Ripoll was a soldier in the Spanish army during the Peninsular War (1807–1814). He was captured by French forces and was a prisoner of war. While being held by the French he was taken to France and there he became aware of deism. He soon became a deist.
Upon returning to Spain, he used his position as a school master to teach others about deism. There he was soon accused by the Spanish Inquisition of being a deist and of teaching his students about deism. He was later arrested for heresy and held in jail for close to two years.
The Chairman of the Board of Faith from the Diocese of Valencia, Miguel Toranzo, an inquisitor, sent to the nuncio Archbishop of Valencia a report that said Ripoll did not believe in Jesus Christ, in the mystery of the Trinity, in the Incarnation of God the Son, in the Holy Eucharist, in the Virgin Mary, in the Holy Gospels, in the infallibility of the Holy Catholic Church, or in the Apostolic Roman Congregation. Ripoll did not fulfill his Easter duty, he discouraged children from reciting the 'Ave Maria Purisima' and suggested they need not bother making the sign of the cross. It was alleged that, according to Ripoll, it was not necessary to hear Mass in order to save one's soul from damnation, and he failed to instruct them to give due reverence to the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, even the Viaticum administered for the comfort of the sick and to pardon the dying that they might be resurrected into heaven.
For these grievous sins and his denial of the Catechism of the Catholic Church the clergymen of the Spanish Inquisition demanded Ripoll be burned at the stake for his religious offenses in order that he might recant in his agony and thus go to heaven. However, the civil authority chose to hang him instead.
Allegedly, the Church authorities, upset that Ripoll had not been burned at the stake, placed his body into a barrel, painted flames on the barrel and buried it in unconsecrated ground. Other reports state that the Church authorities placed his body into a barrel and burned the barrel, throwing the ashes into a river. Ripoll is recorded as being the last known person to have been executed under sentence from a Church authority for having committed the act of heresy.
Ripoll's famous last words were, "I die reconciled to God and to man."
- Anderson, James Maxwell (2002). Daily life during the Spanish Inquisition (illustrated ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 83. ISBN 0-313-31667-8. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Reflections". 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-28. English translation of an account of Ripoll's trial and execution.
- Johnson, Bob. "Martyr For Deism: Cayetano Ripoll". Retrieved 2012-11-23.
- Schaff, Philip; Schaff, David Schley (1910). "History of the Christian Church". C. Scribner's sons: 552. Retrieved 2009-03-03.