The following excerpts are from a prayer by Blessed Henry Heath, or Father Paul of St. Magdalen, as he was known in religion. As an English Protestant during the persecution under James I, he struggled with the faith of his youth and was inspired to pray to the Blessed Virgin for enlightenment. He embraced the Catholic faith in 1622, and escaped England to France where he studied at the College of Douai, where he eventually entered the Franciscan Order. His heart became ever more set upon returning to England as a priest, ministering to the Catholics there and eventually dying a martyr. The prayer posted below, expresses both his great love for the Blessed Mother and his desire to honor by his ministry, suffering and sacrifice. In 1643 he returned secretly to England as a priest, but was apprehended on his arrival. When has was asked by the judge why he had come to England, he replied that he had come to save souls, and when interrogated further he unhesitatingly confessed to being a priest, a crime then under English law. He was convicted of treason an butchered at Tyburn in the same year.
Henry Heath was among the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.
Witness Marian Chivalry:
Blessed Mother of God and Virgin, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Trinity, Spouse of the Holy Ghost, special Patroness of the Catholic Church, Mother of orphans, Advocate of sinners, most faithful Consoler of the desolate and afflicted, Blessed Mother and Lady, to whom, after God, I owe, not only what I am, but ten thousand times more than I can conceive. Thou knowest what in early times was the intercourse between me and thee, my sleepless nights, my painful struggles, my sighs, my groans, alike of joy and sorrow: of joy, because I possessed thee wholly as my Mother of hope; of sorrow, because I was so unworthy to converse with such a queen. O Mary! who can be found capable of celebrating the excellence of thy merits, thy boundless benignity, and our daily faults; thy constant help, and our many temptations; thy most powerful aid, and the instability of our intentions; thy innumerable incentives to good, and our propensity to evil; thy invitations to virtue, our torpidity towards thee, and the ardent inextinguishable flames of thy charity towards us? O Blessed and ever most Blessed Mother I my sole consolation in this sorrowful pilgrimage on earth is that Jesus Christ is thy only Son, and that through thy gracious intercession He does not reject me. My highest perfection is to try and imitate thy singular humility and obedience and to make myself in all things the servant of God’s good pleasure and commands. All my studies and knowledge tend to this, that I may understand at least some small portion of those mysteries which were infinitely consummated in thee : how God, the Author and Beginning of all things, indivisible in essence, received from thee a Son coeval and coequal with Himself in majesty, distinct in person, but undivided in the participation of substance and glory; how the same Person, who from all eternity claimed by right the Divine nature, laying aside His royal sceptre and power became a weak infant, deriving flesh from thy flesh, fed by the nourishment that flowed from thy breasts, pressed in thine embrace and warmed in thy bosom, but far more happily and deeply cherished by thee in the tenderest affections of thy maternal love. . .
‘O Blessed Virgin, what tongue can describe thy innumerable gifts? Who can worthily celebrate thy praise? What did prophets foretell, apostles preach, fathers defend, and doctors declare, except simple faith in Him who was conceived by thee, born of thee, fed and nourished by thee? My only ambition in this life is to be subject to thee as thy most vile and obedient slave. Called by thee, I run quickly; dismissed, I retire; at thy command I remain. When for the punishment of my sins thou art pleased to withdraw thy accustomed consolation and to chastise me with temporal affliction, I wait patiently. Come what may in this fluctuating and finite world, dead or alive, submerged and shipwrecked or standing on dry ground, in prosperity or adversity, in sweetness or bitterness, in joy or sorrow, all is pleasing to me so long as I have access to thee, and by thee may follow Jesus, to whom, like the prodigal son, I desire to return, upheld by the hope that, notwithstanding my numerous past sins, He will through thy most benign intercession receive me as my most tender and indulgent Father and my most gentle and loving Redeemer. . .
‘O most Blessed Virgin, as from the first moment of my conversion, so now my last will and testament is, that I assign my soul to sweetest Jesus and to thee, that thou mayst claim full possession, authority, and dominion over it; and I leave and abandon my body to be tried and tested by all sorts of torments and sufferings, that it may thereby be exercised from day to day in humility and self-abnegation, and may advance quickly in the path of all the virtues which thy blessed steps have trod. This my last petition and the summit of all my wishes, is, that after such immense and innumerable favours thou wilt add yet one more, and obtain for me fortitude and constancy to press forward in the footsteps of thy faithful and victorious servants who have gone before me. Then, if it be granted me, thou wilt see with what willingness and alacrity I shall give my bare back to be placed upon burning coals, with what joy I shall drink the most bitter chalice, with what glad and eager gaze I shall look on that much desired knife even while it transfixes me, that knife which will deliver me from this wearisome and miserable prison, and introduce me to the longed-for presence of thy dearest Son Jesus, where in company with thee I shall dwell for ever. Amen. Quick, quick, quick?’
Bl Henry Heath’s Prayer to Our Lady is taken from Franciscan Martyrs in England. This book is out of print, as far as I know and is a real treasure–very inspiring.