It is the 26th of December 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The Year was 1526.
To understand the life of Henry VIII, a pretty important character in the history of England and the Church, you might remember the little rhyme: Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. That first divorce is the key. He divorces Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the famous Ferdinand and Isabelle, and marries Anne Boleyn.
From a macro level, to understand the church in England in the 16th century is to take a step back and remember the acronym H.E.M.E. Technically it's not an acronym, H.E.M.E: Henry, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. Edward VI is Henry's son and a Protestant and reigns from 1547-1553. The infamous Mary Tudor is next. "Bloody Mary" was known for her allegiance to the Catholic Church and persecution of Catholics. She is on the throne from 1553-1558. After Mary is Elizabeth, the "Virgin Queen" etc., etc. Also, she persecuted not only Catholics but Puritans too. (We don't call her Bloody Elizabeth, but we could.)
Living through Henry's reign through Elizabeth could have been extremely upsetting for most, but especially those associated with the church. We know it "could" have been, but for at least one person, we know it "did." In 1526, the year that Henry began his affair with Anne Boleyn, and on this day, the 26th of December, that Rose Lok was born. She would live a remarkable 87 years. And in her 85th year in 1610, she would sit down and write a memoir of her life and times.
Lok's father was Sir William Lok, a cloth merchant, who had also served as sheriff and then as the official cloth merchant to Henry VIII. Rose, the 3rd of 11 children, recalled that the king had asked her father to personally procure a copy of protestant writings and the Psalms in French for Anne Boleyn. On one occasion, Rose tells of Henry, inviting himself to the family's home for dinner.
Rose's first husband was in business with her brother as merchants to the continent. Her sister-in-law, Anne Lok, was a correspondent with John Knox who was leading the Scottish Reformation. When Mary came to the throne, the two couples helped Protestants escape to Geneva, where Knox had also gone. Rose's husband and brother would be put in jail for a time and then move to Antwerp.
Before Rose could join them in Antwerp, she gave birth to her first son. She agonized over whether to have him baptized in the Roman church or wait until a Protestant minister could do it. She decided to have her son baptized, but later must have had second thoughts. Her second son was born in Antwerp but was unable to be baptized immediately. This caused a problem, according to Rose's memoir, in that Anabaptists had overrun the town leading authorities to suspect any non-baptized child. I don't know how they would know, but it's what she wrote. She also reported that the magistrates would break into the homes of the unbaptized, kidnap the children, put them in a bag, and throw them into the river to die. Please note, this is her story. That story sounds extreme, but hey, maybe.
Rose wrote, "I continued in Antwerp till the death of Queen Marie, Which was not a little joyful to me to hear of." Rose moved back to England only to find the new queen a protestant, but not her kind of protestant. As one with Puritan sympathies, Rose was not welcome back into London society and lived the rest of her life in Lincolnshire with her family. She died in 1613, three years after writing her memoir. Rose Lok was 86 years old, born on this, the 26th of December in 1526.
It's the Second Day of Christmas. The reading for today comes from Christine Rosetti, "Christmas Hath Darkness."
CHRISTMAS hath darkness Brighter than the blazing noon, Christmas hath a chillness Warmer than the heat of June, Christmas hath a beauty Lovelier than the world can show: For Christmas bringeth Jesus, Brought for us so low.
Earth, strike up your music, Birds that sing and bells that ring; Heaven hath answering music For all Angels soon to sing: Earth, put on your whitest Bridal robe of spotless snow: For Christmas bringeth Jesus, Brought for us so low.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 26th of December 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Christopher Gillespie, the H.E. to my M.E. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. And remember, the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.