Friday, May 14, 2010

St. Nicholas Owen: Martyr for Priests

Trailers for upcoming film on Saint Nicholas Owen: Maker of Priest Holes. Saint Nicholas Owen is one of the forty martyrs of England and Wales who died under torture after giving himself up to save Jesuit priests. St. Nicholas Owen built many incredible priest holes and is responsible for saving the lives of many priests during the persecution of the Catholic Church in Elizabethan England.

He became a carpenter presumably by trade, and for about twenty years, built hiding-places for priests in the homes of Catholic families. He frequently travelled from one house to another, under the name of "Little John", accepting only the necessities of life as payment before starting off for a new project.[2]

Owen was only slightly taller than a dwarf...his work often involved breaking through thick stonework; and to minimize the likelihood of betrayal he often worked at night, and always alone. The number of hiding-places he constructed will likely never be known. Due to the ingenuity of his craftsmanship, some may still be undiscovered.[3]

For many years, Owen worked in the service of the Jesuit priest Henry Garnet, and was admitted into the Society of Jesus as a lay brother. He was first arrested in 1582 or 1583, after the execution of Edmund Campion, for publicly proclaiming that martyr's innocence, but was later released. He was arrested again in 1594, and was tortured, but revealed nothing. He was released after a wealthy Catholic family paid a fine on his behalf, the jailers believing that he was merely the insignificant friend of some priests. He resumed his work, and is believed to have masterminded the escape of Jesuit Father John Gerard from the Tower of London in 1597.

Early in 1606, Owen was arrested a final time at Hindlip Hall in Worcestershire,[4] giving himself up voluntarily in hope of distracting attention from some priests who were hiding nearby.
~ Excerpts from here. ~

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

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