Arthur Bell (martyr)

Blessed Arthur Bell
Born 13 January 1590, Temple-Broughton near Worcester
Died 11 December 1643, London
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 22 November 1987
Feast 22 November (as one of the Martyrs of England, Scotland, and Wales)

The Blessed Arthur Bell (13 January 1590 – 11 December 1643) was an English Franciscan martyr.[1] He was found guilty of being a Roman Catholic priest by a court sitting under the auspices of Parliament during the English Civil War. He was executed at Tyburn in London.


Bell was born at Temple-Broughton near Worcester on 13 January 1590, a son of the lawyer William Bell. When he was eight his father died and his mother gave him into the charge of her brother, Francis Daniel of Acton in Suffolk, a man of wealth, learning and piety. When Arthur was twenty-four he was sent to the English college at St.-Omer. He later went to Spain to continue and complete his studies.[2]

Bell received the habit of the Franciscan Order at Segovia, Spain on 8 August 1618, and shortly after the completion of his novitiate and ordination to the priesthood, was called from Spain to labour in the restoration of the English province of the Franciscans. He was one of the first members of the Franciscan community at Douai, where he subsequently fulfilled the offices of guardian and professor of Hebrew. In 1632 Bell was sent to Scotland as first provincial of the Franciscan province there; but his efforts to restore the order in Scotland were unsuccessful. In 1637 he returned to England, where he laboured until November 1643, when he was apprehended by the parliamentary troops at Stevenage in Hertfordshire on suspicion of being a spy.[2] A search of his papers provided evidence that he was a Roman Catholic priest, and on that basis he was committed to the Newgate prison.[3]

He was condemned as a priest on the evidence of James Wadsworth, Thomas Mayhew or Mayo, and Thomas Gage.[4] The circumstances of his trial show Bell's devotedness to the cause of the Catholic faith and his willingness to suffer for the faith. When condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered it is said that he broke forth into a solemn Te Deum and thanked his judges profusely for the favour they were conferring upon him in allowing him to die for Christ.[2]

Bell was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 22 November 1987.[5]


Bell wrote The History, Life, and Miracles of Joane of the Cross (St.-Omer, 1625). He also translated from the Spanish of Andrew a Soto A brief Instruction how we ought to hear Mass (Brussels, 1624).

See also


  1. Also known as Francis Bell
  2. 1 2 3 Donovan 1913.
  3. Richard Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, vol. 2 (Philadelphia, 1839) p. 142.
  4. Richard Challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, vol. 2 (Philadelphia, 1839) p. 143.
  5. "Blessed Arthur Bell OSF", Royal English College Valladolid

External links

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