Barlow, Ambrose (Edward), St.
BARLOW, AMBROSE (EDWARD), ST.
English martyr; b. Barlow Hall, near Manchester, 1585; d. Lancaster, Sept. 10, 1641. Although born a Catholic, Barlow conformed to the Protestant church in his youth. At the age of 22, he returned to the faith and entered the English seminary at Douai. In 1613, on a visit to England, Barlow was imprisoned for several months; after his release he joined the English Benedictine monks at St. Gregory's, Douai, where his brother was prior. He took the name Ambrose in place of his baptismal name of Edward. He was professed in 1614 and ordained in 1617, after which he returned to England where, for 24 years, he labored in the Manchester and Liverpool districts. Resembling Thomas More in his wit and mildness, Barlow was greatly loved by the poor, whom he entertained at his house on the great feasts. There is a detailed account of his apostolate in a short contemporary work, The Apostolical Life of Ambrose Barlow (Cheetham Society).
Partially paralyzed by a stroke in 1641, on Easter day of that year he was captured at Leigh, Lancashire while preaching to his congregation. Sitting on a horse, with a man behind him to prevent his falling, he was taken to Lancaster Castle by an escort of 60 men. After four months in prison, where he passed most of his time in prayer, he was brought to trial; he at once acknowledged his priesthood. When the judge offered to release him if he agreed "not to seduce any more people," he answered, "I am no seducer, but a reducer of the people to the true and ancient religion…. I am in the resolutionto continue until death to render this good office to these strayed souls." On September 8 he was condemned. Five days before this, a general chapter of the English Benedictine Congregation had accepted the resignation of his brother, Rudesind Barlow, as titular prior of Coventry, and had elected Ambrose in his place. He was executed at Lancaster on September 10. Ambrose's skull is preserved at Wardley Hall, near Manchester, and his left hand at Stanbrook Abbey, Worcestershire. He was canonized on Oct. 25, 1970 (see england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of).
Feast: Sept. 10; Oct. 25; May 4.
Bibliography: b. camm, Nine Martyr Monks … (London 1931). j. stonor, Ambrose Barlow (Postulation pamphlet; London 1961). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints (New York, 1956) 3:535–537. r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. and rev. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London, 1924). j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time (London and New York 1885–1902; reprint 1961) 1:134–135.