FATHER THOMAS DARBYSHIRE, S.J. PART II.
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.
At length the Protestants perceiving that many by Father Darbyshire's example and authority retained their faith with constancy, and that many more were converted by him from heresy, he was seized and condemned to a most wretched prison. Here, on one occasion when deeply oppressed by his sufferings and sorrows, and weeping over his misfortunes, an image of the Crucified Saviour of the world suddenly appeared to him, bleeding, and, as it were, affixed to the wall, which before that time he had never observed. 1 By this vision he was so strengthened to undergo all events, even death itself, that from that moment, he had no other desire than for the rack, the tortures, the axe, and the gibbet itself. But instead of death, being banished for life, grieving at having the laurels of martyrdom thus torn from his brow, he determined, deeming it an honour to do so, to accomplish this desire of martyrdom, by embracing one of a chaste and Religious life in the Society of Jesus—a martyrdom no less severe because more prolonged. He did this the more willingly having been frequently connected with that holy name, for, by order of Philip and Mary he had been appointed by royal commission the Prefect of a certain Sodality called by the name of Jesus, to which Sodality belonged the distribution of large alms. And not long after this he was unanimously voted as Principal of another College of Priests, called "The Table of Jesus," in the room of the deceased Suffragan of London. He expressed his feelings at being chosen to such great benefices, and afterwards to the Society of Jesus, in these words— Qui me prius promoverat ad Fraternitatem Nominis Jesu; qui secundo ad mensam Nomini Jesu invitarat; tertio quoque in Societate Nominis Jesu collocavit; fecit mini magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus — "He hath done great things to me, and holy be His name, Who first promoted me to the Confraternity of the Name of Jesus; Who secondly invited me to the Table of the Name of Jesus; and thirdly Who hath also placed me in the Society of the 'Name of Jesus."
He was no less delighted to join the Society of Jesus on account of its holy name than of his admiration of its Institute. When during his deliberations as to the choice of a state of life, he was hesitating, being mainly anxious of securing his own personal salvation, and had turned his thoughts towards the recluse mode of life of the severe and holy Order of the Carthusians, a stranger suddenly stood before him, the door being shut, and thus addressed him—"And thou," said he, "by becoming a Carthusian, consultest indeed thine Own salvation; but what becomes of thy neighbours ? "— Et tu (inquit si), Cathusianus futurus es, saluti tuae consules, at ubi futurus est proximus. This apparition and address banished all further hesitation, and he recognized it as a ringer pointing to the Society of Jesus, which specially devotes itself both to its own and its neighbour's salvation. Thereupon he betook himself to Father Laynez, who was at that time attending the Council of Trent as one of the Pope's theologians, and who succeeded St. Ignatius, as second General of the Society, on the death of the former, July 31, 1556.
Being sent by Father Laynez to Rome, he was there received into the Society 1st May, 1563, then aged forty-five. Mr. Dodd says that he had first visited several parts of France and Flanders, and that after his reception into the Society his time was chiefly spent in catechising youth in the Colleges, which his facility in the Latin tongue enabled him to perform with great success, and that Dr. Allen, the founder of Douay College and afterwards of the English College at Rheims, had a great respect for him, and meeting him at Rome, they came down together to Rheims where they arrived April 2, 1580, and that subsequently on Father Darbyshire being obliged to leave Paris on account of his bad health, and for change of air, Dr. Barret, being then President of the College at Rheims, invited him there, which he accepted of, arriving at Rheims, December 1, 1590, and whilst he remained on visit there he was pleased to perform the office of a catechist in which he so much delighted. 2
Mr. Wood 3 thus speaks of Father Darbyshire— "In the beginning of Queen Elizabeth he was deprived of his spiritualities, whereupon Thomas Cole, who had been Dean of Salisbury, as 'tis said, in the time of King Edward VI., and afterwards an -exile in the time of Mary, succeeded him in his archdeaconry, who kept it till the time of his death, the beginning of 1571. After Darbyshire was deprived, he went beyond the seas, and at length entered himself into the Society of Jesus, and became a noted person amongst the Roman Catholics. He had a great skill in the Scriptures, and was profound in divinity. He catechised also many years publicly at Paris in the Latin tongue with great concourse and approbation of the most learned of that city. Whether he wrote anything, I find not as yet, only that he died at a good old age at Pont-a-Mousson, 1604 (2 James I.). Whilst he was chancellor of the diocese of London, he had much to do in examining heretics, as they were then called, that were brought before Bishop Bonner about matters of faith." So far Mr. Wood.
1 The print at the head of this Life represents this scene.
2 Dodd's Church History, vol it, p. 524. Edit. 1739. Mr. Dodd also says, quoting Wood's Athen. Oxon 9 p. 160, that Father Thomas had a brother, William Darbyshire, who was also a canon of St. Paul's, and died July 3, 1552.
2 Wood's Athen. Oxon, vol. i., p. 83, Fasti. Edit 1721.