August 30th, 2012Margaret Ward: English Martyrby Joseph Pearce
Continuing our habit on the Ink Desk of honouring the English martyrs, I'd like to pay homage to a wonderful saint, who laid down her life for the Faith of her Fathers.
St. Margaret Ward, whose feast day we celebrate today, was tortured and put to death on this day in 1588. Her "crime" was helping a priest, William Watson, escape from prison. According to the great poet and martyr, Robert Southwell, who would also be put to death seven years later, Margaret Ward was tortured brutally prior to her execution. In a letter to Claude Aquaviva, his Jesuit Superior in Rome, Southwell wrote: "She was flogged and hung up by the wrists, the tips of her toes only touching the ground, for so long a time that she was crippled and paralyzed, but these sufferings greatly strengthened the glorious martyr for her last struggle." In spite of such torture, she resolutely refused to divulge the whereabouts of the fugitive priest. At her trial, she admitted to having helped Fr. Watson to escape, and rejoiced in "having delivered an innocent lamb from the hands of those bloody wolves".
Margaret Ward was given the choice of attending Protestant services and being set free or refusing and being put to death. She chose to be true to her Spouse, Jesus Christ, even unto death, and was hanged along with four other martyrs, John Roche, Richard Flower, Edward Shelley and Richard Martin.
St. Margaret Ward, please pray that today's Catholics may have the strength of faith, through the gift of grace, to lay down their lives for their non-believing friends and that the blood of the martyrs may continue to be the seed of the Church in the twenty-first century.