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Saint Francis Page

In an attempt to win the hand of a woman he loved, Saint Francis converted from his protestant faith to the Catholic faith in England. After being born and raised in Antwerp, Saint Francis moved to England and studied law where he fell in love with the daughter of the Lawyer he was serving as clerk for. Though the love interest did not work out, his call to the Catholic faith was so strong that he began to feel called to the Priesthood.

He sought out Father John Gerard, a Jesuit priest for further discernment and advice. The two became close and Saint Francis soon became convinced that his calling truly was to become a Catholic Priest and Jesuit. Unfortunately, Father Gerard was soon arrested by the authorities for practicing Catholicism (this was during the suppression of Catholicism by the Anglican King). Day after to day he stood outside the tower of London praying for his priest and friend. He was briefly arrested for this but released soon afterwards. Following his call to the Priest hood, Saint Francis departed England and arrived in Rheims France where he was ordained after instruction in 1600.

Quickly after his ordination Saint Francis returned to England to minister to Catholics. The persecution was all too real, as was the threat of his arrest but his heart, mind and soul were determined to celebrate mass with the faithful in England. After several close calls, including one in which a woman named Anne Line narrowly helped him escape during a Mass celebrated in her home (Anne would later be arrested and executed - she was canonized a Saint in 1970 ) Saint Francis was arrested. A woman who accepted coin for informing on Catholic priests recognized him at a local inn and convinced the innkeeper to help keep Saint Francis locked in a room until the authorities arrived.

Saint Francis longed to take vows as a Jesuit but could not travel due to the arrest. On April 19th, 1602, a trial found Saint Francis guilty of high treason and sentenced him to death. The night before his execution he was placed in a cell alongside a fellow Jesuit who helped him profess solemn vows to the Jesuit order. The following morning, while standing at the gallows awaiting his execution, Saint Francis proudly announced to the crowd that he had in fact become a Jesuit the night before. He was then hanged and his body dismembered.

Today the Catholic church celebrates his feastday on April 20th, the date of his death (April 20th, 1602). Saint Francis Page was beatified in 1929.

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