St John Roberts OSB

Despite being 22 before he converted to Catholicism, Welshman St John Roberts achieved much for the Church before being martyred just 12 years later.

Born in the town of Trawsfynydd in 1576, John studied initially at the University of Oxford from 1596 until 1597 and then followed a legal education at the Inns of Court in London.

He later went to Paris where he converted to Catholicism before being admitted as a student at the Royal English College in Valladolid in October 1598. Attracted by the monastic life, he moved to the city’s Benedictine community of St Benito before, in 1600, making his religious profession in the church of the Abbey of St Martín at Santiago de Compostela. He was ordained a priest in Salamanca in 1602.

Ordered to the mission in England, Father John arrived in April 1603 and was appointed Vicar of the Spanish Benedictine Congregation in England. Despite being stopped, incarcerated and banished on several occasions, he always returned. During one period of deportation he helped to establish the Benedictine community of St Gregory at Douai and is considered to be its first superior.

On a fifth returned to England, he was stopped while dressed in Mass vestments. This time he was condemned to death for being a priest and martyred at Tyburn in December 1610, aged 34. He was solemnly canonised by Pope Paul VI on October 25 1970.