Priest and martyr (1572-1601)
Barkworth (alias LAMBERT), MARK, VENERABLE, priest and martyr, b. about 1572, in Lincolnshire; executed at Tyburn February 27, 1601; he was educated at Oxford, and converted to the Faith at Douai in 1594, by Father George, a Flemish Jesuit. In 1596 Barkworth went to Rome and thence to Valladolid. On his way to Spain he is said to have had a vision of St. Benedict, who told him he would die a martyr, in the Benedictine habit. Admitted to the English College, December 16, 1596, he was ordained priest in 1599, and set out for the English Mission together with Ven. Thomas Garnet. On his way he stayed at the Benedictine Abbey of Hyrache in Navarre, where his ardent wish to join the order was granted by his being made an Oblate with the privilege of making profession at the hour of death. After having escaped great peril at the hands of the heretics of La Rochelle, he was arrested on reaching England and thrown into Newgate, where he lay six months, and was then transferred to Bridewell. Here he wrote an appeal to Cecil, signed "George Barkworth". At his examinations he behaved with extraordinary fearlessness and frank gaiety. Having been condemned he was thrown into "Limbo", the horrible underground dungeon at Newgate, where he remained "very cheerful" till his death. Barkworth suffered at Tyburn with Ven. Roger Filcock, S.J., and Ven. Anne Lyne. It was the first Tuesday in Lent, a bitterly cold day. He sang, on the way to Tyburn, the Paschal Anthem: "Hmc dies quam fecit Dominus exultemus et laetemur in ea". On his arrival he kissed the robe of Mrs. Lyne, who was already dead, saying: "Ah, sister, thou hast got the start of us, but we will follow thee as quickly as we may"; and told the people: "I am come here to die, being a Catholic, a priest, and a religious man, belonging to the Order of St. Benedict; it was by this same order that England was converted". He was tall and burly of figure, gay and cheerful in disposition. He suffered in the Benedictine habit, under which he wore a hair-shirt. It was noticed that his knees were, like St. James', hardened by constant kneeling, and an apprentice in the crowd picking up one of his legs, after the quartering, called out to the ministers: "Which of you Gospellers can show such a knee?"
Barkworth's devotion to the Benedictine Order led to his suffering much from the hands of the superiors of the Valladolid College. These sufferings are probably much exaggerated, however, by the anti-Jesuit writers Watson, Barneby, and Bell.