vendredi 27 février 2015

Sainte ANNE LINE, martyre

Sainte Anne Line, martyre

Elle nait dans une noble famille protestante d’Angleterre. Son frère et elle se convertissent au christianisme et sont aussitôt rejetés et déshérités par leurs parents. Anne épouse un autre converti du nom de Roger Line, qui est arrêté puis exilé en Flandres où il décède peu de temps après. Suspectée de protéger et d’héberger des prêtres catholiques, et en raison de sa fidélité à l'Eglise romaine, elle est arrêtée et condamnée à la pendaison et est exécutée à Tyburn le 27 février 1601. Avec elle moururent les bienheureux prêtres et martyrs Marc Barkworth, bénédictin et Roger Filcock, jésuite.

Sainte Anne Line

Martyre en Angleterre ( 1601)

martyre anglaise. 

D'origine noble et élevée dans la Communion anglicane, elle se convertit au catholicisme, hébergeant souvent des prêtres. En raison de sa fidélité à l'Eglise romaine, elle fut condamnée à être pendue à Tyburn.

Elle fait partie des Quarante martyrs d'Angleterre et du Pays de Galles qui ont été canonisés en 1970.

À Londres, en 1601, sainte Anne Line, veuve et martyre. Née de parents calvinistes, qui la déshéritèrent et la chassèrent de chez eux quand elle devint catholique, elle épousa Roger Line, qui mourut en exil à cause de la foi catholique. Après sa mort, elle fournit un hébergement à des prêtres à Londres, et pour cela, fut pendue à Tyburn, sous la reine Élisabeth Ière. Avec elle subirent le même supplice les bienheureux prêtres et martryrs Marc Barkworth, bénédictin, et Roger Felcock, de la Compagnie de Jésus, qui furent mis en pièces alors qu’ils respiraient encore.

Martyrologe romain
St. Anne Line
English martyr, d. 27 Feb., 1601. She was the daughter of William Heigham of Dunmow, Essex, a gentleman of means and an ardent Calvinist, and when she and her brother announced their intention of becoming Catholics both were disowned and disinherited. Anne married Roger Line, a convert like herself, and shortly after their marriage he was apprehended for attending Mass. After a brief confinement he was released and permitted to go into exile in Flanders, where he died in 1594. When Father John Gerard established a house of refuge for priests in London, Mrs. Line was placed in charge. After Father Gerard's escape from the Tower in 1597, as the authorities were beginning to suspect her assistance, she removed to another house, which she made a rallying point for neighbouring Catholics. On Candlemas Day, 1601, Father Francis Page, S.J. was about to celebrate Mass in her apartments, when priest-catchers broke into the rooms. Father Page quickly unvested, and mingled with the others, but the altar prepared for the ceremony was all the evidence needed for the arrest of Mrs. Line. She was tried at the Old Bailey 26 Feb., 1601, and indicted under the Act of 27 Eliz. for harbouring a priest, though this could not be proved. The next day she was led to the gallows, and bravely proclaiming her faith, achieved the martyrdom for which she had prayed. Her fate was shared by two priests, [Bl.] Mark Barkworth, O.S.B., and Roger Filcock, S.J., who were executed at the same time.

Roger Filcock had long been Mrs. Line's friend and frequently her confessor. Entering the English College at Reims in 1588, he was sent with the others in 1590 to colonize the seminary of St. Albans at Valladolid, and, after completing his course there, was ordained and sent on the English mission. Father Garnett kept him on probation for two years to try his mettle before admitting him to the Society of Jesus, and finding him zealous and brave, finally allowed him to enter. He was just about to cross to the Continent for his novitiate when he was arrested on suspicion of being a priest and executed after a travesty of a trial.

[Note: In 1970, Anne Line was canonized by Pope Paul VI among the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, whose joint feast day is kept on 25 October]


MORRIS, Life of Fr. John Gerard; CHALLONER, Memoirs, I, 396; FOLEY, Records S.J. I, 405; VII, 254; Douay Diaries, p. 219, 280; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. Rutland Coll. Belvoir Castle, I, 370; GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cath.

Quinn, Stanley. "St. Anne Line." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 27 Feb. 2017 <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Herman F. Holbrook. O Saint Anne, and all ye holy Martyrs, pray for us.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

The Anne Line story

The story of Anne Line, at least as it was passed on by the Jesuit John Gerard who knew her well, starts with her marriage to Roger Line of Ringwood. Both husband and wife were from Protestant families of minor landed-gentry, and Roger Line, the eldest son, was heir both to his father and to his uncle. This meant that while they were not vastly wealthy, they were certainly set fair for a secure future on the Line family estates in Hampshire and Sussex. Within three years of their wedding day Roger Line was arrested at a banned Catholic mass together with Anne’s brother William and a Catholic priest evidently employed by the said William as a chaplain. The priest was hanged, drawn and quartered a few weeks later and Roger Line and William Higham were imprisoned, the latter in the Bridewell, notorious among Catholics for particularly hellish conditions and domain of the sadistic bigot Richard Topcliffe.

While in prison, Roger Line learned that he was being cut out of his inheritance by his father and his uncle because of his refusal to conform to the state church. This had been threatened before but the threat was now carried out. At around the same time, Anne Line’s father took similar drastic action and seems to have deprived her of land due to her as her dowry. He also took the extraordinary step of cutting his only son William out of his inheritance. After several months in prison Roger Line was released but banished into exile where he managed to obtain financial support from the Spanish crown in the form of a regular pension, part of which he sent back to support his wife in England who was now estranged from her own family. It appears that Anne Line became pregnant before her husband left the country for Antwerp and subsequently gave birth to a son who was called John. At some point, perhaps when Anne Line was very sick, the baby was taken from her and adopted by her estranged in-laws in Hampshire. A few years later, after fruitless attempts to obtain permission to return to England, Roger Line died in Belgium.

This was the point in her life, rejected by her own family and having lost her only child and her husband, that Anne Line began to work for the Jesuits. It was, of course, a highly dangerous course of action, but given all that had happened, it would not be so surprising if death held few terrors for her. She was put in charge of the Jesuit safe-house in London where newly-minted priests, arriving by diverse clandestine means, would lodge for a while before a more permanent placement was found for them, perhaps in some far-flung manor in the countryside. The Jesuits at this time, though few in number, were organising practically the whole of the English mission, and Anne Line was right at the centre of this operation. They called her ‘Mrs Martha’ after the Martha of the gospels who fussed about preparing food while her more ‘contemplative’ sister sat attentive at the feet of Jesus. Her service no doubt often took the form of mundane tasks such as cooking, cleaning, perhaps sewing on a button or three, but Fr Gerard, who provided the money for renting the property, describes her as having responsibility for ‘managing’ the house. This implies that she was left in charge for extended periods, such as during the three years that Gerard was in prison and, given the dangers and the importance of the house, is testament to her competence, her courage, and to the absolute trust placed in her by the Jesuits. Fr Garnet, the head of the order in England, declared that he had ‘never met a woman of greater prudence’ and compared Anne Line to the ‘Roman Matrons’ – powerful women in charge of households who sheltered fellow Christians at times of persecution and played a vital role in the survival of the Church. There appear to have been three neighbouring properties rented for the use of the mission, and as well as priests, Anne Line would have met young men heading off to the seminaries and young women en route to the newly founded convents for English ladies across the Channel. She also ‘instructed’ a group of children, though we know nothing more of who they were. All in all, Anne Line must have come in contact with a significant number of those people most involved in the underground Catholic mission and would have been know by repute to a great many more.

On Candlemas Day, 2 February, 1601, during the blessing of candles that precedes the mass on that day, there was a raid on the house where Anne Line was then living in Fetter Lane. She was arrested and jailed in Newgate prison on Old Bailey Lane and three weeks later, on Ash Wednesday, 25 February, she was sentenced to death by the Lord Chief Justice at the Sessions House. On Friday 27 February, as snow flurries swept through the London streets, Anne Line was taken on a cart to the execution site at Tyburn and hanged before the crowd that had gathered there. Two priests from the same prison, Mark Barkworth and Roger Filcock, were hanged, drawn and quartered shortly afterwards. Anne Line’s body was retrieved from the grave in the road (where it had been dumped without ceremony) by the servants of the Countess of Arundel, so that it could be buried with ‘full decorum’ after a proper requiem mass held in great secrecy. It is this requiem that is thought to be the setting for Shakespeare’s cryptic poem, ‘The Phoenix and the Turtle’.

Sant' Anna Line Martire

† Londra, Inghilterra, 27 febbraio 1601

Canonizzata il 25 ottobre 1970 da Papa Paolo VI.

Martirologio Romano: A Londra in Inghilterra, sant’Anna Line, vedova e martire, che, morto il marito in esilio per la fede cattolica, procurò in questa città una casa ai sacerdoti e per questo, sotto la regina Elisabetta I, a Tyburn fu impiccata. Insieme a lei patirono anche i beati sacerdoti e martiri Marco Barkworth, dell’Ordine di San Benedetto, e Ruggero Filcock, della Compagnia di Gesù, dilaniati con la spada mentre erano ancora vivi.

Seconda figlia di Guglielmo (o Giovanni) Heigham e di Anna Alien, Anna nacque a Dunmow, nella contea di Essex. Convertitasi al cattolicesimo insieme col fratello Guglielmo, fu con questo disere­data e scacciata di casa dal padre, fiero calvinista, che inutilmente aveva anche tentato di farla apo­statare. Poco dopo Anna sposò Ruggero Line, anche egli cattolico convertito, che per la fede aveva subito la stessa sorte della moglie. Ma ben presto rimase sola e senza risorse perché il marito, arre­stato nel 1586, mentre stava ascoltando la s. Messa, e condannato all'ergastolo, mutato poi in esilio per­petuo, andò a stabilirsi nelle Fiandre, dove visse ancora otto anni poveramente, percependo una pic­cola pensione concessagli dal re di Spagna e di cui inviava parte alla moglie a Londra.

Rimasta vedova nel 1594 e molto malandata in salute, Anna più che mai si trovò afflitta dal bisogno, dovendo fidare unicamente nella divina Provvi­denza per il suo sostentamento.

Quando nel 1595 il gesuita Giovanni Gerard istituì in Londra una casa di ricovero per i sacerdoti che giungevano nuovi nella città, o che già vi eser­citavano il ministero, Anna fu chiamata a governarla ed amministrarla, mansioni queste che ella svolse giorno per giorno con l'affetto di una madre e la devozione di un'ancella, finché cadde in sospetto dei persecutori, specie dopo la fuga del Gerard dalle prigioni della Torre nel 1597. Costretta per questo a cambiare residenza, andò ad abitare in una casa molto appartata, dove nondimeno, per la delazione di un vicino, venne catturata il 2 febb. 1601 da un manipolo di armati e rinchiusa nelle prigioni di Newgate. Trascinata poco dopo in tribunale, dove fu necessario condurla su una sedia, talmente gravi erano le sue condizioni di salute, venne processata dal giudice Popham, sotto l'imputazione di aver dato rifugio ed assistenza ai preti missionari. Dichia­rata colpevole del reato ascrittole da una giuria com­piacente, fu condannata alla pena capitale, venendo giustiziata al Tyburn il 27 febb. 1601, insieme con il gesuita Ruggero Filcock, suo confessore ed amico, e col benedettino Marco Barkworth. Prima di porgere la testa al capestro, dichiarò ad alta voce rivolta alla folla circostante: « Sono stata condan­nata per aver concesso ospitalità ad un prete catto­lico; eppure sono cosi lontana dal pentirmene che vorrei di tutto cuore averne ospitato un migliaio, invece di uno solo ». Innalzata da Pio XI all'onore degli altari, il 15 dic. 1929 (cf. ASS, XXII [1930], p. 15, n. LXXXIII), la beata Anna viene commemorata il 27 febbraio.

Autore: Niccolò Del Re