Line, Anne, St.

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Martyr; b. Dunmow, Essex, late 1560s; hanged Tyburn, Feb. 27, 1601. Her parents, William and Anne Heigham, were ardent Calvinists, enriched by monastic spoils. When Anne was still in her teens, she and her brother William became Catholics with the result that they were disinherited and driven from home. Soon afterward Anne married Roger Line, also a convert of a good family, and they agreed to observe the virtue of continence. In 1585 Roger, then 19 years old, and William were arrested for assisting at Mass. While Roger was in prison, his father or uncle (he was heir to both) sent him a message that if he refused to attend the Protestant Church, his patrimony would go to his younger brother. Roger refused and, like Anne, was disinherited. He was released and sent into exile in Flanders where he died in 1594. William became a Jesuit brother in Spain.

Anne found herself bereft of both husband and brother, and of her home; although young, she was an invalid. When John Gerard, a Jesuit missionary, decided to establish a house for priests in London, he asked Anne to take charge of it. She gladly accepted, although it was a dangerous work. She managed the finances, did the housekeeping, answered inquiries, taught children, and embroidered vestments. The priests called her Mrs. Martha. She longed for martyrdom, and the martyr (Ven.) William Thompson had once promised her that if he should be martyred, he would "pray for her that she might obtain the like happiness."

After Gerard's escape from the Tower in October 1597, Anne moved to another house, for hers had become too well known to be safe. There, she made vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. On Candlemas Day, 1601, Anne invited an unusually large number of Catholics for Mass which attracted attention, and constables arrived. The celebrant, Francis Page, SJ, escaped, but Anne and some of the congregation were arrested. She came up for trial on February 26 before Lord Chief Justice Popham and was sentenced to death for harboring a priest; but since the priest had not been found, the charge was unproved. The next day, she was drawn from Newgate to Tyburn. (Bl.) Mark Barkworth, OSB, and (Bl.) Roger Filcock, SJ, who had long been a friend and confessor of Anne, were martyred at the same time. The Countess of Arundel, Bl. Philip Howard's widow, lent her carriage for the rescue of Anne's body from the communal grave. Anne was beatified in 1935 and canonized in 1970.

Feast: Feb. 27.

Bibliography: j. gerard, The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, tr. p. caraman (New York 1952). m. o'dwyer, Blessed Anne Line (Postulation pamphlet; London 1961).

[g. fitzherbert]