Also known as
Margaret Clitheroe; Margaret Middleton; Margarita Clitherow; Margherita Clitherow; Marguerite Clitherow; one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales; the Pearl of York
26 March; 25 October as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
Daughter of Thomas and Jane Middleton, a candle maker and the Sheriff of York for two years. Raised in the Church of England. Married to John Clitherow, wealthy butcher and chamberlain of the city of York, on 8 July 1571. Converted to Catholicism around 1574. Imprisoned several times for her conversion, for sheltering priests (including her husband's brother), and for permitting clandestine Masses to be celebrated on her property. During her trial in Tyburn on 14 March 1586, she refused to answer any of the charges for fear of incriminating her servents and children; both her sons became priests, her daughter a nun.
1556 as Margaret Middleton at York, England
pressed to death on Good Friday, 25 March 1586 at York, England; right hand preserved at Saint Mary's Convent, York
15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI
25 October 1970 by Pope Paul VI
businesswomen; converts; martyrs
Elizabethan houswife kneeling or standing on a heavy wooden door
Feastday: March 26
St. Margaret Clitherow was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. Possessed of good looks and full of wit and merriment, she was a charming personality. In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do grazier and butcher (to whom she bore two children), and a few years later entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. Recourse was had to every means in an attempt to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door over laden with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes. The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily glimpsed in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise." Her feast day is March 26th.