Monmouthshire, the county in which Abergavenny is situated, remained loyal to the Catholic Church thanks to Fathers Philip Evans and David Lewis, members of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), who celebrated Mass and administered the Sacraments to the Catholics of the town and countryside.
Both priests celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Gunter Mansion in Cross Street and were martyred for their faith in 1679.
David Lewis was born in 1616 in Abergavenny. Born to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father, he was the youngest of nine children. Ordained a Catholic priest in 1642, he served communities including Abergavenny and nearby areas for over 30 years. Following the criminalisation of Catholic practice in 1678 he was arrested alongside Phillip Evans and both were later tried and sentenced to death for their beliefs and practices. On the 27nd August 1679, David Lewis was hanged drawn and quartered and became the last Catholic martyr in Wales.
He is commemorated across communities in Wales for his contribution to multiple parish communities including Abergavenny, and for his ultimate sacrifice for our Lord.