Christopher Wharton was born very close to Myddelton Grange in 1542 and eventually studied at Oxford. During this time, influenced by others, he converted to Catholicism and left the country to study for the priesthood in 1583. He was ordained in Rheims in 1586 and returned in great secrecy to Yorkshire were he worked as a priest. Always ‘on the run’, he was given shelter by Mrs Eleanor Hunt at Ripley, near Knaresborough. They were both caught and arrested in 1599 and condemned to death in 1600 at York. Mrs Hunt was reprieved and died in prison. Fr. Wharton was hung, drawn and quartered on 28th March 1600. Attempts were made to make him abandon his faith but he maintained that he came back to England to offer his life for the Faith and to save souls.
His severed head was put on one of the gates of York, but was rescued by Catholics, who kept it safe in Knaresborough. Later, this area was served by Benedictine priests who eventually took the skull into safe keeping at Downside Abbey near Bath. 402 years after his death, Blessed Christopher’s skull was returned to this place by the Abbot of Downside, at the dedication of the chapel of St. Mary & St. Margaret Clitheroe.
Our martyr has come home, and by God’s grace, prays with and for all who come here.
Prayer to Blessed Christopher Wharton
Loving and Merciful God,
you raise up men and women in every age
to give witness to your love.
Through the intercession of Blessed Christopher Wharton,
priest and martyr,
may I learn more each day of your great love for me,
and in so doing,
may I never be afraid to offer the same witness of love
to my sisters and brothers.
By the prayers of this holy martyr,
grant my heartfelt prayer…
(here add your personal petition or prayer…),
and open my heart that I may recognise my sanctity as your child.
Through Christ our Lord.
Jesus, Prince of Martyrs, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.
Holy Martyrs of Yorkshire, pray for us.
Blessed Christopher Wharton, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.