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Friday, August 01, 2014

JOHN THOMAS, Layman, 1593


HE was condemned, together with Bird, but, horrified at the sentence of death, promised the judge he would go to Church. The judge could not recall the sentence given, so countermanded his execution till the Queen's pardon should arrive. On his return to prison, helped probably by Bird's exhortations, he conquered the fear of death by the fear of Hell, and sent word at once to the judge that he repented of his cowardice, and would do nothing contrary to his duty as a Catholic. The judge said, " Is he in such a hurry for the gallows ? Let him not be afraid ; if he persists we can hang him at the next assizes." Yet he appeared at the gallows with the other criminals, carrying his winding-sheet, and said to the Sheriff he had been condemned and had come to die. But the Sheriff said that, though he would meet his wishes with the greatest pleasure, were it in his power, he could not do so, as his name was not on the list. So Thomas retired, lamenting his sin and his past life, for he had been a Calvinist minister ; but God did not fail him, and, purged by a long penance, with a large increase of merits, in the August following he obtained what he desired, at Bardich, Winchester.

" And the Lord turning looked on Peter . . . and Peter going out wept bitterly."—LUKE xxii. 61, 62.

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