December 10 – St. John Roberts
John was born in Wales, and although he was not a Catholic, he was taught by an elderly priest. So, as he said later, at heart he was always a Catholic. John went to Oxford University in England for a while, but then he took a trip to France to have a good time. As it turned out, this trip brought him more than just fun, for in Paris he found great happiness in joining the Catholic Church.
John lost no time after this in taking steps to become a priest. . He went to an English college in Spain and then became a Benedictine monk. His great dream of going back to England came true three years later when he and another monk were given permission to set out for that land. Although they entered England wearing plumed hats and swords at their sides, they were soon arrested for being priests and sent out of the country.
St. John Roberts went back to England again and worked day and night to keep the Faith alive under Queen Elizabeth’s terrible persecution of Catholics. Over and over again he was captured, put in prison, exiles, and always he came back. The last time Father John was arrested was as he was finishing Mass, and this time there was no escape.
When asked, he declared he was a priest and a monk and that he had come to England to work for the salvation of souls. “Were I to live longer,” he added, “I would continue to do what I have been doing.” St. John was given a fake trial and condemned to death.
The night before he and another Catholic were to be hanged, a good Spanish lady arranged for them to be brought into the company of eighteen other prisoners who were also suffering for Christ’s sake. During their supper together, St. John was full of joy. Then he thought perhaps he should not show so much happiness. “Do you think I may be giving bad example by my joy?” he asked his hostess. “No, certainly not,” she replied. “You could not do anything better than to let everyone see the cheerful courage you have as you are about to die for Christ.” Then she insisted on washing the feet of the martyrs, to show her respect for them.
The next day, St. John was hanged, and the crowds were so attracted by the personality of this young priest that they did not let the executioners make him suffer.
Today I will say an “Our Father” for Missionaries, pausing especially on the words: “Thy Kingdom come.”