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The Catholic Defender: The Conversion of James S. Hughes

Jesus said to the Servant of God, Sr. Josefa Menendez, "My Heart takes comfort in forgiving. I have no greater desire, no greater joy, than when I can pardon a soul."

Jesus also said to St. Faustina, "Let the greatest sinners place their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in the abyss of My mercy. ... Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask."

1 Timothy 1:15 St. Paul writes, "This saying is trustworthy* and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost."

The above is very important to all mankind, everyone of us needs Jesus who gives his Mercy through the power of His love for each person ever conceived. The Bible is filled with testimonies where God intervenes to save His people.

Because of the sin of Adam and Eve and the fall of the human race, heaven was lost, salvation was lost and man only had hell as his option. However, John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

Human history is a story of that battle between good and evil, how evil dominions seek to destroy while the God of Heaven seeks to save. This is the purpose of the Covenants, the ultimate establishment of the Catholic Faith. Jesus seeks to heal and save through His Sacraments.

On September 1, 2019, John Carpenter and I conducted a show on Deepertruth on the story of Claude Newman, the son of a Black Sharecropper from Arkansas. He murdered a man who abused his grandmother and would be placed on death row in Mississippi. Claude's story greatly affects anyone who hears about his conversion. The Virgin Mary appeared to Claude Newman in his cell (Read story on Deepertruthblog September 4, 2019 "The Virgin Mary and the Conversion of Claude Newman")

James Hughes was a white man whom Father O'Leary, the prison Chaplain, would speak about Hughes saying, "This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across. His hatred for God and for everything spiritual defied description.”

James S. Hughes was convicted of murdering a police officer and was covered by both the Jackson and Vicksburg Mississippi Newspapers as one of the "Most Sensational" in warren County. He was also convicted of rape, robbery, violence, and assault. Hughes was scheduled to die on the electric chair 19 May, 1944.

The movie "The Green Mile" presents a very interesting story that seems to have been taken from the story of Claude Newman (Michael Duncan playing the character John Coffey) and James Hughes (Sam Rockwell playing the character Wild Bill Wharton). Of course, Hollywood will create their own story and ending. Yet, what would happen next Hollywood could never recreate to the real event.

The following as taken from the story of Claude Newman:

"Claude lamented, “What have I done wrong these past weeks that God would refuse me my going home?” Fr. O’Leary later testified that Claude sobbed as one who was completely brokenhearted.

The priest had a sudden inspiration and reminded Claude of a fellow prisoner, James Samuel Hughes, a white prisoner similarly on death row, who hated Claude intensely. Hughes was an ex-Catholic and a convicted murderer. “Maybe Our Blessed Mother wants you to offer this denial of being with her for Hugh's conversion,” offered Fr. O’Leary. “Why don't you offer to God every moment that you are separated from your heavenly Mother for this prisoner, so that he won't be separated from God for all eternity.”

Two weeks later, Claude was finally put to death by the electric chair on Feb. 4, 1944, having offered the intervening time for the expiation of the sins of the reprobate James Hughes. (Coincidently, Mildred Johnson was also executed for murder in Vicksburg on that same day. She, too, had become a Catholic through the ministrations of the nuns from St. Mary's parish.)

Fr. O'Leary later testified to journalists and his fellow priests, and to the current pastor of St. Mary's (who was a seminarian when the two met): “I've never seen anyone go to his death as joyfully and happily. Even the official witnesses and the newspaper reporters were amazed. They said they couldn't understand how anyone could go and sit in the electric chair while at the same time actually beaming with happiness.”

Claude had his favorite dessert, coconut pie, on the night before he died. His last words to Fr. O'Leary were, “Father, I'll remember you. Whenever you have a request, ask me, and I'll ask her.”

Claude's death notice was printed in the Vicksburg Evening News on the day of his execution. He was buried in the historic African-American Beulah Cemetery in Vicksburg.

On May 19, 1944, three months later, James Hughes was scheduled to be executed for his crimes. Fr. O'Leary said of him, “This man was the filthiest, most immoral person I had ever come across. His hatred for God and for everything spiritual defied description.”

He refused to speak with any clergyman and showed no remorse for his crimes.

Once strapped into the electric chair, he was asked if he had any last words. At that, he let lose a stream of the vilest invective and blasphemies.

Suddenly, Hughes froze as if in horror staring off at the corner of the room. His screams pierced the otherwise respectful silence of the execution chamber. He begged the sheriff to fetch a priest.

Fr. O'Leary came forward and the execution chamber was cleared so that the two might speak privately. Hughes gave his confession, suddenly remorseful of his past life and the murders he had committed.

Apparently, Hughes had experienced two visions while strapped in the electric chair. The first was of Claude Newman who stood before the Blessed Virgin Mary, her hand resting upon his shoulder. Claude only spoke once saying, “I offered my death in union with Christ on the Cross for your salvation. She has obtained for you this gift of seeing your place in Hell if you don’t repent.”

The second vision was of Hughes’ final disposition if he refused to repent.

James Hughes was executed as soon as he had finished his Confession and given the Viaticum.

What a great example that is given to us, just thinking about this second vision granted to James Hughes, I am reminded of another vision the Children of Fatima witnessed when the Virgin Mary appeared to them on July 13, 1917. They too saw the vision of hell and this had great impact on them as well."

The following is coming from a vision of St. Faustina:

"I, Sister Faustina Kowalska, by the order of God, have visited the Abysses of Hell so that I might tell souls about it and testify to its existence...the devils were full of hatred for me, but they had to obey me at the command of God, What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw. But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell." (Diary 741)

The Apostle of Divine Mercy St. Maria Faustina Kowalska of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy

"Today, I was led by an angel to the Chasms of Hell. It is a place of great torture; how awesomely large and extensive it is! The kinds of tortures I saw: The First Torture that constitutes hell is: The loss of God. The Second is: Perpetual remorse of conscience.

The Third is That one's condition will never change. The Fourth is: The fire that will penetrate the soul without destroying it. A terrible suffering since it is a purely spiritual fire, lit by God's anger. The Fifth Torture is: Continual darkness and a terrible suffocating smell, and despite the darkness, the devils and the souls of the damned see each other and all the evil, both of others and their own. The Sixth Torture is: The constant company of Satan. The Seventh Torture is: Horrible despair, hatred of God, vile words, curses and blasphemies.

These are the Tortures suffered by all the damned together, but that is not the end of the sufferings. Indescribable Sufferings - There are special Tortures destined for particular souls. These are the torments of the senses. Each soul undergoes terrible and indescribable sufferings related to the manner in which it has sinned.

I would have died There are caverns and pits of torture where one form of agony differs from another. I would have died at the very sight of these tortures if the omnipotence of God had not supported me. No One Can Say There is No Hell Let the sinner know that he will be tortured throughout all eternity, in those senses which he made use of to sin. I am writing this at the command of God, so that no soul may find an excuse by saying there is no hell, or that nobody has ever been there, and so no one can say what it is terribly souls suffer there! Consequently, I pray even more fervently for the conversion of sinners. I incessantly plead God's mercy upon them. O My Jesus, I would rather be in agony until the end of the world, amidst the greatest sufferings, than offend you by the least sin." (Diary 741)

Pray for Ron Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan who boasts that he does not fear burning in hell, maybe he would if he witnessed what James Hughes saw!

O Lord, Jesus Christ, Redeemer and Saviour, forgive my sins, just as You forgave Peter’s denial and those who crucified You. Count not my transgressions, but, rather, my tears of repentance. Remember not my iniquities, but, more especially, my sorrow for the offenses I have committed against You. I long to be true to Your Word, and pray that You will love me and come to make Your dwelling place within me. I promise to give You praise and glory in love and in service all the days of my life.

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