Friday, 16 July 2010


The next day (30th of April, 1532) Bainham was taken to the scaffold. Soldiers on horseback surrounded the pile: Master Pave, the city clerk, directed the execution. Bainham, after a prayer, rose up, embraced the stake, and was fastened to it with a chain. “Good people,” he said to the persons who stood around him, “I die for having said it is lawful for every man and woman to have God’s book. I die for having said that the true key of heaven is not that of the bishop of Rome, but the preaching of the Gospel. I die for having said that there is no other purgatory than the cross of Christ, with its consequent persecutions and afflictions.” – “ thou liest, thou heretic,” exclaimed Pave; “thou hast denied the blessed sacrament of the altar.” – “I do not deny the sacrament of Christ’s body,” resumed Bainham, “but I do deny your transubstantiation and your idolatry to a piece of bread.” – “Light the fire,” shouted Pave. The executioners set fire to a train of gunpowder, and as the flame approached him, Bainham lifted up his eyes towards heaven, and said to the city clerk: “God forgive thee! and show thee more mercy than thou showst to me! the Lord forgive Sir Thomas More…pray for me, all good people!” The arms and legs of the martyr were soon consumed, and thinking only how to glorify his saviour, he exclaimed: “Behold! you look for miracles, you may see one here; for in this fire I feel no more pain than if I were on a bed of down, but it is to me as sweet as a bed of roses.” The primitive church hardly had a more glorious martyr.

Pave had Bainham’s image continually before his eyes, and his last prayer rang day and night in his heart. In the garret of his house, far removed from noise, he had fitted up a kind of oratory, where he had placed a crucifix, before which he used to pray and shed bitter tears. He abhorred himself: half mad, he suffered indescribable sorrow, and struggled under great anguish. The dying Bainham had said to him: “May God show thee more mercy than thou hast shown to me!”But Pave could not believe in mercy: he saw no other remedy for his despair than death. About a year after Bainham’s martyrdom, he sent his domestics and clerks on different errands, keeping only one servant-maid in the house. As soon as his wife had gone to church, he went out himself, bought a rope, and hiding it carefully under his gown, went up into the garret. He stopped before the crucifix, and began to groan and weep. The servant ran upstairs. “Take this rusty sword,” he said, “clean it well, and do not disturb me.” She had scarcely left the room when he fastened the rope to a beam and hanged himself.

The maid, hearing no sound, again grew alarmed, went up to the garret, and seeing her master hanging, was struck with terror. She ran crying to the church to fetch her mistress home; but it was too late: the wretched man could not be recalled to life.

Reformation in England, by J. H. Merle d ‘Aubigne. Vol. 2. P. 101.