If you have time I’d like you to read this , and then if you want to to answer the question .
The Pearl of York teaches me two things in particular .
I iive in Lancashire in the north of England . Lancashire is a county from which came one tenth of the English martyrs . Our neighbour is the county of Yorkshire with its capital York , an ancient city . So it’s not far away from me , just a couple of hours by train to York .
In York is a very old street called the Shambles in which lived a remarkable lady , Margaret Clitherow…
She is the Pearl .
Margaret Clitherow was born Margaret Middleton in 1556 in York. She was the daughter of a wax chandler and brought up a protestant, Margaret married widower, John Clitherow, in 1571. She was just 15. They had a happy marriage and had several children.
John Clitherow was a butcher and his shop and house were in the Shambles . Margaret converted to Catholicism in 1574 , when being a Catholic was a dangerous thing. Anyone celebrating Mass was hunted down and risked, at best, imprisonment or, at worse, death .
Within a couple of years of her conversion, Margaret was helping and sheltering priests in the city, Priests and those who were caught hiding them faced the death penalty.
Iin 1586, the Clitherow home was raided. The priest escaped but Margaret and her family refused to speak. A small boy staying with them was so frightened, he told the interrogators everything. Priest’s vestments and communion bread were found and Margaret was arrested and her children never saw her again.
At her trial Margaret was found guilty and sentenced to death .
She was stripped naked and made to lie on the floor with a stone in her back. A door was laid on top of her and piled with heavy stones. It’s thought she might have been pregnant and she took fifteen minutes to die, her last words being “Jesu! Jesu! Jesu! Have mercy on me.”
St Margaret Clitherow’s home is now a simple shrine in her honour…
A plaque on Ouse Bridge marks the spot of her martyrdom…
To enter that house , and to stand where St Margaret Clitherow was martyred is a privilege and is very moving . And the experience always teaches me two things .
What about you ? What does this Pearl of York teach you ?.