Spenser, William, Bl.

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Priest, martyr; b. c. 1555 at Gisburn, Yorkshire, England; hanged, drawn, and quartered on Sept. 24, 1589 at York. His maternal uncle, Bl. William Horne, sent him (1573) to Trinity College, Oxford, where he earned his master's degree in 1580. He used his position as a fellow at Oxford to influence his pupils regarding the truth of Catholicism, but he delayed his formal reconciliation with the Church until 1582 when he was received into communion at Rheims. He then began his seminary studies. After presbyteral ordination (1583), on Aug. 29, 1584, he was sent to England, where he worked in Yorkshire. One of his greatest accomplishments was the reconciliation of his parents and uncle, who later became a priest. Spenser voluntarily gave himself up to authorities at York Castle in order to assist those imprisoned there. He was condemned for his priesthood and was executed with Bl. Robert hardesty. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on Nov. 22, 1987 with George Haydock and companions.

Feast of the English Martyrs: May 4 (England).

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924). j. h. pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London 1891), 27378; English Martyrs 15841603 (London 1908), 34, 35.

[k. i. rabenstein]