Saturday, June 28, 2014

In Search of St. John Southworth

That's the title of a DVD issued in 2011 about the Catholic martyr of the Diocese of Westminster, who is being celebrated today (since yesterday was the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) at Westminster Cathedral. When you think about it, many people have searched for St. John Southworth--the authorities in England during the reign of Charles I and the Protectorate and those who found his body in the 1920's in France when Douai College was finally destroyed. His last words are famous:

“My faith and obedience to my superiors is all the treason charged against me; nay, I die for Christ’s law, which no human law, by whomsoever made, ought to withstand or contradict… To follow His holy doctrine and imitate His holy death, I willingly suffer at present; this gallows I look on as His Cross, which I gladly take to follow my Dear Saviour…I plead not for myself…but for you poor persecuted Catholics whom I leave behind me.

"My faith is my crime, the performance of my duty the occasion of my condemnation. I confess I am a great sinner; against God I have offended, but am innocent of any sin against man, I mean the Commonwealth, and the present Government."

Westminster Cathedral honors their diocesan martyr saint by having his remains in the Chapel of St. George and the English Martyrs and by launching a new organization in his name:

The Guild of St John Southworth will be launched between Autumn 2014 and Spring 2015. The aim of the Guild will be to build on the very valuable and important work carried out by the volunteers on the Information Desk and the current Cathedral tour guides and to welcome people to Westminster Cathedral and offer them information and guiding if they wish.

On the Cathedral facebook page, there are photographs showing preparation for several big celebrations: St. John Southworth's feast, an ordination, the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul and the anniversary of the Cathedral's dedication. It's awe-inspiring to think that the ordinands will be in the presence of the relic of a priest-martyr in London!

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