08 July 2009

Blessed Adrian Fortescue

8 JULY 2009. Today is the optional memorial of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, husband and father, lay Dominican, and martyr.

Born around 1476, Blessed Adrian Fortescue, the son of Sir John Fortescue of Punsborne, Hertfordshire (England) was made a Knight of Bath in 1503, and apparently was regarded highly by King Henry VIII. Some sources say that Blessed Adrian took part in the Wars of England against France in 1513 and 1523, while other sources make his participation in those campaigns more passive. Blessed Adrian was noted for his personal piety, which is evidenced by his Book of Hours, which survives to this day, which includes hand written devotional maxims.

Blessed Adrian, besides being highly regarded at one time by King Henry VIII, was also the cousin of Anne Boleyn, and was present when she was crowned Queen of England in 1533.

Being twice married, Blessed Adrian had seven children. He became a lay Dominican in 1533.

In 1539 Blessed Adrian was accused (some sources say "attainted") of high treason without trial by an act of Parliament. The same act of Parliament also attainted 49 others with the general commonality of being opposed to Henry VIII's ecclesiastical policies. Blessed Adrian was beheaded on Tower Hill in London on 9 July 1539.

The Order of St. John of Jerusalem has considered Blessed Adrian a martyr and promoted devotion to him since the early seventeenth century. Pope Leo XIII declared him Blessed on 13 May 1895. Blessed Adrian Fortescue's place of burial is unknown.

The Dominican supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours provides this:
After King Henry VIII broke with Rome, Sir Adrian observed the obligations of his religion and served the king as faithfully as he could. Although arrested in 1534, no charge was made, nor was any reason given for his subsequent release. In 1539 he was again arrested and placed in the Tower. The sentence of death was passed upon him and he was beheaded on July 8 or 9, 1539.

O God,
you specially strengthened Blessed Adrian
with a wonderful spirit of holiness and courage.
Hear the prayers of your people
and from his renowned example
may we learn to be obedient to you
rather than to human authority.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.


IMAGE: www.Saints.SQPN.com

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