Wednesday, 14 October 2009


In March 1679, Fr David Lewis was taken to Monmouth to be tried at the Spring assizes. The Judge was Sir Robert Atkins. In the official Calendar of Assizes the charge against him is "David Lewis pro Sacerd' Roman", that is, "David Lewis, for being a Roman priest". At his trial he was indicted under Statute 27 Elizabeth which made it a capital crime for a Catholic priest to be ordained abroad and to return to England. The Clerk of Assize read the charge against him thus: "Here thou standest indicted of High Treason by the name of David Lewis, for that thou being a natural subject of the King of England, hast passed beyond the seas and taken Orders from the Church and See of Rome, and hast returned again into England and continued upwards of forty days, contrary to the Statute 27, Eliz., which by the said Statute is High Treason." The Popish Plot was merely the opportunity for his arrest! There was no mention of involvement in any plot and Judge Atkins made it abundantly clear that the priest would die for the Mass. Atkins said, "It is enough that you have exercised the functions of a priest in copes and vestments used in your Church, and that you shall have read Mass and taken Confessions. He that uses to read Mass commits treason."

The jury did, as expected, find Fr Lewis guilty of treason. Judge Atkins put on his cap and sentenced the priest to death. Saint David Lewis, priest and martyr, died for the Mass.

Saint David Lewis himself had said, "No priest no Mass". We should be very grateful for our priests and keep them in our prayrs.

You have appointed your Son Jesus Christ eternal High Priest. Guide those he has chosen to be ministers of word and sacrament and help them to be faithful in fulfilling the ministry they have received. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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