On this day, October 16, in the year 1555, Bishops Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer were tied to a stake in Broad Street in Oxford, and burned to death. The following spring, on March 21, 1556, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was burned at the stake.
This was at the time of the English Roman Catholic Queen Mary (“Bloody Mary”). Cranmer was the architect of the Book of Common Prayer. Ridley was one of his chief advisers and right hand man in the reforms of the Church of England. Hugh Latimer was a godly, aged bishop who had also helped the cause of reform in England.
Today is called Oxford Martyrs’ Day in Anglican circles, because on this day we remember all three martyrs who died so bravely in that city.
When bishops Ridley and Latimer were tied together to the same stake on that day, 460 years ago, Latimer addressed his brother bishop in one the greatest statements in our history: “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!”
May God give us a double portion of their courageous spirit to stand for what is right in our culture and in our context.
A Collect for Oxford Martyrs’ Day
Almighty God and everlasting Lord, in whose sight the death of Thy saints is precious, we beseech Thee to look down upon upon us with favor as we commemorate this day the deaths of Thy servants, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops of the Church of England, and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who were burned to death in Broad Street in Oxford, England for their faith; Grant to us the same steadfastness of faith, that we, standing firm in Thy Holy Gospel and belief in the Mighty Resurrection of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, may prevail against all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and at the last, come to Thy eternal joy, through the same, Thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rev. Jonathan O. Trebilco
Saint Francis Anglican Church