Saturday, February 18, 2012

St. Edmund Campion, Blessed William Harrington, and Henry Donne

Blessed William Harrington was born in 1566. When he was 15 years old, the hunted priest, Edmund Campion visited his family home, Mount St. John. Impressed by the future martyr and saint, William left England and studied for the priesthood and prepared for the Jesuit order in 1582. He had to return to England however, because he became ill. In February, 1591, however, he was able to return once more to Reims, and, having been ordained, returned at midsummer 1592. The next May he fell into the hands of the English authorities, and nine months later was executed at Tyburn on 18 February 1594.

One of those who had assisted the young priest (he was about 28 years old when he suffered), was Henry Donne, John Donne's brother. Henry was arrested, implicated William Harrington under torture, and died of the plague in Newgate Prison. John and Henry's mother, Elizabeth Heywood was the great niece of St. Thomas More, and their family was a devoutly Catholic recusant family. John Donne would eventually leave the Catholic Church and take orders in the Church of England, serving as Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral during the reigns of James I and Charles I.

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