Alban Bartholomew Roe


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Benedictine monk, priest and martyr. Born in Suffolk, Roe was educated at Cambridge University and became an ardent and aggressive Protestant. It is said that a meeting at St Albans with an imprisoned recusant whom Roe had undertaken to convert, resulted instead in his own discomfiture. After a period of study and of meeting several priests, Roe joined the R.C. Church in 1607 and was admitted to the English College, Douai, in 1608. Three years later, however, he was dismissed for insubordination during a period of crisis for the college. Nevertheless he became a Benedictine monk at Dieulouard, Lorraine (now at Ampleforth Abbey, N. Yorkshire), was professed in 1614 and ordained priest in 1615. The same year he helped to found the monastery of St Edmund, Paris (now at Woolhampton, Berks.).

From Paris he returned to London, where he worked until 1618, when he was arrested and imprisoned for five years. Released through the influence of the Spanish ambassador, he was then banished, but returned to England a few months later. After two years he was again arrested and imprisoned at St Albans. Friends procured his transfer to the Fleet, where he remained for a further fifteen years, during which he was often released on day parole. This enabled him to minister to many London recusants. Under the Long Parliament this lax arrangement ended: Roe was transferred to Newgate and tried in 1642 at the Old Bailey. He was accused of being a priest and a ‘seducer of the people’. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered; the sentence was executed on 21 January. He was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast: 25 October.

J. McCann and C. Cary-Elwes, Ampleforth and its Origins (1952); J. Forbes, Blessed Alban Roe (pamphlet, 1960); G. Scott, St Alban Roe, Martyr (1992).

Subjects: Christianity.

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