Does the following sound like a saint you know? His name was Thomas. He was an English nobleman who lived in the sixteenth century, he was married and had children. He was deeply influenced by his father. He was charged with treason, and he was martyred by the monarch because he remained steadfastly loyal to the Catholic Church and the pope.
The years after the so-called English Reformation were indeed tumultuous. Of course, it was not an easy time for Catholics, and many Catholics, including the nobility, were persecuted for staying true to the ancient faith. One of those who gave up his life for Christ and His Kingdom was Bl. Thomas Percy.
The Pilgrimage of Grace
Thomas Percy (1528 - 1572) was born as the elder son to Sir Thomas and his wife Eleanor. When he was only eight years of age, his father was executed for his participation in 1536 in what was called the Pilgrimage of Grace.
Under the Reign of Queen Mary
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The Tide Changes
Of course, Thomas was well-known for his fervent support of the Catholic Church. Despite that fact, Elizabeth awarded him the Order of the Garter in 1563. Then the rumors began that Elizabeth would be excommunicated which would make the situation very difficult for all Catholics in England. The Catholic nobility began to discussions in earnest of how to liberate Mary, Queen of Scots, in order to have her replace Elizabeth. Mary had a distant claim to the English throne as the descendant of Henry VIII's sister Margaret, Letters from some of the English nobility were sent to the pope for advice, but events came to a head before there was a reply.
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Another Failed Rebellion and Martyrdom
Taking a direct approach like his father, Thomas became involved in another uprising to restore Catholicism in England. In 1569, along with the Count of Westmoreland, Thomas attempted to take control of several areas in order to force the issue. They began with 700 knights and eventually grew to 6,000 strong as they occupied parts of the north of England. However, in the face of superior forces, the rebels retreated to Scotland.
Thomas' deepest sorrow was that he was separated from his wife and children after he had been captured. Following his death, his wife and children were exiled to France where Anne died twenty-four years later. Thomas' youngest daughter Mary, whom it is likely that he never met because she was born after he had been captured, founded a Benedictine convent in Brussels, Belgium. Interestingly, the majority of the current Benedictine convents in England are descendants of that convent founded by the martyr's daughter--Mary Percy.
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