Saint Edmond Campion
Jésuite, martyr en Angleterre (✝ 1581)
Il fait partie des Quarante martyrs d'Angleterre et du Pays de Galles qui ont été canonisés en 1970.
À Londres, en 1581, les saints Edmond Campion, Raoul Sherwin et Alexandre Briant, prêtres et martyrs, d’un caractère et d’un courage éminents. Saint Edmond, qui avait embrassé dans sa jeunesse la foi catholique, entra à Rome dans la Compagnie de Jésus, fut ordonné prêtre à Prague et revint dans sa patrie, où il affermit considérablement les fidèles par sa parole et ses écrits. Saint Raoul, excellent philosophe, helléniste et hébraïsant, reçu dans l’Église catholique et ordonné prêtre, revint en Angleterre avec saint Edmond. Saint Alexandre, reçu aussi dans l’Église catholique et ordonné prêtre, fut horriblement torturé à la Tour de Londres et demanda en prison d’être inscrit dans la Compagnie de Jésus. Tous les trois furent accusés faussement de haute trahison, condamnés à mort sous la reine Élisabeth Ière et subirent les mêmes supplices à Tyburn.
Saint Edmond Campion sj 1er décembre
Saint Robert Southwell et leurs compagnons martyrs
Fête le 1er Décembre
On fait mémoire le même jour de dix martyrs de la Compagnie de Jésus qui moururent pour la foi catholique aux XVIe et XVIIe siècles en Angleterre et au Pays de Galles, et qui furent canonisés par Paul VI en 1970.
Ce sont : Edmond Campion (mort le 1er décembre 1581), Alexandre Briant (mort le 1er décembre 1581), Robert Southwell (mort le 21 février 1595), Henri Walpole (mort le 7 avril 1595), le frère coadjuteur Nicolas Owen (mort le 2 mars 1606), Thomas Garnet (mort le 23 juin 1608), Edmond Arrowsmith (mort le 28 août 1628), David Lewis (mort le 27 août 1679). On célèbre aussi ce même jour les seize bienheureux martyrs de la Compagnie de Jésus qui, victimes de la même persécution, souffrirent le martyre entre 1573 et 1679.
Edmond Campion, Robert Southwell
prêtres et leurs compagnons,martyrs
1 er décembre
Commun des martyrs (p. 237) ou pasteurs (p. 260).
OFFICE DES LECTURES
Lettre de saint Edmond Campion, prêtre et martyr
Je prie Dieu que nous puissions être enfin amis pour toujours dans le ciel
Membres du Conseil de Sa Majesté, vous qui témoignez tant de sagesse et de discrétion en des questions moult importantes, lorsque vous aurez entendu traiter de manière franche et fidèle ces problèmes religieux dans lesquels nos adversaires jettent si souvent tant de désordre et de confusion, vous verrez, j’en suis sûr, sur quelles bases solides se fonde notre foi catholique, et combien faible est ce parti qui l’emporte en ce moment sur nous. Alors, pour le bien de vos âmes et de tant de milliers d’autres dont le sort dépend de votre gouvernement, vous prendrez parti contre l’erreur démasquée, et écouterez ceux qui verseraient le meilleur de leur sang pour votre salut.
Bien des mains innocentes s’élèvent vers le ciel pour vous chaque jour : les mains de ces étudiants anglais, dont la race ne périra jamais, qui, au-delà des mers, acquièrent les vertus et connaissances de leur profession, résolus à ne jamais vous abandonner mais à vous valoir le ciel ou à mourir sur vos piques. Et pour ce qui regarde notre Compagnie, sachez que nous avons formé une sainte ligue, nous les jésuites du monde entier, qui par notre nombre finirons bien un jour par triompher des menées en Angleterre. Nous avons décidé de porter avec joie la croix que vous placerez sur nos épaules, de ne jamais désespérer de votre conversion tant qu’il nous restera un homme pour votre Tyburn, pour les tortures de vos chevalets ou la mort lente de vos prisons. Nous avons calculé le coût et commencé l’entreprise : elle est de Dieu et ne se peut abandonner. Ainsi fut plantée la foi, ainsi se doit-elle restaurer.
Si mes offres se heurtent à un refus et si mes tentatives n’aboutissent point, si, après avoir parcouru des milliers de milles pour votre bien, je ne reçois pour tout paiement qu’un traitement rigoureux, je n’ai rien à dire de plus, sinon à recommander votre sort et le mien au Dieu Tout Puissant. Puisse-t-il, lui qui sonde les cœurs, nous envoyer sa grâce et régler votre différend avant le jour du jugement, pour que nous puissions être enfin amis pour toujours dans le ciel, où tous les torts seront oubliés.
(Lettre du 19 juillet 1580 aux Très Honorables Lords du Conseil Privé de Sa Majesté,
texte anglais dans : J.H. Pollen, s.j ., Campion’s Ten Reasons , Londres, Roehampton , 1914, pp. 10-11 ; trad. fr. par A. Prêle dans : E. Waugh, Edmond Campion, martyr . Paris 1951, p. 181).
St. Edmund Campion
St. Edmund Campion was born in London, the son of Catholics who later became Protestants. He was raised a Catholic, given a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, when fifteen, and became a fellow when only seventeen. His brilliance attracted the attention of such leading personages as the Earl of Leicester, Robert Cecil, and even Queen Elizabeth. He took the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging Elizabeth head of the church in England and became an Anglican deacon in 1564.
Doubts about Protestantism increasingly beset him, and in 1569 he went to Ireland where further study convinced him he had been in error, and he returned to Catholicism. Forced to flee the persecution unleashed on Catholics by the excommunication of Elizabeth by Pope Pius V, he went to Douai, France, where he studied theology, joined the Jesuits, and then went to Brno, Bohemia, the following year for his novitiate. He taught at the college of Prague and in 1578 was ordained there.
He and Father Robert Persons were the first Jesuits chosen for the English mission and were sent to England in 1580. His activities among the Catholics, the distribution of his Decem rationes at the University Church in Oxford, and the premature publication of his famous Brag (which he had written to present his case if he was captured) made him the object of one of the most intensive manhunts in English history. He was betrayed at Lyford, near Oxford, imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Committed to the Tower of London, he was questioned in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, who asked him if he acknowledged her to be the true Queen of England. He replied in the affirmative, and she offered him wealth and dignities, but on condition of rejecting his Catholic faith, which he refused to accept. He was kept a long time in prison and reputedly racked twice. Despite the effect of a false rumor of retraction and a forged confession, his adversaries summoned him to four public conferences (September 1, 18, 23 and 27, 1581).
Although still suffering from his ill treatment, and allowed neither time nor books for preparation, he reportedly conducted himself so easily and readily that he won the admiration of most of the audience. Tortured again on October 31, he was indicted at Westminster on a charge of having conspired, along with others, in Rome and Reims to raise a sedition in the realm and dethrone the Queen, but in reality because of his priesthood.
Campion was sentenced to death as a traitor. He answered: “In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England — the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter.”
After spending his last days in prayer he was led with two companions to Tyburn and hanged, drawn and quartered on December 3, 1581, aged 41. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the forty English and Welsh Martyrs. His feast day is December 1.
SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-edmund-campion/
'Brag and Challenge' de Saint Edmund Campion avant son exécution
St. Edmund Campion
English Jesuit and martyr; he was the son and namesake of a Catholic bookseller, and was born in London, 25 Jan., 1540; executed at Tyburn, 1 Dec., 1581. A city company sent the promising child to a grammar school and to Christ Church Hospital. When Mary Tudor entered London in state as queen, he was the schoolboy chosen to give the Latin salutatory to her majesty. Sir Thomas White, lord mayor, who built and endowed St. John's College at Oxford, accepted Campion as one of his first scholars, appointed him junior fellow at seventeen, and, dying, gave him his last messages for his academic family. Campion shone at Oxford in 1560, when he delivered one oration at the reburial of Amy Robsart, and another at the funeral of the founder of his own college; and for twelve years he was to be followed and imitated as no man ever was in an English university except himself and Newman. He took both his degrees, and became a celebrated tutor, and, by 1568, junior proctor. Queen Elizabeth had visited Oxford two years before; she and Dudley, then chancellor, won by Campion's bearing, beauty, and wit, bade him ask for what he would. Successes, local responsibilities, and allurements, his natural ease of disposition, the representations, above all, of his friend Bishop Cheyney of Gloucester, blinded Campion in regard to his course as a Catholic: he took the Oath of Supremacy, and deacon's orders according to the new rite. Afterthoughts developing into scruples, scruples into anguish, he broke off his happy Oxford life when his proctorship ended, and betook himself to Ireland, to await the reopening of Dublin University, an ancient papal foundation temporarily extinct. Sir Henry Sidney, the lord deputy, was interested in Campion's future as well as in the revival which, however, fell through. With Philip Sidney, then a boy, Campion was to have a touching interview in 1577.
As too Catholic minded an Anglican, Campion was suspected, and exposed to danger. Hidden in friendly houses, he composed his treatise called "A History of Ireland" Written from an English standpoint it gave much offence to the native Irish, and was severely criticized, in the next century, by Geoffrey Keating In his Irish history of Ireland. Urged to further effort by the zeal of Gregory Martin, he crossed to England in disguise and under an assumed name, reaching London in time to witness the trial of one of the earliest Oxonian martyrs, Dr. John Storey. Campion now recognized his vocation and hastened to the seminary at Douai. Cecil lamented to Richard Stanihurst the expatriation of "one of the diamonds of England." At Douai Campion remained for his theological course and its lesser degree, but then set out as a barefoot pilgrim to Rome, arriving there just before the death of St. Francis Borgia; "for I meant", as he said at his examination, "to enter into the Society of Jesus, thereof to vow and to be professed". This he accomplished promptly in April (1573), being the first novice received by Mercurianus, the fourth general. As the English province was as yet non-existent, he was allotted to that of Bohemia, entering on his noviceship at Prague and passing his probation year at Brünn in Moravia. Returning to Prague, he taught in the college and wrote a couple of sacred dramas; and there he was ordained in 1578. Meanwhile, Dr. Allen was organizing the apostolic work of the English Mission, and rejoiced to secure Fathers Robert Parsons and Edmund Campion as his first Jesuit helpers. In the garden at Brünn, Campion had had a vision, in which Our Lady foretold to him his martyrdom. Comrades at Prague were moved to make a scroll for P. Edmundus Campianus Martyr, and to paint a prophetic garland of roses within his cell. Parsons and Campion set out from Rome, had many adventures, and called upon St. Charles Borromeo in Milan, and upon Beza in Geneva. Campion was met in London, and fitly clothed, armed, and mounted by a devoted young convert friend. His office was chiefly to reclaim Catholics who were wavering or temporizing under the pressure of governmental tyranny; but his zeal to win Protestants, his preaching, his whole saintly and soldierly personality, made a general and profound impression. An alarm was raised and he fled to the North, where he fell again to writing and produced his famous tract, the "Decem Rationes". He returned to London, only to withdraw again, this time towards Norfolk. A spy, a former steward of the Roper family, one George Eliot, was hot upon his track, and ran him and others down at Lyford Grange near Wantage in Berkshire on 17 July, 1581.
Amid scenes of violent excitement, Campion was derisively paraded through the streets of his native city, bound hand and foot, riding backwards, with a paper stuck in his hat to denote the "seditious Jesuit". First thrown into Little Ease at the Tower, he was carried privately to the house of his old patron, the Earl of Leicester; there he encountered the queen herself, and received earnest proffers of liberty and preferments would he but forsake his papistry. Hopton having tried in vain the same blandishments, on Campion's return to the Tower, the priest was then examined under torture, and was reported to have betrayed those who had harboured him. Several arrests were made on the strength of the lie. He had asked for a public disputation. But when it came off in the Norman chapel of the Tower, before the Dean of St. Paul's and other divines, Campion had been denied opportunity to prepare his debate, and had been severely racked. Thus weakened, he stood through the four long conferences, without chair, table, or notes, and stood undefeated. Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel, who was looking on in the flush of worldly pride, became thereby inspired to return to God's service. The privy council, at its wits' end over so purely spiritual a "traitor", hatched a plot to impeach Campion's loyalty, and called in the hirelings Eliot and Munday as accusers. A ridiculous trial ensued in Westminster Hall, 20 Nov., 1581. Campion, pleading not guilty, was quite unable to hold up his often-wrenched right arm, seeing which, a fellow prisoner, first kissing it, raised it for him. He made a magnificent defence. But the sentence was death, by hanging, drawing, and quartering: a sentence received by the martyrs with a joyful shout of Haec dies and Te Deum. Campion, with Sherwin and Briant, who were on a separate hurdle, was dragged to Tyburn on 1 December. Passing Newgate arch, he lifted himself as best he could to salute the statue of Our Lady still in situ. On the scaffold, when interrupted and taunted to express his mind concerning the Bull of Pius V excommunicating Elizabeth, he answered only by a prayer for her, "your Queen and my Queen". He was a Catholic Englishman with political opinions which were not Allen's, though he died, as much as ever Felton did, for the primacy of the Holy See. The people loudly lamented his fate; and another great harvest of conversions began. A wild, generous-hearted youth, Henry Walpole, standing by, got his white doublet stained with Campion's blood; the incident made him, too, in time, a Jesuit and a martyr.
Historians of all schools are agreed that the charges against Campion were wholesale sham. They praise his high intelligence, his beautiful gaiety, his fiery energy, his most chivalrous gentleness. He had renounced all opportunity for a dazzling career in a world of master men. Every tradition of Edmund Campion, every remnant of his written words, and not least his unstudied golden letters, show us that he was nothing less than a man of genius; truly one of the great Elizabethans, but holy as none other of them all. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 9 December, 1886, and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Relics of him are preserved in Rome and Prague, in London, Oxford, Stonyhurst, and Roehampton. A not very convincing portrait was made soon after his death for the Gesù in Rome under the supervision of many who had known him. Of this there is a copy in oils at Stonyhurst, and a brilliantly engraved print in Hazart's "Kerckelycke Historie" (Antwerp, 1669), Vol. III (Enghelandt, etc.), though not in every copy of that now scarce work.
CAMPION'S Historie of Ireland was first published by STANIHURST in HOLINSHED, Chronicles (1587), then in WARE'S book under the same title (1633). and again by the Hibernia Press (Dublin, 1809); Edmundi Campiani Decem Rationes et alia Opuscula, carefully edited (Antwerp, 1631); this included Orations, Letters, and the Narratio Divortii Henrici VIII, Regis Angliae, ab Uzore et ab Ecclesia, first printed by HARPESFIELD. There is no modern ed. or tr. The standard biography is SIMPSON, Edmund Campion, Jesuit Protomartyr of England (London, 1866; reissued, London, 1907). Accounts of Campion's life, labours, and death are in CHALLONER, Memoirs of Missionary Priests; FOLEY, Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, and STANTON, Menology of England and Wales.
Guiney, Louise Imogen. "St. Edmund Campion." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1909. 1 Dec. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05293c.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by John C. Lacroix.
Guiney, Louise Imogen. "St. Edmund Campion." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1909. 1 Dec. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05293c.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by John C. Lacroix.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Todd M. Aglialoro
Shortly after dawn on July 18, 1581, the cry went out: "I have found the traitors!" With a crowbar the false wall at the head of the stairs was torn away, revealing the huddled figures of Edmund Campion and two companions, three priests lately returned to their native England to minister to those resisting the oppression from the new English Church. Their discovery set them upon the path to martyrdom.
Edmund Campion was born on January 25, 1540 into an England of religious and social upheaval. Protestantism had usurped the Catholic Church as the spiritual authority; the dissolution of monasteries and the suppression of Catholic beliefs and believers intensified as land-hungry nobles and men of power continued, in the name of the young, sickly Edward VI, the transformation begun by Henry VIII.
Campion was 13 and the most promising scholar at Christ's Hospital school in London when he was chosen to read an address to Mary Tudor upon her arrival in London as queen in 1553. Campion received a scholarship to Oxford at age 15, and, by the time Elizabeth rose to power ("restoring" Protestantism as the national religion) upon Mary's death in 1558, he was already a junior fellow.
At Oxford Campion's erudition, charisma, and charm gained him noteriety; his students even imitated his mannerisms and style of dress. Queen Elizabeth visited in 1566 and for her entertainment was treated to academic displays. Campion, the star of the show, single-handedly debated four other scholars and so impressed the queen that she promised the patronage of her advisor (and one of the principal architects of the Reformation in England) William Cecil, who referred to Campion as the "diamond of England."
It was the hope of the crown that Campion would become a defender of the new faith which, though favored by the temporal power, lacked learned apologists. Yet even as he was ordained to the Anglican diaconate, he was being swayed toward Rome, influenced in great part by older friends with Catholic sympathies. In 1569 he journeyed to Dublin, where he composed his <History of Ireland>. At this point Campion was at the summit of his powers. He could have risen to the highest levels of fame had he stayed his course. But this was not to be. By the time Campion left Ireland, he knew he could not remain a Protestant.
Campion's Catholic leanings were well-publicized, and he found the atmosphere hostile upon his return to England in 1571. He went abroad to Douay in France, where he was reconciled with the Church and decided to enter the Society of Jesus. He made a pilgrimmage to Rome and journeyed to Prague, where he lived and taught for six years and in 1578 was ordained a Jesuit priest.
In 1580 he was called by superiors to join fellow Jesuit Robert Parsons in leading a mission to England. He accepted the assignment joyfully, but everyone was aware of the dangers. The night before his departure from Prague, one of the Jesuit fathers wrote over Campion's door, "<P. Edmundus Campianus, Martyr.>"
Campion crossed the English Channel as "Mr. Edmunds," a jewel dealer. His mission was nearly a short one: At Dover a search was underway for Gabriel Allen, another English Catholic expatriate who was rumored to be returning to England to visit family. Apparently Allen's description fit Campion also, and he was detained by the mayor of Dover, who planned to send Campion to London. Inexplicably, while waiting for horses for the journey, the mayor changed his mind, and sent "Mr. Edmunds" on his way.
Upon reaching London, Campion composed his "Challenge to the Privy Council," a statement of his mission and an invitation to engage in theological debate (see "Classic Apologetics" in this issue). Copies spread quickly, and several replies to the "Challenge" were published by Protestant writers, who attached to it a derogatory title, "Campion's Brag," by which it is best known today.
The power and sincerity of the "Brag" is accompanied by a degree of naivete: Campion's statement of purpose was of no value during his later trial for treason, and the challenge to debate, repeated later in his apologetic work <Decem Rationes>, was as much an invitation to capture. And his capture seemed almost inevitable: Elizabeth had spies everywhere searching for priests, the most sought after of whom being her former "diamond of England."
Campion and his companions traveled stealthily through the English countryside in the early summer of 1581, relying on old, landed Catholic families as hosts. They said Mass, heard confession, performed baptisms and marriages, and preached words of encouragement to a people who represented the last generation to confess the faith of a Catholic England.
There were close calls. Many homes had hiding places for priests—some even had secret chapels and confessionals—and the Jesuits had to rely on these more than once. Campion took extraordinary risks, never able to turn down a request to preach or administer the sacraments, and more than once he escaped detection while in a public setting.
His fortune changed while visiting the home of Francis Yate in Lyford Grange, which was west of London. Yate was a Catholic imprisoned for his faith who had repeatedly asked for one of the Jesuit fathers to tend to the spiritual needs of his household. Though it was out of the way and the queen's searchers were reportedly in hot pursuit, Campion was unable to resist the request.
He traveled to Lyford, heard confessions, preached well into the night, and departed without difficulty after saying Mass at dawn. Some nuns visiting the home shortly thereafter were upset to hear they had just missed Campion, and so riders were dispatched to pursuade him to return, which he did. Word of his return reached George Eliot, born and regarded as Catholic but in fact a turncoat in the pay of the queen; he had a general commission to hunt down and arrest priests. Eliot arrived at Lyford with David Jenkins, another searcher, and attended a Mass. He was greatly outnumbered by the Catholics, and, fearing resistance, made no move to arrest Campion. He departed abruptly to fetch the local magistrate and a small militia and returned to the Yate property during dinner. News of the approaching party reached the house, and Campion and his two priestly companions were safely squirreled away in a narrow cell prepared especially for that purpose, with food and drink for three days.
Later Eliot and Jenkins both claimed to have discovered the priests, offering the same story: A strip of light breaking through a gap in the wall leading to the hiding place was the giveaway—both men took credit for noticing it, and each reported being the one to break through the wall. No doubt each sought the credit for capturing the infamous Campion, for no priest was more beloved by the Catholics nor more despised by the crown.
Campion was taken to the Tower and tortured. Several times he was forced to engage in debates, without benefit of notes or references and still weak and disoriented from his rackings and beatings. He acquited himself admirably, all things considered: a testament to his unparalled rhetorical skills.
His trial was a farce. Witnesses were bribed, false evidence produced; in truth, the outcome had been determined since his arrival. Campion was eloquent and persuasive to the last, dominating the entire procedure with the force of his logic and his knowledge of the Scripture and law, but in vain. He and his priestly and lay companions were convicted of treason on November 14 and were sentenced to death. His address to the court upon sentencing invoked the Catholic England for which he had fought, the Catholic England which was about to die: "In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors—all the ancient priests, bishops and kings—all that was once the glory of England."
On December 1,1581 the prophecy hanging over his door in Prague was fulfilled: Campion was hanged, drawn, and quartered. The poet Henry Walpole was there, and during the quartering some blood from Campion's entrails splashed on his coat. Walpole was profoundly changed. He went overseas, took orders, and 13 years later met his own martyrdom on English soil. Campion was beatified by Leo XIII in 1886.
Todd M. Aglialoro is the editorial assistant for This Rock.
This article was taken from the September, 1994 issue of "This Rock," published by Catholic Answers, P.O. Box 17490, San Diego, CA 92177, (619) 541-1131, $24.00 per year.
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Edmund Campion, Alexander Briant, & Ralph Sherwin, MM (RM)
All three were martyred at Tyburn, December 1, 1581; Campion beatified in 1886; canonized among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope Paul VI in 1970. This group of three provides an interesting range of experience: one Protestant convert to Catholicism and two Catholics who apostatized and then returned to the Church.
Saint Edmund Campion, known as the "Pope's Champion," was born in London c. 1540, son of a bookseller. He was raised a Catholic and was educated at Christ's Hospital at the expense of the Grocers' Guild. At 15, he received a scholarship to Saint John's College (Oxford), newly founded by Sir Thomas White. He was appointed a junior fellow when only 17, and gained the reputation of a great orator.
Saint Edmund Campion
He was chosen to speak at the reburial of Lady Amy Dudley (Robsart), at the funeral of Sir Thomas White, and he was chosen by the university to give the welcoming speech to Queen Elizabeth I when she visited Oxford in 1566.
His brilliance attracted the attention of such leading personages as the Earl of Leicester, Robert Cecil, and even Queen Elizabeth. He took the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging Elizabeth head of the Church in England and became an Anglican deacon in 1564.
Doubts about Protestantism increasingly beset him, and at the end of his term as junior proctor of the university in 1569, he went to Dublin, Ireland, where he helped to found a university (later Trinity College). While there, he wrote a short history of Ireland and dedicated it to Leicester. Further study during his time in Ireland convinced him he had been in error, and he returned to Catholicism.
Forced to flee the persecution unleashed on Catholics by the excommunication of Elizabeth by Pope Pius V, he returned to England in disguise in 1571 and was present at the trial of Blessed John Storey in Westminster Hall. He quickly departed for Douai, the English college in France, but was stopped because he had no passport. He bribed the officials with his luggage and some money.
At Douai Saint Edmund studied theology and was ordained a subdeacon before he went to Rome in 1573 to join the Jesuits. As there was no English province at the time, he was sent to Brno, Bohemia, the following year for his novitiate. He taught at the college in Prague and in 1578 was ordained there.
Dr. Allen (later cardinal) convinced Pope Gregory XIII to send Jesuits to England, and in 1579, Campion and Fr. Robert Persons were the first Jesuits chosen for the English mission. Campion set out for Rome in 1580, visited Saint Charles Borromeo in Milan, and landed at Dover disguised as a jewel merchant.
The Jesuits were not well received by English Catholics who feared they would cause trouble. In London Edmund ministered to Catholic prisoners and wrote a challenge to the Privy Council, which was prematurely published--his famous Brag (which he had written to present his case if he was captured).
The Brag described his mission as one "of free cost to preach the Gospel, to minister the Sacraments, to instruct the simple, to reform sinners, to confute errors; in brief, to cry alarm spiritual against foul vice and proud ignorance, wherewith many of my dear countrymen are abused." The publication also made him the infamous object of one of the most intensive manhunts in English history.
As soon as their arrival was uncovered, Campion left London for Berkshire, then Oxfordshire, and Northhamptonshire, where he made converts. After meeting Persons in London, where persecutions had heightened, he went to Lancashire, where he preached almost daily and very successfully. Always one step ahead of spies, but barely escaping capture on several occasions.
It seems to have given Edmund Campion some amusement when, disguised as Mr. Edmundes, he tumbled into a Shakespearean tavern scene: with a tankard on the table before him and his rapier across his knees he sat bewitching the whole company with his sparkling humor and his charm--which his fellow Catholics never tired of praising and his enemies could never curse sufficiently. The "seditious Jesuit" charmed all with whom he came into contact. More often than not these casual encounters in roadside inns ended in one or another of his hearers resolving at all costs to continue his acquaintance with Mr. Edmundes--and then Mr. Edmundes led the conversation round to religious questions and finally spoke of 'the King,' Christ. Campion's words, when he speaks of Christ, ring with a note of chivalry; he is like a knight praising his heroic King.
During this time he wrote a Latin treatise, Decem rationes, which listed ten reasons why he had challenged the most learned Protestants to discuss theology with him. The treatise was secretly printed on a press at the house of Dame Cecilia Stonor in Berkshire. On June 27, 1581, 400 copies of the publication were found distributed on the benches at Saint Mary's University Church at Oxford. It raised a great sensation and attempts to capture him intensified.
He decided to retire to Norfolk. On the way he stayed at the house of Mrs. Yate at Lyford, and people gathered there to hear him preach. A traitor was among them. Campion was betrayed by a man named Eliot, who had just received communion from Campion's hands, all the while appearing pious and devout, and within 12 hours the house was searched three times--Campion and two other priests were found hiding above a gateway.
He was taken to the Tower of London, bound, and labeled "Campion, the seditious Jesuit." After he spent three days in the "little ease," the earls of Bedford and Leiscester tried to bribe him into recanting, without success. Other attempts failed as well, and he was racked.
While still weak from torture, he was confronted by Protestant dignitaries four times. He answered them eloquently. He was racked again, this time so painfully that when he was asked the following day how he felt, he responded, "Not ill, because not at all."
On November 14, he was indicted in Westminster Hall with Ralph Sherwin, Thomas Cottam, Luke Kirby, and others (including Fathers Hanse, Lacy, Kirkman), on the trumped up charge of having plotted to raise a rebellion in England and formed a conspiracy against the life of Queen Elizabeth I. Most of these priests have never seen one another until they met in court. But false witnesses, who were a special feature of the time, came forward as usual. When asked to plead the charge, Campion was too weak to move his arms; one of his companions kissed his hand and held it up for him.
Edmund defended himself and the others brilliantly, protesting their loyalty to the queen, blasting the evidence, raising doubts about the witnesses, and establishing clearly that their only crime was their faith. Although the packed jury found them guilty, it took them an hour to come to that decision. The priests and others were condemned to death for having "seduced the Queen's subjects to disobedience." The Act of 1585 made it high treason to have been ordained priest by a Catholic bishop, and simple treason to have housed or abetted a priest.
When he was condemned, Edmund said, "In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors, all the ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England. . . . Posterity's judgment is not liable to corruption as that of those who are now going to sentence us to death."
On December 1, Campion was taken to Tyburn to undergo the penalty for high treason in England: hanging--but with the added torture that the victim was cut down while still alive, castrated, disembowelled, his heart torn out and burnt together with his entrails. The body was quartered and the pieces were dipped in boiling pitch to preserve them; after that the head and quarters were set up on poles in suitable positions near the place of execution, as a warning to sympathizers. Some of Edmund's blood splashed on the young Henry Walpole who would also become a Jesuit and be canonized with Edmund as one of the Forty Martyrs.
Saint Alexander Briant born in Somerset, England, he studied at Oxford, where he returned to the Church, and then went to France to study at Douai. He was ordained in 1578 (the Benedictines say that he was a secular priest who was later admitted to the Jesuits). In 1579 Fr. Briant returned to England. He was active in Somerset but came to London in 1581, where he was arrested at the home of Fr. Robert Persons. He was mercilessly tortured for a month in a futile effort to get him to reveal the whereabouts of Persons, and then was tried with other Catholics on the trumped up charge of plotting in Rome a rebellion in England. He was found guilty and, at age 25, executed at Tyburn.
Saint Ralph Sherwin was born at Rodsley, Derbyshire, England. Born at Rodsley in Derbyshire, Saint Ralph was granted a fellowship to Exeter College at Oxford, where he became a classical scholar of distinction and received his MA in 1574. He became a Catholic in 1575, went first to Douai and then to the English College in Rome (1577) to study for the priesthood. In 1580 he was ordained in Rome and a few months later was sent on the English mission. He arrived in England on August 1 and in November was arrested in London, imprisoned in the Tower, and tortured. Queen Elizabeth offered him the bribe of a bishopric if he would apostatize, which he indignantly refused. Brought to trial the next year with Edmund Campion and others, he was convicted of attempting to foment a rebellion and condemned to death. He was hanged drawn and quartered at Tyburn. He is the protomartyr of the venerable English College in Rome (Benedictines, Delaney, Undset, White).
CANONIZZAZIONE DI QUARANTA MARTIRI DELL’INGHILTERRA E DEL GALLES
OMELIA DEL SANTO PADRE PAOLO VI
Domenica, 25 ottobre l970
We extend Our greeting first of all to Our venerable brother Cardinal John Carmel Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, who is present here today. Together with him We greet Our brother bishops of England and Wales and of all the other countries, those who have come here for this great ceremony. We extend Our greeting also to the English priests, religious, students and faithful. We are filled with joy and happiness to have them near Us today; for us-they represent all English Catholics scattered throughout the world. Thanks to them we are celebrating Christ’s glory made manifest in the holy Martyrs, whom We have just canonized, with such keen and brotherly feelings that We are able to experience in a very special spiritual way the mystery of the oneness and love of .the Church. We offer you our greetings, brothers, sons and daughters; We thank you and We bless you.
While We are particularly pleased to note the presence of the official representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Reverend Doctor Harry Smythe, We also extend Our respectful and affectionate greeting to all the members of the Anglican Church who have likewise come to take part in this ceremony. We indeed feel very close to them. We would like them to read in Our heart the humility, the gratitude and the hope with which We welcome them. We wish also to greet the authorities and those personages who have come here to represent Great Britain, and together with them all the other representatives of other countries and other religions. With all Our heart We welcome them, as we celebrate the freedom and the fortitude of men who had, at the same time, spiritual faith and loyal respect for the sovereignty of civil society.
STORICO EVENTO PER LA CHIESA UNIVERSALE
La solenne canonizzazione dei 40 Martiri dell’Inghilterra e del Galles da Noi or ora compiuta, ci offre la gradita opportunità di parlarvi, seppur brevemente, sul significato della loro esistenza e sulla importanza the la loro vita e la loro morte hanno avuto e continuano ad avere non solo per la Chiesa in Inghilterra e nel Galles, ma anche per la Chiesa Universale, per ciascuno di noi, e per ogni uomo di buona volontà.
Il nostro tempo ha bisogno di Santi, e in special modo dell’esempio di coloro che hanno dato il supremo testimonio del loro amore per Cristo e la sua Chiesa: «nessuno ha un amore più grande di colui che dà la vita per i propri amici» (Io. l5, l3). Queste parole del Divino Maestro, che si riferiscono in prima istanza al sacrificio che Egli stesso compì sulla croce offrendosi per la salvezza di tutta l’umanità, valgono pure per la grande ed eletta schiera dei martiri di tutti i tempi, dalle prime persecuzioni della Chiesa nascente fino a quelle – forse più nascoste ma non meno crudeli - dei nostri giorni. La Chiesa di Cristo è nata dal sacrificio di Cristo sulla Croce ed essa continua a crescere e svilupparsi in virtù dell’amore eroico dei suoi figli più autentici. «Semen est sanguis christianorum» (TERTULL., Apologet., 50; PL l, 534). Come l’effusione del sangue di Cristo, così l’oblazione che i martiri fanno della loro vita diventa in virtù della loro unione col Sacrificio di Cristo una sorgente di vita e di fertilità spirituale per la Chiesa e per il mondo intero. «Perciò - ci ricorda la Costituzione Lumen gentium (Lumen gentium, 42) – il martirio, col quale il discepolo è reso simile al Maestro che liberamente accetta la morte per la salute del mondo, e a Lui si conforma nell’effusione del sangue, è stimato dalla Chiesa dono insigne e suprema prova di carità».
Molto si è detto e si è scritto su quell’essere misterioso che è l’uomo : sulle risorse del suo ingegno, capace di penetrare nei segreti dell’universo e di assoggettare le cose materiali utilizzandole ai suoi scopi; sulla grandezza dello spirito umano che si manifesta nelle ammirevoli opere della scienza e dell’arte; sulla sua nobiltà e la sua debolezza; sui suoi trionfi e le sue miserie. Ma ciò che caratterizza l’uomo, ciò che vi è di più intimo nel suo essere e nella sua personalità, è la capacità di amare, di amare fino in fondo, di donarsi con quell’amore che è più forte della morte e che si prolunga nell’eternità.
IL SACRIFICIO NELL’AMORE PIÙ ALTO
Il martirio dei cristiani è l’espressione ed il segno più sublime di questo amore, non solo perché il martire rimane fedele al suo amore fino all’effusione del proprio sangue, ma anche perché questo sacrificio viene compiuto per l’amore più alto e nobile che possa esistere, ossia per amore di Colui che ci ha creati e redenti, che ci ama come Egli solo sa amare, e attende da noi una risposta di totale e incondizionata donazione, cioè un amore degno del nostro Dio.
Nella sua lunga e gloriosa storia, la Gran Bretagna, isola di santi, ha dato al mondo molti uomini e donne che hanno amato Dio con questo amore schietto e leale: per questo siamo lieti di aver potuto annoverare oggi 40 altri figli di questa nobile terra fra coloro che la Chiesa pubblicamente riconosce come Santi, proponendoli con ciò alla venerazione dei suoi fedeli, e perché questi ritraggano dalle loro esistenze un vivido esempio.
A chi legge commosso ed ammirato gli atti del loro martirio, risulta chiaro, vorremmo dire evidente, che essi sono i degni emuli dei più grandi martiri dei tempi passati, a motivo della grande umiltà, intrepidità, semplicità e serenità, con le quali essi accettarono la loro sentenza e la loro morte, anzi, più ancora con un gaudio spirituale e con una carità ammirevole e radiosa.
È proprio questo atteggiamento profondo e spirituale che accomuna ed unisce questi uomini e donne, i quali d’altronde erano molto diversi fra loro per tutto ciò che può differenziare un gruppo così folto di persone, ossia l’età e il sesso, la cultura e l’educazione, lo stato e condizione sociale di vita, il carattere e il temperamento, le disposizioni naturali e soprannaturali, le esterne circostanze della loro esistenza. Abbiamo infatti fra i 40 Santi Martiri dei sacerdoti secolari e regolari, abbiamo dei religiosi di vari Ordini e di rango diverso, abbiamo dei laici, uomini di nobilissima discendenza come pure di condizione modesta, abbiamo delle donne che erano sposate e madri di famiglia: ciò che li unisce tutti è quell’atteggiamento interiore di fedeltà inconcussa alla chiamata di Dio che chiese a loro, come risposta di amore, il sacrificio della vita stessa.
E la risposta dei martiri fu unanime: «Non posso fare a meno di ripetervi che muoio per Dio e a motivo della mia religione; - così diceva il Santo Philip Evans - e mi ritengo così felice che se mai potessi avere molte altre vite, sarei dispostissimo a sacrificarle tutte per una causa tanto nobile».
LEALTÀ E FEDELTÀ
E, come d’altronde numerosi altri, il Santo Philip Howard conte di Arundel asseriva egli pure: «Mi rincresce di avere soltanto una vita da offrire per questa nobile causa». E la Santa Margaret Clitherow con una commovente semplicità espresse sinteticamente il senso della sua vita e della sua morte: «Muoio per amore del mio Signore Gesù». « Che piccola cosa è questa, se confrontata con la morte ben più crudele che Cristo ha sofferto per me », così esclamava il Santo Alban Roe.
Come molti loro connazionali che morirono in circostanze analoghe, questi quaranta uomini e donne dell’Inghilterra e del Galles volevano essere e furono fino in fondo leali verso la loro patria che essi amavano con tutto il cuore; essi volevano essere e furono di fatto fedeli sudditi del potere reale che tutti - senza eccezione alcuna - riconobbero, fino alla loro morte, come legittimo in tutto ciò che appartiene all’ordine civile e politico. Ma fu proprio questo il dramma dell’esistenza di questi Martiri, e cioè che la loro onesta e sincera lealtà verso l’autorità civile venne a trovarsi in contrasto con la fedeltà verso Dio e con ciò che, secondo i dettami della loro coscienza illuminata dalla fede cattolica, sapevano coinvolgere le verità rivelate, specialmente sulla S. Eucaristia e sulle inalienabili prerogative del successore di Pietro, che, per volere di Dio, è il Pastore universale della Chiesa di Cristo. Posti dinanzi alla scelta di rimanere saldi nella loro fede e quindi di morire per essa, ovvero di aver salva la vita rinnegando la prima, essi, senza un attimo di esitazione, e con una forza veramente soprannaturale, si schierarono dalla parte di Dio e gioiosamente affrontarono il martirio. Ma talmente grande era il loro spirito, talmente nobili erano i loro sentimenti, talmente cristiana era l’ispirazione della loro esistenza, che molti di essi morirono pregando per la loro patria tanto amata, per il Re o per la Regina, e persino per coloro che erano stati i diretti responsabili della loro cattura, dei loro tormenti, e delle circostanze ignominiose della loro morte atroce.
Le ultime parole e l’ultima preghiera del Santo John Plessington furono appunto queste: «Dio benedica il Re e la sua famiglia e voglia concedere a Sua Maestà un prospero regno in questa vita e una corona di gloria nell’altra. Dio conceda pace ai suoi sudditi consentendo loro di vivere e di morire nella vera fede, nella speranza e nella carità».
«POSSANO TUTTI OTTENERE LA SALVEZZA»
Così il Santo Alban Roe, poco prima dell’impiccagione, pregò: «Perdona, o mio Dio, le mie innumerevoli offese, come io perdono i miei persecutori», e, come lui, il Santo Thomas Garnet che - dopo aver singolarmente nominato e perdonato coloro che lo avevano tradito, arrestato e condannato - supplicò Dio dicendo: «Possano tutti ottenere la salvezza e con me raggiungere il cielo».
Leggendo gli atti del loro martirio e meditando il ricco materiale raccolto con tanta cura sulle circostanze storiche della loro vita e del loro martirio, rimaniamo colpiti soprattutto da ciò che inequivocabilmente e luminosamente rifulge nella loro esistenza; esso, per la sua stessa natura, è tale da trascendere i secoli, e quindi da rimanere sempre pienamente attuale e, specie ai nostri giorni, di importanza capitale. Ci riferiamo al fatto che questi eroici figli e figlie dell’Inghilterra e del Galles presero la loro fede veramente sul serio: ciò significa che essi l’accettarono come l’unica norma della loro vita e di tutta la loro condotta, ritraendone una grande serenità ed una profonda gioia spirituale. Con una freschezza e spontaneità non priva di quel prezioso dono che è l’umore tipicamente proprio della loro gente, con un attaccamento al loro dovere schivo da ogni ostentazione, e con la schiettezza tipica di coloro che vivono con convinzioni profonde e ben radicate, questi Santi Martiri sono un esempio raggiante del cristiano che veramente vive la sua consacrazione battesimale, cresce in quella vita che nel sacramento dell’iniziazione gli è stata data e che quello della confermazione ha rinvigorito, in modo tale che la religione non è per lui un fattore marginale, bensì l’essenza stessa di tutto il suo essere ed agire, facendo sì che la carità divina diviene la forza ispiratrice, fattiva ed operante di una esistenza, tutta protesa verso l’unione di amore con Dio e con tutti gli uomini di buona volontà, che troverà la sua pienezza nell’eternità.
La Chiesa e il mondo di oggi hanno sommamente bisogno di tali uomini e donne, di ogni condizione me stato di vita, sacerdoti, religiosi e laici, perché solo persone di tale statura e di tale santità saranno capaci di cambiare il nostro mondo tormentato e di ridargli, insieme alla pace, quell’orientamento spirituale e veramente cristiano a cui ogni uomo intimamente anela - anche talvolta senza esserne conscio - e di cui tutti abbiamo tanto bisogno.
Salga a Dio la nostra gratitudine per aver voluto, nella sua provvida bontà, suscitare questi Santi Martiri, l’operosità e il sacrificio dei quali hanno contribuito alla conservazione della fede cattolica nell’Inghilterra e nel Galles.
Continui il Signore a suscitare nella Chiesa dei laici, religiosi e sacerdoti che siano degni emuli di questi araldi della fede.
Voglia Dio, nel suo amore, che anche oggi fioriscano e si sviluppino dei centri di studio, di formazione e di preghiera, atti, nelle condizioni di oggi, a preparare dei santi sacerdoti e missionari quali furono, in quei tempi, i Venerabili Collegi di Roma e Valladolid e i gloriosi Seminari di St. Omer e Douai, dalle file dei quali uscirono appunto molti dei Quaranta Martiri, perché come uno di essi, una grande personalità, il Santo Edmondo Campion, diceva: «Questa Chiesa non si indebolirà mai fino a quando vi saranno sacerdoti e pastori ad attendere al loro gregge».
Voglia il Signore concederci la grazia che in questi tempi di indifferentismo religioso e di materialismo teorico e pratico sempre più imperversante, l’esempio e la intercessione dei Santi Quaranta Martiri ci confortino nella fede, rinsaldino il nostro autentico amore per Dio, per la sua Chiesa e per gli uomini tutti.
PER L’UNITA DEI CRISTIANI
May the blood of these Martyrs be able to heal the great wound inflicted upon God’s Church by reason of the separation of the Anglican Church from the Catholic Church. Is it not one-these Martyrs say to us-the Church founded by Christ? Is not this their witness? Their devotion to their nation gives us the assurance that on the day when-God willing-the unity of the faith and of Christian life is restored, no offence will be inflicted on the honour and sovereignty of a great country such as England. There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church when the Roman Catholic Church-this humble “Servant of the Servants of God”- is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic communion of the family of Christ: a communion of origin and of faith, a communion of priesthood and of rule, a communion of the Saints in the freedom and love of the Spirit of Jesus.
Perhaps We shall have to go on, waiting and watching in prayer, in order to deserve that blessed day. But already We are strengthened in this hope by the heavenly friendship of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales who are canonized today. Amen.
SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/homilies/1970/documents/hf_p-vi_hom_19701025_it.html
Sant' Edmondo Campion Martire, gesuita
Londra, 24 gennaio 1540 - 1 dicembre 1581
Nato da famiglia cattolica, dovette abiurare alla sua fede e diventare protestante riconoscendo la Regina capo della Chiesa per poter studiare all’università di Oxford, dove si distinse come eccezionale oratore. Ma procedendo negli studi si convinse che la religione anglicana deformava l’immagine originaria della Chiesa. Si decise così a partire per l’esilio in Irlanda, pur di poter ritornare Cattolico. Ma nonostante camuffato, fu riconosciuto e perseguitato. Ciò nonostante entra nei Gesuiti nella provincia austriaca di Praga. Di li fu inviato temerariamente proprio nella nativa Inghilterra a predicarvi il Cattolicesimo. Entrò nella sua terra pubblicando una audace lettera intitolata “sfida” rivolta ai Teologi protestanti, che ne rimasero fortemente impressionati. Utilizzando la recente invenzione della stampa diffuse 400 copie (per allora tantissime!) di un testo intitolato “le dieci ragioni per essere cattolico”. Questo libro lo costrinse nuovamente all’esilio. Ma una spia lo fece catturare a Norfolk, per essere imprigionato nella torre di Londra, dove l’alternarsi di promesse economiche e di torture al cavalletto non riuscirono a farlo abiurare. Una pubblica disputa con i Teologi protestanti aumentò il suo prestigio pubblico, fino a che un processo istruito con testimoni falsi prezzolati lo imputò di congiura contro la Regina. Fu così legato a un cavallo che lo trascinò come una carrozza correndo per le via di Londra, fino a che si avviò alla ghigliottina pregando per la salvezza della Regina.
Martirologio Romano: A Londra sempre in Inghilterra, santi Edmondo Campion, Rodolfo Sherwin e Alessandro Briant, sacerdoti e martiri sotto la regina Elisabetta I, insigni per ingegno e fortezza nella fede. Sant’Edmondo, che fin da giovane aveva fatto professione di fede cattolica, ammesso a Roma nella Compagnia di Gesù e ordinato sacerdote a Praga, tornò in patria, dove, per essersi adoperato nel confortare gli animi dei fedeli con la sua parola e i suoi scritti, fu ucciso, dopo molti tormenti, a Tyburn. Insieme a lui subirono gli stessi supplizi i santi Rodolfo e Alessandro, il secondo dei quali ottenne in carcere di essere ammesso nella Compagnia di Gesù.
Visse nel triste periodo della Riforma Anglicana, sotto il regno della scismatica regina Elisabetta I; nacque a Londra il 25 gennaio 1540 da agiati genitori, inizialmente cattolici e poi passati al protestantesimo.
Educato con questi indirizzi, frequentò prestigiose Scuole di Londra, la sua evidente perspicacia negli studi si evidenziò con alcuni discorsi da lui preparati e tenuti in occasione di importanti avvenimenti del tempo, come l’ingresso a Londra della regina Maria Tudor nel 1553, che gli aprì le porte del collegio universitario di Oxford, i compagni di studio, per le sue qualità, si raccolsero intorno a lui sotto il nome di “campionisti”.
Dovette adattarsi alla situazione religiosa per cui già nel 1564, prestò il giuramento anticattolico riconoscendo la supremazia religiosa della regina; dovendo in quello stesso anno dedicarsi agli studi di filosofia aristotelica, di teologia e dei Santi padri, scoprì che l’anglicanesimo non era altro che una deformazione dell’antica fede che aveva resa grande l’Inghilterra.
Si sentì profondamente a disagio quando il vescovo anglicano di Gloucester, avendolo conosciuto, desiderò che diventasse suo successore e quindi lo ordinò diacono, ma quella ordinazione turbò profondamente Edmondo, procurandogli cocenti rimorsi, cosicché abbandonò il servizio religioso protestante, gli studi e le altre cariche e il 1° agosto 1569 lasciò Oxford per Dublino nell’Irlanda cattolica, dove professò apertamente il cattolicesimo.
Sentendosi ricercato dai fedeli alla regina, si rifugiò a Douai in Francia, per entrare in seminario e completare gli studi teologici. Riconciliato con la Chiesa fu ordinato suddiacono, poi entrò nella Compagnia di Gesù nel 1573, dove fu accettato e destinato alla provincia austriaca dell’Ordine.
Insegnò nel Collegio di Praga, fu ordinato sacerdote nel 1578 e si dedicò valentemente alla predicazione, in questo periodo scrive varie opere letterarie di religione. Nel 1580 viene destinato alla Missione inglese con sua grande gioia e dopo essere stato ricevuto in udienza dal papa insieme ad un compagno Roberto Persons, il 18 aprile si avviarono verso questa nuova meta di apostolato.
Saputo che in Inghilterra erano già informati del loro arrivo, poterono sbarcare solo con stratagemmi e travestimenti, il 26 giugno si rifugiò a Londra presso amici. Un suo discorso pronunciato il giorno della festa di s. Pietro, ebbe una grande eco nel regno, la stessa regina Elisabetta irritata, diede ordine di prendere l’autore che si teneva nascosto.
Necessariamente dovette lasciare Londra e intraprese il suo ministero in forma itinerante, spostandosi da un paese all’altro per le varie Contee del regno. Rilasciò una ‘dichiarazione’ in cui spiegava la spiritualità della sua missione, chiedendo di poter avere dei confronti con i lords, con i professori universitari e con persone esperte di diritto civile ed ecclesiastico. Inoltre dichiarava l’intento dei gesuiti a voler tentare tutto per riportare la fede cattolica, anche a costo della loro vita.
Questa ‘dichiarazione’ divenne pubblica e se da un lato confortò i cattolici, dall’altro provocò la reazione degli scismatici e le prigioni si riempirono di persone fedeli a Roma. Il Campion fece di più, il 29 giugno 1581 sui banchi della chiesa di s. Maria ad Oxford si trovarono 400 copie di un opuscolo da lui fatto stampare di nascosto, in cui dopo aver esposto le contraddizioni dell’anglicanesimo, invitava la regina a ritornare nella Chiesa.
Il 16 luglio tradito da tale Giorgio Eliot, fu preso dopo aver celebrato la s. Messa nella casa della signora Yate; tre giorni dopo fu condotto alla Torre di Londra, legato all’incontrario su un cavallo, con la scritta sulla testa “Campion il gesuita sedizioso”, fu processato con la presenza della stessa regina e inutili furono tutti i tentativi di fargli riconoscere la supremazia reale in religione, nonostante le torture a cui fu sottoposto e le lusinghiere offerte della regina.
La folla partecipava al processo e veniva colpita favorevolmente dalle sue argomentazioni; comunque riconosciuto colpevole di essere entrato in Inghilterra di nascosto con finalità sovversive, fu condannato a morte. Salì il patibolo dell’impiccagione il 1° dicembre 1581 e già con il cappio al collo, esternò il suo rispetto alla regina e alla sua autorità affermando ancora una volta davanti ad una grande folla, di morire nella vera fede cattolica e romana.
Il suo culto fu confermato da papa Leone XIII il 9 dicembre 1886, beatificato da papa Pio XI il 15 dicembre 1929 è stato poi canonizzato insieme ad altri 39 martiri d’Inghilterra il 25 ottobre 1970 da papa Paolo VI.
Autore: Antonio Borrelli
Voir aussi : http://jesuitinstitute.org/Pages/Campion.htm