The Oxford Martyrs of Christian Disunity
In October 2003, at a meeting of Churches Together in Oxfordshire, HM Lord Lieutenant suggested a new memorial might be built in Oxford to honour all its local martyrs, irrespective of whether they were Protestant or Catholic. Already, beside St Mary Magdalen's Church in St Giles' there is an imposing memorial to the three famous Protestant Reformers; in addition a cross in the middle of
|The Cross marking the site|
of martyrdom in
The Protestant Reformers who lost their lives at the stake on October 16 1555 were Bishop Hugh Latimer of Worcester and Bishop Nicholas Ridley of London. They had both previously been bishops of Rochester, and thus both were successors of St John Fisher, a Catholic and also a martyr at the confused and dangerous time of reform and Christian disunity in the mid sixteenth century. On March 21 1556 they were followed by the great Archbishop Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury, also burned on a conviction for heresy under Queen Mary.
|Bishop Nicholas Ridley|
|St John Fisher|
On March 21 2006, the Prayer Book Society, an Anglican association which seeks to preserve and promote the Book of Common Prayer, the standard of Anglican worship and spirituality first devised by Archbishop Cranmer, held a service 450 years to the day after his death in Broad Street. Graciously, Catholic representatives were invited to the occasion.
History against Hatred.
A memorial to the Catholic martyrs in the form of a plaque, corresponding to the Protestant Martyrs' Memorial and the cross in the roadway in Broad Street, has been placed on a house in Holywell Street owned by Merton College. This lies close to the spot where the four martyrs of 1580 were hanged - George Nichols, Richard Yaxley, Thomas Elison and Humphrey Pritchard. Now all the memorials commemorate not different sides but memories reconciled and the healing of Christians' disunity.