December 10: St. John Roberts
John was born in Wales in 1577. Although he was not a Catholic, he was taught by an elderly priest. So, as he said later, at heart he was always a Catholic. John went to Oxford University in England for a while. Then he took a trip to France to have a good time. As it turned out, this trip brought him more than fun. It was in Paris, France, that he found great happiness in joining the Catholic Church. John lost no time after this in taking steps to become a priest. He went to an English college in Spain and became a Benedictine monk. Then his great dream of going back to England came true three years later. He and another monk were given permission to set out for that land. They knew the dangers they would meet. In fact, they did not have long to wait before trouble began. They entered England wearing plumed hats and swords at their sides. Soon, however, they were arrested for being priests and sent out of the country.
St. John Roberts went back to England again. He worked day and night to keep the faith alive during Queen Elizabeth's terrible persecution. Several times he was captured, put in prison, and exiled, yet he always came back. The last time Father John was arrested, he was finishing Mass. There was to be no escape. When asked, he declared he was a priest and a monk. He explained that he had come to England to work for the salvation of the people. "Were I to live longer," he added, "I would continue to do what I have been doing." St. John was given an unfair trial and condemned to death.
The night before he was to be hanged, a good Spanish lady arranged for him to be brought into the company of eighteen other prisoners. They were also suffering for Christ's sake. During their supper together, St. John was full of joy. Then he thought perhaps he should not show so much happiness. "Do you think I may be giving bad example by my joy?" he asked his hostess. "No, certainly not," she replied. "You could not do anything better than to let everyone see the cheerful courage you have as you are about to die for Christ."
The next day, St. John was hanged. The crowds were so attracted by the personality of this young priest that they did not let the executioners make him suffer. St. John Roberts was martyred in 1610.
Today, take a few minutes to pray for all of the dedicated men and women who spend their lives to bring the Gospel to others.