Wednesday 1 October 2008

Our Logo

Our logo is based on the rebus of our spiritual patron, Bl. Thomas Abel (c.1497 to 1540), which he carved on the wall of the Beachamp Tower at the Tower of London while awaiting execution by King Henry VIII. Visitors to the Tower can see it today.

It is a pun on his name: A - bell. It also recalls the pilgrims' souvenirs from the shrine of St Thomas of Canterbury - see this example in the British Museum which says 'CAMPANA ThOME' on it. (St Thomas' shrine was destroyed by order of Henry VIII in 1538.)

Thomas Abel had been a student at Magdalen College, Oxford, and was Chaplain and Music teacher to Queen Catharine of Aragon. He supported her during the King's attempts to divorce her, and he wrote a pamphlet on the subject: 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.

Oxford University, in fact, had refused to support the King's case; only the Faculty of Theology had been prevailed upon to give a favourable response.

Bl. Thomas Abel suffered with two other priests, Bl. Edward Powell and Bl. Richard Featherstone (links to the Catholic Encyclopedia), together representing Queen Catharine's legal team, on 30th July 1540. They were dragged on hurdles from the Tower to Smithfield, each sharing a hurdle with a Protestant condemned for heresy - an interesting ecumenical gesture - and hanged, drawn and quartered. The Protestants, Barnes, Garret, and Jerome, were burned at the stake.

The three priests were beatified by Pope Leo XIII, on 29th December 1886. Presumably because Bl Edward Powell was born in Wales, in the Extraordinary Form they have a joint feast day on 30th July in the Dioceses of Wales.

The logo was drawn for us by the Catholic artist Daniel Mitsui.

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