Saint of the Day – 19 October – Saint Philip Howard (1557–1595) Martyr, Married Layman, Father, Convert, 13th Earl of Arundel, Born on 28 June 1557 at Norfolk, England and died on 19 October 1595 of malnutrition after eleven years in the Tower of London, London, England. Patronages – Arundel and Brighton, England, Diocese of, victims of betrayal, difficult marriages, falsely accused people, separated spouses. Additional Memorial – 25 October as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
St Philip, born on 28 June 1557, was 13th Earl of Arundel. His father Thomas, IV Duke of Norfolk, was beheaded by Queen Elizabeth in 1572 for involvement in the affair of Mary, Queen of Scots. Philip Howard, Baptised by the Archbishop of York in the Chapel of Whitehall Palace, had Philip of Spain as one of his Godfathers.
Philip married Anne, daughter of Lord Dacre of Gilsland, when he was fourteen. He graduated at St John’s College, Cambridge in 1574 and was about eighteen when he attended Queen Elizabeth’s Court. Handsome, high-born, quick-witted and articulate, he neglected his wife and God.
A London event in 1581 proved to be life altering for Philip. A debate took place: on one side was a group of Protestant scholars. On the other, was [St] Father Edmund Campion, a Jesuit Priest, physically weak from torture on the notoriously grisly rack but still mentally sharp and another English Priest, [St.] Father Ralph Sherwin. With no opportunity to prepare, they defended the Faith persuasively, which greatly impressed young Philip. These humble suffering Confessors awakened Philip’s soul and he returned to Arundel to think about reconciliation with the Catholic Church, which he knew meant death. Sadly, both Campion and Sherwin were martyred by the British throne before the end of 1581. Philip reformed his life. Not only did he reconcile with his wife, Anne, he became quite dedicated to her. In 1584, he was received into the Catholic Church and became devoted to the practice of the Faith, although it was necessary for him to keep this quiet. Philip and Anne were suspected of sheltering persecuted Jesuit Priests in their home. The change in Philip was noted by the Queen and he sensed that he was in danger.
In 1585 he made a plan to escape from his London home to Belgium with his family and his brother. He sent a long letter of explanation to the Queen and the group set out from Littlehampton on the south coast of England. Before they could reach their destination, he was arrested at sea and returned to London.
Philip was convicted of treason for being a Roman Catholic and for leaving England without permission. He was fined £10,000 and imprisoned in the Tower of London in April of 1585. Three years later, he was accused again of treason because he allegedly prayed in prison for the success of the Spanish Armada. This mid-1588 Spanish naval effort to remove Queen Elizabeth from the British throne and re-establish Catholicism, was unsuccessful. Interestingly, King Philip II of Spain was Philip Howard’s Godfather at his infant Baptism as well as his namesake. Philip was tried in April of 1589 and as was usually the case at the time, with accused Catholics, the extremely biased outcome was a sentence of execution. The execution required the Queen’s signature but she never signed it. Since Philip did not know this, he was left in prison thinking that his death was imminent. Instead, he was left to die in prison after having been placed there at age twenty-eight. He was allowed study and devotional books and spent his time in prayer, study and penance. He prayed ardently to be able to see his wife and children again; the youngest, his only son, was born after his incarceration. His trial and imprisonment were totally at Queen Elizabeth’s pleasure–the only treason he had committed was being reconciled to the Catholic Church.
One of the Priests who had been sheltered by the Howards was [St] Robert Southwell, who was also being held in the Tower. Philip’s pet dog served as a go-between for the men, who supported and encouraged each other with messages. By the autumn of 1595, he was dying and made one last plea to the Queen to be able to see his wife and children. Her reply was that if he would just attend one Protestant service, he would see his family and regain the Queen’s favour. “Good Queen Bess” indeed! He refused, and died alone on 19 October 1595 at age thirty-eight. He is believed to have contracted dysentery and suffering from malnutrition but some suspected that he was poisoned. He was 39 years old and had spent the last eleven years of his life in the Tower of London. He was buried in the Tower Church with his father and grandfather. Anne, who continued to protect and provide for renegade Priests, obtained permission in 1624 to transfer his remains to Arundel Castle.
Written on the step before the Shrine is this inscription: ‘The more affliction we endure for Christ in this world, the more glory we shall obtain with Christ in the next‘. This is a translation of the original Latin cut by St Philip over the fireplace in the Beauchamp Tower, which visitors to the Tower of London can still see: Quanto plus afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum Christo in futuro. Arundell – 22 June 1587.
The Cathedral of Arundell and Brighton is named for St Philip Howard. It had been named for St Philip Neri before the Canonisation of today’s Saint in 1970.