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Clitherow, Margaret (1556–1586)

Clitherow, Margaret (1556–1586)

English martyr and saint. Name variations: Margaret Middleton; Pearl of York. Born in 1556 in York, England; died Mar 25, 1586 in England; dau. of Thomas Middleton (sheriff of York, 1564–65); m. John Clitherow (butcher and chamberlain of city), 1571; children: Henry and William (priests); Anne (nun at St. Ursula's, Louvain).

Canonized for defense of priests and adherence to Catholic precepts and practices despite persecution during Reformation; converted to Catholicism (1574); remained in marriage though husband continued to belong to Protestant Church; for harboring priests and celebrating mass, was frequently imprisoned, sometimes for 2 years at a time, but never abandoned activities; arrested (Mar 10, 1586), was arraigned before Judges Clinch and Rhodes and several members of Council of the North at York assizes (Mar 14); condemned to "peine forte et dure" (to be pressed to death); tormented by ministers, was urged to confess crimes but refused, to avoid implicating her children and servants; was probably with child when sentence was carried out barbar ously on Good Friday (1586); canonized by Pope Paul VI (1970).

See also John Mush, "Life and Death of Margaret Clitherow the Martyr of York" in Troubles of our Catholic Forefathers (W. Nicholson, 1849).

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