Who was St. Edmund Campion?

St. Edmund Campion was born in 1540 and rose to great political, ecclesiastical and academic prominence in Elizabethan England. The Queen (the daughter of Henry VIII) and others recognized Campion’s talents and many spoke of him as a future Archbishop of Canterbury in the young Anglican church. To be a Roman Catholic in Elizabethan England was a crime punishable by death. In his early 30s, Campion chucked it all and went to Rome where he entered the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. At the age of 40, he returned to England to preach the faith. Soon imprisoned for his work, the Queen offered him honors and influential offices if he would renounce the Catholic faith of Rome. Campion refused. He suffered torture on the rack at least twice while in the Tower of London. On Dec 1, 1841, he was hanged, drawn and quartered. He was 41 years old.

His famous Campion’s Brag has long been quoted and admired. In part it reads, “And touching our Society, be it known to you that we have made a league—all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practice of England—cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay upon us, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God; it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted: So it must be restored.” (Cf. http://jesuitjottings.blogspot.com/2004/12/campions-brag.html)