Friday, February 1, 2019

St. Henry Morse

Henry Morse was born to protestant parents in Suffolk, England, in 1595, and left his home to study law in London where he learned of the Catholic Faith and converted at the age of 23. Henry traveled to Rome where he was ordained a priest.

He made his way back home to England, where he was immediately arrested and imprisoned at York with a fellow priest, a Jesuit. The three years of his imprisonment became for the young ordained priest an intense novitiate, and by the time he was released, he had made his final vows as a Jesuit.

Upon his release from prison, Henry was banished from England, but returned in 1633 under a false name. During the plague of 1636, Henry would travel to the homes of Catholics and Protestants alike, caring for the sick. He caught the plague from his patients three times, but miraculously recovered each time. The people of England were so touched by Henry’s zeal and goodness, over 100 people converted to Catholicism in less than a year.

He was then betrayed by a friend, arrested by the authorities and again banished from England. Instead, he traveled to Southern England and ministered to the people there. Then, in 1645, Henry was arrested for the last time and sent to London for execution. After celebrating a final Mass, Fr. Henry Morse proclaimed his faith to the crowd, prayed aloud for himself and for his executioners and was executed. “I am come hither to die for my religion.” He said to the crowd, “…I pray that my death may be some kind of atonement for the sins of this kingdom.” Then, striking his breast three times, he gave a signal to a priest hidden in the crowd to give him absolution and said: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

Henry Morse was canonized as a martyr in 1970.

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