Above: Flag of England
SAINT JOHN PAYNE, A.K.A. JOHN PAINE (1532-1582)
Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
His feast = April 2
SAINT CUTHBERT MAYNE (1544-1577)
Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr
His feast transferred from November 25
Religious toleration, I am convinced, is a great civic virtue. Unfortunately, throughout much of history, it has been a rare one. And its scarcity has made martyrs. Today I write about two of them.
St. John Payne/Paine was born at Petersborough, England, in 1532. Sources indicate that he might have converted to Roman Catholicism. He was, past a certain point in his life, anyway, a Roman Catholic. Payne studied for the priesthood at Douai, France, in 1574-1576, becoming a priest and beginning his English mission in 1576. For a year the saint worked successfully as an undercover priest in England. One of his notable accomplishments was reconverting George Godsalf, a former Roman Catholic deacon, back to Catholicism. Godsalf then studied for the priesthood at Douai, became a priest in 1577, and rejoined Payne, being arrested with him in 1581.
These priests found shelter with Lady Anne Petre, an elderly (born 1509) widow and a devout Catholic. Her late husband had been a high-ranking aide to Tudor monarchs. Furthermore, her father had been Lord Mayor of London. She took a great risk aiding these priests, who were technically traitors, according to the law. Payne went to his gruesome death on April2, 1582. Lady Anne died later that month, perhaps of the shock of what had happened to Payne. And Godsalf remained in prison until 1585, when authorities banished him. He died in Paris in 1592.
St. John Payne began his English mission with St. Cuthbert Mayne. Born at Youlston, Devonshire, England, in 1544, Mayne’s uncle, an Anglican priest, raised him. Then he met St. Edmund Campion, who influenced him to convert to Roman Catholicism. Mayne began his studies at Douai in 1573, became a Catholic priest in 1575, and began his English mission the next year. He found shelter with Francis Tregian the Elder (1548-1608), who took a great risk. Payne was officially Tregian’s estate steward, but worked undercover as a priest. Authorities arrested Mayne and Tregian in 1577. Declared a traitor, Mayne met his gruesome demise on November 25, 1577, becoming the first Englishman trained for the Catholic priesthood to die as a martyr after the final break with Rome. Tregian spent twenty-eight years in prison until King James I pardoned him. Then the protector moved to Madrid, where King Philip III of Spain granted him a pension. Tregian died at the Jesuit hospice in Lisbon in 1608.
Although Payne and Mayne would have argued with me in a counterfactual reality where we would have been contemporaries, I honor them. What they did, they did for Jesus.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 24, 2012 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF THE ORDINATION OF FLORENCE LI-TIM-OI, ANGLICAN PRIEST
THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS DE SALES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF GENEVA
THE FEAST OF THURGOOD MARSHALL, ATTORNEY AND JURIST
THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BARCLAY, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN
you gave your servants
Saints John Payne and Cuthbert Mayne
courage to confess Jesus Christ
and to die for this faith;
may we always be ready
to give a reason for the hope that is in us
and to suffer gladly for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9
—A New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), pages 680-681