Thursday, 30 January 2014

St Charles þe Martyr...

The death of King Charles I is arguably the most grievous event in the history of this nation. The poet Katherine Philips expresses the unimaginable sorrow of the English at the death of their Sovereign even so:

Great Charles his double misery was this,
Unfaithful friends, ignoble enemies;
Had any heathen been this prince's foe,
He would have wept to see him injured so.
It would be foolish to say that Charles was guiltless of any wrongdoing in the Bishops Wars or thereafter. He was, like most Stuart monarchs (not least his grandmother Mary, who also famously went to the scaffold), not apt to reign in many respects (was St Edward the Confessor?), but his manner of death was both heroic and Christ-like, redeeming any and all past sins. The King is presented to us in both the Eikon Basilike and the works of Delaroche (best known for his dismal painting of the execution of Lady Jane Grey) as undergoing a passion of sorts with an air of dignity and piety. And he did. He suffered for the Golden Age of Anglicanism, for episcopacy, for kingship and for a rich liturgical tradition. I'd say that qualifies as Anglican Patrimony, wouldn't you?
This marvelous Collect comes from the 1662 Prayer Book. Redolent of Psalm 90 (my favourite psalm) it calls to mind the reality of human suffering and our need for God's Grace:
Almighty and everlasting God, whose righteousness is like the strong mountains, and thy judgements like the great deep; and who, by that barbarous murder this day committed upon the sacred person of thine Anointed, our late Soveraign, hast taught us, that neither the greatest of kings, nor the best of men are more secure from violence, than from natural death; Teach us also hereby so to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. And grant that neighter the splendour of any thing that is great, nor the conceit of an thing that is good in us, may any way withdraw our eyes from looking upon our selves as sinful dust and ashes; but that (according to the example of this thy blessed Martyr) we may press forward towards the prize of the high calling that is before us, in faith and patience, humility and meekness, mortification and self-denial, charity and constant perseverance unto the end: And all this for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christs sake; To whom, with thee, and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
St Charles, King and Martyr, pray for us.
I tried to upload Delaroche's painting but Blogger was having none of it. You can view that here.


  1. Would that this had happened before the Union of Crowns, and I wouldn't have to listen to this all once a year!

  2. I might add that I wrote 'joke' in chevrons, but that naughty Blogspot stripped it out!

  3. I might add that I added 'joke' in chevrons, but that naughty Blogspot stripped it out!