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Saint Margaret Ward
|Born||in the 1550s|
Congleton, Cheshire, England
|Died||30 August 1588|
Tyburn, London, England
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Feast||25 October; 30 August|
Saint Margaret Ward (c. 1550-30 August 1588), the "pearl of Tyburn", was an English Catholic martyr who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I for assisting a priest to escape from prison. She was canonized in 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Margaret Ward was born in Congleton, Cheshire around 1550. She was living in London in the service of a lady of the "first rank" when she learned of the severe maltreatment of Richard Watson, a priest confined at Bridewell Prison. She obtained permission to visit him. She was thoroughly searched before and after early visits, but gradually the authorities became less cautious, and she managed to smuggle a rope into the prison. Fr. Watson escaped, but hurt himself in so doing, and left the rope hanging from the window. The boatman whom Ward had engaged to convey him down the river then refused to carry out the bargain. Ward, in her distress, confided in another boatman, John Roche, who undertook to assist her. He provided a boat and exchanged clothes with the priest. Fr. Watson escaped, but Roche was captured in his place, and Ward, having been Fr. Watson's only visitor, was also arrested.
Margaret Ward was kept in irons for eight days, was hung up by the hands, and scourged, but absolutely refused to disclose the priest's whereabouts. At her trial, she admitted to having helped Fr. Watson to escape, and rejoiced in "having delivered an innocent lamb from the hands of those bloody wolves". She was offered a pardon if she would attend a Protestant service but refused. She was hanged at Tyburn on 30 August 1588, along with Edward Shelley, Richard Martin, Richard Leigh, Richard Lloyd (alias Flower) and John Roche.
Margaret Ward was beatified in 1929 and canonized by Pope Paul VI on 25 October 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Her feast day, along with all the English Martyrs, is on 4 May. However, in the Roman Catholic dioceses of England, she shares a feast day with fellow female martyr saints Margaret Clitherow and Anne Line, on 30 August.
The saint is depicted in panels in St Joseph’s, Sale, and St Alban’s, Wallasey. There are several schools named after her, including St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy in Chell, Staffordshire, which counts the singer Robbie Williams among its alumni.
A sheltered housing unit, owned by St. Vincents' Housing Association, is also named in honour of Margaret Ward. The premises are situated in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
- Borrelli, Antonio. "Santa Margherita Ward", Santi e Beati, 12 April 2003
- "St. Margaret Ward", Diocese of Shrewsbury
- Burton, Edwin. "St. Margaret Ward." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 29 May 2016
- Kelly-Gangiand, Carol. 365 Days with the Saints, Wellfleet Press, 2015 ISBN 9781627889636
- "Saint Margaret Ward: Firm in the Faith", Dioceses of Westminster
- Martirologio, Vatican, 2005