Synopsis from the book cover:

Truth is stranger than fiction. And nowhere in literature is it so apparent as in this classic work, The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest. This autobiography of a Jesuit priest in Elizbethan England is most remarkable document and John Gerard, its author,  a most remarkable priest in a time when to be a Catholic in England courted imprisonment and torture; to be a priest was treason by act of Parliament.

Smuggled into England after his ordination and dumped on a Norfolk beach at night, Fr. Gerard disguised himself as a country gentleman and traveled about the country saying Mass, preaching, and ministering to the faithful in secret – always in constant danger. The houses in which he found shelter were frequently raided by “priest hunters”; priest-holes, hide-outs, and hair-breadth escapes were part of daily life. He was finally caught and imprisoned, and later remove to the infamous Tower of London, where he was brutally tortured.

The stirring account of his escape, by means of a rope thrown across the moat, is a daring and magnificent climax to a true story which, for sheer narrative power and interest, far exceeds any fiction.

But more than the story of a single priest, The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest epitomizes the constant struggle of all human beings through the ages to maintain their freedom. It is a book of courage and conviction, whose message is most timely for our age.


In the comments section of my post on John Gerard in the Tower of London my friend Lisl recommended this book.

The story is a historical account of religious persecution in the Elizabethan era from a Jesuit perspective. The story of John is both inspiring and humbling in equal measures. His faith, determination and gentleness enabled him to overcome extreme and impossible situations.

The final paragraph of the synopsis sums up the essence of the book. I recommend you read the book and be inspired by John’s courage, gentleness and conviction.

18 Comments CherryPie on May 25th 2015

18 Responses to “The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest – John Gerard”

  1. Amfortas says:

    And here we are in a secular ‘feel good’ age when Catholics in England are STILL forbidden to hold some public posts while Muslims can parade in the streets demanding death to anyone who insults Islam.

    • CherryPie says:

      It is my opinion that religion and politics should be kept separate. Religious bodies have business with man’s soul and political bodies with something more worldly.

      Sadly throughout history it seems inevitable that the two get entangled.

  2. lisl says:

    I know this book well, Cherie – I have an old copy on my bookshelf, and have read it more than once. It is quite a compelling story

  3. Scott Albers says:

    You should mention the political role the Roman Cathholic Church played in attempting repeatedly to murder Elizabeth I. The Jesuits played an active roll in this, and any priest in Englad would have been suspect with very good cause.

    • CherryPie says:

      I find it highly unlikely that a priest would plot to kill. During John’s captivity he was asked if he was loyal to the Queen and he always maintained his loyalty was with the Queen.

  4. Mrsme says:

    Scott are you sure priests tried to murder Elizabeth 1? To commit murder is damnation to hell, i do not believe for one minute any priest tried to kill her, maybe they got the blame for someone else, or it was fabricated against them so as to turn the population against the Catholics

    • amfortas says:

      Henry established a fine agitprop unit which Elizabeth inherited. Both worked hard to paint the Catholic Faith as wicked despite it being the bedrock of every village and town in the country. Stories abounded of wicked, evil Jesuits bent on murder and mayhem, and frankly the Scottish ‘problem’ of Mary very likely gave credence, much to the benefit of the new Protestants.

      The agitprop has been maintained for over 400 years.

      Just think what would happen if Islam really took-off in Britain and wiped Christianity off the national scene. I am pretty sure there would be an underground trying to overthrow the Caliphate and bog-standard Protestant christians would be blamed for traitorous atrocities, tortured and murdered. Heck, they are now elsewhere. Several decades later we would have biographies of staunch Englishmen reading the book of common prayer in secret meetings. That’s if any are still reading it.

      • Mrsme says:

        I am Australian and we are blessed to have a Catholic prime minister, he has halted extremist islam in its tracks, and refuses to give in to the gays as far as the marriage act is concerned.I will pray for England, and for all other nations and Christians that are suffering at the hands of extremist Islam, and all those who want to turn the world into another Sodom and Gommorah

        • amfortas says:

          Hmmmm. Abbott may be a Catholic but he has done nothing to stop abortion in its tracks; and far from stopping Islamic extremism we have yet to see any result from his most recent tough talk. We can but hope that he does deport some people but meanwhile medicare funds a far greater death rate than the odd person wielding a gun in a café. Stop the murder of 100,000 babies in the womb like he stopped the boat loads of illegals, and bring in some very tough treason laws with life sentences for Islamists and he will impress. Being Catholic (and I am one, and Australian too) is not impressive.

      • CherryPie says:

        Although it was Henry that initiated the rift to enable him to change laws to get his own way it wasn’t only Catholics that were persecuted during those unpleasant times. It depended on who was in power whether it was the Catholics or the Anglicans/Protestants that were persecuted.

        Oh and the current ‘naughty’ Queen has granted me an extra day off to celebrate her birthday ;-)

    • CherryPie says:

      Whenever politics is concerned there is always propaganda to go with it.

  5. Sounds very interesting.

  6. What happened in the past is happening again, right?
    You don’t like my religion, I don’t like your religion.
    Let’s kill each other!