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This day commemorates the three canonised women martyrs of the English Reformation: St Margaret Clitherow (1556-1586),  St Anne Line (1567-1601), and St Margaret Ward (+1588),   All three were declared Venerable on 8 Dec 1929 by Pope Pius XI, beatified on 15 Dec 1929, and canonised on 25 Oct 1970 by Pope Paul VI among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. – CTS New Daily Roman Missal 2012, p 2960

margaret clitherowMargaret Clitherow was born in Middleton, England, in 1556, of protestant parents. Possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, she was a charming personality. In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do grazier and butcher (to whom she bore two children), and a few years later entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbour fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. Recourse was had to every means in an attempt to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on 25 March 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes. The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily glimpsed in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: “The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise.” – Catholic Online

Anne_LineAnne Line was born in 1565 at Dunmow Essex as Anne Higham, the daughter of a wealthy and ardent Calvinist. When she and her brother converted to Catholicism, they were disowned and disinherited. Anne married another convert, Roger Line, who was soon arrested for attending Mass, then exiled to Flanders, Belgium where he died in 1594.  When Father John Gerard established a house of refuge for priests in London, England, Anne was put in charge. Father Gerard was sent to the Tower of London, and then escaped in 1597. The authorities suspected Anne of hiding him, and she moved to another house, which became a rallying point for Catholics. On Candlemas, 1601, Father Francis Page was about to celebrate Mass there, when priest-catchers broke in. Father Page quickly unvested and mingled with the others, but the altar was all the evidence needed to arrest Anne. She was tried, convicted and hanged for harbouring priests. She was martyred with Blessed Mark Barkworth, and her friend Blessed Roger Filcock on 27 Feb 1601 at Tyburn London. – CatholicSaints.Info

Margaret-WardBorn at Congleton Cheshire, nothing is known of Margaret Ward‘s early life. She first appears in the records working as a lady’s companion to the Whittle family in London. She and her servant, Blessed John Roche were arrested for helping Father Richard Watson escape from Bridewell Prison by smuggling him a rope and then helping him once he was outside. Imprisoned, flogged, and tortured, she was offered freedom if she would surrender Father Watson and convert to the Church of England; she declined. She was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 30 August 1588 at Tyburn, London, England. – CatholicSaints.Info

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