Davies, William, Bl.
DAVIES, WILLIAM, BL.
Priest, martyr; b. in North Wales, possibly in Crois in Yris, Denbighshire, or at Colwyn Bay, Wales; d. July 21, 1593, hanged, drawn, and quartered at Beaumaris, Anglesey, North Wales. He arrived at the English College in Rheims, April 6, 1582, just in time to assist the first Mass of the Bl. Nicholas garlick. Following his own ordination in April 1585, he labored zealously in Wales and succeeded in reclaiming many Catholics.
In 1591–92, he was arrested at Holyhead with four students whom he was sending via Ireland to the English College at Valladolid. Davies was thrown into the dungeon in Beaumaris Castle and separated from his companions. Later he was able to join the students for an hour daily and even to celebrate Mass. An indulgent judge allowed Catholics from all parts to consult him, and Protestant ministers came to dispute with him.
When the death sentence was pronounced at the assizes, Davies intoned the Te Deum, which the others took up. To still the murmurs of the people against the injustice of the sentence, the judge reprieved the condemned until the queen's pleasure be known.
Davies was sent to Ludlow to be examined by the Council of the Marches. He was transferred to various prisons until he was sent back to Beaumaris, where his young companions were being held. For some six months they lived the life of a religious community, dividing their time between prayer and study, "with so much comfort to themselves that they seemed to be rather in heaven than in prison."
At the summer assizes it was decided that the priest must die as a traitor. Eventually his young companions escaped from prison and the youngest made his way to Valladolid, where he recounted the whole story to Bishop Yepes, who recorded it.
There is now a chapel in Anglesey, built as a memorial to the martyr, who was declared venerable by Leo XIII in 1886 and beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 22, 1987 with George Haydock and Companions.
Feast: July 27; May 4 (Feast of the English Martyrs in 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). d. de yepes, Historia Particular de la persecución de Inglaterra (Madrid 1599).
[k. i. rabenstein]