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JESUITICA: The assassin’s lookalike

guida_01Ever since the Spanish Inquisition imprisoned St Ignatius, many Jesuits have known the inside of jails, including one famous case of mistaken identity. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln on 14 April, 1865, and after twelve days on the run, with a $100,000 reward on his head, he was hunted down and shot dead. He was a well-known actor, and had been clearly seen in the theatre where he killed Lincoln, as he took the stage shouting Sic semper tyrannis. During those twelve days, it was dangerous to look like John Booth (pictured left). There was an Italian-born Jesuit called John B. Guida (pictured right), teaching philosophy in Georgetown University, dark-haired and of regular features, sufficiently like Booth to raise suspicions. He was arrested and jailed, despite his protestations, and was released only when word came that Booth, identified by unusual tattoos, had been killed in Virginia.