The Catholic Church in England
Whilst it would be foolish to see the English Reformation as anything less than a thoroughgoing dismantling of the institutions of the Catholic Church, and its impact as nothing less than devastating, we must be aware that throughout the see-sawing of the religious landscape of the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Mary, a significant proportion of the population continued to stand for the faith and to practice whether in public or private. Although by Elizabeth’s reign the Catholic population, repressed and denied its legitimacy, could only be said to be a minority it could not be wholly expunged. A new era had begun and one in which the bravery and steadfastness of those who held to the faith would become legendary under penal conditions. English Catholicism adapted to its new and hostile circumstances by going largely underground and re-establishing its organisational centres abroad from which missionary activity ceaselessly flowed.