Next Wednesday is the Feast of Bl James Bell, born here in Warrington and martyred on 20th April 1584. On the morning of his execution at Lancaster Castle, he reportedly said: "O blessed day, O the fairest day that I ever saw in my life."
When he was taken off the hurdle that had carried him to the place of his death, the executioners forced him to look upon his companion, John Finch, who was right then being cut into quarters. When Bell saw the hangman pull out Finch's bowels he said: "O why do I tarry so long behind my sweet brother; let me make haste after him. This is a most happy day."
Fr James Bell is among the 108 martyrs beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15th December 1929. He is venerated at St Mary's Shrine, being depicted in a stained glass window with St Augustine of Canterbury to his left and the martyrs Bl John Finch and Bl Alban Roe, OSB to his right.
[Photo: Window depicting Bl James Bell at the rear of St Mary's Shrine on the north side.]