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Vol. III.] WALES. NOVEMBER, 1896. [No. 31. THE BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH AND ROMAN CATHOLICISM. IMES of great changes and of great reactions in religion never lose their interest. The transition from heathenism to Christianity, and the subsequent permeation of the new religion with the ideas of the old; the great struggle against sacerdotalism, Which is called the Protestant Reformation, and the reaction against it so successfully carried on by the Jesuits; the transition from the national conception of religion to the individual, with the Toleration Act of 1689 and the Methodist Revival of the last century as its chief events, and the reaction against it, in one aspect, in the growing ritualism of our own day,—all these are intensely interesting to the student of comparative religion and to all who watch the development of the human mind. Roman Catholicism died hard in Wales. The history of the transition from the church of Owen Glendower and Tudur Aled to the church of Elizabeth and William Morgan has not yet been fully written. The bulky volumes of the " Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus," edited by Father Foley, throw very much light on the transition from the Catholic point of view. Among the most interesting figures of the period is Father John Bennet, of the Society of Jesus. He was born about 1547, and was the son of Hugh John Bennet of Brincanellan, in the parish of Combe, near Holywell. He was educated at St. Asaph and at Douay College. He threw himself with his whole soul into the Jesuit mission, and looked upon the re-conversion of England to Catholicism as certain, because the cause of truth was to be triumphant. Day and night he preached, and the people flocked to hear him. He was, of course, subjected to much persecution, and was 31 481 often placed on the rack. When asked at the Holywell Assizes to hold up his hand, he held both hands up, exclaiming in Welsh,—" Behold both my hands against all the heretics of England." While on the rack at Ludlow, a Protestant divine would engage in disputation. There is much reason in the Jesuit's counter challenge,—" I beg you to hoist him up on a similar chair of teaching, opposite to me, that we may dispute on equal terms, and from like pulpits." Father Bennet died on Christmas Day, 1625, while in London ministering to those struck by the pestilence. The following account* of an interview between a bishop of St. Asaph and the Jesuit shows the attitude of the most tolerant bishops of the time to Roman Catholicism. " And because there were few or none that rightly executed the functions of true priests in the country of Wales, he voluntarily, for the honour of God, em¬ ployed himself in that behalf, traversing Wales all over, especially the north parts thereof, and that for the most part on foot, with exceeding zeal and labour, confirming such as he found sound in true faith, and reconciling others that were fallen from it, until he was at last, by order of Sir Thomas Mostyn, apprehended as he was on foot passing by his house of Gloddeth in Carnarvonshire, about the year 1582, who conveyed him to William Hughes, who was the pseudo-bishop of St. Asaph, and a fallen priest. He, out of his natural affection towards him, dissuaded him all that he could from his apostolical calling * Record* of the English Province, Vol. IV., pp. 407-516, Father Foley quotes as his authorities Stonyhurst MSS. Angl. Vol. IV., n. 71 ; Fattier Bridgewater's Concertatio Keel. Cath, in jinglia; Father Bartoli's Inykiltcrra ; Father Tanner's Soc. Jctm. Apost. Imitatrix.