Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pope John Paul II and the Priests of England

Continuing the celebration of the Seven Sacraments, Pope John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass and priestly ordination on May 31, 1982 in Manchester, England, recalling the history of holy priests, including several recusant martyrs and Blessed Dominic Barberi, the Italian Passionist missionary who received John Henry Newman as a Catholic on October 9, 1845:



Monday, 31 May 1982

England is fortunate to have a distinguished legacy of holy priests. Many of her sons left home and country in penal times to prepare for the priesthood. After ordination, they returned to England to face danger and often death for their faith. Manchester is rightly proud of its great martyr, Saint Ambrose Barlow, the Benedictine. Catholic Lancashire honours its other martyrs: Saint Edmund Arrowsmith and all those saints called “John”: John Almond, John Plessington, John Rigby, John Southworth. But in addition to your martyrs, rejoice in the memory of many holy priests from this region who lived each day the fullness of their vocation. Near here, in Sutton, St Helens, is the tomb of Blessed Dominic Barberi, the Passionist from Italy who received John Henry Newman into the Church. He is but one example of the countless other priests who continue to serve as models of holiness for the clergy of today.

St. Ambrose Barlow, OSB, pictured above, was born at Barlow Hall near Manchester in 1585. His family had reluctantly conformed to the Church of England after his grandfather had died in prison for his Catholic faith in 1584 and the family had lost two-thirds of their estate. He became a Catholic in 1607, traveled to the Continent and became a Benedictine in 1617. His career as a missionary priest in Manchester, England was furthered by a pension and residence with the Tyldesey family. On Easter Sunday, April 25, 1641 Father Barlow was captured while celebrating Mass. He was then tried and convicted for his Catholic priesthood and executed on September 10, 1641.

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