St. John Payne

John Payne was born in Peterborough, England in 1532. In 1576, he was ordained a priest by the Archbishop of Cambrei. Soon after, he went to live with Lady Anne Petre, widow of Sir William Petre, in Essex, staying in the “priest hole” in her house. He successfully converted many before he was arrested in 1581, through the efforts of informer George Eliot. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and racked before being accused and found guilty of plotting to murder the Queen in a preplanned trial. At his execution, Payne prayed for almost half an hour, then kissed the scaffold and declared his innocence. The crowd became so sympathetic to him that they hung on his feet to hasten his death and prevent the need for quartering. His feast day is May 4.

Questions for Reflection:

  • How do you stay firm in the face of adversity?
  • How can you stop yourself from harshly judging others?