Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors – Abbot Feckenham, O.S.B., 1585

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John Howman was born at Feckenham in Worcestershire, and is known by the name of his birthplace. As a Benedictine monk he became chaplain to Bishop Bonner, and was imprisoned in the reign of Edward VI for his defense of the Faith. Under Mary he became Dean of Saint Paul’s, and, later, Abbot of the restored Abbey of Westminster. In spite of its late dissolution, he received the Queen on Saint Thomas’ Eve, 20 December 1556, with twenty-eight other monks, all men of mature age, the youngest being upwards of forty, and all pious and learned. Some three years later, when he met Elizabeth for the opening of her first Parliament at the Abbey door, he in his pontifical robes and his monks in procession with their lighted candles, the Queen cried out, “Away with these lights! We see very well.” The Litany was sung in English, and Dr. Cox, a married priest and bitter heretic, preached against the Catholic religion and the monks, and urged the Queen to destroy them- The Abbot then knew that his fate was sealed. On 12 July 1559, Feckenham and his monks were ejected for refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy. He was imprisoned, and died at Wisbeach, 1585. His abbey was destroyed, but the stones live.

Speech in the House of Lords: “My good Lords, when in Queen Mary’s days your honour do know right well how the people of this realm did live in order and under law. There was no spoiling of Churches, pulling down of Altars, and most blasphemous treading down of The Sacrament under their feet, and hanging up the knave of clubs in the place thereof. There was no knocking or cutting of the face and legs of the Crucifix, and of the image of Christ. There was no open flesh-eating or shambles-keeping in the Lent and days prohibited. The subjects of this realm, and especially such as were of the honourable council in Queen Mary’s days, knew the way to Church or Chapel, and to begin their daily work by calling for help and grace by humble prayer. But now since the coming of our most sovereign and dear lady Queen Elizabeth, by the only preachers and scaffold-players of this new religion all things are changed and turned upside down. Obedience is gone, humility and meekness clean abolished, virtuous, chaste, and straight living abandoned.”

MLA Citation

  • Father Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Abbot Feckenham, O.S.B., 1585”. Mementoes of the English Martyrs and Confessors, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 21 April 2019. Web. 5 August 2021. <>