Bell, Arthur, Bl.

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Franciscan priest, martyr; alias Francis Bell; b. Jan. 13, 1590, at Temple-Broughton (near Worcester), England; d. Dec. 11, 1643, HDQ at Tyburn (London) under Charles I. At age eight Arthur was entrusted to the care of his maternal uncle, Francis Daniel, who sent Bell abroad to study at age 24. After completing the course at the English College in Valladolid, Spain, he was ordained a priest at Salamanca. He received the Franciscan habit at Segovia, Aug. 8, 1618.

He was one of the first members of the Franciscan community at Douai, where he subsequently fulfilled the offices of guardian and professor of Hebrew. Called to Scotland in 1632 as the first Franciscan provincial, his efforts to restore the order there proved unsuccessful, and he returned to England, where he labored until his arrest (Nov. 6, 1643) as a spy and was committed to Newgate Prison.

The record of his trial shows a man of singular devotion who did not shrink from suffering. When the death sentence was declared, he praised God and thanked his judges for allowing him to die for Christ.

Bell wrote The History, Life, and Miracles of Joane of the Cross (St. Omer 1625) and translated from the Spanish Andrew a Soto's A brief instruction on how we ought to hear Mass (Brussels 1624).

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 22, 1987 with George Haydock and Companions.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England).

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924). j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891). j. thaddeus, The Franciscans in England 16001859, 15 v. (London, 1898).

[s. m. donovan/

k. i. rabenstein]