17 July 2023

Martyrs and quarter-martyrs

Just down on the river from where Pam and I live, and within sight of the long boat called Vinny Boy, there is a former manor house once in the hands of the Napier/Napper family. They were recusant; a member of the family, Fr George Napier of Corpus Christi College and then of Douay, beatified in 1929, was hanged drawn and quartered on 9 November 1610.

The House later came by marriage to the Powells.  

Fr Jerome Bertram recounted that "one day the miller down at Sandford complained something was blocking his wheel, and Edward Powell came down to have a look. 'Oh', he said, 'that's a quarter of Uncle George."

Blessed George's "quarters [had been] thrown into the river, so nephew Edward took up the remains and buried them in what had been the Hospitallers' church."

Father goes on: "I was all agog to try to get permission to excavate, and bring the relics back to Oxford in triumph -- you know, in a brilliantly decorated barge, with trumpeters sounding from each bridge as the precious cargo passed underneath ... but just in time I discovered from Bede Camm that some Catholics had excavated the whole of the old chapel a hundred years ago, and failed to find the quarter-martyr."

Oret pro nobis.

Off at a tangent ... that old House is now a hotel; and it bought the old St John's College barge when the college barges were decomissioned ... so, if you want to see what they looked like ...

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