Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Saint of the Day - Blesseds Roger Dickenson and Ralph Milner

Ralph Milner was born in Flacsted, Hants, England, in the sixteenth century, during the reign of the Tudors. He spent the majority of his life as a farm laborer in his native village where he and his wife had 8 children. Ralph was raised as an Anglican but after observing the pious example of his Catholic neighbors he made the decision to enter the Church.

However, at the time, England was in the midst of the Catholic persecutions ordered by Queen Elizabeth I. Due to this, Ralph was arrested on the same day that he received his first Holy Communion.

Because the jailer took a liking to Ralph he was often let out on parole. It was during this time that he met the undercover Catholic priest "Mr." Roger Dickenson. Ralph would act as escort to Fr. Dickenson "conducting [him] to the different villages to minister to the spiritual needs of the scattered and persecuted flock."

Eventually both men were caught in the act and placed in close confinement while awaiting their trial. At the trial the judge had pity on Ralph because of his large family and offered him a deal. If Ralph would just once attend a Protestant Church he could go free. Ralph refused "to embrace a counsel so disagreeable to the maxims of the Gospel."

He and Fr. Dickenson were led to the gallows on July 7, 1591. Ralph's 8 children were brought to him as he awaited the hangman in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to renounce his faith. Instead, Ralph gave his children his final blessing and declared that "he could wish them no greater happiness than to die for the like cause." He and Fr. Dickenson then went bravely to their execution by means of hanging, drawing and quartering.

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