Today is the feast of St. Margaret Clitherow, patron of businesswomen, converts, and martyrs.
Margaret was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. An attractive woman full of wit and cheer, she had a charming personality.
In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do butcher (to whom she bore two children). She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church. A few years later, she entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. They tried every means 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 loaded down 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 evidenced 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.”
Margaret died on Good Friday, March 25, 1586, her last words being, “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!” She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.