Saint Alexander Briant, Jesuit Priest and Martyr
Somerset, England, about 1556 – Tyburn, London, December 1, 1581
Roman Martyrology: In London, England, Saint Edmund Campion, Rodolfo Sherwin and Alexander Briant, priests and martyrs under Queen Elizabeth I, celebrated for their ingenuity and strength in faith. Edmund, who from an early age he professed the Catholic faith, admitted into the Society of Jesus in Rome and was ordained priest in Prague, he returned home, where, for their efforts in comforting the souls of the faithful with his words and his writings , was killed, after many torments, at Tyburn. With him suffered the same torments the saints Rudolph and Alexander, the second of which he obtained in prison to be admitted into the Society of Jesus.
Alexander Briant is one of 40 martyrs of England and Wales canonized by Pope Paul VI October 25, 1970, as dying for their loyalty to the Church of Rome and the Pope
After the appearance of publications of the Fathers Campion and Persons, the English authorities immediately tried to capture the two Jesuits and several other Catholic activists. Among them it was Alexander Briant, young secular priest born in Somerset around 1556. He had the opportunity to renew his allegiance to the Holy See during his time at Hart Hall in Oxford. He then went abroad at the seminary of Douai, where he was ordained to the priesthood and returned home to carry out his ministry in the West.
When the house was searched, Briant was in a nearby house and then was arrested and taken to the prison of Counter. They tried every means tried to obtain information from him about the activities of other Priests. It was April 28, 1581. After six days of almost absolute fasting, he was transferred to the Tower of London and needles were stuck under his fingernails. Alexander is the only one of the martyrs who passed on the information about the torture to which he was subjected. Everything turned out, however useless and then he was abandoned for a week in an underground cell, after which he was tortured for two days tol the extreme. Norton, chief of the torturers, was actually punished for his extreme cruelty.
While incarcerated in the Tower, Briant addressed a letter to the English Jesuits to describe the torture they endured: “I was unconscious and almost relieved from all pain and suffering, and not only I was comforted, relieved and soothed the tortures endured by all […] God only knows if it was a miracle or not, but it is true, and so my conscience is a witness before God. According to Norton, however, it may have value to his testimony, Alexander felt pains as a result of torture inflicted.
In the same letter, the Briant asked to join the Society of Jesus, having made a vow to offer himself, if he had been released. For that reason, he now appears in the lists of Jesuit Martyrs.
Alexander Briant was tried in Westminster Hall with Thomas Ford and other comrades, with the same accusation of the priests celebrated Edmond Campion, Ralph Sherwin. He arrived in court with a small cross drawn in charcoal on a piece of wood with his head shaved. His appearance was “peaceful, innocent and sweet, almost like an angel.” Was eventually martyred at Tyburn on December 1, 1581 after the two priests mentioned above. With them he was later beatified in 1886 and canonized in 1970.
Author: Fabio Arduino
source: Santi e Beati