Feast 1st October
Gerard Edward renamed himself Edward Campion in honour of St Edmund Campion, the esteemed Jesuit missionary who was martyred at Tyburn, London, in December 1581. Blessed Edward would suffer a similar fate in Canterbury just seven years later.
Born at Ludlow, Shropshire, he studied at Jesus College, Oxford, but left without obtaining a degree, finding work as a servant to Gregory Fiennes, 8th Baron Dacre of the South.
Fiennes was married to Anne Sackville, whose family had strong Catholic sympathies, and it was while he was employed in their service that Blessed Edward was reconciled to the Catholic faith, leaving England for Rheims to study as a priest on 22nd February 1586 and changing his name. Because of his higher education he was ordained in Rheims after just a year and returned to England at Easter 1587.
He was captured in Sittingbourne, Kent, just a few weeks later, however, and was imprisoned at the Newgate and the Marshalsea prisons in London following questioning by order of the Privy Council on 22nd April 1587.
He was examined a second time on 14th August 1588 and he confessed he was a priest. He also boldly stated that the religion enforced in England under the Elizabethan statutes was heretical. When he was accused of treason he replied that he wished he was no more a traitor than St Edmund Campion. He turned down the opportunity to escape from captivity with the words: “I would gladly, if I did not hope to suffer martyrdom.”
Blessed Edward was executed on 1st October 1588 at the age of 36 years.
Source: Nine Martyrs of the Shrewsbury Diocese by Kevin Byrne