John Wall


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Franciscan priest and martyr. The son of William Wall, a Norfolk recusant, John Wall was educated at the English College, Douai (1633–41), and at the English College, Rome (1642–5), where he was ordained priest. He returned to England in 1648, staying on his way at Douai at the friary of St Bonaventure, where in 1651 he joined the Franciscan Order. In 1656 he returned to England, using the name Marsh, and worked for twenty-three years mainly in Warwickshire, based on Harvington Hall, which belonged to the Talbot family. In the anti-Catholic reaction caused by the ‘Popish Plot’ priests were sentenced to banishment, but Wall defied the proclamation. He was arrested at Rushock Court (Hereford and Worcester) and imprisoned at Worcester Castle, where he reconciled a number of prisoners to the Church of Rome. He was examined by the Privy Council and by Titus Oates, imprisoned at Newgate, and sent back to Worcester. Here on 17 August 1679 he was condemned, not for any involvement in a real or alleged plot, but simply for the fact of his priesthood. He was executed there five days later. In 1970 he was canonized by Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast: 25 October.

R. Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests (ed. J. H. Pollen, 1928), pp. 550–5; F. Davey, Blessed John Wall (pamphlet, 1961).

Subjects: Christianity.

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