Feast Day of Edmund Campion Marked

Yesterday was the feast day in the Roman Catholic Church for St Edmund Campion. It was marked on two Roman Catholic websites with quotations from Waugh’s biography of Campion first published in 1935. On the website of the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, Ellen Kolb quotes from the preface Waugh wrote for the book:

All I have sought to do is to select incidents which strike a novelist as important and to put them into a narrative which I hope may prove readable. The facts are not in dispute so I have left the text unencumbered by notes or bibliography. It should be read as a simple, perfectly true story of heroism and holiness…We have seen the Church driven underground in one country after another. The martyrdom of Father [now Blessed] Pro in Mexico re-enacted Campion’s. In fragments and whispers we get news of other saints in the prison camps of eastern and southeastern Europe, of cruelty and degradation more frightful than anything in Tudor England and of the same pure light shining in the darkness, uncomprehended. The hunted, trapped, murdered priest is amongst us again, and the voice of Campion comes to us across the centuries as though he were walking at our side.

Although the blog article refers to the 1930s edition, this version of the preface did not appear until later. Waugh rewrote the preface in 1946, and it appeared for the first time as quoted above in the Little, Brown edition of that year. That is also the version of the preface that has appeared in subsequent US and UK editions such as that of the OUP in 1980. 

The other post is by a Roman Catholic priest on the website of the Pagadian Diocese, which is a Latin Rite jurisdiction with headquarters in the Philippines. This rather gory passage is taken from the final chapter of Waugh’s book as it appears in both the 1935 and 1946 editions and deals with the aftermath of Campion’s execution at Tyburn:

[Henry Walpole] secured a place at Tyburn; so close that when Campion’s [intestines] were torn out [of his body] by the butcher and thrown into the cauldron of boiling water, a spot of blood splashed upon his coat. In that moment he was caught into a new life; he crossed the sea, became a priest, and, thirteen years later, after very terrible sufferings, died the same death as Campion’s on the gallows at York. 

The quotation has unfortunately been edited to remove Waugh’s background description of Henry Walpole, which makes the passage somewhat less gruesome and even adds a bit of Wavian irony. Walpole is described by Waugh as a:

…Cambridge wit, minor poet, satirist, flaneur, a young man of birth, popular, intelligent, slightly romantic. He came of a Catholic family and occasionally expressed Catholic sentiments, but until that day had kept his distance from [Catholic sympathizers], and was on good terms with authority. He was a typical member of that easy-going majority, on whom the Elizabethan settlement depended, who would have preferred to live under a Catholic regime but accepted the change without any serious regret. He had an interest in theology and had attended Campion’s conferences with the Anglican clergy. [1946 edition, p. 230].

Walpole was later canonized in 1970, at the same time as Campion, and along with the other “40 English Martyrs”.  At the time Waugh wrote, they were not yet Saints but had been beatified.  

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