Thursday, 25 August 2011

St David Lewis- Priest and Martyr

At my daily place of work in Usk, Monmouthshire I try to get out of the office to walk during lunchtime to refresh and clear the head. My walk often takes me by the river path to see if there are kingfisher, dipper, trout or salmon to be seen and raise the spirits. A good place for the late recitation of the Angelus and to pray "on the hoof". But at this time of year it is a melancholy walk indeed as my thoughts turn inevitably to dear Fr. David Lewis SJ born at nearby Abergavenny and who ministered to those "of the old religion" in Monmouthshire so bravely. His cruel death and martyrdom took place at this very spot on 27 August 1679 during the reign of Charles II (who was against the persecution), a shockingly late date for a brutal execution only for being a Catholic priest. Orchestrated by the diabolic Titus Oates who perjured himself presenting trumped up charges of sedition and treason against Lewis and other Catholics. Have the years changed the anti-catholic feelings of yesteryear? One hopes and prays so but many in Wales when they talk about supporting ecumenical advances don't seem to think that re-union with Rome from which the Anglican church is hewn is something they want or is needed. To the contrary, there will never be re-union of the Christian churches without a return to Rome. May the prayers of St David Lewis be for all of us Christians in Wales and beyond and may his death be not in vain but support the gospel message "that they may be one". The souls of the martyrs can never be extinguished by man in his ruined state. From his last words at the gallows after he was dragged down the river path to this place;

“Please now to observe; I was condemned for reading Mass, hearing confessions, administering the sacraments, anointing the sick, christening, marrying, preaching. As for reading the Mass, it was the old, and still is the accustomed and laudable liturgy of the Holy Church, and all the other acts, which are acts of religion, tending to the worship of God, and for this dying, I die for religion. Moreover, know that last May I was in London under examination concerning the Plot, a prime examinant told me that to save my life and increase my fortunes, I must make some discovery of the Plot or conform; discover Plot I could not, for I knew of none, conform I would not, because it was against my conscience. Then by consequence I must die, and so now dying, I die for conscience and religion, and dying upon such good scores, as far as human frailty permits, I die with alacrity, interior and exterior from the abundance of the heart, let not only mouths, but faces also speak. Here; methinks, I feel flesh and blood ready to burst into loud cries. ‘Tooth for tooth, eye for eye, blood for blood, life for life.’ ‘No.’ crieth Holy Gospel, ‘Forgive and you shall be forgiven, pray for those that persecute you, love your enemies.’ “And I profess myself a child of the Gospel, and the Gospel I obey.”
 See the life of St David Lewis in more detail HERE