St. Margaret Clithrowe, a housewife who lived during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, was asked by the judges to promise not to hide priests again. It was illegal and treasonous to be Catholic and to harbor priests. Clithrowe picked up her Bible and said, “I promise you I will hide priests again because they alone bring us the Body of Christ.” The woman was pressed to death on St. Michael's bridge in York. Her death for the priesthood and for the Eucharist occurred four hundred years ago.
Blessed Peter Snow was a 32 year old priest from Yorkshire. Ralph Grimston was a married layman accompanying the young priest for protection. When the authorities caught the two travelers on their way to York, Grimston unsheathed his sword and fought so the priest could escape. Alas, Snow was captured. He was martyred alongside Grimston on June 15, 1598. Their severed heads were posted on spikes on the town walls as a warning.
Roger Wrenno was another layman who was arrested and convicted for harboring a priest. As he was hanging the rope snapped and he flopped to the ground. After recovering his breath, he knelt to say a prayer. When asked if he wished to take the Oath of Supremacy and renounce his Catholicism, he refused and ran up to the top of the gallows. He replied to jeers, "If you had seen that which I have just now seen, you would be as much in haste to die as I am now."
William Macclesfield was a Catholic husband and father who was loyal to priests, partly because his own brother, Humphrey, was one. William was eventually arrested for protecting them and was killed in prison. While in prison his son, Thomas, was born. Thomas himself would become a priest one day and, like his father and uncle, be martyred.
The laity, as seen in the English martyrs, can be great supporters of the priesthood.