SAINT EDMUND CAMPION (1540-1581), priest and martyr
Today, the Church honors Saint Edmund Campion, whose journey of faith led him to become one of the most famous martyrs in all of England.
Edmund Campion was born in London on January 25, 1540. He was raised a Catholic and had such a brilliant intellect that, at the age of seventeen, he was made a junior fellow at Saint John’s College of Oxford University.
On visiting the university, Queen Elizabeth I was so taken by Edmund’s brilliance, as were a few of her dignitaries, that she offered him to ask for anything he wished. The praise from so many fed his vanity and led him away from his Catholic faith. He took the Oath of Supremacy and acknowledged the Queen as head of the Church of England. It is also reported that He also became an Anglican deacon.
However, Edmund’s exceptional intellect and his conscience would not allow him to remain reconciled to the idea of Anglicanism. After a stay in Dublin, Ireland, he once again embraced his Catholic faith and returned to England. At this point, he was suspected of being too Catholic. When he witnessed the trial of a soon to be martyr, he was emotionally shaken. It led him to the conviction that his vocation was to minister to the Catholic faithful in England who were being persecuted.
He set off for Rome barefoot. And, in 1573, he entered the Society of Jesus. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1578 and reportedly had a vision in which the Virgin Mary foretold him of his martyrdom. When Father Edmund returned to England, he made an immediate impression upon the people to whom he preached, winning many converts.
On July 17, 1581, he was betrayed by one of the faithful who knew his whereabouts and Father Edmund was thrown into prison. The queen offered him all manner of riches if he would forsake his loyalty to the pope, but he refused.
After spending time in the Tower of London, he was sentenced to death by hanging, and then drawing and quartering. His martyrdom in Tyburn, England on December 1, 1581, sparked off a wave of conversions to Catholicism.
Father Edmund Campion was canonized a saint in May 1970 by Pope St. Paul VI.
We commemorate his feastday on December 1.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.org, sjweb.info/Jesuits and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for One Martyr)
“All-powerful, Ever-living God, You gave Saint Edmund the courage to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even to the point of giving his life for it. By his prayers, help us to endure all suffering for love of You and to seek You with all our hearts, for You alone are the Source of life.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”