PHILIP EVANS was born at Monmouth in 1645, was educated at Saint-Omer, and joined the Society of Jesus at the age of twenty. In 1675 he was ordained at Liege and sent to South Wales. He was soon well known for his zeal, but no active notice was taken by the authorities until the scare of Oates plot, when in the November of 1678 John Arnold, of Llanvihangel Court near Abergavenny, a justice of the peace and hunter of priests, offered a reward of £200 for his arrest. Father Evans refused to leave his flock, and early in December was caught at the house of Christopher Turberville at Sker in Glamorgan. He refused the oath and was confined alone in an underground dungeon in Cardiff Castle. Two or three weeks afterwards he was joined by Mr John Lloyd, a secular priest, who had been taken at Penlline in Glamorgan. He was a Breconshire man, who had taken the missionary oath at Valladolid in 1649 and been sent to minister in his own country. After five months the two prisoners were brought up for trial at the shire-hall in Cardiff, charged not with complicity in the plot but as priests who had come unlawfully into the realm. It had been difficult to collect witnesses against them, and they were condemned and sentenced by Mr Justice Owen Wynne principally on the evidence of two poor women who were suborned to say that they had seen Father Evans celebrating Mass. On their return to prison they were better treated and allowed a good deal of liberty, so that when the under-sheriff came on July 21 to announce that their execution was fixed for the morrow, Father Evans was playing a game of tennis and would not return to his cell till he had finished it. Part of his few remaining hours of life he spent playing on the harp and talking to the numerous people who came to say farewell to himself and Mr Lloyd when the news got around. The execution took place on Gallows Field (at the north-eastern end of what is now Richmond Road, Cardiff). St Philip died first, after having addressed the people in Welsh and English, and saying Adieu, Mr Lloyd, though for a little time, for we shall shortly meet again , to St John, who made only a very brief speech because, as he said, I never was a good speaker in my life .
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By Justin Soutar
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