The Pearl of York......What does this Pearl teach you?

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 ?.


Hi Rob :slight_smile:
I also live in Lancashire. I just wanted to say that I went to a talk recently (on the feast day this year) and was told that over 40% of the English Martyrs were from Lancashire… just to clarify, I don’t mean of the 40 Martyrs that you’re referring to but of all the Catholic martyrs over those years.
I’m pressed for time atm but will look into The Pearl of York when I get a chance.

Edit: just read your entire post. I was told, during this talk, that she was the wife of the butcher, they had four other children. She was a convert, she was very active in sheltering priests and that she was found guiltyand sentenced to death, which was very unusual at the time as she was a woman, she was crushed to death which took about fifteen minutes, naked and pregnant. The rest is as you say. I hadn’t heard the term Pearl of York, however.

Edit 2: My apologies, I hadn’t answered your question. It teaches me that we may be called to die for our faith, and that we should be prepared for that possibility. She was incredibly brave, even moreso since she was pregnant and had other children.


It is quite the story. How brave she was.
Many Americans don’t know that there was an old man similarly “pressed to death,” Giles Corey, in the Salem witch trials.


I have heard that her house was actually across the street from the current “house and shrine”, because the street was re-numbered in the 1800s. Her actual house is supposedly now a shop that still contains the fireplace with the “priest hole” where she hid the priests.

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Yes , I’ve heard that , but I trust the memory of the Catholics of York who will have passed on the story of St Margaret Clitherow from one generation to another .

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Hello sudy .

I didn’t know it was as high as 40% .

So you are a lassie from Lancashire .

I live in Accrington , yes the home of the Great Accrington Stanley . :smiley:

Accrington Stanley, who are they? I remember the ad :slight_smile: Good stuff.

The 40% is for the English Martyrs (4th May), and not the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales (25th October).

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St Margaret Clitherow , a wife , a mother , was martyred for attending Mass and for sheltering priests so that Catholics in Yorkshire could attend Mass .

The two main things this teaches me are that I should never take the priests who minister to me for granted , and that I should never take the Mass for granted .

The Mass and the priesthood are themselves two pearls which I should treasure .


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