M a r g a r e t C l i t h e r o w | The Pearl of York

Margaret Clitherow.  A staunch Catholic who lost her life in the name of Catholicism 
The turmoil which followed the Reformation created an array of martyrs on both sides of the religious divide. One such martyr, nicknamed ‘the pearl of York’, was Margaret Clitherow

Margaret was born in York in 1556. In 1574 she converted to Catholicism and was first imprisoned in 1577 for refusing to attend Protestant church services, then two further prison sentences followed. Her third child was born in York Castle Museum prison.

Margaret was married to a wealthy butcher, John Clitherow. They lived in the Shambles, but not in the house which is now her shrine, but in the house opposite, http://www.thepotionscauldron.com. She hid priests in her house and had Mass said in secret, which was very dangerous when England was in imminent danger of invasion by the Catholic super-power Spain and Catholic priests seen as spies. It was here that her house was searched by the authorities who found the location of a hiding place for priests and so Margaret was arrested, refusing to enter a plea.

Margaret was tried in the Guildhall, but refused to plead to prevent the trial starting, thus protecting her children and associates from being called as witnesses. For refusing to plead she was condemned to ‘peine forte et dure’ (long and hard pain), originally a torture designed to make people who refused to accept trial by jury. She was held in the prisons in the bowels of Ouse Bridge and martyred by the old Tollbooth at the south end of Ouse Bridge in March 1586. Clothed only in her nightshirt, she was crushed under a door with progressively heavier stones put on it and a sharp stone under her back. Her body was thrown on the public dunghill, but her hand was rescued and remains as a relic at the http://www.bar-convent.org.uk to this day. She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

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