Saint of the Day Quote: Blessed William Carter

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On this occasion Carter escaped prosecution, but three years later he was apprehended on a charge of printing a book entitled ‘A Treatise of Schism,’ which was alleged to contain a passage inciting the women at court to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. The obnoxious work was seized in his house on Tower Hill, and he confessed that 1,250 copies of it had been struck off. Conflicting statements have been made concerning the authorship of this book. Camden says suspicion fell on Gregory Martin, but Wood assigns the authorship to the jesuit, Robert Parsons, and says the full title of the treatise is, ‘A Brief Discours contayning certayne Reasons why Catholiques refuse to goe to Church,’ 1580. Dodd (Church History, ii. 122) indignantly denies that the alleged treasonable passage is to be found in any of Gregory Martin’s writings, but in point of fact it occurs in sheet D ii of that author’s ‘Treatise of Schisme. Shewing that al Catholikes ought in any wise to abstaine altogether from heretical Conuenticles, to witt, their prayers, sermons, etc.,’ Douay, 1578, 8vo; and it is in the following terms:—‘Judith foloweth, whose godlye and constant wisedome if our Catholike gentlewomen woulde folowe, they might destroye Holofernes, the master heretike, and amase al his retinew, and neuer defile their religion by communicating with them in anye smal poynt.’ Carter on being brought to trial at the Old Bailey contended that this passage in his reprint of Martin’s book was not applicable to Queen Elizabeth, and that its meaning was strained by the lawyers, but he was found guilty of treason. The next morning he was drawn from Newgate to Tyburn and there hanged, bowelled, and quartered, 11 Jan. 1583–4.

British Dictionary of National Biography

Carter was regularly tortured during his 18 months imprisonment, but stoutly refused to betray any Catholics.  The day before he was executed he was absolved of his sins by a priest who was also under sentence of death.

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