Margaret Clitherow

Margaret Clitherow

Feast Day: March 25
Venerated: December 8, 1929
Beatified: December 15, 1929
Canonized: October 25, 1970

Margaret was born in 1555 in England. She was raised as a Protestant, a member of the Church of England, but after her marriage to John Clitherow, she made the decision to become Catholic. It was a brave decision, because Margaret lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who wanted to rid England of all Catholics and the practice of the Catholic faith.

Margaret’s husband did not become Catholic, but he supported her decision. John even paid the fines Margaret was charged for not attending Protestant services in their local church. Margaret had two hiding places built in their home. One was a small room, large enough for several priests to hide from the authorities looking to arrest any members of the clergy. The other secret place in Margaret’s house was a small cupboard. In it she kept the sacred vessels, including a chalice and paten and vestments—anything a priest would need to celebrate the Eucharist.

Catholics came secretly to Margaret’s house for celebrations of the Mass and for the reception of the other Sacraments. We believe that Margaret and John’s three children were baptized there as infants. The home was searched often because the authorities suspected that Margaret was breaking the laws against Catholics.

Margaret made plans to send her oldest son to France so that he could receive a Catholic education. This, too, was a crime. Someone reported Margaret, and she was arrested in 1586 for harboring priests. She refused to admit that she had broken any laws. Margaret was found guilty and sentenced to death at the age of 30.

Margaret’s great faith was an inspiration to all three of her children. Her daughter, Anne, became a nun, and her two sons, Henry and William, both became priests.

In 1970 Pope Paul VI canonized St. Margaret as a saint for her courage and faith. She is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of York.”

We can show our respect for her by thanking God that we are free to live openly as Catholics. We can also pray for anyone who is persecuted for their belief in Jesus and the Church.

Connecting to Blest Are We® Parish and School
Grade 5, chapter 6