Saint Ambrose "Edward Barlow"
Feast Day is September 10
Martyr and one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. A convert, Ambrose studied for the priesthood at Douai, France, and Valladolid, Spain. In 1615 he was a professed Benedictine, affiliated by request to the Spanish Abbey of Celanova. For twenty-four years, Ambrose worked in Lancashire, England, despite the dangers. He was arrested four times but was released. On his fifth arrest, he was executed at Lancaster.
Ambrose was born at Barlow Hall, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester in 1585. He was the fourth son of the nobleman Sir Alexander Barlow and his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Uryan Brereton. The Barlow family had been reluctant converts to the Church of England following the suppression of the Church of Rome in England and Wales. Ambrose's grandfather died in 1584 whilst imprisoned for his beliefs and Sir Alexander Barlow had two thirds of his estate confiscated as a result of his refusing to conform with the rules of the new established religion. On 30 November 1585, Ambrose was baptised at Didsbury chapel and went on to adhere to the Anglican faith until 1607, when he converted to Roman Catholicism.
In 1597, Ambrose was taken into the stewardship of Sir Uryan Legh, a relative who would care for him whilst he served out his apprenticeship as a page. However, upon completing this service, Barlow realised that his true vocation was for the priesthood, so he travelled to Douai in France to study at the English College there before attending the Royal College of Saint Alban in Valladolid, Spain. In 1615, he returned to Douai where he became a member of the Order of Saint Benedict and was ordained as a priest in 1617.
After his ordination into the priesthood, Ambrose returned to Barlow Hall, before taking up residence at the home of Sir Thomas Tyldesley, Morleys Hall, Astley. Sir Thomas' grandmother had arranged for a pension to be made available to the priest which would enable him to carry out his priestly duties amongst the poor Catholics within his parish. From there he secretly catered for the needs of Catholic 'parishioners', offering daily Mass and reciting his Office and Rosary. To avoid detection by the Protestant authorities, he devised a four week routine in which he travelled throughout the parish for four weeks and then remained within the Hall for five weeks. He would often visit his cousins, the Downes, at their residence of Wardley Hall and conduct Mass for the gathered congregation.
Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.