As I sit down to write this column, it is 2 February, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord – also known as Candlemas Day – and I have come across a name not encountered before, St Anne Line. Like most UCM members, she was once a housewife. She is better known as one of the Forty Martyrs, along with St Margaret Clitherow and St Margaret Ward.
Born in Essex, in Elizabeth I's reign, Anne was a convert to Catholicism. She was disinherited by her Puritan father when she married Roger Line, also a convert, in 1583. She hid many priests in houses all around the London area and was instrumental in helping Fr John Gerard in his flight from the Tower of London – he placed a rope over the battlements and escaped in a waiting boat. Tradition has it that it was Anne who smuggled the rope in to him.
On Candlemas Day in 1601, Anne was arrested while Mass was being celebrated in her house. A large crowd of Catholics were present, which caught the attention of her neighbours, who sent for the constables. She was imprisoned, tried for harbouring a priest, and hanged on 27 February. On the scaffold, she said: ‘I am sentenced to die for harbouring a Catholic priest, and so far am I from repenting for having so done, that I wish with all my soul that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained thousands.’ Such bravery, such faith. Let us remember those in our own time who are persecuted for the faith.
On a lighter note, the UCM will be represented by members of our committee at the Civic Mass celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral on Sunday 3 March at 11am. The next Bi-monthly Mass will be at St Mary's, Woolton on Wednesday 13 March at 7.30 pm, and I hope to see you there.