Tuesday, 17 November 2009


For a time, Fr David Lewis had lived with his relatives, the Morgans, at Llantarnam Abbey. However, with the danger precipitated by Titus Oates and his fiendish plot, the priest did not want to bring trouble to the family so he decided to live elsewhere. He moved into a cottage adjoining the blacksmith’s shop, opposite the Parish Church of St Michael and All Angels, Llantarnam.

On Sunday morning, 17th November 1678, Fr Lewis was preparing for Mass. On the orders of John Arnold and Charles Price, a party of six dragoons descended on the priest. They were led by the motley crew of Seys, Bedloe and James! Roger Seys of Penrhos, was a petty constable of Arnold’s parish of Llantilio Crossenny. William Bedloe was a nephew by marriage of Charles Price, another rabid anti-Catholic Justice of the Peace. William James, motivated by revenge and greed, received a reward of £220 for leading the group to the priest.

Of his arrest, the 63 year old Jesuit wrote;
“After my full thirty years poor missionary labours in South Wales, on Sunday morning, a little before day, being the 17th November 1678, I was taken by six armed men sent by Mr John Arnold and Mr Charles Price, until then my two very good friends and acquaintances. I was taken in a little house in the parish of St Michael-Llantarnam in the County of Monmouth. From thence by the soldiers, together with such church stuff of mine they there found, carried I was to the house of Mr Charles Price in Llanfoist”

The “church stuff” to which Fr Lewis referred consisted of one large silver gilt chalice and patten, one pair of small silver flower pots, one silver thurible and cover, one small silver plate for crewetts, one silver crewett, one silver bell for the altar, one pair of silver candlesticks, several pieces of silver originally from a crucifix and one picture of the Virgin Mary with silver gilt frame.

After months of incarceration and a rigged trial, Fr David Lewis S J, was martyred at Usk on 27th August 1679.

On Saturday, 17th November 2007, exactly 329 years after the arrest of St David Lewis, a plaque marking the site of his arrest was blessed and unveiled at the Old Post Office, Llantarnam.

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