Whatever your spiritual commitments are, these brave souls will inspire you.
Reformation Day was this past week and a number of my friends were celebrating. As a convert, I have many Protestant friends who see the history a bit differently than I now do. I’m happy enough to see them celebrate what, to them, is the anniversary of a positive historical development, but I’m a bit more conflicted when my fellow Catholics seem to be celebrating it because I know how much converts struggle and how much they leave behind to join the Church.
My own background is Anglican, which comes from the part of the Reformation that took place in England. Philip Kosloski recently wrote an excellent introduction to the English Reformation, which points out there was a dark side to it, and “Good Queen Bess” and her Elizabethan England had a secret history of heroes and martyrs. During her reign, it was illegal for a priest to even step on English soil. Once caught, most priests were imprisoned in the Tower of London, tortured, and eventually drawn and quartered (dragged, hanged until near death, then cut down and disemboweled alive). Most lay faithful weren’t hunted down, but they were taxed into poverty and discriminated against, and faced torture and execution should they be discovered giving shelter to priests. It wasn’t an easy time to be Catholic and what I gave up to convert pales in comparison, but here are a few of the heroes I very much admire who never gave up their faith.