Please do enjoy this podcast on the great English saint Margaret Clitherow, or Clitheroe – spelling was variable back then, and even her contemporary Shakespeare’s name was spelled any number of different ways.
We mention therein Hilaire Belloc’s Characters of the Reformation – well recommended – which may be found in archived pdf format here.
Towards the end, we recite – well, try to recite, for we do these things live, in one take – Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem on Saint Margaret.
By the way, we mention her death on ‘Lady Day’, March 25th, the Solemnity of the Annunciation which, according to one pious tradition, was also the First Good Friday, when Our Lord’s own death occurred. Hence, Christ’s first and last moment of life was on the same day, 33 years apart – Alpha and Omega.
Please do feel free to offer feedback, critical and otherwise, and how the podcast format of Catholic Insight is or is not to your proclivities.
Anon, to Saint Margaret Clitherow!
God’s Daughter, Margaret Clitheroe, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889)
God’s counsel columnar-severe┬░
But chaptered in the chief of bliss┬░
Had always doomed her down to this —
Pressed to death . He plants the year;
The weighty weeks without hands grow,
Heaved drum on drum; but hands also
Must deal with Margaret Clitheroe.
The very victim would prepare.
Like water soon to be sucked in
Will crisp itself or settle and spin┬░
So she: one sees that here and there
She mends the way she means to go.
The last thing Margaret’s fingers sew
Is a shroud for Margaret Clitheroe.
The Christ-ed beauty of her mind
Her mould of features mated well.
She was admired. The spirit of hell
Being to her virtue clinching-blind┬░
No wonder therefore was not slow
To the bargain of its hate to throw
The body of Margaret Clitheroe.
Fawning fawning crocodiles
Days and days came round about
With tears to put her candle out;
They wound their winch of wicked smiles
To take her; while their tongues would go
God lighten your dark heart — but no,┬░
Christ lived in Margaret Clitheroe.
She caught the crying of those Three,
The Immortals of the eternal ring,
The Utterer, Uttered, Uttering,┬░
And witness in her place would she.
She not considered whether or no
She pleased the Queen and Council. So
To the death with Margaret Clitheroe!
She was a woman upright, outright;
Her will was bent at God. For that
Word went she should be crushed out flat
Within her womb the child was quick.
Small matter of that then! Let him smother
And wreck in ruins of his mother
Great Thecla, the plumed passionflower,
Next Mary mother of maid and nun,
*****And every saint of bloody hour And breath immortal thronged that show; Heaven turned its starlight eyes below, To the murder of Margaret Clitheroe.
She held her hands to, like in prayer;
They had them out and laid them wide
(Just like Jesus crucified);
They brought their hundredweights to bear.┬░
Jews killed Jesus long ago
God’s son; these (they did not know)
God’s daughter Margaret Clitheroe.
When she felt the kill-weights crush
She told His name times-over three;
I suffer this she said for Thee .
After that in perfect hush
For a quarter of an hour or so
She was with the choke of woe. —
It is over, Margaret Clitheroe.