Robin Hood was a Catholic

Dear Chicoans,

When the natural beauty of our backyard Sherwood turns your thoughts to the story of Robin Hood, don’t think of a communist or a bandit – Robin Hood was the loyal subject of a lawful Christian monarch.

Think instead of this:

From a fine new blog titled “Longbows and Rosary Beads“:

Robin Hood was always portrayed in the old tales as being a pious Catholic, in spite of the fact that he was not above robbing and making fun of pompous clergymen. He is shown as risking capture in order to attend mass and recruiting Friar Tuck to be the outlaw band’s chaplain. He also refused to be disturbed in prayer, even when danger was imminent. During the Reformation, the cult of Robin Hood also came under fire, and recusant Catholics were branded as “Robin Hoods”. It was only the people’s refusal to let the old legends die that kept the stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood alive. 

There is a nursery rhyme that depicts Robin praying the Rosary to Our Lady who, in the early ballads, was the only woman in his life: 

“Robin Hood, Robin Hood, 
Is in the mickle wood!
Little John, Little John, 
He to town is gone.

Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
Telling his beads,
All in the greenwood
Among the green weeds.

Little John, Little John,
If he comes no more,
Robin Hood, Robin Hood,
We shall fret full soar!”

This is the little poem that gave me the idea for the name of the blog. Robin Hood fought with his longbow, the symbol of British pride and resistence, and prayed with his Rosary Beads, the symbol of the faith of the people and the refusal to let it die. Indeed, it was the sacrifice of the Catholic “Robin Hood” Recusants that kept the spark of Catholicism from being completely smothered by the turbulent winds of the times.  To this day, there are Catholic men and women from the Northern England who can trace back their lineage back in an unbroken line of faithful Catholics. It is their story that best exeplifies the spirit of Robin Hood, and it is to the Catholic Recusants that I have dedicated this blog. 

2 thoughts on “Robin Hood was a Catholic

  1. You might be interested in a novel called “The Gallows in the Greenwood” by Phyllis Ann Karr. Unlike so many Robin Hood related novels the actual piety of the times is not stripped out. This novel is a very different take on the story, but it is quite good and includes Catholic elements.


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