Tuesday, 24 July 2012


I found this beautiful poem on Richard's blog, "STABAT MATER".  The poem was written by Pearl of Tyburn and Richard found it on her blog, "LONGBOWS AND ROSARY BEADS".   I was just bowled over by the beauty of this poem and I want to give you the opportunity of enjoying it too.  Thank you Pearl and thank you Richard.

Thou stood on Newgate Arch and graced Pendragon’s shield,
Cardigan bore thy taper, and Walsingham thy seal,
Humbly we now beseech thee as that thy feet we kneel,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Thy beads hung from the sword-belts of Locksley’s Merry Men,
Thy hymns were sung by choirs, O Mother Free from Sin,
This land was once thy Dowry; pray make it so again,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

When Alfred lead his warriors in battle for the land,
Thou were his source of courage, the strength that made him stand,
Seven Swords were pierced through thy heart, and one
was in thy hand,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Thy hands are in the Highlands to show us how to pray,
Thy footprints are in Cornwall to guide us in Christ’s ways,
Direct us, Holy Virgin, if God forbid we stray,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Thou art the Dove of Peace for Ulster’s troubled sons,
The Queen of Thorns and Blossoms, whose seat was Avalon,
Look down on us from Heaven, Most Highly Favored One,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

From Scotia’s misty moors, to Albion’s fertile plains,
From Cambria’s mountain climes, to Northern Erin’s glens,
We offer thee this land to be thy own again,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Thy name was oft times chanted by peasants and bold knights,
Preparing for the harvest, or arming for the fight,
Though centuries have elapsed, thou’st kept us in thy sight,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Though stormy skies did threaten, thou still remained the same,
A constant source of succor to those who called thy name,
Thou art the Gilded Lamp that held the Burning Flame,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!
Recall the martyrs’ deaths in Christ’s own imitation,
Come rack and then come rope, they braved the tribulation,
The ruby blood they shed cries out in supplication,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Remember this, our country, amidst the stormy sea,
O may she stand united, a stronghold for the free
But foremost make her faithful to Jesus Christ and thee,
Our Lady of Britannia, Ora pro nobis!

Sunday, 22 July 2012


St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd were two Welsh priests who shared a cell in Cardiff Castle in 1678/79.  They were executed on the same day, 22nd July 1679, at Gallows Field, Cardiff.  Most accounts of St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd are joint accounts but, although they shared so much, I think that each man’s story deserves a separate telling.  On this 333rd anniversary of their martyrdom I will endeavour to do just that.  Of course there will be similarities and crossovers but I will do my best to give a brief account of their individual stories.  (LINK HERE)
St John Lloyd

ST JOHN LLOYD, a secular priest, was one of the many itinerant priests of South Wales who was caught up in the horror of the fabricated Popish Plot.  I say “fabricated” because today historians agree that the plot existed only in the warped psyche of Titus Oates and his perverted fellows. 

John Lloyd was the son of Walter Lloyd.  He was born into a devout Catholic family in Brecon around 1630.  John entered the Royal College of St Alban at Valladolid in 1649 and took the customary oath to return to the English Mission.  He was ordained on 7th June 1653.  The following April he left for his homeland.  Fr Lloyd spent the next twenty-four years labouring among the Catholics of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. 

He was known to frequent the home of John Turberville at Penllyn.  He also stayed at the home of Walter James at Trivor near St Maughans.  At Trivor one can still see the room once used as a chapel.  There is a niche in the wall where a statue or crucifix would have been placed, probably above the altar.  Finding shelter at these and other Catholic recusant homes, the intrepid priest did not spare himself in celebrating Mass, administering the sacraments and caring for the needs of his oppressed flock.  At this very dangerous time, John Lloyd’s brother, Fr William Lloyd, was also working among the Catholics of South Wales.  Fr William Lloyd was head of the secular clergy in South Wales.

The niche in the wall of the secret chapel at Trivor

In 1678 the first rumblings of the Oates Plot/Popish Plot crept across the country.  It was a time when fear and suspicion lurked in the hearts of ordinary decent people for the safety of every man depended on who was in power at any given time.  Protestants had suffered much under Catholic Queen Mary.  There had been Catholic plots and rumours of Catholic plots so it was easy for Titus Oates and his iniquitous ilk to foment the horror that was unleashed by the Oates Plot.

On 20th November 1678 Fr John Lloyd was arrested at the home of John Turberville at Penllyn.  He was taken to Cardiff Castle Gaol where he was imprisoned, possibly in the Black Tower.  For a time he was kept in solitary confinement. Eventually he and Fr Philip Evans S J, who was arrested on 4th December, were permitted to share a cell.  Coincidentally, both Fr Lloyd and Fr Evans had sisters who were Blue Nuns in Paris.  Fr Lloyd’s sister, Mother Margaret Bruno, had died four years earlier, in 1674.

On 9th May 1679 the Assizes opened in the Shire Hall within the Castle grounds.  Fr Lloyd was indicted as a Catholic priest and therefore a traitor.  He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. 

At the height of the Plot, Fr William Lloyd was arrested and imprisoned in Brecon Gaol.  He too was found guilty of being a Catholic priest and performing the functions of a priest.  Like his brother, he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.  However, Fr William Lloyd was treated so harshly in prison that he died in Brecon Gaol just days before his scheduled execution.

The day of Martyrdom arrived for Fr John Lloyd on 22nd July 1679.  He and Fr Philip Evans were dragged on a hurdle to Gallows Field (often referred to today as ‘Death Junction’).  Fr Lloyd had to stand and watch as the young Jesuit who had been his cellmate and friend was butchered before his eyes.  Then he was subjected to the same barbaric death.  Fr John Lloyd was forty-nine years old.

Plaque in St David's Cathedral, Cardiff

There was great rejoicing in Rome and in Britain on Sunday 25th October 1970.  On that day, Pope Paul VI canonised forty Catholics who had died for their faith during the sad years of religious persecution in England.  After years of investigation and scrutiny, the forty had been chosen from the hundreds who had given their lives for the Old Faith.  On that happy day Fr John Lloyd became known as St John Lloyd, one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.      

Saturday, 21 July 2012


St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd were two Welsh priests who shared a cell in Cardiff Castle in 1678/79.  They were executed on the same day, 22nd July 1679, at Gallows Field, Cardiff.  Most accounts of St Philip Evans and St John Lloyd are joint accounts but, although they shared so much, I think that each man’s story deserves a separate telling.  As the 333rd anniversary of their martyrdom approaches I will endeavour to do just that.  Of course there will be similarities and cross overs but I will do my best to give a brief account of their individual stories.  (LINK HERE)
The Parish Church at Llangattock Vibon Avel which contains monuments
to members of the Evans family
PHILIP EVANS was born at Monmouthshire in 1645.  He was the son of Winifred Morgan of Llanvihangel Crucorney and William Evans of Llangattock Vibon Avel, near Monmouth.  Philip was educated at St Omer and he entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Watten on 7th September 1665.  When he completed his training he was ordained at Liege in 1675 and sent upon the English Mission.

17th century chalice believed to have 
belonged to St Philip Evans
Back in Wales, Fr Philip Evans S J worked diligently for four years, saying Mass, administering the Sacraments and preaching in Welsh and English.  It is known that the young Jesuit, along with Fr David Lewis, regularly stayed at the home of Thomas Gunter of Cross Street in Abergavenny.  Here he celebrated Mass and tended to the needs of the Catholics of the area.  The Catholic Church at Abergavenny has in its possession a small travelling chalice which is thought to have been owned by Fr Evans.  He also stayed at the homes of Charles Prodger of Wernddu and of Christopher Turberville of Sker House and cared for the Catholics in these locations.

During the wave of persecution generated by the Popish Plot, friends advised Fr Evans to go into hiding.  However, he refused and bravely continued his work.  On 4th December 1678, the priest was arrested at Sker House, betrayed by the owner’s younger brother, Edward Turberville, a lapsed Catholic.  Philip Evans was imprisoned in Cardiff Castle Gaol and kept in solitary confinement in the dungeon.  After several weeks he and another Welsh priest, Fr John Lloyd, were permitted to share a cell. Fr Lloyd, a secular priest, had been arrested in November.

The following May, Fr Philip Evans was tried at Cardiff Assizes, found guilty of the treasonable offence of being a Catholic priest, and sentenced to death.  The execution was delayed for some time and Fr Evans was even allowed out of prison for recreation!  Eventually, on 21st July 1679, orders arrived that his execution was to take place the following day.  At that time he was playing tennis on the court near St John’s Church.  When the gaoler went to the tennis court to tell the priest the news and to return him to prison, Fr Evans remarked, “What haste is there?  Let me first play out my game.”   This he did!

St Philip Evans S J,
with his harp
Fr Evans had a sister, Sister Barbara Catherine, who was a Blue Nun in Paris.  When he returned to his cell after his game of tennis, he wrote to her. He told her of his approaching death and insisted that she should not mourn for him but be joyful.  He asked her to pray for him and promised that he would pray for her. 

Philip was a skilled harpist and when the officials came the next morning to lead him to his execution they found the priest joyfully playing the harp.  His legs had been bound with heavy chains.  They were so tight that the struggle to remove them lasted more than an hour and caused the poor priest indescribable agony.

Fr Philip Evans was then taken to the place of martyrdom.   When he mounted the scaffold Fr Evans said; “This is the best pulpit a man can have to preach in, therefore, I cannot forbear to tell you again that I die for God and for Religion’s sake.”  He addressed the crowd in English and in Welsh, then turning to Fr Lloyd, who stood waiting his own turn, he said, “Adieu, Mr Lloyd!  Though only for a little time, for we shall soon meet again.”

On 22nd July 1679, thirty-four year old Fr Philip Evans S J was hanged, drawn and quartered at Gallows Field (the northern end of Richmond Road) Cardiff.   He was beatified in 1929 and canonised in 1970.  St Philip Evans is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Today, 12th July, we celebrate the Memorial of a Welsh Franciscan, St John Jones.

John Jones was born to recusant Catholic parents at Clynnog Fawr near Caernarvon, Wales. The date of his birth is uncertain but it was possibly around 1530. He entered the Observant Franciscan Convent at Greenwich, taking the name of Godfrey Maurice. At its dissolution in 1559 he and his fellow friars fled to the Continent and John was professed at Pontoise, France.

After many years John travelled to Rome where he stayed at the Ara Coeli Franciscan Observant House. Then, in 1591, he joined the Roman Province of the reformed Franciscan Order of Strict Observance. (This was one of the strictest orders and the first to be suppressed by King Henry VIII.)

Despite being aware that a priest going on the English Mission often ended his days being hanged, drawn and quartered, John Jones begged his superiors to send him. They acquiesced and he was granted an audience with Pope Clement VII from whom he received a special blessing. Pope Clement told him “Go, for I believe that you are a true religious of St Francis. Pray to God for me and for His Holy Church.”

The Franciscan Friar arrived in London in late 1592. At first he worked in the London area, finding shelter in the London house of St Anne Line. Eventually he extended his work to different parts of the country. At that time it was necessary for Catholic priests working clandestinely in the country to use one or more aliases. John Jones had several. He was also known as John Buckley, John Griffith and Godfrey Maurice. He was held in high esteem by his fellow Franciscans and they elected him as their Provincial.

In 1596 Fr Jones was captured by the ruthless Richard Topcliffe and sent to the infamous Clink prison. Topcliffe held a deep hatred of Catholics and would stop at nothing to eradicate the Faith in England. John was mercilessly tortured and even scourged. The priest was then taken to Topcliffe’s house where the torture continued. Astonishingly, the Queen allowed Topcliffe to maintain a private torture chamber in his house for the interrogation of the Catholic priests he apprehended.

On 3rd July 1598 Fr John Jones was brought to trial for having exercised his ministry as a Catholic priest in England. He was tried alongside Jane Wiseman and Robert Barnes. The charges against Wiseman and Barnes were that they had feloniously received and comforted a priest. Fr Jones said he had never been guilty of any treason against his Queen or country and that he wished his case to be referred to the conscience of the judge rather than to an ignorant jury. Judge Clinch informed him that they were aware he was no plotter but he was a Romish priest who had returned to this country contrary to the statute of 1585 and this was deemed to be High Treason. (Statute 27 Elizabeth)

At the trial, Robert Barnes was permitted to make a long defence by which he disproved the evidence against them and exposed the underhand and brutal methods used by Topcliffe to obtain evidence against Catholics. As a result of this trial, Topcliffe was discredited and shortly after he retired to the country. Nevertheless, Barnes and Wiseman were condemned to death but they were later reprieved.

Fr Jones was found guilty of High Treason and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered. Early on the morning of 12th July 1598, he was taken to St Thomas Waterings, Southwark, where Albany Road meets the Old Kent Road. Here he had to stand and wait for an hour because, amazingly, the hangman had forgotten to bring the rope! John used the hour well, saying his prayers and preaching to the crowd who had come to witness the martyrdom of this well loved priest. When the rope was finally brought, John Jones was hanged until dead. His body was then cut down, disembowelled and quartered. His quarters were fixed atop poles on roads to Newington and Lambeth and his head displayed in Southwark. Some brave Catholics later recovered his body parts. This was a dangerous thing to do and at least one of the Catholics was caught and imprisoned for this act.

In 1929 John Jones O F M was beatified by Pope Pius XI. On 25th October 1970, Pope Paul VI canonised two Franciscans, Fr John Jones and Fr John Wall, and thirty-eight others as the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
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