Saints John Boste, George Swallowell, and John Ingram, Martyrs
These three servants of God all died for the Faith near Durham, England, in 1594 and are known as the Durham Martyrs.
John Boste was born about 1544, educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, and became a fellow there. At the age of 22 he joined the Catholic Church with the intention of becoming a priest. In 1580 he was ordained at Rheims, France, and returned to England the next year. He ministered to the Catholics of northern England with such zeal and success that the Earl of Huntington, then Lord President of the North, wanted to capture him more than any other priest in his jurisdiction.
Eventually he was betrayed and captured near Durham. He was sent to the Tower of London where he was tortured so severely on the rack that he was crippled for the rest of his life. Sent back to Durham for trial when he could not be induced to give any incriminating information, he showed himself throughout to be “resolute, bold, joyful, and pleasant.” He induced his fellow martyr, George Swallowell, a converted Protestant minister who had recanted the Faith through fear, to repent and once again profess his Faith, giving him absolution publicly in court.
Condemned to death, we have an eyewitness account that states John Boste recited the Angelus while mounting the ladder and was executed with great brutality: he was hanged only partially and then cut down so that, standing on his feet, he could be cruelly butchered alive. A few days later, George Swallowell was martyred at Darlington.
John Ingram was another priest who was condemned at the same time at Durham. Educated at New College, Oxford, he became a Catholic and went on to Rheims and Rome where he received the priesthood in 1589. In 1592, he was sent to minister to the Catholics in Scotland. At the end of 1593, he was arrested and transported to the Tower of London. Though undergoing excruciating tortures he steadfastly refused to betray his friends, even writing letters of encouragement to his fellow prisoners. Finally, two days after the death of John Boste, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Gateshead for his priesthood.