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Saint John Houghton is an important figure for Catholic England. He was the first of the five Protomartyrs to die for the Catholic Faith in penal times in England. Even if he had not sacrificed his life for the Catholic Faith, it is believed he would have been canonised as a Saint of England regardless.
Saint John Houghton fled his parents’ home when he learned that they had organised a marriage for him. He took refuge with a Catholic priest, studied for the priesthood and was ordained. After four years he entered the Carthusian London Charterhouse and was soon elected prior. He was deeply admired for his humility, observances and holiness.
When King Henry VIII of England entered schism and first sought out the great and holy figures in England to join him, Saint John Houghton refused to take the King’s Oath of Supremacy. He and his companions were committed to the Tower of London where they were imprisoned and relentlessly pressured and threatened by Thomas Cromwell. Eventually, Saint John Houghton was tried at Westminster where the jury, threatened and terrified by Cromwell, sentenced him and his companions guilty of High Treason.
On May 4th 1535, Saint John Houghton and his companions were dragged on hurdles to the infamous Tyburn gallows. Saint Thomas More watched them led away as he stood at the window of his own cell in the Tower of London. Saint Thomas More exclaimed that they went to their deaths as bridegrooms going to their marriage.
Before his execution, Saint John Houghton prepared his brethren for their passion, urging them to cleanse their hearts by confession. He was the first to step up to the gallows, wearing his full Carthusian habit, where his gentle bearing and shining, smiling face touched the hearts of the horrified crowds. He embraced the executioner and forgave him.
Saint John Houghton is famous for his last words and his brave, Catholic witness. He is one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales
Learn about the inspiring life of Saint John Houghton set during the great turning point in England’s Catholic history in this new film praised for not only presenting information, details and facts but a prayerful and spiritual film experience.
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