A statue of St Anne Line at St Anne Line Junior School in Basildon, Essex, England, UK. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
St. Anne Line, martyr (AKA Anne Higham; Anne Lyne)
Died: 27 Feb 1601. Hanged as a martyr at Tyburn in London, England
Beatified: 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized: 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
Feast: 27 Feb
Anne was the daughter of William Heigham, a devout Calvinist (Puritan), a member of Parliament and a reformer under King Henry VIII. He disowned his daughter when she married Roger Line of Hampshire, a convert to Catholicism. Shortly after they were married, Roger, who was then 19 years old, was assisting at Mass when he was arrested and imprisoned for being a Catholic. He was later exiled and died in Flanders, Belgium in 1594.
Anne, along with her brother William, converted to Catholicism as teenagers. When Roger died, she lost her home. Although still quite young, her health was not good.
Anne remained in England where she aided Fr. John Gerard by hiding Catholic priests in a London safe house where she also served as their housekeeper. She not only kept the house in order, she managed its accounts, answered any inquiries, taught catechism classes and embroidered the robes worn by the priests.
Anne had a desire to die a martyr’s death. Another martyr, Ven. William Thompson, promised her that if he were to be martyred before her, he would pray that she would receive the same grace.
Fr. Gerard was captured and imprisoned in April, 1597 but escaped imprisonment the following October. Since the police were suspicious of the house where she was living, Anne moved into another house. She took private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
On Candlemas Day, 1601, the day on which Catholic celebrate the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple, Anne invited a large group of Catholics to attend Mass in her house. The police heard about it and raided it. Fr. Page, who was celebrating the Mass, narrowly escaped, but Anne and several others were arrested.
Although one of her friends was released, Anne was brought before Lord Chief Justice Popham at the Old Bailey Court on February 26. Too week to walk, she was carried into court in a chair. The charge was harboring a priest, an act which was considered to be treason. When the court asked Anne if she were guilty of receiving a priest, she replied loudly, “My lords, nothing grieves me more but that I could not receive a thousand more!”
The prosecution only presented one witness, and failed to make its case because the priest she was charged with hiding had not been found. Despite that, the judge directed the jury to find Anne guilty and condemned her to death. On February 27, 1601, Anne Line was hanged on the scaffold at Tyburn, in London. She had spent her last hours in peaceful prayer and, when she was brought to Tyburn, she kissed the gallows that would fulfill her wish to die for Christ.
She was beatified by Pope Pius X on December 15, 1935 and canonized a martyr on October 25, 1970, by Pope Paul VI.
© 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.