In My Gallery of Heavenly Heroes

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December 1st is the dies natalis of four holy priests who figure in my personal gallery of heavenly heroes.



Saint Ralph Sherwin, Priest and Martyr, (1550-1 December, 1581)
Saint Edmund Campion, Priest and Martyr (1540-1 December 1581)

Saint Ralph Sherwin and Saint Edmund Campion were both martyred for the Catholic faith at Tyburn under Elizabeth I on 1 December, 1581.

The last words of Saint Ralph Sherwin were: Iesu, Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi Iesus. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, be to me a Jesus. For many souls this invocation has been a means to the ceaseless prayer of the heart.

The invocation is inscribed above the altar in the crypt chapel of Tyburn Convent of the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart in London.


Blessed Charles de Jésus (de Foucauld), Priest and Martyr (1858-1 December 1916)

Blessed Charles de Jésus, the hermit of the Sahara, was martyred on 1 December 1916. The Prayer of Abandonment of Blessed Charles of Jesus has helped souls the world over to walk in the path of confidence and spiritual childhood.

I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.


The Servant of God Jean-Edouard Lamy, Priest (1853-1 December 1931)

Père Lamy, a priest greatly devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the founder of the Cistercian-inspired Congregation of the Servants of Jesus and Mary, died on 1 December 1931. Père Lamy touched countless souls, among them the French Catholic author Julian Green, and Jacques and Raïssa Maritain. Père Lamy used to say:

The Blessed Virgin can bring down the mercy of God on almost anything. What matters is to go on praying. The Blessed Virgin offers our prayers to God. She touches them up. She makes them into something pleasing. She gilds them when they are only wretched tin pots. She is a rag-picker, divinely clever. . . . Prayer even made without great attention is none the less prayer and our holy Mother finishes off what is lacking. . . . She is busy perpetually lessening our weakness before the face of God. What works in her is her kindness, her charity.


Dear Fr Kirby,
I was most interested in your 'Gallery of Heavenly Heroes' Your mention of St. Ralph Sherwin and St. Edmund Campion reminds me of another martyr, St. Ambrose Barlow OSB, martyred at Lancaster in 1641.
About 4 miles from where I am. What an example they give to us in their faith and courage and their charity to those who brought about their death.

Dear Dom Kirby,
It gives such deep joy to read about the heavenly friends we admire in common, and for me to learn about those with whom I am less familiar. The Forty English Martyrs have been great favorites honored in my mother's family since many of them came into the Church en masse in the 1950s. My husband and I believe it was due to the intercession of St. Swithin Wells that a great grace came into our own family twelve years ago. But Père Lamy and the Venerable Charles de Foucauld are particularly admired as well. So many heavenly friends...and there will be so much heavenly time to enjoy their companionship! Thank you for introducing all of us, your readers, to them beforehand so we are aware of who it is encouraging us and waiting for us on our dies natalis.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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