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Saint Anne Line
Forty Martyrs of England and Wales
Born 1567, Essex
Died 27 February 1601, Tyburn
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 15 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI
Feast 30 August

Saint Anne Line (1567- 27 February 1601) was an English martyr who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I for harbouring a priest. She was born in 1567,[1] the second daughter of Heigham, Esq., of Essex, a strict Calvinist, and was, together with her brother William, disinherited for converting to Catholicism. Some time before 1586, she married Roger Line, a young Catholic who had been disinherited for the same reason. Roger Line and William Heigham were arrested together while attending Mass, and were imprisoned, fined, and finally banished. Roger Line went to Flanders, where he received a small allowance from the King of Spain, part of which he sent regularly to his wife until his death around 1594.

Around the same time, Father John Gerard, S.J. opened a house of refuge for hiding priests, and put the newly-widowed Anne Line in charge of it, despite her ill health. By 1597, this house had become insecure, so another was opened, and Anne Line was, again, placed in charge. On 2 February 1601, Fr. Francis Page was saying Mass in the house managed by Anne Line, when men arrived to arrest him. The priest managed to slip into a special hiding place, prepared by her and afterwards to escape, but she was arrested, along with two other laypeople.

She was tried at the Old Bailey on 26 February 1601. She was so weak that she was carried to the trial in a chair. She told the court that so far from regretting having concealed a priest, she only grieved that she "could not receive a thousand more." Sir John Popham, the judge, sentenced her to hang the next day at Tyburn.

Anne Line was hanged on 27 February 1601. She was executed immediately before two priests, Fr. Roger Filcock, and Fr. Mark Barkworth, though, as a woman, she was spared the disembowelling that they endured. At the scaffold she repeated what she had said at her trial, declaring loudly to the bystanders: "I am sentenced to die for harbouring a Catholic priest, and so far I am from repenting for having so done, that I wish, with all my soul, that where I have entertained one, I could have entertained a thousand."

It has been argued (by John Finnis and others) that Shakespeare's poem The Phoenix and the Turtle was written shortly after her death to commemorate Anne and Roger Line and that it allegorically takes the form of a Catholic requiem for the couple.

Anne Line was beatified by Pope Pius XI on 15 December 1929. She was canonised by Pope Paul VI on 25 October 1970, as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Her feast day, along with that of the other thirty-nine martyrs, is on 25 October. However, in certain Catholic dioceses of England & Wales, such as the Diocese of Leeds, she shares a feast day with fellow female martyr saints, Margaret Clitherow and Margaret Ward on 30 August.

Her name is sometimes misspelled as Ann Line.


  1. ^ Kathy Lynn Emerson, A Who's Who of Tudor Women, retrieved 22-12-09

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