Martyr – (1614-1680)
+ William was born in London. The son of Thomas, Earl of Arundel, he was the grandson of the martyr Saint Philip Howard.
+ Raised as a Catholic during a time of persecution, he later married Mary Stafford and the couple had nine children. Following his marriage, he was created “Viscount Stafford.”
+ Exiled for political reasons in 1641, he lived in the Netherlands and eventually his estates were seized by Parliament because of his adherence to the Catholic Faith. His time in Europe seemed to be troubled by debt and family tensions.
+ In 1678, after he had returned to England to live in relative obscurity, he was implicated as part of the Titus Oates Plot, an invention by the former priest Titus Oates that a group of Catholics were plotting to assassinate King Charles II.
+ Tried in the House of Lords because of his noble status, he was nevertheless denied any defense counsel and ultimately condemned on the most circumstantial evidence.
+ Blessed William Howard was executed on Tower Hill on December 29, 1680. His story helped turn the public against the alleged plot. He was beatified with 106 other English martyrs in 1929.
On this day, the Church also honors the memory of a group of Christians martyred in Alexandria, Egypt, around the year 483. Among those killed were Saints Appian, Donatus, Honorius, Mansuetus, and Severus; the names of the other martyrs have been lost to us. These faithful Christians were murdered by a heretical group—known as “Monophysites”—who denied that Jesus, the Incarnate Word, had both a human and a divine nature.
“If we obey his holy commands and learn to imitate his goodness, we shall be like him and he will honor us. God is not beggarly, and for the sake of his own glory he has given us a share in his divinity.”—Saint Hippolytus
O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed William with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For a Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.