He smiled as he climbed the scaffold

Kevin Byrne, Nine Martyrs of the Shrewsbury Diocese

Saints and Martyrs

Blessed Robert Wilcox

Beatified 1929

Feast 1st October

Born in Chester in 1558 Blessed Robert went to the English College at Rheims, where he was ordained in 1585 and was then sent on the English Mission a year later.

With the Elizabethan persecution of the Catholic Church in full frenzy, Blessed Robert was captured almost as soon as he landed at Lydd in Kent and he was jailed in the Marshalsea prison in London. He was condemned for his priesthood, to which he admitted. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Canterbury – along with the priests Edward Campion and Christopher Buxton, and Robert Widmerpool, a layman – on 1st October 1588 at the age of just 30 years.

Blessed Robert was the first of the group of “Canterbury Martyrs” to die, cheerfully climbing the ladder when called by the executioner. He smiled at the other three condemned men from the scaffold and told them that he was going to heaven ahead of them and would bring the good news of their imminent arrival. Witnesses said that he suffered his barbarous fate with bravery.

Source: Nine Martyrs of the Shrewsbury Diocese by Kevin Byrne