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Our Heritage

History of Our Patron

Blessed Edmund Sykes was born in Leeds, no date is certain for when he was born, some giving the date 1550, but he lived during the time of persecution for Catholics known as the Reformation.

Very little is known about the life of Edmund Sykes, especially during the time of his youth. During his adult life, he studied for the priesthood at the College in Reims, France, and was ordained priest on 21st February 1581, from which he was sent to work in the English missions, which put him in danger of execution due to the illegality of being a Catholic priest in this country.

When arriving back in England, most of his time was spent working in and around the area of Leeds. He travelled around the area for around three years, when he suddenly became very ill. During his time of illness, he was handed over to the authorities by a man called Arthur Webster, an apostate Catholic, and he was sent to York. In compliance with what the law demanded, he attended a Protestant service, but he did not repeat the act, meaning that he would remain a prisoner in York. He stayed a prisoner for around six months, where he was again tried and sentenced to banishment.

Upon leaving the country in August 1585, Sykes went to the English College in Rome for a period of nine days. After this, he began discerning what it was God wanted him to do. He discerned that he had to go back to England and continue the work he had started. So, after a short period in Reims, he began the journey back to England to continue on the missions. He stayed out of England less than a year, leaving Reims in July 1586.

His return to England was not a very long one. After around six months on the missions, his brother, whose house Sykes had been staying in, handed him over to the authorities again.. He was sent to York Castle as a prisoner and after a short period he was condemned as a traitor due to him being a Catholic priest. On 23rd March 1587 he was taken to York Tyburn, where he suffered the death penalty, making him a martyr.

He was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II on the 22nd November 1987.

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