John Lowe (martyr)

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The Blessed John Lowe (1553–1586) was an English Catholic priest and martyr.

He was born the son of Simon and Margaret Lowe (or Low) of London in 1553. His father Simon was perhaps the Simon Low who was a merchant-tailor and citizen of London. He was for some time a Protestant minister. After his conversion he studied at Douai.[1] He was a servant at Anchin Abbey for 1578-1579. He entered the English College, Rome, arriving on the 19 November 1581, and was ordained a deacon there on the 19 August 1582, but there is no record of where and when he was ordained a priest. Leaving Rome in September 1583, he was recorded as leaving Rheims for the mission in England on the 20 December 1583. Records show that his absence abroad had been noted by the English government.

By this time his father had died, and his mother Margaret was living on London Bridge. Walking with her one evening nearby in May 1586, he talked too unguardedly about his aspirations to martyrdom and was overheard and denounced to the authorities. He was immediately arrested. It is recorded that he was taken to the Clink in London on the 11 May of that year. Given the 1585 Act making it a capital offence to be a Catholic priest in England the sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering was inevitable. It was carried out at Tyburn on the 8 October 1586. His fate was shared by two fellow priests, John Adams and Robert Dibdale.

All three priests were beatified (the last stage prior to canonization) by Pope John Paul II on the 22 November 1987.

Members of the Lowe family maintained their loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy, losing privileges, titles and land to remain loyal to the Roman Catholic faith.



  • The most reliable compact source is Godfrey Anstruther, Seminary Priests, St Edmund's College, Ware, vol. 1, 1968, pp. 214–215.