Today the church remembers Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, Bishops and Martyrs, 1555.“Today we shall light such a fire in England as shall never be extinguished.” With these words Latimer and Ridley went to the stake and were burned to death on this day in 1555 at Oxford. Besides being burned together, Latimer and Ridley had much in common. Both were English bishops with strong protestant sympathies. Each was an exceptionally fine preacher in an age of great preachers. Both were Cambridge men. Both were social reformers. Latimer was the sometime Bishop of Worcester, who rose to prominence in the days of Thomas Wolsey and Henry VIII. He first gained a reputation as a social reformer and then as a church reformer. This alone was enough to put Queen Mary on his heels. Nicholas Ridley, the sometime Bishop of London, was equally infamous to Mary"s inquisitors. During his brief episcopate he had seen to the founding of three hospitals and had contributed significantly to the new Book of Common Prayer. His “protestantizing” sermons brought down upon his head the wrath of Mary"s most unreconciliatory regime. Yet Latimer and Ridley had, indeed, lit a fire in England that was not to be extinguished. For all martyrs and for those whose witness has renewed the church, we give you thanks, Lord God. Amen.
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Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, that, like your servants William 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 forever. Amen.