January 19, 1524 — Today’s Luther (Reblog)

Martin Luther writes to Lambert Thorn, an Augustinian monk, in the Netherlands. Thorn (or von Thorn) was probably the third of the trio of Augustinians who had been arrested at Antwerp and tried for heresy. The other two, Heinrich Voes (or Vos) and Johann Esch (or van den Esschen), had been burned at Brussels. Thorn […]

January 19, 1524 — Today’s Luther

Poem From A Picture: ‘Doorways’

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The ruins of Crowland Abbey, Lincolnshire, England.

Doorways to nowhere,
ghosts whisper from parallel worlds
where alternate timelines run,
better worlds than our own.

copyright Francis Barker 2020

Today is Reformation Day

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In the largely secular world of ‘Western’ society today, Halloween has become a huge and ever growing event each year. So much so that the other significant anniversary of October 31, namely Reformation Day, is often forgotten, or ignored by many.

Today marks 502 years since the German monk, Martin Luther, one of the prime movers in the Reformation of Christianity, apparently nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg church of All Saints.

A sprawling empire, a collection of German states

In those days the Electorate of Saxony, in which the city of Wittenberg lay, was part of the sprawling Holy Roman Empire, of which, what we now know as Germany, was wholly contained, though it was not a unified country but a hotchpotch collection of smaller states and city states.

Martin Luther, who had long agonised about his own faith, was dismayed by the growing sale of indulgences, and especially the spread of this practice to his homeland of Germany.

The selling of indulgences

For a tidy sum, an indulgence could reduce or cancel your time in purgatory. The funds from the sale of indulgences were to be used for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

This may have been the final straw which led Luther to publicly portray his strong misgivings about the religion in which he was so deeply immersed.

The stone which Martin Luther dropped into the lake of faith that day has continued to ripple ever since – an action which was demonstrably epoch making.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

England’s Heritage in Photos: Corby Glen Church, Lincolnshire – Medieval Wall Paintings

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Lincolnshire in the east of England has some wonderful, often underrated medieval churches.

One such is in the south west of the county, in the lovely village of Corby Glen. Here on many of the walls of the church you can see paintings and illustrations of religious and spiritual imagery, representing stories from the Bible and the faith and beliefs in general of the later medieval period.

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If you look carefully, you can make out several layers of art, where older ones have been superseded with new work.

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During the Reformation in the 1500s, all of this art was whitewashed over, part of the process of removing all imagery, which also meant stripping out idols and even rood screens which separated the nave from the chancel.

It was only in more recent times that this treasure trove of art was rediscovered through church restoration.

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Today this art represents some of the most important medieval imagery not only in the county of Lincolnshire, but also in the whole of England.

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Devil in the detail.

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Explanation of the imagery inside the church.

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The beautiful setting of the church of Saint John the Evangelist, Corby Glen, Lincolnshire.

copyright words and pictures Francis Barker 2019

England’s Heritage, Peterborough Cathedral Part II – Two Famous Queens

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Peterborough Cathedral in the east of England is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful churches, with an association with two famous queens.

The long nave is quite stunning, with a beautiful roof and with a modern golden image of Christ suspended high as a focal point.

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The cathedral is dominated by Norman and early English architecture, with numerous examples of Norman arches, such as these interlacing examples above.

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Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England, is buried here.

The cathedral is also notable for its association with two famous queens.

The first was Catherine of Aragon, Queen of England when she was married to Henry VIII. Catherine was buried here in 1536 and her tomb is still something of a shrine to her memory, with pomegranates very prominent as her symbol because the fruit appears on her badge. Pomegranates are an ancient symbol for fecundity and regeneration.

Catherine certainly suffered much during her husband’s long and protracted break with Rome, in which she was the innocent victim, her only crime it would seem was not being able to produce a living male heir for Henry to perpetuate the Tudor dynasty. This was how she was treated after being completely dutiful to the king, but Henry had to have his way. Her motto, which translates as ‘humble and loyal’, is a phrase she very much lived up to.

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There is a portrait of Catherine by her tomb.

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Pomegranates have had a long association with Catherine of Aragon.

The second queen associated with Peterborough Cathedral is Mary Queen of Scots.

Mary inherited the Scottish throne after only a few days of being born, thrusting her into a world of political intrigue and shenanigans which she was never able to control.

She essentially became a pawn of more powerful rulers and some despicable characters. However, in 1559 she duly became Queen Consort to Francis II of France, solidifying Scotland’s long alliance with France.

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Scottish symbols hang in honour of Mary who was initially buried here in 1587.

Sadly within 18 months the young kind died prematurely. Had he lived, Mary’s life would have turned out entirely differently. As it was, she became a teenage widow and a long series of political and personal disasters ensued when she returned to Scotland. Eventually she fled to England and came under Elizabeth’s control.

After many years’ imprisonment in England, during which the still substantial Catholic faction within England with aid from Spain continually conspired to depose Elizabeth and put Mary on the English throne, she was finally executed at nearby Fotheringhay Castle in 1587.

She was initially buried in Peterborough Cathedral, but her son, James I of England, had her remains transferred to Westminster Abbey in London.

words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019