The Lord is the king of martyrs: come, let us adore him.
Year: B(II). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Red.
|St Margaret Clitherow, née Middleton (1556 - 1586)|
She was born in York and lived there all her life. At the age of 15 she married a butcher, John Clitherow, and three years later became a Catholic. Imprisoned for her non-attendance at the Protestant church, she taught herself to read, and on her release ran a small school for her own and her neighbours’ children. Her husband, although he remained a Protestant himself, allowed her to hide priests in the house. In 1586 the secret hiding places were discovered and Margaret was put on trial. As the law then stood, to be found guilty would have meant destitution for her children, so she refused to plead: thus she could not be tried, and instead was crushed to death with a heavy stone, on 25 March 1586.
|St Anne Line, née Heigham (1565? - 1601)|
She was born in Dunmow, in Essex. In her teens she became a Catholic and was disinherited by her family, and in 1585 she married another disinherited convert, Roger Line. Her husband was imprisoned for his faith and then sent into exile, leaving her destitute. She taught and embroidered and also kept house for priests. One day a large number of people were seen congregating at her house for Mass. She was arrested, tried, condemned to death, and hanged at Tyburn in London on 27 February 1601.
|St Margaret Ward (- 1588)|
She was born in Congdon, in Cheshire, and became a servant of a family in London. She was arrested after helping a priest to escape from prison, but even under severe torture she refused to reveal his hiding place or to renounce her faith. She was tried at the Old Bailey and executed on 30 August 1588.
|St Anne Line (c.1565-1601)|
Anne Heigham was born at Dunmow (Essex) around 1565, and was hanged at Tyburn on 27 February 1601. In her teens, she became a Catholic and was disinherited, and in 1585 married Roger Line, also a disinherited convert, who was subsequently imprisoned then, already a sick man, exiled for his faith, dying in Flanders soon afterwards. Anne was left destitute and herself suffered poor health. She offered her services to the Jesuits and was asked to look after a house of refuge in London. She ran a large safe house for priests, taught children, and made vestments. To strengthen her resolution she took voluntary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. On 2 February after a large number of people had been seen gathering at her house for Mass, she was arrested. Her trial was on 26 February. Despite the prosecution’s failure to prove the charge of harbouring a priest the Lord Chief Justice directed the jury to find her guilty, and condemned her to be hanged the next day.
|St Margaret Clitherow (c.1553-1586)|
Margaret Middleton was born in York around 1553, lived there all her life, and died there on 25 March 1586. At 15, she married a butcher, John Clitherow, and three years later became a Catholic. Her brother-in-law William was a Catholic and after ordination as a priest became a Carthusian; he may well have influenced Margaret’s decision to become a Catholic. Imprisoned for her non-attendance at church, she taught herself to read and later ran a small school for her own and her neighbours’ children. Her husband remained Protestant, but allowed her to hide priests in their house. It is said that she used to visit the Knavesmire (the Tyburn of the North) to pray for those who had been martyred there. She saw that her children were all educated in the faith through the services of a young man who had been imprisoned for his faith in York Castle. She knew this prison well having been detained there several times for non-attendance at Church of England services. In 1586 the secret hiding places in her home were discovered, and Margaret was put on trial. In order to prevent her children and servants from being questioned she refused to plead, for which the punishment was being laid on sharp stones and then crushed to death. Her body was secretly buried by the authorities but was later discovered by friends, who buried her privately elsewhere; though the place of her burial has not yet been found. Her daughter Anne was imprisoned for four years for refusing to attend a Church of England service, and finally became a nun at St Ursula’s, Louvain. Her sons Henry and William became priests.
|St Margaret Ward (?-1588)|
Margaret Ward was born at Congleton (Cheshire), but entered into the service of a family in London. She was arrested after assisting a priest, William Watson, who was himself awaiting execution to escape from prison (after a somewhat bizarre life he was eventually executed for having mounted an attempt to kidnap and usurp King James I). After many twists and turns she was eventually arrested but though severely tortured refused to reveal Watson’s hiding place or to renounce her faith. She was tried at the Old Bailey, and executed on 30 August 1588.
|Other saints: Blessed Ghebre Michael (1790 - 1855)|
He was born in Ethiopia in 1790. He entered an Orthodox monastery, where he proved to be a gifted student. His name, “Ghebre-Michael” means “servant of Michael”.
He took an intense interest in the history of monasticism and, concerned at the deterioration of monastic standards in Ethiopia, travelled around the country, visiting monasteries, researching their history and the manuscripts in their libraries, and inspiring a small group of monks in each place with a zeal for reform.
Having come to the conclusion that the root cause of the trouble was the monks’ poor theological education, he determined to travel to Jerusalem to continue his studies. He had intended to travel alone, but at this time an important coincidence supervened and changed the course of his life.
Ethiopia had only one Orthodox bishop, who was appointed by the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria, and in 1840-41 the see was vacant. A delegation was being sent to Alexandria to ask the Patriarch for a new bishop and to visit Jerusalem on the way back, and Ghebre-Michael was invited to join the group. He made one stipulation: that the return journey should include Rome as well as Jerusalem, with the aim of lessening the suspicion of the Catholic Church among the Orthodox. On this journey he first met the Catholic missionary Justin de Jacobis, whose holiness and way of life made a great impression on him.
To everyone’s dismay, the bishop chosen by the Patriarch was in every way unsuitable. Educated by Protestants, he had his own political agenda. He set himself against Ghebre-Michael’s project of reform and theological purification, and his followers tried to poison Ghebre-Michael himself.
In September 1843 Ghebre-Michael sought out Justin and asked to be received into the Catholic Church (at that time about three dozen Ethiopians had become Catholics). They discussed the matter for nearly six months, and visited many monasteries together to study their ancient manuscripts. Finally, in February 1844, Ghebre-Michael was received into the Church.
In July 1854, together with four other converts, Ghebre-Michael was arrested by the bishop and tortured with the aim of getting him to renounce Catholicism. This torture continued for many months. When a new emperor of Ethopia was crowned in February 1855 he had Ghebre-Michael put in chains and took him with him wherever he went. He was put on trial in the presence of the British Consul in May 1855, and, still refusing to apostasize, was sentenced to be shot. The Consul interceded for him, his life was spared, but he died on 28 August 1855 as a result of the harsh treatment he was receiving. He was buried at the side of the road; the exact site is unknown.
|Other saints: Saint Fiacre|
He was born in Ireland in the seventh century, and was ordained priest. He lived in a hermitage in Kilkenny, but disciples flocked to him there and he went to France in search of greater solitude. He was kindly received by St Faro, Bishop of Meaux, and given land at Breuil on which to build a hermitage. The town of Saint-Fiacre-en-Brie stands on the site of the hospice he built for travellers. See the article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia
|Other saints: St Edmund Arrowsmith (1585 - 1628)|
He was born at Haydock in Lancashire. His father was a yeoman farmer and his mother was a member of an important Lancashire Catholic family. At the age of 20 he left England and went to the English College at Douai to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in Arras on 9 December 1612 and sent on the English mission a year later He ministered to the Catholics of Lancashire without incident until around 1622, when he was arrested and questioned by the Anglican Bishop of Chester. Edmund was released when King James I of England ordered all arrested priests to be freed. He joined the Jesuits in 1624.
In the summer of 1628, he was denounced to the authorities. He was put on trial, and sentenced to death for being a Roman Catholic priest in England. He was hanged, drawn and quartered at Lancaster on 28 August 1628. His final confession was heard by Saint John Southworth, who was imprisoned along with Edmund.
About the author of the Second Reading in today's Office of Readings:
|Second Reading: Saint Columbanus, Abbot (540? - 615)|
Columbanus was born in Ireland before the middle of the sixth century. He was a monk from his youth and was learned in both sacred and secular literature. At the age of 45 he left Ireland and went to Europe, where he founded three monasteries in what is now France. His monastic rule was strict, based on Irish practice.
King Thierry II of Burgundy had a veneration for Columbanus and often visited him. Columbanus’s criticisms of Thierry’s debauched living and practice of concubinage enraged the king’s grandmother Brunhild, and eventually Columbanus and all other Irish-born monks were ordered to be deported to Ireland. They eluded their captors, and after an unsuccessful attempt to evangelize the pagan tribes near modern-day Zürich they reached Italy, where Columbanus founded the monastery at Bobbio. He died there in 615.
Columbanus’s writings are among the earliest evidence of Irish knowledge of Latin. His style combines an underlying passion with a strong and rhythmic rhetorical structure.
Red is the colour of fire and of blood. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit (for instance, at Pentecost) and the blood of the martyrs.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Amos 4:13 ©|
He it was who formed the mountains, created the wind, reveals his mind to man, makes both dawn and dark, and walks on the top of the heights of the world; the Lord, the God of Hosts, is his name.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Amos 5:8 ©|
He made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns the dusk to dawn and day to darkest night. He summons the waters of the sea and pours them over the land. ‘The Lord’ is his name.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Amos 9:6 ©|
He has built his high dwelling place in the heavens and supported his vault on the earth; he summons the waters of the sea and pours them over the land. ‘The Lord’ is his name.