How does a just king, a loyal Defender of the Faith, turn on all that he vowed to protect, betraying Church and country? Was it the limitless power he had, the power to decide between life and death, that gave birth to him placing himself above his Pope and Church? Was it the example of other Henrys before him? This chapter is about one man's infamy and the powerful men and Martyrs God raised up to defend His Church. But before we speak of King Henry VIII, and the Martyrs who died rather than deny the Church, we want to touch briefly on some of his predecessors.
Henry II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire who became emperor in 1056, at the age of six years old, fought against Pope Gregory VII. The Pope excommunicated him. What did that Henry do? He went to Canossa, Italy where the Pope was living. It was winter and there was snow on the ground. He stood outside the Pope's castle donned in coarse sackcloth, for three days in the bitter cold. The Pope forgave him and took him back into the Church. This Henry's reign was filled not only with battles against the German Kings and the Pope but against his own sons.
Had he taught them, through his disobedience to the foster father that Jesus had left, the successor to Peter, the Pope, they did not have to respect and obey him, their earthly father? And so, once again, disobedience breeds disobedience and division. A new Henry would disobey. But he would not beg forgiveness, and the innocents would suffer.
The English Martyrs
Publication date: 03/04/2011
The Account of the Martyrdom of Saints Becket, More and Fisher
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