Execution of the Day – 2009 (part 31)

We’re always on the look-out for weird and not-so wonderful execution methods and bingo, this week we have a new one.

Being boiled alive.

Let us take you back to 230AD. The poor unfortunate was Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians. She was said to be a noblewoman who met her untimely demise aptly down in Sicily.

We’re not wholly sure what she did, but one site dedicated to catholic saints reckons she admitted to her husband ‘there is an angel who watches me, and wards off from me any who would touch me’.

Of course, most would have dumped her or had her committed, but her husband was intrigued and wanted to catch a glimpse of the other person in her life. So he got baptised instead, naturally…

But apparently it worked and he immediately became privvy to visions of her protector. The couple then shared the secret with his brother, who was keen to get a piece of the ethereal action too.

All we do know is this embracing of God was not the done thing in 230AD, so the siblings and Cecilia earned themselves a death penalty each. The brothers were dispatched, but Cecilia’s sheer staying power earned her a saintdom.

Steamy session

Details of her penalty range from being ‘boiled alive’ to more accurately, being cooped up in the Romans baths, the furnaces raging for a day and night until she slow-steamed (or suffocated) to death.

When that didn’t work, they tried to decapitate her. Three times. Remarkably, each failed and the numb-nutter who carried out the sentence rightly fled, unable to face up to his ineptitude and really rubbish axecution attempts (sorry).

Loads of people came to see the partially severed Cecilia and collected her blood as she prayed to them. A doctor would have been handier, surely? She eventually died of her ridiculous injuries three days later.

Of course, the fact that the executions didn’t actually work on any occasion mean we’re unable to turn this story into an actual post thanks largely to conjecture together with the lack of confirmed dates and details. But if you’re interested, her feast day is 22 November.

30 July 1540 – Blessed Thomas Abel
The adage ‘publish and be damned’ was sorely tested in the case of Blessed Thomas Abel. As Catherine of Aragon’s chaplain and a Catholic, he was naturally anti the 16th-century moves to ditch the Catholic church, in favour of establishing the Protestant Church of England. But, by all accounts, he felt particularly vehement because this step change was aimed primarily at ousting his beloved queen.

31 July 1919 – Thomas Foster
Thomas Foster got it in the neck after he was done for murder. Sadly his victim may have lived had she not caved in. His wife Minnie had applied for a court order to separate on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour for Foster was forever getting drunk and abusive. Unfortunately for her, Minnie fatefully retracted it after he grovelled his way back into her life with promises of better behaviour.

1 August 1887 – Alfred Sowery
Petrified, that’s how Alfred Sowery apparently felt today in 1887. And wouldn’t you be if the noose was about to be set loose, bound for your neck? So we head to Lancashire for today’s execution, after the local lad was strung up for having shot his girlfriend.

2 August 1946 – Andrey Vlasov
Nazi-sympathiser Andrey Vlasov was executed by Russian decree following World War II. He was executed for being on the side of the Germans during a war that was to have a lasting effect on the world. A general who fought for the Red Army and a member of the Communist party in Russia, Vlasov (or Wlassow) was tasked with freeing Leningrad in 1942.

3 August 1795 – Lewis Jeremiah Avershaw
Just three minutes. That’s how long it took a jury to sentence today’s callous crim. Constable-killer Lewis Jeremiah Avershaw was strung up for murder and attempted murder today in 1795. Aggrieved that he’d been found guilty, the fiend is said to have called for justice after sentence was passed in a Croydon court of law. Well, he got it alright – the sentence for murder in the 18th century was certain death.

4 August 1908 – Thomas Siddle
Wife-killer Thomas Siddle was sent to the gallows today in 1908. He stood accused for murdering his other half, Gertrude Siddle and was hanged in Hull Prison, aged 29.

5 August 2008 – José Ernesto Medellín
Texas ensured justice caught up with a gang member found guilty of rape and murder. Convicted alongside a number of accomplices including Sean Derrick O’Brien and Peter Cantu for the attacks on two young friends, José Ernesto Medellín was finally made to pay for his crimes after a lengthy stay on death row…a stay which led to an international courtroom battle between USA and his homeland of Mexico.

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