The Douai Martyrs is a name applied by the Roman Catholic Church to 158 Catholic priests trained in the English College at Douai, France, who were executed by the English state between 1577 and 1680.[2]

The Douai Martyrs
Venerated inRoman Catholicism
Feast29 October[1]


Having completed their training at Douai, many returned to England and Wales with the intent to minister to the Catholic population. Under the Jesuits, etc. Act 1584 the presence of a priest within the realm was considered high treason. Missionaries from Douai were looked upon as a papal agents intent on overthrowing the queen. Many were arrested under charges of treason and conspiracy, resulting in torture and execution. In total, 158 members of Douai College were martyred between the years 1577 and 1680.[1] The first was Cuthbert Mayne, executed at Launceston, Cornwall.[3] The last was Thomas Thwing, hanged, drawn, and quartered at York in October 1680.[4] Each time the news of another execution reached the College, a solemn Mass of thanksgiving was sung.

Many people risked their lives during this period by assisting them, which was also prohibited under the Act. A number of the "seminary priests" from Douai were executed at a three-sided gallows at Tyburn near the present-day Marble Arch. A plaque to the "Catholic martyrs" executed at Tyburn in the period 1535 - 1681 is located at 8 Hyde Park Place, the site of Tyburn convent.[5]

Eighty were beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. Today, British Catholic dioceses celebrate their feast day on 29 October.[1]

The Douay Martyrs School in Ickenham, Middlesex is named in their honour.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "The Martyrs of Douai", Diocese of Westminster
  2. ^
  3. ^ Rowse, A.L., Tudor Cornwall, New York, 1969
  4. ^ Kenyon, John Philipps. The Popish Plot, 1972
  5. ^ "City of Westminster green plaques". Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2018.

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