Friday, June 15, 2012

Blesseds Peter Snow and Ralph Grimston

Peter Snow, of Ripon, England, was ordained a priest in Soissons, France in 1591. After returning to England, he served for seven years in Yorkshire, ministering to his fellow Catholics persecuted under Queen Elizabeth I. In the spring of 1598, he received assistance in his travels from a Yorkshire native, Ralph Grimston, a married layman from Nidd. Ralph had previously suffered imprisonment for opening his home to Catholic priests. On or around May 1, 1598, Father Snow and Ralph were captured while journeying together to York. Father Snow was condemned to death by hanging, drawing, and quartering for being a priest. Ralph was condemned to death by hanging for having assisted Father Snow and for having attempted to prevent the priest’s arrest when they were caught. They suffered martyrdom together on June 15 at York.

The Catholic Cathedral at Leeds, dedicated to St. Anne, has their skulls as relics, and the University of Dundee reconstructed their faces based on their skulls (just like they do on Bones and all the other forensic cop shows on television!). It's rather heartbreaking to imagine the young Father Peter Snow enduring the tortures of being hung and eviscerated during his execution--unlike the stylized portraits of the sixteenth century or the idealized images of the martyrs, the picture of him on the left is more realtistic (if we believe the reconstruction). Mr. Grimston seems stalwart and, I guess, normal, balding and wrinkled. I can imagine him taking a swing at the pursuivants on the road to York, trying to fight them off to give Father Show a chance. They were beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1987, among the Eighty-Five Martyrs of England and Wales.

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