“As to the treasons which have been laid to my charge, and for which I come here to suffer, I desire you all to bear witness with me that I am thereto altogether innocent. I am a Catholic man and a priest; in that Faith I have lived, and in that Faith do I intend to die. If you esteem my Religion treason, then I am guilty; as for the other treason, I never committed any, God is my judge.”
Today, December 1st, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Edmund Campion (1540-1581), Jesuit priest and English martyr. Saint Edmund sacrificed all he had—including his life—to enter the Catholic priesthood and minister to those greatly in need during the time of English persecution of the Church. Declining an offer to serve Queen Elizabeth, as well as an appointment at Oxford University, Saint Edmund demonstrates to us that the call of God comes first, takes precedence over the riches and glories of our earthly lives.
Rather than face persecution at home, the college offered him a traveling scholarship, and sent him to Dublin, where he taught and wrote his first book, “The History of Ireland.” He returned briefly to England, but was quickly transferred to the English College in Douai, Belgium, as links to Catholicism were being considered treason in England at that time. From Belgium, at the age of 33, Edmund walked to Rome, where he was accepted into the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, as a novice. For six years he studied for the priesthood, and was ordained in Prague at the age of 39.
“P. Edmundus Campianus Martyr.”
Edmund returned to England in disguise, dressed as a diamond merchant. Port authorities were suspicious, but Saint Edmund answered their questions adequately and they let him enter. In London, he began visiting Catholics imprisoned or in hiding, preaching, celebrating secret Masses, and delivering the Sacraments. His eloquence ensured that soon it was known that ‘Campion the Jesuit’ was at large in the shires. He also penned what is known today as “Campion’s Brag,” which details the goal of the mission to England in religious, not political, terms. Saint Edmund further employed Saint Nicholas Owen to build a hiding place within his home, and instructed him in the Jesuit tradition.
Eventually, Saint Edmund was turned into the police by a government informant. He was discovered hiding in a priesthole (probably built by Saint Nicholas Owen) in a family home in Berkshire. He was led by cart to London, accompanied by sympathetic crowds who jeered his captors. Saint Edmund remained cheerful, preaching, and encouraging the crowd in their faith. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he was initially well-treated, hoping that he would recant his faith and embrace the Anglican Church.
From his biography, written by Evelyn Waugh:
“Campion stood in prayer. The lords of the Council still shouted up questions to him about the Bull of Excommunication [Pope Pius V's excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I], but now Campion would not answer and stood with his head bowed and his hands folded on his breast. An Anglican clergyman attempted to direct his prayers, but he answered gently, "Sir, you and I are not one in religion, wherefore I pray you content yourself. I bar none of prayer; but I only desire them that are of the household of faith to pray with me, and in mine agony to say one creed."
They called to him to pray in English, but he replied with great mildness that ‘he would pray to God in a language which they both well understood.’”
Saint Edmund Campion, martyr for the Roman Primacy, obtain for us, but especially for the Church's bishops and priests, such obedient loyalty to the Vicar of Christ that like you, they will not be afraid to proclaim the truth and like you, they will be willing to shed their blood for Jesus Christ. Amen.
Year 2: Day 335 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courageous lives of faith centered on the Lord.
Requested Intentions: Financial security for a mother (M); Health, finances, successful marriage (A); Successful resolution of court case for son (K); Continued sobriety (N); Healing of a chronic health condition (B); Successful employment (A): Peace in a family, recovery of a niece from substance use (L); Blessings on a marriage, healing of a husband (P); For the health and recovery of sisters (B); For a daughter and granddaughter (D); Blessings on overseas employment (M); Healing of mother (L); Successful employment for husband (G); Successful employment, personal fulfillment (C); Health and recovery of ill sister (A); Resolution of legal issues; Grace and protection (E); Successful and meaningful employment (S); Restoration of a marriage (A); Peace and tolerance in a family, support for those with Parkinson’s Disease (M); For the restoration of a daughter’s marriage, end to debt (S); Employment and continued strength (K); Successful examinations for a son (J); Employment and blessings of a child (S); Employment and financial security (F); Successful work placement, continued health (A); Grace and healing for a family (P); Healing of a father (M).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."