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Anne Line

(c. 1565—1601) Roman Catholic martyr


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(c.1565–1601), martyr. Born at Dunmow (Essex) of ardent Calvinist parents, Anne Heigham, with her brother William, joined the R.C. Church before the age of twenty, with the result that they were disinherited and driven from home. In 1585 she married Roger Line, also a disinherited convert, who, after being imprisoned for attending Mass, was eventually exiled to Flanders where he died in 1594. He left Anne more or less destitute and she became the housekeeper of Fr. John Gerard S.J. who kept a large house in London as a place of hospitality for priests. Although frail in health, Anne proved herself capable, discreet, and kindly: in her spare time she taught children and worked at embroidery. After Gerard's famous escape from the Tower in 1597 she had to move to another house. In order to make her dedication more permanent and complete, she took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. On 2 February an unusually large number of recusants assembled for Mass at her house. Pursuivants soon arrived and, although the priest escaped, Anne was arrested and imprisoned. On 26 February she was tried under the statute of 27 Elizabeth for harbouring a priest, the principal evidence being the altar found in her house. She was found guilty and was sentenced to death: her execution took place the next day. She might well be considered the model and patron of the demanding profession of priest's housekeeper. She was canonized by Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Feast: 25 October.

From The Oxford Dictionary of Saints in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.


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