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St Cuthbert Mayne


St Cuthbert Mayne was born in 1544 near Barnstaple in Devon. He was raised an Anglican and in 1561 was ordained in the Church of England. After his Anglican ordination, while at the University of Oxford he was befriended by St. Edmund Campion (who was to become perhaps the most famous of the English Catholic Reformation Martyrs) and Gregory Martin (later the principal translator of the Douai-Reims Bible), as well as other Catholics. Under their influence, St Cuthbert Mayne converted to Catholicism. He fled to the continent, where he was received into the Holy Church, entered seminary, and eventually was ordained priest at the English College at Douai, France, in 1575.

In 1576 he returned as a missionary to Cornwall. He disguised himself as the steward of a local landowner but was discovered and charged with denying the Queen Elizabeth I’s supposed spiritual supremacy, saying Mass, and possessing an Agnus Dei devotional medallion.

He was put to death on November 30th 1577 in Launceston, Cornwall, by hanging, drawing and quartering, and tradition holds that he was still alive, though possibly unconscious, when the executioner cut him down from the gibbet.

St Cuthbert Mayne was the first of the Douai-trained priests to be martyred. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII by means of a decree of 29th December 1886, and was canonised along with the other Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope St Paul VI in 1970, on October 25.


The Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales - or as an earlier title has it the 'Feast of the St Cuthbert Mayne and Thirty-Nine Martyr Companions' - is kept, in England, on May 4th.

For more information on St Cuthbert Mayne, please see his entry on the

Catholic Online website.

Collect for the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

O merciful God, who, when Thy Church on earth was torn apart by the ravages of sin, didst raise up men and women in England who witnessed to their faith with courage and constancy: give unto Thy Church that peace which is Thy will, and grant that those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled in heaven and be partakers together in the vision of Thy glory; through Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one one God, world without end. Amen. 

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