The Parish of St John the Evangelist and St Andrew

The Parish of St John the Evangelist and St Andrew

Blessed Roger Filcock

Born at Sandwich, Kent, the son of Simon and Margaret Lowe (or Low), he entered the English College at Rheims on 15 June 1581. From there he was sent on 29 September 1581 to the English College, Valladolid, where he arrived on 20 February 1591. There is no record of where and when he was ordained a priest, but this happened by October 1597, when he left the college and sailed from Bilbao to Calais in December. His desire was to enter the Society of Jesus, but it was considered prudent that he first gain some experience on the mission, as indeed he did. He was admitted as a Jesuit novice by Father Henry Garnet in 1600 and should have proceeded to Flanders to the novitiate, but was in the meantime arrested on suspicion of being a priest and sent to Newgate gaol in London.
During his time as a missioner he had known Anne Line, a convert to the Catholic faith and widow whose husband had died in exile after being caught attending Mass. She had managed a variety of safe-houses for priests and lay faithful. Filcock had also been Line's confessor.

Born at Sandwich, Kent, the son of Simon and Margaret Lowe (or Low), he entered the English College at Rheims on 15 June 1581. From there he was sent on 29 September 1581 to the English College, Valladolid, where he arrived on 20 February 1591. There is no record of where and when he was ordained a priest, but this happened by October 1597, when he left the college and sailed from Bilbao to Calais in December. His desire was to enter the Society of Jesus, but it was considered prudent that he first gain some experience on the mission, as indeed he did. He was admitted as a Jesuit novice by Father Henry Garnet in 1600 and should have proceeded to Flanders to the novitiate, but was in the meantime arrested on suspicion of being a priest and sent to Newgate gaol in London.

During his time as a missioner he had known Anne Line, a convert to the Catholic faith and widow whose husband had died in exile after being caught attending Mass. She had managed a variety of safe-houses for priests and lay faithful. Filcock had also been Line's confessor.

On Candlemas Day, 1601, Father Francis Page was about to celebrate Mass in her lodgings when priest-catchers broke in. The priest escaped in the confusion but his hostess was arrested and put on trial at the Old Bailey on 26 February, either 1601 or 1602, indicted for harbouring a priest. Although this could not be proved, she was condemned and led to the gallows the next day. She was executed at the same occasion as Dom Mark Barkworth, a Benedictine monk, and Filcock, who had gone on trial on 23 February. This was the first execution of Catholics at Tyburn since 1595.

 

In St John's church there is a memorial window to Blessed Roger Filcock in the Lady Chapel, where a red candle burns to remind us of his faith and sacrifice, and our own call to holiness. 

 

 

 

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