Thomas Kyme kicked his wife, Anne Askew, out of the house when she became a Protestant. The loss of home, husband, and two children was only the beginning of sorrows, for she soon faced trial for denying the doctrine of the Mass—that the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Christ. “Thou foolish woman,” said her accuser, “sayest thou that priests cannot make the body of Christ?”
“I say so, my Lord. I have read that God made man; but that man can make God, I never yet read, nor, I suppose, shall ever read. That which you call your God is a piece of bread; for proof thereof let it lie in a box three months, and it will be moldy.”
She was taken to the Tower of London. “Then they did put me on the rack … a long time; and because I lay still and did not cry, my Lord Chancellor and Master Rich took pains to rack me with their own hands, till I was nigh dead.” Despite being so crippled that she could never walk again, she refused to recant. “I sent word,” she said, “that I would rather die than break my faith.” Anne then composed this prayer:
O Lord! I have more enemies now than hairs on my head; yet Lord, let them never overcome me with vain words, but fight Thou, Lord, in my stead; for on Thee I cast my care. With all the spite they can imagine, they fall upon me, who am Thy poor creature. Yet, sweet Lord, I heartily desire of Thee, that Thou wilt of Thy merciful goodness forgive them that violence they do. Open also their blind hearts, that they may hereafter do that thing in Thy sight which is only acceptable before Thee. So be it, Lord.
On June 18, 1546, she was officially condemned. A month later she was carried to Smithfield, chained to the stake, and burned as a heretic. Others, however, like John Foxe thought her heroic, “leaving behind a singular example of Christian constancy for all men to follow.”
Even my bones are in pain,
While all day long my enemies sneer and ask,
“Where is your God?”
Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless?
I trust you! And I will praise you again
Because you help me, and you are my God. (Psalm 42:10,11)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). June 18.