Monday, August 30, 2010

Saints: August 30, 2010

St Margaret Clitherow, née Middleton (1556 - 1586)
She was born in York, England and lived there all her life. At the age of 15 she married a butcher, John Clitherow, and three years later became a Catholic.  Her brother-in-law William was a Catholic and after ordination as a priest became a Carthusian; he may well have influenced Margaret’s decision to become a Catholic. It is said that she used to visit the Knavesmire (the Tyburn of the North) to pray for those who had been martyred there. She saw that her children were all educated in the faith through the services of a young man who had been imprisoned for his faith in York Castle. She knew this prison well because she had been imprisoned for her non-attendance at the Protestant church.  She taught herself to read, and on her release ran a small school for her own and her neighbors’ children. 
Her husband, although he remained a Protestant himself, allowed her to hide priests in the house. 
In 1586 the secret hiding places in her home were discovered, and Margaret was put on trial. As the law then stood, to be found guilty would have meant destitution for her children. In order to prevent her children and servants from being questioned she refused to plead, for which the punishment was being laid on sharp stones and then crushed to death.  She was crushed to death with a heavy stone, on 25 March 1586.
Her body was secretly buried by the authorities but was later discovered by friends, who buried her privately elsewhere; though the place of her burial has not yet been found. Her daughter Anne was imprisoned for four years for refusing to attend a Church of England service, and finally became a nun at Louvain. Two of Margaret’s sons became priests.
St Margaret Ward (- 1588)
She was born in Congdon, in Cheshire, and became a servant of a family in London. She was arrested after helping a priest to escape from prison, but even under severe torture she refused to reveal his hiding place or to renounce her faith. She was tried at the Old Bailey and executed on 30 August 1588.
St Anne Line (c.1565-1601)
Anne Heigham was born at Dunmow (Essex) around 1565, and was hanged at Tyburn on 27 February 1601. In her teens, she became a Catholic and was disinherited, and in 1585 married Roger Line, also a disinherited convert, who was subsequently imprisoned then, already a sick man, exiled for his faith, dying in Flanders soon afterward. Anne was left destitute and herself suffered poor health. 
She suffered from almost continual headaches; she was infirm and had dropsy, but she cared for her soul and had great devotion to the blessed Sacrament.
She offered her services to the Jesuits and was asked to look after a house of refuge in London. She ran a large safe house for priests, taught children, and made vestments. To strengthen her resolution she took voluntary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. On 2 February (Candlemas) after a large number of people had been seen gathering at her house for Mass, she was arrested. Her trial was on 26 February. Despite the prosecution’s failure to prove the charge of harboring a priest the Lord Chief Justice Popham directed the jury to find her guilty, and condemned her to be hanged the next day. She prepared for her death by prayer.
At Tyburn, before her execution, she said.
"I am sentenced to die for harboring a Catholic priest and so far I am from repenting for having done so, that I wish with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I would have entertained a thousand."

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