St. Edmund Campion was born on January 25, 1540, in London. He was so intelligent that at the age of 17, he was made a junior fellow at St. John’s College of Oxford University.
When Queen Elizabeth I visited the university, she was struck by Edmund’s intelligence, and told him to ask for anything he wanted. Edmund was dazzled by her praise, and eventually abandoned the Catholic faith he was raised with and took the Oath of Supremacy, acknowledging the queen as the head of the church. He also became an Anglican deacon.
But Edmund’s intellect saved him, bringing him back from Anglicanism to his Catholic faith. He returned to England, and witnessed the trial of a martyr for the faith. He too was suspected of being “too Catholic,” and soon realized that he was being called to minister to Catholic faithful who were being similarly persecuted.
Following this call, Edmund traveled to Rome, barefoot, and in 1573, joined the Society of Jesus. He was ordained a few years later and received a vision of the Virgin Mary, in which she told him he would die a martyr. He returned to England to convert Protestants, and won over many.
On July 17, 1581, Edmund was betrayed by one of the faithful who knew where he was staying, and was imprisoned. The queen offered Edmund untold riches if he gave up his faith, but he refused.
After a period of imprisonment in the Tower of London, Edmund was sentenced to death by hanging, drawing, and quartering. He was killed in Tyburn on December 1, 1581, and his death fueled the conversion of many to Catholicism. In 1970, Paul Paul VI made him a saint.