Monday, 29 July 2019


John Kemble (link here) son of John Kemble and Anne Morgan, was born at Rhydicar Farm, St Weonards, Herefordshire in 1599.  He was ordained priest in 1625 and for 54 years he laboured for the persecuted Catholics of Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.  In 1678 Fr Kemble became another innocent victim of the sordid and fabricated Popish Plot (link here)  The 80 year old priest was arrested at Pembridge Castle and confined to Hereford Gaol.  He was tried for the treason of being a Catholic priest, found guilty  and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.
The execution of Fr John Kemble
(Photo J D Smith)
On 22nd August 1679 the gentle old priest was executed on Widemarsh Common. His nephew removed the Martyr's body to the church at Welsh Newton and buried him beside the churchyard cross.  
The grave of St John Kemble, Welsh Newton
(Photo J D Smith)

Fr John Kemble is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales (link here) canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970.  There is an annual pilgrimage to the Saint's grave and this year's pilgrimage will take place on Sunday, 18th August 2019 at 3 pm at Welsh Newton.

Saturday, 27 July 2019


St David Lewis, portrait in Llantarnam Abbey
 (Photo J D Smith)
Saint David Lewis, the last Welsh Martyr, was executed on 27th August 1679.  The site of his martyrdom is in the grounds of Porth Y Carne House, opposite the Catholic Church in Usk.
St David Lewis was martyred on or near 
this spot in 1679 (Photo J D Smith)
Every year, on the last Sunday of August, a pilgrimage in the Saint's honour (click heretakes place from the Catholic Church to his grave in the churchyard of St Mary's Priory Church.  
St Mary's Priory Church, Usk
(Photo J D Smith)
This year's Pilgrimage will take place on Sunday, 25th August, beginning at 3:00 p m at St Francis Xavier and St David Lewis Church, Porth Y Carne Street.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019


On 5th July 1589, four Catholic men were executed at Oxford.  They were Fr George Nichols, Fr Richard Yaxley, and laymen Thomas Belson and Humphrey Pritchard.

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford (J D Smith)
Humphrey Pritchard, sometimes known as Humphrey ap Richard, was born in Wales.  By 1589 Humphrey had been employed for about 12 years by a widow who owned the pub, The Catherine Wheel, in Oxford.  The Catherine Wheel was opposite the east end of St Mary Magdalen’s Church. Humphrey, as well as diligently preforming his duties as barman and servant, covertly aided and assisted Catholic priests who, by the simple fact of being Catholic priests, were hunted down by the authorities.  To be a Catholic priest and to say Mass was deemed by law to be High Treason and punishable by the gruesome penalty of being hung, drawn and quartered. To assist a priest was also punishable by death.
Plaque marking site of Martyrdom
(J D Smith)

Humphrey Pritchard was arrested at The Catherine Wheel and, accused of being a traitor because of his Catholic Faith, he was sent to Bridewell Prison, London. After being examined and tortured in London, Humphrey and his three companions were returned to Oxford where they were tried and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.  On 5th July 1589 the barbaric sentence was carried out at what is now the junction of Holywell Street and Longwall Street.  Humphrey Pritchard was the last of the four to be executed and as he mounted the scaffold he called out: “I call you all to witness, in the presence of God and His holy angels, that I am a Catholic and that I am condemned to die for the confession of the Catholic Faith. I die willingly.”
Plaque in University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford.  Humphrey Pritchard's  is the third name from the top of column three.  (J D Smith)
What became of the widow who owned The Catherine Wheel?  She, poor lady, was condemned to Perpetual Imprisonment! 


Monday, 22 July 2019


On this day, 22 July, in the year 1679, two Welsh Catholic Priests were hung, drawn and quartered at Gallows Field, Cardiff.  Brecon born secular priest, Fr John Lloyd and Jesuit Philip Evans were caught up in the evil plot spawned in the fetid mind of Titus Oates and executed for being Catholic priests and exercising their ministry in the country.  Both priests were canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

To learn more about St John Lloyd click here

To learn more about St Philip Evans click here

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