John Forest (1471 – May 22, 1538) was an English Roman Catholic martyr and friar.[1]

Born in the Oxford area, John Forest became a Franciscan Friar Minor of the Regular Observance in 1491. He went on to study theology at the University of Oxford, later becoming confessor to Queen Catherine of Aragon, first wife to King Henry VIII. From 1531 the Friars Minor had gained the enmity of the King by opposing his divorce and his movements toward Protestantism.

On April 8, 1538 Forest was brought before Henry's Archbishop Thomas Cranmer to renounce his rejection of King Henry's assumed title of head of the Church of England. Refusing to accept the King as head of the church, Forest was condemned to death by burning. Bishop Hugh Latimer read out the "heresies" that Forest was required to recant: "That the Holy Catholic Church was the Church of Rome, that the Pope’s pardon is key to the remission of sins, and that a priest can forgive a penitent sinner, ..."

On May 22, he was burnt to death at Smithfield, London. Hugh Latimer officiated at the execution.[2] Extra fuel for the pyre is said to have been provided by an enormous statue of St. Derfel from the pilgrimage site of Llandderfel in north Wales, and of which it was supposed to have been prophesied, would "one day set a forest on fire." [3]

Father Forest, together with fifty-three other English martyrs, was declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIII, on December 9, 1886.

See also

Foxe's Book of Martyrs for English Protestant martyrs


  1. Wikisource-logo.svg "Blessed John Forest". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. Duffy, Eamon. (2005) The Stripping of the Altars. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conneticutt, USA. 2nd. Edition. ISBN 0300108281, page 404
  3. Three Saints, Two Wells & a Welsh Parish by Tristan Gray Hulse

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