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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 November 2007, 08:43 GMT
Ceremony for a martyred saint
Saint David Lewis
Saint David Lewis was executed for his beliefs
The spot where a Roman Catholic priest was arrested before being hanged, drawn and quartered because of his faith has been marked over three centuries on.

David Lewis was sentenced to death in 1679 after he was caught carrying out Catholic services at a time when it was considered high treason.

He had been arrested near Llantarnam Abbey near Cwmbran a year earlier.

He was made a martyred saint in 1970, and 328 years to the day of his arrest, a plaque has been erected at the spot.

Sister Celsus from Llantarnam Abbey has researched the history of Saint David Lewis, who was the last Catholic martyr of mainland Britain.

It was totally forbidden by the Crown but he would go all over Monmouthshire saying mass whenever he could because people still wanted it
Sister Celsus, Llantarnam Abbey

"He was a Catholic priest and a Jesuit, at the time of the persecution of the Catholic Church when it was treason to be a priest and to say mass," she explained.

But despite the threat of a death sentence, David Lewis travelled around south Wales for 30 years saying mass to those who wanted it.

On the day of his arrest, he was going to mass at Llantarnam Abbey, which at the time was in private ownership.

"Every Sunday morning he would come here," said Sister Celsus.

"It was totally forbidden by the Crown but he would go all over Monmouthshire saying mass whenever he could because people still wanted it.

"He was a very brave man," she added.

Never forgotten

On 17 November 1678 as he prepared to leave for mass from a local blacksmith, officials from the government arrested David Lewis who had items needed to carry out mass in his possession.

Just under a year later, on 27 August at Usk, he was executed after being condemned as a Roman Catholic priest who said mass.

He was one of 40 martyrs of the time and his sacrifice has never been forgotten by those at the abbey.

A plaque marking the spot is to be unveiled in a ceremony at the former blacksmith which is now known as The Old Post Office on Saturday.

Brian McDowell of Cwmbran Historical Society said: "I'm very pleased this plaque is being put up, let's just say history is being recorded."

Councillor John Cunningham added: "It's something that has been long overdue that we do something for Saint David Lewis.

"After all he is a Cwmbran saint and I'm really thrilled about it."

Local MP and former Welsh and Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy, who has had an interest in him for many years, also added his support.

The dedication service was held at The Old Post Office opposite Llantarnam church on Saturday.

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