Christ the Lord was tempted and suffered for us. Come, let us adore him.
Or: O that today you would listen to his voice: harden not your hearts.
Year: B(I). Psalm week: 1. Liturgical Colour: Violet.
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.
Saint Gregory of Narek (c.950-1005)
He was born around 950 to a noble family in the region of Anzevatsik in Armenia: a region now on the borders of south-eastern Turkey and north-western Iran. He received a cultured and literary upbringing. As a young man he entered the monastery of Narek, of which his great-uncle Ananias was abbot. He was educated by the famous school of the monastery and spent the rest of his life there, being ordained priest and eventually becoming abbot.
His life was marked by an intense love of the Virgin Mary. He attained great heights of sanctity and mystical experience, and expounded his teaching in various mystical and theological works. In 1003 he wrote his outstanding work, the Book of Lamentations, and he died about two years later.
The Book of Lamentations retains enormous importance as a foundation-stone of Armenian literature, and remains widely influential to this day. Gregory’s work is still little known in the West (no English translation has yet been produced by a major publisher); but he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis in 2015 and his memorial was added to the General Calendar in 2021.
Liturgical colour: violet
Violet is a dark colour, ‘the gloomy cast of the mortified, denoting affliction and melancholy’. Liturgically, it is the colour of Advent and Lent, the seasons of penance and preparation.
|Mid-morning reading (Terce)||Apocalypse 3:19-20 ©|
I am the one who reproves and disciplines all those he loves: so repent in real earnest. Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him.
|Noon reading (Sext)||Isaiah 44:21-22 ©|
Remember these things, Jacob, and that you are my servant, Israel. I have formed you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. I have dispelled your faults like a cloud, your sins like a mist. Come back to me, for I have redeemed you.
|Afternoon reading (None)||Galatians 6:7-8 ©|
What a man sows, he reaps. If he sows in the field of self-indulgence he will get a harvest of corruption out of it; if he sows in the field of the Spirit he will get from it a harvest of eternal life.