Sherwin, Ralph, St.
SHERWIN, RALPH, ST.
Priest, martyr; b. Roddesly, Derbyshire, England, c. 1550; d. Tyburn, Dec. 1, 1581. In 1568 Sir William Petre, the second founder of Exeter College, Oxford, nominated Sherwin, along with Richard Bristow, one of the translators of the Douay Bible, to a fellowship. Probably Sherwin owed this favor to the influence of John Woodward, his uncle, a Marian priest, formerly rector of Ingatestone and chaplain to the petre family. At Oxford he enjoyed much influence and the attention of the queen's favorite, the Earl of Leicester. Reconciled to the Church in 1574, he left the following year for Douai. After ordination there on March 23, 1577, he went to the English College, Rome, where he took a leading part in the dissentions between the English and Welsh students. He was one of the four who petitioned Gregory XIII to place the college under the direction of the Jesuits. On April 18, 1580, he left for England in a company that included (St.) Edmund campion and (St.) Luke kirby. They landed in England early in August, and Sherwin was arrested the following November while preaching in the house of Nicholas Roscarrock in London. After a month in chains in the Marshalsea prison, he was sent to the Tower, where on December 15 he was cruelly racked, left to lie in the snow, racked a second time, and deprived of food for five days and nights. It was said that he was offered a bishopric if he would apostatize. After his trial and condemnation with Edmund Campion, (St.) Alexander briant, and others, he wrote to his uncle: "Innocencie is my only comfort against all the forged villanie which is fathered on my fellow priests and me." He is the protomartyr of the English College, Rome, where his portrait, discovered at Darlington in 1962, now hangs. Sherwin was beatified by Leo XIII on Dec. 29, 1886, and canonized by Paul VI on Oct. 25, 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Feast: Dec. 1; Oct. 25 (Feast of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales); May 4 (Feast of the English Martyrs in England).
See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.
Bibliography: b. camm, ed., Lives of the English Martyrs Declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 and 1895, 2 v. (New York 1904–14) 2:358–396. m. waugh, Blessed Ralph Sherwin (Postulation Pamphlet; London 1962). r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924; repr. Farnborough 1969).