he said he granted he could do "in the new house, if it go forwards, under Father Talbot," though he acknowledged his preference for the old novitiate at St. Andrew's on the Quirinal, which he calls "the chiefest fountain." In the same letter he says that he should " be glad to be Father Talbot's minister here," after he had spent some time at St. Andrew's; and it is probable that he was appointed to the very office he thus named when he was made Socius to the Master of Novices at Louvain, after two years of residence at Rome in the College of the Penitentiaries of St. Peter's

1 Bartoli, Inghilterra, p. 586.

2 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol. vi.

3 This Phelippes is the man by whom Mary Queen of Scots was done to death. He could not have expected much favour on the accession of her son to the Crown of England, yet he had the effrontery in a petition to the King in 1622, after saying "that he had been forced, since his Majesty's coming to this Crown, to part with a pension had for deciphering, towards satisfaction of a debt owing to the last Queen, which she was in mind to have pardoned," to put in a claim to James' favour "for his feat of deciphering, by the which England was sometime preserved to him and sometime his Majesty to England when,he knew not of it." Cotton MSS., Julius, C. iii. f. 297. Phelippes' arrest in consequence of his correspondence with Hugh Owen is given in Poulet's Letter--books, p. 116.

4 Stonyhurst MSS., Angl. A. vol. vi.


Sir Oliver Manners was ordained in April 1611, as we have said (supra, P. 373), about five years from the date of this letter.

7 Bishop Challoner gives a list of 47 priests from different prisons who were sent this year, 1606, into perpetual banishment. Missionary Priests, vol. ii. p. 29.

8 HistProv. lib. vii. n. 43, p. 339.

9 Stonyhurst MSS., Father Grene's Collectan. P. f. 437.

10 Ibid. Angl. A. vol. iii. n. 70.

11 Stonyhurst MSS., Father Grene's Collectan. P. f. 449, 477.

12 Stonyhurst MSS., Father Southwell's Catalogus primorum patrum, p. 32. Archives of the English College at Rome, Scritture, vol. xxx.; 1632.

13 Angl. A. vol. vi.

14 Inghilterra, p. 586.