Thursday, April 12, 2007

April 12

It’s been 450 years since Thomas Loseby, Henry Ramsey, Thomas Thirtel, Margaret Hide and Agnes Stanley were roasted at the stake in Smithfield, England, having been convicted of the awful crime of heresy. The executions occurred (as so many did) during the bloody reign of Queen Mary I, whose religious commitments were more of the Catholic sort than her recent predecessors -- including her father, Henry VIII, who broke with the Church in order to divorce her mother, Catherine of Aragon, in 1533. The five were originally “apprehended for not commyng to their Parishe Churches,” but their offenses were soon discovered to extend to even greater depths; among other shocking theological breaches, they rejected infant baptism, prayers to the saints, and five of the seven sacraments -- including confession.

Summoned before the notorious Bishop Edmund Bonner in London, the five stalwarts refused to back down from their opposition to Catholic doctrine. Henry Ramsey, when pressed on the issue, humbly declared that
my opinions be the very truth, whiche I will stand unto, and not go from them: and I say unto you farther, that there are two Churches upon the earth, and we (meanyng him selfe and other true Martyrs and professours of Christ) be of the true Church, and ye be not.
Agnes Stanley was even more succinct, vowing that “I had rather that every heare of my head were burned, if it were never so much worth, [than] I will forsake my fayth and opinion which is the true fayth.”

Stanley soon received her wish. On 12 April 1557, as Foxe’s Book of Martrys explains, the five accused were destroyed “altogether in one fire, most joyfully & constantly they ended their temporall lives, receivyng therfore the lyfe eternall.”

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