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Feast of the English Martyrs

Category : Chaplaincy , House Teams , News

Everyone knows we are called the English Martyrs School – but do you actually know who the English Martyrs were or what they did? Well, this article will help!

To begin the story, we need to take a jump back to 16th Century England and catch up with King Henry VIII – That’s correct, the one who had six wives.

Shortly after marrying his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, he requested the marriage to be annulled from Pope Clement VII. Getting the marriage annulled would declare it null and void, almost like it never happened.

The Pope denied the request. Infuriated by the Pope’s disagreement, the King started a series of events that would later be known as The English Reformation.

The Church of England was separated from The Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, he appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries.

After the Reformation, a violent wave of anti-Catholic persecution began – and lasted over a century. It started with the executions of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher but didn’t end there.

Hundreds were killed between 1535 and 1680; the Church recognized the heroism of 40 martyrs from England and Wales in a canonization ceremony on October 25, 1970.

Later, a separate feast day was created that would take place on 4th May each year to recognize the 284 canonized or beatified martyrs of the English Reformation.

And that brings us today – a feast day that is still celebrated.  It was the sacrifice of the martyrs that allow us to freely practice our Catholic faith in England today.

Here are five of The English Martyrs, who you will recognise. Our houses in school are named after them.

St Anne Line

St Margaret Clitherow

St Thomas More

St John Boste

BI John Ingram

The English Martyrs were persecuted because they believed.

We currently can’t go to Mass or be with our church communities or do the things we want to at the minute because it isn’t safe for us to do so because of the Coronavirus. We can’t go because it is a measure to protect us. It’s very different from how it was back then.

There are still places throughout the world though, here in 2020, where people are not free to believe and can still be killed for it if they are found to have faith in Jesus.

They are not free not just because of the worldwide lockdown. Even when lockdown is over, they still won’t be able to go to their churches. They have to pray and celebrate their faith in secret, risking their lives simply by having faith. We have so much to be grateful for.

Be a rock of refuge for me, a mighty stronghold to save me,
for you are my rock, my stronghold. For your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.
Into your hands, I commend my spirit. It is you who will redeem me, Lord.
As for me, I trust in the Lord: let me be glad and rejoice in your love.
Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your love.
You hide me in the shelter of your presence from the plotting of men.

The following prayers have been written by  Colleen Proudlock and Emily Carroll

Lord Jesus,

We place into your loving care all those who are suffering from sadness, are not able to be with their families, are ill in hospital or at home, alone and those who do not know what the future brings.

Lord hear us…

Lord Jesus,

We offer a prayer for those who are persecuted because of what they believe. Let them know God’s love and support and give them the strength to carry on sharing Our Lord’s message.

Lord hear us…

Dear Lord, please allow everyone through this rough time to be filled with the gift of courage and be resilient in hard times such as the English Martyrs were, let them be role models to us.

Lord hear us…

Dear Lord, we ask that you keep our school community safe, especially those who are still attending school. We pray for those whose parents are nurses or other front line staff and all of our own staff who are still attending work to make sure us at home are maintaining our learning while in lockdown.

Lord hear us…

We pray together in the words that Jesus taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.


May the prayers of The English Martyrs be with us today and may God’s blessing be upon us.

English Martyrs – Pray for us

Go and have a treat and enjoy your day!