I am come hither to die

From “The Last Speech and Confession of Mr. John Southworth, a Popish Priest at his Execution at Tyburn June 28, 1654”

Saint John Southworth
  • Saint John Southworth

I am come hither to die, and would willingly speak something…I am a Lancashire man and am brought hither to die not for any crime I have committed against the laws, but for being a priest, and obeying the commandments of my Savior Jesus Christ and for professing the true Roman Catholic and Apostolic Faith, in which I willingly die, and have earnestly desired the same. My study from my infancy was to find out the true and only way to serve God, and having found it, my study was to serve Him. And I have suffered much, and many years imprisonment, to obtain that which I hope ere long I shall enjoy. Almighty God sent his only Son my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into this world for the redemption of mankind; and although the least of his sufferings was superabundant satisfaction, yet he rested not so contented, but himself doeth by word and example give us a rule by which we should be guided: he told St. Peter, thou art a rock, and upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it — which is the true Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

— from “The Last Speech and Confession of Mr. John Southworth, a Popish Priest at his Execution at Tyburn June 28, 1654”

St. John Southworth (c. 1592–1654) was an English martyr for the Catholic faith and one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales recognized by the Church. Hailing from Lancashire, which remained largely Catholic after Henry VIII’s revolt against the Church, Southworth was arrested for exercising the Catholic priesthood. He was the only priest to be executed in England during the period known as the Protectorate (under the rule of Oliver Cromwell), and the last to be executed in that country for simply being a Roman Catholic priest. He was beatified in 1929 and in 1970 canonized a saint of the Church along with 39 other English martyrs of the English Revolt.

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What can the Reader reader possibly say to this last testament from an English martyr who lived in the 17th century but was canonized in the 20th? How about descriptions of the North American Jesuit martyrs who gruesomely died at the hands of native American tribes whom they wished to convert to Catholicism? Their stories made great reading when I was a child.

The Abrahamic monotheistic faiths, with their endless "one-upping" for who has the right interpretation of scripture, and who has the right to possess or be dispossed of limited (oh, so limited. think you're in the "saved" group? think again! you've got the wrong interpretation! you are really worshiping Satan or a "false God!") "holy space," are a recipe for serious violence, if ever there was one. God awful depressing.

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