01 December 2011

For the Faith in England

St. Edmund Campion died today in 1581. His Brag, circulated throughout England and addressed to that heretic and usurper Queen Elizabeth, ends thus:
Many innocent hands are lifted up to heaven for you daily by those English students, whose posterity shall never die, which beyond seas, gathering virtue and sufficient knowledge for the purpose, are determined never to give you over, but either to win you heaven, or to die upon your pikes. 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.
Amen and amen. May it be so!

As we well know, St. Edmund Campion himself suffered all the torments above, never uttering a complaint, and forgiving his queen and tormentor with whole heart.

During his disembowelment, his blood splattered on the doublet of one young Henry Walpole standing nearby. Walpole would go on to become a Jesuit, suffering martyrdom for the faith at York fourteen years later.

Evelyn Waugh has written a wonderful biography of Campion, and the saint makes a cameo appearance in Fr. Robert Hugh Benson's inspiring work of historical fiction, Come Rack! Come Rope!