Conspirator Spotlight – St Nicholas Owen


The reign of Elizabeth I of England was a dangerous time to be a Catholic. It was a time when being Catholic could get you killed, and yet the faithful still clung to Holy Mother Church.

Masses were said in secret, and priests smuggled from place to place. To be caught hiding a priest was a certain death sentence, and yet the devout persevered. There emerged across the country a network of safe houses and escape routes. It wasn’t very long before the Catholic remnant began to devise hiding places for the priests they smuggled across the English Channel.

St Nicholas Owen, a Jesuit lay brother and carpenter,  was  a genius at devising these hidey-holes in the homes of the faithful. Collapsing stair risers, false walls, trapdoors, and even a toilet or two became the means of concealment. As he became more adept at creating priest holes, St Nicholas began to add ways for smuggling food and water to the hidden clerics.

Eventually arrested by the Queen’s agents, St Nicholas was taken to the tower where he was tortured to death on March 2, 1606. Even under extreme duress, he did not reveal the location of any of the priest holes he had devised.

Entrance to the priest hole (from inside) In the Library Havrington Hall-Worcestershire

Because of his cleverness in helping priests in Elizabethan England evade capture, and thus be able bring the Sacraments to the faithful, St Nicholas Owen is our Conspirator of the Week

Have a Catholic Conspirator you’d like us to spotlight? Please leave their name in the comment box

photo credit:By Quodvultdeus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons




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Rebecca Frech is a Catholic author, speaker, CrossFit coach, and the Managing Editor of The Catholic Conspiracy website. She is the author of the best-selling books Teaching in Your Tiara: A Homeschooling Book for the Rest of Us and Can We Be Friends? She is a co-host of the popular podcast The Visitation Project, and is a columnist for The National Catholic Register. She and her husband live just outside Dallas with their eight children, a German Shepherd named Dave, and an ever-multiplying family of dust-bunnies.


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