By the mid 1500s, anyone who publicly acknowledged allegiance to the fledgling protestant movement—and thereby defied the Church of Rome—potentially left themselves open to imprisonment or even death. As the teaching spread, it became increasingly common for people to willingly lose their lives as a result of their new-found faith. Fox’s Book of Martyrs lists account after account of those people and their stories.
As I recently re-read some of those accounts, one especially struck me. It was the story of five people in England: John Lomas, Agnes Snoth, Anne Wright, Joan Sole, and Joan Catmer. We don’t know anything about their positions in this life. We have no idea whether any of them was rich or poor. We are aware that Agnes was a widow and Joan Catmer was married. Of the others, though, we know nothing about their marital status. Fox tells us that John was a “young man,” but no ages are given for any of the five. There is not much offered in the way of specifics about them.
Further, they apparently did not have much, if any, connection to one another. They just all happened to be in the same area at the same time. We are also not given any details of the stories surrounding their arrests, except that they were declared to be criminals because of their anti-Roman Catholic beliefs. Fox says only, “These five martyrs suffered together, January 31, 1556.”
The story concludes by saying that the five “were burnt at two stakes in one fire, singing hosannahs to the glorified Savior, until the breath of life was extinct.”
What a statement! They worshiped their Redeemer until they could no longer do so in this life. However, when this life ended they found themselves in a place where they could worship Him eternally. Thank you, John and Agnes and Anne and both Joans for giving us a great example to follow.