English Martyr's Relics Moved to Cathedral

Victim of 17th Century Persecution of the Church

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LONDON, JUNE 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The relics of St. John Southworth have been moved to Westminster Cathedral for his feastday on Sunday, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of his canonization.

Father John Southworth was beatified in 1929 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970, one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Born in 1592, John Southworth was ordained a priest in France in 1618. He returned to England and ministered in Westminster, in the region where the cathedral now stands.

He was arrested several times for ministering as a Catholic priest and finally was sentenced to death in 1654.

Despite promptings to deny that he was a priest, he refused. Tradition holds that the official who read his sentence of death wept bitterly.

On June 28, Father Southworth was dragged on a hurdle to his place of execution. He was to be hung, drawn and quartered, but his executioner had pity on him and allowed him to hang to death.

«My faith and obedience to my superiors is all the treason charged against me,» were his last words. «Nay, I die for Christ’s law, which no human law, by whomsoever made, ought to withstand or contradict.

«To follow his holy doctrine and imitate his holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look upon as his cross, which I gladly take to follow my dear Savior.

«I plead not for myself … but for you poor persecuted Catholics whom I leave behind.»

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