Saint John Southworth

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John Southworth

Also Known As: "John "the Martyr" Southworth"
Birthplace: Blackburn, Lancashire, , England
Death: Died in London, England
Cause of death: Hanged, drawn and quartered for doing his job as Priest
Place of Burial: London, England
Occupation: Priest, Canonized in 1970
Managed by: Mary E. Sayler
Last Updated:

About Saint John Southworth

Note: cannot possibly be a son of Sir John Southworth. Exact relationship uncertain.

Saint John Southworth was born in 1592, in Lancashire, England and died June 28, 1654 in Tyburn, London as an English Catholic martyr. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Father John Southworth came from the family that occupied Samlesbury Hall. They chose to pay heavy fines rather then give up their Catholic faith.

He studied at the English College om Douai, now in northern France, and then moved to Hertfordshire (st. Edwards College) and was ordained a priest before he returned to England in 1627. Shortly after he returned to England he was imprisoned and sentence to death for practicing his faith as a Priest. In 1630, he was taken to London and released, along with eleven other priests at the insistence of Henrietta Maria, the French Catholic wife of Charles I. The new sentence was perpetual banishment, should any of them return to England, death was the punishment.

Father John returned to England and went to London. Although his whereabouts are not known for sure there is evidence of him serving the poor in Westminster and Clerkenwell. During the plague years, mid-1630's, he administered the last sacraments without regard to his own safety. He also raised money for the families of the victims of the plague. He was arrested again several times and released at the insistence of Henrietta Maria. There is no information as to where he was during the English Civil War.

Oliver Cromwell was disposed to leniency towards the English--as opposed to the Irish--Catholic. That changed in 1654, when the discovery of a plot to assassinate the Protector unleashed a tide of anti-papal feeling. Father John Southworth was arrested again and condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.

Father John was advised that, if he denied being a priest, his life would be spared, but of course Southworth was having none of that. Foreign ambassadors pleaded for him, equally Cromwell made it clear that he disapproved of the execution, through he had no power of pardon. He did state that the body could be return to Douai for burial.

The Spanish ambassador returned the corpse to the Douai for burial. The corpse was sewn together and parboiled to preserve it. During the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. Father John's body was found in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in the Chapel of St. George and the English Martyrs in Westminster Cathedral in London.

Father John Southworth was Beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929 and Canonized by Pope Paul VI in Rome on October 25, 1970. His Feast Day is June 27th.

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Saint John Southworth's Timeline

Blackburn, Lancashire, , England
June 28, 1654
Age 62
London, England
Age 62
London, England