19 March 2021, The Tablet

Jesuit exhibition marks Forty Martyrs’ canonisation

Jesuit exhibition marks Forty Martyrs’ canonisation

The skull of St Ambrose Barlow, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, is preserved in a niche at the top of the main staircase at Wardley Hall near Manchester.

Jesuits in Britain have launched their first online exhibition, celebrating 50 years since the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs.

Organised in collaboration with Stonyhurst College Collections, the virtual showcase, “How Bleedeth Burning Love: British Jesuit Province’s Relics of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales”, presents relics of some of the priests and lay people martyred for their Catholic faith in England and Wales in the six- teenth and seventeenth centuries.

Much of the collection resides in the Jesuits in Britain Archives in London, and a significant part is on loan to Stonyhurst. The exhibition offers a visual and audio experience, with images of the relics accompanied by both text and a recorded narrative.

These relics shine a light on a period of English history when men and women were persecuted and executed for their religious beliefs. Some demonstrate vividly the barbaric nature of the penal- ties inflicted, while others tell of individual spiritual journeys of historic figures.

“The exhibition relates the stories of some of the many men and women whose bravery and resourcefulness helped to keep the Catholic faith alive in those days”, said Dr Jan Graffius, curator of the Stonyhurst Collections. “It also explores the extraordinary, and often perilous, journeys of

these relics before they came into the sanctuary of the possession of the British Jesuit Province.”

Among the relics are those of St Edmund Campion, St Robert Southwell and Blessed Edward Oldcorne. On display is the rope that was used to drag Campion from the Tower to Tyburn, and the right eyeball of Oldcorne, a school friend of Guy Fawkes who was tortured and executed in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot. There are two hats, a piece of hair shirt and a gold penitential crucifix that belonged to St Thomas More, executed on the orders of Henry VIII in 1535.

The exhibition can be viewed at www.jesuitcollections.org.uk.

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