mardi 7 avril 2015

Saint HENRY WALPOLE, prêtre jésuite et martyr

Saint Henri Walpole, jésuite, martyr

Natif de Docking (1558), dans le Norfolk anglais, il fut élevé à Norwich, à Cambridge et à Gray's Inn. Converti au catholicisme, il fit ses études canoniques au collège anglais de Rome où il entra dans la Compagnie de Jésus en 1584. Ordonné prêtre en 1588, il travailla à York et y subit le martyre. Il fut canonisé en 1970 dans le groupe des « Quarante martyrs d'Angleterre et du pays de Galles », un des groupes de victimes de la persécution anglicane auquel n'appartient pas le Bienheureux précédent.


Saint Henri Walpole

prêtre et martyr ( 1595)

et le bienheureux Alexandre Rawlings.
Henri était originaire du Norfolk anglais; il fit ses études à Cambridge. Converti au catholicisme, il étudia ensuite au collège anglais de Rome et entra dans la compagnie de Jésus en 1584. Ordonné prêtre, il revint à York. Sous la reine Élisabeth Ière, en raison de leur sacerdoce, le bienheureux Alexandre Rawlings et lui, furent arrrêtés, subirent des tortures, et enfin conduits au gibet où ils achevèrent leur martyre par la corde et le fer. Béatifié en 1929, il fut canonisé en 1970 avec les quarante martyrs d'Angleterre et du Pays de Galles.

À York en Angleterre, l’an 1595, saint Henri Walpole, de la Compagnie de Jésus, et le bienheureux Alexandre Rawlings, prêtres et martyrs. Sous la reine Élisabeth Ière, en raison de leur sacerdoce, ils furent jetés dans les chaînes, subirent des tortures, et enfin conduits au gibet, où ils achevèrent leur martyre par la corde et le fer.

Martyrologe romain


Ven. Henry Walpole

English Jesuit martyr, born at Docking, Norfolk, 1558; martyred at York, 7 April, 1595. He was the eldest son of Christopher Walpole, by Margery, heiress of Richard Beckham of Narford, and was educated at Norwich School, Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Gray's Inn. Converted by the death of Blessed Edmund Campion, he went by way of Rouen and Paris, to Reims, where he arrived, 7 July, 1582. On 28 April, 1583, he was admitted into the English College, Rome, and in October received minor orders. On 2 February, 1584, he became a probationer of the Society, and soon after went to France, where he continued his studies, chiefly at Pont-à-Mousson. He was ordained subdeacon and deacon at Metz, and priest at Paris, 17 Dec., 1588. After acting as chaplain to the Spanish forces in the Netherlands, suffering imprisonment by the English at Flushing in 1589, and being moved about to Brussels, Tournai, Bruges, and Spain, he was at last sent on the mission in 1590. He was arrested landing at Flamborough, and imprisoned at York. The following February he was sent to the Tower, where he was frequently and severely racked. He remained there until, in the spring of 1595, he was sent back to York for trial. With him suffered Alexander Rawlins, of the Diocese of Gloucester. After being twice imprisoned at Newgate for religion in 1586, Rawlins arrived at Reims, 23 Dec., 1589; he was ordained subdeacon at Laon, 23 September, 1589, deacon and priest at Soissons, 17 and 18 March, 1590, was sent on the mission the following 9 April, and landed at Whitby.


See, for Walpole: JESSOPP, One Generation of a Norfolk House (Norwich, 1878); IDEM, Dict. Nat. Biog., s.v.; POLLEN, English Martyrs 1584-1603 in Cath. Rec. Soc. Publ. (London, 1908). For Rawlins: CHALLONER, Missionary Priests, I, nn. 90 and 108; KNOX, Doway Diaries (London, 1878); Cath. Rec. Soc. Publ., II, 261, 264, 267.

Wainewright, John. "Ven. Henry Walpole." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 6 Apr. 2015 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to the memory of the martyrs of England.

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

Henry Walpole, SJ M (RM)

Born in Docking, Norfolk, England, in 1558; died April 7, 1595; beatified in 1929; canonized as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Saint Henry studied at Norwich, Cambridge (Peterhouse), and law at Gray's Inn. He was reconciled to the Church when he witnessed the execution of Saint Edmund Campion. He immediately quit studying law in order to study theology at Rheims. Henry entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, 1584, and was ordained there four years later after completing his studies at the English College.

He was sent on the missions to Lorraine, and in 1589, while acting as chaplain to the Spanish troops in the Netherlands, he was imprisoned by the Calvinists at Flushing for a year. When released he taught at Seville and Valladolid, Spain. Thereafter, Henry engaged in missionary activities in Flanders and, in 1593, was sent to the English mission.

Arrested almost on landing, he was imprisoned for a year in York and then in the Tower of London, subjected to numerous tortures, and then convicted of treason for his priesthood at York, where he was hanged, drawn, and quartered with Blessed Alexander Rawlins (Benedictines, Delaney).


St. Henry Walpole, April 7, 1595

Another of the great Jesuit martyrs of the Elizabethan era, Henry Walpole was on his way to a legal career, which would have meant conformity and uniformity with the established Church of England. But he happened to attend the executions of St. Edmund Campion and his companions on December 1, 1581--and drops of the saint's blood fell on him. He abandoned the path to worldly success and left England. A poem, lamenting the death of one of the diamonds of England, is attributed to Walpole:

Why do I use my paper, ink and pen?

Why do I use my paper, ink and pen,
And call my wits to counsel what to say?
Such memories were made for mortal men;
I speak of Saints whose names cannot decay.
An Angel’s trump were fitter for to sound.
Their glorious death if such on earth were found.
That store of such were once on earth pursued,
The histories of ancient times record,
Whose constancy great tyrants’ rage subdued.
Through patient death, professing Christ the Lord:
As his Apostles perfect witness bare,
With many more that blessed Martyrs were.
Whose patience rare and most courageous mind,
With fame renowned perpetual shall endure,
By whose examples we may rightly find,
Of holy life and death a pattern pure.
That we therefore their virtues may embrace
Pray we to Christ to guide us with his grace.
William Byrd set this poem to music, and you may hear a performance of it here.

According to this
blog, after studying for the priesthood on the Continent, becoming a Jesuit, and enduring imprisonment while serving English Catholics in the Spanish Netherlands, Walpole returned to England on December 4, 1593 and was betrayed and captured almost immediately.

One night of freedom in England was followed by 16 months of imprisonment. Walpole admitted during his first interrogation that he was a Jesuit and had come to England to convert people. He was transferred to York Castle for three months, and was permitted to leave the prison to discuss theology with Protestant visitors. Then he was transferred to the Tower of London at the end of February, 1594, so that the notorious priest-torturer Richard Topcliffe could wrest information from him.

Walpole was tortured brutally on the rack and was suspended by his wrists for hours, but Topcliffe stretched the tortures out over the course of a year to prevent an accidental death. Walpole endured torture 14 different times before being returned in 1595 to York to stand trial under the law that made it high treason for an Englishman simply to return home after receiving Holy Orders abroad. The man who had once aspired to be a lawyer defended himself ably, pointing out that the law only applied to priests who had not given themselves up to officials within three days of arrival. He himself had been arrested less than a day after landing in England, so he had not violated that law. The judges responded by demanding that he take the Oath of Supremacy, acknowledging the queen's complete authority in religion. He refused to do so and was convicted of high treason.

On April 7, Walpole was dragged out of York to be executed along with another priest who was killed first. Then the Jesuit climbed the ladder to the gallows and asked the onlookers to pray with him. After he finished the Our Father but before he could say the Hail Mary, the executioner pushed him away from the ladder; then he was taken down and dismembered. The Jesuits in England lost a promising young priest whom they had hoped would take the place of Father Southwell; they received another example of fidelity and courage.

The priest who died with St. Henry Walpole was
Alexander Rawlins:

Alexander was born in Worcestershire, England, where he was jailed twice for his fervent Catholicism. In 1589 he went to the English seminary in Reims and was ordained there in 1590. Returning to England the following year (with another future martyr and saint,
Father Edmund Gennings), Alexander was arrested. He was condemned to death and on April 7, 1595, and along with Henry Walpole was hanged, drawn, and quartered in York, England. He was beatified in 1929.

Saint Henry Walpole and Blessed Alexander Rawlins, pray for us.


ST. Henry WALPOLE SJ was born in Docking in the county of Norfolk, in the year 1558.

After having studied in the University of Cambridge, and also in Grays Inn, London, spurred on by the martyrdom of St. Edmund Campion SJ, he left England to study at Rheims. Arriving there on 7th July 1582, he remained some months, until moving to the English College in Rome, where he was admitted as a pupil on the 28th April 1583. The following year he left and entered the Society of Jesus.

On the 15th December 1588 he was ordained a priest in Paris, and immediately was sent to Brussels as Chaplain to the English soldiers under Sir William Stanley. During this period he was stopped and incarcerated for five months, until his rescue.

Around the end of December of 1592 he was ordered to Seville, and after two months in that city was appointed Minister or rather Vice - Governor of the College of St. Alban at VALLADOLID.

In June of the following year, Father Persons SJ, his superior decided to order him to England, and after an expedition to Madrid to request alms to establish another college in St. Omer (in the Low Countries), he left for England, where he arrived on the 4th of December 1593.

With two companions he disembarked in Bridlington, but the following day they were stopped and incarcerated in the Castle at York. From there, he was moved to the Tower of London and left in the custody of Topcliffe, the notorious persecutor of priests. Between February 1594 and his death he was tortured in the keep fourteen times.

In the spring of 1595, he was returned to York to be processed, and on the 7th of April 1595, in that City, he was stripped, hung, drawn and quartered.

He was solemnly canonised by Pope Paul VI on the 25th of October 1970