Of Prophets, Priest Holes, Persecution and You

Many people don’t realize that Holy Church considers some Old Testament figures to be saints with their own feast days.

We don’t celebrate them at the altar, but they have their day.

Actually, if there were no other saint in the liturgical calendar taking precedence, we are told that we indeed could celebrate a saint from the Martyrology.  But I digress.

In any event, today is the commemoration of the 8th c. BC St. Isaiah, the prophet of the Old Testament.

The Martyrologium Romanum has this entry for him.

1. Commemoratio sancti Isaiae, prophetae, qui, in diebus Oziae, Iotham, Achaz et Ezechiae, regum Iudae, missus est ut populo infideli et peccatori Dominum fidelem et salvatorem revelaret, ad implementum promissionis David a Deo iuratae. Apud Iudaeos sub Manasse rege martyr occubuisse traditur.

You readers can give your own polished and flawless renderings of this brief but interesting text.

There is a Jewish tradition that Isaish was ultimately sawed in two but Scripture itself is silent about his earthly end.

We also learn from the Martyrology that today is the feast, or rather “commemoration” – but let’s not be too fussy – of St. Hermas, from the New Testament, whom St. Paul greets in Romans 16.  The 3rd c. Origen of Alexandria thought that he was the author of the ancient Christian word The Shepherd of Hermas.

Among others we also give honor to God today through the martyrdom, in London, of Bl. Thomas Pickering, a Benedictine monk, a simply and pious soul, who was it seems falsely implicated in a plot against Charles II.  He died “ad Tyburni patibulum“.

From more modern times we also learn that today is the day that Bl. Stephan Grelewski, a priest and martyr, died in Dachau concentration camp. The Martyrology uses the dire phrase “diris tormentis extenuatus“.  Brrrrr.

Many around the world today suffer at the hands of others precisely the profess Christ as their Lord and God.

Give some thought today about your state in life as it is here and now.

Think also for a little while about what you may have to do and endure if an when your time comes to be challenged to give witness to your Faith and then suffer negative consequences.

I have thought about this a lot recently.  Today I was prompted again to reflect on our present problems when I received photos from a friend in England who visited a house with a priest hole at Coughton Hall built by St. Nicholas Owen.


Beneath the one hole there is another!


St. Nicholas Owen was eventually captured and then mercilessly tortured in the Tower. On 22 March 1606 his entrails burst out when he was on the rack, and he died.

You, dear reader, may not be challenged with the threat of death, but perhaps you will risk losing your job or some relationship or other worldly good.

That said, and circling back to the Prophet Isaiah, those who would persecute the Lord’s anointed, especially, will be subject to the wrath of God.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charlotte Allen says:

    Commemoratio sancti Isaiae, prophetae, qui, in diebus Oziae, Iotham, Achaz et Ezechiae, regum Iudae, missus est ut populo infideli et peccatori Dominum fidelem et salvatorem revelaret, ad implementum promissionis David a Deo iuratae. Apud Iudaeos sub Manasse rege martyr occubuisse traditur.

    This is the commemoration of Saint Isaac the prophet, who, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, was sent to reveal to a faithless and sinning people the faithful Lord and savior, until the fulfillment of the sworn promise from God to David. He was handed over to die as a martyr among the Jews under Manasseh the king.

  2. Charlotte Allen says:

    No–not “Saint Isaac”! “Saint Isaiah”! Sorry!

  3. Akita says:

    Beautiful and sobering post. Church Triumphant, pray for us!

    I will be examining more closely the lives of the above mentioned precious witnesses for Truth.

  4. optiksguy says:

    On the topic of Old Testament saints, my son is named Nathan, after the Old Testament prophet. I have been searching for a good date on which to celebrate his onomastico. Any suggestions? I believe the Orthodox consider him a saint but I haven’t been able to find much more than that. Any suggestions appreciated.

  5. un-ionized says:

    optiksguy, there is a name day calendar dot com web site.

  6. smithUK says:

    cf. Houghton Hall – fantastic place

  7. smithUK says:

    oops, I got my Coughtons and Houghtons and Courts and Halls muddled.
    Fr Z’s reference is to http://www.coughtoncourt.co.uk/ which is indeed a fantastic visit (perhaps Houghton Hall is too, I don’t know)
    Nearby http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/baddesley-clinton has a similarly inspiring Reformation priest-hiding pedigree.

  8. Vincent says:

    The Tower is well worth going to (fortunately all it takes is rendering unto Elizabeth what is Elizabeth’s rather than treason these days). Don’t fuss over the crown jewels though; an authentic experience includes the dungeon (although say a prayer to St Michael first, you’ll need him..), and also various rooms around the walls where priests were held captive. It’s both sobering and uplifting to see ‘IHS’ or ‘Ave Maria’ scratched into a wall… However, it’s a very important reminder of how we may all need to pay the price of our beliefs.

  9. Nicholas says:

    Speaking of Old Testament martyrs, I am considering writing a hymn in honor of the seven brothers in 2 Maccabees.

  10. stuart reiss says:

    apart from the priest hole..and the errie display of Queen Mary’s execution dress..not much else to see..but beautiful surrounding countryside around the cotswolds…
    I got into an argument with the National Trust guide who gave a slanted view of Elizabethan persecution of Catholics..and the need for priest holes..ridiculous fellow who didn’t know his own country’s history..
    the local Anglican church where the Throgmorton (or Throckmorton) family worshiped whilst it was still a catholic church was OPEN..much to see there..but the nearby catholic church on the estate..was firmly shut..as usual… for most English catholic churches..


  11. cwillia1 says:

    Some icons of Isaiah show him holding a burning coal with thongs. This is for people like me who are not fluent in Church Slavonic. The burning coal is an allusion to Isaiah 6:7. “Behold, this has touched your lips”

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