Morse, Henry, St.
MORSE, HENRY, ST.
English Jesuit martyr; b. Brome, Suffolk, 1595; d. Tyburn, Feb. 1 (N.S.; Jan. 22, O.S.), 1645 (N.S.; 1644O.S.). He studied law at Barnards Inn, London, was converted to Catholicism, and entered the English College at douai, France, in 1614. He returned to England, was arrested, and after four years in a London prison, was released and banished. From Douai he went to the English College in Rome, where he was ordained. In 1624 he returned to Newcastle on Tyne in England, and in 1626, traveling by ship to enter the Jesuit novitiate in Watten, he was captured. He completed his novitiate under a fellow Jesuit prisoner during four years in a York prison. An exile again, he became chaplain to English troops in the Netherlands. In 1633 he was sent to London to minister to the poor during an epidemic of the plague, and he converted many families. He was arrested in 1638 and charged with having been ordained by authority of the See of Rome, contrary to the statute of 27 Elizabeth, and with having seduced His Majesty's subjects from their due faith and allegiance. Having been found guilty on the first count but not sentenced, he was kept in Newgate prison until released by Charles I at the instance of Queen Henrietta Maria. After further service as a military chaplain, he returned to Cumberland, England, during the Civil War. In August 1644, while answering a sick call, he was taken near Newcastle by Parliamentary soldiers and put aboard a ship bound for London. Although his non-Catholic brother Robert strove to save him, he was charged with having returned to England after conviction and reprieve seven years previously and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He was conveyed on a hurdle to Tyburn, where a great crowd, including Catholic foreign ambassadors, waited. After addressing the crowd, he received absolution from a priest and was executed. He was known under several aliases: Ward, Sheppard, and Claxton. Beatified by Pius XI in 1929, he is one of the 40 martyrs canonized by Paul VI in 1970. His diary is in the British Museum.
Feast: Feb. 1.
Bibliography: j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time 5:133–135. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints 1:231–232 p. caraman, Henry Morse (New York 1957).
[a. m. c. forster]