O God, You specially strengthened Blessed Adrian with a wonderful spirit of holiness and courage. Hear the prayers of Your people and from his renowned example may we learn to be obedient to You rather than to human authority.
Blessed Adrian’s collect for Mass tells his story: he was a lay Dominican (i.e., a third order member), a husband and a martyr. Blessed Adrian was known for his piety, sanity, and ethical life. A cousin of the famed Anne Boleyn, Adrian (1476-1539) opposed Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine. Twice married (Anne Stoner, Adrian’s first wife died), he raised two daughters; history shows us that 12 years after the death of Stoner he married Anne Rede who bore three sons.
Adrian Fortescue served England as a Knight of the Bath (given the honor in 1503) and as a Knight of St. John in 1532 (seen in his Malta cape here) and Oxford’s Justice of the Peace. Refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy which supported Henry’s break with the Roman Church, at 62 years of age, Adrian was thrown in the Tower of London without formal charges and condemned by Parliament without trial and beheaded with Thomas Dinglay in 1539. The date of his death is disputed. Pope Leo XIII beatified Adrian on May 13, 1895.
On the liturgical calendar prayed by the Dominicans, today is the liturgical memorial of Blessed Adrian Fortescue; in some places you’ll see his feast day listed as July 9.