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Our School Saint

St Margaret Clitherow

Saint Margaret Clitherow is an English saint and martyr of the Roman Catholic Church, sometimes called “the Pearl of York“.

Margaret Clitherow was born over 450 years ago in York in the north of England. She was born Margaret Middleton in 1556, one of five children of Thomas and Jane Middleton. Her father was a respected businessman, a wax-chandler and Sheriff of York in 1564. He died when Margaret was fourteen. She married John Clitherow, a wealthy butcher and a chamberlain of the city, in 1571 and bore him three children. The family lived in The Shambles, York.  

She is remembered for refusing to plead to the charge of hiding Catholic priests.  This resulted in her being put to death.

At the age of 18 Margaret converted to become a Catholic although at this time it was required that one attend the Established Church which was Protestant.  Margaret’s husband supported her and paid her fines for not attending these church services.  She provided hiding places for priests who were being concealed from the authorities and allowed them to celebrate Mass in her house.  She was imprisoned a number of times but in the end it was her refusal to plead to the charge of hiding priests that resulted in her death.  If the case had gone to court her children would have been obliged to testify and would also have been subjected to torture.  She died on Lady Day 1586 aged just 30.

Margaret was beatified in 1929 and canonized on October 25th 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.  Their feast day is May 4th.

St. Margaret’s Shrine is at 35-36 The Shambles.