Today is the feast of St. Edmund Campion, Jesuit priest and English Elizabethan martyr. His story was told in 1935 by Evelyn Waugh, better known for his fiction, chief of which in my estimation is Brideshead Revisited. Waugh wrote in the Preface to Saint Edmund Campion that he was not attempting a scholar’s approach to his subject.
All I have sought to do is to select incidents which strike a novelist as important and to put them into a narrative which I hope may prove readable. The facts are not in dispute so I have left the text unencumbered by notes or bibliography. It should be read as a simple, perfectly true story of heroism and holiness.
I’m marking the saint’s feast by re-reading Waugh’s book about him. When we think of English Catholic martyrs nowadays, I think most thoughts turn to St. Thomas More – a man worth remembering, to be sure. Campion more than holds in own in such company. His apologia to the Queen’s Privy Council as he was undergoing persecution is provided by Waugh as a final chapter, too important to be designated an appendix. These are Campion’s own words, written as he knew his execution by the anti-Catholic government was a foregone conclusion:
And touching our Societie, be it known to you that we have made a league – all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practices of England – cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the Faith was planted; so it must be restored.
…I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almightie God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us His grace, and set us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in Heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.
I recently received the gift of tickets to see Andre Rieu. The concert isn’t scheduled for another six months so I've stored the tickets away until I need them. Imagine if I lose them!
Or if I forget I even had them! I will never experience the true joy the gift was intended to bring me. Nor could I genuinely show appreciation to my generous gift giver. God has provided us with spiritual gifts with which to live the spiritual life.
Over the next 7 months, the 10 Minute Daily Retreat will reflect on 7 of these gifts; one every month.
In June, we will reflect on the gift of Wisdom.
'Don't turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.' Proverbs 4:6 Join us on our journey! Reflections can be sent by email. Details on:
Readings(New American Bible: Philippines, USA) Readings(Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Note: In each of the above you will find an alternative First Reading, Responsorial Psalm and Second Reading that may be used in Year C. The Gospel below is always used in Year C. Gospel Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22 (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Catholic Edition) As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bod…
The saint of the day is St. Etheldreda (also known as: Audrey, Ethelreda, Æthelthryth, Edilthride, Ediltrudis, Edeltrude), a widow and a Benedictine nun. She was born in Exning, Suffolk, England and died at Ely, 679.
To her friends and family, this once most famous female Anglo-Saxon saint was Etheldreda. To poor people she was Audrey, and the word "tawdry" originally came from the cheap necklaces that were sold on the feast of Saint Audrey and which were believed to cure illness of the throat and neck. This was because Etheldreda had suffered from neck cancer, which she attributed to divine punishment because she was once vain enough to wear a costly necklace. She had a huge tumor on her neck when she died, but, according the Saint Bede, when her tomb was opened by her sister Saint Sexburga, her successor as abbess at Ely Abbey, ten (or 16) years after her death, her body was found incorrupt and the tumor had healed.
Etheldreda was a woman of noble birth, the daughter of K…