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Henry Heath

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Blessed Henry Heath
Blessed Henry Heath
Born 1599, Peterborough, England
Died 17 April 1643, Newgate, England
Venerated in Roman Catholicism
Beatified November 22, 1987 by John Paul II

Henry Heath (1599–1643) was an English Franciscan and Roman Catholic martyr.

Blessed Henry was born in 1599 and baptized at St. John's, Peterborough, 16 December, 1599. His father was John Heath. He attended Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, receiving a B.A. in 1621,[1] and was made college librarian. In 1622 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by George Muscott, and, after a short stay at the English College at Douai, entered the Franciscan convent of St. Bonaventure's there in 1625, taking the name of Paul of St. Magdalen.

Early in 1643, he with much trouble obtained leave to go on the English mission and crossed from Dunkirk to Dover disguised as a sailor. A German gentleman paid for his passage and offered him further money for his journey, but, in the spirit of St. Francis, Heath refused it and preferred to walk from Dover to London, begging his way.

On the very night of his arrival, as he was resting on a door step, the master of the house gave him into custody as a shoplifter. Some papers found in his cap betrayed his religion and he was taken to the Compter Prison. The next day he was brought before the Lord Mayor, and, on confessing he was a priest, was sent to Newgate. Shortly afterwards he was examined by a Parliamentary committee, and again confessed his priesthood. He was eventually indicted under the 1585 "Act against Jesuits, Seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons" (27 Eliz. c. 2) for being a priest and present in the realm of Queen Elizabeth. While imprisoned at Tyburn he reconciled in the very cart one of the criminals that were executed with him. He was allowed to hang until he was dead.

Henry Heath was among the eighty-five martyrs of England and Wales beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.


  1. Heath, Henry in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.

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