Wednesday, October 19, 2011

St. Philip Howard: Affliction in This Life; Glory with Jesus in the Next

St. Philip Howard died in the Tower of London on October 19, 1595. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundell and Brighton features this biography:

St Philip, born 28 June 1557, was thirteenth 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 but the turning point came in 1581 when he was present at a disputation in the Tower of London between a group of Catholic prisoners, Fr Edmund Campion, Jesuit, Fr Ralph Sherwin, Priests and others. 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.

His trial and imprisonment were totally at Queen Elizabeth's pleasure--the only treason he had committed was being reconciled to the Catholic Church.

Thereon began his long term of imprisonment, never knowing from day to day which would be his last. Each day he spent several hours in prayer and meditation; he was noted for his patience in suffering and courtesy to unkind keepers. Weakened by malnutrition and not without a suspicion of having been poisoned, he died on 19 October 1595. He was 39 years old and had spent the last eleven years of his life in the Tower of London.

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 canonization of today's saint in 1970. More about the cathedral here.

One of the most horrible aspects of his long imprisonment and then his imminent death is that when he asked permission to see the son with whom his wife was pregnant when St. Philip was imprisoned, Elizabeth I placed a condition on it. He would have to conform to the Church of England and deny his faith. "Good Queen Bess" indeed. After his death he was buried in St. Peter ad Vincula but was entombed at the cathedral after his canonization and his shrine is described here.

I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show today at 7:45 a.m. Eastern/6:45 a.m. Central to discuss this great saint with Brian Patrick.


  1. a-ha, but that baby lived, did he not? And thru that child, the FitzAlan-Howard family still sits as the (very RC) Dukes of Norfolk/Earls of Arundel today. In spite of all the judicial murders, the Howards live on, and the Tudors are extinct.

    1. As far as I know, St. Philip's son grew up to succeed him as the Earl of Arundel, known as Thomas Howard "the Collector Earl" - if I'm not mistaken, many of the pieces from Thomas Howard's collection of Greek statues are in the Ashmolean in Oxford today.

  2. I wonder if King Henry VIII would have denied Phillip seeing his son;
    That is terribly cruel and yet didn't royalty at that time believe
    Themselves to be placed on the throne by God?

    1. I don't know if Henry VIII would have had such mercy either. He certainly showed little compassion on St. John Fisher, for example, an ordained priest and bishop who was not even allowed to attend Mass in the Tower of London, much less celebrate Mass.

    2. Also, since they were on the throne I think they regarded all their actions to keep themselves on the throne as necessary and worthy of God's approval, since they fulfilled His will for them to be on the throne!