Blessed Richard Gwyn
Richard was a Welshman who lived in the sixteenth century. Queen Elizabeth I ruled England and Wales. Because most people in Wales were still Catholic, the queen and her officials tried to crush the faith by cruel laws. Priests or people who were loyal to the Holy Father were put in prison. They were often tortured and killed. Richard became a Catholic after he had finished college and had become a teacher.
Before long, he was a hunted man. He escaped from jail once and a month later was arrested again. "You will be freed," he was told, "if you will give up the Catholic faith." Blessed Richard absolutely refused. He was brought to a non-Catholic church by force. He upset the preacher's whole sermon by clanking his chains loudly. Furious, the officials put him in the stocks for eight hours, and many came to abuse and insult him.
More time in prison and torture sessions followed. The queen's men wanted him to give them the names of other Catholics, but Richard would not. At his trial, men were paid to lie about him, as one of them admitted. The men on the jury were so dishonest that they asked the judge whom he wanted them to condemn. After Blessed Richard was sentenced to death, his wife and baby were brought to court. "Do not imitate your husband," the poor woman was told. In disgust, she bravely snapped, "If you want more blood, you can take my life with my husband's. If you give more money to your witnesses, they will surely find something to say against me, too."
As Blessed Richard was being martyred, he cried out in terrible pain: "Holy God, what is this?" One of the officials mockingly answered: "An execution of her majesty, the queen." "Jesus, have mercy on me!" exclaimed the martyr. Then he was beheaded. The beautiful religious poems Blessed Richard wrote in prison are still in existence. In them, he begged his countrymen of Wales to be loyal to the Catholic faith. Blessed Richard died a martyr in 1584. He was proclaimed "blessed" by Paul VI in 1970.
In the example of Bl. Richard, we are reminded that our Faith is a treasure to be held with conviction and loved deeply.