Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley - Rector's Rambling for October 16, 2022


Today on the Episcopal Church Calendar, if it weren’t Sunday, would be the Feast of the Oxford Martyrs: Bishops Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer.

Thomas Cranmer was the first Archbishop of Canterbury appointed by Henry VIII at the beginning of the Reformation. What Archbishop Cranmer will be most remembered for was being the main complier of what became the first Book of Common Prayer, adopted in 1549.  After Henry, and then Edward’s death, Queen Mary restored the Roman Church in England and despite his two written recantations of reformed beliefs, he ended up ‘recanting his recantations’ and was burned at the stake.

Nicholas Ridley was a friend of Cranmer and was his chaplain along with other important appointments including Chaplain to King Henry VIII.  Under Edward he was made a bishop, and was burned at the stake along with Hugh Latimer under the reign of Queen Mary.

Hugh Latimer was a  prominent preacher of the Reformation in England, who was appointed a bishop but then gave it up because he felt Henry VIII was preventing full protestant doctrine to take root in England. 

At his execution he is said to have said, “Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England as I trust shall never be put out.”

These three were among the nearly 300 churchmen put to death in the five years of the reign of “Bloody” Mary.  When her half sister Elizabeth I assumed the throne, she restored an English reformed, yet also catholic, church.  Her modeling of the church as a middle way of reasonable reform of the church is known as The Elizabethan Compromise, one which the extreme protestants (like the three martyrs above) and Roman adherents would reject but was mostly embraced by the English faithful.