Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/John Fenn

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Born at Montacute near Wells in Somersetshire; d. 27 Dec., 1615. He was the eldest brother of Ven. James Fenn, the martyr, and Robert Fenn, the confessor. After being a chorister at Wells Cathedral, he went to Winchester School in 1547, and in 1550 to New College, Oxford, of which he was elected fellow in 1552. Next year he became head master of the Bury St. Edmunds' grammar-school, but was deprived of this office and also of his fellowship for refusing to take the oath of supremacy under Elizabeth. He thereupon went to Rome where after four years' study he was ordained priest about 1566. Having for a time been chaplain to Sir William Stanley's regiment in Flanders he settled at Louvain, where he lived for forty years. A great and valuable work to which he contrituted was the publication, in 1583, by Father John Gibbons, S.J., of the various accounts of the persecution, under the Title "Concertatio Ecclesiae Catholicae in Angliâ", which was the groundwork of the invaluable larger collection published by Bridgewater under the same name in 1588. He also collected from old English sources some spiritual treatises for the Brigettine nuns of Syon. In 1609, when the English Augustinian Canonnesses founded St. Monica's Priory at Louvain, he became their first chaplain until in 1611 when his sight failed. Even then he continued to live in the priory and the nuns tended him till his death. Besides his "Vitae quorundam Martyrum in Angliâ", included in the "Concertatio", he translated into Latin Blessed John Fisher's "Treatise on the penitential Psalms" (1597) and two of his sermons; he also published English versions of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, Osorio's reply to Haddon's attack on his letter to Queen Elizabeth (1568), Guerra's "Treatise of Tribulation", an Italian life of St. Catherine of Sienna (1609; 1867), and Loarte's "Instructions How to Meditate the Misteries of the Rosarie".

PITS, De Illustribus Angliae Scriptoribus (Paris, 1623); DODD, Church History (Brussels, 1737-42), I, 510; WOOD, ed. BLISS, Athenae Oxonienses, II,; GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., s.v. ; COOPER in Dict. Nat. Biog., s.v. ; HAMILTON, Chronicle of the English Augustinian Canonesses of St. Monica's Louvain (London, 1904).