Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The 450th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer

Today is the 450th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer.

Those of you who followed my travels to England this past Advent know I was quite moved by visiting the sites of his martyrdom and of Latimer and Ridley’s.

It’s difficult for me to put into a few words why his martyrdom means so much to me. I know I love the Prayer Book that he wrote. I sympathize with him because, as Diarmaid MacCulloch’s biography of Cranmer brings out well, he was quite human and, yes, weak at times. Yet I revere him because, as an old man Bloody Mary thought she had broken, he finished with such defiant strength.

I’m sure others can opine on his martyrdom with much more eloquence than I. So instead, here’s a few photos I took of the martyrdom sites that meant so much to me:

The prison door that held Cranmer. Now in the tower of St. Michael’s at the North Gate.

A column cut to hold the platform on which Cranmer denounced his recantations in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin on the day he was martyred. By the way, you can just reach out and touch the door and the column cut. History is much more accessible in the U. K. than in the U. S.

Where Cranmer and earlier Latimer and Ridley were burned right in the middle of Broad Street.

By the way, you can see many other photos of my pilgrimage to England here. They are roughly in reverse chronological order.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The 450th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Thomas Cranmer

Dear WannabeAnglican:

A retort to one of your old blog posts by a man calling himself “Robertsll” caught my eye last night. Let’s unpack this thing, briefly, because you don’t have to put up with this kind revisionist indignancy. You have reason and history on your side.

“Yeah, Thomas Cranmer was a great guy who thought the pope was the anti-Christ…”

Absolutely. There’s no shame in Archbishop’s Cranmers feelings on this point. Anyone who denies the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrificial atonement for full propitiation of sins is antichrist, as such is the heart of the Christ’s gospel. By that account, the Bishop of Rome has been in such an antichristological position for several hundred years now.

“…Thomas Cranmer… helped Henry VIII unlawfully divorce his wife.”

Interesting. First of all, the divorce was perfectly legal by all ecclesiastical and secular courts of the time. Secondly, it was actually Cromwell who orchestrated the divorce, and Cranmer’s role was rather secondary (even tertiary). Let’s not forget, too, that for Henry to marry Catherine in the first place required a papal dispensation, as their pending nuptials were illegal by the standards of the time. The only reason the Roman bishop would not grant the annulment was because of Catherine’s ties to the HRE, who was then protecting papal interests. So, the bishop’s reticence in granting the annulment wasn’t based on legalities – ecclesiastical or temporal; it was based on military strategy – and could therefore be ignored. The fact that the pope was also antichrist made it all the more easy, therefore, to disregard his advice, and require the Archbishop of Canterbury to put his stamp of approval on the divorce.

Bizarrely, Robertsll also wants to compare Henry’s divorce to Bill Clinton’s indiscretions to make Cranmer seem like a truly monstrous person. This, according to your accuser, is to help put things “in context.” But the comparisons to Bill Clinton are so irrelevant and out of context that they have no place in any serious historical discussion.

Dr. Andrew T. Kerr
Indianapolis, IN