chapter  13
18 Pages

TheLivesofAnneLine:VowedLaywoman,Recusant Martyr, and Elizabethan Saint

ByRobert E. Scully, S.J.

In the late sixteenth century, Elizabethan England was officially Protestant and Catholicism appeared to be in terminal decline. The launching of the Catholic mission of the seminary priests in 1574, however, which was soon supplemented and expanded by the advent of the Jesuit mission in 1580, injected new signs of life into the Catholic body. While the role of the Catholic clergy was probably indispensable in the revival of a committed-if minority and somewhat underground-Catholic community, many laymen and women also played crucial roles in this harrowing and at times heartbreaking endeavor.1 The life and death of one woman in particular, Anne Line, has generally not received the degree of attention that her efforts and long-term impact deserve, although that is beginning to change.2 The goal of this essay is to highlight the ways in which this remarkable woman helped to create a new path for early modern Catholic women-outside of either the marital household or the convent-to live a life of religious devotion that was inextricably linked with active service to God and neighbor.