Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31, 2012

Reformation Paths: England, France, and Spain

While studying the paths of the Protestant Reformation and seeing the varying reactions in different European countries, I am firmly convinced that God’s hand was the guiding force. The “situation on the ground” was far too difficult and convoluted to just happen by “chance.” In particular I have been comparing England, Spain, and France. It constantly amazes me how the Reformation was perceived so differently in each nation. Spain remained blindingly Catholic and violently intolerant toward Protestant thought; England eagerly adopted Protestant thought and gazed warily upon Catholics; and France, while remaining mostly Catholic, was filled with thousands of Protestants. 

I have my own personal theories as to why each country adopted or repelled the Reformation, though of course, they are just that . . . personal theories. I may be missing some elements that have not yet occurred to me. First, I think the Reformation’s reception must have had a lot to do with the monarchy at the time. In France, King Francis I was ruler through the 1520s and 1530s when Reformation (particularly Calvinist) thought was spreading rapidly. 

At first Francis was unusually tolerant of Protestant ideas. Years of relative peace would have given believers plenty of time to marry and have children who would carry on the faith. By the time Francis I turned on his Protestant subjects and took up a campaign of intolerance in 1534 after the Affair of the Placards, the ranks of the Huguenot faithful had already swelled. It is amazing to ponder what must have been accomplished in the span of a few years.

In England’s case, we know that Henry VIII’s personal life had much to do with his reception of the Reformation. At first it was a separate issue; news spread across Europe that there was a “New Thought,” and many embraced it. Some became “gospelers,” a term denoting those who had committed a large amount of the Bible to memory. When Henry VIII wished to divorce his first wife so he might marry a second, he found the Catholic Church an obstacle. So he created a state church, the Church of England, to accommodate his personal desires. There were many more elements, of course, but that was the gist of it.

During the reign of Henry’s son Edward VI, Protestantism flourished. Englishmen became accustomed to the “New Religion” and cherished it. The “Devise for the Succession” written by members of Edward’s council made it impossible for a Catholic to inherit and thus set the tone for the “no-Catholics” rule among the English monarchy. England had gotten a taste for “grace and faith alone” and liked it. There was no going back. Even when Mary I came to power and began burning Protestant believers, the fire of faith could not be quenched. England had broken free from Rome’s power and had no intentions of turning back the clock. Elizabeth I agreed more with Protestantism and further fortified England as a Protestant nation in the eyes of the world. 

Studying King Philip II of Spain, it is obvious why the Reformation never flourished during his reign. He was one of the most fanatical zealots that the religion-torn 16th century ever saw, and he took a no-quarter-given approach to even the tiniest pockets of Protestantism in Spain. There are two particular events throughout his reign that I think really demonstrate his stance. First, in 1565, having received news that 245 French Protestants had been unjustly executed by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in Florida, Philip wrote the following: “Say to him that, as to those he has killed, he has done well.” And after the horrendous St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in which thousands of French Protestants died, Philip supposedly “laughed for the only time on record.” The Lutherans, Huguenots, Anglicans, and Anabaptists of Europe would have been better off in the lion’s den than in Philip II’s presence.

I also think that the printing press (and the degree in which its fruits were suppressed) must have been involved in each nation’s number of Protestants or lack thereof. In Spain, ‘unorthodox’ Scripture traditions were banned before they could be distributed. The 1551 “Inquisitorial Index of Valentia” forbade common folk from reading Spanish Bibles. In France, however, there existed many pamphlets decrying Catholicism, and by the mid 1530s the Bible had been translated into French. In England there had been previous attempts at translating Scripture into English, thus the 16th century “Geneva Bible” was finally accepted. 

I have also wondered why France suffered eight terrible Wars of Religion, while England, a Protestant nation with many dissatisfied Catholics, never saw such violence. I think it must have had to do partially with Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for diplomacy. I often imagine that England was especially compelled to remain Protestant while at war with Catholic Spain . . . seeing the propagandized savagery of her enemies, England would have desired to stay as far away from that image as possible. 

Another difference in warfare is that France had a large number of Protestants willing to defend themselves. Unlike in Spain, where groups of believers were immediately crushed, Protestant influence in France was vast. Over time the French monarchy found it necessary to decree various edicts that would give the Huguenots at least a few rights, a concession that Spain never granted. There were some events in England’s history that probably could have served as a springboard for religious violence if the time was right, such as the Catholic Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Yet all that came of such events was enmity between England’s Protestant majority and Catholic minority. 

All-in-all, it is fascinating to compare these three nations and they course they took.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30, 2012

The Massacre of Vassy, 1562

Vassy (or Wassy) is a small town in Haute-Marne, France, the kind of place that probably would have remained unknown over the centuries if not for one incident. Its day of infamy came on March 01, 1562. It was just an average day, I imagine, a cold morning occupied with the beloved duty of attending church. Huguenot worshippers were on edge in France. Burnings at the stake were still the preferred means of destroying Protestants, and civil unrest was reaching the boiling point. There had been no warfare . . . yet. But there soon would be.

In 1562 there was an old barn in Vassy that had somehow come into use as a Huguenot temple. Made of light-colored brick, with a reddish tile roof and interior wooden beams (if Hogenberg’s later drawing is to be believed), this handsome barn served the needs of the local Protestant congregation quite well. Also according to Hogenberg, there was a simple wooden pulpit with a series of flat wooden steps, and a second-story balcony with simple wooden railings. There was enough room for a comfortable number of believers to mingle and worship.

March 01st would be their last chance to worship on this earth.

The massacre of Vassy began in quite a strange way. Francis, the Duke of Guise, born of a family hated by the Huguenots for their heavy-handed treatment of Protestantism, came to Vassy with the intent of attending one of the Catholic churches in the region. Somehow it caught his attention that this unobtrusive barn before him was filled with Protestant believers. One wonders how . . . I cannot see them singing loudly or having ornamentation, for such things were forbidden at that time. I suspect it was the simplicity of the structure or perhaps snatches of the Psalms --- Huguenots were known for their beloved Psalm-singing --- that betrayed their beliefs.

A few of Francis’ bolder men were incensed that Protestants dared to worship anywhere in France let alone the town through which they were passing, and they tried to force entrance. Both sides had words. Those words are not known, and that is probably for the best. Eventually the Huguenots began flinging rocks at the Duke of Guise and his brazen soldiers. Whether or not anything else was thrown, I do not know. The exasperated Protestants of Vassy had no idea that their rock-throwing --- and their faith --- would condemn them to death.

The Duke of Guise was not a man known for respecting human lives. To him it was a mere trifle to condemn innocent men, women, and children, and in a short while he commanded his soldiers to “break up” the chaos however they saw fit. I have seen differing accounts concerning this event. Some say the church was burned, others that there was hand-to-hand combat, others that the Duke of Guise’s quick-tempered men were to blame, and still others that the Huguenots were disrespectful and “had it coming to them.” As with any historical event, it has turned into a “he said, she said.”

I try to look at the big picture. Perhaps the Huguenots were incensed that they were commanded to stop their services --- I would be too. Perhaps some of them threw rocks. Perhaps they started it. I do not see, though, why it really matters, for the end result was the same. As Huguenots were much hated in France, what began as a scuffle became a slaughter. About forty people (some say less, some say more) died, and many more were wounded. Then the Duke of Guise and his men went on their way, smug and satisfied that their ‘chastisement’ was successful.

The callousness of this era never ceases to amaze me. The idea that a mere man, a man like Francis of Guise, could so nonchalantly play God over others’ lives and take them without a second thought is appalling. There are, of course, similar situations in the world today, and I feel the same about all violence, yet having always been interested in the 16th century, these instances speak most strongly to me. The massacre of Vassy became a powerful propaganda tool in the years to come and is considered by most to have contributed to the first War of Religion.

All because of a barn full of believers. May they rest in peace.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29, 2012

Who Ever Thought We’d Make It This Far?

When I drive through any Small Town USA and see a plethora of churches of varying denominations, I am so proud to be a Protestant with a Reformation heritage. Think about it. In the 1500s and 1600s, there was no freedom of religion. The idea of a country where Protestant believers could not only live but thrive was an impossible concept. Looking back over history, it seems amazing that we endured and triumphed. The proof is in our churches . . . through God’s mercy and our ancestors’ unshakable faith, we have indeed survived and thrived!

A recent Sunday drive allowed me to look upon Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Baptist, Reformed, and possibly other churches. While detractors might say that is unflattering to Protestants, proclaiming an alarming variance in doctrine, I say it is a testament to free thought and to everyone being able to fit in where their beliefs are most suited. We must also remember that many Protestant faiths are very similar in the “basics.” Instead of wondering why others believe “error,” we ought to learn and study what exactly the differences are. Use doctrines as a springboard, not as grounds for judgment! 

On that same note, as a historical fiction writer, I often “dive into” whatever era I am researching at the time, and this makes it even more touching to contrast the past with the present. Out and about, I notice all sorts of vehicles. Vehicles with Protestant college names on them, vehicles with Catholic rosaries hanging from the mirror. Freedom of religion. Keeping in mind that in the past Christians of varying denominations would have persecuted each other, it is indeed refreshing to see that everyone may go freely wherever they wish, and may share the road without fear of repercussion. How different from the world in which our ancestors lived! 

So, yes, I love going along and seeing all those churches. The Reformation was initiated in suffering and went through fire and blood (literally) to reach the freedom of the modern era. Let us all be proud!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 28, 2012

Struggling For Equality

Many of my readers know that I have made the Huguenot martyrs of Matanzas, who died in Florida in 1565 for refusing to recant their Protestant faith, a “pet project” of mine. I have dedicated myself to remembering and honoring these 245 men and doing what I can to keep their memories alive. A few days past, when I opened a St. Augustine local newspaper online, my heart jumped when I saw the title “Remembering the Martyrs.” I have long believed that far too little is being done and said about the Matanzas martyrs. Yet I soon learned that the martyrs in question were Franciscan priests. There was a very nice article about these Catholic friars and their deaths at the hands of disgruntled Native Americans. One man in particular, Agustín Ponce de Leon, is to be remembered with a special religious service.

Though I am always glad to see people of any religion remembered for their sacrifices, it also made me incredibly sad. The Huguenot martyrs of Matanzas certainly deserve the same kind of recognition. It is so disheartening that few people have written the same kind of touching articles about the men of Matanzas and what they suffered.

Part of that newspaper story called “Remember the Martyrs” said many St. Augustine Catholics are grateful that the names and sacrifices of their Catholic martyrs from the 1500s and beyond are finally coming to light. They are relieved that these men will not suffer the ultimate fate of being forgotten. I think that, as American Protestants, we should do the same for these forgotten Huguenots. There is talk of a display for Agustín Ponce de Leon at the mission of Nombre de Dios in St. Augustine. I would like to see mention of the Matanzas martyrs in other museums in that ancient city, places where the public might learn what really happened.

It is maddeningly ironic that there was such violence against early Protestants in America, a land which for much of its history was known as a Protestant nation. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” the Church Father Tertullian said. The story of the Matanzas massacre is one of America’s most harrowing tales and yet it remains largely forgotten. If a small but insistent group of St. Augustine Catholics have cared for and loved their martyrs enough to elevate them back into the history books, so should American Protestants from across the country remember and love “their” Huguenots, the men of Matanzas. It is a great tragedy that their sacrifice is often cheapened, overlooked, and unremembered.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 2012

“Behind Every Great Man . . .” --- Katharina von Bora Luther Quiz

Try to guess the answers or check the answers below!

1.       How old was Katharina von Bora when her father Hans, a struggling nobleman, sent her to a convent in Brehna, Germany?

2.       Which man who would become known as a Protestant reformer did Katharina write to in the early 1520s, pleading for assistance in escaping the convent?

3.       What food item was generally carried in the sort of barrels in which Katharina and her fellow nuns escaped the convent of Marienthron?

4.       In what season did Katharina von Bora and Doctor Martin Luther marry?

5.       What were two affectionate titles Luther had for her?

6.       What fellow Protestant reformer would have Katharina “accepted” marrying if Martin Luther had not been available?

7.       How many sons did Katharina have? How many daughters? What were their names?

8.       Which of Katharina’s children died young?

9.       What was Katharina’s cause of death, and how old was she?

(1)    Five years old (1504)

(2)    Martin Luther, who in 1525 became her husband

(3)    Herring. They were transported by Leonhard Koppe of Torgau

(4)    Summer (June 13, 1525)

(5)    “My Lord Katie” and “the Morning Star of Wittenberg”

(6)    Nikolaus von Amsdorf (who, like Luther, was sixteen years her elder)

(7)    Three sons (Hans, Martin, and Paul), three daughters (Elizabeth, Magdalena, and Margarethe)

(8)    Magdalena (thirteen)

(9)    Katharina became ill after being bedridden due to a cart accident. She died at 53 years old

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26, 2012

Victims of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: Pierre Monnet, His Wife and Son

It was just a random name I discovered while searching for those who died in the St. Bartholomew’s. “Pierre Monnet,” the genealogical entry said. He was born in Poitou, France, in 1523, and was forty-nine at the time of the massacre. Records show that his parents were Abraham Monnet and Susanne Chastian (possibly meant to be Chastain, a notable Huguenot family). It has been said that Catholic and Protestant families in France were easy to tell apart, since the Catholics tended to use saints’ names and the Huguenots preferred more Biblical names (Abraham, Isaac, David, etc). 

Pierre Monnet (or Monnett) married in 1545 at the age of 22 and had at least one child, Pierre. This child, either twenty-two or seventeen years of age depending on the source, was apparently killed in the St. Bartholomew’s massacre as well. History seems to suggest that the elder Madame Monnet bore the same fate. What may have happened to any other possible children is unknown. A few sources list the elder Pierre’s wife and younger Pierre’s mother as Marie Guillamart.

As always, there are two things that bother me about this story. First, there is modern man’s quest to justify and explain away the massacre by saying it was “how times were” (evil has always been evil, let us not forget!), that it is wrong to judge because it was “right at the time” (which is truly sad), and that the Parisian mob thought they were acting in a Christian manner (which, as we know, could not be more wrong). There have always been people who implied that the massacre was undertaken so the Catholic dominance of the day might be protected. I cannot see how the deaths of a father, mother, and son could have “protected” anyone, let alone how the deaths of thousands could have! We ought to remember events such as the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre without justifying, explaining away, or failing to properly commemorate and honor. Do it for the Monnets, and for thousands of other families. They died for their faith. They deserve our remembrance.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25, 2012

Victims of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: Felix la Rue

On my post of August 15th I mentioned Felix La Rue or Le Roux, a victim of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. Being intrigued by this man’s life, as he popped out at me as someone in danger of being forgotten, I decided to study further. Felix La Rue (or Le Roux) had an exciting start in life. As the rumored grandson of King Francis I of France through a clandestine relationship with a Mademoiselle de la Rieux, he must have undergone some interesting adventures. He was born around the year 1521, and it is uncertain when he converted to Protestantism, which first became popular in France in the 1530s. Felix was thirty-five when a failed Huguenot colony in Brazil was overrun by Portuguese mariners. He was forty-one when explorer Jean Ribault first claimed “La Floride” for France. Did he long to embark on these voyages? Did he ever wonder what life in the New World would be like?

I also like to imagine physical appearances. Though there is no way to know, I have noticed that many Frenchmen featured in portraits from this time period had a typical “French look,” with the same kind of nose structure and dark hair. Blue and brown eyes are both seen, though I imagine brown would be more common. It is very likely Felix had this sort of a look. I do love to speculate over such things. It helps put a face and an identity to an otherwise nameless victim.

Felix’s children are unknown, save for one son named Justin. Family lore says Justin was a child during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre and that he escaped by being spirited away to Germany. Other sources say he was born in 1545, thus in 1572 he would have been twenty-seven and hardly a child. Felix’s fate is marked out clearly. He died on August 24, 1572, during the St. Bartholomew’s. He was about fifty-one years of age. His brother Louis became Catholic, and another brother, Bertolet, remained Protestant and escaped.

As Huguenots were forbidden to inherit land or retain titles, brother Louis became the head of la famille de la Rue. There was apparently a de la Rue chateau in or near Orleans, France, though I am uncertain if it still exists. It seems that “La Rue,” “Le Roux,” “Leroux,” and “de la Rieux” are all common spellings of this surname. Long story short, Felix La Rue died a martyr. I do not know the exact circumstances; I do not know if he fought or if he was taken in his bedroom without the slightest chance to defend himself, but it does not matter. He fell for his faith. In his enemies’ eyes, he warranted such treatment simply for believing as he did.

Rest in peace, Monsieur. Today your name is spoken once again.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 24, 2012

This page is black for a reason.

440 years ago today, possibly the worst historical crime against Protestant Christians took place in France. August 24, 1572 heralded the horrific St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre that filled Europe’s Protestants with dread and fear and still elicits a strong response of horror, shock, and overwhelming grief. The injustice is appalling. Since my first such article on the St. Bartholomew’s captured, I think, the exact essence of how I felt about the event, I will repost my post of March 02nd today:

Paris had grown quiet. Men and women still tired from dancing welcomed sleep amid visions of the royal wedding they had just witnessed. Thousands of Huguenot attendees bedded down all over the city. Perhaps now that Marguerite, King Charles’ sister, and Henri, the Huguenot ruler of Navarre, had married, there would be peace between Catholics and Protestants in France. Countless heads dozed peacefully against their pillows. Then the church bells began to ring.

Men ran swiftly through the streets, sporting white armbands and distinctive white crosses sewn to their caps. They pounded on doors. Children awoke in terror . . . mothers rose from their beds in a flurry while fathers sleepily answered the knocks only to be slaughtered where they stood. None but the perpetrators understood that a massacre of horrific proportions was crafted to follow this most beautiful and deadly wedding. All over Paris, Protestant families awoke to screams and shouts, curses and jeers. Doors were broken down. Blood ran freely. Chains were set up so that none might escape.

Everywhere one looked, there was carnage. A man’s status in life did not matter. Even Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, loved and respected by many, once a mentor of King Charles, was a fatality of this night. From the highest official to the ‘common folk’ who had come only to see the marriage of Henri de Navarre, every Huguenot was in danger.

Rumors would later deflect the blame. Detractors believed the Huguenots were planning an attack, as many of the Huguenot nobles had recently protested certain affairs of state. Many said Catherine de’Medici, the queen mother and formerly King Charles’ regent was to blame. It is currently believed that Charles himself most likely had a part in the decision after Catherine convinced him the Huguenots meant to take his life, though he did not fathom how many would die. There was probably some truth in each rumor. Perhaps the assassins took their marching orders and added their own twists; they ran wild and created even more chaos than was planned. We will never know for sure.

The “Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre” went on for days. Not only in Paris, but in the countryside and surrounding territories, claiming the Protestant faith meant instant death. The demand for burials was overwhelmingly high. Many broken bodies were thrown into the Seine. The attitude of the day dictated that Huguenots did not deserve burial in sacred ground.

Unfortunately, this is not a fiction story. This event did occur, beginning on the 24th of August, 1572. Though some of the details are guesswork and the number of casualties has fluctuated greatly from historian to historian, the bulk of the account is as accurate as can be expected. The sheer horror of the massacre is difficult to comprehend. The casual attitude that the perpetrators showed toward their victims after the slaughter is nearly as disturbing as the bloodlust these men-at-arms showed during the bloodshed.

No one will ever know how many innocent souls lost their lives at this time. But Protestant Christians can take comfort in the fact that God knows each and every one of those souls. When I was writing this post I thought of Luke 12:7. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” I realized that the Lord must certainly know the Saint Bartholomew’s Day martyrs. He remembers, loves, and cherishes their sacrifice so much more than we mortals ever could. To God be the glory!

For other posts concerning the massacre, see:
July 26, 2012 (The St. Bartholomew’s Massacre and My Soul Cry)
July 04, 2012 (St. Bartholomew’s Day and the “Miraculous” Hawthorn)
June 21, 2012 (Victims of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: Charles de Teligny)
June 13, 2012 (The Stones Cry Out, my poem)
March 09, 2012 (Admiral Gaspard de Coligny: A Life in Brief)

My blog will remain black until Monday the 27th of August to honor and remember the Huguenot victims of the St. Bartholomew's.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

August 23, 2012


I had planned to put up a special blog post tomorrow for the 440th anniversary of the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, but my Internet connection has been giving me no end of trouble today. If I still have a connection, sometime within the next few hours I will put up tomorrow's post so I can be sure it will be up.

August 23, 2012

Here is another poem I wrote.

“Tears in Gethsemane”
(c) 2007 Joyously Saved

The whisper of the angels' wings are carried on the breeze,
The Holy Spirit gently sings between the garden trees,
The men who sleep beyond the gate are deaf to Jesus’ prayer,
They do not have the knowledge that their Savior suffers there.

The Savior kneels with heavy heart and knows His life will end,
He knows that fate will triumph through betrayal by a friend,
In all His pain He does not doubt the Father's perfect plan,
But looks for peace among the trees, that great and tender Man.

His eyes look sadly on His friends; oblivious they lie,
They still cannot imagine in what way their Lord will die,
He pleads with His disciples, warns them not to laze around,
But then returns once more to find them sleeping on the ground.

The whispers are now silent as the angels wait above,
They know their blessed Savior will give up His life for love,
Then Judas gives the deadly kiss, his heart set to betray,
Lord Jesus is the calming force; disciplines join the fray.

No malice does He harbor, no revenge grows in His heart,
He knows He is no common man but has been set apart,
To save His Father's blessed sheep from evil in the flock,
The world is tossed upon the sea but Jesus is the rock.

Without remorse they taunt and mock the Savior in His pain,
The tears of His disciples coat the barren earth like rain,
The ragged cross is lifted high on bleak Golgotha’s face,
The Son of God and Son of man surveys the human race.

Those born and all those yet to come, He thinks upon with love,
His blood rains down – a blessing from the Sovereign Lord above,
All inhumanity Christ bears without a brutal word,
He dies within the first day but He rises on the third.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

Martin Bucer: The “Second Martin” of the Reformation

He never founded a church, yet many Reformation-based Protestant faiths consider him indispensable. He is seldom spoken of, yet he was quite influential. His name was Martin Bucer. In an era when issues like predestination, communion, and infant baptism were tearing denominations apart instead of uniting them, he sprinkled a bit of everything in his theology. As a result, Lutherans, Huguenots, and Anglicans managed to find at least one thing in his teaching that they admired.

Interestingly, Bucer, like John Calvin, Martin Luther, and others, started out as a Catholic priest. The first of many iconic meetings came in 1518 when Bucer was living in Heidelberg. Upon discovering that Luther would be speaking on theology, Bucer made it a point to see the controversial reformer for himself. It had only been six months since the 95 Theses had been posted in Wittenberg. One might say that the following weeks were Bucer’s “road to Damascus” moment, when he found himself dangerously perceptive to the “new thought” that was sweeping across Europe.

In another parallel with Martin Luther, Bucer, after disavowing the priesthood and joining the Protestant camp, married a woman who had lived much of her life as a nun. Her name was Elisabeth Silbereisen. Bucer was excommunicated in 1523. To the Catholic world, excommunication meant they were cut off from the Church and denied a chance of salvation. To Bucer, it meant freedom. He went on to intercede between Luther and Zwingli, putting his own thoughts on doctrine into the mix. One of his ecumenical controversies was distributing works by Martin Luther and other reformers while adding his own personal opinions. This naturally caused a rift between the various camps.

Martin Bucer soon before death

Throughout the early 1530s, when very new Protestant denominations struggled to get their doctrines down into individual confessions, the extent of disagreement between Bucer, Zwingli, Luther, and others became all too evident. The Lutherans had the Augsburg Confession. Bucer and those in agreement championed the Tetrapolitan Confession. Then, of course, there were the dueling organizations. The “Schmalkaldic League” was a Protestant creation designed to join Lutheran nobles and provide protection for believers in Germany and beyond. This, of course, was countered by the Holy Roman Empire, the Holy See, and the giants of sixteenth century Catholicism.

Martin Bucer was very well known for his association with Strasbourg in Alsace, a region that has historically gravitated between Germany and France. Under Bucer’s direction and with the help of other reformers, Strasbourg became a Protestant locale, one of the centers of the Reformation. Eventually his position put him in danger, and he was banished to England. He counted himself lucky that Protestant King Edward VI was on the throne at the time.

Bucer was tired of disunity. He was grateful for the Reformation but disgusted by the persecution between denominations, and so he determined that all Christians should unite. “We must aspire with the utmost zeal to edify as many people as we possibly can in faith and in the love of Christ – and to offend no one,” he said. Unfortunately, the sixteenth century was awash in blood due to various religious conflicts, and the liberation of the Gospel had been twisted to suit men’s needs so that it also opened up a Pandora’s Box of warfare.

So how did it end for Martin Bucer? He died in England on February 28, 1551. He joined first wife Elisabeth in death and was survived by his second wife Wibrandis Rosenblatt, their daughter Elisabeth, and possibly a few children with his first wife (little is known about them). Even in death, Bucer was controversial. England’s “Bloody Mary” added insult to injury by digging up his earthly remains and burning them. This was in 1556. Three years later, Protestant queen Elizabeth I came to power, and another burial site was constructed so Martin Bucer’s spirit might rest in peace.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21, 2012

Historical Revision in the Nation's Oldest City

I have mentioned many times throughout this blog that I am particularly driven to remember and honor the French Protestants killed near St. Augustine, Florida, in September and October 1565. It is my “calling,” a cause I feel I was chosen to uphold, and I think often of what I can do to keep these men’s memories alive. The Matanzas massacre is a story not very often told. Many might think it insignificant, but I personally feel it was a huge part of early American history and an invaluable reminder of the necessity of religious freedom.

While looking for references about the Huguenots of Matanzas, I came across an online book called “The Catholic Church in the United States of America,” which mentioned St. Augustine founder Pedro Menéndez de Avilés. It has always bothered me how I see terms like “the Matanzas massacre revised” and “rethinking the Matanzas massacre.’ It is as if people seek to diminish the horror. This particular book said of Menéndez: “There is but one blot on his fame, that of the Matanzas massacre, nor is the shame of it palliated when it is ascribed, not to fanaticism or bigotry, but to the reasons assigned by his master – the desire not to risk his own people. If this was, indeed, his motive, it was a worthy one.”

Stop there. This is, sadly, a sentiment I have heard before, that the massacre was “justified” if it was done so that the Spaniards would not starve. They apparently could not risk ‘more mouths to feed.’ Yet even by the cruel standards of 1565, slaughtering Frenchmen because they were a “burden” was not “worthy.” The author went on to say that he does not believe it was done purely for self-preservation, but then continued, “But we must not allow our judgment to be so outraged by this cold-blooded murder as to blind us to his {Menéndez’s} signal merits . . .”

If he had shown remorse, asked forgiveness, expressed regret, I agree. But he never did. It seems that some are desperate to prove the Matanzas massacre was not a religious martyrdom, even though there are various letters (from Menéndez himself and from his chroniclers, including Father Francisco López de Mendoza Grajales) that clearly state it was done for religious reasons. ‘Evil sect’ is but one way these men referred to the Huguenots’ Protestant faith. I have never understood why I feel so strongly about the 245 Frenchmen slaughtered fourteen miles from St. Augustine. I have been visiting the city for over a decade; it is deep in my heart and soul, and I have stood at the spot where the men were killed. I cannot bear to hear people justifying, revising, re-editing.

I will not forget.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20, 2012

Ah, the olden days. I dug up a poem I wrote a few years ago about the Protestant Reformation. Enjoy!

“The Hammer Still Echoes”
(c) 2010 Joyously Saved

In honor of the 1517 nailing of the 95 Theses

When freedom of religion was spoken of no more,
When Rome had taxed her people and bled them to the core,
The peace found in the Savior seemed lost forevermore,
But the pounding of the hammer was heard on every door.

With Scripture in the tongue of every common man,
No longer would he writhe beneath a heavy hand,
“What only priests could read, now peasants understand!”
The blessed Word of God was then in high demand.

They braved the threat of death and torture every day,
They trusted in the Savior to guide them on their way,
Though thousands lost their lives, at Jesus’ feet they lay,
Their sacrifices still resound in us today.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 2012

Remembering One of America's Prettiest Churches

On March 30th, 2012, a day after visiting Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Augustine, Florida, I wrote this post. Lately I have wanted to do another post with more photos and more explanations. Though I am not Presbyterian, I was truly humbled to visit this beautiful, stunning church, not only for its wonderful architecture but also for symbolism’s sake. For 198 years (and then again for 37 years after the Protestant British period of occupation) St. Augustine was Catholic. The slightest mention of Protestantism seemed out of place, and the Oldest City had already garnered a reputation for religious persecution due to the Matanzas massacre site just outside of town. I find it wonderfully ironic that this church, with doctrines much like those of the Huguenots, has become one of St. Augustine’s most recognizable landmarks.

This church is indeed a painter’s paradise, a beautiful place to relax and reflect. The gardens alone are worth contemplation. Though there are many pretty churches in St. Augustine, this is definitely the one of the most stunning.

The entrance of Memorial Presbyterian Church pays homage to patron Henry Flagler’s daughter Jennie Louise Benedict, who, along with baby daughter Marjorie or Margery, died in 1889. Both are buried within the attached mausoleum along with Henry and his first wife Mary Harkness.

Just inside the entrance is the first of many small stained glass windows located unusually close to the floor. This was one of my favorite interior features.

The church’s interior is just stunning. Everything is big and wide and open, with formidable walls, a domed ceiling, and soaring windows. It must make even the tallest --- and haughtiest --- person feel like an ant!

I personally liked the tile-work on the floor. Not only is the Greek key design impressive, but there is even tinier detail work beyond the border.

This hanging cross was, I believe, meant to be a chandelier of sorts. It was located in a side room just off the main sanctuary.

This side room was impressive and simple. I especially liked the Scripture verse running along the walls.

If you ever get the chance, come and see Memorial Presbyterian Church! It is definitely a place you will never forget.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18, 2012

Cyber Hymnal Never Disappoints

Yesterday I took another peek around Cyber Hymnal. Often I search for words from my blog’s theme, and so, searching for hymns with that all-important message, I usually come across spectacular work by Fanny Crosby. What a gifted individual! The Lord showed His meticulous planning when He chose her to pen such endearing lyrics. The song I discovered is called “Glory Ever Be to Jesus,” and it was written in 1887.

“Glory Ever Be to Jesus”

Glory ever be to Jesus,
God’s own well belovèd Son;
By His grace He hath redeemed us,
“It is finished,” all is done.           

Saved by grace through faith in Jesus,
Saved by His own precious blood,
May we in His love abiding,
Follow on to know the Lord.

Oh the weary days of wand’ring,
Longing, hoping for the light;
These at last all lie behind us,
Jesus is our strength and might.

Saved by grace through faith in Jesus,
Saved by His own precious blood,
May we in His love abiding,
Follow on to know the Lord.

In His safe and holy keeping,
’Neath the shadow of His wing,
Gladly in His love confiding,
May our souls His praises sing.

Saved by grace through faith in Jesus,
Saved by His own precious blood,
May we in His love abiding,
Follow on to know the Lord.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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