St. Margaret Clitherow
Margaret Clitherow was born in York, Yorkshire, England, in 1556. Shehad five siblings. Her father was Thomas Middleton. He was a reputablebusinessman and also managed wax chandlery. In 1564, he became theSheriff of York. Margaret lost her father when she was 14 and was raisedby her mother, Jane Middleton. She grew up to be a charming and uniqueyoung woman. She got married to John Clitherow, the city’s chamberlainand a wealthy meat seller. Her marriage with Thomas produced threeexceptional children, and they were all raised in The Shambles.
Conversion to Catholicism
Margret Citherow became a Roman catholic in 1574. Although her husbandwas part of the established church, he didn’t oppose her decision ashis brother was a Catholic priest. There was a law at that time whichmandated that a fine be paid for missing service. John Clitherow ensuredhe always paid for his wife. After some time, she was imprisoned for notattending service and released shortly after. She was jailed twice afterher first incarceration.
Her zeal for the catholic faith was intense, and she was a fearless ladywilling to risk her life to protect and provide harbour to catholicpriests, who were at that time illegal. She carried this outpassionately, despite the capital punishment she could face for engagingin such activities. As this was against a law made in 1584.
She provided two chambers for these priests where they lived andcelebrated the mass secretly. Most fugitive priests North of Englandfound safety and solace in her homes.
Her Oldest son, Henry, had travelled abroad to be trained as a catholicpriest. This raised a lot of questioning and interrogation. Her husbandwas able to provide a genuine response to these interrogations. However,in 1586 during a search, a little boy got so scared that he pointed atthe location where the priests hid, which led to their arrests.
Trial and Death
Margaret Clitherow was arrested for harbouring Catholic priests. To saveher family from testifying, she refused trial. She vehemently affirmedthat she didn’t commit any crime, so there was no point trying her. Shewas sentenced to death. She was killed in a very gruesome manner. Heavyrocks placed on a door board were pressed down her back so that theheavy and sharp rocks pressed her down and broke her back. Her executionwas carried out in 1586 on Lady Day.
Margaret is revered as the patroness of the Catholic Women’s League.There are so many churches and institutions across America and Europebearing her name. Churches and schools alike in England and America takeher name. She is also the co-patroness of the Latin Mass Society. Thisorganization set up the annual pilgrimage to York to honour her.
Pope Pius XI beatified Margaret in 1929. On October 25th, 1970, togetherwith forty other martyrs of both England and Wales, she was canonized byPope Paul VI. Her Shrine is located at 35, 36 The Shambles.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Margaret Clitherow
- Her Feast day is March 26th
- In Prison, she learned how to speak Latin to participate actively in
- She gave birth to her third child, Williams, while in Prison.
- She was executed while pregnant with her fourth child.
- She is nicknamed the Pearl of York.
Prayer to St. Margaret Clitherow
Dear Lord Jesus, give us the courage and grace not only to live holylives but to be willing to die holy deaths as St. Margaret of Clitherowdid. We thank you, dear Lord, for the examples of your holy saints. Maywe follow in their footsteps. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.