The saint was hanged, drawn and quartered for the Faith
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Tertullian, the father of theology, wrote in his most famous work "Apologeticus": "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
English historian Raphael Holinshed, in his "Chronicles," estimates the numbers of Catholics slaughtered under King Henry VIII alone from 1535 to 1547 to be between 57,000–72,000. Yet from this reign of terror, as history has always shown, sprang a plethora of saints and martyrs. Bolstered by a deep faith, and even by the writings of Pope Pius V, the growing body count only emboldened more and more Catholics to defend the Catholic Church, even if this crusade ended at the gallows or the executioner's block.
Of the thousands of English martyrs, many of whom have lost their names to history, there is a group of over three dozen Catholic men and women who were executed between 1535 and 1679 and have since been elevated to sainthood. Known as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, the men and women were canonized as a group by Bd. Pope Paul VI in 1970 and are generally regarded as the more "famous" of the English martyrs.
Among them is St. Edmund Campion, an English Jesuit who led a mission to the Anglican island in 1580 in order to preach and offer Mass for England's deprived Catholics. While in England, Campion wrote his "Decem Rationes" ("Ten Reasons"), a pamphlet arguing the invalidity of the Anglican Church. The success of the booklet spurred an expansion in the hunt for the priest, which culminated in his capture at the hands of a spy.
After spending four days in the Tower of London, Campion was questioned by three councilors, one of whom Campion had previously won the admiration of during his time at Oxford. After refusing bribes and suffering tortures, the Jesuit was questioned publicly on four separate occasions. Despite having been tortured and being given no time to prepare, Campion held his own so well "even the spectators in the court looked for an acquittal."
The priest was eventually arraigned and indicted for allegedly conspiring to incite a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth.
In December 1581, Campion and two other priests were dragged through the streets behind a horse to Tyburn Tree, a notorious place of public execution. Campion was hanged nearly to the point of death, before being emasculated, disemboweled, beheaded and finally quartered, or chopped into four pieces.
Campion was beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII, 84 years before he was canonized with 39 fellow English martyrs. His feast day is December 1, the date of his execution.