Heath, Henry, Bl.

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Franciscan priest, martyr; known in religion as Paul of St. Magdalen; b. c. 1599 near Peterborough, North-amptonshire; hanged, drawn, and quartered April 17, 1643 at Tyburn (London) under Charles I. He was the son of the Protestant John Heath. After receiving his degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (1621), he became the college librarian. In 1622, he was received into the Church by George Muscott. After a short stay at the English College at Douai, he entered St. Bonaventure's convent there c. 162425, where he led a frugal and scholarly existence for many years. Upon obtaining permission to join the English Mission in early 1643, he crossed from Dunkirk to Dover disguised as a sailor, then walked from Dover to London. On the night of his arrival in London, he was arrested as a shoplifter. When papers found in his cap betrayed his religion, he was taken to Compter Prison. The next day he was brought before the lord mayor, and, on confessing he was a priest, was sent to Newgate. Examined by a Parliamentary committee, he was indicted for his priesthood. At his place of execution, Heath reconciled one of the criminals that was to die with him. In an unusual act of mercy, he was allowed to hang until he was dead. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 22, 1987 with George Haydock and Companions.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England).

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924), II, 175. j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891). e. m. thompson, The Carthusian Order in England (New York 1930).

[k. i. rabenstein]