Cornelius, John, Bl.

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Jesuit priest and martyr; baptised John Conor O'Mahony; alias Mohun; b. Bodmin, Cornwall, England, 1557; d. hanged, drawn, and quartered at Dorchester, Dorset, July 4, 1594. John was born to Irish immigrants on the estate of Sir John Arundell, who took an interest in the boy and provided for his education at Exeter College, Oxford. Seeking a Catholic education in theology, John transferred to the English College at Rheims (1579), then at Rome (1580), where he became acquainted with the Society of Jesus. Following his ordination (1583); he ministered for a decade at Lanherne, where he was chaplain to Lady Arundell. He requested entry into the Jesuits. Unable to leave his flock unattended to undertake his novitiate in Flanders, he kept in contact with the English superior, Henry Garnet, who sought permission for Cornelius to make his novitiate in England.

He was arrested April 14, 1594, at Chideock Castle, Dorsetshire. Bl. Thomas Bosgrave, a member of the Arundell family, met Cornelius as he was being taken away. Bosgrave offered the bareheaded priest his hat and was arrested for giving comfort to an illegal priest. Two Irish servants of the castle, John (or Terence) Carey and Patrick Salmon, were also arrested and suffered with Bosgrave and Cornelius. They were sent to the Marshalsea in London for examination. Even under torture the priest refused to divulge the names of other Catholics. He was returned to Dorchester, where he and his three companions were condemned, July 2, 1594. Cornelius pronounced his vows as a Jesuit before three witnesses during his imprisonment. The priest was the last of the four to suffer. Kissing the gallows and the feet of his three fellow martyrs, he uttered the words of St. Andrew: "O Cross, long desired." Then he prayed for his executioners and the queen. He was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England); July 4 (Diocese of Plymouth); Dec. 1 (Jesuits).

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

Bibliography: r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924; repr. Farnborough 1969). j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891). j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998) 19899.

[k. i. rabenstein]

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Cornelius, John, Bl.

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