Christopher Bales, of Coniscliffe, England, journeyed to the continent to study for the priesthood, and was ordained around the age of twenty-three. In 1588 he returned to England, but was soon captured by the Elizabethan authorities. Under the direction of the murderous government agent Richard
Topcliffe, Father Bales was tortured on a rack, and at one point was hung up by his wrists for a span of twenty-four hours. At his trial he was condemned to death for having been ordained overseas and for having come back to England to exercise his priestly ministry. In response to these charges, Father Bales asked the judge whether the great missionary to England, Saint Augustine of Canterbury
(+c. 605), who was also ordained overseas and came to England to exercise his priesthood, was likewise a traitor. The judge offered the absurd answer that since the time
of Saint Augustine, the law
had been changed to make these actions illegal. Just before suffering execution by drawing and quartering, Father Bales declared to the bystanders that he was being put to death only because he was a priest.