Ashley, Ralph, Bl.
ASHLEY, RALPH, BL.
Jesuit lay brother, martyr; b. unknown; hanged at Red Hill near Worcester, England, April 7, 1606. On
April 28, 1590, Br. Ralph Ashley left his position as cook at the English College, Rheims, France, to take up that same position at the new English College of Valladolid, Spain, where he was accepted into the Jesuits. In 1598 he returned to England because of illness. En route he fell into the hands of the Dutch Protestants, among whom he displayed courage and eventually won release. After serving the English Jesuit superior, St. Henry garnet, he was assigned to assist (Bl.) Fr. Edward Oldcorne in his ministry at Hinlip Hall, Worcestershire, for the next eight years. At the outset of the Gunpowder Plot, Brs. Ashley and (St.) Nicholas owen hid in the priest-hole at Hinlip Hall until thirst forced them out on the fourth day (Jan. 23, 1606). The lay brothers were arrested immediately; Fr. Garnet and Oldcorne were captured on Jan. 27. All were taken to the Tower of London, on Feb. 3, and subjected to torture, which killed Owen. Ashley and Oldcorne were returned to Worcester, March 21, for trial. Ashley was condemned for assisting an illegal priest. Fr. Oldcorne was executed first. As he hanged Br. Ashley kissed his feet, saying: "Happy I am to follow in the steps of my sweet Father." He was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929.
Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England); Dec. 1 (Jesuits).
See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.
Bibliography: r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924; repr. Farnborough 1969). j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891). j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998) 94–95.
[k. i. rabenstein]