Christopher was born at Coniscliffe near Darlington, County Durham, England, about 1564. He entered the English College at Rome on 1 October 1583, but owing to ill-health was sent to the College at Reims, where he was ordained 28 March 1587. Sent to England on 2 November 1588, he was soon arrested, racked and tortured by Topcliffe, and hung up by the hands for twenty-four hours at a time; it was said that "he bore all most patiently". Bales was tried and condemned for high treason on the charge of having been ordained beyond seas and coming to England to exercise his office. He asked Judge Anderson whether St. Augustine, Apostle of the English (who did the same), was also a traitor; the judge said no, but that the act had since been made treason by law.
He was executed on 4 March 1590, "about Easter", in Fleet Street (London), opposite Fetter Lane. On the gibbet was set a placard: "For treason and favouring foreign invasion". He spoke to the people from the ladder, saying that his only "treason" was his priesthood. On the same day, Nicholas Horner was executed in Smithfield for having made Bales a jerkin, and Alexander Blake in Gray's Inn Lane for lodging him in his house.
Sources and references
- "Ven. Christopher Bales". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- John Gibbons, Concertatio Ecclesiae Catholicae in Anglia (Trier, 1589). (Formerly attributed to John Bridgewater).
- Richard Challoner, Memoirs
- John Hungerford Pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London, 1891)
- Northern Catholic Calendar
- Thomas Francis Knox, Douay Diaries (London, 1878)
- John Morris, Catholics of York under Elizabeth (London, 1891)
- Henry Foley, Records S. J., Roman Diary (London, 1880).