Saint Alexander Briant

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Alexander Briant in the church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, England; swiped with permission from the site of Brother Lawrence Lew, OPMemorial


Born to a yoeman family, described as a handsome young man, and raised Protestant. Studied in Oxford. Convert to Catholicism. Studied at the English College at Rheims, France. Ordained on 29 March 1578.

Returned to Somersetshire, England as a missioner in August 1579. Arrested on 28 April 1581 in London at the home of Father Robert Persons. Tortured in the Tower of London, partially for information on Father Robert’s location. During this misery, he wrote to the Jesuits, asking for admission; they accepted him sometime in his last weeks in prison.

Condemned to death with six other priests on 16 November 1581 at Westminster for the treason of priesthood. Martyred with Saint Ralph Sherwin and Saint Edmund Campion in the persecutions of Queen Elizabeth I. One of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

In prison, Alexander made himself a small wooden cross, and gripped it tightly all the times, even during trial. In the courtroom it was wrestled away from him. He told the judge, “You can take it out of my hands, but not out of my heart.” The cross was later bought by Catholics, and is at the English College at Rome.





Additional Information

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Alexander Briant“. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 November 2021. Web. 9 December 2021. <>