St. Margaret Clitherow is one of the Four Martyrs of England and Wales. Born in 1555, she was raised in the Church of England, but after she married John Clitherow in 1571, she converted to Catholicism. While her husband remained Protestant, he was supportive of his wife’s decision because his brother was a Catholic priest.
During the English Reformation, Parliament passed the “Jesuits, etc. Act 1584,” which required all Catholic priests either to swear allegiance to the Queen of England or to leave England within forty days, or else they would be guilty of high treason.
Margaret was arrested and sent to prison in 1577 for converting to Catholicism and not attending the Church of England’s services. Once she was released, she started a school and harboured priests who remained in England to serve the faithful. In 1584, she was put on house arrest when it was revealed she sent her son to study in the seminary at Douai, France.
When English authorities discovered Margaret was helping Catholic priests, she was arrested again and condemned to death. On May 25, 1586, St. Margaret Clitherow was crushed to death under an eight-hundred-pound weight. Pope Paul VI canonized her in 1970, and her feast day is October 21st.
St. Margaret Clitherow is the patron saint of businesswomen and is the prime example of a fearless woman who went to great lengths to defend her faith.
For an extensive collection of stories of saints and their impact on the Catholic faith, check out Matthew Bunson and Margaret Bunson’s Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia of Saints, 2nd Edition.