St Ambrose Barlow (martyr) healing oil
St Ambrose Barlow was one of several Benedictine priests who grace the long list of the English Catholic martyrs of the Reformation. Baptized Edward he was the son of a prominent knight of Lancashire. Though baptized a Catholic he conformed to the State Church until 22. Then he returned to Catholic practice and entered the English Catholic seminary at Douay, Belgium.
His 24 years of life as a missionary priest were geographically restricted, necessarily wary, and very intense. He became much loved for his zeal for souls, for his love of poverty and of the poor. And his wonderful priestly example.
In 1628, Father Barlow administered the last sacraments in prison to Father Edmund Arrowsmith. A secular fellow missionary of his in Lancashire. After the martyrdom of St. Edmund, on August 28, 1628. He appeared to Father Barlow (who did not yet know he had died) and warned him that he, too. Would be called on to give up his life. “Say little,” he counseled Barlow, “for they will endeavor to take hold of your words.”
Father Ambrose lived 13 years waiting for the prophecy to be fulfilled. He was imprisoned four times during that period, but each time released. Then in March 1641, Parliament practically forced King Charles I to order all priests out of the country under penalty of treason. A few weeks later, on Easter Sunday, the local Anglican vicar led a party of 400 men armed with swords and clubs to arrest Father Barlow. They seized him as he preached after the Easter Mass at a private house at Leigh. The Benedictine had lately suffered a stroke, so a man had to sit behind him on the horse to keep him from falling off as they rode to the jail.
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