Saint John Rigby
|Forty Martyrs of England and Wales|
|Died||21 June 1600|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholicism|
|Canonized||25 October 1970, Rome by Pope Paul VI|
Saint John Rigby (ca. 1570 – 21 June 1600) was an English Roman Catholic layman who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. (He is called "Thomas" Rigby in The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, a story about the Jesuit priest John Gerard.)
In 1600 Rigby was working as a steward for Sir Edmund Huddleston. Sir Edmund sent him to the sessions house of the Old Bailey to plead illness for the absence of his daughter, the widow Mrs. Fortescue, who had been summoned on a charge of recusancy. A commissioner then questioned Rigby about his own religious beliefs. Rigby acknowledged that he was Catholic and sent to Newgate. The next day, the feast day of St Valentine, he signed a confession saying that since he had been reconciled to the Roman Catholic faith by Saint John Jones, a Franciscan priest, in the Clink some two or three years previously, he had not attended Anglican services. He was sent back to Newgate and later transferred to the White Lion. Twice he was given the chance to recant, but twice refused. He told the judge that his sentence for treason "is the thing which I desire".
His sentence was carried out. He gave the executioner who helped him up to the cart a piece of gold, saying, "Take this in token that I freely forgive thee and others that have been accessory to my death." Rigby was hanged, drawn and quartered at St Thomas Waterings on 21 June 1600. Cut down too soon, he landed on his feet, but was thrown down and held while he was disemboweled. According to Challoner, "The people, going away, complained very much of the barbarity of the execution."
He was canonized in 1970; his feast day is 25 October. Saint John Jones, the priest who had reconciled Rigby, had died at the same place Rigby had died, St Thomas Waterings, two years earlier, on 12 July 1598.
St John Rigby Roman Catholic Sixth Form College in Orrell, Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Greater Manchester is named after St. John Rigby. One of its buildings, Harrock House, is named after Rigby's birthplace.
- Gerard, John. The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, p. 81 footnote; Pellegrini & Cudahy, New York, 1952
- Lake, P.; Questier, M. (1 November 1996). "Agency, Appropriation and Rhetoric Under the Gallows: Puritans, Romanists and the State in Early Modern England". Past & Present. 153 (1): 64–107. doi:10.1093/past/153.1.64. ISSN 0031-2746.
- Stanton, Richard, A Menology of England and Wales, Burns & Oates, ltd., London, 1892
- "St John Rigby, 21st June", Diocese of Southwark
- Wainewright, John. "St. John Rigby." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 5 February 2013