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St John Stone: "The King cannot be head of the church in England"

John Stone (Canterbury, England - 27th December, 1539) was living in the Augustinian Priory of Canterbury when, on 14th December 1538, an agent of King Henry VIII arrived with the order to close the house. John was the sole member of the community who dared to declare that "the King cannot be head of the church in England", declaring himself ready to face death in defence of his Catholic faith. Arrested and taken before the King's chancellor, Thomas Cromwell, he refused to recant and was sentenced to death.

In prison they used torture to try to persuade him to assent to the new regulations, but nothing and no-one could succeed in convincing him. In fact, during the 12 months of imprisonment that followed his arrest, he willed himself to suffer even more and add more penance to the already multiple sufferings that were inflicted on him in order to be strong enough to remain faithful to Christ at his ultimate moment of witness. This was to be on 27th December 1539 when he was dragged to Dane John hill in Canterbury, where he was hanged until unconscious and then quartered.

Beatified in 1886, he was canonised by Paul VI on 25th October 1970.



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