Happy Feast Day,
St. Nicholas Owen
(N.B. – Because we’re in the Paschal Triduum, technically there is no feast today.)
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:
He is my patron saint (I pray to him & St. Joseph when I start a small home repair)
I love his life’s story – I wish I could just point you to 1 or 2 links; but they’re all filled with good information
He shares his feast day with my daughter’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Anne-Catherine)
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.
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.
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.
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!