Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Martyrdom in 1644

This website provides detail on Blessed Ralph Corby, SJ, during the reign of Charles I in 1644 (this is during the English Civil War period):

Ralph Corby (1598-1644) enjoyed a relatively long time of ministry in England. His parents were converts to Catholicism who moved from England's County Durham to Ireland, returned to England and then settled in Flanders where Corby studied at the English College; he continued his preparation for the priesthood in Spain and then entered the Society of Jesus after he was ordained in 1625. When he finished his Jesuit formation, he was sent in 1631 or 1632 to the English mission.

He returned to County Durham where there were few priests. For 12 years he confirmed Catholics in their faith and administered the sacraments to them. He was arrested July 8, 1644 while celebrating Mass at Hamsterly Hall, near Newcastle. Puritan soldiers broke into the house just as he was about to read the Epistle. Corby readily signed a confession admitting he was a priest and was put on a ship for London. Jailed in Newgate Prison, he went to trial on Sept. 4 at Old Bailey. With his earlier confession the trial was a formality and he was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death. Three days later he was hung until dead, then disemboweled and quartered, but the sheriff order his body and cassock to be burned so that no one could collect any relics. (according the SJ website)--

Blessed John Duckett, a seminary priest, was executed on the same day. More information on him from this website:

John Duckett was an Englishman, who may have been the grandson of the martyr James Duckett.

Father John studied at the English college of Douay in France and became a priest in 1639. He studied for three more years in Paris, spending several hours each day in prayer.

He spent two months with the Cistercian monks, offering that time to God in prayer and retreat before he was sent back to his persecuted England.

The young priest worked hard for a year teaching people about the Catholic faith in England, but one day when he was on his way to baptize two children, he was caught with the holy oils and book of rites.

When his captors threatened harm to his family and friends if he did not tell them who he was, he admitted that he was a priest. He was immediately taken to prison in London.

There he met a Jesuit priest, Ralph Corby. Father Corby had worked in England for twelve years before they caught him celebrating Mass one day.

The Jesuit order tried hard to save Father Corby. When they finally gave him pardon, he insisted that Father John Duckett who was younger, be set free instead of him. But Father John refused to leave without his friend.

Then on September 7, 1644, at ten o'clock, the two priests were taken to Tyburn, to be executed (killed). Their heads were shaved and they wore their cassocks (long robe worn by priests). Each made a short speech, then embraced each other. They would meet again in heaven before God.

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