George Buchanan (1506-1582) Made Latin Verses while Held by the Inquisition

[ABOVE—D. A. Millar, ed. George Buchanan: A Memorial 1506–1906. St. Andrews: W. C. Henderson & Son, University Press; London: David Nutt, at the Sign of the Phoenix, Long Acre. public domain.]

George Buchanan (1506-1582), a Scot, earned the enmity of Franciscan friars by writing satirical verses pointing out how corrupt they had become. He was still a Roman Catholic at the time. As his positions became more Protestant, he encountered more hostility. A master of Latin, Buchanan lectured at the University of Coimbra in Portugal in 1547. Rivals accused him of Lutheran and Jewish practices. One witness said that he had seen Buchanan bowling, eating, and drinking before Mass. It was well-known he ate meat on days prohibited by the Church of Rome. He was brought before the Inquisition. Staying calm, he wrote his own defense. (Another man who was tried at the same time as Buchanan fell to pieces and was burned at the stake.)

Written in Latin his defense begins, “Ego Georgius Buchananus natione Scotus, diocesis Glasguensis . . . ” (“I, George Buchanan, a Scotsman, of the diocese of Glasgow …”). In it, Buchanan frankly admitted some of the charges were true.

He was imprisoned in the monastery of Sāo Bento in Lisbon for seven months. Monks preached to him in an effort to sway him back to fervent Roman Catholicism. He described their discourses as “not unkind but ignorant.” After his release, he returned to Scotland where he threw in with the Protestants and exerted influence in the Presbyterian Church.

While imprisoned, he paraphrased the Psalms into Latin poetry. John Eadie translated those Latin verses into English. Here are verses one, two, and five of Psalm 3 from Eadie. Although the translation is not much better than doggerel, the thought is apt in light of Buchanan’s circumstances.

Alas! how many, and how strong,
Those who ‘gainst me combine,
And harass me with cruel force,
And hatred most malign
How firm the wicked faction, who
Against my life conspire,
And say that aid from God no more
Can me with hope inspire

When from his holy hill, by night.
The Lord my prayer hears,
I lay me down, and sleep secure,
And rise devoid of fears.

John Frederick (1503–1554) rejected a compromise of faith

[ABOVE—Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) Portrait of the Elector John Frederic the Magnanimous of Saxony (1503-1554) The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202. Wikimedia File:Lucas Cranach d. Ä. 044.jpg]

John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, was an ardent Lutheran. Unlike others whose allegiances shifted during the religious wars that followed on the heels of the Reformation, he stayed true to his convictions. His cousin Maurice coveted his lands and the power he wielded as an elector (one of seven votes to elect future Holy Roman emperors). Maurice sided with Emperor Charles V and attacked John Frederick, but John Frederick defeated him. However, in the battle of Muhlberg a few months later forces of Charles V captured the elector. The emperor sentenced him to death.

John Frederick heard the news while playing chess. His comment was he doubted the sentence was in earnest, and returned to his chess game. Charles V was indeed using the death sentence as a bargaining chip. He compelled John Frederick to surrender Wittenberg, relinquish his electorship to Maurice, and submit to imprisonment for life.

While John Frederick was in prison, Charles tried to compel him to agree to the Augsburg Interim, which would have been to renounce his Lutheran beliefs. The prisoner refused. As a result he remained imprisoned for five years, until an about-face by Maurice forced Charles to agree to a religious settlement. Stripped of powers and lands, John Frederick was freed and returned to his wife and family.

Among his accomplishments was the founding of a school at Jena which became the University of Jena. He loved history, defended the Reformation, upheld Luther’s unusual decision to will his goods to his wife Katie, and strove for peace when possible. The main charges leveled against him were that he ate and drank too much. But Luther, Melanchthon, and Roger Ascham all spoke highly of his character and faith. Because of his stalwart refusal to renounce Lutheranism, he earned the surname “the Magnanimous.”

Here is a short extract from his response rejecting the Augsburg Interim.

[I]f I were to acknowledge and accept the Interim as something Christian and godly, then I would have to go against my conscience and deliberately and intentionally condemn and disown the Augsburg Confession and that which I have hitherto maintained and believed about the gospel of Jesus Christ in many chief articles of doctrine on which salvation depends, and I would have to approve with my mouth that which I considered in my heart and conscience to be completely and utterly contrary to the holy and divine Scriptures. Oh, God in heaven, that would be a misuse and horrible blaspheming of your holy name, and it would be like I was trying to deceive and mislead both you on high in your exalted majesty and my secular jurisdiction here below on earth with fancy words, for which I would have to pay dearly, and all too dearly, with my soul.

Peter Bergier leads Jean Pierre Chambon to Christ in Prison (1562)

[ABOVE—A prison in Lyon by Philiphotos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons “I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under the following license: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.” File:Prison saint Paul Lyon.jpg]

In 1562 Jean Pierre Chambon found himself in solitary confinement in a dungeon in Lyon, France, for robbery and murder. Chained, hungry, tormented by vermin, he spent his days cursing his existence and the God and the parents who had brought him into being.

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That was a year of severe persecution against Huguenots (Protestant Calvinists). The prison overflowed and Peter Bergier, a Protestant merchant, was placed in Chambon‘s cell. Appaled at Chambon’s continual cursing, he pleaded with him to stop, warning him that curses could not possibly help him, but would heap up more wrath for him when he faced God‘s judgment. Chambon replied that it was true that curses did not bring him any aid, but Bergier’s prayers would bring no help either.

Chambon continued to make prayer as difficult for Bergier as possible, but Bergier, who, unlike his fellow-captive was not chained, responded with kindness, doing for Chambon whatever he could and sharing the food that friends sent him [Bergier] from the city.

As a result, Chambon stopped disturbing Bergier’s prayers and began to listen when Bergier spoke to him of the Word of God and the Savior’s love. The Gospel penetrated his heart and he was transformed. Eventually, Bergier was burned at the stake and Chambon had his arms and legs broken with a heavy wagon wheel. Below is a nineteenth-century account of his conversion, condensed and modernized.

“An Incident in a Prison.” The Christian Treasury, (Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter, and co., 1863) 65.

Bergier pointed out to him the mercy of God, who ”wills not the death of the sinner, but that he should turn to him and live.”

“What! Even a murderer?” asked Chambon, with averted face.

“Yes!” replied Bergier, “for thus speaks the Lord by his prophet to those whose hands were full of blood, ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well; and though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’”

“But what good can I do now,” asked Chambon, “bound and fettered, and appointed to death as I well know myself to be?”

“You can believe God’s declaration,” replied Bergier, “and look to him for the forgiveness of your sins. It was a criminal like you, one nailed hand and foot to the cross, appointed to death, and disabled from living a life of obedience, who said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom;’ and to him the Savior gave the comforting assurance, ‘Today you will be with me in Paradise.’ Take that for your example and your justification for asking forgiveness.”

“And do you really believe,” cried Chambon, on whose mind a ray of hope began faintly to dawn, “that I can be saved?”

“Only believe, and you will be saved,” said Bergier, with solemn earnestness; and immediately kneeling down, he began to pray aloud that Jesus Christ would have compassion on the repentant sinner, and give him assurance of his grace. Chambon had fallen on his knees likewise, and with folded hands and trembling voice joined in Bergier’s prayer with the petition, “Lord Jesus! dear Savior, have mercy on me!”

And now, as it was the first time in his life that he had really prayed, so he learned also now for the first time that prayer can help us. Even while he prayed the ray of hope grew brighter in his heart, and the Holy Spirit, who had, by means of the word, had begun the good work in his soul, carried it on by the same instrumentality to the day of redemption.

From that hour Chambon commenced, as he himself afterwards expressed it, a new walk. Openly confessing himself the chief of sinners, bewailing his shameful life and horrid acts, he continued active in prayer to God for mercy and pardon. At the same time he drank in the Scriptures, which Bergier repeated to him, as the thirsty earth drinks in the rain from heaven, until he at length attained to the firm assurance that he, too, all unworthy as he was in himself, had obtained, through the Lord Jesus Christ, “redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

The lips that had blasphemed now overflowed with thanksgiving and praise for the mercy that had been granted to him.

Robert Southwell (c.1561–1595) Was Tortured for Priestly Actions

[ABOVE—Saint Robert Southwell, S.J. (1561-1595). Illustration from the frontispice of Saint Peter’s complaint. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons File:Robert Southwell.JPG]

Robert Southwell, a young Jesuit priest, asked to be sent to England, although, because of Catholic plots against Queen Elizabeth’s life, it was illegal for any Catholic priest to remain in the island more than forty days. He arrived in 1586. For the next three years he ministered to Catholics, moving from house to house to offer the sacraments. In 1589 he became chaplain to Ann Howard.

During those years he wrote many religious tracts, some poems (“Mary Magdalen’s Funeral Tears” was published in 1591) and an appeal to Queen Elizabeth.

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Ultimately a Catholic girl revealed Southwell’s movements when she was raped and interrogated by one of Elizabeth’s top torturers. Southwell was arrested and tortured for a month, and cast into such filth that he was covered with vermin when brought out for examination. Despite his torments, Southwell refused to betray fellow-priests.

His father petitioned Elizabeth for more humane treatment. Nonetheless, Southwell was tortured ten times over his three years. He was, however, placed in the tower, and allowed clean clothes. Finally he was condemned to die the death of treason by being hanged, drawn, and quartered. When he was hung, friends pulled on his legs to strangle him quickly so that he would be dead when disemboweled and pulled apart by the horses.

To the end of his life, Southwell insisted truthfully he was never guilty of any plot against Elizabeth, but only of performing the duties of a priest. His concern for souls was evident even in prison where his writings were religious in nature.

Southwell’s St. Peter’s Complaint was published with other poems in 1595, the year of his execution. Probably these poems were written in prison. “The Burning Babe” is one of his most famous pieces. It is an excerpt from St. Peter’s Complaint.

“The Burning Babe” from Robert Southwell’s St. Peter’s Complaint.

As I in hoary winter’s night
stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
did in the air appear;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat,
such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames
which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born
in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is,
the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on,
and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
are men’s defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am
to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath
to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight
and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callèd unto mind
that it was Christmas day.

Henry Barrowe (c. 1550–1593) Is Bullied at His “Arraignment”

[ABOVE—Henry Barrow depicted in a stained glass windows at Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, England (UK), photo by Ian A. Wood (Flickr account Ian A. Wood + email sent to OTRS-NL) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons which says, “This work is free and may be used by anyone for any purpose. If you wish to use this content, you do not need to request permission as long as you follow any licensing requirements mentioned on this page.” File:EmmanuelCam2.jpg]

In 1586 John Greenwood lay in Clink Prison, London, because he believed that a company of believers in Christ had the right to covenant together to worship God, and thus to form a Christian church. He was about thirty years old, a graduate of Christ’s College, Cambridge, and had been a clergyman of the Church of England. His friend Henry Barrowe, who accepted Greenwood’s ideas without reservation, called on him on the Lord’s Day, November 19, but the keeper having gotten him inside the prison would not let him out, but arrested him without a warrant, and he became a fellow prisoner with Greenwood. Barrowe, too, was a Cambridge scholar, some years the senior of his friend. He had been a courtier, living a rather dissolute life, as was common among those who dwelt at court. But one day he had heard an earnest preacher, stepped inside to listen, and found his life changed. He adopted the principles of the Separatists, and soon became a leader among them.

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His detention brought great satisfaction to Archbishop Whitgift, who examined him that very Sunday and recommitted him without bail.

After six months in prison Barrowe and Greenwood were released on bail, and worshiped with like-minded believers, sometimes in private houses, sometimes in fields or woods or other retired places. But they were soon apprehended at one of these meetings and again imprisoned. This time they remained confined for more than five years. Here, under great inconvenience, suffering and difficulties, they wrote tracts and books defending their faith and rejecting the Church of England. Friends smuggled sheets of paper to them one or two at a time, and smuggled them back out when filled. They took these to Holland where their contents were printed and secretly brought back to England. Thus the prisoners spread abroad their doctrines, and the number of believers in the “primitive faith” multiplied.

Barrowe and Greenwood were hanged at Tyburn in 1593.

This introduction has been based on an account that appeared in Albert Elijah Dunning’s Congregationalists in America.
What follows is an account of Barrowe’s examinations before Whitgift. It is typical of the bullying tactics which prevailed at the time, such as requiring a prisoner to enter his plea before even knowing the charges against him.

Excerpt adapted from Samuel Hopkins’ The Puritans and Queen Elizabeth.

“Is your name Barrow?” inquired the Archbishop.


“It is told me that you refuse to receive or obey our letter. Do you realize what you are doing? It is from the high commissioners, and this man is a junior officer at arms.”

“I did refuse to receive or obey that letter.”


“Because I was under arrest and imprisoned without warrant and against law. Therefore it was too late to bring the letter.”

“What! Can’t a councillor commit someone to prison by his bare command?”

“That is not the question; but whether this man, the keeper of the Clink, may do so without warrant, by the law of the land.”

“Do you know the law of the land?”

“Very little. Yet I was at Gray’s Inn some years.” At this they all made fun of his scant knowledge of law.

“I ask you,” said Mr. Barrow, when their merriment had subsided, “why have you imprisoned me, and sent for me in this way?”

“You shall know that after you swear your oath,” said the Archbishop. “Will you swear?”

A long dialogue ensued about taking the oath; but Mr. Barrow declared that he would take no oath to accuse himself.

“Well,” said his Grace, “can you find sufficient surety for your good behavior?”

“Yes, as sufficient as you can take.”

“But know you what bond you should enter? You are bound by this to attend our churches.”

“I understand you, of my good behavior.”

“And this is contained in it.”

“Well; now that I know your mind, I will enter no such bond.”

“Will you enter bond to appear on Tuesday next at our court, and so on Thursday, if you are not called; and be bound not to depart until you be dismissed by order of our Court?”


“Then I will send you to prison.”

Mr. Barrow was then delivered to the junior officer, and taken to the gate-house, without being informed of the cause of his imprisonment.

Eight days later, he was again called before the commissioners; at which time the Archbishop again demanded whether he would now swear.

“I must first know to what.”

“You shall be told afterwards.”

“I will not swear, unless I know beforehand.”

“Well, I will satisfy your humor this far…”

A paper was then read, by which, for the first time, Mr. Barrow was made acquainted with the charges against him. The substance was, “that he held the Church of England to be not a true church.” This opinion, the paper alleged, he sustained by the following reasons: “That the worship of the English Church is idolatry; that its ministry is antichristian; that its preachers are hirelings, and have no scriptural calling; and that unsanctified persons are admitted to its communion.”

After the paper was read, the Archbishop resumed. “Now you know what you shall swear to. How say you, will you swear or not?”

“An oath requires great consideration. But I will give you a true answer. Much of the matter of this bill is true, but the form is false.”

“Go to, sirrah! Answer directly; will you swear?”

“There is more reason to swear my accuser than me. I will not swear.”

“Where is his keeper? You shall not prattle here. Away with him. Clap him up close—close. Let no man come near him. I will make him tell another tale before I have done with him.”

John of the Cross (1542–1591) Paraphrases Solomon in His Dungeon

[ABOVE—stained glass window depicts John of the Cross in the Saint Catharine of Siena Church (Columbus, Ohio) By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons File:Saint Catharine of Siena Church (Columbus, Ohio) – stained glass, St. John of the Cross.jpg]

John of the Cross was an associate of Teresa of Avilla. Infighting among Spanish churchmen resulted in opponents seizing John of the Cross one night and imprisoning him in a Toledo dungeon. He later made a daring escape. While in prison, he wrote a number of poems. Other prisoners have done as much, but seldom have they garnered as much fame for their verses as John did for his.

Teresa pf Avilla , one of the most colorful mystics of the Medieval Period, was a Carmelite nun who struggled in prayer for nearly twenty years before she experienced a profound conversion. Reflecting a remarkable determination in her quest to know God, Teresa of Avila speaks across the centuries to those yearning for transcendence amid the distractions of life.

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A kind jailer, ignoring restrictions, provided him with paper to record these creations. Among his lines were the first 31 stanzas of his Spiritual Canticle, a work loosely based on the Song of Solomon, which he had memorized.

Song of the Soul and the Bridegroom

Where have You hidden Yourself,
And abandoned me in my groaning, O my Beloved?
You have fled like the hart,
Having wounded me.
I ran after You, crying; but You were gone.

O shepherds, you who go
Through the sheepcots up the hill,
If you shall see Him
Whom I love the most,
Tell Him I languish, suffer, and die.

In search of my Love
I will go over mountains and strands;
I will gather no flowers,
I will fear no wild beasts;
And pass by the mighty and the frontiers.

O groves and thickets
Planted by the hand of the Beloved;
O verdant meads
Enameled with flowers,
Tell me, has He passed by you?

A thousand graces diffusing
He passed through the groves in haste,
And merely regarding them
As He passed
Clothed them with His beauty.

Oh! who can heal me?
Give me at once Yourself,
Send me no more
A messenger
Who cannot tell me what I wish.

All they who serve are telling me
Of Your unnumbered graces;
And all wound me more and more,
And something leaves me dying,
I know not what, of which they are darkly speaking.

But how you persevere, O life,
Not living where you live;
The arrows bring death
Which you receive
From your conceptions of the Beloved.

Why, after wounding
This heart, have You not healed it?
And why, after stealing it,
Have You thus abandoned it,
And not carried away the stolen prey?

Quench my troubles,
For no one else can soothe them;
And let my eyes behold You,
For You are their light,
And I will keep them for You alone.

Reveal Your presence,
And let the vision and Your beauty kill me,
Behold the malady
Of love is incurable
Except in Your presence and before Your face.

O crystal well!
Oh that on Your silvered surface
You would mirror forth at once
Those eyes desired
Which are outlined in my heart!

Turn them away, O my Beloved!
I am on the wing.

Return, My Dove!
The wounded hart
Looms on the hill
In the air of your flight and is refreshed.

My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;

The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.

Catch us the foxes,
For our vineyard has flourished;
While of roses
We make a nosegay,
And let no one appear on the hill.

O killing north wind, cease!
Come, south wind, that awakens love!
Blow through my garden,
And let its odors flow,
And the Beloved shall feed among the flowers.

O nymphs of Judea!
While amid the flowers and the rose-trees
The amber sends forth its perfume,
Tarry in the suburbs,
And touch not our thresholds.

Hide yourself, O my Beloved!
Turn Your face to the mountains,
Do not speak,
But regard the companions
Of her who is traveling amidst strange islands.

Light-winged birds,
Lions, fawns, bounding does,
Mountains, valleys, strands,
Waters, winds, heat,
And the terrors that keep watch by night;

By the soft lyres
And the siren strains, I adjure you,
Let your fury cease,
And touch not the wall,
That the bride may sleep in greater security.

Edmund Campion (1540–1581) Defends His Mission at His Arraignment

[ABOVE—[Johann Martin Lerch (1643–1693) Edmund Campion (1540–1581) British Museum, Museum number 2006,U.784, public domain, Wikimedia File:Edmund Campion.jpg]]

The verdict against Campion was a foregone conclusion at his arraignment and no trial was going to change the outcome.

History of Christianity is a six part survey designed to stimulate your curiosity by providing glimpses of pivotal events and persons in the spread of the church.

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Queen Elizabeth I had delighted in Edmund Campion, a man of wit, and offered him employment which he refused because it would have required him to embrace the Church of England. A Roman Catholic, he left England, joined the Jesuits, and found himself in Prague. His superiors soon ordered him to England.

In his native land, he traveled from place to place in disguise and under an assumed name to conduct secret masses for Catholics. This secrecy was needed because Pope Paul V had excommunicated Elizabeth and called on true Catholics to overthrow her. Tension ran high, not least because Catholic Spain sought to conquer England (seven years later, the failed Spanish Armada would be part of the attempt). Because of the pope’s position, Catholic priests were assumed to be agitators, bent of implementing the will of the pope upon England.

Through the treachery of a Catholic maid, Campion was betrayed to the authorities and, after two days’ search, was discovered hiding in a priest hole behind a false wall at the head of a stairs.

Brought to trial with a number of other Catholics, he seems to have taken the lead in responding for all of the defendents. At his arraignment he urged that each should be tried separately and denied he had ever been a traitor. Instead he had only traveled about to administer religious rites and give religious instruction. The accusations against him were based on circumstantial evidence and hearsay, he said.

After several exchanges, in which Campion answered for himself and the seven men charged with him, the Queen’s Counsel advanced the heart of the case. Campion was committed to serving the pope and the pope was committed to destroying Elizabeth, therefore Campion also must be committed to bringing down the Queen.

Campion denied the accusation and explained what he had meant by some mysterious remarks he had made.

Excerpt from Campion’s Arraignment

Queen’s Counsel. What an army and host of men, the pope by the aid of the King of Spain and the Duke of Florence had levied for the overthrow of this realm, the destruction of her majesty, and the placing of the Scottish queen as governess in England, could not any ways have escaped your knowledge; for being sent from Prague, where your abode was, to Rome, and then by the Pope charged presently toward England, what other drift could this, such a sudden embassage, portend, than the practicing and execution of such a conspiracy? Whereof you are also the more to be suspected, for as much as in your coming from Rome towards England, you entered into a certain privy conference with Dr. Allen [Allen, who used strong words against the Reformation, had founded a school for Catholics and was preparing a Catholic translation of the Bible into English] to break these matters to the English Papists to withdraw the people from their due allegiance and to prepare them to receive these foreign powers.

Campion. When I was received into the order of the Jesuits, I vowed three things incident to my calling, chastity, poverty and obedience. Chastity in abstaining from all fleshly appetites and concupiscences. Poverty in despising all worldly wealth lying upon the devotion of others. Obedience in dutifully executing the commandment of my superiors. In respect of which vow, inveighing obedience, I came, being sent for from Prague to Rome, having not so much as the smallest inkling of these supposed armies, nor the least inclination to put any such thing into practice, but there rested for eight days, attending the pleasure of my provost, who at last, according to my vow (which by the grace of God, I will in no case violate) appointed me to undertake this journey into England, which, accordingly, I enterprised, being commanded thereunto not as a traitor to conspire the subversion of my country, but as a priest to minister the sacraments, to hear confessions; the which embassage I protest before God I would as gladly have executed and was as ready and willing to discharge, had I been sent to the Indians or the uttermost regions in the world, as I was being sent into my native country. In the which voyage I cannot deny but that I dined with Dr. Allen at Rheims, with whom also after dinner I walked in his garden, spending our time in speeches which referred to our old familiarity and acquaintance; during the whole course thereof (I take God to witness) not one iota of our talk glanced to the crown or state of England; neither had I the least notice of any letters sent to Sanders, nor the smallest glimmering of these objected platforms—Then as for being procurator from the pope and Dr. Allen, I must needs say there could no one thing have been inferred more contrary, for as concerning the one, he flatly with charge and commandment excused me from matters of state and regiment; with the other sought no such duty and obedience as to execute matters repugnant to my charge. But admitting (as I protest he did not) that Dr. Allen had communicated such affairs unto me, yet for that he was not my superior it had been full apostacy in me to obey him. Dr. Allen for his learning and good religion I reverence, but neither was I his subject or inferior, nor he the man at whose commanment I rested.

Queen’s Counsel. Were it not that your dealing afterwards had fully betrayed you, your present speech perhaps had been more credible; but all afterclaps make those excuses but shadows, and your deeds and actions prove your words but forged; for what meaning had that changing of your name, whereto belonged your disguising in apparel, can these alterations be wrought without suspicion? Your name being Campion, why were you called Hastings? You a priest and dead to the world, what pleasure had you to royst that? A velvet hat and a feather, a buff leather jerkin, velvet venetians, are they weeds for dead men? Can that beseem a professed man of religion which hardly becometh a layman of gravity? No; there was a further matter intended; your lurking and lying hid in secret places, concludeth with the rest, a mischievous meaning: had you come hither for love of your country, you would never have wrought in—or had your intent been to have done well, you would never have hated the light, and therefore this beginning decyphereth your treason.

Campion. At what time the primitive church was persecuted and that Paul labored in the propagation and increase of the Gospel, it is not unknown, to what straits and pinches he and his fellows were diversely driven, wherein though in purpose he were already resolved rather to yield himself to martyrdom, than to shrink an inch from the truth he preached; yet if any hope or means appeared to escape, and if living he might benefit the church more than dying, we read of sundry shifts whereto he betook him, to increase God’s number and to shun persecution; but especially the changing of his name was very oft and familiar, whereby as opportunity and occasion was ministered, he termed himself now Paul now Saul; neither was he of opinion always to be known, but sometime thought it expedient to be hidden, lest being discovered persecution should ensue, and thereby the Gospel greatly forestalled. Such was his meaning, so was his purpose, which being in penance for points of religion he secretly stole out of prison in a basket. If these shifts were then approved, why are they now reproved in me? he an Apostle, I a Jesuit. Were they commended in him, are they condemned in me, the same cause was common to both, and shall the effect be peculiar to the one? I wished earnestly the planting of the gospel. I knew a contrary religion professed. I saw if I were known I should be apprehended. I changed, my name: I kept secretly. I imitated Paul. Was I therein a traitor? But the wearing of a buffjerkin, a velvet hat, and such like is much forced against me, as though the wearing of any apparel were treason, or that I in so doing were ever the more a traitor. I am not indicted upon the statute of Apparel, neither is it any part of this present arraignment. Indeed, I acknowledge an offence to God for so doing, and thereof it did grievously repent, me and therefore do now penance as you see me.

He was newly shaven, in a rug gown, and a great blacking strap covering half his face, etc.

The Clerk of the Crown read a Letter sent from Campion unto one Pound, a Catholic, part of the contents whereof was this, “It grieveth me much to have offended the Catholic cause so highly, as to confess the names of some gentlemen and friends in whose houses I had been entertained: yet in this I greatly cherish and comfort myself, that I never discovered any secrets there declared, and that I will not, come rack, come rope.”

Queens Counsel. What can sound more suspiciously or nearer unto treason, than this letter? It grieveth him to have betrayed his favorers the Catholics, and therein he thinketh to have wrought prejudice to religion. What then, may we think of that he concealeth? It must needs he some grievous matter and very precious, that neither the rack nor the rope can wring from him. For his conscience being not called in question nor sifted in any point of religion, no doubt, if there had not been further devices and affairs of the state and commonwealth attempted, we should as well have discovered the matter as the person; wherefore, it were well these hidden secrets were revealed, and then would appear the very face of these treasons.

Campion. As I am by profession and calling a priest so have I singly vowed all conditions and covenants to such a charge and vocation belonging, whereby I sustain an office and duty of priesthood that consisteth in sharing aud hearing confessions, in respect whereof at my first conservation (as all other priests so accepted must do) I solemnly took and vowed to God never to disclose any secrets confessed. The force and effect of which vow is such whereby every priest is bound, under danger of perpetual curse and damnation, never to disclose any offence opened nor infirmity whatsoever committed to his hearing. By virtue of this profession and due execution of my priesthood, I was accustomed to be privy to divers men’s secrets, and those not such as concerned State or Commonwealth, whereunto my authority was not extended, but such as so charged the grieved soul and conscience whereof I had power to pray for absolution. These were the hidden matters, these were the secrets in concerning of which I so greatly rejoiced, to the revealing whereof I cannot, nor will not be brought, come rack, come rope.

Thereupon the Clerk of the Crown read certain Papers containing in them Oaths to be ministered to the people for the renouncing their obedience to her majesty and the swearing of allegiance to the pope, acknowledging him for their supreme head and governor, the which papers were found in divers houses where Campion had lurked, and for religion been entertained.

Queen’s Counsel. What can be more apparent than this? These Oaths, if we went no further, are of themselves sufficient to convince you of treason; for what may be imagined more traitorous than to alien the hearts of the subjects from her majesty, renouncing their obedience to her, and swearing their subjection to the pope? And therefore these papers thus found in houses were you where, do clearly prove that for ministering such oaths, you are a traitor.

Campion. Neither is there, neither can there be any thing imagined more directly contrary or repugnant to my calling, as upon any occasion to minister an oath: neither had I any power or authority so to do: neither would I commit an offence so thwart [contrary] to my profession, for all the substance and treasure in the world. But admit I were authorized, what necessity importeth that reason, that neither being set down by my handwriting nor otherwise derived by any proof from myself, but only found in places where I resorted, therefore I should be he by whom they were ministered. This is but a naked presumption (who seeth it not?) and nothing vehement nor of force against me.

Guido de Brés (1522–1567) Comforts His Family from Death Row

[ABOVE—Artist’s conception of Guido de Bres and Peregrin de la Grange in prison [Public domain] image source not recorded.]

The author of the Belgic Confession spent six weeks incarcerated in sewage in the lowest section of the prison of Brunain at Valenciennes. Like many other reformers, Guido de Brès was imprisoned by Roman Catholic authorities because of his Protestant beliefs. Condemned to die, he wrote letters of comfort to his mother and his wife.

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His sentence was death by hanging, and he went joyfully to his execution, telling fellow prisoners just before the event “My brothers, I am condemned to death today for the doctrine of the Son of God, praise be to Him. I would never have thought that God would have given me such an honor. I feel the grace of God flowing in me more and more. It strengthens me from moment to moment, and my heart leaps within me for joy.”

At the foot of the scaffold he wished to pray, but was not allowed to do so. As he waited to die, he encouraged the crowd. At the moment when he was hung, the troops seemed to go crazy. For no apparent reason they began shooting bystanders and each other. Looting broke out. Some contemporaries took this as a judgment from God. Here are excerpts from de Brès’ last letter to his wife.

Last Letter to His Wife.

The grace and mercy of our good God and heavenly Father, and the love of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, be with you, my dearly beloved.

Catherine Ramon, my dear and beloved wife and sister in our Lord Jesus Christ: your anguish and sadness disturbs my joy and the happiness of my heart a little, so I am writing this for both our consolations, and especially yours, since you have always loved me with an ardent affection, and because it pleases the Lord to separate us from each other. I feel your sorrow over this separation more keenly than mine. I pray you not to be troubled too much over this, for fear of offending God. You knew when you married me that you were taking a mortal husband, who was uncertain of life, and yet it has pleased God to permit us to live together for seven years, giving us five children. If the Lord had wished us to live together longer, he would have made a way. But it did not please him to do so and may his will be done. Now remember that I did not fall into the hands of my enemies by mere chance, but through the providence of God who controls and governs all things, the least as well as the greatest. This is shown by the words of Christ, “Be not afraid. Your very hairs are numbered. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them shall fall to the ground without the will of your Father. Then fear nothing. You are of more worth than many sparrows.” These words of divine wisdom show that God knows the number of my hairs. How then can harm come to me without His command and providence? It could not happen, unless one should say that God is no longer God.

…[He encourages her in Christ, shows Satan’s stratagems, and reminds her that he is honored to die a martyr]

Since such things have happened, my dear sister and faithful wife, I implore you to find comfort from the Lord in your afflictions and to place your troubles with him. He is the husband of believing widows and the father of poor orphans. He will never leave you — of that I can assure you. Conduct yourself as a Christian woman, faithful in the fear of God, as you always have been, honouring by your good life and conversation the doctrine of the Son of God, which your husband has preached. As you have always loved me with great affection, I pray that you will continue this love toward our little children, instructing them in the knowledge of the true God and of his Son Jesus Christ. Be their father and their mother, and take care that they use honestly the little that God has given you. If God does you the favor to permit you to live in widowhood with our children after my death, that will be well. If you cannot, and the means are lacking, then go to some good man, faithful and fearing God. And when I can, I shall write to our friends to watch over you. I think that they will not let you want for anything…

Giovan Paschale (died 1560) Hopes for Eternal Satisfaction

[ABOVE—Waldensian Gospel peddlers from J.A. Wylie’s History of the Waldenses (Washington, DC: Review and Herald).]

The Waldenses arose as a reform movement in the thirteenth century. They based their practices on a French translation of the Bible and were cruelly persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. Despite persecution, they survived to greet and sometimes join the Protestant Reformation, often finding refuge in the Alps. Their merchants spread the gospel into other regions of Europe.

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In 1560 several of their number were imprisoned in the Italian region of Calabria. Here is a letter written by their pastor, Giovan Paschale. He was hanged in Rome that same year.

Excerpt from Giovan Paschale’s Letter to the Brethren of San Sisto

… we are 80 to 100 persons held in this dark place, and although we may escape being devoured by the lice, we are at the same time near to death by hunger. Who will doubt that all of us would willingly forego all that we possess in this world rather than to be condemned forever to this misery? …

Some will say that they do not sense in themselves the strength to die for Jesus Christ. I reply to them that those who fear to be overcome ought at least to struggle and to achieve a fleeting victory. For to flee is permissable, but to bow the knee before Baal is forbidden under the penalty of eternal punishment. …

I can testify that with a little bread and water the body can be satisfied, whereas the soul will never find satisfaction until it finds food which nourishes the hope of eternal life. And what is that if it is not the preaching of the Holy Gospel, of which you may be deprived? If, therefore you desire satisfaction, prepare yourselves to go to the place where your soul is peaceful. Thus you will quieten your conscience, you will find rest, you will confess Jesus Christ, you will edify the Church, and you will confound your enemies.

Your brother in Jesus Christ,
Giovan Luigi Paschale