Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Nicholas Owen (d. 1606)

Saint Nicholas Owen (d. 1606)

Patron saint of Illusionists and escapologists

Feast day: March 22

Saint Nicholas Owen, or Nicholas the Builder, is legendary even now after four centuries for his extraordinary skill in building hiding places for priests during the worst savagery of anti-Catholicism in England under the dreaded Penal Laws (which bloodied Ireland also).

Saint Nicholas Owen is said to have been a diminutive man, with nicknames such as Little John and Little Michael. He also went by the names Draper and Andrewes, which gives us a sense, perhaps, of his cheerful brilliance at disguises and sleight of hand, with which, coupled with heroic industry and incomparable skill, he devised hideouts for many dozens, perhaps hundreds of priests.

Many priests owed their lives to little Nicholas, and the Catholic faith persisted in England largely because of this deft small man—which may prove that size doesn’t matter as much as skill, diligence, and ferocious faith. He was executed by order of the king in the Tower of London, but his spirit and the power of his courage could not be killed. (From Saints Passionate and Peculiar [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image in public domain-70)