English Franciscan provincial; b. Lichfield, Staffordshire, 1570; d. Douai, Nov. 12, 1660. The martyrdom of Edmund gennings, John's older brother, inspired John to remorse and the renunciation of Protestantism for Roman Catholicism. Leaving England, John entered Douai and was ordained (1607). When sent on the English mission, he zealously served English Catholics until shortly after 1610, when he decided to become a Franciscan. By 1614 he had been admitted and in conjunction with several English Franciscans was seeking to revive the defunct English Franciscan province. Aided by their Belgian and French confreres, the group began a provincial college at Douai, which was to serve as their motherhouse. They petitioned for the canonical erection of the English province, and Gennings was first appointed custos and then provincial (1629) when the petition was granted. After 1621 Gennings was also assisted by English Franciscan nuns of the convent of St. Elizabeth, Brussels. He was subsequently elected and re-elected provincial in 1634 and 1640; Gennings provided effective leadership and inspiration for the revived English province until his death.
Bibliography: thaddeus, The Franciscans in England, 1600–1850 (London 1898). r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924). j. gennings, Life and Death of Ven. Edmund Gennings (London 1887). j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time, 5 v. (London and New York, 1885–1902) 2:419–423.
[p. s. mcgarry]