The Blessed John Traverse, of the Order of Hermits of Saint Augustine and doctor of divinity, was the first Irishman to suffer martyrdom for the faith in the great persecution of the sixteenth century, that gave to so many others of his brethren a hero’s palm. He shed his blood in London in 1539. The special plea for his being put to death was Henry’s indignation at a work he had written upholding the papal supremacy – a dogma he had elsewhere defended by tongue and pen. This work bit terly enraged the king, the now pseudo “Defender of the Faith,” who had his title from Pope Leo X, in guerdon for a work presumedly his in defence of the Seven Sacraments, but now generally attributed to the Spanish Augustinian Father Bernard Andreas, a contemporary of the Blessed John. This holy man, being now dragged by royal mandate to the assizes, answered the judge’s query, Had he written this work? by replying “Yes”; and, stretching out his hand, added, “With this hand I wrote it; I retract not what I’ve written, nor with God’s good help shall I ever be sorry for what I’ve done.” Such reply was enough to condemn him, and wonderful now was the miracle whereby the Most High signalized the heroism of his servant. At the scaffold the executioner (after beheading him) tossed his body to the flames, when, lo! the sacred fingers that had written so well in God’s cause would not burn, neither the thumb, nor forefinger, nor the middle one. These had held the pen. Again and again did the headsman strive to destroy these wondrous avengers of the king’s barbarity, but the hand of the Lord preserved them amid the flames, a testimony to his saint’s greatness and a guide to countless imitators among his brethren.
- “Blessed John Traverse, OSA”. , 1875. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 January 2017. Web. 1 May 2017. <>