October 16: Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops and Martyrs, 1555

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About this commemoration

Hugh Latimer

Hugh Latimer was the outstanding English preacher of the Reformation. His sermons against ecclesiastical abuses led to several trials for heresy, but no proof could be established against his orthodoxy. Latimer was little interested in the refinements of doctrine; his zeal was concentrated on the moral life of Christian clergy and people.

Born of yeoman stock about 1490 in Leicestershire, Latimer graduated from Clare College, Cambridge, and became a Fellow in 1510. Though a conservative, he was attracted to the new currents of reform stemming from the Continental Reformation of the 1520’s. King Henry VIII made him a royal chaplain in 1530, and five years later appointed him to the See of Worcester, a position he relinquished in 1539 in opposition to the king’s reactionary policies against the progress of the Reformation.

Hugh Latimer Preaching to Edward VI of England, in John Foxe's "Acts and Monuments," 1563

In the reign of Edward VI, Latimer became prominent again as a preacher, but he refused to resume his see. With the accession of Queen Mary in 1553 he was imprisoned, and on October 16, 1555, he was burned at the stake in Oxford alongside Bishop Nicholas Ridley.

Nicholas Ridley

Nicholas Ridley was born in Northumberland, and was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge. While there he belonged to a circle of young men deeply attracted to the currents of reform inspired by the Continental Reformation.

A supporter of Archbishop Cranmer’s reforming agenda, Ridley became the Archbishop’s Chaplain in 1537, and vicar of Herne, Kent, in 1538. He was chosen Master of Pembroke in 1540, and chaplain to Henry VIII and Canon of Canterbury in 1541. Two years later he was acquitted of a charge of heresy.

Latimer and Ridley at the stake, Foxe's "Acts and Monuments," 1563

Early in the reign of Edward VI, Ridley was made Bishop of Rochester and participated with Cranmer in the preparation of the first Book of Common Prayer. He was translated to the See of London in 1550, where he was a strong advocate for and administrator of the principles of the Reformation. His unwillingness to recant of his Protestant theology and his opposition to the accession of Queen Mary led to his condemnation and his execution at the side of Bishop Latimer.

Collects

I  Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like thy servants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

II  Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Psalm 142

Lessons: Zephaniah 3:1–5, 1 Corinthians 3:9–14, and John 15:20–16:1

Preface of a Saint (1)

From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.

We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?

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11 Responses to October 16: Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops and Martyrs, 1555

  1. Philip Wainwright says:

    No matter how tight the space, Latimer’s words on the day of his martyrdom should not be forgotten: ‘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’. The shorter the bio, the more important it is to do everything possible to make it memorable, and it doesn’t get much more memorable than this.

    The collect is a text-book example, though!

  2. Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    I agree with Philip. Latimer’s words so struck me that I always quoted him when teaching my British literature survey students about the Reformation. Of course these students often found the recitation of hangings, burnings, drownings etc. on all sides somewhat disillusioning!

  3. Michael Hartney says:

    Separating Thomas Cranmer from Latimer and Ridley seems a good decision. It gives Archbishop Cranmer his own commemoration on the day of his death at the stake.

    And it increases the encouragement to the SCLM to move others to the dates of their deaths as has been noted by previous comments.

    And … this multiple commemoration on the same date does give precedent to the ‘new’ practice of commemorating more than one person on the same day. Though no one would argue that these three, now two, do not have strong connections with each other.

  4. Leonel L. Mitchell says:

    What I would really like to see (but don’t expect to) is , Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, Thomas Moore and John Fisher all put together as the martyrs of the English Reformation. But in the meanwhile, I’ll go along with Latimer and Ridlet today and Cranmer on March 21. Your bio ofr Cranmer has his dying words about his hand, but thoday you don’t give us, “Be of good cheer, Master Ridley, and play the man, for a trow that by God’s grace we shall lighyht such a candle in England this day as shall never be put out,” which is what makes the martyrdoms memorable.

  5. Cynthia Gilliatt says:

    Question, since I am late to these discussions. My paperback copy of HWHM, like previous LFF, does not have pictuires. Is the intent here that the final version of HWHM have illustrations? I hope so, unless that makes the price of the book really steep. In that case, could there be two versions, with one without illustrations? Perhpas paperback without and hardback with? And for those who might wish to use HWHM as a teaching text, could there be downlaodable pictures that could be reproduced? I have enjoyed seeing pictures of old friends from LFF as well as the new folks.

    • John LaVoe says:

      I don’t know of a hardback edition of HWHM — the soft cover is the only one in general circulation. Being a “trial use” thing, (with a limited period of use) I doubt they’d put out more than one print version. So the illustrations don’t exist in any print version. They are only for the blog. I also don’t know of any plans to include them in future print versions — although anything is possible!

      The results of the trial period will go to General Convention, and we’ll know the rest of the plan when GC takes action and a detailed plan for publication takes shape. Maybe they’ll put it out in various media — for twitter, ipod, email, and a CD perhaps called “The Right Feast.”

  6. John LaVoe says:

    Cranmer is so well known, (and strongly associated with the BCP) that separating him from Ridley and Latimer will likely allow their story to be better heard than if yoked with Cranmer.

    Since I’ve objected to multiple commemorations on the same day, I want to clarify that yoking individuals or groups within in the same commemoration (as with Ridley and Latimer) is not what I object to. It’s the “multiple set” days, with more than one set of commemorations that I dislike — because in practice it will mean one is acknowledged and the other ignored (example, January 31, John Bosco as one possible commemoration, and on the same day, Samuel Shoemaker as a second possible commemoration. How does one use two sets of propers on the same day?) Today’s combination, and others grouped similarly, seems logical, liturgically workable, and devotionally appropriate, by contrast.

    The biographies seem good, although other comments have important suggestions about the famous “play the man” quote. In Ridley’s bio, I’m surprised to see the word “of” following “recant.” (“His unwillingness to recant of his Protestant theology…”) I can’t find an authority to support or exclude it, but my mouth doesn’t expect to find it there.

    The collect prays well and, with the removal of Cranmer’s name, is the same as in LFF. It is unusual to have a collect begin directly with the petition, or to have no related divine characteristic with the simple, “O Lord” invocation. It works, though.

    This commemoration gives us a great deal. Thank you for it.

  7. Brent Rick says:

    My grandson, Latimer-whose name sake is borne by the martyr, Hugh Latimer, was chosen by my son-in-law, Masters in Renaissance Literature and now the is the Elementary Principle at St. Ambrose School. While I have had but scant information about this wonderful patriarch of the faith until this blog, I am so impressed with both the choice and the quality of character picked.

    The presentation of facts that have excellent references encouraged me to further study of the times and conditions under which Ridley and Latimer gave their lives. How precious it is to be blessed by the names chosen by our children…for their children. And what a blessing this blog has been to me.

    Thank you.
    Brent

  8. addisk68 says:

    Hugh Latimer was the outstanding English preacher of the Reformation. His sermons against ecclesiastical abuses led to several trials for heresy, but no proof could be established against his orthodoxy. Latimer was little interested in the refinements of doctrine; his zeal was concentrated on the moral life of Christian clergy and people.
    Born of yeoman stock about 1490 in Leicestershire, Latimer graduated from Clare College, Cambridge, and became a Fellow in 1510. Though a conservative, he was attracted to the new currents of reform stemming from the Continental Reformation of the 1520’s. King Henry VIII made him a royal chaplain in 1530, and five years later appointed him to the See of Worcester, a position he relinquished in 1539 in opposition to the king’s reactionary policies against the progress of the Reformation.

    Hugh Latimer Preaching to Edward VI of England, in John Foxe’s “Acts and Monuments,” 1563
    In the reign of Edward VI, Latimer became prominent again as a preacher, but he refused to resume his see. With the accession of Queen Mary in 1553 he was imprisoned, and on October 16, 1555, he was burned at the stake in Oxford alongside Bishop Nicholas Ridley.

    Nicholas Ridley
    Nicholas Ridley was born in Northumberland, and was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge. While there he belonged to a circle of young men deeply attracted to the currents of reform inspired by the Continental Reformation.
    A supporter of Archbishop Cranmer’s reforming agenda, Ridley became the Archbishop’s Chaplain in 1537, and vicar of Herne, Kent, in 1538. He was chosen Master of Pembroke in 1540, and chaplain to Henry VIII and Canon of Canterbury in 1541. Two years later he was acquitted of a charge of heresy.

    Latimer and Ridley at the stake, Foxe’s “Acts and Monuments,” 1563
    Early in the reign of Edward VI, Ridley was made Bishop of Rochester and participated with Cranmer in the preparation of the first Book of Common Prayer. He was translated to the See of London in 1550, where he was a strong advocate for and administrator of the principles of the Reformation. His unwillingness to recant of his Protestant theology and his opposition to the accession of Queen Mary led to his condemnation and his execution at the side of Bishop Latimer.
    Collects
    I Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like thy servants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
    II Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servants Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, we may live in your fear, die in your favor, and rest in your peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

  9. The notes, letters, and treatises of Nicholas Ridley are available at Logos Bible Software now, on Community Pricing.

    It’s exciting to see more historical resources like this become available in the “digital age”—I think it’s so valuable for “evangelicals” to reconnect with, and learn from, church history.

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