BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE 350TH ANNIVERSARY of the martyrdom of St John Southworth on June 28, 1654, was celebrated at Westminster Cathedral last weekend.
The London cathedral has been given special permission to keep the Feast of St John as a solemnity. His shrine was specially decorated for the celebration, with an exhibition about his life and martyrdom nearby.
“The shrine of St John brings us to stand, to contemplate, and to wonder,” said Mgr Mark Langham, cathedral administrator, in a sermon. “His body recalls his earthly and his heavenly journey, for the glory that he now enjoys is the fruit of his earthly history — a ministry undertaken in the very streets where our cathedral now stands, amid the poorest, the most contagious, the most unheeded. Blessed be St John, whose body hallows this Cathedral as surely as his prayers sustain our community.” St John was born in Lancashire and educated at Douai, France. He returned to England as a priest but was hunted down after the English Civil War and arrested. The judge at his trial urged him to deny he was a priest, and so save his life, but he refused, as this would have implied a rejection of his faith.