Arrowsmith, Edmund, St.

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Jesuit priest and martyr; b. Haydock, near St. Helens, England, 1585; hanged, drawn, and quartered at Lancaster, Aug. 28, 1628. This son of Robert Arrowsmith, a yeoman farmer of Lancashire, and Margery Gerard of Bryn, both of whom had been imprisoned for their faith, was christened Brian and in Confirmation took the name Edmund, by which he was henceforth known. After his father's death he was educated by an old priest, who in December 1605 sent him to the English College, Douai. There, after delays caused by ill health, he was ordained in 1612; the following year he returned to Lancashire. His forthright speech and fearlessness put his life in such constant danger that a friend recommended in jest that he should always carry salt in his pocket to season his actions. About 1622 he was caught and examined before the Anglican bishop of Chester, but he was released; for at this time James I, interested in a Spanish match for his son, was anxious that his officials should show clemency to Catholics. Later Arrowsmith entered the Society of Jesus in the London novitiate at Clerkenwell, where his name appears on the lists of the house when it was raided in 1628. Shortly after his return to Lancashire, he was betrayed by Holden, a young man whom he had reproved for his immoral life. At Lancaster assizes in August 1628 Arrowsmith came before Sir Henry Yelverton and was indicted for being a priest. Although the evidence against him was inadequate, he was sentenced to death and for two days was left without food and heavily manacled in a cell so narrow that he was unable to lie down. In the prison yard on his way to execution he received absolution from St. John southworth, who was also confined in Lancaster castle. Until his last moment Arrowsmith was heckled by ministers with the promise of his life if he would renounce his faith. He pleaded: "Tempt me no more. I will not do it, in no case, on no condition." His last words were "Bone Jesu." His hand is preserved in the Catholic Church of St. Oswald at Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan, and has been the source of many remarkable cures. He was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929 and canonized by Paul VI on Oct. 25, 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Feast: Aug. 28; Oct. 25 (Feast of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales); May 4 (Feast of the English Martyrs in England); Dec. 1 (Jesuits).

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: A True and Exact Relation of Two Catholicks Who Suffered for Their Religion at Lancaster in 1628 (London 1737), repr. and modernized in Bl. Edmund Arrowsmith (Postulation pamphlet; London 1960). g. burns, Gibbets and Gallows (London 1944). b. camm, Forgotten Shrines (St. Louis 1910). h. foley, ed., Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 7 v. (London 187782) 7.1:1819. r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924; repr. Farnborough 1969). j. n. tylenda, Jesuit Saints & Martyrs (Chicago 1998) 26870. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints (New York 1956) 3:439440.

[g. fitzherbert]