Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Saint of the day: John Southworth

I am inspired by the stories of the English Martyrs and today is the feast of one o them. St. John Southworth was born in 1592 at Lancashire, England. St. John studied and was ordained at the English College, Douai, France. He returned to England on 13 October 1619 to minister to covert Catholics and was arrested and condemned to death for his faith in Lancashire in 1627; he was held in various prisons, and at one point hearing the final confession of Saint Edmund Arrowsmith just before that martyr was led to the gallows. Through the intercession of Queen Henrietta Maria, he and fifteen other priests were turned over to the French ambassador on 11 April 1630 to be sent into exile in France.

Father John soon returned to England and began working with Saint Henry Morse. They worked tirelessly and fearlessly with the sick during a plague outbreak in 1636. He was arrested again for his faith in Westminster on 28 November 1637. He was held in various prisons until 16 July, 1640 when he was released due to the mitigating circumstances of his good works.

However he was arrested again on 2 December, 1640; he pled guilty to the crime of priesthood, and was condemned to death. After 14 years in prison, during which he worked with any prisoners who showed interest, he was executed by orders of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 28 June, 1654 at Tyburn, England; remains purchased by the Spanish ambassador to England, and sent to the English College at Douai, France; they were hidden to prevent destruction during the French Revolution, and were rediscovered in 1927. They and are now housed at Westminster Cathedral, London. Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1970.

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