mercredi 21 janvier 2015

Saint ALBAN BARTHOLOMEW ROE et THOMAS GREEN, prêtres et martyrs

Saint Alban-Barthélémy Roe et Thomas Green, prêtres et martyrs

Membre de la Communion anglicane et élève à Cambridge, Alban Roe se convertit au catholicisme. Il poursuivit ses études au séminaire anglais de Douai et devint bénédictin en 1612, dans l'actuel Ampleforth. Pendant vingt-huit ans, il travailla dans la mission anglaise avant d’être arrêté. Après dix-sept années d’incarcération, il fut pendu à Londres-Tyburn, en 1642, sous le roi Charles Ier. Avec lui périt Thomas Green, emprisonné durant quatorze ans.     

Saint Alban-Barthélémy Roe

Un des quarante martyrs d'Angleterre ( 1642)

Membre de la Communion anglicane et élève à Cambridge, il se convertit au catholicisme. Il poursuivit ses études au séminaire anglais de Douai et devint bénédictin en 1612, dans l'actuel Ampleforth. Pendant 28 ans, il travailla dans la mission anglaise et fut arrêté. Il subit le martyre à Londres-Tyburn, comme tant d'autres. 

Il fait partie des Quarante martyrs d'Angleterre et du Pays de Galles qui ont été canonisés en 1970. 

À Londres, en 1696, saint Alban Roe, bénédictin, et le bienheureux Thomas Green, prêtres et martyrs. Sous le roi Charles Ier, l’un après dix-sept ans, l’autre après quatorze ans passés en prison, et tous deux d’un âge déjà avancé, furent ensemble pendus pour le Christ au gibet de Tyburn.

Martyrologe romain

Bartholomew Roe


English Benedictine martyr, b. in Suffolk, 1583; executed at Tyburn, 21 Jan., 1641. Educated in Suffolk and at Cambridge; he became converted through a visit to a Catholic prisoner at St. Albans which unsettled his religious views. He was admitted as a convictor into the English College at Douai, entered the English Benedictine monastery at Dieulward where he was professed in 1612, and, after ordination, went to the mission in 1615. From 1618 to 1623 he was imprisoned in the New Prison, Maiden Lane, whence he was banished and went to the English Benedictine house at Douai but returned to England after four months. He was again arrested in 1625, and was imprisoned for two months at St. Albans, then in the Fleet whence he was frequently liberated on parole, and finally in Newgate. He was condemned a few days before his execution under the statute 27 Eliz. c. 2, for being a priest. With him suffered Thomas Greene, aged eighty, who on the mission had taken the name of Reynolds. He was probably descended from the Greenes of Great Milton, Oxfordshire, and the Reynoldses of Old Stratford, Warwickshire, and was ordained deacon at Reims in 1590, and priest at Seville. He had lived under sentence of death for fourteen years, and was executed without fresh trial. They were drawn on the same hurdle, where they heard each other's confessions, and were hanged simultaneously on the same gibbet amidst great demonstrations of popular sympathy.


GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath., III, 36; V, 437; CHALLONER, Missionary Priests, II, nos. 166, 167; POLLEN, Acts of the English Martyrs (London, 1891), 339-43.

Wainewright, John. "Bartholomew Roe." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 21 Jan. 2017 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph E. O'Connor.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Saint Alban Roe
Fr Alban Roe was baptised Bartholomew sometime in 1583, in Suffolk. He attended Cambridge University, and while there experienced something that caused his conversion to Catholicism.
While visiting in St Albans, he heard that a Catholic recusant had been put in prison there for his beliefs, and chose to visit the prisoner, in order to argue him out of his superstitious ways. It did not work out like that, and the Catholic prisoner instead, persuaded Bartholomew that he needed change.
 In February 1608 he took up a place in the English College (a seminary) in Douai, eager to become a priest. He was expelled in 1611, however, for criticising the principal.
It so happened that a Benedictine house was given permission to establish itself at Douai in December of 1608, and it seems likely that young Bartholomew was acquainted with it. At any rate, wishing to avoid further embarrassment in Douai, he joined the noviciate at another English monastery, St Lawrence’s at Dieulouard in 1613. Once ordained he went to England where he worked in secret as a priest.
 In 1618 however he was imprisoned for being a priest in England - a ‘crime’ which carried the death penalty. Fortunately, he was released by King James I in a general amnesty in 1623 and banished. He returned to England however, and was re-arrested in 1625 and imprisoned in St Alban’s where his adventure had begun so many years before.
 Luckily for him, his friends had him removed to the Fleet prison in London where circumstances were much better. Indeed, like many others, he was allowed out into the streets of London by day so long as he gave his word (Fr. ‘parole’ ) that he would return by nightfall. He used his freedom to minister to many.
 While King Charles I governed without parliament, no imprisoned priests were executed. When the Long Parliament convened, however, the hangings began again in earnest (20 between 1641 and 1646 including Fr Alban). On the 21st January 1642, he and Fr Thomas Reynolds, a priest in his 80s, offered their last mass and were led to the gallows. They gave each other absolution.
 Just before his death, Alban asked the sheriff if his life would be spared if he renounced his Catholic religion and became an Anglican. The sheriff swore he would be spared if he did. Alban then said to all: “See, then, what the crime is for which I am to die, and whether my religion be not my only treason... I wish I had a thousand lives; then would I sacrifice them all for so worthy a cause.” They were allowed to hang until they were dead before being quartered.

Alban Bartholomew Roe, OSB, Priest M (RM)

Born in Bury Saint Edmunds, Suffolk, England, c. 1583; died at Tyburn, England, 1642; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Bartholomew Roe was a student at Cambridge when he met an imprisoned Catholic and was so impressed by his faith that he was converted to Catholicism. He studied at Douai in France, but was dismissed for an infraction of discipline. Then he became a Benedictine monk at Dieulouard (Dieuleward, now Ampleforth), France, in 1612, taking the name Alban, was ordained, and sent on the English mission.

Father Alban was arrested in 1615, imprisoned, and then banished; but he was back in England four months later and again arrested in 1618 and imprisoned in the New Prison until 1623, when he was released through the intercession of the Spanish ambassador.

Father Alban was exiled a second time. After a short stay at Douai, he returned to England and worked until his arrest in 1625 during the reign of King Charles I. He spent the next 17 years in prison until he was finally tried, convicted on January 19 of being of Catholic priest, and two days later hanged, drawn, and quartered together with Blessed Thomas Reynolds. Apparently, Alban Roe had a lively disposition; he laughed and joked on the scaffold at Tyburn (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney). 

Blessed Thomas Reynolds M (AC)
(also known as Thomas Green)

Born at Oxford; died 1642; beatified 1929. Thomas's true name was Green, but like many Catholics of his time used an alias. After being educated for the priesthood at Rheims, Valladolid, and Seville, he was ordained in 1592 and returned to the English mission, where he worked for nearly 50 years (for once the alias worked!). He must have been about 80 years old when he was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his priesthood at Tyburn together with Saint Bartholomew Roe (Attwater2, Benedictines).

Saint Alban Bartholomew Roe


Convert to Catholicism. Studied at the English College at Douai, France, but was dismissed for an infraction of discipline. Benedictine priest in 1612 at Dieulouard, France. Missionary to England. He was arrested and exiled in 1615 for his work. Returning to England in 1618, he was arrested again. He sat in prison until 1623 when the Spanish ambassador obtained his release on condition that Alban leave England. Soon after, Alban returned to his homeland and continued his covert ministry. Arrested again in 1625, he lay in prison for 17 years before being tried and condemned to death for the crime of priesthood. One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, dying with Blessed Thomas Reynolds.

Additional Information

Ss Thomas Green and Alban Roe

Thomas Green (alias Reynolds) and Alban (born Bartholomew) Roe were missionary priests secretly serving Catholics in post-Reformation England. They were quite unlike in most respects, but they died as brothers, martyrs for their priesthood.

St. Thomas Reynolds, fat in body but suffering infirmities caused by his hard apostolic life, was about eighty when he was hanged. He was a secular priest, ordained at about thirty.

In 1606 the British government rounded up forty-seven Catholic priests, and because they were breaking the law just by being priests, it sent them into exile. Thomas, like most of the forty-seven, came back to England in secret and carried on his hazardous ministry for nearly fifty years.

Arrested as a priest once again in 1628, he was sentenced to death for that “crime,” but then kept in jail for fourteen years. He had served his flock lovingly, by example as well as by word. Despite that zeal, he was personally a timid man, afraid of the long-deferred death that he knew awaited him.

His companion on the scaffold was to be a Benedictine monk – Alban Roe. From his youth, Bartholomew Roe had been one of those daring people who thrive on adversity. As a Protestant student at Cambridge, Roe (born 1583) visited a Catholic jailed for his faith, apparently hoping to convert him. Instead, the would-be converter was himself won over to Catholicism.

Once received into the Church, Bartholomew went to the Netherlands to enroll at Douai seminary as a candidate for the Catholic priesthood.

Somehow or other, he got into hot water with the seminary authorities and was dropped for “insubordination” in 1611. Still desiring to become a priest, Roe, armed with testimonials in his favor from his fellow students at Douai, joined the English Benedictine community of St. Laurence, in Lorraine. Once ordained a priest, he was sent back to work on the English mission.

Dom Alban proved an able missionary during the few years he was free, despite the fact that he irked a few prim people by his easy manners. He was captured in 1612 and held five years in prison. The Spanish ambassador secured his release, but the government warned him to leave the country for good, or else … He did go to Douai, but soon sneaked back into England as Thomas Reynolds had. After only two years of work he was again arrested in 1627, and imprisoned at St. Alban’s prison-the very place where he had received the grace of faith.

The rest of his life he spent as a prisoner. However, when he was transferred to a minimum-security jail in London, he was able to carry on a valuable apostolate in the prison itself and even, to an extent, on the outside. This situation lasted until the days of the anti-Catholic Long Parliament. On January 19, 1642, he was tried as a priest and “seducer of the people,” and condemned to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

It was then that Thomas Reynolds and Alban Roe were brought together. Reynolds told Roe of his fears of dying. Roe replied with powerfully comforting words.

The two were told to get ready for the trip to the Tyburn Hill gallows on January 21, 1642 (January 31 in the reformed calendar). “Well, how do you find yourself now?” the monk asked his aged companion. “In very good heart,” Reynolds replied. “Blessed be God for it, and glad I am to have for my comrade in death a man of your undaunted courage.”

Having mounted the gallows, Reynolds stated that he forgave his enemies; and he moved the sheriff deeply by praying that he (the sheriff) would merit the “grace to be a glorious saint in heaven.”

Roe, in his turn, greeted the people cheerily. “Well, here’s a jolly company!” he exclaimed with a fine contempt for death. He told bystanders that his religion was the sole cause of his death. If he should reject Catholicism even now, he said, he would be released. His last word of conversation was a joking remark made to one of his prison turnkeys.

The two priests had already absolved each other. Now they recited the psalm “Miserere” alternately. As the traps were sprung and their bodies fell, each called out “Jesus!” They were allowed to die before their bodies were disemboweled and cut up. A gracious concession!

Saints Thomas Reynolds and Alban Roe had fortified each other in the cruel hour of death. God expects us all to be supportive of each other. That is love, isn’t it?

–Father Robert F. McNamara

Sant' Albano Roe Sacerdote benedettino, martire

Martirologio Romano: A Londra in Inghilterra, sant’Albano Roe, dell’Ordine di San Benedetto, e beato Tommaso Green, sacerdoti e martiri: sotto il re Carlo I, il primo dopo aver passato diciassette anni in carcere e l’altro quattordici, ormai vecchi, insieme furono sospesi per Cristo al patibolo a Tyburn.

Fu uno dei numerosissimi martiri, ecclesiastici e laici di ogni condizione, dal semplice prete o frate all’alto prelato, come pure dall’umile popolano al facoltoso aristocratico, che patirono per la fede cattolica in Inghilterra nel XVI e XVII secolo, anche se il martirologio inglese non ha certo il suo inizio nella persecuzione scatenata da Enrico VIII nel 1535 con lo scisma d’Inghilterra e conclusasi con la fine del regno di Carlo II nel 1681, ma comincia già al tempo di Diocleziano e si arricchisce durante le invasioni successive degli Anglosassoni e dei Normanni. L’«Atto di supremazia» del 1534 rese definitiva la separazione dell’Inghilterra da Roma; proclamato quindi il re unico capo della Chiesa inglese, venne contemporaneamente sancito che chiunque si fosse rifiutato di riconoscere la sua supremazia spirituale si sarebbe reso colpevole di alto tradimento e come tale sarebbe stato punibile con la morte, cercandosi in tal modo di nascondere il motivo religioso sotto il movente politico. Ebbe così inizio il lungo bagno di sangue dell’Inghilterra cattolica durato quasi un secolo e mezzo, inaugurato con un gruppo di Certosini londinesi il 4 maggio 1535 e nel quale morirono quanti preferirono salire sul patibolo piuttosto che rinnegare la fede dei loro padri e negare obbedienza al pontefice romano. Bartolomeo Albano Roe nacque a Suffolk nel 1585 e fece gli studi a Cambridge. Fu convertito al cattolicesimo dalle risposte di un carcerato cattolico che egli voleva convertire al protestantesimo. Lasciò allora il suolo patrio e si laureò in teologia nel Collegio Inglese di Douai in Francia, che il futuro cardinale Guglielmo Allen aveva fondato nel 1568 appunto per la formazione dei giovani sacerdoti da inviare poi nella loro patria per tentare di convertire nuovamente coloro che avevano abbracciato l’anglicanesimo; per la stessa ragione era stato trasformato in seminario nel 1578 l’antico Collegio Inglese di Roma, auspice sempre l’Allen, e che si meritò il titolo di Seminarium martyrum: tutti sapevano che il ritorno di quei giovani preti in Inghilterra equivaleva a una sentenza di morte. Emessa la professione nel 1612 e ordinato sacerdote, Bartolomeo Roe tornò in patria, ma fu presto arrestato. Dopo cinque anni di carcere venne liberato nel 1623 grazie all’intervento dell’ambasciatore di Spagna, ma fu esiliato. Non si diede per vinto, e dopo appena pochi mesi tornò in Inghilterra. Tradito, fu nuovamente chiuso in carcere, dove esercitò il ministero sacerdotale tra i compagni di sventura. Dopo qualche tempo gli fu concesso il permesso di uscire liberamente dalla prigione, ed egli se ne valse per darsi all’apostolato. Fu scoperto e condannato a morte. Salì sul patibolo il 21 gennaio 1642. Nel monastero di Downside si conserva un panno imbevuto del suo sangue.

Giornale di Brescia


Beato Tommaso Green Sacerdote e martire

Oxford, Inghilterra, 1558 circa – Londra, Inghilterra, 21 gennaio 1642

Thomas Green si preparò al sacerdozio missionario per riportare il cattolicesimo in Inghilterra, studiando nei collegi di Reims, Valladolid e Siviglia. Esiliato, tornò in patria in segreto, ma venne incarcerato per quattordici anni. Subì il martirio per impiccagione insieme al benedettino dom Alban Roe il 21 gennaio 1642, all’età di ottant’anni. È stato beatificato nel 1929.

Martirologio Romano: A Londra in Inghilterra, sant’Albano Roe, dell’Ordine di San Benedetto, e beato Tommaso Green, sacerdoti e martiri: sotto il re Carlo I, il primo dopo aver passato diciassette anni in carcere e l’altro quattordici, ormai vecchi, insieme furono sospesi per Cristo al patibolo a Tyburn.

Thomas Green nacque nella città di Oxford verso il 1558 e, come altri giovani universitari educati secondo la religione dei padri, mal si adattava all’anglicanesimo. Così, per prepararsi a diventare sacerdote e missionario nella sua stessa terra, si trasferì nel collegio retto dai Gesuiti a Reims, in Francia. Di lì passò negli altri due centri di formazione situati a Valladolid e a Siviglia.

Ordinato nel 1592, partì per l’Inghilterra. Nel 1606 il governo inglese catturò quarantasette sacerdoti cattolici, per il solo fatto di essere tali, e li costrinse all’esilio. Padre Green, che era tra costoro, come la maggior parte di essi riuscì a tornare in patria clandestinamente. Esercitò il suo ministero per circa cinquant’anni sotto il falso nome di Reynolds, finché, nel 1628, non venne arrestato. Ricevette la condanna, ma non venne giustiziato, anche se non gli venne formalmente concesso l’indulto. Per questo motivo, a partire dal 1635 ottenne dei permessi per uscire dal carcere, che impiegò per proseguire la sua missione. 

Tuttavia, quando re Carlo I riuscì a convocare nuovamente il Parlamento, le misure contro i prigionieri si fecero più aspre. Il 19 gennaio 1642 padre Green venne condannato definitivamente, insieme al benedettino dom Alban (al secolo Bartholomew) Roe. Al suo compagno di prigionia confidò che aveva paura di affrontare la morte, dopo che era stata a lungo differita. Di rimando, l’altro l’incoraggiò con parole consolanti.

Il 21 gennaio fu il giorno fissato per l’esecuzione. «Ebbene, come ti trovi ora?», domandò il monaco al suo compagno, anziano come lui (aveva ottant’anni). «Di buon umore», replicò padre Green. Dom Roe rispose: «Sia benedetto Dio per questo, e sono felice di avere come compagno nella morte un amico di coraggio indomabile come te». Oltre alle pene passate nei lunghi anni di prigionia, i due dovettero patire anche il freddo e il peso delle gogne a cui furono costretti durante il tragitto verso la forca.

Una volta salito il patibolo, padre Reynolds dichiarò che perdonava i propri nemici e commosse lo sceriffo invocando Dio per meritare la «grazia di essere un glorioso santo in paradiso». I due sacerdoti, dopo essersi confessati e assolti a vicenda, recitarono il Miserere alternandosi. Il loro ultimo grido, quando si aprirono le botole sotto i loro piedi, fu il nome di Gesù.

Mentre dom Roe è stato canonizzato nel 1970, padre Green venne incluso nel gruppo di candidati agli altari che furono riconosciuti martiri con decreto dell’8 dicembre 1929 e dichiarati Beati il 15 dicembre 1929.

Autore: Emilia Flocchini