Saturday, 12 May 2012


Of course we have all heard of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales but just who were they?

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales were some of the hundreds of brave, faithful Catholics who, during the dark days of persecution in this country, laid down their lives rather than apostatize.  Among them were priests, teachers, fathers and mothers.  The following is a brief breakdown of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.


           1.      Cuthbert Mayne                Launceston                  29th November 1577

2.      Ralph Sherwin                  Tyburn                        1st December 1581
St John Lloyd

3.      John Payne                        Chelmsford                 2nd April 1582

4.      Luke Kirby                        Tyburn                         30th May 1582

5.      Edmund Gennings             London                  10th December 1591

6.      Polydore Plasden              Tyburn                  10th December 1591

7.      Eustace White                   Tyburn                   10th December 1591

8.      John Boste                         Durham                   24th July 1594

9.      John Almond                    Tyburn                     5th December 1612

10.  John Southworth               Tyburn                        28th June 1654

11.  John Plessington               Chester                        19th July 1679

12.  John Lloyd                        Cardiff                          22nd July 1679

13.  John Kemble                     Hereford                       22nd August 1679


         14      Edmund Campion               Tyburn                         1st December 1581
St David Lewis S J
         15.      Alexander Briant                 Tyburn                         1st December 1581

        16.      Robert Southwell                Tyburn                         21st February 1595
         17.      Henry Walpole                    York                            7th April 1595

          18.     Nicholas Owen                    London                       2nd March 1606

19.    Thomas Garnet                    Tyburn                         23rd June 1608

20.      Edmund Arrowsmith          Lancaster                     28th August 1628

21.       Henry Morse                        Tyburn                         1st February 1645
22.      Philip Evans                         Cardiff                          22nd July 1679

23.       David Lewis                        Usk                              27th August 1679


24.     John Roberts                     Tyburn                         10th December 1610

25.     Ambrose Barlow               Lancaster                     10th September 1641

26.    Alban Roe                         Tyburn                         21st January 1642

             27.     John Houghton                       Tyburn                         4th May 1535
             28.     Augustine Webster                 Tyburn                         4th May 1535
             29.     Robert Lawrence                    Tyburn                         4th May 1535


              30.     John Jones                               Southwark                   12th July 1598
              31.    John Wall                                Worcester                    22nd August 1679

         32.      Richard Reynolds                   Tyburn                         4th May 1535

              33.      John Stone                              Canterbury                  27th December 1539

St John Rigby

              34.      Richard Gwyn                         Wrexham              15th October 1584
              35.      Swithun Wells                         London                 10th December 1591
              36.      Philip Howard                         London                  19th October 1595
              37.   John Rigby                                  London                 21st June 1600

St Margaret Clitherow


              38.     Margaret Clitherow    York     25th March 1586
              39.     Margaret Ward       Tyburn     30th August 1588
              40.     Anne Line        Tyburn         27th February 1601

All Forty were canonised on 25th October 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


During the years of persecution in England, Catholics could not hold public office, attend university, inherit or own a horse nor practise their religion.  To be a Catholic priest was deemed high treason and many were hanged, drawn and quartered for saying Mass and carrying out their priestly functions.  Central to the Mass are the sacred vessels used.  The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us “The chalice occupies the first place among sacred vessels”.

Many examples of ancient chalices have been discovered.  Some are simple & some are elaborate.  The two I will deal with today are quite simple chalices.  Though they are simple in appearance they are both valuable in that they were owned and used by priests during the penal days of the 1600s.  Both chalices are in the safekeeping of the Catholic Church at Abergavenny and I am grateful to the Parish Priest, Dom Thomas Regan O S B, for allowing us to see and photograph these precious relics.

Two 17th century silver chalices used during Penal Times when to be a Catholic priest was considered High Treason
Thomas Gunter was a prominent and wealthy citizen of Abergavenny.  He was also a fearless and staunch Catholic.  At his mansion in Cross Street, Gunter kept two Jesuit priests, Frs Philip Evans and David Lewis.  Thomas Gunter also had a secret chapel in his house where Catholics of the area would gather for Mass celebrated by the intrepid Jesuits.  A report referring to this “secret” chapel said there was at Abergavenny “a public chapel for Papists adorned with the marks of the Jesuits on the outside, and such numbers flocked there that a hundred were seen to come out of it when not above forty attended the parish (Established) church.”

 During the bloodbath engendered by the Popish Plot invented by the evil Titus Oates, both priests were arrested and imprisoned.  Fr Evans was imprisoned in Cardiff Castle and Fr Lewis in Monmouth Gaol.  Fr Lewis was later moved to Usk Gaol.  Tried and convicted of the High Treason of being Catholic priests who “read Mass” Fr Evans and Fr Lewis were condemned to be hanged drawn and quartered.

Monmouth born Fr Philip Evans was martyred at Cardiff on 22nd July 1679.  He was thirty-four years old.  This 17th century chalice is thought to have belonged to Fr Philip Evans.

This 17th century silver chalice is thought to have
 belonged to St Philip Evans
His friend, colleague and superior, Fr David Lewis, who was Abergavenny born and bred, was martyred at Usk on 27th August 1679.   This silver chalice was designed to be dismantled and hidden away at the first sign of priest hunters. It was owned and used by Fr David Lewis.  As such it is a sacred relic of the martyred priest and a very important part of our Catholic heritage in this country.     

This 17th century silver chalice belonged to St David Lewis
On 25th October 1970, the two heroic Welsh priests, Fr Philip Evans and Fr David Lewis, were canonised by Pope Paul VI as two of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. 
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