Saint of the Day – 16 March – Blessed John Amias (1589) Priest, Martyr, Married layman and father of seven children, then a Widower and a home Missionary Priest. Born at Wakefield, West Riding, Yorkshire, England and was Martyred on 16 March 1589 by being hung, drawn, and quartered at York, England. John was Beatified on 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI. Also known as – William John Anne. John Amvas. Additional Memorial – 29 October as one of the Martyrs of Douai and on 4 May with the 107 Martyrs of England and Wales, Beatified on 15 December 1929.
Besides the region of his birth, we have no information of his early life but there does exist the possibility that he was really William or John Anne, the youngest son of John and Katherine Anne, of Frickley near Wakefield. Whichever it is, John was born at or near Wakefield in West Yorkshire where he traded as a cloth merchant, married and raised seven children.
Upon the death of his wife, he divided his property among his children and left for the Continent to become a Priest. On 22 June 1580, a widower calling himself “John Amias” entered the English College at Rheims previously at Douai, to study for the Priesthood.
He was Ordained a Priest in Rheims Cathedral on 25 March 1581. On 5 June of that year, John set out for Paris and then England, as a missionary, in the company of another Priest, Edmund Sykes.
Of his missionary life we know little. Towards the end of 1588 he was seized at the house of a Mr Murton at Melling in Lancashire and imprisoned in York Castle. Given the 1585 Act making it a Capital Offence to be a Catholic Priest in England, the sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering was inevitable.
This barbaric murder was carried out on the outskirts of the City of York on 16 March 1589. Our Martyr was beginning to address the assembled people explaining that it was for the Faith of Christ and not treason, that he suffered but was not allowed to proceed.
His fate was shared by a fellow Priest, Robert Dalby. Both were Beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929.