Wednesday, March 18

Blessed John Thewlis and Roger Wrennall

On the hill above the Cathedral a memorial recalls the sacrifice of those who died for their faith in the city during the years of persecution. Today is the anniversary of the execution of two of those martyrs (1615/1616): Blessed John Thewlis and Blessed Roger Wrennall. Canon Billington writes about the martyrs:

Blessed John Thewlis
"Thewlis was born at Upholland about 1568, and after being trained abroad, was sent to England in 1592. Being arrested soon afterwards, he was imprisoned at Wisbech, and on his escape, or release, ministered in Lancashire till his arrest. At his trial William Leigh, the famous Puritan rector of Standish, was brought in to dispute with him, but to no avail. A godson, Mr. Assheton of Lever, offered him £20 a year if he would renounce his religion, but in vain. So he was for his priesthood condemned as a traitor... He was executed accordingly; his head was set up on the castle walls, and his quarters at Lancaster, Preston, Wigan and Warrington."

Blessed Roger Wrennall
"Before his trial, Thewlis had made his escape from the castle by the aid of another Catholic prisoner, the above named Roger Wrennall, a weaver from the Kirkham district. After wandering about all night, they found themselves in the morning close to Lancaster, and so were recaptured. Wrennall was condemned for assisting the priest, being hanged as a felon. At first the rope broke and he fell to the ground, whereupon the ministers present urged him again to take the oath and save his life. He answered 'I am the same man I was, and in the same mind; use your pleasure with me'; running up the ladder, as having had a vision of 'the good things of the Lord.' A new rope was found, and he was executed."