On this day in history, 16th October…
1555 – The burnings of two of the Oxford martyrs: Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London.
You can read more about this day in my article The Burnings of Ridley and Latimer and in John Foxe’s account of their lives, trials and deaths in his Book of Martyrs – “The Lives, Sufferings and Martyrdoms of Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London”. Foxe writes that as the fire was started at Ridley’s feet Latimer said to him “Be of good comfort, Mr Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust never shall be put out.” Ridley then cried out “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit…Lord, Lord, receive my spirit” and Latimer cried out, “O father of heaven, receive my soul.” Latimer “soon died, seemingly with very little pain” but Ridley suffered longer due to “the fagots being green, and piled too high”. Foxe writes of their deaths:-
“Thus did these two pious divines and stedfast believers, testify with their blood the truth of the everlasting gospel, upon which depends all the sinners’ hopes of salvation; to suffer for which was the joy, the glory of many eminent Christians, who having followed their dear Lord and Master though much tribulation in this vale of tears, will be glorified for ever with him, in the kingdom of his father and our father, of his God and our God.”
Whatever your own beliefs, these men can be admired for being steadfast in their beliefs and dying for them. They were true martyrs.
Trivia: Hugh Latimer served Anne Boleyn as one of her personal chaplains, see “Anne Boleyn’s Household” for more information.