St John Southworth
Today, in the Archdiocese of Westminster, we keep the memory of St John Southworth.His significance for the diocese lies in the discovery of his body at Douai in 1927 and his subsequent translation to Westminster Cathedral in 1930. I posted an item on the discovery of his body last year, and Mgr Langham has some good pictures on his blog, including the one above (I hope he doesn't mind me 'borrowing' it). Note that the martyr's consecrated hand is priestly even in death since his thumb and forefinger are joined together (as the rubrics required for the period between the Consecration and the ablutions after Holy Communion).
Southworth acts as a representative figure for the many priests who courageously worked in London in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, at the risk of imprisonment and execution. Southworth originally hailed from Lancashire and began his studies at Douai in 1613. As a priest, he spent time in Flanders and Lancashire, as well as London, where he helped St Henry Morse care for plague victims in 1636. He spent several years in prison, and was finally executed on 28th June 1654, together with two counterfeiters.
At Tyburn, the martyr said: 'I was brought up in the truly ancient Roman Catholic apostolic religion, which taught me that the sum of the only true Christian profession is to die. This lesson I have heretofore in my lifetime desired to learn; this lesson I come here to put to practice by dying, being taught it by our Blessed Saviour, both by precept and example. To follow His holy doctrine, and imitate His holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look on as His cross, which I gladly take to follow my dear Saviour'.
St John Southworth, pray for us!