On this day in 1555, less than a week after Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer were burned at the stake, Bloody Mary, the eldest daughter of England's King Henry VIII, launched a series of fierce persecutions against Protestant Christians in which more than two hundred men, women, and children were put to death for their faith.
Ridley had been a chaplain to Henry and was the Bishop of London under his son Edward. Latimer was the Bishop of Worcester. Both men were renowned for their piety and compassion.
When Mary became Queen, one of her first acts was to arrest Bishop Ridley, Bishop Latimer, and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. After serving time in the Tower of London, the three were taken to Oxford in September of 1555 to be examined by the Lord's Commissioner in Oxford's Divinity School. Sensing the groundswell of support the men had throughout England, it was determined to make a public spectacle of their executions.
Mary and her minions were startled to discover however that the martyrdoms only intensified the Christian zeal of the Protestants. Thus, the horrors of the bloody persecution were unleashed in order to quash the confessing Church--in the end though, it had quite the opposite effect. As in the days of the Apostles and the Patristics, the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the Church.