Saint Edmund Arrowsmith SJ (1585 – 28 August 1628) is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales of the Roman Catholic Church. The main source of information on St Edmund is a contemporary account written by an eyewitness and published a short time after his death. This document, conforming to the ancient style of the "Acts of martyrs" includes the story of the execution of another 17th-century Recusant martyr, Richard Herst.
Edmund was born at Haydock, St Helens, Lancashire, England in 1585, the eldest child of Robert Arrowsmith, a yeoman farmer, and Margery Gerard, a member of an important Lancashire Catholic family. Among his mother's relations was Father John Gerard, who wrote The Diary of an Elizabethan Priest, as well as another martyr, the Blessed Miles Gerard. He was baptised Brian, but always used his confirmation name of Edmund. The family was constantly harassed for its adherence to Roman Catholicism. One of his grandfathers, died a confessor in prison. His parents were taken to Lancaster jail; the four children, were cared for by neighbours.
In 1605, at the age of twenty, Edmund left England and went to the English College, Douai to study for the priesthood. He was soon forced to return to England due to ill health, but recovered and returned to Douai in 1607.
He was ordained in Arras on 9 December 1612, and sent on the English mission a year later. He ministered to the Catholics of Lancashire without incident until around 1622, when he was arrested and questioned by the Anglican Bishop of Chester. Edmund was released when King James I of England ordered all arrested priests be freed. He joined the Jesuits in 1624.
In the summer of 1628, Fr. Edmund was reportedly betrayed by a man named Holden, who denounced him to the authorities. He was convicted of being a Roman Catholic priest in England. He was sentenced to death, and hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster on 28 August 1628. His final confession was heard by Saint John Southworth, who was imprisoned along with Edmund.
Arrowsmith ministered to Catholics of Lancashire at the still-standing Arrowsmith House, located in Hoghton before being arrested and questioned on Brindle Moss where his horse refused to jump a ditch.
Edmund Arrowmith's beatification occurred in 1929. He was canonized as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope Paul VI in 1970. His feast days are 28 August alone and 25 October with 39 others. His hand was preserved and kept by the Arrowsmith family as a relic until he was beatified and it now rests in the Catholic Church of St Oswald and St Edmund Arrowsmith, Ashton-in-Makerfield.
Lancaster Cathedral celebrates St Edmund as one of the Lancashire Martyrs, whose feast is kept throughout the diocese on 7 August each year. St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School is located in Ashton-in-Makerfield in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, Greater Manchester, England. There is also St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic Centre for Learning in Whiston, Merseyside