Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Good Friday, March 25, 1586

U.K.'s The Catholic Herald highlights St. Margaret Clitherow, crushed to death on March 25, 1586 for refusing to make a plea in her arrest for harboring a Catholic priest in York:

Margaret was arrested in 1586 for harbouring Catholic clergy. She refused to plead guilty to the charge because she knew her children would be brought forward as witnesses and consequently might be subjected to torture.

Margaret was executed by being crushed to death on Good Friday in 1586. The two sergeants hired to kill her used four beggars to do the deed instead. It took her 15 minutes to die as she was crushed with rocks and stones. Her last words were “Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! have mercy on me!”

Her body was left for six hours until the weight was removed. Her hand was saved following her death and is now a relic in the chapel of the Bar Convent in York.

When Elizabeth I heard of Margaret’s horrific death, she wrote to the citizens of York condemning the act and arguing that women should not be executed. Her son William also became a priest and her daughter Anne became a nun in Louvain, Belgium. Margaret was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI and canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. She is one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

When St. Margaret Clitherow was prepared for her execution, she was laid on her back with a sharp stone underneath. Her arms were spread and tied down as though she was on a cross, with her feet tied down. Did her executioners realize that she was imitating Jesus on the Cross so exactly, on Good Friday?

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