‘“As to the treasons which have been laid at my charge”, he said, “and for which I am come here to suffer, I desire you all to bear witness with me that I am thereof altogether innocent”.
One of the Council cried that it was too late to deny what had been proved in the court.
“Well, my Lord”, he replied, “I am a Catholic man and a priest; in that faith have I lived and in that faith I intend to die. If you esteem my religion treason, then am I guilty; as for other treason I never committed any, God is my judge. But you have now what you desire. I beseech you to have patience, and suffer me to speak a word or two for discharge of my conscience”.
But the gentlemen round the gallows would not let him go forward; they still heckled him about his letter to Pounde, about the invasion by the Pope and the Duke of Florence.
In a few halting sentences he made himself heard above the clamour. He forgave the jury and asked forgiveness of any whose names he might have compromised during his examination.
…Then a schoolmaster named Hearne stood forward and read a proclamation in the Queen’s name, that the execution they were to witness that morning was for treason and not for religion. Campion stood in prayer. The Lords of the Council still shouted up questions to him about the Bull of Excommunication, but now Campion would not answer and stood with his head bowed and his hands folded on his breast. An Anglican clergyman attempted to direct his prayers, but he answered greatly, “Sir, you and I are not one in religion, wherefore I pray you content yourself. I bar none of prayer; but I only desire them that are of the household of faith to pray with me, and in mine agony to say one creed”.
They called to him to pray in English, but he replied with great mildness that “he would pray God in a language which they both well understood”.
There was more noise; the Councillors demanded that he should ask the Queen’s forgiveness.
“Wherein have I offended her? In this I am innocent. This is my last speech; in this give me credit – I have and do pray for her”.
Still the courtiers were not satisfied. Lord Howard demanded to know what Queen he prayed for.
“Yea, for Elizabeth your Queen and my Queen, unto whom I wish a long quiet reign with all prosperity”.
The cart was then driven from under him, the eager crowd swayed forward, and Campion was left hanging, until, unconscious, perhaps already dead, he was cut down and the butcher began his work’.
from Edmund Campion: Jesuit and Martyr by Evelyn Waugh, 1903-1966
Almighty and everlasting God, who gavest thy Martyr Edmund Campion courage to witness to the Gospel of Christ,
even unto the giving of his life: grant that, by his prayers; we may endure all suffering for love of thee,
and may seek thee with all our hearts, for thou alone art the source of life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Divine Worship: The Missal
Fr Lee Kenyon
Priest, Husband, Father, Lancastrian, Mancunian