Brian Arrowsmith was born in 1585 in the small hamlet of Haydock, Lancashire near England’s west coast to devout Catholic parents. Faith and perseverance ran in his blood. Because of their faith, both of his grandfathers were regulars at the local prison, and in one instance his grandfather Nicholas was forced to attend a protestant service, where he was promptly dragged back to prison after loudly singing the hymns in Latin.Share
Brian’s parents fared no better, and were often dragged to jail, leaving a young Brian to feed and care for his siblings. Though his family came from noble stock, the perpetual fines soon drove them to destitution and near starvation. During this hardship, Brian never abandoned his faith, and by his teenage years, he began considering the priesthood; a vocation that meant certain imprisonment or martyrdom.
When he was 20, Edmund was able to sneak out of England to study at the College of Doui in France, a university now immortalized by the Douay Rheims Bible translation. While at Douai, Brian received the sacrament of confirmation, where he took the name Edmund, in honor of the martyr Edmund Campion, a name he was fittingly called for the rest of his life. Edmund was ordained 1612 and was presented with an unenviable choice: instead of remaining in the comforts of Catholic France, Edmund chose instead to return to his native England and tend to his hunted flock. (Read more.)