Daily Saints

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) April 17th – St. Pope Anicetus & St. Henry Heath

അനുദിന വിശുദ്ധർ (Saint of the Day) April 17th – St. Pope Anicetus & St. Henry Heath

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The Roman Pontiff who succeeded Pius towards the year 157, and reigned till about 168. According to Duchesne (Origins) the confusion of dates about this period is such that more exact verification is impossible. While Anicetus was Pope, St. Polycarp, then in extreme old age, came to confer with him (160-162) about the Paschal controversy; Polycarp and others in the East celebrating the feast on the fourteenth of the month of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week it fell; whereas in Rome it was always observed on Sunday, and the day of the Lord’s death on Friday. The matter was discussed but nothing was decided. According to Eusebius : “Polycarp could not persuade the Pope, nor the Pope, Polycarp. The controversy was not ended but the bonds of charity were not broken”; the Pope permitting the aged saint to celebrate on the day he had been accustomed to in the Church of Smyrna.

Hegesippus, the first Christian historian whose writings are of great value, because he lived so near the time of the Apostles, also came to Rome at this time. His visit is recorded by most ecclesiastical authors as noteworthy, inasmuch as it calls attention to the fact that many illustrious men repaired to Rome at that period, thus emphasizing very early the supreme dignity and authority of the Roman Pontiffs. Marcion, Marcellinus, Valentine, and Cordo were also at Rome, disturbing the Church by their Manichæism. Anicetus suffered martyrdom in 161, but the dates vary between 16, 17, and 20 April.

Heath was born in 1599 and baptized at St. John’s, Peterborough, 16 December 1599. His father was John Heath. He attended Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, receiving a B.A. in 1621, [1] and was made college librarian. In 1622 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by George Muscott, and, after a short stay at the English College at Douai, entered the Franciscan convent of St. Bonaventure’s there in 1625, taking the name of Paul of St. Magdalen.[2]

Early in 1643, Heath with much trouble obtained leave to go on the English mission and crossed from Dunkirk to Dover disguised as a sailor. A German gentleman paid for his passage and offered him further money for his journey, but, in the spirit of St. Francis, Heath refused it and preferred to walk from Dover to London, begging his way.[2]

On the very night of his arrival, as Heath was resting on a door step, the master of the house gave him into custody as a shoplifter. Some papers found in his cap betrayed his religion and he was taken to the Compter Prison. The next day he was brought before the Lord Mayor, and, on confessing he was a priest, was sent to Newgate. Shortly afterwards he was examined by a Parliamentary committee, and again confessed his priesthood. He was eventually indicted under the 1585 “Act against Jesuits, Seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons” (27 Eliz. c. 2) for being a priest and present in the realm of Queen Elizabeth. While imprisoned at Tyburn he reconciled in the very cart one of the criminals that were executed with him. He was allowed to hang until he was dead.[2]

Henry Heath was among the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.

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