St. Margaret Clitherow
Margaret Middleton was born in 1555, the daughter of the Sheriff of York. In her late teens, she married John Clitherow, a successful butcher and pillar of the community. Three years later, the Anglican Margaret was converted to the Catholic Faith and became a fervent supporter of the underground Catholic missions in
Margaret was thrown into prison several times for refusing to attend Anglican services. John paid her bale repeatedly, and nothing serious came of the incidents. When her husband was away, she would make barefoot pilgrimages with other women in the dead of night to pray at the place of execution outside the city where Catholic priests had been martyred. Ironically, she would soon be among their executed number.
Margaret was known for being a good business woman and a general delight to be around. She was physically attractive with a keen sense of humor that never left her. She was always doing charitable works for others, and she acquired many friends. Unfortunately, these attachments would not be capable of saving her from the punishment of the law.
Eventually, Margaret was betrayed by an 11-year-old boy who told the authorities that Mass was being celebrated in her home. Her house was searched and incriminating evidence was discovered. Margaret and a dear friend, Anne Tish, who the boy also accused thrown into prison, and Margaret's 12-year-old daughter Anne was whipped. Margaret refused to plead for a trial by jury for fear of placing her family at risk. For refusing to plead, she was sentenced to be crushed to death beneath a heavy door with a spike placed at her back.
To the end, Margaret showed her strength of spirit and sheer bravery. On Good Friday, the morning of her execution, she put on a white dress and put ribbons her hair to acknowledge that she was Christ's Bride and going to His wedding feast in Heaven. She sent back her hat to her husband to show that he was her "head", and she sent her shoes and stockings to her daughter, Anne, to encourage her to have the courage to follow in her footsteps and keep the Faith. Margaret was laid upon the spike and laid beneath the door and crushed to death. In is believed she may even have been pregnant. Her husband, utterly distraught, wept until his nose bled.
Queen Elizabeth I did later wrote distraught citizens of
The Feast of St. Margaret Clitherow, the Pearl of York, is celebrated on April 2nd.
George is said to have been a high-ranking Roman army officer during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Despite the wave of persecution against the Christians, George, who was a Christian himself, spoke out against their ill-treatment to the Emperor, even throwing down his Imperial Eagle standard in protest. Of course, this didn't go over well with Diocletian, who had the spirited officer seized, stripped, and tortured in hopes of making him renounce the Christian Faith. George held strong against torture and was eventually beheaded.
The cult of St. George took shape in
King Edward III later named George the patron saint of
Ironically, William Shakespeare is to have been both been born to have died on
In 1940 during the Second World War, King George VI inaugurated the George Cross, to be awarded to those who showed great heroism and conspicuous courage in situations of extreme danger. The award, depicting St. George slaying the dragon on the silver cross, is usually given out to civilians. This goes to show that the inspirational quality of the “soldier saint” really does transcend military rank. St. George, in many ways, has come to represent the best aspects of the English identity, including courage, faithfulness, tenacity, and fair amount of pluck. The fact that he was not English himself is just one of those little ironies that makes the whole story so deliciously British.
The Feast of St. George is celebrated on April 23rd, and different parts of England and the world continue to celebrate his heroism with festivals and reenactments. Blessed be God, St. George, and St. Margaret Clitherow!
|St. Magaret Clitherow|