Five weeks ago, the good Jesuits at America caught a little right-wing Catholic flak for giving their Campion Award for achievement in letters to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. After all, Williams presides over the church under whose auspices Edmund Campion was drawn and quartered in 1581.
Campion was a leading Oxford don who welcomed Queen Elizabeth to the university in 1569 and impressed her in a public debate. Shortly thereafter he found he couldn’t stick with the Church of England, left Oxford and after becoming reconciled to Rome joined the Jesuits. He undertook a secret mission to England in 1580 during which he wrote his “Decem Rationes” against the Anglican Church, 400 copies of which were placed on the benches of St Mary’s, Oxford, formally known as the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. This enraged the local establishment, and the hunt for Campion was on in earnest.
I’m happy to report that St Mary’s now commemmorates Campion and 21 other men of his era with a plaque that reads at the top:
REMEMBER THE MARTYRS OF THE REFORMATION
BOTH CATHOLIC AND PROTESTANT WHO LIVED IN OXFORDSHIRE
TAUGHT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD OR WERE BROUGHT HERE
So chill, Catholic right wingers.