Blessed Ralph Milner and Roger Dickenson lived at a time in the history of England when Catholics of that country risked imprisonment and death to practice and spread their faith. Ralph Milner was an elderly and illiterate farmer from the district of Flacsted in Hampshire brought up as a Protestant. Influenced by the good lives led by his Catholic neighbors, he took instructions in the faith and was received into the Church.
On the very day his First Communion, this devout convers was seized and imprisoned. Though he remained in prison for a number of years, he was often granted parole. At such times he would obtain alms and spiritual succor for his fellow prisoners, and by utilizing his overall knowledge of the country he would help missionary priests move about and work more easily. It was in this way that he met and aided a secular priest named Roger Dickenson.
Rodger Dickenson was a native of Lincoln and a priest of the College of Rheims who was sent on mission in 1583. He had already been arrested once but been able to escape when his guards got drink. The second time he was arrested with Ralph Milner and both were put on trial for the faith. The judge took especial pity on Milner who was getting old and had eight children. Seeking any pretext to set him free, he urged the saintly farmer to make a visit to the nearby parish church as a matter of form and he would be freed since this would be tantamount to reconciliation with the Church of England.
However, the blessed Martyr, aided by God’s grace, stood firm and refused to make the least deceitful gesture, preferring to share the fate od his friend Father Dickenson. Accordingly, both of these servants of God were executed at Winchester on July 7, 1591. They were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.
PRAYER: God, You surround and protect us by the glorious confession of Your holy Martyrs, Blessed Ralph and Roger. Help us to profit from their example and be supported by their prayer. Amen.