Catherine of Siena and the Education of Death Row Inmate Jonathan Wayne Nobles
Posted By Brian Kelly On August 29, 2012
I had read about the drug addict, murderer Jonathan Wayne Nobles some time ago, how he made peace with the mother of one of his two victims, and how he refused any food but the Bread of Life before his execution. I did not know until I read Father Roche’s article that he was received into the third order Dominicans while incarcerated and had introduced other prisoners to the Saint Martin de Porres Lay Dominican Chapter. And, too, I was surprised to read that he was executed in 1996 on October 8, feast of the Holy Rosary, to which daily devotion he was ardently attached.
Do you know what especially moved Jon Nobles to devote his life behind bars to Christ and His Blessed Mother? It was the story of third order Dominican Saint Catherine of Siena’s conversion of Nicolo di Toldo, a convict who also had murdered, although his crime was committed during a civil uprising and at least it had some kind of justification. The man Saint Catherine converted was a man ravaged with despair, furious over the harsh justice of a death sentence that totally surprised him. She had to free Nicolo from a raging anger against the Sienese authorities and God Himself. In her hands, however, he became a lamb, begging her to be at his side at his execution, and repeating the names of “Jesus and Catherine” as she knelt by him at the scaffold to the end. Saint Catherine so loved Nicolo that when the axe fell she received his head into her arms.
The One True Faith: Poetry, Prayers, and Daily journal of Faith:
Father Simon Roche, O.P. is the Promoter of Lay Dominicans in Cork, Ireland. He relates the story of a “cloistered brother.” This is the story of one of them, Jonathan Wayne Nobles. On the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, 7th of October 1998, Jonathan was executed by lethal injection at Huntsville prison, Texas. Jon was a Lay Dominican trying to follow Jesus in the spirit of St Dominic. In 1986, high on drugs Jonathan, then 25 years of age, stabbed two young women to death and seriously injured Ron Ross; a horrific crime for which he was sentenced to death. He was convicted almost entirely on the strength of his own confession. He never took the stand during his trial. He sat impassively as the guilty verdict was read out and only flinched slightly when the judge sentenced him to death. When he arrived at the prison he quickly alienated himself from the guards and most of the prisoners.
Read Father Roche’s account of this inspiring conversion story here .
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