English martyr, born 1550 at Rodesley, near Longford, Derbyshire; died at Tyburn, 1 December, 1581. In 1568 Sir William Petre nominated him to one of the eight fellowships which he had founded at Exeter College, Oxford, probably acting under the influence of the martyr's uncle, John Woodward, who from 1556 to 1566 had been rector of Ingatestone, Essex, where Sir William lived. There Blessed Ralph took the degree of M.A., 2 July, 1574, and was accounted "an acute philosopher, and an excellent Grecian and Hebrician". In 1575 he fled abroad and went to the English College at Douai, where 23 March, 1577, he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Cambrai. On 2 August, 1577, he left for Rome, where he stayed at the English College nearly three years, becoming leader of the movement, which placed it under the supervision of the Jesuits. On 18 April, 1580, he set out for England, a member of a party of fourteen; at Milan they were guests of St. Charles for eight days, and Blessed Ralph preached before him. On 9 November, 1580, he was imprisoned in the Marshalsea, where he converted many fellow prisoners, and on 4 December was transferred to the Tower, where he was severely racked, 15 December, and afterwards laid out in the snow. The next day he was racked again, after which second torture he "lay for five days and nights without any food or speaking to anybody. All which time he lay, as he thought in a sleep, before our Saviour on the Cross. After which time he came to himself, not finding any distemper in his joints by the extremity of the torture." After a year's imprisonment he was brought to trial, on an absurd charge of treasonable conspiracy, in Westminster Hall 20 November, 1581, and being found guilty was taken back to the Tower, whence he was drawn to Tyburn on a hurdle shared by Blessed Alexander Briant . He suffered very bravely, his last words being, Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus!
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online