Amazing Blessed whose feast we celebrate today!Imagine being imprisoned and suffering a horrible death at the hands of your own son!
Margaret was born in Cobskill (now Skryne), Ireland, in 1515. Her Catholic family was involved in politics, particularly as the realities of the Protestant Reformation took hold in Ireland. When she was sixteen years-old she married Bartholomew Ball, an alderman of Dublin. The couple had ten children, five of whom survived to adulthood. Bartholomew was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1553 and the family moved into a large, comfortable home and Margaret used her influence to provide classes for local children in her family’s home. Bartholomew died in 1573.
In 1558, had Queen Elizabeth I imposed harsher penalties for who refused to accept the tenets of the English Reformation, initiating a decades-long period of persecution that claimed the lives of hundreds English, Scottish, and Irish Catholics. In response, the Ball family provided a safe house for any Catholic clergy passing through Dublin. Despite their faith and courage, Margaret’s son, Walter, became a member of the Church of England in order to advance his career. Walter was eventually appointed Commissioner for Ecclesiastical Causes (in support of the Church of England) and later installed as mayor of Dublin. Shortly after taking office, Walther had Margaret and her private chaplain arrested and taken to the dungeons of Dublin.
Although the rest of the family protested, Walter maintained that he would not allow his mother to go free until she “took the oath,” recognizing the English monarch as the head of the Church. Margaret—who was crippled with debilitating arthritis—died in prison in 1584, after years of suffering the effects of the cold, wet environment of the dungeon.
Blessed Margaret Ball was beatified with Bishop Dermot O’Hurley (who had been arrested in 1577 while saying Mass in the Ball home), Francis Taylor (the husband of Margaret’s granddaughter), and 13 other Irish martyrs in 1992.