On Friday 22nd January, our community was pleased to take part in a “Priests and People” evening of entertainment hosted by our local Catholic secondary school, named after the local martyr St John Payne [http://www.sjp.essex.sch.uk/].
Staff and students of the school, both past and present, are celebrating their 50th anniversary year of academic excellence with a series of events, leading up to the main Jubilee Mass in June. This concert of songs, sketches and variety was led by the school’s incomparable Deputy Head, Mr Des Kelly (pictured below with some of the Canons), whose ready wit and staggering enthusiasm was a particularly memorable contribution to the entertainment.
Fr Hugh and Fr John sang a few light-hearted songs and were accompanied on the pianoforte by Br Stephen.
St John Payne (b. 1532, +1582) is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Born into a Protestant family in Peterborough, he converted to Catholicism, and was ordained a priest at Douai. He ministered for some time at Ingatestone, home of the recusant Petre family. Betrayed by an informer, he was tortured and imprisoned in the Tower. He was taken to Chelmsford and executed there on 2nd April 1582. The authorities wanted a swift execution with maximum propaganda, but the crowd were sympathetic to Payne, who denied treason but held firm to the Faith, praying before his martyrdom for half an hour, kissing the scaffold and reciting the Creed. They hung on to his feet during his hanging, in order to ensure his death before the quartering began. May this holy hero of the penal times pray for the citizens of Chelmsford and for the school which proudly bears his name and claims his intercession and patronage.
Saint John Payne, Priest and Martyr, PRAY FOR US.