Bl. Thomas Abel

(Also ABLE, or ABELL.)

Priest and martyr, born about 1497; died 30 July, 1540. He was chaplain to Queen Catharine, and defender of the validity of her marriage with Henry VIII, for which reason he was eventually put to death. He was a graduate of Oxford, and appears to have taught the queen modern languages and music. After a journey to Spain in her behalf, he received the parochial benefice of Bradwell in Sussex. He soon published (May, 1532?) in defence of the queen's marriage a work entitled: "Invicta Veritas, an answer to the determination of the most famous Universities, that by no manner of law it may be lawful for King Henry to be divorced from the Queen's grace, his lawful and very wife". For this he was thrown (1532) into Beauchamp Tower, and after a year's liberation again imprisoned, in December, 1533, on the charges of disseminating the prophecies of the Maid of Kent, encouraging the queen "obstinately to persist in her wilful opinion against the same divorce and separation", and maintaining her right to the title of queen. He was kept in close confinement until his execution at Tyburn, two days after the execution of Cromwell himself. There is extant a very pious Latin letter written by him to a fellow-martyr, and another to Cromwell, begging for some slight mitigation of his "close prison" -- i.e. "license to go to church and say Mass here within the Tower and for to lie in some house upon the Green". It is signed "by your daily bedeman, Thomas Abell, priest". His act of attainder states that he and three others "have most traitorously adhered themselves unto the bishop of Rome, being a common enemy unto your Majesty and this your Realm, refusing your Highness to be our and their Supreme Head of this your Realm of England". There is in Beauchamp Tower a rebus of the Martyr, probably executed by himself; the figure of a bell carved on the wall, the letter A in front and the word "Thomas" above. He is one of the fifty-four English martyrs beautified by Leo XIII 29 Dec., 1886.

POLLEN, Lives of the English Martyrs, I (London, 1904), 462-83.

THOMAS J. SHAHAN
Transcribed by Thomas M. Barrett
Dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory

The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia

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