English martyrs

Since the closure of the Office of the Vice-Postulators at 114 Mount St c1984 the Jesuits in Britain Archives have been the home of its records, although the material wasn’t officially deposited with us until last year. The Archives fairly frequently receive requests for information regarding the lives of martyrs, and since many of those who suffered during the Reformation and those involved centuries later in the Cause were members of the Society, the collection became a priority for...
Is this the skull of St John Plessington SJ?
A 337-year-old mystery may be solved if scientists can confirm whether human remains in North Wales are those of the Jesuit-educated martyr, St John Plessington, or another Welsh martyr from the time of the Reformation. Following an examination by a team of forensic scientists, experts concluded that they are the skull and the intact right leg of priest who was hanged, drawn and quartered, probably in the late 17th century. The Bishop of Shrewsbury has now launched an appeal for donors to help...
We aren’t sure when Francis Page was born, but we do know that he was born to a well-to-do English family living in Antwerp. He fell in love with the daughter of a Catholic lawyer for who he served as a clerk and became a Catholic in order to win over the family. He met the Jesuit Fr John Gerard who became an informal spiritual director to him, eventually encouraging Francis to go to the continent for his priestly formation at the English College at Rheims. He was ordained in 1600 and left for...
Blessed Francis Page (Date of birth uncertain, 1602) became a Catholic in order to win the hand of the woman he wanted to marry, but discovered a call to become a priest as he learned more about the Catholic religion. He was arrested before he could enter the novitiate, but he took Jesuit vows shortly before his execution.Born in Antwerp of well-to-do English parents, Page returned to England to study law. He fell in love with the daughter of the Catholic lawyer for whom he served as a clerk,...
Stained glass window of St Nicholas kneeling before an image of Our Lady
St Nicholas Owen was born in 1562 in Oxford into a devout recusant family, and trained as a carpenter and joiner.  As a Jesuit lay brother he became the servant of Henry Garnet SJ, the Superior of the English mission, in 1588 -  a time when the penalty for Catholic priests discovered in England was torture and death.  His carpentry skills were put to use in building priest holes or hiding places in the houses of Catholics all over the country.  Known as “Little Jo hn...
Around this time last year our attention was brought to an auction on French Ebay of ‘Portrait d’un martyr Jésuite (fin 17ième debut 18ième)’.  This turned out to be a miniature oval shaped portrait of St Henry Morse SJ painted on copper by an unknown artist, with an inscription around the edge ‘Henricus Mas Passus 22 Janvari 1645’.Jan Graffius, Curator of Collections at Stonyhurst College explains: The painting is in the tradition of small devotional images painted on copper,...
The Curator of Stonyhurst College will be sharing centuries of Catholic history when she gives the second annual lecture of the Guild of Our Lady of Ransom on 10 September. Jan Graffius will address: 'Saving the English Martyrs - How Catholic families preserved relics from Becket to Plunkett'.“The lecture will focus on the English relics entrusted to the Jesuits and St Omers by various Catholic families,” says Jan. “It will concentrate on the role of recusant...
One of the forty English martyr saints, Robert Southwell is widely known for his poetry. Born around 1561 at Horsham St Faith and brought up in a family of Norfolk gentry, he boarded at the English College at Douai but studied at the associated French Jesuit College of Anchin. When applying for entrance into the Society in Rome, he was only admitted after having written a heartfelt appeal against a first refusal.  He eventually joined in 1580. After ordination in 1584 he served as prefect...
 The Gunpowder Plot was a failed assassination attempt against King James 1 by a group of English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.  Many English Catholics had hoped that the death of Elizabeth 1 and the accession of James in 1603 would lead to a relenting of harsh penalties for recusancy.  Because Elizabeth had not formally named James as her successor, and to counter the efforts of influential Catholics like Robert Persons, James did some skilled political maneuvering with the...