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Saturday 18 February 2012

St. Philip Howard, pray for us

The third saint to be commemorated in the new chapel at Horsham is the star of the Howard Family, St. Philip Howard, 13th (20th) Earl of Arundel. His image is surrounded by the two Jesuits, Ss. Robert Southwell and Thomas Garnet. One of the endearing charms of this man are his writings, which became popular immediately after his death in the Tower, in 1595. A short list of these publications follows: "Epistle of Christ to the Faithful Soul " translated from Lanspergius (Johann Justus of Lansberg), was printed at Antwerp, 1595; St-Omer, 1610; London, 1867; his "Fourfold Meditations of Four Last Things" (once attributed to Southwell ), London, 1895; his "Verses on the Passion", by the Cath. Record Soc., VI, 29. from the Catholic Encyclopedia. 

Photo from Diocese of Arundel and Brighton News Blog 09-02-12
That he suffered so terribly for such a long time imprisoned for his faith gives us hope in our own increasingly troubled times. I, for one, find it comforting that a layman of the stature of St. Philip went before us to God to intercede for us now. His feast day is October 19th and he is the main patron of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

St. Thomas Garnet, pray for us

On the new altar dedicated in Horsham, West Sussex, are the three Elizabethan martyrs dear to the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. St. Thomas Garnet, Jesuit, whose uncle was the famous superior of the Jesuits, Henry Garnet, went to Horsham Grammar School, the connection, growing up in that area. Can one imagine him, a new priest of only twenty-four, going from Catholic house to house, catechizing, administering the sacraments, saying Mass?

He was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, primarily for his relationship to Henry Garnet, considered one of the plotters. More of his story may be found here. He was actually freed after some time, but returned and finally was killed at Tyburn on June 23rd, 1608, and shares a feast day with Ss. Edmund Campion, who was martyred in 1601, and Robert Southwell, martyred in 1595. May the Holy Spirit raise up such men again.

St. Robert Southwell, pray for us

20 February 1595 was the date of the death, the martyrdom of one of England's most loved martyrs. St. Robert Southwell, Jesuit, is one of the saints honored in a new altar in Horsham. His life and death bear witness to the glorious grace given to many of the Jesuits during the horrible days of Elizabeth I's persecution of the Roman Catholic Church. Robert Southwell's life may be found here, but I want to emphasize a few points. I first met Robert Southwell in a class I took on the mystical poets of England. His "Burning Babe", which I show here, is one of the best English poems ever penned. And, even though it is cold and wet February, this poem resonates and touches us with a great emotion of spiritual Love. That the martyr, who suffered under the hands of Richard Topcliffe, could write such symbols and images of God's Incarnation shows us the type of sentiment and faith which breeds martyrs. 

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surpris’d I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
“Alas!” quoth he, “but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
      So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.”
      With this he vanish’d out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
      And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.

The second aspect of Robert Southwell's life to examine is his connection to Horsham, home of the new
altar. There is an irony in that Southwell was born in Horsham St. Faith in Norfolk, but found himself 
the private chaplain of St. Philip Howard, 13th (20th) Earl of Arundel's wife, Anne. Countess of 
Arundel and Surrey, thus making the connection with Horsham in West Sussex. That this sensitive, 
intelligent and talented young Jesuit would work in the area of what is now the Diocese of Arundel and 
Brighton makes him even more beloved to those born and bred in Sussex. His feast day is December 1st, 
with a memorial on February 20th, in some places.