Thursday, November 12, 2015
America as a Religious Refuge - Protestant John Rogers by England's Catholic Queen Mary
The Burning of Master John Rogers. Engraving from John Fox, The Third Volume of the Ecclesiastical History containing the Acts and Monuments of Martyrs...
Martyrdom of John Rogers
The execution in 1555 of John Rogers (1500-1555) is portrayed here in the 9th edition of the famous Protestant martyrology, Fox's Book of Martyrs. Rogers was a Catholic priest who converted to Protestantism in the 1530s under the influence of William Tyndale and assisted in the publication of Tyndale's English translations of the Bible. Burned alive at Smithfield on February 4, 1555, Rogers became the "first Protestant martyr" executed by England's Catholic Queen Mary. He was charged with heresy, including denial of the real presence of Christ in the sacrament of communion.
Two centuries after John Rogers's execution, his ordeal, with depictions of his wife and ten children added to increase the pathos, became a staple of The New England Primer. The Primer supplemented the picture of Rogers' immolation with a long, versified speech, said to be the dying martyr's advice to his children, which urged them to "Keep always God before your Eyes" and to "Abhor the arrant Whore of Rome, and all her Blasphemies." This recommendation, read by generations of young New Englanders, doubtless helped to fuel the anti-Catholic prejudice that flourished in that region well into the nineteenth century.
Mr. John Rogers. Woodblock print from The New-England Primer Improved Boston: A. Ellison, 1773. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress
From The Library of Congress.