Friar Minor of the Regular Observance at Greenwich, England while in his late teens. Studied theology at the Franciscan College at Oxford, England; he was known thereafter as “Doctor”, though records of his degree have not survived. Priest and royal chaplain. Provincial of the Franciscans by 1525 when he threatened excommunication to those brothers who opposed Cardinal Thomas Wosley’s legatine powers. Confessor to Queen Catherine of Aragon, wife of King Henry VIII.
Father John thought he had convinced King Henry in 1529 not to suppress his Order in response to their opposition to his divorce, but when Henry did not get his way, he suppressed the Order and arrested John. Records show him preaching in November 1532 against the state pulling down churches, and of the authorities keeping a close watch on him. Arrested in 1534, he established a correspondence from Newgate prison to Queen Catherine and Blessed Thomas Abel. Wrote a treatise against King Henry‘s usurpation of power over things spiritual.
- hanged and burned to death on 22 May 1538 at Smithfield, England
- a wooden statue of Saint Derfel, taken from a local church, was used in the fire, supposedly fulfilling a local prophecy that the statue’s burning would destroy a forest
- John’s relics may still be in hiding in Smithfield
- if you have information relevant to the canonization of Blessed John, contact
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales
39 Eccleston Square
London SW1V 1BX, UNITED KINGDOM
- Book of Saints, by the Monks of Ramsgate
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- For All The Saints
- Hagiography Circle
- New Catholic Dictionary
- Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints
- “Blessed John Forest”. Saints.SQPN.com. 4 April 2010. Web. 21 May 2013. <http://saints.sqpn.com/blessed-john-forest/>