Philip Evans

(1645—1679) Jesuit

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(d. 1679), Jesuit priest and martyr. A Welshman born at Monmouth and educated at St Omer, Evans joined the Society of Jesus in 1665 and was ordained priest in 1675. He was then sent to work in South Wales, but his apostolate lasted only three years. Following the scare of the ‘Popish Plot’ invented by Titus Oates, a reward of £250 was offered for the capture of Evans. He was arrested at Skier (Glamorgan) and imprisoned at Cardiff for five months, while the country was scoured for witnesses who would testify that they had seen him minister as a priest. Eventually a poor woman and a dwarf testified, whereupon the jury were instructed to find him guilty.

But his execution was delayed and his imprisonment somewhat mitigated. From these last few weeks of his life comes evidence of his skill at both tennis and music. While he was playing tennis he was told that his execution would take place the following day; this did not deter him from finishing the game and he spent some of his last hours playing the Welsh harp. He was executed on 22 July at Cardiff; in his final sermon on the scaffold he declared: ‘I die for God and religion's sake; and I think myself so happy that if I had never so many lives, I would willingly give them all for so good a cause.’ He was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast: 25 October.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.

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