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Venerable John Wall

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Martyr, born in Lancashire, 1620; suffered near Worcester, 22 August, 1679; known at Douay and Rome as John Marsh, and when on the Mission under the aliases of Francis Johnson, Webb, and Dormore. The son of wealthy and staunch Lancashire Catholics, he was sent when very young to Douai College . He entered the Roman College, 5 November, 1641, was made priest, 3 December, 1645, and sent to the Mission, 12 May, 1648. On 1 Jan., 1651, he received the habit of St. Francis at St. Bonaventure's Friary, Douai, and a year later was professed, taking the name of Joachim of St. Anne. He filled the offices of vicar and novice master at Douai until 1656, when he returned to the Mission, and for twenty years laboured zealously in Worcestershire. He was apprehended, December, 1678, at Rushock Court near Bromsgrove, where the sheriff's man came to seek a debtor; his priestly character transpiring, he was tendered the Oath of Supremacy, and was committed to Worcester Gaol for refusing it. He was brought to trial at the Assizes, 25 April, on the charges of receiving and exercising his priesthood, and of refusing the oaths. A man whose vices he had reproved bore testimony to his priesthood, and he received sentence. He was then sent to London, and four times examined by Oates, Bedloe, and others in the hope of implicating him in the pretended plot; but was declared innocent of all plotting and offered his life if he would abjure his religion. Brought back to Worcester, he was executed at Redhill. On the day previous, William Levison was enabled to confess and communicate him, and at the moment of execution the same priest gave him the last absolution. His quartered body was given to his friends, and was buried in St. Oswald's churchyard. Mr. Levison, however, secured the martyr's head, and it was treasured by the friars at Douai until the dissolution of that house in the French Revolution. The Franciscan nuns at Taunton possess a tooth and a bone of the martyr. The long speech he composed for his execution was circulated among the Catholics after his death; and the authorities issued as a broadsheet the public account of his execution containing "a true copy of the speech...with animadversions upon the same". In 1879 a rood was erected in his memory in the churchyard at Harvington, whose hall was the usual home of the martyr.

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