Our house patrons

Our house patrons are: St Edmund Campion, St John Fisher, St Philip Howard, St Cuthbert Mayne and St Ralph Sherwin. These five holy men suffered for their Catholic faith at a time when England was less tolerant of religious diversity.
The English Reformation left an indelible mark upon our country: Churches were lost, Abbeys and Convents destroyed and countless people suffered great hardships for remaining faithful to Christ and His Church. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that many of the laws and restrictions placed upon Catholics in England were finally repealed with the passing into law of the Catholic Emancipation Act. Today we can be guilty of occasionally taking the exercise of our faith for granted, we can easily attend Holy Mass and celebrate the Holy Sacraments in public without the threat of persecution or retribution.

St Edmund Campion

House festival celebrated in January each year

Edmund Campion was born in London, the son of a Catholic bookseller, who later became Protestant. He later became a Deacon of the Church of England and seemed destined to become a rising star in that church. However, he became uneasy about the validity of their teachings, convinced that religious truth lay with the Catholic Church. In June 1571 he left England to study at the English College at Douai where he was received into the Catholic faith.

Three years later he moved to Rome and entered the Jesuit noviciate and he was ordained a priest in 1578. In 1580 he returned to England as part of the English Mission, ministering to Catholics and during this time he wrote his famous pamphlet ‘Decem Rationes’ (Ten Reasons), which argued against the validity of the Church of England. The pamphlet was distributed anonymously and caused a sensation, leading to an increasingly intensive manhunt.

He was finally captured at Lyford Grange, near Wantage and taken to the Tower of London. Here he was questioned in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, who asked if he acknowledged her as the true Queen of England, however, he refused to renounce his Catholic faith and so remained in prison, being tortured several times. After spending his last days in prayer he was taken to Tyburn and hanged, drawn and quartered, a martyr for the Catholic faith. Edmund Campion was declared a Saint in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

St Edmund Campion, pray for us!

St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester

House festival celebrated in April each year

Saint John Fisher studied theology in Cambridge, England and became Bishop of Rochester. His friend Saint Thomas More wrote of him, ‘I reckon in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved virtue together, meet to be matched and compared with him.’

On the scaffold, before his execution, he said to the people assembled: 'Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, and I thank God hitherto my stomach hath served me very well thereunto, so that yet I have not feared death. Wherefore I do desire you all to help and assist me with your prayers, that at the very point and instant of death's stroke, I may in that very moment stand steadfast without fainting in any one point of the Catholic faith free from any fear; and I beseech Almighty God of His infinite goodness to save the king and this Realm, and that it may please Him to hold His holy hand over it, and send the king good Counsel.’

He then knelt, prayed, and submitted to the axe. St John Fisher, pray for us!

St Philip Howard

House festival celebrated in June each year

In a homily preached in October 1995, on the 400th anniversary of St Philip's martyrdom, the late Cardinal Basil Hume spoke these words concerning the Saint's suffering and his abandonment to God's will:

‘When condemned to death in 1589 Philip showed that cheerful embracing of God's will which was such a characteristic of all our English martyrs. Philip waited for his execution to take place. It never did. Why? The Queen, Elizabeth, never signed the death warrant. Philip, remarkably, was never told. So he expected each day to be his last. He lived every hour the martyr's cheerful and courageous acceptance of death.’ 

During his imprisonment, St Philip had written these words on the wall of his cell in the Tower of London: Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro Arundell - 22 June 1587. These words have been translated to read: 'The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next - Arundel, 22 June 1587'; and can now be found on the step before his shrine at Arundel Cathedral. St Philip did not merely believe these words, he lived them. 

St Philip Howard, pray for us!

St Cuthbert Mayne

House festival celebrated in February each year

A fellow at St John’s College, Oxford, Cuthbert was one of the first to begin a long tradition of graduates or students who were drawn to the Catholic priesthood from that institution. Cuthbert was a friend of Edmund Campion, and he was the first Englishman trained for the priesthood at Douai. 

After being ordained and joining the English mission, Cuthbert was caught very early on in his ministry and became a scapegoat for the vehemently anti-Catholic priest authorities in the late 16th century. Condemned for celebrating a Mass, he was hanged, drawn, and quartered on November 25. Cuthbert was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

St Cuthbert Mayne, Pray for us!

St Ralph Sherwin

House festival celebrated in September each year

A Derbyshire man, Ralph Sherwin showed such early promise that he was selected for a fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford. In 1575, however, he left Oxford, embraced Roman Catholicism, and he was ordained a priest in March 1577.

Sherwin arrived in England in August 1580 and preached in various parts before being arrested the following November. At his trial, he vigorously denied any attempt to raise rebellion saying, ‘the plain reason of our standing here is religion, not treason’. Before being hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on December 1st 1581, he kissed the executioner’s hands, which were still wet with Edmund Campion’s blood. 

St Ralph Sherwin, Pray for us!