Wednesday, 14 May 2014

....the imprisoned priest responds

Consumed by fire...and love - Blessed John Forest

The year is 1538 and, in a few days time, on 22nd May, Father John Forest, Franciscan Friar, is due to be put to death, in a most excruciatingly painful fashion, for his Faith.

He has received, in his prison cell, a letter of love and comfort from the troubled Catherine of Aragon, wife (soon to be ex wife) of King Henry VIII.

And now, in the manner of all good priests, ever concerned for the welfare of their sheep, he replies to Queen Catherine. The text is a direct copy so, at times, the grammar may seem a little odd…

“Most Serene Lady and Queen, my daughter most dear in the bowels of Christ, - When I read your letter I was filled with incredible joy, because I saw how great is your constancy in the Faith.

In this, if you persevere, without doubt you will attain salvation.

Doubt not of me that by any inconstancy I should disgrace my grey hairs.

Meanwhile I earnestly beg your steadfast prayers to God, for whose spouse we suffer torments, to receive me into His glory.

For it have I striven these four and forty years in the Order of St Francis.

Meanwhile do you keep free from the pestilent doctrine of the heretics, so that even if an angel should come down from Heaven and bring you another doctrine from that which I have taught you, give no credit to his words, but reject him; for that no other doctrine does not come from God.

These few words you must take in lieu of consolation; but that you will receive from our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom I specially commend you, to my father Francis, to St Catherine; and when you hear of my execution, I heartily beg of you to pray for me to her.

I send you my rosary as I have but three days to live”

This letter should be read and re-read by those to whom false ecumenism is their main goal in life.

An account of Blessed John Forest's death will be posted on his anniversary - 22nd May.


  1. Yes indeed!

    Thank you for this, and God bless!

  2. Beautiful stuff from a bygone age which is just a prayer away.

  3. "I was filled with incredible joy, because I saw how great is your constancy in the Faith." Joy in the face of physical misery because he KNEW what awaited him and Queen Catherine, if both of them only held fast!

  4. Fr Forest and Queen Catherine could not have exchanged letters in May 1538 because by then the Queen had been dead for over two years - she died on 7 January 1536. By 1538 Henry had seen off three wives.

    Fr Forest had been Queen Catherine's confessor, and they did indeed correspond, although during an earlier period of incarceration in Newgate prison. He was beatified by Leo XIII but has yet to be canonized.

    1. John, you are, indeed, right in stating that the Queen had died in 1536. This, if you read the last sentence ("I have but three days to live") must mean that, either my source is wrong or that the date of Bl John Forest's execution was deferred. I will flag it up in my post on the anniversary of his death, many thanks.

  5. Richard,
    Excellent post as usual-Queen Catherine of Aragon along with Pope Pius XII should be Canonised without delay!