Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/82

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Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries

Court of Street, where she would be cured of her sickness. On her first visit to the shrine, according to the account given of her, she did not receive her health. That, however, did not discourage her, and she professed perfect confidence that what had been promised would in good time be granted. Meanwhile her reputation became noised abroad. Either through the parish priest of Aldington, Richard Masters, or by some other means, the rumour reached the ears of the venerable Warham, archbishop of Canterbury. He "directed thither Dr. Bocking, with masters Hadleigh and Barnes, three monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, Father Lewis and his fellow (two Observants), his official of Canterbury and the parson of Aldington, with a commission to examine the matter and to inform him of the truth." Their report was favourable. They declared to the archbishop that "they found her sound therein." So that when next she went to our Lady at Court of Street, "she entered the chapel with the Ave Regina Cœlorum in prick-song, accompanied with these commissioners, many ladies, gentlewomen and gentlemen of the best degree and three thousand persons besides of the common sort of people."

During the mass, which was celebrated at the shrine, Elizabeth Barton fell into one of her usual trances and was restored to health. She afterwards declared that our Lady desired the shrine of Court of Street to be honoured more faithfully and supported with greater generosity, and that she herself should enter some convent. Acting on this declaration, archbishop Warham obtained her reception into the Benedictine convent of St. Sepulchre's, near Canterbury. There she subsequently became a nun and continued to preserve a universal reputation for holiness. From time to time, during the seven years of her religious life, she was to all appearance wrapt in ecstasy. [1]

Little is known of the life which Elizabeth Barton led in the convent. But in this period she spoke strongly and uncompromisingly against sin, and exhorted to penance

  1. The account given on the Parliament Roll in the act of attainder agrees with the main facts of the story as related above, which is taken from Lambard's account of Thwaites' pamphlet. The attainder, however, declares, as will be subsequently related, that the whole matter was a deception arranged by the two priests, Richard Masters and Dr. Edward Bocking.