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The Renaissance with its important humanist movement was a major reason for the Protestant Reformation. With the questioning of church practices and doctrines, eventually many people and some European states left the Roman Catholic Church.

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While the Anglican Church became the new established faith of England, not everyone favored this change, publicly or privately. He personally went to England only once in either or The Jesuits did this through global missionary work, the establishment of churches, schools and hospitals. They successfully reconverted many Europeans to Catholicism beginning during the s with the start of the Catholic Reformation.

England was one of only a few European states that became exclusively Protestant. Its neighboring colony of Ireland remained Catholic and its border state of Scotland included Catholicism and was ruled for a period of the mids by the very Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. McCoog, S. Brill, , Clancy, S.

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The planning of a Jesuit mission to England was greatly influenced and advanced by a man named William Allen who would later be named a cardinal. His college catered to many men who would become Jesuits, eager to bring Catholicism back to England and support those subjects who practiced the faith underground. The Jesuits had more Englishmen than any other religious order at the time.

The college grew quickly between and They could speak to educated people in English and use their knowledge of Scripture to counter what people were hearing or reading in the English Bible and Book of Common Prayer. Wherever the Jesuits went, they sought to learn the language of the people, preaching to them on their level and in their native language.

This would be especially important in Elizabethan England as it moved further away from Catholicism. Men at Douay also studied church history, including the decrees of the Council of Trent, received instruction in catechesis and meditated regularly on the mysteries of the rosary. Allen expected his seminarians to be educated and knowledgeable about all religious matters, especially with more 17 Basset, For him, it was vital that these young men understand their mission in life and be able to work with underground Catholics and proselytize to those who were Anglican.

Allen favored armed intervention with papal approval and Spanish might. When events did not go according to plan and the government clamped down on Catholicism, he promoted a militant, papal supported invasion, which occurred by the Spanish Armada in Allen was a well-educated Englishman, who saw the need to use religion for political purposes. He did not believe that Catholics and Protestants could live in peace together. Throughout the s and s, Fr. He had fought Muslims in Turkey and Protestants in the Netherlands.

Allen saw Spain as his greatest potential ally in his quest to restore Catholicism to his native England. This meant that she was a heretic who could be overthrown by her Catholic subjects. While the papal bull freed the English people from allegiance to the queen, most Catholics maintained their allegiance to the crown.

Those Catholics who were educated noticed the differences and maintained their faith behind closed doors. Not attending church services was punishable by fine or imprisonment. In Parliament made conversion to Catholicism an act of treason. The country gentry were especially key to Catholic survival. Missionary priests could use the excommunication as a reason to gain support for people who were underground Catholics or those who were inclined to reconvert.


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It also meant that papal support was more probable. He knew that the Jesuits would be open to such a mission because of the nature of their work and objectives as a religious order.

However he also sought assistance from other seminarians and the holy father, viewing the mission as a Catholic and not strictly Jesuit led enterprise. Everard Mercurian was general of the Society of Jesus at the time and must have known William Allen as he was a Belgian and Allen lived in exile in Belgium.

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Mercurian doubted the 35 Clancy, Mercurian consulted with four assistants, and initially more of them were opposed to the mission than in favor of it. Any mission to England would be dangerous, controversial and would be declared by the English government as a stunt to replace Elizabeth. As a new order, they had no pre-Reformation associations and could not be suspected of self-interest or surreptitious ploys to recover ecclesiastical estates.

If the Society were to get involved now, it would reap benefits later. There were many English who had joined the order and there would likely be papal and perhaps even Spanish support and assistance for the enterprise. In the end the general of the Jesuit Order realized the work of a mission to England was too necessary and important to be put off or dismissed.

The Jesuits put their trust in God to 39 Basset, Priests would have to be disguised, would have few opportunities for quiet meditation and might clash with secular priests.

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They were to enter England to confirm Catholics in their faith, to absolve the lapsed and not to battle with heretics. William Allen prevailed in his quest to have a mission to England and he even reported that English Jesuits in Rome fell on their knees at the prospect of being selected.

Robert Persons or Parsons was made superior of the mission. He had assisted Allen in promoting it and resided in Rome at the time of the decision to send Jesuits to England. Thomas M. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, , He believed he owed a service to his country and knew that he could be captured and tortured. Edmund Campion was born in London in to a merchant. He studied at Oxford and impressed the queen upon a visit in the summer of , where he argued a case during an academic discussion.

Campion was assigned to the Austrian Province and stayed in Prague for six years. It will be dutiful, religious, and Christian in you to devote the rest of your life and some part of your extraordinary gifts to our beloved country, which has the greatest need of your labours in Christ. Campion was known as a great orator and devoted Jesuit who like Persons, was a 52 Reynolds, Allen appealed to him as a fellow English subject who could have a major impact on the enterprise. In March , Campion was officially notified of his assignment to go on the mission to England and he arrived in Rome on April 5th.

However the pope was also interested in seeing a change in leadership of England, if it were possible to do so without creating a war or revolution.


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The pope was not a missionary priest and at the time he had religious and political issues in mind. His goals were not the same as those of the Society of Jesus. To him, life would be easier if Elizabeth were eliminated and replaced with a Catholic monarch who would restore the old faith to merry old England. The idea was good in theory only. The Government simply refused to believe that missionary priests did not meddle in politics.

There were concerns about how the priests would live, who they should cater to and what they should and should not say and do. Allen wanted Catholicism restored to England, Mercurian wanted his men to be safe and focus on religious issues and practices, while the pope had a mix of political and religious motives, hoping the mission might lead to the overthrow of Elizabeth I. Upon leaving Rome, the missioners had what for most people of the day would be a lengthy and challenging journey to reach England.

Besides the three Jesuits, the party that left Rome together included the bishop of St. Asaph, an English penitentiary of St. However they had been advised only to not do so in England and Beza was not an Anglican so 69 Reynolds, Since they were disguised, he may not have known that they were Jesuit priests. Soon after leaving Geneva, Bishop Goldwell decided not to continue on to England, stating in a letter to the pope that there were too many spies and the mission was too dangerous for him.

They approached England by different routes. The Jesuits had managed to enter England without a problem and quickly began preparing for their missionary work. A great source of information about the experience of being part of the historic Jesuit mission to Elizabethan England comes from the preserved letters of Fr. Robert Persons. All Jesuit missionaries were expected to keep in touch with the father general and with each other.

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He begins by 75 Reynolds, He tells the magistrates they may arrest him and that God permits them to take harsh and extreme action against him. He goes on to mention un-Christian and cruel deeds the state has implemented by imprisoning Catholics. Persons appeals to the magistrates as a fellow Christian, Englishman and human being. He wants them to see that they are not really that different and that while they differ slightly in religion, they otherwise have a lot in common.

So if they apprehend him, he asks that they treat him with respect and listen to his ideas. Leo Hicks, S. This shows obedience, as Mercurian made it clear before they left Rome that the Jesuits were not to engage in politics or seek to overthrow the queen.