Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Martrydrom of Sts. Edmund Campion, Ralph Sherwin, and Alexander Briant

Depiction of the Tyburn Martyrs, found at Tudor Stuff blog

[The following is excerpted from "They Died At Tyburn" By The Tyburn Nuns.]

"Of all the Tyburn martyrs, St. Edmund Campion [who was a Jesuit priest] is one of the best-known. A play on his name described exactly what he was -- the Pope's C(h)ampion. Nothing could daunt his ardour or break his spirit; neither promises of worldly gain, the basest calumny, public ridicule, nor the appalling torture of the rack....For a year Campion laboured without ceasing....and he devoted all his talents to the Heavenly Master, hoping for no great reward than that which was granted to him at the age of forty-two."

"He was so cruelly tortured in prison that his enemies feared that the rackmen had gone too far and that the gallows would be cheated of its prey; yet they failed to wring from him any statement that might be used to convict him of treason. Finally the Council drew up a fictitious charge against in him, in which it was asserted that...Campion had a conspiracy to murder the Queen [Elizabeth I]; that he had exhorted foreigners to invade England, and that he...had been sent into the country to stir up rebellion in support of the invading force."

"Subsequently, the names of Fathers... [St. Ralph] Sherwin...[St. Alexander] Briant and [Blessed John] Shert were inserted with others into this monstrous indictment on which they and Father Campion were all tried and condemned as participants in the pretended plot. Notwithstanding the terrible sufferings he had undergone, St. Edmund Campion was in as state of calm cheerfulness on the day of his glorious triumph at Tyburn [he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 1 December 1581, along with Sherwin and Briant]."

"When his own turn came to render the supreme testimony, St. Ralph Sherwin [a secular priest] kissed with great devotion the blood of Edmund Campion dripping from the hands of the executioners. Like Campion, he was asked very expressly whom he meant when he prayed for and forgave the Queen. He replied: 'Yea, for Elizabeth Queen I now at this instant pray my Lord God...' He died with the cray on his lip: 'Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, be to me a Jesus!' [a translation of the original Latin Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, esto mihi Jesus!] St. Ralph is the protomartyr of the English College, Rome. He was...a convert to the Catholic Church."

"St. Alexander Briant [like St. Edmund, a Jesuit priest]...had been barbarously tortured in prison....On the eve of their martyrdom the three priests had the consolation of confessing to each other in prison. He was the last of the three martyrs to suffer [that day], and his pains were increased by the negligence of the hangman. Even when he was in his last extremity efforts were still being made to make him recant. Still again the question was put: 'What of the sovereignty of the Queen?' He declared that being a true Catholic he fully accepted the Bull of [Pope Saint] Pius V by which the Queen was formally excommunicated. He then began the Miserere and finally gave up his soul to God after long torments."

[Blessed John Shert was executed a few months later at Tyburn on 28 May 1582, along with Blessed Thomas Ford and Blessed Robert Johnson. All three were priest graduates of the English Seminary in Rome.]


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