Happy St. Brian’s Day!

Today is the feastday of St. Brian Arrowsmith, martyr. During the horrible persecutions of Queen Elizabeth I, he managed to work among English Catholics for 15 years. When he was finally caught and went to prison, he was unexpectedly released by King James I and expelled from England. So he got his strength back, joined the Jesuits, and returned for five more years’ work before he was caught again and executed.

He’s better known by his Confirmation name, as St. Edmund Arrowsmith. He preferred that name, so normally I’d say “go with it.” But I’ve seen people doubting before whether Brian really was a proper Christian name, so here you go! His parents were Catholics, they gave him a perfectly reasonable Christian name at his Baptism, and now it’s the name of a martyr. Good stuff all around.

Another martyr with roots in the North of England was Blessed Brian Lacey. Betrayed by his own brother, he was tortured and martyred just for encouraging his fellow Catholics and for helping and hiding priests.

Of course, Brian also applies from the martyrs of the clan of the ui Bhriain (O’Brian or O’Brien).

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