The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 3 February 1578

Blessed John Nelson, Jesuit priest

This martyr was born at Shelton, near York. He was arrested on suspicion late one evening when saying Matins. The Oath of the Queen’s supremacy was offered to him, but he refused to take it, saying that the Pope’s Holiness was the Head of the Church “to whom that supreme authority on earth was due, as being Christ’s Vicar, and the lawful successor of Saint Peter.” When sentence was pronounced against him, he never changed countenance, but prepared himself with a good countenance to die. By God’s special providence, he received the Sacred Viaticum the day before he was arraigned. Arrived at Tyburn, he turned to the people, saying: “I call you all this day to witness that I die in the unity of the Catholic Church, and for that unity do now most willingly suffer my blood to be shed; and therefore I beseech God, and request you all to pray for the same, that it would please God of His great mercy to make you, and all others that are not such already, true Catholic men….” He then besought all who were of the like Faith to pray with him “that Christ, by the merits of His bitter Passion, would receive his soul into everlasting joy.” He was cut down when only half dead. As his heart was plucked out he was heard to murmur: “I forgive the Queen and all that were causers of my death.”

– from The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn, by The Nuns of the Convent of Tyburn, 1917