St. John Roberts was born in Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, Wales, in 1577. Between 1595 and 1597, he studied at St. John’s College in Oxford. While he was there, he converted to Catholicism, even though he did not receive a degree. In 1598, John went to Paris, where he continued his education and became a Benedictine priest in 1602. He was arrested and banished from the area on May 13 for his faith.
- In 1604 St John worked with plague victims in London, where he was rearrested and banished once again.
- He got back to England again in 1605 when there was a search for Gunpowder plot suspects.
- At the time, he was taking shelter at the home of Mrs. Thomas Percy when he got arrested for the third time, even though he wasn’t part of the plot.
When he was still in exile, Saint John Roberts founded a house for exiled English Benedictines in Douai. This house would later be the monastery of Saint Gregory used for the convention of Blessed Maurus Scott. He would later go back to England in October 1607, just in time for his arrest in December that year, and thrown behind bars in gatehouse prison.
This was not to happen, thanks to the French Ambassador’s intercession, which saw his sentence reduced, but he was again exiled for a couple of months. He got nabbed on December 2, 1610, while celebrating Mass. He was convicted of the “crime of priesthood” on December 5, 1610.
He was martyred alongside Blessed Thomas Somers at Tyburn.
Roberts was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of Wale and England. Their joint Feast Day is October 25.