Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I think Peter Hitchens called it the "wondrous Elizabethan Settlement".


Because, he said, it "refused to make windows into men's souls and allowed Catholics and Protestants to forget their differences in a rather beautiful ambiguity."

Tell me, do Anglicans actually read any history of their "church"?

On my first and only visit to date of the Tower of London, I was fascinated to see the
actual inscriptions drawn by Saint Philip Howard whilst
he was jailed for ten long years in the Beauchamp Tower before dying of malnutrition.

Over the fireplace a Latin message, which can still be seen today, translates as:
"The more suffering for Christ in this world the more Glory with Christ in the next,"
etc. It is signed "Arundel, June 22, 1587."

In some ways, the story of Saint Philip is similar to that of St Alban Roe. They both
were Protestants and converted to the Catholic faith through the example of other
recusants. But their stories are in the same way markedly different in that St Alban
was a humble monk whilst St Philip was a nobleman, a relation of the queen he would
eventually, at least according to the tyrannical law of the land, betray. These two
diverse backgrounds give us just a flavour of the richness and variety of faithful
people who helped keep Catholicism alive in Britain.

Born at Arundel House in London on June 28 1557, Philip was the grandson of poet
Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, who was executed under Henry VIII in 1547. His
father, Thomas Howard, was the Duke of Norfolk, one of the wealthiest landowners in
the country. Thomas was eventually executed in 1572 for allegedly playing a part in a
1570 plot to assassinate his cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, and replace her with Mary I
of Scotland.

His father, who had conformed to the State religion, educated him partly under John
Foxe, the Protestant martyrologist. Philip was then sent to St John’s College,
Cambridge University. At the age of 14, he married Anne Dacre. Philip’s father had
taken Anne’s mother as his third wife by that time. In fact, Elizabeth, the widow of
Lord Dacre of Gillesland, matched her other two daughters with Thomas’ two other
sons. After Philip graduated, Anne eventually converted to Catholicism and became the
patroness of, amongst other priests, Fr Robert Southwell. She founded the noviate of
the Jesuits at Ghent, Belgium.

On February 24, Philip succeeded his father as Earl of Arundel. Frequenting the
Court, the witty, talented dancer fell into favour with the queen and began to
entertain her at his residence. He was not very well behaved at this time, having
numerous affairs whilst his wife was at home.

But one day was to change Philip’s life forever. He was present during Edmund
Campion’s staged disputations and began to be convinced by his arguments. Campion’s
speech is thought to be one of the earliest defences of Catholicism.

When his wife converted with one of Philip’s sisters, Lady Margaret Sackville, Anne
was placed under house arrest in Surrey, where she had their baby Elizabeth. The
Howards had many enemies and Elizabeth was definitely one of them.

As the Catholic revival gained strength, the earl found himself suspected and out of
favour. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a short while as suspicion
intensified about his religion. Shortly after being released, he went back to his
wife and on September 30, 1584, he was received into the Catholic Church by Father
William Weston.

As his change in lifestyle was constantly being monitored, Philip made a getaway on
a boat with relatives but was intercepted and arrested at sea in April 1585. It is
thought that one of his servants shopped him to the authorities. The group was
dispersed and sent to several different prisons, with the Earl of Arundel going back
to the Tower. He would never have his freedom again. There he was beaten, accused of
treason and fined a whopping sum of £10000 despite not being charged with anything.

After four years in prison at the queen’s pleasure, he was tried for having favoured
the excommunication of the queen, and for praying for the Spanish Armada invaders.
It doesn’t really seem clear how the authorities could prove what he said in his
prayers. As usual, he was found guilty and sentenced to death, despite the evidence
presented against him being fraudulent. Philip defended himself, saying that he had
not committed treason and that the only reason he was in prison was because of his
profession of faith.

Unlike most of the English and Welsh martyrs, Saint Philip Howard didn’t even make it
to the gallows. As a close prisoner for ten years altogether, he suffered with
several ailments. Severe malnutrition cost him his life on October 19 1595.

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