Catholics in England suffered official repression for some 300 years (along with today’s widespread anti-Catholic bigotry)

STONOR, England (AP) — For nearly three centuries after the Reformation, Catholics in England were outlaws.

But in the turmoil and persecution that followed the break between King Henry VIII and Rome, noble families such as the Stonors clung to their faith, “in spite of dungeon, fire and sword,” as the Victorian hymn “Faith of our Fathers” put it.

“We’re just stubborn, really,” says Ralph Thomas Campion Stonor, the seventh Lord Camoys, a title bestowed on an ancestor for valor in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.

Pope Benedict XVI will recall the years of persecution during his upcoming tour of Britain Sept. 16-19. He will visit Westminster Hall, the medieval chamber within the Houses of Parliament where the Catholic Thomas More was tried and convicted of treason in 1535. More refused to swear an oath accepting the annulment of King Henry’s marriage, thus becoming one of the first of the legion of English Catholic martyrs.

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