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The Catholic Defender Saints John Jones and John Wall


John Jones was born to a Catholic family in Clymag Faur in the county of Canaervon in Wales around the year 1530. In his youth Queen Mary Tudor accomplished the restoration of the Catholic Church after the brief reign of Edward VI had taken the Church of England into the Calvinist fold.


Mary's accession had allowed the English friars who had fled into exile to Flanders and Scotland to return and in April 1555 the friary at Greenwich, in which Mary and Elizabeth had been baptised, was reopened. John joined the friary and took the name Godfrey Maurice, becoming known for his piety.


At Mary's untimely death in 1558, however, her half-sister Elizabeth assumed the throne and it was not long before Catholics were once more persecuted in England. John Jones, although still a novice was forced to flee to France. The English Observant Franciscans fled to a friary in Pontoise where John was professed and trained. He was probably ordained a priest at Rheims, where there was another friary of the exiled English Province.


John Wall was born in 1620, near Preston in Lancashire. As a young man he entered the English College in Douai where he was taught by the famous Dr. Kellison. In 1641 he transferred to the English College in Rome, where he was ordained a priest in 1645., near Preston in Lancashire. As a young man he entered the English College in Douai where he was taught by the famous Dr. Kellison. In 1641 he transferred to the English College in Rome, where he was ordained a priest in 1645.1620, near Preston in Lancashire. As a young man he entered the English College in Douai where he was taught by the famous Dr. Kellison. In 1641 he transferred to the English College in Rome, where he was ordained a priest in 1645.


These two friars were martyred in England in the 16th and 17th centuries for refusing to deny their faith.


John Jones was Welsh. He was ordained a diocesan priest and was twice imprisoned for administering the sacraments before leaving England in 1590.


He left England, either escaped or exiled, in 1590 and at the age of sixty joined the Conventual Franciscans at Pontoise. Afterwards he went to Rome, where he lived among the Observant Friars of the Ara Coeli. After a time he was sent back by his superiors to the English mission; and before leaving Rome he had an audience of Pope Clement VIII who embraced him and gave him his blessing.


Despite his care, John Jones was caught in late 1595 or early 1596 by Richard Topcliffe, who nurtured a cruel hatred for the Catholic faith and was sanctioned by the Queen to maintain a private torture chamber in his house for the Catholic priests he apprehended.


John Jones was accused of being a spy and sent to the notorious Clink prison, from which we derive the expression “being in clink”. There he languished for nigh on two years awaiting trial. In prison Jones continued his ministry and converted many, including Saint John Rigby, who was himself martyred two years after John Jones (on 21st June 1600).


On 3rd July 1598 John Jones was finally brought to trial for having exercised his ministry as a Catholic priest in England. He was sentenced to hanging, drawing and quartering at Saint Thomas Watering, but was meanwhile imprisoned at Marshalsea prison.


The Jesuit Henry Garnet recounts in a letter that on 12th July 1598 John was tied to a trellis and dragged to the place of his torment. He was held there for an hour before execution during which time Topcliffe harangued the crowd with his supposed crimes. Garnet recounts that the crowd was touched more by John's prayers than by the calumnies of his torturer and executioner. His remains were hung up on the road between Newington and Lambeth.


Jones reached London about the end of 1592, and stayed temporarily at the house which John Gerard, had provided for missionary priests, which house was managed by Anne Line. Jones ministered to Catholics in the English countryside until his arrest in 1596.


In 1596 the 'priest catcher' Richard Topcliffe was informed by a spy that Jones had visited two Catholics and had said Mass in their home. It was later shown that the two Catholics were actually in prison when the alleged offense took place. Regardless, Jones was arrested, severely tortured and scourged. Topcliffe then took Jones to his house where he was further tortured,


Following his torture, Jones was imprisoned for nearly two years. During this time Jones helped sustain John Rigby in his faith, who later also became one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.


His own leg injury was healed by Jane Wiseman, who was also a prisoner, in December 1595.


On 3 July 1598 Jones was tried on the charge of "going over the seas in the first year of Her majesty's reign (1558) and there being made a priest by the authority from Rome and then returning to England contrary to statute". He was convicted of high treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.


Like Margaret Clitherow, Wiseman refused to enter a plea and was therefore condemned.


Saint John Jones (c. 1530 – 1598) and Saint John Wall (1620 – 1679) These two friars were martyred in England in the 16th and 17th centuries for refusing to deny their faith. John Jones was Welsh.


He joined the Franciscans at the age of 60 and returned to England three years later while Queen Elizabeth I was at the height of her power. John ministered to Catholics in the English countryside until his imprisonment in 1596. He was condemned to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. John was executed on July 12, 1598.


John Wall was born in England but was educated at the English College of Douai, Belgium. Ordained in Rome in 1648, he entered the Franciscans in Douai several years later. In 1656 he returned to work secretly in England.

In 1678, Titus Oates worked many English people into a frenzy over an alleged papal plot to murder the king and restore Catholicism in that country.


In that year Catholics were legally excluded from Parliament, a law which was not repealed until 1829. John Wall was arrested and imprisoned in 1678,

and was executed the following year.


John Jones was named Venerable by Pope Leo XIII and beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI with a feast day of 12 July. He was canonized on 25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, who are commemorated on that date.


Beatified15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI


John Jones and John Wall were canonized in 1970.

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