Robert Persons SJ
Born on 24 June 1546 at Nether Stowey, Somerset. He studied at St. Mary’s Hall, Oxford, becoming a fellow and tutor at Balliol until 1574. He entered the Society at St. Paul’s, Rome on 3 July 1575 and was ordained priest in 1578. Parsons joined the 1580 mission to England, arriving disguised as a cholera-ridden soldier. During 1580 he visited Northampton, Derby, Worcester and Gloucester. Reunited with Edmund Campion at Uxbridge, the pair set up a clandestine printing press. After Campion's capture and death, Parsons left England, never to return. In 1582 he founded a school for English boys at Eu in north-east France, supported by Henry I, Duke of Guise. He continued the work of Cardinal Allen in establishing educational institutions on the continent to aid the survival of English Catholicism. Persons was professed in Rome on 7 May 1587 and then sent to Spain. He gained Phillip II’s favour, enabling him to open seminaries in Valladolid, Seville and Madrid. St Omer College (forerunner of Stonyhurst) was established in 1594 with boys transferred from Eu. Persons became Rector of the English College, Rome, in 1597, serving there until his death on 15 April 1610. For more on Persons see the Spanish Armada and Gunpowder Plot pages.
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