Sunday 13 December 2015

"A Most Wicked Proceeding", Saint John Southworth, secular priest of Westminster, London, an English Martyr

Saint John Southworth - Secular priest
Saint John Southworth at Tyburn
© 2014 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint John Southworth' DVD
Born of an old Lancashire family, John Southworth returned from Douay in 1619, and after eight years was arrested and condemned at Lancaster. He was, however, reprieved, and after three years in prison his sentence was commuted to banishment at the insistence of Queen Henrietta Maria. But he continued to work in London, and with such success that the curate of St Margaret's, Westminster, petitioned the Protestant archbishop of Canterbury against him (and Saint Henry Morse) as a "dangerous seducer," visiting the plague-stricken, the sick and dying, distributing alms, making many converts.
Saint John Southworth visits the Plague-Victims of 17th Century London
© 2014 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint John Southworth' DVD
"Some of these poor people," the curate says, "frequent the Mass at Denmark House, and three of them watched all night with William Stiles till he died, and then went to Mass. A most wicked proceeding if it should not be remedied."
On this John Southworth was apprehended, but again released on the Queen's intervention. Some years later, under Oliver Cromwell, Mr Southworth was put on trial at the Old Bailey. The bench, seeing him a man of sixty-two, urged him to plead not guilty. He refused, for to him the denial of his priesthood would be the denial of his faith.
Saint John Southworth in prison
© 2014 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint John Southworth' DVD
The recorder was in tears as he sentenced him. He was executed at Tyburn on 28 June 1654, eve of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul. His mangled body was taken to Douay for burial; in 1927 the relics were found, and are now enshrined in Westminster Cathedral.
Shrine of Saint John Southworth, Westminster Cathedral
© 2014 Mary's Dowry Productions
Screenshot from 'Saint John Southworth' DVD
"He stirreth up the people, teaching...". - Luke 23, 5.
Taken from
Mementoes of the Martyrs and Confessors of England and Wales
by Henry Sebastian Bowden of the Oratory
Saint John Southworth DVD: During an interesting period in England's history, when everything had changed and times were difficult, an added epidemic allowed for good people like St. John Southworth to show their missionary spirit among the people of Westminster.  His joyful, kindly character encouraged the people he met, as well as his friends, especially St. Henry Morse, with whom he travelled and worked.  His deeply spiritual example in the Commonwealth establishment even drew the attention of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector.  Centuries later, the unexpected discovery of his tomb, hidden in France, allowed for Westminster's Saint to return home.  His shrine draws prayerful visitors every day to Westminster Cathedral in London.  Medieval bells, chimes, voices and a tangible bass viola da gamba transport you back to 17th Century England in this atmospheric film. 
Saint John Southworth DVD
© 2014 Mary's Dowry Productions
 In 2007 Mary’s Dowry productions created a new form of film media to present the lives of the saints. Mary’s Dowry Productions recreates stunning silent visuals, informative, devotional narration, and original contemplative music that touches your spirit to draw you into a spiritual encounter with the saint. Watch with your spiritual eye, listen with your spiritual ear. Our films seek to offer a window into the lives of our saints. Using your spiritual senses we invite you to shut out the world, sit prayerfully and peacefully and go on a journey of faith, history and prayer with this inspiring Saint.

Length and Format:
The film runs for 30 minutes and is available on Region Free DVD worldwide.

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