Feast of Sts. Philip Evans and John Lloyd (July 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Wales


Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr



Roman Catholic Priest and Martyr

Today I honor two Welsh martyrs whose crime was to be Roman Catholic priests.  I have commented in other posts about British martyrs on why religious persecution is wrong, so I choose to let those remarks stand while I proceed to the historical details.

St. Philip Evans, educated at St. Omer Monastery in France, became a Jesuit in 1665, at age 20.  Ten years later, at Liege, he entered the priesthood then embarked for his Welsh mission.  For three years Evans ministered there.

St. John Lloyd, educated at Ghent (now in Belgium, but a Hapsburg domain) and at Valladolid, Spain (also a Hapsburg domain at the the time).  Ordained at Valladolid in 1653, he began this twenty-four-year long Welsh mission the following year.

1678 was a bad year to be a Roman Catholic priest on the island of Great Britain.  (There were many such years in in the 1600s.)  But, in 1678, there was a fictional plot by Roman Catholic to assassinate King Charles II.  (This was ironic, given the Roman Catholic sympathies of the House of Stuart.)  Anyway, a wave of anti-Roman Catholic hysteria swept the land,where authorities political and religious had planted, watered, and nurtured anti-Roman Catholicism for a long time.  And hysterical people did not check facts, to confirm or refute them.  So the two priest-martyrs became prisoners. They became casualties of hysteria and religious bigotry.  Their crime was to be priests, a charge considered on par with committing treason.  They died at Cardiff on July 22, 1679.

The Roman Catholic Church canonized them in 1970.

Sources I have consulted list different feast days:  July 22 and 23.  The former is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, however, so it seems that July 23 is the preferred date.  I prefer it, for I have reserved July 22 for St. Mary Magdalene on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

I desire to make some comments about hysteria and religious bigotry.  Both are sinful and irrational.  I am a Christian by choice.  It is the faith of my upbringing, but I chose a long time ago to cast my lot with Jesus, and I intend not to commit apostasy, as many have.  My religious education includes comparative religion, so my choice to remain a Christian is an informed one.  This does not mean that I am hostile to all other traditions, just that I am certain of my choice and wish that more people would share it.  I have taught students from a variety of religious backgrounds and opinions.  Muslims have been among them.  And none of these followers of Allah have been dangerous people, such as militants or potential terrorists.  No Salafists, Wahabis, or suicide bombers have signed up for my courses.  Lived Islam for the great majority of Muslims is peaceful and charitable.  There is a difference between Islam and Islamism, in other words.  So I take this opportunity to refute anti-Muslim fear, hatred, and hysteria, which seems more pervasive in the United States in 2012 than a decade ago.

Likewise I refute any anti-Roman Catholic fear, hatred, and hysteria at any time and place.  Roman Catholics are, of course, my coreligionists on the opposite side of the Tiber River.  Parts of their ecclesiology and other aspects of their theology keep me on my side of the river, but I claim them as brother and sister Christians.  And Sts. Philip Evans and John Lloyd are among my forebears in faith.






Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saint Philip Evans and Saint John Lloyd

triumphed over suffering and were faithful even to death:

Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving,

to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world,

that we may receive with them the crown of life;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 51:1-12

Psalm 116 or 116:1-8

Revelation 7:13-17

Luke 12:2-12

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 714

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