Nicholas Owen was born in Oxford around 1562. His father was Walter Owen, a carpenter. Nicholas became an apprentice joiner.
The future saint served as Edmund Campion’s servant. Owen became known for protesting the innocence of Campion, who had been accused of treason. Owen was so vocal that he was also imprisoned.
After his release, he served the Jesuit provincial Fr Henry Garnet, visiting Catholic houses around the country with him. Owen would build very well constructed hiding places for priests.
To ensure that no one knew what he was building Owen would make a show of engaging in repairs in one part of the house during the day, and then surreptitiously work on building priest holes in the middle of the night.
In 1594, he accompanied another priest, Fr Gerard, to London to help him buy a house. But while they were there the pair were betrayed by a servant to a family for whom Owen had built a hiding place at the Broadoaks estate in Essex.
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