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Tudor Minute May 22: RIP John Forrest

Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for May 22.   Today in 1538 John Forrest, a Franciscan friar, was executed for daring to denounce moves to make the king head of the Church.  

A strong opposer to the English Reformation, Forrest and the other monks in the Franciscan Friars Minor rejected any plan to split from Catholicism. Forrest had trained as a theologian at Oxford before becoming the confessor to Catherine of Aragon.   He was was so against what he saw as blasphemous heresy that, along with some other Friars, he found himself in front of Thomas Cranmer at Lambeth Palace, where he had to answer to charges of treason. Forrest was found guilty and sentenced to be burned at the stake.  

His stake was the statue of Saint Derfel which had been brought from the church of Llanderfel in Wales, was thrown on the pile of firewood; and thus, according to popular belief, was fulfilled an old prophecy, that this holy image would set a forest on fire.

The wooden statue was stuck on the pyre, with Friar Forrest attached for all to see, in the middle of Smithfields, in London.   It took two hours for him to burn, during which time he supposedly prayed for his enemies. And to this day it is said that his remains can be found in one corner of St Bart’s Hospital – which sits opposite the gates of the Friars’ monastery. He was beatified in 1886, and today is also his feast day.  

That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com.