The English Martyrs - St John Almond and Companions

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These forty saints died for their faith between 1535 and 1679. They were selected from 200 already beatified by earlier popes. They were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. In 2001 their feast was moved to this day.

Thirteen were seminary priests, ten were Jesuits, three Benedictines, three Carthusian monks, one Brigettine, two Franciscans, and one Austin friar. The rest were lay people: four men and three women.

They are: Saint John Almond; Edmund Arrowsmith; Ambrose Barlow; John Boste; Alexander Briant; Edmund Campion; Margaret Clitherow; Philip Evans; Thomas Garnet; Edmund Gennings; Richard Gwyn; John Houghton; Phillip Howard; John Jones; John Kemble; Luke Kirby; Robert Lawrence; David Lewis; Anne Line; John Lloyd; Cuthbert Mayne; Henry Morse; Nicholas Owen; John Paine; Polydore Plasden; John Plessington; Richard Reynolds; John Rigby; John Roberts; Alban Roe; Ralph Sherwin; Robert Southwell; John Stone; John Wall; Henry Walpole; Margaret Ward; Augustine Webster; Swithun Wells and Eustace White.

'The Martyrs' Picture' (left) was painted by Durante Alberti in 1580, just after the foundation of the Venerable English College in Rome. It depicts the Blessed Trinity with two English martyrs: St Thomas of Canterbury on the left hand side and St Edmund, King of East Anglia, on the right.

Blood from Christ's wounds falls onto a map of the British Isles, and from this blood fire is springing up. This ties in with the College motto, held by a cherub: Ignem veni mittere in terram - I have come to bring fire to the earth.

According to tradition, students gathered around this picture to sing a Te Deum whenever news reached Rome of the martyrdom of a former student. This custom continues today when the Te Deum is sung in front of the painting on 1st December, 'Martyrs' Day', and the relics of the Martyrs are venerated by the students.