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St Nicholas Owen

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St Nicholas Owen
Bornc. 1550
Oxford, England
DiedMarch 2, 1606 (age 55)
Tower of London
Known forGospel Magic

Saint Nicholas Owen (c.1550-1606), often known as Little John or as little Michael (? - 1606), was an English Catholic martyr who built numerous priest holes in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England.


Owen is believed to have masterminded Jesuit Father John Gerard, S.J.'s famous escape from the Tower of London in 1597.

Early in 1606, Owen was arrested a final time in Worcestershire, giving himself up voluntarily in hope of distracting attention from some priests who were hiding nearby. Realizing just whom they had caught and his value, Robert Cecil exulted: "It is incredible, how great was the joy caused by his arrest... knowing the great skill of Owen in constructing hiding places, and the innumerable quantity of dark holes which he had schemed for hiding priests all through England." He was later killed on March 2, 1606.

Catholic stage magicians who practice Gospel Magic consider St. Nicholas Owen the Patron of Illusionists due to his facility at using "trompe l'oeil" (is an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion of objects appearing in three dimensions) when creating his hideouts.


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