Evans, Philip, St.

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Welsh martyr; b. Monmouth, 1645; d. Cardiff, July 22, 1679. Evans was educated at St. Omer and on Sept. 7, 1665, entered the Society of Jesus; after ordination at Liège in 1675 he was sent to work in South Wales. Three years later his zeal made him a marked-man in the fierce outburst of persecution fomented by the fantastic "plot" concocted by Titus Oates. In November 1678, John Arnold of Abergavenny, a Calvinist, justice of the peace, and priest hunter, offered, in addition to the customary £50, another £200 for the arrest of Evans. Evans refused to desert his people and was caught on December 2 at the house of Christopher Turberville, at Skier in Glamorgan, where he was then stationed as chaplain.

At Cardiff he refused the oath of allegiance and for three weeks was placed in solitary confinement in an underground cell. For a long time no one would testify to Evans's priesthood until an old woman and her daughter were suborned to swear that they had heard Evans say Mass and preach and had received absolution from him. After six months, on May 3, 1679, Evans was brought to trial. In court the two witnesses repeated their evidence, which was supported by an apostate dwarf, who, at the prompting of Arnold, declared that he had heard Evans say that "in no short time you will see in England no other religion but the Catholic." Evans was found guilty of being a priest and returned to prison, where, being a talented musician, he found consolation in music.

On July 21, when news was brought to him that he was to be executed the next day, he was playing tennis: "What hurry is there," he asked. "Let me first play out my game." On July 22, after bidding farewell to some friends, he was taken to execution with Bl. John Lloyd, with whom he had been tried. The place was Gallows Field (at the northeast end of what is now Richmond Road), Cardiff. Evans, suffering before Lloyd, said to him, "Adieu, Mr. Lloyd, though for a little time, for we shall shortly meet again." Philip Evans was beatified by Pius XI on Dec. 15, 1929, and canonized by Paul VI in 1970.

Feast: July 22.

See Also: england, scotland, and wales, martyrs of.

Bibliography: t. p. ellis, Catholic Martyrs of Wales (London 1933). j. stonor, Six Welsh Martyrs (Postulation pamphlet; London 1961). r. challoner, Memoirs of Missionary Priests, ed. j. h. pollen (rev. ed. London 1924). a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, rev. ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:166167. j. gillow, A Literary and Biographical History or Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics from 1534 to the Present Time. (London-New York 18851902) 2:186187. h. foley, ed., Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 7 v. (London 187782) 5.2:882891.

[g. fitzherbert]