Honest Anthony, my friend Anthony, be not afraid; do thy office. I forgive thee with all my heart. Thou wilt do me a greater kindness than discourtesy.
Last words said by Saint John Kemble just before his execution on August 22, 1679. Fifty three years a Catholic priest in England he was very popular and had grand style as well as unending courage:
Authorities in the area knew he was there and knew that Catholics were attending the Masses he offered. Kemble lived in Pembridge Castle and went through the countryside to serve his flock. Richard Kemble, his nephew, had even saved the life of Charles II as the king hid and fled after defeat at the Battle Worcester on September 3, 1651, the end of the English Civil War. Catholic families sheltered Charles along the way during his six weeks of hiding until he escaped to join his royal family in France.
Charles had been grateful to many of those families, but in the midst of the Popish Plot when he was trying to protect his own brother and to preserve the Stuart dynasty, he did not help old friends and their families. He knew that Titus Oates was a liar, but he did not stop the arrests, trials, and executions. Only the gradual awareness that there was no evidence of any conspiracy ended the injustice of the so-called Popish Plot.
Captain John Scudamore of Kentchurch, who was a lapsed Catholic, went to Pembridge Castle and arrested Father Kemble, who was warned and could have escaped. He told those concerned for him that “According to the course of nature I have but a few years to live. It will be an advantage to suffer for my religion and therefore I will not abscond.” For three months he was kept in prison in Hereford until he was taken to London and Newgate Prison for questioning about his knowledge of the Popish Plot. The authorities finally recognized that he had no involvement with any Jesuit Plot but convicted him of being a priest and sent him back to Hereford for execution, walking—about 117 miles. Remember, he was 80 years old.
When Father Kemble was informed that he would be hanged, drawn and quartered on August 22, 1679, he calmly accepted the news. He wanted to finish praying the Office and to smoke his pipe one last time. He and those taking him to the gallows drank a cup of sack, a white fortified wine like sherry. In Herefordshire the terms “a Kemble pipe” and “a Kemble cup” are part of the memory of Father Kemble.
Go here to read the rest. Well attested miracles began to occur at his gravesite immediately after his death.