Campion, Saint Edmund

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Campion, Saint Edmund

Saint Edmund Campion (kăm´pēən), c.1540–1581, English Jesuit martyr, educated at St. Paul's School and St. John's College, Oxford. As a fellow at Oxford he earned the admiration of his colleagues and his students and the favor of Queen Elizabeth by his brilliance and oratorical ability. He went (1569) to Dublin to help in the proposed restoration of the university there. Although he had reluctantly taken orders as a Protestant, he had open Roman Catholic leanings and fled in disguise (1571) to England and then to the Continent, where he studied at Douai, joined (1573) the Society of Jesus, and was ordained (1578). In 1580 he and another Jesuit, Robert Persons, were sent as Jesuit missionaries to England. Campion's travels were marked by many conversions and did much to guarantee the survival of Roman Catholicism in England. Copies of his secretly printed pamphlet, Decem rationes [10 reasons], against the Protestants, appeared at Oxford in 1581. The long pursuit by the government ended (July, 1581) with the taking of Campion. He was racked three times, but though his body was broken he conducted debates with Protestant theologians brilliantly and won more converts. He defended himself ably against trumped-up charges of sedition but was nevertheless condemned and hanged, drawn, and quartered. He was beatified in 1886. In 1970, Campion and the other English and Welsh martyrs of the Reformation were canonized.

See biography by E. Waugh (3d ed. 1961).

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