This past Saturday, I went to see V for Vendetta with a friend. I think I’ve mentioned my love of comic book based movies. Batman, X-Men, Spiderman, Constantine, The Crow. Didn’t care for The Hulk, but it seems few did…
V for Vendetta was true to form. While I’ve never read the graphic novel, I loved the film. Hugo Weaving is amazing. He manages to portray a man who is barely sane. Maybe completely bonkers. Yet, we love him. There was no comical tilt of the head that so many masked characters use to convey that they’re listening. Somehow, you just knew the individual had his rapt attention. How’d he do that??
I had a very vague knowledge of the Gunpowder Plot. I knew some men tried to blow up Parliament. I never knew why or whom until V. I wanted to know more about Guy Fawkes, the very real man behind the comic book hero, after seeing the film. I understand Alan Moore’s story was about the real Guy Fawkes and that the film version held very little in common with his book version.
Guy Fawkes was a Catholic with a cause. A man of conviction. He and some other Catholics set off to blow up Parliament with the hopes of ending Catholic persecution in England. Guy was a former military man, and thus, set in charge of the gun powder. Like Jesus and his 12 Apostles, there were 13 men in all. One of course, would play the roll of Judas. One man sent an anonymous letter of warning to a cousin in Parliament warning him not to attend on the set day. The letter was thought to be a joke by everyone until it made its way to into the king’s hands. The king took it seriously and The Plot was uncovered. Guy, standing guard close by, was arrested. The other 12 fled. 4 were killed at their capture.
Reading over trial transcripts (available online) you get an understanding of his strength of character. Fawkes stood his ground, holding that he and only he was responsible for the plot and that he resolved to die if caught before even beginning. He signed a confession saying as much. When questioning by a council didn’t frighten him – harsh treatment was advised by order of King James himself. Yes, THE King James of the King James Bible. (that's a whole other story...)
After three days of torture on the rack, his conviction slipped. He gave up the names of his compatriots. He was hung, then drawn and quartered. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s a long process. A very painful way to go. The victim is hung until he loses consciousness, then revived. He is then strapped to a table where he is cut open from sternum to navel (drawn) then cut across the abdomen (quartered). His entrails would be pulled out slowly, while he’s still alive and aware. Lastly, his heart is ripped from his chest. The highest paid torturers could keep their victims alive long enough to actually show them their own hearts, removed from their chests.
Guy was a martyr for his faith. As a Catholic that means instant sainthood. So why has he never been canonized?
Reading the entry at New Advent – I discovered the accused men are held accountable by Catholics for trying to implicate the church, via the Jesuit priests they turned to for sacraments and for advice. I’ve read the transcripts. They didn’t try to implicate anyone. They stood firm for as long as they could under torture. Many people have misinterpreted the Bible and used it as reason to persecute. Why not accept that these boys misinterpreted the advice they were given?
Catholic persecution went on for centuries. The English hold no punches about their spending centuries burning an effigy and calling it Guy but meaning the Pope.
Canonize Guy Fawkes. Catholic martyr. He’s long over due.
Father in Heaven,
If it be Thy will to recognize Guy Fawkes, your servant, as a saint -
Please put it into the hearts of men to do so.