Alexander Briant SJ
Alexander Briant SJ (1556-1581)

Alexander Briant SJ

Alexander Briant was born in Somerset, England on 17th August 1556, and studied at Harts Hall in Oxford. While there, he became a pupil of Father Robert Parsons and he completed his studies with him at Balliol College, which, along with his association with Richard Holtby, led to Briant’s conversion to Catholicism. He followed Holtby to the English Seminary College at Reims, France, and was ordained priest on 29th March 1578. He was assigned to the English mission in August 1579 to work in his own county of Somerset. Briant was caught up in a search by the English authorities in April 1581 and arraigned on 16th November 1581, on the charge of high treason, and condemned to death at the age of twenty-five. He endured terrible torture in the prison in the weeks leading up to his execution. In a letter to the Jesuit Fathers he says that he felt no pain during the various tortures he underwent, and adds: "Whether this that I say be miraculous or no, God knoweth." He was beatified on 15th December 1921 and canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. His feast day is celebrated on 1st December, the day of his martyrdom.