Wall, John, St.

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English martyr; b. Chingle Hall?, Lancashire, 1620;d. Worcester, Aug. 22, 1679. The son of William Wall of Aldeby, Norfolk, he was baptized by Edmund arrowsmith, and at the age of 13, he was sent to Douai. There he spent eight years before entering the English College, Rome, for his ecclesiastical studies on May 11, 1642, under the name of Marsh. He was followed there by his brother William, who because of ill health had failed to persevere as a Carthusian at Nieuport in Flanders and later became a Benedictine monk of Lambspring in Germany. John, ordained on Dec. 3, 1645, after higher studies, left for England (1648); on the way there he stayed at the Franciscan friary of St. Bonaventure, Douai, where he sought to join the Friars Minor. After a year in England he returned to St. Bonaventure's, and was clothed as a novice on Jan. 1, 1651, taking the name of Brother Joachim of St. Anne. In 1656 he was again sent to England, and under the name of Mr. Webb, worked mainly in Warwickshire for 23 years. Wall's name is commonly associated with Harvington Hall, the seat of a Catholic branch of the Talbot family. At the outbreak of the violence caused by the oates plot, Wall was in London for a Franciscan provincial chapter. In defiance of the proclamation ordering all priests to leave the kingdom, he returned to Worcestershire. About a month later, at Rushock Court, he was arrested and taken to Worcester Castle, where he received into the Church a number of his fellow prisoners; then in May 1679 he was taken to London to be questioned concerning the Oates Plot. When his examination before the Privy Council emphasized his innocence, he was confined in Newgate (where his brother, now Dom Cuthbert, a fellow prisoner, was not permitted to see him) and then sent back to Worcester. At the summer assizes in the city he was condemned for his priesthood (Aug. 17, 1679), and he was executed five days later. Wall was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929 and canonized by Paul VI in 1970. His head, which was secured after his execution by a fellow Franciscan, John Baptist Leveson, was preserved at Douai until the French Revolution, when it was lost. (see england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.)

Feast: Aug. 26.

Bibliography: f. davey, Blessed John Wall (Postulation Pamphlet; London 1961). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater, 4 v. (New York 1956) 3:409410. r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924).

[g. fitzherbert]