The One Hundred and Five Martyrs of Tyburn – 28 June 1654

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Venerable John Southworth, secular priest

He was born in Lancashire and was a younger son of an ancient and once wealthy family. Educated at Douai, he became an alumnus and priest of that House. His missionary labours were at first in his native county. After some years he was taken and condemned, but was reprieved and kept a close prisoner in Lancaster Castle. Being at length released through the influence of Queen Henrietta Maria, he continued his devoted labours, but was apprehended for the third time by a pursuivant and carried off from his bed at night. He was then 72 years old. At his trial he refused to deny that he was a priest, though the Court assured him that if he did so his life would be spared, for they were most reluctant to pass judgement against him. The magistrate is said to have been so overcome by tears that it was long before he could pronounce the sentence which he professed the law compelled him to give. In thunder, lightning and rain, the Martyr was brought to Tyburn, but the storm did not prevent many thousands of people, many in coaches or on horseback, from being present. In his last speech, Father Southworth said, when quoting Our Lord’s words: “‘Qui vult venire post me. . . . tollat suam et sequatur me,’ this gallows I look on as His Cross, which I gladly take up to follow my dear Saviour.”

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