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Thomas Abel

Thomas Abel (better Abell) (c. 1497-1540), an English priest who was martyred during the reign of Henry VIII. The place and date of his birth are unknown.

He was educated at Oxford and entered the service of Queen Catherine some time before 1528, when he was sent by her to the emperor Charles V on a mission relating to the proposed divorce. On his return he was presented by Catherine to the living of Bradwell, in Essex, and remained to the last a staunch supporter of the unfortunate queen in the case of her divorce.

In 1533, he published his Invicta Veritas (with the fictitious pressmark of Luneberge, to avoid suspicion), which contained an answer to the numerous tracts supporting Henry's ecclesiastical claims. After an imprisonment of more than six years, Abel was sentenced to death for denying the royal supremacy in the church, and was executed at Smithfield on the 30th of July 1540.

There is still to be seen on the wall of his prison in the Tower the symbol of a bell with an A upon it and the name Thomas above, which he carved during his confinement. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII as one of the group of English Martyrs in 1886.

Oral, manuscript, and published traditions of resistance to the Protestant supremacy in England fueled Catholic Recusancy for centuries and the renewal coincident with the toleration of the open practice of Catholicism in the 19th century.



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