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Saint Margaret Clitherow

Saint Margaret Clitherow -  Feast Day: March 26

Margaret Middleton was born in 1556. She was one of five children, all of whom were raised as Anglicans. Margaret married John Clitherow, a wealthy Protestant who was chamberlain of York.

Margaret converted to Catholicism during the early years of her marriage. She supported her husband’s choice to remain an Anglican, as he supported her in her faith. He agreed to allow their three children to be raised as Catholics.

Just two years after Margaret was born, Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne.  During her reign, the celebration of Catholic Mass was outlawed. Margaret hid priests in her home and allowed them to say Mass there. Her husband’s brother, John, was one of the priests she housed.  Her home had a secret cupboard where vestments were kept.

In 1586, a search of the couple's home turned up incriminating evidence, and Margaret was apprehended and put on trial. She refused to renounce her faith and even to enter a plea at her trial, saying that she knew of no offense committed.  At the age of 33, she was condemned to death by compression. She died on March 25, 1586, on Good Friday. It is believed she was pregnant with her fourth child at the time of her execution.

She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970, who referred to her as “The Pearl of York.”  Her home is visited by thousands today and considered a shrine.