Wednesday, 29 December 2010


This song was recorded more than forty years ago. It is a sad fact that nothing has changed except the names and the war zones. Work and pray for justice and peace in our world.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


I found this very interesting video over at Catholic with Attitude where there is always something interesting. Pop over to Catholic with Attitude and I am sure you will agree that the posts there are informative, stimulating and interesting. Oh yes, I hope you enjoy this video which I think is great!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Early in the 17th century, with the financial backing of the Somersets of Raglan Castle and the Morgans of Llantarnam, the Jesuit College of St Francis Xavier was established at a place called the Cwm, on the Monmouth/Hereford Border. The selfless and heroic priests there ministered to the Catholics in that area and for many years, despite the severe anti-Catholic Laws, went about their work unmolested. For the most part, the authorities were content to turn a blind eye to the practices of their Catholic neighbours, the “plant Mair” as they were sometimes called. There were, however, some who harboured such fierce hatred of Catholics that they would stop at nothing in their efforts to eradicate every last vestige of the Old Faith. One such was John Arnold of Llanvihangel Court. Arnold was a Justice of the Peace and Member of Parliament whose main ambition in life appears to be the rooting out and elimination of all things Catholic. In this ambition Arnold was wholeheartedly supported by John Scudamore of Kentchurch and Charles Price of Llanfoist.

John Arnold and a number of like minded Protestants presented to Parliament a detailed account of Catholic activities in Monmouth and Hereford. They claimed to be alarmed at the growing strength of popery in the region. Arnold and Scudamore appeared before the House of Commons to expound their already wide-ranging account of Catholic activities. Of course, the Cwm was mentioned but there was no suggestion of any political activity there. Then Titus Oates and his Popish Plot burst onto the scene!
Originally, Fr David Lewis was the only Jesuit at the Cwm who was mentioned in the Plot. Later, when Chepstow born William Bedloe was inspired by monetary gain to throw in his lot with the perjurer Oates, Fr Charles Pritchard was accused of being one of the murderers of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey. Things became very dangerous for the priests at the Cwm so Fr Lewis, who was the Superior, decided to evacuate the College. The priests hurriedly hid books, altar plate, vestments, and anything relating to Catholic service and practice. Then they dispersed, some to the homes of loyal friends but most to battle with the rough terrain and pitiless weather conditions.

In December 1678 the Lords ordered an investigation of the Jesuit College. The Bishop of Hereford, Herbert Croft, was appointed to head this investigation and he was enthusiastically assisted by John Arnold, John Scudamore and Charles Price. By this time, apart from a few servants, the College was deserted. The miscreants gleefully went about their work, removing books and papers from a room which had a hidden entrance. The Government ordered that all Catholic books were to be burnt and, should any be retained, these were to be catalogued. Many books disappeared but more than a hundred still survive in the library of Hereford Cathedral. These stolen books had been taken there by Bishop Croft to replenish the Cathedral’s own depleted library.

A collection of altar plate seized in the raid came into the hands of Charles Price. Despite orders to the contrary, he refused to hand over the ill-gotten loot. The Privy Council commanded that all title deeds to Jesuit property should be sent immediately to Whitehall. However, nothing was forthcoming and Bishop Croft was ordered to appoint someone to administer the Cwm in the interest of the Crown.

The lease on the premises did not expire until 1737 but tragically the Cwm was never again occupied by a Jesuit presence. Most of the original College was demolished and, in 1830, the present house was built. Some oh so appropriate lines of T S Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” come to mind; “From such ground springs that which forever renews the earth though it is forever denied.”

Sunday, 5 December 2010


The first reading at Mass today, the second Sunday of Advent, is Isaiah 11:1-10. Isaiah tells us that “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots:” In the Genealogy of Jesus Christ as related in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-28, we see that Jesus descended from Jesse’s son, King David, and therefore, from Jesse.

Since medieval times Jesse has been placed at the base of Christ’s Family Tree. From the eleventh century the Tree of Jesse has been portrayed in religious iconography. In the representation of the Tree, it is usual for Jesse to be portrayed recumbent with a tree rising from his body and the ancestors of Christ portrayed in its branches, with Christ at the summit.

St David Lewis was born in Abergavenny in 1616. Although his mother, Margaret Pritchard, was a devout Catholic, David’s Protestant father, Morgan Lewis, brought David up in the Protestant faith. As a Protestant, David would have been baptised and attended services at St Mary’s Priory Church in the town. This beautiful and ancient church still serves Abergavenny today. Led by its popular and dedicated vicar, St Mary’s is a vibrant parish. Its recently restored Tithe Barn is a delightful and informative place to visit but the Priory Church itself is chock full of interesting features and historic treasures. Perhaps its most famous is its Jesse!

The Abergavenny Jesse is a 15th century figure carved from a single piece of oak. This recumbent Jesse was the base of the Jesse Tree and the Virgin & Child were at the top. The tree was probably around 30 feet high and it is thought to have been a reredos. Originally, the Abergavenny Jesse Tree was vividly coloured and it is still possible to see traces of colour in the details. This magnificent work is one of the finest medieval sculptures in the world. It is our good fortune that, despite the wanton vandalism of Henry VIII in the 16th century and Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century, this beautiful piece of artwork survives.

It gladdens the heart to think that St David Lewis might have looked upon the same Jesse that we can contemplate today. If you live within visiting distance, make it part of your Advent preparations for the coming of Christ. Marvel at the work of this unknown artist then treat your soul to a few quite moments meditating on the words of Isaiah; “A shoot springs from the stock of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots:”

Saturday, 4 December 2010


I think it is a little early to be singing Christmas Carols but I am posting this one especially for Tom. Tom inquired about the Christmas Carols written by St Jean De Brébeuf and this is the only one that I know of. So here you are Tom. I hope you enjoy it.

“JESOUS AHATONHIA” (“THE HURON CAROL” OR “TWAS IN THE MOON OF WINTER TIME”) was written in the Huron language by Fr Jean De Brébeuf in 1643. It was set to the music of an old French tune and it is said to be the oldest Canadian Carol. The Carol has been widely recorded and is found in the Hymn Books of several Christian Churches in Canada. Jean De Brébeuf was a French Jesuit who worked among the Huron Indians in Canada. He was martyred by the Iroquois when they attacked the Huron village in March 1649. Fr Jean De Brébeuf was canonised in 1930.


Sunday, 28 November 2010


The generally accepted site of the grave of the last Welsh Catholic Martyr, St David Lewis, is just outside the door of the west porch of the Priory Church of St Mary, Usk. John Hobson Matthews arrived at a different conclusion. This presents another mystery – where is St David Lewis buried?

John Hobson Matthews, solicitor, archivist and historian, was born in 1858. In 1877, aged nineteen, he converted to Catholicism. He became a solicitor in 1889 and practised for many years in Cardiff. He was an accomplished linguist and, although he was born in Croydon, he was fluent in Welsh.

Matthews was archivist for the Cardiff Corporation and one of the original members of the Catholic Records Society. The Catholic Records Society holds valuable information relating to Catholics in south east Wales and much of this was gathered by Matthews. He died at Ealing on 30th January 1914. I have had a rummage through the Catholic Records available on the internet and was intrigued with what I found.

Matthews wrote: “Close to the north-west angle of the west porch is a plain and massive slab of grey stone. No inscription is now visible, and the stone is fractured across the middle. It bears faint traces of ornamental carving, and of the shaft of a long cross. This is traditionally regarded by the local Catholics as the grave of the Ven. David Lewis, S.J., alias Charles Baker, who was executed at Usk in 1679 for alleged complicity in the bogus Popish Plot.

In 1889 I was told that this grave was still cleaned and decorated every year, by an aged Catholic Irishwoman of Usk, on the 27th of August, the anniversary of the martyrdom.

In the year 1904 the tradition had grown faint, and I took steps to renew it before it should expire. The following are portions of letters written by the Rev. Isidore Heneka, priest in charge of the mission of Usk, and the late Rev. Thomas Burgess Abbot, for over 50 years rector of the Monmouth mission.”

The following letter, dated 24th August 1901, supports the accepted position of the martyr’s grave.

On 24 Aug. 1901, the Rev. Mr. Abbot wrote:
“Father Baker (or Lewis), S.J., martyred at Usk in August 1679 and buried in the church yard, where the present gravel walk passes from the street to the church door, and about 10 paces from the door of the church as old Mr. McDonnell of Usk pointed out to me where, as a boy, he had seen the " square stone " marking the grave of the Popish Recusant. He told us also that he was pointed out the part of the “island" on the other side of the Usk, as the place of his martyrdom.”

The following letter from Rev Heneka also supports this.
“USK, 18 Feb. 1904.
Dear Mr. Matthews,
I am afraid that we shall never be at a certainty as to Ven. Father Lewis grave. I have searched the whole churchyard to find a stone with an inscription, without result. We can only go by tradition. The old people of Usk, Catholic and Protestant alike, point out the grave at the left corner next the porch. The stone is broken, but without any sign of inscription, right or left.

However, in April of the following year, 1905, Rev Heneka wrote a somewhat startling letter which could cause us to reconsider. It convinced Mr Matthews!
“USK, 13 April 1905.
Dear Mr. Matthews,
Today I had removed the broken gravestone of the supposed grave of the Ven. David Lewis, S.J., near the west porch of Usk parish church. I found under it some broken pieces of a gravestone with the inscription "April 18 aged 62"; and a full-sized stone halfway under the priest’s, with the words "Mary Low of this town 1721. IHS." I also found in the same spot a small bone which evidently got there when they made some alterations in the church and reburied remains taken from there. Strange that local tradition has not kept up the grave!

Mr Matthews said: “It would appear from the evidence of Father Heneka’s letter of 1905, that the stone traditionally regarded as that of the Ven. David Lewis was removed to its present site some years later than 1721.”

Matthews also quotes Brother Foley who stated that the holy priest’s body was “interred in the porch of the church”. This, claims Mr Matthews, is the statement made by most writers as to Father David Lewis resting-place.

John Hobson Matthews concluded: “After studying the question carefully for years, my own belief is that the martyr lies buried in the west porch, and that his gravestone was ousted from its original site sometime early in the 19th century when the pavement of the porch was repaired.”

The original gravestone, the “plain and massive slab of grey stone”, of which Mr Matthews speaks was replaced after the canonisation of Saint David Lewis. This old stone now lies at the side of the Catholic Church of Ss Francis Xavier and David Lewis, in Usk. On 24th October 2010, in commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the canonisation of St David Lewis and the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, a new plaque beside the old stone was unveiled and blessed.

Despite the very interesting findings and conclusion of the respected Mr John Hobson Matthews, it is generally accepted that our Saint is buried just outside the west porch. The grave is fittingly marked by a well appointed stone, placed there about 1979. I too accept this commonly held opinion.

Inside or just outside the west porch, does it matter so very much? It is only a matter of a step or two across the path and it is therefore certainly in the right location. As T S Eliot wrote, “Wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his blood for the blood of Christ, there is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it though armies trample over it, though sightseers come with guide-books looking over it.........From such ground springs that which forever renews the earth though it is forever denied.”

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Is martyrdom a thing of the past? Unfortunately it is not! This beautiful, innocent little boy, named Adam, is a recent Christian martyr. For more information on the horrific story of this dear little boy, go to Richard's excellent blog, LINEN ON THE HEDGEROW, where I found it. You will be horrified and disturbed by Richard's post. It is right that you and I, who sit here all snug and comfortable taking our religion and all its gifts very much for granted, should be horrified and disturbed by it. We can and must pray for our persecuted Christian brethren but is there something else that we can do? Is anyone acting to help them? If you know of a group, government, or organisation who is trying to help, I would be pleased to hear about them and post the information for all to see.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


In 1678, the Popish Plot, also known as the Oates Plot, was spawned in the perverted mind of Titus Oates, who was encouraged and spurred on by his friend, Israel Tonge. It wasn’t long before the country was engulfed in the tide of anti-Catholic passion which it engendered.

The Superior of the Jesuit College of St Francis Xavier at the Cwm, Fr David Lewis (alias Charles Baker), had been living with relatives, the Morgans, at what is now Llantarnam Abbey. From here Fr Lewis ministered to the needs of the people, celebrating Mass in the Morgan’s chapel and administering the sacraments. Realising the danger of the Plot and fearing to put the family in jeopardy, the priest moved out of their home and into a cottage nearby. The cottage was adjoining the blacksmith’s forge opposite the Parish Church of Llanfihangel Llantarnam.

The Government offered a reward of £50 for the apprehension of any priest and to this John Arnold of Llanvihangel Crucorney added his own reward of £200. Arnold, a Justice of the Peace and Member of Parliament, was a fanatical priest hunter but he had always feigned friendship for Fr Lewis. Three hundred and thirty-two years ago today, 17th November 1678, Arnold’s true nature was revealed and Fr David Lewis S J took his first steps on the road to martyrdom.

It was a Sunday morning, about daybreak, and the Jesuit was preparing to celebrate Holy Mass. Six armed dragoons, sent by John Arnold, burst into the little cottage and arrested Fr Lewis. They confiscated all the altar furnishings and anything which they considered ‘popish’. With the prisoner, they set out for Monmouth, stopping first at the house of Charles Price at Llanfoist, where Price, John Arnold and Thomas Lewis, another J P, awaited their arrival.

Of his arrest Fr Lewis 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”

At about two o’clock in the afternoon Arnold and his clique led the priest away. Guarded by twelve armed men, Fr David Lewis was taken to Abergavenny and then on to Arnold’s house, Llanvihangel Court. Here they spent the night. Early the next morning Fr Lewis was taken, again under armed guard, to Monmouth Gaol where he was incarcerated.

The horror was just beginning!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


One of nine children of a Protestant Headmaster and his Catholic wife, David Henry Lewis was born in 1616 at Abergavenny. David’s father, Morgan Lewis, saw to it that David was brought up in the Protestant religion although his other children were brought up Catholics. The young David attended King Henry VIII Grammar School, where his father was Headmaster, and then went on to London to study Law. David went on a trip to Paris and, while there, he converted to Catholicism. In 1636 he returned to Abergavenny and lived with his parents for two years. Whether Morgan Lewis was a Protestant through conviction or expediency one cannot say but about that time, 1636, Morgan Lewis also converted to the Catholic Faith.

In 1638, Morgan and Margaret (Pritchard) Lewis died of fever. David decided to beco
me a priest and, after his parent’s death and with the financial assistance of Fr Charles Gwynne (alias Brown), he entered the English College in Rome. Fr Gwynne, Rector of the Jesuit College at the Cwm, had obtained from his uncle, Hugh Owen, funds for maintaining a Welsh Scholar at Rome. David Lewis was ordained priest in July 1642 and in April of 1645 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sant’ Andrea. Fr Lewis was sent to Wales in 1647 but was soon recalled to Rome to become Spiritual Director at the College there. However, in 1648 he returned to his homeland and the College of St Francis Xavier at the Cwm. For more than thirty years Fr David Lewis laboured for the people of Monmouthshire and the Welsh Marches. He served two terms as Rector of the College, commonly known as ‘The Cwm’.

Under the anti-Catholic laws of the time, being a Catholic was dangerous and being a Catholic priest was even more dangerous! The Welsh were, for the most part, tolerant of their Catholic neighbours, friends, and, in many cases, family members, who tenaciously clung to ‘the Old Faith’. The Catholics were commonly known by the lovely name of the ‘plant Mair’, that is ‘children of Mary’. However, there were those who, harbouring fierce hatred of Catholics, sought to eradicate them entirely. Consequently, the priests had to be very careful so as not to bring suffering on themselves or those who aided them. For this reason, Fr Lewis was in the habit of making dangerous journeys in the dead of night in order to care for his flock. The compassion and goodness of Fr David Lewis was not limited to Catholics only and his great kindness to all earned for him the name ‘Tad y Tlodion’, ‘Father of the Poor’.

For many generations the wealthy Morgans of Llantarnam were loyal Catholics. They were instrumental in the establishment of the Jesuit College at the Cwm and, as recusants, regularly paid heavy fines for themselves and others of their household who were fined for non-attendance at Protestant Services. They also maintained a Catholic Chapel in their home. Lady Frances Morgan was an aunt of Fr David Lewis and for a time he lived with the family at Llantarnam. From this base he brought the comfort of religion to the careworn Catholics of the area and regularly celebrated Holy Mass for them in the Morgan Chapel.

The Popish Plot was first brought to the attention of the King, Charles II, on 13th August 1678. The Popish Plot, also known as the Oates Plot, was the invention of a reprobate, the convicted perjurer Titus Oates. Charles did not believe a word of the so called ‘plot’ but certain politicians seized upon this opportunity to enforce the anti-Catholic Statutes and Laws which were still in force but not always acted upon. Considering the excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I, ill-advised Papal involvement with planned attacks upon England, and the failed Catholic plots of recent memory, it was not difficult for Oates and his partners in crime to convince the populace that King, country and the Protestant religion were endangered. It was easy to convince them that Catholics, led by the Jesuits, were plotting to kill the Protestant King and replace him with his Catholic brother, James. The Government offered a reward of £50 for the apprehension of any Catholic priest. By autumn 1668 the terror had begun. It spread throughout England and its foul fingers soon clutched at the ‘plant Mair’ in Wales.

Perceiving the danger in which he placed the Morgans, Fr Lewis moved out of their home to a cottage nearby. It was at this cottage at Llantarnam that Fr Lewis was arrested on 17th November 1678. It was a Sunday morning and the priest had been preparing to say Mass. He was arrested by armed dragoons, sent by the uncompromising and fanatical hater of Catholics and persecutor of priests, John Arnold of Llanvihangel Crucorney. Arnold, a Member of Parliament and Justice of the Peace, offered his own reward of £200 for the capture of any priest. Arnold had always shown friendship to Fr Lewis and right up to his imprisonment, the Jesuit believed Arnold to be a friend. Sadly, bigotry is without honour.

Fr David Lewis was imprisoned at Monmouth until January 1679. He was then moved to the new County Gaol at Usk. After a fixed trial at Monmouth Assizes, David Lewis was found guilty of being a Catholic priest and of saying Mass. He was condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered. This was the usual sentence meted out to traitors and to be a Catholic priest was considered High Treason. In the spring, Fr Lewis, along with several other priests, was ordered to London to be examined by the despicable Oates and his equally despicable co-conspirators. No evidence could be found to implicate Fr Lewis in the imaginary plot so he was sent back to Usk to await his execution.

On 27th August 1679, Fr David Lewis was taken from Usk Gaol, tied to a hurdle, head towards the ground, and dragged along the river path to the place of execution. Fr Lewis was hanged but, mercifully, allowed to die before he was cut down and his body mutilated and decapitated. He was not quartered. It is an indication of the love the people had for the martyred priest that the authorities permitted his remains to be reverently carried to the churchyard of the Priory Church of St Mary. Here he was interred near the door of the west porch of the church.

The Popish Plot resulted in the deaths of many innocent Catholics, both priests and lay people. Some were executed, some died in prison and some died on the run, hunted like animals in the bitter winter weather. The eighth and final Jesuit to be executed as a direct consequence of the warped and evil mind of Titus Oates, Fr David Lewis S J, was beatified in 1929. On 25th October 1970 he was canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. An annual pilgrimage to the grave of St David Lewis, the Last Welsh Martyr, takes place on the Sunday nearest to 27th August.

LINKS TO THIS POST: The Perjurer Titus Oates and Eight Jesuits (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3); (Part 4); (Part 5); (Part 6); (Part 7); (Part 8)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


The month of November is dedicated to the Holy Souls. It is a time to remember our departed loved ones and to pray for them. A time, too, to pray for all who have gone before us be they know to us or not. In the Communion of Saints, we are all one.

This beautiful prayer in song is dedicated to all the Holy Souls and I thank Helen at Catholicseeking where I spotted this lovely video. Helen's blog is well worth visiting so click on the link and see for yourself.

Monday, 1 November 2010


Philip Evans was born at Monmouthshire in 1645. He was the son of Winifred Morgan of Llanvihangel Crucorney and William Morgan of Llangattock Vibon Avel. Philip was educated at St Omer in Flanders and, on the 7th September 1665, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Watten. Ordained at Liege in 1675, Fr Philip Evans S J was sent on the English Mission to work among the Catholics of his native Wales. He was a diligent and tireless worker, preaching in both Welsh and English, administering the Sacraments and celebrating Mass.

It is known that the young Jesuit, along with Fr David Lewis, regularly stayed at the home of Thomas Gunter of Cross Street in Abergavenny. Here he celebrated Mass and tended to the needs of Catholics of the area. He also stayed at the homes of Charles Prodger of Wernddu and Christopher Turberville of Sker House and cared for Catholics in these locations.

As the sinister tendrils of the Oates Plot snaked across the country in the autumn and winter of 1678, friends advised Fr Evans to flee and to go into hiding. This he refused to do, preferring to continue with his work among the oppressed and abused Catholics. The Government offered a £50 reward for the apprehension of any priest or Jesuit. To this £50 reward a local magistrate and bitter anti-Catholic, John Arnold of Llanvihangel Court, added an extra incentive of £200. To be sure, there was no shortage of willing informers so time was running out for the courageous priest.

The arrest of Fr Philip Evans at Sker House of 4th December 1678 was brought about by the quisling, Edward Turberville. Edward Turberville was a lapsed Catholic and the younger brother of Christopher Turberville. Philip Evans was imprisoned in Cardiff Castle and spent several weeks in solitary confinement. Eventually he and Fr John Lloyd, a secular priest who had been arrested in November, shared a cell. In May 1679, Fr Evans was brought to trial at Cardiff Assizes. He was found guilty of being a Catholic priest and of saying Mass. This was, under the Penal Laws of the time, considered High Treason so Philip Evans was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, the usual sentence for treason.

The sentence was not immediately carried out and, strangely, Fr Evans was even allowed out of prison for recreation! On 21st July, the gaoler received orders that the priest was to be executed the next day. Fr Evans was playing tennis so the Gaoler went to return him to his cell and to tell him the sad news. Fr Evans was unperturbed and asked, “What haste is there? Let me first play out my game.”

When Philip was returned to prison, his legs were bound in chains. His spirit was unquenchable and, a skilled harpist, he took up his harp and played. The next morning when the authorities came to take him to the place of execution, they were astounded to find Fr Evans joyfully playing the harp. The chains on the priest’s legs were so tight that it took over an hour to remove them. Their removal caused a great deal of pain to the prisoner. Finally he and Fr Lloyd, who was to die that day too, were taken to the place of execution, Gallows Field, outside Cardiff. When he mounted the gallows Fr Evans said, “This is the best pulpit a man can have to preach in, therefore, I cannot forbear to tell you again that I die for God and religion’s sake.” He addressed the crowd in English and Welsh, then turning to Fr Lloyd he said, “Adieu, Mr Lloyd! Though only for a little time, for we shall soon meet again”.

Thirty-four year old Fr Philip Evans, joyful to the last, was martyred at Gallows Field, Cardiff (the northern end of Richmond Road) on 22nd July 1679. He was the seventh Jesuit to be executed due to the evil scheming of Titus Oates and his lying henchmen. On 15th December 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Philip Evans. On 25th October 1970 this Welsh martyr was canonised by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Monday, 25 October 2010


On 25th October 1970, 10,000 English and Welsh pilgrims converged on Rome. They had come for the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. During the dark days of the 16th and 17th centuries, almost 400 Catholic men and women gave their lives for their faith. On that wonderful day forty years ago, Pope Paul VI canonised forty of those courageous and faithful Catholics. The Last Welsh Martyr, Fr David Lewis S J, was among the forty.

For that joyful occasion, Sister Canisius, a Sister of St Joseph of Annecy at Llantarnam Abbey, composed a hymn in honour of St David Lewis. St David Lewis had lived for awhile at Llantarnam Abbey and from this base he ministered to the persecuted Catholics in the area. Llantarnam Abbey is near the site of the arrest of St David Lewis.
Here are the words of the hymn, sung to the tune of Hyfrydol. (You can even sing along with the video!)


Holy Martyr, David Lewis,
Monmouth County's glorious Saint.
Father of the Poor they named you,
When you lived and toiled in Gwent.
Priestly work was undertaken,
Danger-fraught from dawn till dusk.
Gladly still you served your people,
Till you died for them at Usk.

From your capture at Llantarnam,
Through your time in Monmouth Gaol,
Threats and tortures could not shake you,
For your faith would never fail.
Bravely then you faced the gallows,
Crudely fashioned for your death,
Further torment someone spared you,
Till you drew your latest breath.

Great and glorious David Lewis,
Staunch and steadfast in the strife,
Bless your people here in Monmouth,
Those for whom you gave your life.
Help us to be strong, courageous,
Loyal to our loving God,
To Him then will glory flourish,
In the places you have trod.

To mark the fortieth Anniversary of the canonisation of St David Lewis and the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, a very special ceremony took place yesterday 24th October 2010, at Usk, near the spot where Fr Lewis was martyred in 1679. After 10:00 a m Mass at the Church of St Francis Xavier and St David Lewis, Sr Celsus SSJ of Llantarnam Abbey unveiled a plaque which was then blessed by Fr Richard Reardon, the Parish Priest. The plaque, which was erected by the group Friends of St David Lewis, is at the side of the church on Porth-y-Carne Street and it marks the original stone which lay on the grave of the martyr. After the canonisation of Fr David Lewis, this old and broken stone was removed and a new one placed on his grave in the churchyard of St Mary’s Priory Church. The old stone was reassembled by the side of the Catholic Church where it remains to this day.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


This year, the month of October is special for Sisters of St Joseph around the world. They are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the birth of their founder, Jean Pierre Médaille. Jean Pierre Médaille was born in Carcassonne in the south-west of France. According to the parish registers, Jean Pierre was born on 6th October 1610, to Phelippe and Jean Médaille. Jean Pierre was the eldest of three brothers. Jean Pierre was not quite sixteen when, on 15th September 1626, he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Toulouse. While studying humanities and philosophy here in 1629, Jean Pierre became acquainted with a fellow student, Fr Francis Regis, who had been sent to the College in 1628. Fr Regis is better known to us today as the great Jesuit saint, Saint John Francis Regis. In 1637, at the age of 27, Jean Pierre was ordained priest. He was assigned to the Jesuit College in Aurillac as assistant to the rector.

In 1642, Fr Médaille returned to Toulouse for his final formal period of formation. A colleague at that time was Fr Noël Chabanel. At the end of this year of formation, Fr Chabanel was sent on mission to Canada where he was martyred in 1649. The youngest of the Canadian Martyrs, Fr Noël Chabanel was canonised in 1930.

About 1646 Fr Médaille formed an association of six women which was called the ‘Little Design’. This group of women, filled with love of God and neighbour, was dedicated to working for the disadvantaged and neglected. The group officially became known as the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in 1650. On 15th October of that year the Bishop of LePuy gave them canonical status.

The French Revolution dealt a blow to the rapidly growing congregation. The sisters were dispersed, some were imprisoned and some even executed. However, in 1808 Mother St John Fontbonne, who had narrowly escaped execution, began the re-formation of the Sisters of St Joseph. The sisters became know by the Diocese in which they reformed and in 1833 the groups in Annecy Diocese joined with the Sisters from Pignerol, Italy. They became known as the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy. The Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy came to Wiltshire, England in 1864. From there they spread throughout the country.

In 1946 the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy moved to Llantarnam Abbey, Cwmbran. Llantarnam Abbey was the site of a Cistercian Abbey which was suppressed during the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII and his lackey, Thomas Cromwell. It eventually came into the ownership of the wealthy Morgan Family. Generations of the Morgans were Catholic and, despite the severe Penal Laws against Catholics, they maintained a chapel in their home where Catholics of the area could attend Mass. The Morgans were instrumental in establishing the Jesuit College of St Francis Xavier at the Cwm, Hereford. One of the Superiors of the College was Fr David Lewis.

Fr Lewis was born in Abergavenny in 1616. A Protestant, he converted to Catholicism and, in 1642, he was ordained priest. Following his uncle, John Pritchard, he joined the Jesuits in Rome and was sent on the English Mission in 1647. Except for a brief period in Rome, Fr David Lewis spent the remainder of his life ministering to the persecuted Catholics of Monmouthshire and surrounding area.

Lady Frances Morgan was an aunt of Fr David Lewis. For a time Fr Lewis lived at Llantarnam with his relatives and regularly celebrated Mass in the chapel there. From this base he administered the Sacraments and tended to the needs of the Catholics. During the alarm caused by the false Oates Plot, Fr Lewis wished to protect his relatives from danger so he moved to a cottage opposite.

One Sunday morning, 17th November 1678, Fr Lewis was preparing to celebrate Holy Mass. A group of armed dragoons arrived and arrested the priest. After months in prison, the Jesuit was tried and convicted of being a Catholic priest and celebrating Mass. This was deemed High Treason so Fr Lewis was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, the usual sentence for High Treason. On 27th August 1679, Fr David Lewis S J was martyred at Usk. His remains were interred in the churchyard of the priory Church at Usk. On 25th October 1970, David Lewis was canonised as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

The Sisters at Llantarnam Abbey have continued to honour his memory and a portrait of the Saint who once lived there hangs in the hallway. Several years ago one of the Sisters from the Abbey founded a group, Friends of Saint David Lewis, which aims to spread devotion to St David Lewis. This Sister was also the driving force behind the installation of a plaque at the Old Post Office, Llantarnam, Cwmbran. The plaque marks the site of the arrest of St David Lewis.

Fr Jean Pierre Médaille died in the College of Billom on 30th December 1669. He was 59 years old. Fr Médaille could never have imagined the far reaching consequences of his work with that little band of women. The ripples have spread out to embrace the world and the good work started by Fr Medaille continues today through the dedicated and outstanding Sisters of St Joseph.

Friday, 15 October 2010


To continue our posts on the eight Jesuits who fell victim to the false Oates/Popish Plot, we come to Blessed William Harcourt S J.

William Barrow was born in Lancashire in 1609. He studied at St Omer and entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1632 at Watten. In 1644 Fr William Barrow S J returned to England to work in the London district. Using the aliases of Waring and Harcourt, he spent thirty-five years labouring in dangerous conditions.

In the late summer of 1678 Titus Oates set off a frenzy of fear, suspicion and hatred that resulted in the deaths of many innocent Catholics. Oates fabricated a story, remembered in history as the Oates Plot or the Popish Plot, in which Catholics, led by the Jesuits, were planning to restore the country to Catholicism by murdering the King and bringing down the Protestant Establishment. As the fury grew, Oates found others willing to join him in his heinous deception, notably William Bedloe and Stephen Dugdale. Of course, money was also a great incentive as the Government offered a reward for the capture of any priest. As expected, this brought in many a rogue who was willing to perjure himself.

Through all this, Fr Harcourt urged his fellow Jesuits to flee abroad. However, he remained in London and did his utmost to care for his imprisoned brethren. The priest changed his residence daily but he was betrayed by a servant at one of the houses and, on 7th May 1679, he was arrested. He was thrown into Newgate Prison, joining fellow Jesuits Thomas Whitbread, John Fenwick, John Gavan and Anthony Turner. With the others, Fr Harcourt came to trial on 13th June.

Chief Justice Scroggs presided at the trial and the abhorrent trio of Oates, Bedloe and Dugdale were the chief witnesses against the priest. It was a surprise to no one that the Jesuit was found guilty and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered, the usual sentence for High Treason. The gruesome execution was carried out at Tyburn on 20th June 1679. His martyred remains were claimed by friends who interred them in the Churchyard of St Giles in the Fields.

Although his real name was William Barrow a Papal Decree of 4th December 1886 introduced his cause for canonisation under the name of William Harcourt. It was under the name of William Harcourt that he was beatified in 1929.

(PART 2) (PART 3) (PART 4) (PART 5) (PART 6)

Saturday, 9 October 2010


The last Welsh Martyr, St David Lewis, comes from an old and respected Abergavenny family and there are many prominent, even famous, people in his family tree. One of them is Dr David Lewis.

Dr David Lewis was born in Abergavenny around 1520. His father was Lewis ap John (Wallis), Vicar of Abergavenny and Llandeilo Bertholau. Following the Welsh custom, David took his father’s Christian name as his surname. He was educated at Oxford and went on to a very distinguished career. Among his achievements, Dr David Lewis was a lawyer, close advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, a Member of Parliament for Monmouthshire, and a Judge of the High Court of Admiralty. He was one of the founding members of Jesus College, Oxford and, on 27th June 1571, Lewis became its first Principal. It is probably in this capacity that Dr David Lewis is best remembered.

Dr David Lewis never married. He died in London on 27th April 1584. His remains were brought back to his hometown, Abergavenny, to be interred in St Mary’s Priory Church. He is buried beneath a tomb which he himself had commissioned. His tomb, showing its age now, can be seen in that part of the church which is known as the Lewis Chapel.

How is David Lewis, first Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, related to David Lewis, last Welsh Martyr? Saint David Lewis, through his mother, Margaret Pritchard, is the great-great nephew of Dr David Lewis. The Saint’s mother was MARGARET PRITCHARD, daughter of MARGARET BAKER, who was daughter of MAUD LEWIS, sister of DR DAVID LEWIS and the daughter of LEWIS WALLIS. That also makes St David Lewis the great-great grandson of the Vicar of Abergavenny and Llandeilo Bertholau, Lewis ap John, known as Wallis.

(1)Lewis Wallis m Lucy

Dr David Lewis (2) Maud Lewis m William Baker

(3) Margaret Baker
m Henry Pritchard

(4) Margaret Pritchard
m Morgan Lewis

(5) St David Lewis

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. On this day in 1571, the great naval Battle of Lepanto was fought between an alliance of Christian Countries and the Ottoman Empire. Our Lady’s intercession had been invoked and a Rosary Procession had taken place that day in Rome. In thanksgiving to the Virgin Mary, Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory. In acknowledgement that the victory was the fruit of the Rosary, Pope Gregory XIII, in 1573, changed the name to the Feast of the Holy Rosary. The Feast was kept on the first Sunday of October but, in 1913, Pope Pius X changed the date of the celebration to 7th October. Another change came in 1969 when Pope Paul VI changed the name to Our Lady of the Rosary.

Although there have been changes to the name and date of the Feast of the Holy Rosary, one thing has remained constant. That is the sincere devotion to Mary and the Holy Rosary. Through the centuries, Catholics have turned to Mary in times of joy and times of sorrow. In the Mysteries of the Rosary, and accompanied by Mary, they have walked with Jesus from Bethlehem to Calvary and beyond.

Even during the life of King Henry VIII, those who clung to the Old Faith also clung to Mary. Ten years after the bloody martyrdoms began, Henry’s famous flagship, ‘Mary Rose’, went down off the Isle of Wight in 1545. In the early 1980s ‘Mary Rose’ was raised and many well preserved items were recovered. Among the recovered items was a wooden Rosary! Some long ago Tudor sailor’s love of Mary and the Rosary was stronger than all the King’s wrath.

In Penal times, both in England and its overseas colonies, the Rosary helped keep the faith alive. With no priest available to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments, Catholics would gather in secret to recite the Rosary. In Penal Days in Ireland, the Penal Rosary, a string of ten beads designed to be used discretely up a sleeve or in a pocket, was widely used. Not many original Penal Rosaries survive, but modern versions are readily available.

The martyrs too were devoted to Mary and the Rosary. St Henry Walpole, St Luke Kirby, and St Thomas Garnet, to name but a few, mounted the gallows steps with the ‘Hail Mary’ on their lips. Some sources say that St John Boste was saying the Angelus as he mounted the gallows while other sources state that he was praying the Rosary. Angelus or Rosary, John Boste sought the assistance of the Mother of God!

Shortly before his execution, twenty-five year old St Alexander Briant wrote to the English Jesuits; “The same day that I was first tormented on the rack, before I came to the place, giving my mind to prayer, and commending myself and all mine to Our Lord, I was replenished and filled up with a kind of supernatural sweetness of spirit; and even while I was calling upon the name of Jesus and upon the Blessed Virgin Mary (for I was saying the Rosary), my mind was cheerfully disposed, well comforted, and readily prepared and bent to suffer and endure those torments which even then I most certainly looked for."

St John Ogilvie was martyred at Glasgow Cross on 10th March 1615. He had secreted on his person his treasured Rosary beads and, after he was pushed off the gallows steps, he triumphantly flung his beads into the crowd. It was said that the beads were caught by one of his enemies who eventually became a Catholic.

The Blessed Virgin Mary herself has asked us to pray the Rosary daily. On this beautiful Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, let us be diligent in responding to her plea.

Monday, 4 October 2010


Today is the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. To celebrate this important Feast Day, I am posting about a worthy son of St Francis, the courageous Martyr, St John Wall. The photo is of the beautiful plaque which is in the Catholic Church at Harvington Hall. It depicts St John Wall in the guise of a gentleman of the period. At that time, priests worked covertly so it was not a good idea to advertise the fact that you were a priest. John’s Franciscan identity is evoked by the animals and birds which surround him. Of all the portrayals I have seen of St John Wall, I think this is my favourite. (Click on the picture to enlarge it for a better view.)

John Wall was born in Lancashire in 1620 into a pious Catholic family. He was baptised by Edmund Arrowsmith, who would suffer martyrdom in 1628. John was still quite young when his parents sent him to the English College at Douai. In those days of Penal Laws and harsh persecution of Catholics, there was always the risk of Government spies infiltrating the Colleges. For this reason, it became the practice for students to assume an alias in the slim hope of affording a little protection to themselves and to their families at home. At Douai, John adopted the alias of John Marsh.

On 5th November 1641, John enrolled at the English College in Rome where he continued to use the alias of John Marsh. At the English College he met the Welshman, David Lewis, and the two became firm friends. John, it is thought, was one of the students present in the Lateran Basilica on St Stephen’s Day, 26th December, 1642, when the recently ordained Fr David Lewis preached a short homily before Pope Urban VIII. John Wall was ordained on 3rd December 1645. He returned to England in 1648 but in 1651 he was back in Douai where he joined the Franciscan Friars Minor. He was professed the following year and took the name of Joachim of St Anne.

In 1656, Fr Joachim of St Anne, O F M, was sent upon the perilous English Mission. He spent the rest of his life diligently labouring in Worcestershire and neighbouring counties. In England, John used the aliases of Francis Johnson, Francis Webb and Francis Dormore. Harvington Hall, near Kidderminster, Worcestershire, was his base for about 12 years and during this period he was known as Francis Webb.

In late summer of 1678, the fictitious Oates/Popish Plot spewed across the land. Priests were ruthlessly hunted down. With the Government incentive of a reward of £50 for the apprehension of any priest, there was no shortage of informers! John Wall, however, was apprehended by an unfortunate accident. In December 1678, John was seized at Rushock Court near Bromsgrove when the Sheriff’s Deputy was searching for a debtor. John refused to take the Oath of Allegiance and was immediately imprisoned in Worcester Gaol. From prison he wrote; “Imprisonment, in these times especially, when none can send to their friends, nor friends come to them, is the best means to teach us how to put our confidence in God alone in all things ....”

On 25th April 1679, John Wall came before Judge Atkins for trial. He was indicted for high treason for being a priest and remaining in the country. Predictably, the Franciscan was found guilty and sentenced to death. When the verdict was delivered, John replied “Thanks be to God; God save the King; and I beseech God to bless your lordship, and all this honourable bench.” He was returned to prison to await his execution.

At the beginning of May 1679, John was taken to London to be examined by the plotters and perjurers, Titus Oates, William Bedloe, Stephen Dugdale and Myles Prance. Here again he met with his old friend, the Welsh Jesuit, Fr David Lewis. Fr Lewis, 80 year old Fr John Kemble and Fr Roger Hanslip had also been summoned to London and all four were lodged together in Newgate Prison. The four were detained in Newgate for about a month and each examined by Oates and his co-plotters in an attempt to implicate them in the non-existent Popish Plot. No evidence could be found against the priests, they could not be enticed or coerced into lying or apostatising to save their lives so, early in June, they were all sent back to their respective prisons to await their grim fate.

Fr Wall’s time came on 22nd August 1679. The Sheriff offered John the opportunity of dying the following day so that he would not have to endure the humiliation of dying with two common criminals! John gratefully declined, telling him that if it was good enough for Jesus, then it was good enough for him. Thus, John Wall, O F M, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Red Hill, Worcester. The Catholics of the town boldly accompanied his remains to St Oswald’s Churchyard where he was buried.

A fellow Friar, William Leveson, visited Fr Wall during his imprisonment. The English Franciscans at Douai are in possession of a letter written by Fr Leveson. In this letter, dated 25th August 1679, Fr Leveson wrote: “I found, contrary in both his and my expectation, the favour of being with him alone; and the day before his execution, I enjoyed that privilege for the space of four or five hours together; during which time I heard his confession, and communicated him to his great joy and satisfaction. I ventured likewise, through his desire, to be present at his execution, and placed myself boldly next to the Under-Sheriff, near the gallows, where I had the opportunity of giving him the last absolution, just as he was turned off the ladder.”

One week later, on 27th August, Fr John Wall’s classmate and good friend, Fr David Lewis, suffered martyrdom at Usk. On 15th December 1929, the Franciscan and the Jesuit were beatified by Pope Pius XI. Forty-one years later, on 25th October 1970, Pope Paul VI canonised the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Fr David Lewis S J and Fr John Wall O F M were among the Forty.

On the beautiful feast of St Francis of Assisi, 4th October 2009, I timidly ventured into an unknown country. Blogland! So, today is my First Anniversary as a blogger. How has it been? Well, I am still finding my way around this vast cyber territory but I am no longer timid and I think I have learned a lot. I know that out there in Blogland there are so many, many great people and, to my own wonder and surprise, quite a few of them I regard as dear friends. A year ago I was of the opinion that calling someone you hadn’t actually met a “friend” was a seriously foolish notion. How wrong I was! Here we are, my blog and I, a whole year older and I am so pleased to call you friends. For me, as you know, this has been a year of more “downs” than “ups” and that is where you bloggers have shown real friendship. For that I thank you all. As I begin my second year of blogging to promote our wonderful Welsh Jesuit Martyr, St David Lewis, I look forward to your visits and comments and to visiting all of you. While cherishing the old friends, I welcome the new. Thank you, my friends, and may God bless you all.

Thursday, 30 September 2010


I had not planned to post today. Today I was just going to take it easy and look in on some of my favourite blogs. However, what I found at BATTLEMENTS OF RUBIES has changed my mind. Clare has done a wonderful post and I think you all should take a look at it here. Thanks, Clare, and keep up the good work.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Devotion to St Michael the Archangel spread from Brittany to Wales in the 8th century. Churches dedicated to St Michael abound. Interestingly, many of these churches are associated with hills or mountains. One such place is Ysgyrid Fawr (Great Skirrid) in the Black Mountains of Wales. Ysgyrid Fawr lies on the outskirts of Abergavenny, the birthplace of St David Lewis. Ysgyrid Fawr is also known as ‘The Skirrid’, ‘The Holy Mountain’ or ‘St Michael’s Mount’.

At its highest point, St Michael’s Mount rises to 1,595 feet. It is here that one finds vestiges of a mediaeval Catholic Chapel dedicated to St Michael. Centuries ago, Catholics of the area struggled up the rough path on Good Friday and on 29th September, the feast of St Michael. There is not much left of the ancient chapel now but the sharp eyed will discern hints of its presence.

Even during Penal Times, Catholics were known to attend Mass and other services amid the ruins of St Michael’s Chapel. St David Lewis led Catholics there for the annual Michaelmas Pilgrimage. At that time, the altar was still intact. All of this must have been a very bitter pill for John Arnold to swallow. From his home, Llanvihangel Court, this rabid anti-Catholic and priest hunter could see the Catholics at their devotions atop the Holy Mountain. In 1680, in his Examinations as to Popery in Monmouthshire, Arnold stated that: “He hath seen a hundred papists meet on the top of an high Hill, called St Michael’s Mount, here is frequent meetings eight or ten times in the year, as he is informed. Mass is said, and sometimes Sermons are preached there. Mr John Scudamore of Kentchurch also deposed that:- He saw very great numbers of people at their Devotion on top of a high hill in Monmouthshire called St Michael’s Mount, where there is a ruinous Chappel and a stone with crosses on it, which he took to be an Altar and that he hath seen people with Beads in their hands kneeling towards the said stone, both within and without the Chappel and he has been informed that Mass is often said there.”

The Catholic Church of Our Ladye and St Michael, Abergavenny, possesses a *rescript of Pope Clement X. This rescript, dated three years before the martyrdom of St David Lewis, reads: “Pope Clement X grants a Plenary Indulgence to those who devoutly visit the Chapel of St Michael on the Skirrid Fawr on 29th September-Michaelmas Day. Anyone making this Pilgrimage and wishing to gain the Indulgence is required, first, to go to Confession and Holy Communion, then, on the Holy Mountain itself, to pray for peace among Christian Princes, for the rooting out of heresies, and for the exaltation of Holy Mother Church. Given at St Mary Major’s, Rome, under the Seal of the Fisherman, on 20th June 1676 and valid for seven years.”

St Michael’s Mount has belonged to the National Trust since 1939 and, with its magnificent views and ancient history, it is much favoured by hikers. It is said that Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s deputy, used to walk there when he was held at nearby Maindiff Court during WWII.

What of the pilgrims? Do they still come? Indeed they do! Every September, St Michael is honoured on his Feast Day as pilgrims wend their way to the summit, to the site of the ancient chapel where their ancestors risked danger and even death to remember Michael the Archangel and to practise their cherished Catholic faith.

*an ecclesiastical ruling - a formal reply by the pope or some other high dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church on a matter of doctrine or discipline

Friday, 24 September 2010


Wow! Thank you bloggers for your overwhelming response to my little book giveaway! I had four books to give away and I said the books would go to the first four names and allowed a whole week to get the names in. Well, I am sorry but, to avoid disappointing anyone, I have to close the little giveaway now because I have more names than I ever expected. I have managed to come up with two more books so I will be able to send out six books instead of the planned four.

I am very grateful to all of you for your interest and support and, owing to the great response to this giveaway, I will have another one in the not too distant future. So thank you all and keep watching for the next giveaway.

The books go to the lovely people at the following blogs. (Click on the links to have a look at their excellent blogs.)

Once again, thanks to all who entered. Your support is very much appreciated.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


It is entirely appropriate that I begin this post by quoting the newly beatified John Henry Cardinal Newman. "No one is a martyr for a conclusion; no one is a martyr for an opinion. It is faith that makes martyrs"

On Sunday, 25th October 1970, Pope Paul VI canonised the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. The forty were selected from among the hundreds who, during the 16th and 17th centuries, had given their lives for the faith.

The new saints were a very mixed group of priests and laypeople whose martyrdoms spanned the years from 1535 to 1679. The group was comprised of 3 Carthusians; 1 Augustinian friar; 1 Brigittine; 2 Franciscans; 3 Benedictines; 10 Jesuits; 13 Priests of the Secular Clergy; 4 lay men and 3 lay women.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the canonisation of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, I have four little booklets to give away. The booklet is published by the Catholic Truth Society and although just 56 pages long, it tells the story of each of the martyrs from the first martyr of the Reformation, St John Houghton in 1535 to St David Lewis in 1679.

If you would like one of these interesting and informative little booklets, just leave your name and mailing address in the comments below. I have activated ‘comment moderation’ so your details will be strictly private. The first four bloggers to leave their details will receive one of the books. You have one week to get your name in, from today up to and including 30th September. So come on, don’t be shy! I promise to keep your details private and to destroy them as soon as I have sent the books to the winners. And, because the books are small, I will post them anywhere so don’t be put off because you live in another country or on another continent! Remember, I will post them to anywhere. Let’s hear from you bloggers.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


Thank you very much, Mary 333 at THE BEAUTIFUL GATE for this award.

Here are the rules for passing it on:

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

I don't know if I can come up with 15 but I will certainly have a good try .

I choose:

Sunday, 19 September 2010


Anthony Turner was born in Leicestershire in 1628, during the reign of King Charles I. He was born into a staunch Protestant family, his father being a Protestant minister. Anthony, along with his mother and brother, Edward, began to seriously question the Protestant religion. This, understandably, infuriated his father. Anthony went to study at Cambridge University and while there he converted to Catholicism, despite his father’s rage. Edward also converted to the Catholic faith. The two brothers then went to Rome to study at the English College.

The Government’s objective was to eradicate Catholicism in the land. Therefore, laws and statutes were introduced which imposed dire penalties on any who had the audacity to practise their Catholic Faith. Of course without priests, there could be no Mass, no Sacraments and no help for those who still clung to the Old Faith. There were no longer any seminaries in England. In an effort to redress this problem, Cardinal William Allen established seminaries on the Continent specifically to train priests for England and Wales. These brave men went in secret to the seminaries and, after ordination, they returned, again in secret, to minister to their persecuted countrymen. Cardinal Allen established the English College in Rome in 1579.

In 1653, Anthony left the English College in Rome and travelled to Flanders where he entered the Jesuit Novitiate. He was ordained in 1659 and two years later, in 1661, he returned to England where he spent the next eighteen years ministering in Worcestershire.

When the terror of the phoney Oates/Popish Plot spread its poisonous tentacles over the country, Fr Anthony Turner was more than willing to give his life for the Faith which was so dear to him. However, his superiors insisted he leave the country. In January 1679, Fr Turner reluctantly made his way to London. He hoped to find a Jesuit who would provide him with sufficient funds to escape to the Continent. The search proved fruitless so the priest gave what little money he possessed to a beggar. He then turned himself over to the authorities. He was promptly arrested and thrown into Newgate Prison where several other Jesuits were awaiting trial.
On 13th June 1679 Anthony Turner was brought for trial at the Old Bailey. The witnesses against him were the convicted perjurers and embezzlers, Titus Oates, William Bedloe and Stephen Dugdale. One of the trial rules was that ‘no Catholic could be believed in court’ so the false testimony of the miscreants was taken over that of credible witnesses. As was the custom, the jury was instructed to find the defendant guilty and this they obediently did. Anthony Turner was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

A week later, on 20th June 1679, Fr Turner was taken to Tyburn where the sentence was to be carried out. At the last minute, which also appears to be the custom, a messenger arrived from the King offering a pardon. All the priest had to do was to admit his guilt and tell all he knew of the plot. Fr Turner replied that no plot existed. He could not disclose details of a plot that existed only in the putrid mind of the perjurer, Titus Oates. The Jesuit was not willing to lie to save his life. In a speech from the gallows, he told the spectators: “I am bound in conscience to do myself that justice as to declare upon oath my innocence from the horrid crime of treason with which I am falsely accused. I am as free from the treason I am accused of as a child that is just born. I die a Roman Catholic and humbly beg the prayers of such for my happy passage into a better life”. He prayed privately for a few minutes then the cart was pulled away.

After the gruesome sentence was carried out, the brutalised remains of Fr Turner were taken away by friends who buried them in the churchyard of St Giles in the Fields. In December 1929 Pope Pius XI beatified Jesuit Martyr, Fr Anthony Turner.



Saturday, 18 September 2010


I post this video because, as I watched Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, together, I felt a kind of joy that things have changed so very much. This blog is dedicated to a Martyred Welsh Jesuit Priest, St David Lewis. I have also written about many other Catholic priests who were put to death simply for being Catholic priests and for celebrating Mass. This video, and the above photograph, are a joy to behold. They illustrate just what God's grace can do if we allow it to work in us. Our beloved Queen and our beloved Pontiff! Isn't it wonderful to see them together in friendship? I think St David Lewis would be very pleased. May God bless our Queen and our Pope!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Today is the Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is a good time to post this short video from the Apostleship of Prayer.

Friday, 10 September 2010



A plot, known as the ‘Oates Plot’ or the ‘Popish Plot’ was conceived in the fertile but warped mind of the malevolent Titus Oates. In August 1678, Oates claimed that a plot to murder the King, bring down the Protestant Establishment and re-establish Catholicism in England was being hatched by Catholics. The Jesuits, according to Oates, were the leaders of this imagined plot. In reality, there was no plot against the Crown or Protestantism. The real plot was the one which Oates was building up against the Jesuits. Before Oates and the bunch of criminals who were his co-conspirators were finally exposed many innocent Catholics had suffered and died. Among those who were put to death for their faith were eight Jesuit priests. The horror began for the Jesuits in January 1679 when Fr William Ireland was executed at Tyburn in London. Another victim was 39 year old Fr John Gavan or Green.

John Gavan was born in London in 1640. The young Gavan went to St Omer and, in 1660, he entered the Jesuits. He was ordained in Rome in 1670. Like all priests who returned to minister in England, Fr Gavan was fully cognisant of the dangers under the severe Penal Laws which existed at that time. Nonetheless, Fr Gavan returned to his homeland in 1671 and commenced his work, chiefly in the Staffordshire area, where he laboured untiringly.

At the height of the Oates Plot, the Government offered a £50 reward for the apprehension of any priest. This lead to a vigorous search for and betrayal of priests, Jesuit and otherwise, up and down the country. In the hope of escaping to the Continent, Fr Gavan made his way to London. Unfortunately, that was not to be and he was apprehended on 23rd January 1679. Along with four other Jesuits, Fr John Gavan was brought to trial at the Old Bailey on 13th June 1679.

Fr Gavan was an erudite and articulate priest and he skilfully defended the group. In this instance, the skill and honesty of the Jesuit were no match for the false witnesses, prejudiced Judge and rigged jury. As was expected, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Fr John Gavan was martyred at Tyburn on 20th June 1679. His mutilated and quartered remains were claimed by friends and buried in St Giles in the Fields.


The Perjurer Titus Oates and Eight Jesuits (Part 1)

(Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)

Related Posts with Thumbnails