An Irish Jesuit and an English secular priest embrace death together

Blessed John Duckett

Celebrated on September 7th

Blessed John Ducket and Blessed Ralph Corby


Born near Sedburgh in Yorkshire, John Duckett studied at the English college of Douay and was ordained priest in 1639. He studied for three years in Paris before returning to England. He carried out his ministry for about a year before being arrested around the same time as another priest, Jesuit Ralph Corby. Father Ralph, who was born in Dublin and was educated in St Omer, Seville and Valladolid had ministered in England for 12 years before he was captured while celebrating Mass.

The Jesuit order tried feverishly to save Fr Ralph. When a ‘reprieve’ came, he appealed for Fr John who was younger, to be spared instead of him, but Fr John said he could not walk away and leave his friend.

In fact the judges ignored the reprieve and condemned both priests to death. On this day, in 1644, at ten o’clock, the two men mounted the cart that would take them to Tyburn. Their heads were shaved and they wore their cassocks. Each made a short speech, then embraced each other before they were hung drawn and quartered.

They were beatified in 1929.

John Duckett was a distant relative of another martyr of the Reformation, the publisher Blessed James Duckett.


Thanks for sharing. My understanding is that England persecuted and martyred Catholics for about 200 years starting in the 16th century with the reign of Henry VIII.

They persecuted and martyred 'em in Ireland longer than that.

Yes and before all that I think there was a prophecy that Ireland would remain Catholic while England would abandon the faith. Can’t remember when or who prophesied.

St. Dominic Savio had a vision that England would return to the faith. He told Don Bosco to tell the Pope. So it will happen. Just a question of when.

I did not know that. Pray and hope it will be soon. Let England be a light in a mostly overly secularized Europe.

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Your understanding is, perhaps, only partial. Christians of all stripes persecuted each other in England — as they did elsewhere — for hundreds of years.

This conversation typically ends in a ping-pong where I produce a list of Lollard and Protestant martyrs and you reply with a list of Catholic martyrs. It would be wiser for us to agree that Christian history — like the rest of history — is bloody, and to try to learn the lessons from that.

The first lesson would be to avoid misleadingly one-sided statements that simply damage the progress of reconciliation.


Thanks , @PickyPicky , for reminding us of the total picture of intolerance and persecution in the England of that period .

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While I appreciate and agree with the fact that Catholics also persecuted non-Catholics in England and elsewhere, I would note:

  1. this is a Catholic forum, so we are focused on the Catholic viewpoint here, not the Anglican one - nor is this post in “Non-Catholic Religions”, and it is focused on two Catholic martyrs;

  2. the persecutions in England were initially triggered by England’s leader deciding to schism with the Church for political reasons (I will grant that the ordinary people of England could not do much about this and were faced with some tough choices/ caught in the crossfire as it were), and were not triggered initially by anything the Catholics did;

  3. I doubt that statements on an Internet forum are going to affect the “progress of reconciliation”, which seems to be hampered much more by differing views on female clergy and homosexuality than by anything some random person says on the Internet.

I will leave it at that.


Indeed, and remembering the sacrifice of martyrs is utterly appropriate. It was the comment by @Dan_Defender that I was replying to.

That is, of course, not true of the martyrdom of Lollards: their persecution stretched back to the 15th Century. But here we go with the ping-pong I was arguing that we should avoid. I shall now avoid it.

May God have mercy on the souls of the followers of Wycliffe’s heresy.

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