Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 30(31):3-4,6,8,17,21; Matthew 10:17-20
On 4 May 1535, at Tyburn in London, there died three Carthusian monks, the first of many martyrs of the English Reformation. Of these martyrs, forty-two have been canonized, and a further 242 have been declared Blessed; but the true number of those who died on the scaffold, perished in prison, or were tortured or persecuted for their faith cannot now be reckoned. The persecution lasted a hundred and fifty years and left a permanent mark on English culture: to this day Catholics continue to suffer certain minor disabilities under English law.
The martyrs celebrated today came from every walk of life. There were rich and poor; married and single; men and women. They are remembered for the example they gave of constancy in their faith and courage in the face of persecution.
From 2001, there are also celebrated on this day the forty martyrs of England and Wales who were canonized on 25 October 1970 and formerly celebrated on that day. They include Saints Cuthbert Mayne, John Houghton, Edmund Campion, and Richard Gwynn, as well as Saints John Roberts and Ambrose Barlow from the Benedictine monastery of St Gregory at Douay (now at Downside Abbey in Somerset).