In today's Magnificat was a very touching story.
"The surest way to expel the Mass was to destroy the priests. But though hunted like wild beasts, imprisoned and starved, tortured and executed, they could not, nevertheless, be so easily exterminated. By careful hiding and often by monetary bribes, they were able to say Mass now and then, in private rooms and decent outhouses, for the flocks that were previously notified of the meeting place and came to confess and receive the Bread of Life. Sometimes, even every daring spirits were found, like Dame Eleanor Birmingham**, the widow of Bartholomew Baal or Ball, who befriended priests on every occasion.
Living in Dublin, she managed to hear Mass on all feast days, and like Saint Francis of Assisi, 'thought it almost a crime' not to assist at it every day, if at all possible. That she might the more surely achieve this and satisfy her intense devotion, she succeeded in kneeing a priest constantly in her house. Suspicion having at last fallen upon her, soldiers were sent in the early morning, and found the priest at the altar offering up the Holy Sacrifice. The chalice, Paten, and other sacred things were at once seized by these sacrilegious intruders, and the priest, with this devoted lady, hurried away. Both were flung into prison but she, smoothing the way with money, was after some time set free. Leading the same life as before and devoted as ever to the Mass, she was again case into prison by her son, Walter... Thee she peacefully passed away in her dungeon."
- Father Augustine, O.F.M. CAP.
Father Augustine was a 20th century Capuchin priest and author, who also wrote Saint Francis and the Blessed Eucharist.
Magnifcat March 2011, Vol 12. No. 13.
**1584: Eleanor Birmingham, widow of Bartholomew Ball — denounced by her son, Walter Ball, Mayor of Dublin, died in prison; Irish Confessors and Martyrs