Almond, John, St.
ALMOND, JOHN, ST.
English martyr; b. Allerton, near Liverpool, c. 1577; d. Tyburn, Dec. 5, 1612. At the age of eight, having already attended Much Wootton Grammar School, he went to Ireland, where he remained until 1597. He then entered the English College at Rome and in April 1601 he was ordained. To gain his Doctor of Divinity degree he gave a public disputation that won great applause, since he was exceptionally clever and quick at debate. Almond left Rome for England in September of 1602 and became a successful missionary—discreet, forceful, and holy. In 1607 he was tracked down by pursuivants in Holborn, taken to Newgate, and then transferred to the Gatehouse Prison. He either escaped or was released, for he was heard of in Staffordshire in 1609. In 1612 he was again arrested and brought before Dr. John King, Bishop of London. Part of the extant record of the examination reads:
bishop: In what place were you born?
john almond: About Allerton.
bishop: About Allerton! Mark the equivocation; then not in Allerton?
john almond: No equivocation. I was not born in Allerton but on the edge or side of Allerton.
bishop: You were born under a hedge then were you?
john almond: Many a better man, than I or you either, has been born under a hedge.
bishop: You cannot remember that you were born in a house?
john almond: Can you?
bishop: My mother told me so.
john almond: Then you remember not that you were born in a house but only that your mother told you so. So much I remember too.
He was committed to Newgate, where the prisoners were in danger of suffocation from the stench of the dungeon. Because of his reputation for cleverness and sanctity, Protestant ministers, including the archbishop of Canterbury, carried on disputes with Almond in the hope of winning a recantation; but they always retired, beaten in argument. On Dec. 3, 1612, he was brought for trial under his own name and two aliases, Mollinax and La-dome. Although no proof was brought, he was found guilty of being a priest and on December 5 he was drawn to Tyburn. His last words on the scaffold were, "In manus tuas Domine …"; he was canonized on Oct. 25, 1970. (see england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.)
Feast: Dec. 5; Oct. 25; May 4.
Bibliography: a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 4:502–503. j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891) 170–193. r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924). j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present time, 5 v. (London–New York 1885–1902) 1:26–27. w. j. steele, Blessed John Almond (Postulation pamphlet; London 1961).