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Bloody Mary and the English Martyrs

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Definition:   The persecution and murder of Protestant Christians under the reign of Mary Tudor from 1554-1558. After the death of King Henry VIII, Protestantism took hold of England. For five years, people were free to worship apart from the persecution of the Roman Church. After the death of Edward VI, Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic, was the rightful heir to the throne. During Mary’s reign, Protestantism was made illegal. Anyone caught preaching the gospel or publishing Protestant teachings was subject to imprisonment and often death. In particular, anyone who denied transubstantiation was in danger of being burned at the stake. Protestant bishops, such as Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley were executed for their faith.

Discussion: Catholic historian Durant wrote: “as the holocaust advanced it became clear that it had been a mistake. Protestantism grew strength from its martyrs as early Christianity had done, and many Catholics were disturbed in their faith, and shamed in their Queen, by the sufferings of the victims.” Lady Jane Grey, who was unwillingly placed upon the throne for five days following the death of Edward VI, testified to those watching her beheading: “I do look to be saved by no other means, but only by the mercy of God in the blood His only Son Jesus Christ; and I confess that when I did know the Word of God, I neglected the same, loved myself and the world…and yet thank God, that of His goodness He hath given me respite to repent…Lord, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (see Rev. 2:10).

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