Mary I, Queen of England, is known as Bloody Mary for a reason! She was sure that the only way to turn her unfortunate life around was to swear undeniable allegiance to the bloody and hedonistic Roman Catholic religion. The problem was that the more people she burned at the stake, the more the gospel spread! She started by burning the Anglican leaders, but they put on such a show of courage and strength as they died, her cause of turning the country into heathen Romans backfired. She moved forward and had people burned alive at the stake all over the realm, but could not sway the hearts of the people to change. She, however, was determined to win at all costs. She had anyone gathered up that did not show loyalty to Roman religion, even if they were women and children! The testimony of those faithful to God and His word did nothing to garner support for her ways. Instead as the Anglican reformer, Latimer, said as he was burning at the stake at Oxford, that their death would kindle a light in England that would never burn out!
During this time, there were two men that were viciously arrested and tried for heresy. The one was a 68 year old crippled painter, named Hugh Laverick. The other was a blind man, John Aprice. They were brought before the officials in London, and declared in court their refusal to embrace the heathen teachings of Rome. On May 9 they were brought to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where they were told to recant. They refused as so many others, so were sent to Fulham. There, Queen Mary’s religious henchman, Bonner, had them brought in as a dessert after dinner, and condemned them to be burned to death.
They were then taken by cart on May 15, 1556, from Newgate to Stratford-le-Bow, where they were chained to a stake. Hugh, not needing his crutch anymore, tossed it aside and said to his blind friend, “Be of good cheer my brother; for my Lord of London is our good physician; he will heal us both shortly—thee of thy blindness, and me of my lameness.” They sank into the flames, but their lives and testimony did not end there, because they live on eternally with their Great God and loving Heavenly Father!
As for the wicked queen, she had been suffering for years from headaches and heart palpitations. She also had dropsy and lost land to the Scots. The people of the land simply hated her, but knew she could not live long. Her lowering of taxes, interest in bettering educational opportunities, and long work days could not sway the people’s sympathies toward her. She died two and a half years after her murder of Hugh and John, and four days after issuing a brief commanding Bonner to burn heretics without mercy. This was issued in spite of the fact he was burning people every day for five years in a quest to please the vile Vatican and scare her people into submission.
As for St. Paul’s Cathedral, it was decaying badly, and amid fighting for control between Roman and Anglican faiths, in 1561, the spire was destroyed by lightning. The steeple caught fire, and the lead that covered it flowed like lava on down the roof. Even the bells melted. For four hours it burned, and both sides claimed God was judging the other theological side. It was never replaced. The church itself was later gutted by the Great London fire of 1666, and it was decided to completely destroy the structure and build a new building.
William Benham, Old St. Paul’s Cathedral (London: Seeley and Co. Limited, 1902), 45-51.
John Foxe, Foxe's Book of Martyrs, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 303, 304.
George M. Wrong, The British Nation: A History, ed. A.F. Nightingale, 3rd ed. (Chicago: D. Appleton, 1903; repr., Redding, CA: Pleasant Places Press, 2008), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 296.