Saint Nicholas Owen (memorial the 22nd of March)

Here’s the small page from the Jesuit website for this faithful Englishman, a carpenter and joiner, who devised many extraordinary ways of hiding Catholics – and especially priests – from the Queen’s men during the high point of the anti-Catholic persecution in these countries at the end of the sixteenth century. He took the secrets of those hiding places to the grave with him. Or rather, to the torture chamber, where he died. Here is the last paragraph from that website:

“The Jesuits were taken to London, and Owen was put into Marshalsea Prison before being moved to the Tower to be tortured. The king’s men realized they had the only person who knew the location of the hiding places and residences of priests all over the kingdom. They were eager to force him to uncover the Catholic underground, but he was even more firm that he would not betray those whom he had spent so much time protecting. He was tortured on the rack for hours a day, several days in succession but maintained his silence. In frustration the torturers kept adding weight to his feet but went beyond all limits. On March 1 his abdomen burst open and his intestines spilled out. Owen lingered on for one painful day before dying in the early hours of March 2. The rack-master tried to cover his behaviour, excessive even under the harsh standards of the day, by saying that the Jesuit had committed suicide. Clever and hard-working in his life, Nicholas Owen remained courageous and faithful in his death.”