June 23rd: Saint Thomas Garnet, SJ
Died: 23 June 1608
St. Thomas Garnet was born in 1574 at Southwark, England as the son of an Oxford don. Because Catholic colleges had been turned over to aggressive Protestants, young Thomas went to the continent in 1593 to attend the newly opened Jesuit college at Saint Omer.
A storm in the English Channel caused Thomas and his companions to be captured by the English Navy who tried to force them to accept Elizabeth’s religion. After months of abuse, they escaped. Later Thomas returned to England as a Jesuit.
His uncle, Fr.Henry Garnet, was superior of all Jesuits in England, and in charge of the entire network of priests working secretly among the Catholics who had refused to take the oath of Supremacy. Thomas Garnet worked near Warwickshire for six years, but his ministry ended with the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. The Jesuit martyrs of this time were known for their intelligence, joy, humor, and for their deep understanding of martyrdom as apostolic.
The gallows is the best pulpit anyone could ever preach from. A plot was hatched to break Thomas out of jail, but he wrote his superior asking that the plotters not try.
He was martyred on 23 June 1608 in Tyburn, England by hanging. He was beatified in 1929 and canonized in 1970 with 39 other Martyrs of England & Wales.