John Southworth (martyr)

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Saint John Southworth
St John Southworth.jpg
St.John Southworth
Born 1592
Lancashire, England
Died 28 June 1654(1654-06-28)

Tyburn, London, England
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1929, Rome by Pope Pius XI
Canonized 25 October 1970, Rome by Pope Paul VI
Feast 27 June

Saint John Southworth (c. 1592, Lancashire, England - 28 June 1654, Tyburn, London) was an English Catholic martyr. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.


Father John Southworth came from a Lancashire family who lived at Samlesbury Hall. They chose to pay heavy fines rather than give up the Catholic faith.

He studied at the English College in Douai, now in northern France, (and then moved to Hertfordshire, St Edmunds College) and was ordained priest before he returned to England. Imprisoned and sentenced to death for professing the Catholic faith, he was later deported to France. Once more he returned to England and lived in Clerkenwell, London, during a plague epidemic. He assisted and converted the sick in Westminster and was arrested again.

He was again arrested under the Interregnum and was tried at the Old Bailey under Elizabethan anti-priest legislation . He pleaded guilty to exercising the priesthood and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. At his execution at Tyburn, London, he suffered the full pains of his sentence and was hanged, drawn and quartered.

The Spanish ambassador returned his corpse to Douai for burial. His corpse was sewn together and parboiled, to preserve it. Following the French Revolution, his body was buried in an unmarked grave for its protection. The grave was discovered in 1927 and his remains were returned to England. They are now kept in the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs in Westminster Cathedral in London.

Catholic ceremony[edit]

Reliquary of Saint John Southworth

He was beatified in 1929.

In 1970, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

His feast day is 27 June but this is only celebrated in the Westminster diocese.

In 2014, The Guild of Saint John Southworth was established in Westminster Cathedral. Its members are volunteers who will meet visitors, answer their questions and guide them around the cathedral if they wish. This service is free.