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St. Edmund Arrowsmith

Why his ministry was secret

born:1585

died: 1628

feast day:  August 28

Claim to fame: Brian Arrowsmith, who preferred to use his confirmation name, Edmund, was the son of Catholics during a time when the Catholic Church was persecuted in England. He went to France to be ordained a priest in 1611, then returned home to England to minister in secret to the Catholics in his home region of Lancashire. He was arrested for practicing his faith in 1622, then surprisingly freed by a pardon issued by King James I. He entered the Jesuit order in 1623 and once more returned to England, where he ministered until his martyrdom in 1628.

Little-known fact: The “Holy Hand” of St. Edmund is still preserved as a relic at St. Oswald’s Church in Ashton, England, near the saint’s birthplace. The hand was cut from St. Edmund’s body after his death by a fellow Catholic, and many miracles have been attributed to it.

What made him a saint: St. Edmund was known for his “fervor, zeal and ready wit,” and for his energy and pleasant disposition, even in times of great trial. He persisted in the practice of his faith in the midst of persecution, working to make sure that the spiritual needs of the Catholics in his care were met.

Lowest/scariest moment: When he was a child, Edmund’s parents were arrested and dragged off to jail because of their Catholic faith. The little boy was left home alone and frightened, wondering whether he would ever see his mother and father again.

Best quote: At his execution, St. Edmund urged his fellow Catholics to remain true, saying, “Be witnesses with me that I die a constant Roman Catholic and for Christ’s sake; let my death be an encouragement to your going forward in the Catholic religion.”

How did he die: After working as a Jesuit for four years, Edmund was betrayed and arrested for being a Catholic priest. He was sentenced to death; and was hanged, drawn and quartered on August 28. He is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, who represent more than 300 lay and religious men and women who died for their faith and loyalty to the church between 1535 and 1679.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you gave St. Edmund Arrowsmith the courage to be steadfast in his faith during a time of persecution. Help us to boldly proclaim and practice our faith, especially during times and situations when it would be easier to remain silent. Amen.