St Edmund Campion
1540 – 1581
A leader in the English underground church, pursued by priest hunters
Edmund Campion was born on the 24th January 1540. In 1564, he received a Master’s degree from St John’s College, Oxford, and in 1568 was ordained as an Anglican deacon.
Between 1569 and 1571, while living in Ireland, he subsequently travelled to Douai, France, to become a Catholic in secret. Campion next went to Rome, where he became a Jesuit. Pioneering the English Mission, he arrived in London in June 1580 disguised as a jewel merchant. His preaching caught the authorities’ attention, who believed his mission to be political and treasonous. Nevertheless, he managed to minister to Catholics in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Lancashire.
The hunt for Campion intensified following the publication of his ‘Ten Reasons’, which questioned the validity of the Anglican church. He was captured in July 1581 and, following imprisonment and torture, was convicted of treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. The day of his execution at Tyburn was 1st December 1581. He was canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. His feast day is the day of his execution, 1st December.