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John Roche (martyr)

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Blessed John Roche (also known as John Neele or Neale) was a Catholic martyr, born in Ireland, who died in London, England in 1588. Usually shown in working-class Elizabethan dress and holding an oar or a miniature boat, he is the patron of sailors, mariners and boatmen.

He helped Saint Margaret Ward arrange the escape of Father William Watson from Bridewell Prison when the boatman she had originally asked to help her refused to do so. Roche exchanged clothes with the prisoner and was arrested in his place. Offered his freedom if he would ask Queen Elizabeth I's pardon and promise to attend a Protestant church, he refused, and was hanged at Tyburn, London on 30 August 1588, along with Ward, Edward Shelley, Richard Martin, and Richard Flower.

Pope Pius XI beatified Roche in 1929.


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