Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Edmund Campion (1540–1581)

Saint Edmund Campion (1540–1581)

Feast day: December 1

Saint Edmund Campion was born in London, England. He was extremely bright and was given a scholarship to Saint John's College, Oxford, when he was only 15 years old. Edmund was raised a Catholic, but chose to become an Anglican deacon. After his decision, he was plagued with doubts about Anglicanism, and eventually returned to the Catholic faith and was ordained a Jesuit priest in Prague.

After some years of teaching in Europe, he was asked to accept a mission to his native England during the Protestant persecution of Catholics under Queen Elizabeth I. After arriving in England, Edmund was immediately targeted as a Catholic priest by the authorities. Edmund was very wily and managed to avoid capture through a number of close escapes, disguises, and sheer luck.

Eventually, his whereabouts were given to the Anglicans by a traitor at one of his secret Masses. He was charged under fabricated accounts of treason but was truly sentenced for being a priest. He was given a trial in which he eloquently spoke in defense of the Catholic faith but was sentenced to be hanged and refused to apostatize when offered numerous incentives to do so. Like Saint Thomas More, Saint Edmund died acknowledging his loyalty to the crown, but his greater commitment to God.

Saint Edmund Campion was canonized in 1970.

(Image by National Portrait Gallery, London, Wikimedia Commons)