Skip to comments.Catholic, Anglican bishops honor first English martyr of Reformation
Posted on 05/05/2005 6:10:45 PM PDT by NYer
LONDON (CNS) -- In a show of religious unity, a Catholic bishop and an Anglican bishop commemorated the death of the first English martyr of the Protestant Reformation.
Anglican Bishop Richard Chartres of London and Catholic Auxiliary Bishop George Stack of Westminster led an ecumenical service May 4 in memory of St. John Houghton, one of 18 Carthusian monks killed by King Henry VIII in the 16th century. It was the first time the two churches celebrated the ceremony together.
The service was held on the grounds of the former London Charterhouse, the monastery where St. John served as abbot. The two bishops unveiled a commemorative stone on the site of the cloister.
Bishop Chartres, explaining why Anglicans would honor Catholic martyrs, described King Henry as a "monster of egotism" with "messianic pretensions" similar to Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.
"We salute the courage and discernment of those who said 'no,'" he said. "We are honoring martyrs who deserve to be remembered with thanksgiving by the whole church."
Inside the church, Bishop Stack compared St. John to the late Archbishop Oscar A. Romero of San Salvador, who was gunned down in 1980 for speaking out against human rights abuses in El Salvador.
"We who today give thanks to the witness of these Carthusian martyrs and the martyrs of every age may not be called upon to die for the faith that we profess, but there is no doubt that, whatever our Christian tradition, each of us who believe are challenged to live for that faith by Jesus Christ, the king of martyrs who gave his life as a ransom for all of us," he said.
Red roses, each representing a martyr, were then placed into a model of the "Tyburn Tree," the triangular London gallows where 105 Catholics were executed during the Reformation.
St. John was the first of four priests hanged May 4, 1535, after they were convicted of treason for refusing to take the oath of the Act of Supremacy, the law that made the king the supreme leader of the Church of England.
St. Thomas More, watching their departure from the window of his cell in the Tower of London, remarked to his daughter, Margaret, how the men went "to their deaths as cheerfully as bridegrooms to their marriage."
St. John was said to have remained conscious throughout an ordeal that involved partial hanging and disembowelment.
Two other Carthusian abbots, St. Robert Lawrence and St. Augustine Webster, and a Brigittine monk, St. Richard Reynolds, were executed in the hours that followed.
Afterward, King Henry ordered one of St John's arms to be nailed over the main entrance of the Charterhouse as a warning to others.
Within five years, six more Carthusians were executed and nine others tied to posts and starved to death in London's Marshalsea Prison.
St. John, St. Robert, St. Augustine and St. Richard were among 40 English and Welsh martyrs canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. May 4 is the feast of the English and Welsh martyrs.
In light of the fact that the English Reformation began as a political movement rather than a religious or theological movement, I think it is a true symbol of Christian unity that Catholics and Anglicans can come together to commemorate this tragic event.
"O how good and pleasant it is when brethren live together in unity" (Psalm 133:1)
Interesting post. Thanks.
Reminds me of what happened to William Wallace in "Braveheart"
During Queen Elizabeth's reign, if you were caught attending Mass you were hanged for treason, but if you were a priest caught celebrating Mass, you were hanged, drawn and quartered
It's hard to read the print on the bottom of the second image. The numbers correspond to the following:
1.)St. Edmund Gennings
2.)St. Robert Southwell
3.)St. John Kemble
4.)St. John Boste
5.)St. Margaret Ward
6.)St. Anne Line
7.)St. John Almond
8.)St. John Plessington
9.)St. David Lewis
10.)St. John Jones
11.)St. Richard Gwyn
12.)St. John Roberts
13.)St. Philip Evans
14.)St. John Lloyd
15.)St. Edmund Campion
16.)St. Alexander Briant
17.)St. Margaret Clitherow
18.)St. Augustine Webster
19.)St. Robert Lawrence
20.)St. John Houghton
21.)St. Richard Reynolds
22.)St. Luke Kirby
23.)St. Eustace White
24.)St. Polydore Plasden
25.)St. John Wall
26.)St. John Stone
27.)St. John Rigby
28.)St. Ambrose Barlow
29.)St. Henry Walpole
30.)St. John Southworth
31.)St. Philip Howard
32.)St. Alban Roe
33.)St. Edmund Arrowsmith
34.)St. Swithun Wells
35.)St. Thomas Garnet
36.)St. John Paine
37.)St. Ralph Sherwin
38.)St. Cuthbert Mayne
39.)St. Henry Morse
40.) St. Nicholas Owen
So you just act as if it's all over? There would be no Church of England were it not for Henry--the C of E owes its existence to this monster. So how can the good bishop repudiate the monster without repudiating the church he created? It's still a state church.
Nor did Henry act alone. How can the C of E bishop denounce Henry without at the same time asking serious questions about Thomas Cranmer the Co-dependent Enabler and the very origins of Anglicanism? I don't get it. If at some point Anglicans changed their minds and decided to repudiate Henry, on what basis do they justify their continued existence?
John Houghton is my confirmation patron saint. He died because the bishops backed Henry. Good men did nothing. Yes, had they resisted him, they too might have died this way. But by refusing to resist him, they enabled the revolution that created the first state churches in Western Europe. Henry could not have made his power grab without the blessing of religious leaders like Cranmer. St. John Houghton's blood is on their heads too. Blaming it all on Henry is the way a 14-year-old acts when caught red-handed: it's all his fault.
At least Cranmer and the other Anglican bishops were burned at the stake by Bloody Mary. Oddly enough, most of the bishops who became Anglican under Henry VIII became Catholic again when Mary became queen.
Thank you for posting the name listing.
All save St. John Fisher.
So it's tit for tat, is it? That's also adolescent. Bloody Henry gave rise to Mary Tudor, not the other way around. Why didn't Henry go down in history as Bloody Henry? I'm sorry Cranmer was burned. But without his enabling, the whole bloody business might have been avoided--though to do that it might have required him to have enough spine to stand up to Henry and thus cost him his innards. I'm not blaming him alone--the other bishops were equally cowardly and the roots of Henry's absolutism were laid in the preceding century.
A pox on all the depredations of kings against bishops, a pox on all the corrupt bishops before and after Henry. They were all wrong when they did wrong. But that doesn't change the fact that the Church of England originated in a huge power grab by the king, a power-grab that created a coercive state church. The King of Spain was doing the same thing de facto, not de jure, at the same time. A pox on Phillip II. But the English Black Legend according to which all the evil was in Spain and under Philip's wife, Mary Tudor in England, while whitewashing the great tyrants Elizabeth and Henry, that Black Legend has to be confronted by its heirs as much as Catholcs have to confront(and have, in the 2000 Jubilee confronted) their own sorry history. I have yet to see any comparable willingness on the part of Anglicans to confront their own predecessors' complicity in the crimes of Elizabeth and Henry. Perhaps I just missed it when it took place.
American and English history books denounce "Bloody Mary" and lionize Elizabeth, who disembowelled just as many as Mary burned. I never encountered the story of the 1535 Carthusian martyrs until after I had a PhD in Reformation history. It's entirely absent from the standard textbook histories of this period. The same thing goes for the castration of Carthusian monks by Calvinists in France, the scalding of a Carthusian monk like a slaughtered pig in Belgium, again by Calvinist anarchists. Everyone knows about the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of Calvinists by Catholics, but very few know about the equivalent violence by Calvinists against Catholics in the French religious wars. Castration of a Carthusian monk, then stuffing his testicles in his mouth as he lay dying--all because he refused to eat meat, was a Catholic monk, and refused to take off the monastic habit that signified his solemn vow to God. Huguenot women defecating on the altar of a monastery church in Castres that the Calvinists had just sacked, ripping the Tabernacle from the wall and scattering the Blessed Sacrament in the filth. None of that's in the textbooks, but Bloody Mary and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre sure are. That a civil war took place is in the textbooks, but that the violence was not onesided Catholic against Protestant but pretty well evenly distributed--that's not in the standard Anglo-American textbooks, and I've read an awful lot of them.
Your very choice to use the Black Legend Anglophile terminology ("Bloody Mary") already puts you on one side of a very sad and sorry story. Why not admit that the Church of England was born in a travesty of justice which spawned a lot more travesties in its wake? Then we can begin to pick up the pieces.
What an excellent choice! I've been interested in the English and Welsh martyrs since I visited England last September. I visited Tyburn Convent, where relics of many of these saints are kept. I'm currently reading Evelyn Waugh's biography of St. Edmund Campion.
"Your very choice to use the Black Legend Anglophile terminology ("Bloody Mary") already puts you on one side of a very sad and sorry story."
You don't know what side I'm on. For the record, I'm Catholic and I know the Church of England was founded by the ba!!$ of Henry. I used the term Bloody Mary because I like that drink;-)
OK, now that I know this about you, may I call on you by way of ping in defense of the faith if your knowledge and education is needed on future threads?
Use of the term perpetuates the Black Legend. Words count--pro-choice rather than pro-abortion has permitted abortion to gain a foothold it might never have had had the manipulators not won that media battle. When a Catholic uses "Bloody Mary" he contributes to the perpetuation of anti-Catholic prejudice. I'm sure it was not intentional, but it's effect is the same. :)
What's wrong with "Bloody Mary"? That moniker commands respect.
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