Nicolas Ridley & Hugh Latimer | Episode 36 | Lineage


As the new world was discovered
by Columbus in 1492 Two men were born on this side of the Atlantic who would have a powerful impact
on the shaping of Protestantism in Britain: Latimer and Cranmer. Hugh Latimer was born in 1491 here in the small village of Thurcaston,
just north of Leicester, a similar area that John Wycliffe would have worked
just over a century before. His father was a farmer,
and yet despite their humble occupation he made sure that Latimer stayed in school
and got an education– a vital decision that would take him far in life. He enrolled in Cambridge University at the age of 14 and in 1510 was elected a fellow here at Clare College. He was at the time an ardent papist and preached passionately against men
such as Luther and Melanchthon for seven years. His belief in Catholic teachings was great and his zeal in the divine mission
of the papacy was unshakable. So what turned this pillar of papism
into a pillar of Protestantism? An encounter with a man by the name of Thomas Bilney,
who afterwards would visit him, even coming to the confessional booth
to speak with him, and he eventually changed his views. The two men would later go and visit
the sick and imprisoned in Cambridge together. [music] Latimer went on to become the Royal Chaplain
and the bishop here in Worcester, advocating for papal reform
and denouncing the clergy who did not own a Bible, or the parishioners
who could not even recite the Lord’s Prayer. His clarion call to reform ended him in prison in 1539, but he was spared the state
by the intervention of Thomas Cromwell. He remained in prison
until the death of Henry VIII, when Edward VI released him from prison. He would never ever hold the high office of Bishop again but continued to preach regularly
where audiences enjoyed his preaching which was known for its wit,
its intelligence, and its biblical nature. [music] When Edward VI died on July the 6th 1553,
England was thrown into turmoil. Lady Jane Grey ascended the throne
but only had it for nine days before Mary Tudor took the throne. Despite initial favor toward the Reformers, her intentions of making England a Catholic nation
soon became clear. [music] Mary ordered the arrest of Latimer and word reached him
that his captors were on their way, offering him an opportunity to escape, but he chose not to. As he passed Smithfield on his way to London, he commented,
‘This place has long groaned for my life’. Imprisoned here at the Tower of London
he met Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London, and Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. [music] In March of 1554 they were tried here in Oxford, where Latimer was asked
whether the natural body of Christ was in the sacrament to which he responded, ‘Our Saviour’s body is in heaven, whither he departed at the Ascension’. He went on to explain that the change at communion
was not in the bread, but in the heart of the believer. [music] He and Ridley were sentenced to death, and on the 16th of October they were brought
to the place of their execution outside Balliol College. Here a cross marks the ground
of the exact spot where they were burned to death. Before the flames they shared an embrace
and Ridley said to Latimer, ‘Be of good cheer, brother, God will either assuage
the fury of the flames or strengthen us to endure it’. Latimer then responded, ‘Be of good comfort,
Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day, by God’s grace, light a candle in England as I trust in God shall never be put out.’ History says that Latimer died soon after,
but Ridley died a slow and painful death. [music] The cost of their death
was just over one pound and five shillings, but the real result
was the overthrow of Romanism here in England. The entire country was appalled by a religion that had to resort
to such brutal methods in order to sustain itself. As we contemplate their life and their death,
the real question for us is, ‘Does the light that they lit at their death
still burn in our lives and our witness today?’

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