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St. Edmund Campion

posted Dec 1, 2012, 6:22 AM by Rochester Ordinariate   [ updated Dec 1, 2012, 6:26 AM ]
A reflection from an old friend, Fr. Christopher Stainbrook:

Sometimes we think we have had it tough, and made terrific sacrifices, by leaving our Anglican/Episcopal heritage for the Catholic Church. Whenever I'm tempted to fall into this state of mind, I remember this man.  Unsurprisingly, I NEVER heard about him at the General Seminary (Episcopal) in NYC, but he's now become one of my heroes.

Feast day 1 December - is the Feast Day of perhaps the most famous of the English martyrs – ST EDMUND CAMPION. 

When Queen Elizabeth I visited Oxford in 1566, Campion gave the oration in her honor. The Prime Minister of England at the time spoke of him as “one of the great diamonds of England”. He was one of the great hopes of the crown for the promotion of Protestantism, training as he was at that time to be an Anglican cleric, possibly (probably) to eventually become an Anglican Bishop....  Instead he went abroad, converted to Catholicism and returned to his homeland, England, to preach the Faith. To do this he had printed, with great difficulty, a small treatise called “TEN REASONS” – 10 reasons why the Catholic Church is the true Church and 10 reasons why the Protestants do not have the true faith."
 These ten reasons have been reprinted hundreds of times, in English, and scores of times in many languages. 
As soon as the first printing was done, on 27 June 1581, one copy of these ten reasons defending the Catholic Church were found in every one of the four hundred benches in the Anglican Church at Oxford University. So when each learned don sat down, he had to pick up the book to keep from sitting on it. 

It took exactly three weeks from printing that book for the government to send out virtually the whole police force of England, to "get that Catholic!" 
He was arrested on the Feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, 16 July 1581. 
Once they captured him they tried everything in their power to break down his resistance, to get him to apostatize. When torture failed, when all kinds of bribes failed,(he was offered an Anglican Bishop's position, at that time, after all)  Finally, no less a person than Queen Elizabeth herself, visited him in person. But she did not succeed in shaking his Catholic Faith.

Father Campion said at his trial: “In condemning us you condemn all your ancestors – all that once was the glory of England, the island of saints and the most devoted child of the See of Peter. To be condemned with these old lights – not only of England, but of the whole world – by their degenerate descendants is both gladness and glory to us…posterity will live, their judgment is not so liable to corruption as those who will now sentence us to death.”

On 1st December 1581 Edmund Campion was dragged through the streets of London to be executed at Tyburn by the exceptionally cruel method of hanging, drawing and quartering. This involved being stripped of one's clothing, taken to the scaffold, and hanged for a short period, but only to cause strangulation and near-death; then being cut down, disembowelled, and normally eviscerated. Those still conscious at this point would have seen their entrails burnt or boiled before them, before their heart was removed. The body was then decapitated, indicating an unquestionable death, and quartered (hacked into four pieces). Each dismembered piece of the body was later displayed publicly.

Of Campion’s death Evelyn Waugh writes: "Campion stands out from even his most gallant and chivalrous contemporaries, from Philip Sidney and Don John of Austria, not... by finer human temper, but by the supernatural grace that was in him. That the gentle scholar, trained all his life for the pulpit and the lecture room, was able at the word of command, to step straight into a world of violence, and acquit himself nobly - there lies the mystery which sets Campion’s triumph apart from the ordinary achievements of human strength” May St.Edmund Campion be our protector and guide as we move even more fully into the Catholic Church.