Saint John Stone
John Stone (died 1539) was martyred for refusing to accept King Henry VIII's claim to be supreme head of the Church in England.
Almost nothing is known of John's early years or of his life and activities as an Augustinian.
The Parliament of England in 1534 approved a law known as the Act of Supremacy. This Act proclaimed King Henry VIII the supreme head of the Church in England.
Four years later, an official of the King arrived in Canterbury to close all the monasteries and to obtain the written assent of every single Friar to the provisions of the Act of Supremacy. The official first went to the monasteries of several other Orders. Then they went to Austin Friars, the Augustinian house where John was a member. All the other Augustinian Friars signed the document, but John refused.
John was arrested and thrown into prison in the Tower of London. He remained firm in his refusal to accept the King as head of the Church. While in jail, he spent many hours in prayer. One day, God spoke to him, encouraging him to be of good heart and to remain steadfast in his belief, even if it meant death. From this point on, John felt great strength.
John was tried and convicted of treason in 1539. Right after Christmas of that year, a slow procession passed through the streets of Canterbury. The prisoner John was being taken through the city to a hill outside the city walls. There he was hanged, drawn and quartered. Because he was considered a traitor, his head and body were put on display at the entrance to the city.
In the account books of Canterbury, there appears an expense of two shillings and six pence “Paid for a half-ton of wood to build the gallows on which Friar Stone was brought to justice.”
Pope Leo XIII beatified John Stone in 1886. Pope Paul VI canonized him in 1970, along with 39 other English martyrs of the same period.