Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December 1, 1581

St. Ralph Sherwin was executed on December 1, 1581 along with St. Edmund Campion and St. Alexander Briant. They were hung, drawn, and quartered after being found guilty of being Catholic priests present in England.

As The Catholic Herald notes, Sherwin was very much like Campion in his academic career and his sacrifice thereof:

Sherwin’s career began, like Campion’s, in a blaze of academic glory. A Derbyshire man, he showed such early promise that he was selected for a fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford.

There, according to Anthony √† Wood, he was “accounted an acute philosopher and an excellent Grecian and Hebrician”. As Campion had made his mark with a Latin oration before Queen Elizabeth in 1566, so Sherwin, when he took his MA in 1574, impressed the Queen’s favourite, the Earl of Leicester.

The baubles of this world were his for the grasping. In 1575, however, he left Oxford and embraced Roman Catholicism, proceeding to Douai to study for the priesthood under William Allen. In March 1577 he was ordained at Cateau Cambrésis by the Bishop of Cambrai.

Like Campion, he was tortured repeatedly in the Tower of London. Elizabeth's government tried to force these three Jesuits to confess to some sort of treasoness conspiracy against the state, but there wasn't away, except that they dared, as Campion would remind the court at Westminster, to practice the Catholic faith as their forefathers had done in England for centuries.

The martyr's last words: "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus!"


  1. Thanks for posting this. I've found no other note of it on the Catholic blogosphere so far. Dragged upside down to the gibbet, they burst out in laughter when they saw the scene. To this day, as far as I know, no one knows what their private joke or wager was. We do know that they went there merrily.

  2. They did, Tubbs, after singing "Te Deum Laudamus" in Westminster Hall after their sentencing!