Tag Archives: Oxford




We may safely extol the merits of the blessed Father [St Edmund of Abingdon], for he is now secure; he who, manfully handling the rudder of faith, has now cast the anchor of hope in a snug harbour, has brought his ship, laden with heavenly riches and eternal rewards, to the shore for which he longed. For a long time he opposed the shield of the fear of God unflinchingly against all enemies until the victory was won. For what was the course of his life, but one long conflict with a watchful foe?

How often did he not open the eyes of blind souls, who were wandering from the way of truth, and already hanging from the edge of a precipice over the abyss, and restore to them their sight, that they might see Christ? How often did he give the precious gift of hearing to ears that were deaf, afflicted by being stopped up by unbelief, that they might perceive the voice of the heavenly commandments; that they might hear God calling them to forgiveness, and might answer by obedience? How often did he not heal the wounds of the spirit by the skill of his prayers and angelic words?

How many, enfeebled by long neglect of the stain of sin and, as it were, full of infection of leprosy, have been cleansed by the grace of God working in him, and expiated through his teaching and discipline? How many, living in body, but already dead in soul and overwhelmed and buried beneath the weight of their sins, has he not raised to life in God, by calling them to amendment, as it were, to light? For, marvellous imitator of his Lord, he brought souls to a life-giving death, by which they die indeed to sin, but live unto God.

– From: Sermon of St Maximus, Bishop, ‘on the feast day of a Confessor Bishop’, from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964



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St Edmund Campion, martyr; memorial: 1st December

“More than four centuries after his martyrdom Edmund Campion became one of the most venerated of Reformation saints, his heroics and sacrifice on a par with those of More, Fisher and Mayne.

Champion was born in 1540. His father was a bookseller in Paternoster Row by St Paul’s Cathedral. He was educated at Christ’s Hospital, now in Sussex but then in London. When Queen Mary visited the school, he was chosen to make the welcoming speech at the age of 13.

He was chosen to make the welcoming speech for the Queen at the age of 13

He received his BA from St John’s College, Oxford, in 1560, by which time Elizabeth was on the throne and he was forced to take the oath of supremacy.

In 1566, when the Queen visited the university, it was Camion’s job to welcome her and she is said to have admired him.

The following year he was honoured with the task of giving the oration at the funeral of Sir Thomas White, the founder of the college.

He took a remorse of conscience and detestation of mind

Champion was persuaded to become a deacon, but ‘he took a remorse of conscience and detestation of mind’, when rumours began to spread of his supposed Catholic sympathies, he left for Ireland for study, and in 1571 moved to Douai, where he was formally received back into the Catholic Church, receiving the Eucharist for the first time in 12 years. He entered the new English College in Douai and travelled to Rome on foot in 1573.

Ten reasons

There he was the first novice accepted by the Jesuits and was ordained a priest. He spent six years in Prague at the Jesuit college as professor of rhetoric and philosophy.

In 1580 his fateful mission to his homeland began, even though it was a capital offence for a priest to enter the country, which had become increasingly extreme in its attitudes to Catholicism.

Disguised as a jewel merchant on June 24 1580, he began to preach, but soon the authorities were on to him. He went on the run around the country, preaching to recusant families.

At this time he wrote¬†Decem Rationes¬†(‘Ten Reasons’) which was a great sensation, but he was soon captured and taken to London wearing a hat with a paper stuck to it bearing the inscription ‘Champion, the Seditious Jesuit’.

He was imprisoned and tortured on the rack three times

He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for four moths and tortured on the rack three times, but he would not retract.

He was indicted on November 14 1581 on charges of trying to dethrone Elizabeth, and along with Fr Ralph Sherwin and Fr Alexander Briant, was hanged at Tyburn on December 1.”

– This article was published The Catholic Herald newspaper, issue November 28 2014. For subscriptions please visit (external link)


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…John Duns Scotus didn’t just wear a Franciscan habit, he was Franciscan through and through like “Franciscan Rock”. Unlike many priests and intellectuals who became Franciscans after their initial training, Scotus was firstly grounded in Franciscan Spirituality from the age of 15 by his uncle Elias at the Friary in Dumfries in Scotland, where he had joined the Order.

He was born around 1266 and went to Oxford in about 1289, so he must have spent about eight years living and imbibing the spirit of St Francis first. The works that would have had the greatest influence on him would have been the writings of Francis himself, most especially his “Rule and Testament” and his “Admonitions”, then St Bonaventure’s “Life of St Francis” and his two great spiritual works, “The Tree of Life” and the “Itinerarium Mentis in Deum”. It would be difficult to say how many of the other early lives or writings about Francis would have been available to him, possibly none of them. This was because once St Bonaventure had completed his authoritative “Life of St Francis”, other early writings were all ordered to be burnt by the Chapter held in 1266 in the interest of fraternal unity.

Above all other works then, this work became mandatory reading for all prospective friars. It was in this work that he first read about the revelation of the “Primacy of Love” that was to dominate his theological thought. It was of the interval just after Francis saw the Seraph approach and just before he received the stigmata that Bonaventure wrote: “Eventually he understood by a revelation that he was to be totally transformed into the likeness of Christ crucified, not by the martyrdom of the flesh, but by the fire of His love consuming his soul”.

Like any novice, John Duns Scotus would be taught how to pray, beginning at the beginning. The beginning was meditating on the life of Jesus on earth, and there was simply no better companion to the Scriptures for this purpose than Bonaventure’s work: “The Tree of Life”. Once an experienced director, whether it was his uncle Elias or another, discovered that his meditation had led John into contemplative prayer, he would have placed in his hands the “Itinerarium Mentis in Deum”. This would have enabled him to understand why, and how, he was now being led into the mystic way. It would explain too why he wasn’t just interested in theology because he wanted to enter into theological speculation for the sake of it, or for academic preferment like many of his contemporaries, but for something more important.

For Scotus the very raison d’etre of all theology is to love God, and through love to seek communion with Him. This he discovered firstly by reading Bonaventure’s “Life of St Francis” and secondly through reading the “Itinerarium” inspired by the revelation of the “Primacy of Love” and written by St Bonaventure at La Verna, the very place where that revelation had been received. That is why John Duns Scotus’ theological inspiration didn’t begin at Oxford or Paris, but at La Verna, where he learnt from the revelation that Francis received there the absolute importance of the “Primacy of Love”. This key revelation then, was not only the inspiration for St Bonaventure’s “Itinerarium Mentis in Deum”, but for the mystical theology of Blessed John Duns Scotus.
– This is an excerpt from the article “Real Franciscan” by D.Torkington, published in the “Messenger of Saint Anthony”, issue December 2012. For subscriptions etc. contact: Messenger of Saint Anthony, Basilica del Santo, via Orto Botanico 11, 35123 Padua, Italy.


O Most High, Almighty and gracious God, Who exalt the humble and confound the proud at heart, grant us the great joy of seeing Blessed John Duns Scotus canonized. He honoured Your Son with the most sublime praises; he was the first to successfully defend the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary; he lived in heroic obedience to the Pope, to the Church and to the Seraphic Order. O most holy Father, God of infinite love, hear, we beseech You, our humble prayer, through the merits of Your Only-Begotten Son and of His Mother, Coredemptrix and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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