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June 7, 2024

Philip Howard: Freedom and Duty

June 7, 2024
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Servants of the King of Kings

He was born into the most powerful house in England. He experienced the heights of royal favor and the depths of persecution and scheming. Beginning his life as a rebellious youth, he would eventually take to heart the lesson that 'the more sufferings we endure for Christ in this world, the more joys we will have in the next.' He was known to different people as a witty courtier, a noble gentleman, a loving husband, and a wily enemy. most knew him, however, as Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel - and Saint.

Expectation and Responsibility

As a young man, Philip chafed under his family’s expectations. His parents arranged to have him married at the age of 12 in order to strengthen the family's power. As secret Catholics who had survived through Henry VIII's persecution of the Church, the Howards had to maintain absolute discipline and secrecy in order to keep power - and remain alive. Under the leadership of Philip's father, they had risen to become the most powerful family in England. Their position grew tenuous, however, leaving them vulnerable to their spiritual and temporal adversaries. In addition, Philip’s father and grandfather worried that he didn't have the discipline or desire to follow in their footsteps.

After intriguing with Mary, Queen of Scots, with the hope of placing a Catholic monarch on the throne of England, Philip's father was imprisoned. A few years later, when his father was executed, Philip only felt lost. He was sent to Oxford University by his guardian to receive an education in the humanities. There, he excelled in his studies, but ignored his family and his wife. After graduation, he was invited by Queen Elizabeth to join her court. There, he spent four years, enjoying the life of high society and the queen's favor.

A Change of Heart

In an unexpected blow, Philip's grandfather suddenly passed away. Philip was left with the massive responsibility of serving as the Earl of Arundel. At first, he worried that having spent his youth as he did, that he would be unfit to serve in such a position. However, he soon became fascinated with Parliament and government. He dedicated himself wholly to his work of service. Yet God was not only working in him a growth in responsibility. He was training him to be a Saint.

During one session in the House of Lords, Philip witnessed the trial of the famous Jesuit Edmund Campion. Campion's arguments utterly changed Philip's mind, and he turned with his whole heart back to the Church. This too, paired with his growth in responsibility, led Philip to a closer relationship with his wife Anne. At Anne's suggestion, they began to help hide priests at the Arundel house and hold secret masses.

The Downfall of the Earl

Over the next three years, Philip slowly fell out of favor with Queen Elizabeth. Between his duties as an Earl and his secret work in the Church, it became clear to her that Philip's loyalties lay elsewhere. When she learned that Philip had not attended a Protestant service in some time, She began to suspect he was a secret Catholic. She devised a test: a false letter from a Cardinal instructed him to flee to the continent. On the way, Philip's ship was intercepted, and his Catholicism was proved.

Philip would spend the next ten years imprisoned for his faith. He remained patient in the face of great suffering and loneliness. He befriended his jailor, as well as fellow prisoner (and Saint) Robert Southwell. Through his guard’s kindness, he even had a pet dog, which he used to trade letters with Southwell, since their cells were far apart. Near the end of his life, Philip was offered freedom by Queen Elizabeth if he would attend a Protestant service. His reply? “If my religion be the cause for which I suffer, sorry I am that I have but one life to lose. Philip.”

This week, enter Elizabethan England alongside Saint Philip Howard and his family. Hear their journey fighting to keep the light of faith alive under persecution. Listen as Philip and Anne remain steadfast, even when the world is against them. Tune in Monday morning at!

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