Thursday, March 22, 2012

St. Nicholas Owen, Redux

Because of the Julian/Gregorian calendar confusions of 16th and 17th century Europe, and their intermingling with Catholic v. Protestant conflicts at the same time, dates can be a problem for a historian and a reader. I wrote about St. Nicholas Owen on March 2 this year, but The Catholic Herald has featured him on-line this week for his martyrdom's anniversary on March 22. Since he is such a great martyr, here's a link to their post and a quotation:

Nicholas Owen (c 1550-1606) was one of four sons of Walter Owen, a carpenter who lived in Oxford. Inheriting his father’s skill, he came to specialise in the construction of concealed priest-holes in country houses. Many Catholics on the run owed their lives to him.

“I verily think,” noted Fr John Gerard, “that no one can be said to have done more good of all those who laboured in the English vineyard.

“He was the immediate occasion of saving many hundreds of persons, both ecclesiastical and secular, which had been lost and forfeited many times over if the priests had been taken in their houses.”

Owen is first encountered in 1581 in connection with the martyrdom of Edmund Campion, whose servant he may have been. At all events, he maintained Campion’s innocence of treason with such force that he himself was imprisoned.

He must have been tough to survive the appalling conditions, which killed one of his fellow prisoners. Yet he was a small man who walked with a pronounced limp after a pack horse fell on top of him and broke his leg.

St. Nicholas Owen suffered to keep the missionary priests safe while he lived and he gave his life for their safety, too. St. Nicholas Owen, Pray for Us.

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