Blessed Roger Dickenson, Blessed Ralph Milner, & Blessed Lawrence Humphrey
These three martyrs lived in England during the time of Church persecution by Queen Elizabeth I. “Mr.” Roger Dickenson was an undercover diocesan priest. Ralph Milner was a husband and father. He worked as a farm laborer and was brought into the Church through the good example of his neighbors. The day he made his First Communion he was put into prison for being a Catholic. The jailer liked Mr. Milner so his prison confinement was not strict at first. For several years, he went on “parole” to find supplies of food and whatever the other prisoners needed. While on parole, he was of great help to “Mr.” Dickenson and Father Stanney, a Jesuit.
The day came when Father Dickenson, too, was caught. He and Mr. Milner were brought to trial together. Father Dickenson was tried for the crime of being a Catholic priest. Mr. Milner was tried for helping Father Dickenson perform his ministry. The judge looked at the crowd in the courtroom. He thought of Mrs. Milner and the couple’s eight children. He wanted to free Milner at all costs.
“All you have to do,” he said, “is visit a Protestant church, just for a few minutes, to say you have been there. I’ll let you go free to be with your family.”
Mr. Milner quietly and firmly refused. He and Father Dickenson went bravely to their deaths. It was July 7, 1591.
The third martyr, Lawrence Humphrey, had been brought into the Church by Father Stanney, S.J. He would not give up the faith he had so recently acquired. Lawrence was just twenty-one years old when he was martyred.
Every martyr reminds us that a treasure is worth defending. The martyrs recognized the value of their Catholic religion. They would not give it up for any reason. We can pray to Blessed Roger, Blessed Ralph and Blessed Lawrence. They will lead us to love and cherish our beliefs as they did.