Saturday, August 11, 2012

Three Gloucester Martyrs; Three Years

These three martyrs were all executed on 11 August in Gloucester in three successive years:

Blessed John Sandys, priest and martyr in 1586;
Blessed Stephen Rowsham, priest and martyr in 1587;
Blessed William Lampley, martyr in 1588

Blessed John Sandys was born in the Diocese of Chester; executed at Gloucester, 11 August, 1586. He arrived at Reims 4 June, 1583, was ordained priest in the Holy Cross Chapel of Reims Cathedral by the Cardinal Archbishop, Louis de Guise, and was sent on the mission 2 October, 1584. He was cut down while fully conscious and had a terrible struggle with the executioner, who had blackened his face to avoid recognition and used a rusty and ragged knife; but his last words were a prayer for his persecutors.

Blessed Stephen Rowsham was a native of Oxfordshire, who entered Oriel College, Oxford, in 1572. He took orders in the English Church and was minister at the University Church about 1578, but becoming convinced of the truth of the Catholic religion he went to Reims (23 April, 1581), where he was ordained priest, and sent on the English mission (30 April, 1582). Being recognized almost immediately on his landing, he was apprehended and sent to the Tower, 19 May, 1582, and remained a prisoner for more than three years, during half of which time (14 Aug., 1582, until 12 Feb., 1584) he was confined to the dungeon known as the "Little Ease". On the latter date he was transferred to the Marshalsea, from which prison he was carried into exile in the autumn of 1585. He arrived at Reims, 8 October, but set out from England again, 7 Feb. 1586. The field of his labours, which were continued for about a year, was in the west of England. He was taken at the house of the Widow Strange in Gloucester. His trial and martyrdom were at Gloucester.

Blessed William Lampley was probably born in Gloucester and worked in the city as a glover. He was condemned for ‘persuading to popery’ and hanged at Gloucester in 1588.

All three were beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1987.

There is a memorial to the Catholic martyrs of Gloucester outside St. Peter's Catholic Church, dedicated on May 4, 2007. It is part of the Diocese of Clifton, which boasts a great litany of martyrs.

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