Tuesday 4 May 2021

Reformation Martyrs Day Revised Collect

 I see from the old wall calendar that today is Martyrs of the English Reformation Day.

Where the good old C of E (copyright Church Mouse Publishing) prays as following:

Merciful God, who, when your Church on earth was torn apart by the ravages of sin, raised up men and women in this land who witnessed to their faith with courage and constancy: give to your Church that peace which is your will, and grant that those who have been divided on earth may be reconciled in heaven and share together in the vision of your glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Which is a very Anglican way of saying "fault on both sides". I mean, some of those martyred were, let's face it, pretty happy with the other side being martyred. 

This also being Star Wars Day (May the 4th etc) it's a bit like hoping that Darth Sidious and Princess Leia might be buddies in the Grand United Force Where All is Made Well.

A more accurate collect might be:

... when all's said and done it was a bit of a mess. Frankly we can't see how even your mercy could forgive someone who sets fire to somebody or allows them to be cut into pieces just for a difference in belief that most people these days couldn't even explain very well. We don't know and can't judge whether some of these people will be reconciled in heaven or the other place. I mean, Thomas More's a great example. Always happy for someone else to be incinerated for the good of their soul but gets his head cut off and suddenly he's a saint? Really? And look at Cranmer. Chucks Cromwell, and Catharine Howard under the bus, but ends up with his name in the lectionary and a college named after him. Durham college, obviously. So, over to you... 

Or, better still, let's be very English. And just pretend it never happened.


  1. Of course there were Catholic English Martyrs, Documented by wiki, more Catholics than Protestant Martyrs, probably we had more practice with them:
    54 were beatified in 1886, of whom two were canonized in 1935, and 11 in 1970.
    9 were beatified in 1895.
    One (Oliver Plunkett) was beatified in 1920, and canonized in 1975.
    136 were beatified in 1929, of whom 29 were canonized in 1970
    85 were beatified in 1987.
    (So 285 were beatified at various times, of whom 43 were subsequently canonised).
    30 were declared venerable, of whom one, John Travers, was executed in Dublin and appears in Irish Catholic Martyrs.
    (So 315 were declared venerable, of whom 285 were subsequently beatified).
    44 were postponed ("dilati") - 36 died in prison and 8 were postponed for other reasons

    So if we are going for scores on the doors, perhaps the Catholics win, heads down.

  2. Agreed, John Frith was a good Christian who believed in toleration and was a thoroughly decent chap yet Thomas More pursued him with a vehemence that makes one suspect that he was jealous.


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