Saint Nicholas Owens (c.1550-1606), familiarly known as “Little John,” was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits.

Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith.

Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country. His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.

After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although—for very good reasons—his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret.

After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, “Little John” went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.

He was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

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  1. st. nicholas owens, pray for us and help me improve in my talents.God bless every one in this world and every one purgatory.Amen

  2. St Nicholas: Pray for us that we will remain loyal to God’s teachings despite whatever pain we may face. Amen.

  3. Saint Nicholas Owen’s genius at creating secret hiding place in the homes of persecuted Catholic priests during the reign of Elizabeth 1, is nothing less than inspiring, Many lives were saved thanks to his extraordinary skill, many of the priests, holes were never discovered, and remain concealed to this day. I give thanks for the life of St Nicholas Owen and pray for his blessing in my own life. and of those I love.

  4. The amazing gift that God gave St.Owen was something he did use !
    May ALL of God’s people who have been given such gifts ,,,,,use them for good, use them for God!
    I ask for your Prayers ‘St. John’ that I forever, use the Lord’s gift’s that he has given me!


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