David Lewis: The Jesuit Martyr of Wales


Have you ever heard about David Lewis? Often referred to as Lewis of Wales, he was a saint who lived a life devoted to his faith, a beacon of hope during times of societal unrest. His commitment to serving others, particularly during the tumultuous period of anti-Catholic sentiment in 17th-century Britain, is truly awe-inspiring.

Early Life

Born into a Protestant family in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire in Wales in 1616, David Lewis received his early education from a local priest. At the tender age of sixteen, he made the monumental decision to convert to Catholicism by travelling to Rome, a journey that would mark the beginning of a lifelong dedication to his faith and fellow men.

Faith & Formation

In Rome, Lewis joined the Society of Jesus, commonly known as the Jesuits, where he honed his spiritual education. After his ordination, he returned to Wales in 1645, embarking on a quest to serve people in secret in a country where the Catholic faith was heavily suppressed.

Lord, grant us the courage to walk in the footprints of Saint David Lewis, a man who chose service over safety, a true epitome of Christian love.

The Persecution

Although he risked arrest, Lewis continued his tireless work with covert masses and ministering to Catholics. Unsurprisingly, he was eventually apprehended in November 1678 during the fictitious "Popish Plot" designed to discredit Catholics.

Trial & Martyrdom

Despite the harrowing circumstances, Lewis remained faithful. Tried for the "crime" of being a Catholic Priest - a prohibited profession in those days - he was sentenced to death. On August 27, 1679, David Lewis met his end, gaining the heavenly crown of martyrdom.

O Heavenly Father, may we learn from Saint David Lewis, who embraced Your will even unto death. Help us remain steadfast in our faith, undeterred by trials or tribulation.


Though his earthly life was cut short, Saint David Lewis' spirit continues to inspire generations. Canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970, his legacy remains a testament to the power of faith, compassion, and unwavering belief in the face of adversity.

Lessons from Lewis

Undoubtedly, David Lewis teaches us the importance of dedication and selfless service. Even when confronted with danger, he preferred spiritual poverty and service to physical comfort and safety. His life serves as a remarkable example of the strong conviction we should all strive to foster within ourselves.

Lord, help us to manifest the spirit of Saint David Lewis in our lives. His enduring faith serves as a shining beacon for us in our darkest hours.

Throughout this reflection on the life of Saint David Lewis, it is my hope that you will find inspiration in his unwavering devotion. As your humble servant in Christ, I pray these insights offer you strength, solace and a renewed commitment to our faith.

In essence, Saint David Lewis, the brave Jesuit priest of Wales, teaches us the power of resolute faith, the transformative nature of service, and the triumph of the human spirit when fueled by divine love. Remember him as the model of strength and resilience, embracing his spirit within you, as we traverse our own Christian journey.

"For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart." (Matthew 6:21). Perhaps, David Lewis found his treasure in his faith, his service, his God - a beautiful lesson for us all.

Always recall the essence of St. David Lewis' life in your prayers, and let his inspiring journey guide you in your own spiritual path.

What is the identity theory of David Lewis?

It seems there might be some confusion in the question as David Lewis, a well-known philosopher, is not commonly associated with the study of Catholic saints. His identity theory, also known as modal realism, pertains to philosophy, specifically metaphysics and not theology or hagiography.

David Lewis's identity theory, more commonly known as modal realism, posits that possible worlds are as real as the actual world. This philosophical view asserts that all possible worlds exist and they are just as concrete and tangible as our current 'actual' world.

To attempt to associate this theory with Catholic saints would require some creativity. Perhaps it could be considered that each saint represents a potential 'world' of behavior or moral conduct, offering a model that is as 'real' or attainable as any other. However, this would be a speculative and idiosyncratic application of Lewis's theory.

Please note that such interpretation doesn't reflect the common understanding or usage of Lewis's modal realism, which is deeply rooted in metaphysics and logic rather than religious studies or the lives of Catholic saints.

What is David Lewis known for?

David Lewis, also known as Charles Baker, is most noted within the Catholic faith as a Jesuit martyr who was canonized as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. He was born in Wales in 1616 to a Protestant family but converted to Catholicism during a stay in Paris.

Lewis entered the priesthood at the English College in Rome and was ordained in 1642. He joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1645 and returned to Wales shortly thereafter where he served the local Catholic community for over thirty years.

His ministry was largely conducted under the shadow of persecution during an era of anti-Catholic sentiment in England and Wales. Lewis was arrested several times throughout his life and was finally sentenced to death in 1679 during the fabricated 'Popish Plot', a supposed Catholic conspiracy to assassinate King Charles II.

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Despite the harsh conditions and imminent danger, Lewis remained firm in his faith and continued to minister to his fellow Catholics until his execution in 1679. His unwavering dedication to providing spiritual guidance, even in the face of religious persecution, has marked him as an important figure in Catholic history.

In 1970, David Lewis was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast day is celebrated on 25th October.

Is David Lewis an identity theorist?

No, David Lewis is not identified as an identity theorist specifically within the context of Catholic Saints. In fact, it's a bit of a category confusion to compare the two.

David Lewis was a renowned philosopher known for his work in philosophy of mind, including his advocacy for a version of philosophical materialism often associated with identity theory. However, he is not a saint in the Catholic Church, nor did his work directly involve discussions of Catholic saints.

In contrast, Catholic Saints are individuals who have been recognized by the Catholic Church for their exceptional degree of holiness, virtue, and the love of God and people. They serve as spiritual examples and intercessors for Catholics worldwide.

What is an example of modal realism?

Modal realism is a philosophy that suggests possible worlds are as real as our actual world. It was largely developed by philosopher David K. Lewis. However, within the context of Catholic Saints, this concept isn't directly applicable because the lives and actions of the saints are based on historical events and their faith in one divine reality, not multiple or possible realities.

But, to give an explanation in line with Catholic thought, we could consider the "possible worlds" of modal realism as the different paths a saint could have taken in their earthly life. Each saint, through their free will and the will of God, chose a certain path, leading to their holiness. We can imagine other possible worlds where they may have chosen differently, but those did not become actualized.

An example could be St. Augustine. Before his conversion, he led a life far from Christian values. We can consider two possible worlds: one where he continues down this path and another where he converts to Christianity. The latter is the world that became actual, leading to Augustine becoming one of the most influential figures in the history of Christianity. It's crucial to note that in Catholic soteriology, this conversion is viewed as a work of divine grace rather than a mere product of alternative possibilities.

Again, it's important to stress that this application of modal realism is a stretch when considering the actual philosophy's definitions and goals, because it doesn't directly relate to the Catholic understanding of saints or divine reality. Hence, the use of modal realism in the context of Catholic Saints would necessitate a redefinition or a metaphorical application of the concept at best.

Who was David Lewis in the history of Catholic Saints and what were his significant contributions?

David Lewis, also known as Charles Baker, was a prominent figure in the history of Catholic Saints. He was born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales in 1616 and is renowned as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by the Catholic Church.

Lewis was educated in Rome at the English College and was ordained a Priest in 1642. During the era of significant anti-Catholic sentiment and legislation in England, he returned to his native Wales to minister to covert Catholics. His bravery and dedication during these perilous times are significant elements of his legacy.

In 1678, Lewis was arrested in the aftermath of the fabricated "Popish Plot." Despite knowing that being a practicing Catholic priest was considered high treason, he continued to stand firm in his faith. Lewis was subsequently sentenced to death, and his execution took place in 1679.

His contributions to the Catholic Church were immense, especially in the context of bolstering the Catholic faith during a time when it was greatly oppressed in Britain. His sacrificial love and dedication inspired many others to remain steadfast in their beliefs despite the risk of persecution.

In 1970, David Lewis was canonized as a saint by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, which is a testament to his significant contribution to the Catholic faith. His feast day is celebrated on October 25th. Saint David Lewis is a symbol of unyielding faith and courage, exemplifying the power of conviction and spiritual resilience.

What were the circumstances led to David Lewis being declared a Saint within the Catholic Church?

The circumstances leading to David Lewis being declared a Saint within the Catholic Church revolves around his unconditional service, martyrdom, and beatification.

Born in 1616, David Lewis was an exceptional figure in the Catholic Church in Britain during a time of intense religious persecution. He was a Welshman, who converted from Protestantism to Catholicism at age 16 while studying in Europe.

In 1642, Lewis joined the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and was ordained a priest in 1646. After training, he returned to Wales and provided spiritual support for Catholics in secret for over thirty years. He is known as "Father of the Poor" because of his extensive charity work.

However, his religious activities did not go unnoticed. In 1678, he was arrested in the wake of the Popish Plot - a fabricated conspiracy suggesting that Catholics were planning to assassinate King Charles II. Despite the lack of evidence against him, Lewis was wrongly convicted of high treason for exercising his priesthood.

He was sentenced to death and was martyred on August 27, 1679. Lewis' conviction was based on his faith and dedication to the Church, and his execution - on account of his priesthood - made him a martyr.

In recognition of his martyrdom, David Lewis was beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1929. Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name. This was a significant step leading to his sainthood.

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However, it's noteworthy that being beatified doesn't necessarily mean being declared a Saint. This requires canonization, a process that involves rigorous investigation, including verification of miracles attributed to the individual. As of now, David Lewis has not been canonized and therefore is not officially recognized as a Saint by the Catholic Church.

Even so, his commitment to his faith, service to the poor and his martyrdom make him a highly respected and venerated figure within the Catholic community. His story continues to inspire many faithful across the globe.

How did David Lewis’ actions and teachings align with the principles and values of the Catholic faith?

Father David Lewis, often known as Blessed David Lewis, was a 17th-century Welsh priest who adhered to the principles and values of the Catholic faith both through his actions and teachings.

Firstly, his dedication to servitude was in perfect alignment with Catholic values. He was noted for his tireless work among the poor which perfectly exemplifies the Catholic principle of serving others without expecting anything in return. His selfless service to communities, particularly during the plague epidemic, mirrored the teachings of Jesus Christ about love, compassion, and sacrifice. As per Matthew 25:40, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me."

Secondly, his commitment to forgiveness and peace, even in the face of persecution, reflects the core Catholic values of forgiveness and peace. Father Lewis was persecuted for being a Catholic priest, yet he bore no ill-will towards his persecutors, embodying Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5:44, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

Lastly, his devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacraments demonstrates his internalization of Catholic beliefs and practices. Despite the risk of his life and liberty, Father Lewis continued to administer the Sacraments to his flock, displaying his unwavering commitment to the faith. This act signifies the value of the sacraments in Catholicism as crucial means of experiencing God's grace.

In conclusion, Blessed David Lewis' life exemplified the values of service to others, forgiveness, peace, and unwavering dedication to the Catholic faith and its practices. His actions and teachings, therefore, were not just aligned but also embodied the principles and values of the Catholic faith.

Can you provide any notable miracles or events attributed to Saint David Lewis that played a significant role in his canonization?

Saint David Lewis, often referred to as Charles Baker, is a significant figure in Catholic history. He was one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

While Saint David Lewis himself did not perform the kind of supernatural miracles commonly associated with Catholic saints, his steadfast faith, courage, and commitment to his missionary work during a time of intense anti-Catholic sentiment in England are considered by many as miraculous feats in their own right.

Born in Wales in 1616, Lewis converted to Catholicism after spending some time in continental Europe. He then joined the Jesuits and returned to his homeland as a missionary priest. Despite the penal laws against Catholics, he continued his pastoral work, serving the spiritual needs of his community for over 30 years.

Saint David Lewis was arrested in 1678 during the time of the 'Popish Plot,' a fabricated conspiracy of English Catholics aiming to assassinate King Charles II. Despite harsh conditions in prison and potential freedom had he renounced his faith, Lewis remained faithful to his beliefs. His resilience and unwavering dedication to his faith inspired many.

After a flawed trial, he was executed on August 27, 1679. His last words, expressing his love for God and his willingness to die for his faith, were reported to have deeply moved the crowds watching his execution.

Although it is not a 'miracle' in the customary sense, his unshakeable faith, courage, and devotion to his religious duties in the face of intense persecution significantly contributed to him being recognized as a martyr. This martyrdom paved the way for his beatification in 1929 by Pope Pius XI and eventual canonization as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Remember, while miracles are commonly associated with the canonization process, they are not always necessary - particularly when a person is recognized as a martyr. A martyr is someone who is killed because of their faith, and their willingness to die rather than renounce their beliefs is viewed as an extraordinary sign of faith – a miracle of sorts, in its own light.

How does the life story of Saint David Lewis inspire today’s Catholics and influence their faith?

Saint David Lewis, an English-born Catholic priest who worked tirelessly to spread the faith in 17th-century Wales, is an enduring source of inspiration for contemporary Catholics. His life and works exemplify faith, resilience, and unwavering commitment to one’s spiritual convictions in the face of adversity.

Born in 1616, he converted to Catholicism during his studies in Europe and decided to become a Jesuit priest – a bold and risky commitment during a time when anti-Catholic sentiment was commonplace. Despite the prevalent threats and persecutions, he devoted himself completely to his mission, serving the Catholic community in South Wales for more than thirty years.

One of the chief lessons from Lewis’s life is his courage and steadfastness in the face of danger. He risked his life to carry out his religious duties, demonstrating the strength of his conviction and his unshakeable faith in God. Even after his arrest under the fabricated charges of being part of the "Popish Plot", he refused to renounce his faith. This level of spiritual fortitude can inspire today's Catholics to remain strong in their beliefs, regardless of societal pressures or challenges they may face.

Lewis’s legacy also serves as a reminder of the power of compassion and service. Revered as a "Father of the Poor", he often gave his own food and clothing to those in need, emphasizing Jesus's teachings about love for one's neighbor. This example of selfless giving encourages Catholics to engage more deeply in acts of service, benevolence, and charity – key tenets of their faith.

As a martyr, Saint David Lewis exemplifies the ultimate sacrifice for one's faith, providing a powerful message that true religious devotion sometimes asks for the highest price, yet offers the most significant rewards. His refusal to abdicate his faith even at the cost of his life is a testament to the depth of his devotion – an inspiration that calls all Catholics to a deeper fidelity to their faith.

In conclusion, Saint David Lewis's story continues to influence the Catholic faith through its messages of unfaltering faith, courage in the face of adversity, compassion for the less fortunate, and ultimate sacrifice for one's beliefs. He remains a shining beacon for contemporary Catholics, inspiring them to live their faith with conviction, courage, and love.