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July 19

St John Plessington - July 19

Saint John Plessington

Priest, Martyr

(Around 1637 – 1679)

I profess that I undoubtedly and firmly believe all the Articles of the Roman Catholic Faith, and for the truth of any of them (by the assistance of God) I am willing to die, and I had rather die than doubt of any Point of Faith, taught by our Holy Mother the Roman Catholic Church

Saint John Plessington, from the gallows as he was about to be martyred

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

John was born around 1637 at Dimples Hall, Garstang, Lancashire, England. He was the son of Robert Plessington, a Royalist Roman Catholic, and Alice Rawstone. His family was persecuted for both their religious and political beliefs. John was educated by Jesuits at Scarisbrick Hall. His education continued at the Royal College of Saint Alban at Valladolid, Spain, and then Saint Omer’s monastery in France.

Ordained 

John was ordained in Segovia, Spain in March 25, 1662.  He returned to England in 1663 ministering to covert Catholics in the areas of Holywell and Cheshire. He often hid and used the aliases hiding under the name John Scarisbrick and William Pleasington.  For a while he served at the shrine of St Winifred in Holywell, North Wales. Then, in 1670, he moved to Puddington Hall in the Wirral, as tutor to the Massey family. For a while Plessington was able to minister openly to the local Catholic population.

Arrested for Being a Catholic Priest

But when the scare of the Popish Plot extended to the north, a timeserver called Thomas Dutton collected a reward for arresting John. Upon arrest in Chester during the Popish Plot scare caused by Titus Oates, he was imprisoned for two months. 

His Last Suit

There was no charge against John, beyond his occupation as a Catholic priest, which sufficed for a death sentence. When the executioner came to measure him, John joked that he was ordering his last suit.

Forgave His Implicators

According to a local tradition, John was implicated at the insistence of a Protestant landowner simply because he had forbidden a match between his son and a Catholic heiress. Three witnesses gave false evidence of seeing John serving as a priest: he forgave each of them by name from the scaffold.

His Martyrdom 

On July 19, 1679 at Barrows Hill, Boughton (near Chester), England, John was hanged, drawn and quartered for the crime of being a Catholic priest.

His Final Speech

His speech from the scaffold was printed and distributed. John said: 

“Bear witness, good hearers, that I profess that I undoubtedly and firmly believe all the articles of the Roman Catholic faith, and for the truth of any of them, by the assistance of God, I am willing to die; and I had rather die than doubt of any point of faith taught by our holy mother the Roman Catholic Church…

I know it will be said that a priest ordayned by authority derived from the See of Rome is, by the Law of the Nation, to die as a Traytor, but if that be so what must become of all the Clergymen of the Church of England, for the first Church of England Bishops had their Ordination from those of the Church of Rome, or not at all, as appears by their own writers so that Ordination comes derivatively from those now living.”

A copy of his full speech can be found at the link below:
Jul 19 – St John Plessington, (1637-1679), Priest & Martyr (soul-candy.info)

His Remains

Many John’s bodily remains were lost after his execution in Chester, more than 40 miles north of Shrewsbury. In the late 19th century bones were discovered hidden in a pub next to St Winefride’s Well in Flintshire, a Welsh county which borders on Chester. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury told the Shrewsbury Catholic Voice.

“If funds could be found to identify and authenticate his relics it would allow our connection to his heroic ministry and martyrdom to become visible and tangible in a new way for generations to come.”

One of Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Saint John Plessington is one of the Forty Holy Martyrs of England and Wales.

Beatified:            December 8, 1929 by Pope Pius XI

Canonized:         October 25, 1970 by Pope Paul VI

Feast Day:          July 19

Patron Saint:     None

Sources:

Reflection

If you had to talk to your priest, you know you can call or go to see him at the rectory at your church. Imagine you lived in days of Saint John Plessington. During those times, a priest had to use alias names and hide to avoid being executed, just for being a Catholic priest. Within miles of where I live, I have the luxury of multiple  churches to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist and go to confession. This luxury is not available to all Catholics around the world where practing the Catholic faith may not be so “easy” for many different reasons. Pray for vocations so that future generations will continue to have priests and religious life to serve the Catholic communities.

Are you taking advantage of going to Mass to receive the Blessed Eucharist and to confession to receive God’s forgiveness?
Please thank your priest today for services he provides you every day to grow in your faith.

Prayers

Saint John Plessington, God gave you the courage to demonstrate your faith in the Roman Catholic Church through your cruel martyrdom. We ask for your intercession in obtaining the grace of God to always value the Holy Mass and receiving the Blessed Eucharist. God, may you strengthen us to serve you in imitation of the courageous Saint John Plessington and all of the other Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Saint John Plessington, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – 40 English martyrs you may not know

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 19 July – St John Plessington

Catholic Ireland – Oct 25 – The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

Catholic News Agency – Naming the unknown martyr: could these remains be St. John Plessington?

Catholic Online – St. John Plessington

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint John Plessington

Daily Prayers – St John Plessington

Diocesee of Shrewsbury – St John Plessington

New Advent – Pollen, J.H. (1909). English Confessors and Martyrs (1534-1729). In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Soul Candy – Jul 19 – St John Plessington, (1637-1679), Priest & Martyr

Wikipedia – John Plessington

Video Link

– YouTube Video (Simon Caldwell)