Saint Margaret Ward

d. 1588

Saint Margaret Ward, d. 1588

August 30

In 1588, King Philip II of Spain sent a fleet of warships to England, hoping to conquer the island nation and bring it back to the Catholic Church, but the effort failed. Because of this conflict, Catholics in England were persecuted to the point of death—there were even six new gallows built in various parts of London. 

Father Watson was a priest who spoke out against the persecution. As a result, he was arrested and treated brutally in Bridewell Prison. Margaret Ward, a Catholic, felt sorry for him and helped him escape. Gaining the favor of the guards, she smuggled a rope into the prison in a basket of food. Early the next morning, Father Watson escaped. John Roche, Margaret’s servant, found Father Watson a boat and exchanged clothes with him. Margaret and her servant were arrested when the authorities traced the rope back to her.

Despite being tortured, both Margaret and John refused to tell authorities where Father Watson was hidden. At their trial, they were told that if they asked the queen for forgiveness and joined the Church of England, they would be pardoned. They refused, both saying they had done nothing to apologize for and that it was against their consciences to join a Protestant church. They were drawn, quartered, and hanged on August 30, 1588. Margaret Ward was canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

Discuss: Name the virtues you recognize in Saint Margaret's story. 

Great Britain
Verbal/Linguistic, Interpersonal

Encourage the young people to find out more about Great Britain. Share the following information:

  • Great Britain has a history dating back five centuries before Christ and was once part of the Roman Empire.
  • Great Britain is an island kingdom of about 93,000 square miles (including Scotland and Wales) off the western coast of Europe.
  • Great Britain has not been successfully invaded by a foreign power since the Norman Conquest in 1066.
  • Until the mid-1900s, Great Britain controlled the largest empire in recorded history.
  • Great Britain has a population of nearly 62 million, many of whom are Roman Catholic, although the Anglican Church is the official state religion.