Fenwick, John, Bl.

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Jesuit priest and martyr; vere Caldwell; b. Durham, England, 1628; d. hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn (London), June 20, 1679. When John embraced the Catholic faith, his Protestant family disowned him. He made his way to the Jesuit college at St-Omer in about 1654, then entered the Jesuit novitiate at Watten two years later. After completing his theology studies at Liège, he was ordained (1664) then served as procurator of St-Omer. About 1674 he returned to England. While serving in London as procurator, he was arrested (Sept. 28, 1678) with Bl. William ireland. He was bound so tightly in irons at Newgate Prison that one of his legs became gangrenous. He was tried at the Old Bailey (Dec. 17, 1678) together with Frs. whitbread and Ireland on the fallacious charge of complicity in the Oates Plot to assassinate the king. The trial was suspended when it appeared the jury would render a verdict in favor of the priests. These Jesuits were joined by others who had been apprehended on the same charge and tried again on June 13, 1679. Upon the instruction of the judge, all were found guilty on perjurous testimony and condemned. After pardoning those who persecuted him, Fenwick said: "I am very willing to and ready to suffer death. I pray God pardon me my sins and save my soul." He was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England); 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) 17578.

[k. i. rabenstein]