Above: St. Margaret Clitherow
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT MARGARET MIDDLETON CLITHEROW (1556- MARCH 25, 1586)
Roman Catholic Martyr in England
Her feast transferred from March 25
The Feast of St. Margaret Clitherow is March 25 in the Roman Catholic Church. March 25, however, is also the Feast of the Annunciation. My rule regarding biblical feasts on my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days is, with few exceptions, to reserve a date with a biblical feast for that biblical feast and to transfer other commemorations that might fall on that date to other dates. I have decided during the ongoing renovation of the Ecumenical Calendar to follow Roman Catholic custom and retain March 25 as the Feast of St. Dismas also; he was a biblical saint, after all. Clitherow, however, lived in the 1500s. Therefore I have transferred Clitherow’s feast to March 26.
Margaret Middleton, born at York, England, in 1556, was a daughter of Thomas Middleton (a candle maker and, for two years, the Sheriff of York) and Jane Middleton. Our saint grew up an Anglican and married John Clitherow. She converted to Roman Catholicism circa 1574. Our saint endured more than one term of imprisonment for being a Roman Catholic, for allowing clandestine Masses on her property, and for sheltering Roman Catholic priests (including her husband’s brother). Her final trial (on March 14, 1586) resulted in a death sentence. Clitherow refused to answer any charges and to incriminate family members and servants. Her last words, during the fatal pressing on Good Friday, were
Jesus, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me.
Both of her sons became priests and her daughter became a nun.
Pope Pius XI declared Clitherow a Venerable then a Blessed in 1929. Pope Paul VI canonized her in 1970.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
FEBRUARY 4, 2017 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIUS THE CENTURION, WITNESS TO THE CRUCIFIXION
Gracious God, in every age you have sent men and women
who have given their lives in witness to your love and truth.
Inspire us with the memory of St. Margaret Clitherow,
whose faithfulness led to the way of the cross,
and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives
to your Son’s victory over sin and death,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 59