Page 6, 26th November 1954

26th November 1954
Page 6
Page 6, 26th November 1954 — Trial and Death of

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Locations: Rome, London, Ipswich, Oxford


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Trial and Death of


By Frank A. King

December I is the anniversary

Edmund •

DMUND CAMPION, horn EDMUND London in 1539, was the first great scholar produced by Christ Church Hospital as a Protestant foundation. At 13 he pronounced a Latin oration to Queen Mary on her accession to the throne.

In 1556 he became a Master .of Arts at Oxford, where he cornposed a Latin address to Queen Elieabcth when she visited the city. Elizabeth took a lively interest in him because of his reputation for great learning and his ardent and devoted loyalty.

He went to Ireland to convert the people to the Church of England, and whilst there he compiled his "History of Ireland." He was so horrified and disgusted at the atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion that he decided to become a Catholic.

He went to the Irnglish college at Douai. where he applied himself "as well to the study of divinity as to the acquiring of the knowledge of God and himself--the true science of the saints." Later he went to Rome and in 1573 was admitted a member of the Society of Jesus by the General of the Order.

After one month in Rome he was sent to Bohemia, where he remained seven years, "teaching. preaching. catechising, writing, and labouring for the Church of God." He became so famous as a result of his great success in converting heretics, that in 1580 his General sent him back to work in England.

`Seditious Jesuit'

HE landed at Dover "the day after midsummer." The rage against Catholics was at its height The laws and feelings of the people were intensely bitter against priests, and especially against Jesuits--and Fr. Campion was both.

However, he braved the penalties of the harsh religious laws and for orderly appearance of a decently kept house. You never can tell.

French pastries MY secretary, efficient both at the typewriter and at the kitchen stove—I have experience of both products from her hand—has drawn my attention to a new cookery book, Tante Marie's French Cakes and Pastries* which she says bursts with delectable ideas to enrich a party or Christmas menu.

She reports of the recipes that all the required ingredients must he of the best quality, but that they are easily obtainable and not excessively expensive.

Perhaps the most expensive items are the pretty shapes which the French always make with such art. These tin forms can be bought now at most large stores or in a French kitchenware shop in Soho.

The recipes themselves are.divided into groups of cakes for fork or finger. The book reads so Well that it would give the most nervous cook confidence. she tells me. It tempts me to try.

Gothic figures T WOULD like to thank the many !people who, after reading my remarks about the possibility of getting a reproduction of a Gothic Madonna, have written to tell me that replioduetions of Gothic figures, and even earlier Madonnas, Made in many sizes from a few inches to two or three feet, priced at 215., can also he had at the Art and Book Shop. a Tante Marie's French Cakes and Pastries, by Charlotte Turgeon (Nicliolas Kaye. 10s. ed.1, of the martyrdom of Blessed Campion 13 months he was busily engaged in making converts. reconciling Catholics to their Faith, and celebrating the forbidden rites.

After a long search he was betrayed, and on July 17, 1581, he was found in a secret closet of a Catholic gentleman's house.

After two days in the custody of the

Sheriff of Berkshire, Campion was taken, with other religious prisoners.

including priests and gentlemen, to London. Each captive had his legs tied under his horse and his arms hound behind him—but the Council appointed to be set on Campion's hat a paper on which was inscribed in large capital letters: "Campion the Seditious Jesuit."

Orders were given that the cap tives should stay at Colebrook a good part of Friday and all the night so

that on the Saturday they could he paraded in triumph through the whole length of the city, especially in the busy market centres. Almost all I ondon saw the spectacle.

On the rack LATER that day, July 22, Campion was delivered to the custody of the Lieutenant of the Tower of London. The very next day he was placed upon the rack and questions were fired at him : "Why have you come to England'?" 'Where have you been living?" 'Who have you converted?"

Campion declared he would tell hem nothing—"come rack, come rope!"

When they found he would -not renounce his faith they accused him of treason and framed their questions accordingly. He told a friend who managed to speak to him that he had been so severely tortured on the last two occasions that he thought his enemies meant to kill him on the rack.

Whenever he was taken to the rack le would fall down on his knees at the rack-house door to commend himself to God's mercy, and even whilst being tortured he continually called upon God, repeating the holy Name of Jesus,

He forgave his tormentors.

The day following one session on the rack his keeper enquired how he felt his hands and feet, and Campion answered : "Not ill, because not at all."

Slanderous reports were circulated to injure his fame and reputation. One day it would be announced that there was great hope he would become a Protestant; another day the news would be that he had been to church and taken part in a Protestant service. Next it would be rumoured that, upon the rack, he had confessed everything he knew; and sometimes it was said that he had killed himself in prison.

'Men so wicked' EVENTUALLY, in the company

of seven other prisoners, he was brought to trial. The chief count in the indictment charged him with conspiring beyond the seas to dethrone the Queen and put her to death, to foment rebellion and invade England from abroad, and other equally ridiculous accusations.

When he was arraigned he was ordered to hold up his hand, as was then the custom. His companions did so but Campion's arms were numbed through his frequent rackings, and were wrapped with fur cuffs, so he was not able to lift his hands as high as his fellow-prisoners until one of his companions, kissing his hands, took off his cuffs and so lifted up his arms as high as he could manage when he pleaded "Not Guilty!" like his associates.

Then Fr. Edmund Campion impressively exclaimed: "1 protest before God and His holy angels. before Heaven and earth, before the world and this bar whereat I stand, which is but a small resemblance of the terrible judgment of the next life, that I am not guilty of any part of the treason contained in the indictment, or of any other treason whatsoever."

Then, raising his voice, he added:

"Is it possible to find twelve men so wicked and void of all conscience in this city or land that will find us guilty together of this one crime, divers of us never meeting or knowing one the other before our bringing to this bar?" •

Nothing more was done that day, except that the jury was empanelled for the next week..

Road to Tyburn

ON Monday, November 20, Fr. Campion and his fellow prisoners were brought back to re ceive judgment. Even whilst the jury retired to consider their verdicts, lawyers and other officials conferred and conjectured concerning the jury's decisions, but they all agreed that whatever might be the verdicts for some of the prisoners, it was impossible to condemn Fr. Campion.

All the prisoners were condemned as guilty, and the first day of Dezember was fixed for the execution of Fr, Campion.

He was promised life and liberty if he renounced the Faith. Three days before his death his sister went to see him when the Lieutenant of the Tower told her that if her brother would only yield any change in his religion he would secure for himself a pension of £100 a year.

On the morning appointed Campion was brought from the Tower to the place where two other priests. who were to die with him, awaited his arrival, and they made their way through the green lanes and pleasant hedgerows then leading to Tyburn. l'rom time to time bystanders reviled the prisoners, but other onlookers were kinder, wiping from the fates of the condemned men the mud with which they were spattered.

When they were placed on the cart which was to serve as a scaffold, Fr. Campion began to address the sight-seers in the words of St. Paul: "We arc made a spectacle to the world," when he was interrupted by Sir Francis Knowles and the Sheriffs, who urged him to confess his treason against the Queen. He answered them by affirming: "I am altogether innocent of any."

'My last words' SEVERAL members of t h e Council, who had assembled there to witness the executions, then urged Campion to admit his guilt, but he replied: "I am a Catholic man and a priest; in that faith I have lived, and in that faith do I intend to die; and if you esteem my religion treason, then I am guilty; as for any other treason, I never committed—God is my judge. But you have now what you desire; I beseech you to have patience and suffer me to speak a word or two for discharge to my conscience."

But again he was interrupted and was asked to speak of other matters: He answered: "I am innocent of all treason and conspiracy, and forgive all who have injured me as I pray to he forgiven."

He was then asked : "Do you renounce the Pope?"

"I am a Catholic," he affirmed. "Your Catholicity is all treason," came the rejoinder.

As Campion began to pray, one of the reformed preachers interrupted him, asking Campion to pray with with him. With a mild countenance, Fr, Campion turned to the speaker and signified that he died for the confession of the Catholic faith by stating: "You and 1 arc not one in religion; wherefore, I pray you, content yourself. I bar none of prayer, only I desire them of the household of faith to pray with me, and in my agony to say one creed."

But his tormentors would not allow him any•peace. When they told him to "ask the Queen's forgiveness and pray for her," he answered: "Wherein have I offended? In this I am innocent; these are my last words. In this give me credit—I have prayed, and dopray, for her." "For whom? For which Queen? For Elizabeth the Queen?" enquired Lord Charles Howard.

"Yes, for Elizabeth, your Queen and mine."

The cart was drawn away, and with his last breath Fr. Campion professed his Faith.

Cardinal Wolsey THERE is an extraordinary sim larity between the well-know vindication of the character Cardinal Wolsey in Shakespeare's "Henry VIII" and a passage in Campion's "History of Ireland."

Describing a scene before the Privy Council in London, Campion includes the following passage concerning the great prelate abhorred by all the noblemen of his period: "They all hated the Cardinal. A man undoubtedly born to honour. exceeding wise, faire spoken, highminded, full of revenge, vicious of his body, lofty to his enemies, were they never so bigge, to those that accepted and sought his friendship wonderful courteous, a rype schooleman, thrall to affections, brought abed with flattery, insatiable to get, and more prince-like in bestowing: as appeareth by his two Colledges at Ipswich and Oxenford, th' one suppressed with his fall, th' other unfinished, and yet as it lieth a house of students incomparable through Christendome . . . A great preferrer of his servants, advancer of learning, atonic in every quarrel, never happy till his overthrow. Therein he showed such moderation, and ended so patiently that the houre of his death did him more honour than all the pompe of life passed," Shakespeare—Campion SHAKESPEARE has these lines which appear to be a rhythmical transcription of Campion's prose: This cardinal, Though from humble stock, un

doubtedly, Was fashioned to much honour from his cradle.

He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one: Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading: Lofty and sour' to them that lov'd him not, Rut, to those men that sought him, sweet as summer. And though he were unsatisfied in getting

(Which was a sin), yet in bestowing, madam, He was most princely: ever witness for him

Those twins of learning that be raised in you,

Ipswich and Oxford ! One of which fell with him,

Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;

The other, though unfinished, yet so famous, So excellent in art, and still so rising. That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.

His overthrow heaped happiness upon him,

For then, and not till then, he felt himself,

And found the blessedness of being little!

And, to add greater honours to his age

Than man could give him. he died fearing God.

Is this an example of the same ideas passing through the minds of two different persons? Or did Shakespeare read these lines and, detecting the dramatic purpose of the comment, decide one day to develop it into this admirable passage.

Although Shakespeare "borrowed" his plots from other writers, be may have only subconsciously used the thoughts expressed by Campion concerning the lift and end of Wolsey.

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