Happy Feast Day, St. Nicholas Owen

Happy Feast Day,

St. Nicholas Owen

(N.B. – Because we’re in the Paschal Triduum, technically there is no feast today.)

St. Nicholas Owen from www.jesuit.org.uk 

I fooled a lot of people with my Halloween outfit a couple of years ago.  Families gathered together at the Family Life Center, dressed like their favorite saints.  I had on a brown piece of cloth (I didn’t have black) that was supposed to evoke the image of a monk; and – importantly – I wore a tool belt, complete with hammer and nails.

Of course, everyone guessed that I was St. Joseph (very good guesses).  But I wasn’t.

Instead, I was one of my favorite saints – who is unfortunately not very well-known: St. Nicholas Owen, English martyr for the Catholic faith.

Now, there are several reasons that St. Nicholas Owen is one of my favorite saints:

Here’s a short version of St. Nicholas Owen’s life story:

St. Nicholas Owen lived in England in the late 1500s, when there were laws against being Catholic, including the death penalty for priests.  St. Nicholas wanted to become a priest, like two of his brothers, but instead became one of the first English lay brothers of the Jesuits.  St. Nicholas was a companion of the great St. Edmund Campion; and after Campion was executed, Fathers Henry Garnett and John Gerard.

What made St. Nicholas Owen special was his consumate skill as a mason and carpenter; in fact, he was a superior workman in everything that he touched.  And his skill saved the lives of many priests and Catholics.  Because of the English anti-Catholic laws, it was often necessary to hide priests and chapels where Masses were held.  St. Nicholas Owen used his skill to build “priest-holes” and to hide small chambers.  He did his work alone, and usually at night.

 priest hole photo from www.nationaltrust.org.uk

St. Nicholas Owen was arrested and subjected to terrible tortures.  The English authorities wanted him to divulge the secret hiding places he had built.  He refused to do so.  The torture of the rack eventually killed him.

Torture on the rack

Today, St. Nicholas Owen is recognized for his great faith along with the 40 Martyrs of England.  (Here’s a great article on them from This Rock magazine.) May we all look to them as a model for faith and perserverance; and may we pray to them for their intercession in the protection of all Catholics and Christians where they are persecuted in the world.

40 Martyrs of England & Wales


Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Our Lady Queen of All Saints, pray for us!

St. Joseph, pray for us!

St. Nicholas Owen, pray for us!

The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, pray for us!

This entry was posted in Feasts and Solemnities, Saints. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Happy Feast Day, St. Nicholas Owen

  1. patti kuebler says:

    thank you for your work to publish this info. My new grandson is named Owen and I have been searching for info. I am not sure which to use since I believe there is also a “St. Owen” born in the 600’s…will search further. Ironically my spouses’s name was walter and his mother was Nicholas! My son did not realize this in the naming of our Owen Michael.
    thanks again

  2. Nicholas Jagneaux says:


    Congratulations on the wonderful addition to your family! May God bless you all.

    I’m glad that my article was helpful and interesting to you. I love St. Nicholas Owen. What a truly remarkable man, through whom God’s grace has blessed the world.

    Let me give you a little help in finding out about a few more St. Owens. A great resource for Patron Saints is at the Star Quest Productions Network site.

    To find out about saints named Owen, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/sainto.htm. There are 5 Saints Owen. Most of them don’t have too much information, but there are links to other resources.

    For a searchable database on other Patron Saints, go to http://saints.sqpn.com/indexsnt.htm. You can search by Name, Date, or Patronage Topic.

    The main (home) page for SQPN is http://sqpn.com/.

    I hope that this helps.

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