John Roche (martyr)

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Statue of John Roche in the church of St Etheldreda, Ely Place, London

Blessed John Roche (also known as John Neele or Neale) was a Catholic martyr, born in Ireland, who died in London, England in 1588.


He helped Saint Margaret Ward arrange the escape of Father Richard Watson from Bridewell Prison when the boatman she had originally asked to help her refused to do so. Roche exchanged clothes with the prisoner and was arrested in his place. Offered his freedom if he would ask Queen Elizabeth I's pardon and promise to attend a Protestant church, he refused, and was hanged at Tyburn, London on 30 August 1588, along with Ward, Edward Shelley, Richard Martin, and Richard Leigh and Richard Lloyd (alias Flower).[1]


Pope Pius XI beatified Roche in 1929.


Usually shown in working-class Elizabethan dress and holding an oar or a miniature boat, he is the patron of sailors, mariners and boatmen.


In addition to this, a school in the London borough of Tower Hamlets was named after him.