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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 290. SOME PAPISTICAL BLASPHEMIES.


            In the previous chapter thou hast heard, Christian reader! the profound and learned censure of the catholic Church of England, what books they mislike and reject as heretical, schismatical, and pernicious. Against the which catholic censure of these learned fathers, I have not at this time to infer: neither doth my leisure now serve to write apologies in defence of these authors here condemned. Only so much leave it may please the reader to grant me to set before him here a pair of balances, wherein to weigh the books on the one side condemned, with the books on the other side allowed, to the end that we, weighing the one with the other, may discern the better between them, which part weigheth best with God's holy truth and true catholic church, against manifest idolatry and palpable abomination. And now therefore, as they have in this present proclamation given their condemnation upon these books above recited; so I desire thee to give thy censure upon their books, by them allowed, and upon the matter in them contained, and mark well what good stuff it is.

            And first to begin with the Primer in English for children, after the use of Salisbury, imprinted with privilege according to letters-patent of the king and queen's Majesties in the reign of Queen Mary. Let us repeat and survey some part of thesaid Primer, (for to express all, it were too long,) beginning with the first lesson of our Lady, in these words:


"Holy Mary, mother most pure of virgins all,
Mother and daughter of the King Celestial,
So comfort us in our desolation.
That by thy prayer and special mediation.
We enjoy the reward of thy heavenly reign," &c.

            Confer this with the Scriptures, good reader, and judge uprightly whether this doctrine be tolerable in the church or not. It followeth more in the Second Lesson:


"Holy Mary, of all godly the godliest.
Pray for us, of all holy the holiest;
That he our prayers accept may in good wise.
Which of thee was born, and reigneth above the skies," &c.


In the Third Lesson.


"Thy Son beseech, with humble intercession.
To purge us clean of our transgression;
That so being redeemed we may the place ascend,
Where thou dwellest with him world without end."


The Versicle.

            "Pray for the people, entreat for the clergy, make intercession for the devout woman-kind; let all feel thy help, that worthily solemnize thy memorial," &c.


Another Versicle.


"Holy Mother of God, make thy petition.
That we may deserve Christ's promission," &c.

            And in the anthem after Benedictus, thus it followeth:-

            "We beseech thee of thy pity to have us in remembrance, and to make means for us unto Christ, that we, being supported by thy help, may deserve to attain the kingdom of heaven."

            Furthermore in the collect after it followeth:

            "And grant, that through the gracious intercession of the Virgin thy Mother, we may be delivered from this present heaviness, and have the fruition of eternal gladness."

            It followeth moreover in the said Primer thus, concerning the material cross.

            "O God, which hast ascended thy most holy cross, and hast given light to the darkness of the world, vouchsafe by the virtue of thy cross to illumine, visit, and comfort both our hearts and bodies," &c.

            Moreover, in the name of St. John Baptist thus it prayeth:-

            "O Lord, defend us alway through the continual succours of St. John Baptist. For the more frail we be, the more need we have to be relieved with necessary prayers," &c.

            In which words note, good reader, not only the absurdity of doctrine, but also the stolidity of the reason. For whereas their doctrine pretendeth that St. John Baptist should pray for us, here we pray to God for St. John Baptist, that he will hear his prayer praying for us. It followeth furthermore in the name of Peter and Paul:-

            "Hear us mercifully; and grant thæt through the merits of them both, we may obtain the glory everlasting," &c.


Of St. Andrew.

            "So let him, O Lord, be a continual petitioner for us to thee," &c.


Of St. Lawrence thus:-

            "St. Lawrence the deacon did work a great work. For by the virtue of the holy cross, he gave sight to the blind," &c.

            And how can this be true, when the holy cross was not yet found in the time of St. Lawrence? For Helen which first found the cross, as they say, came after St. Lawrence more than forty years.


Of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury.

            "By the blood of Thomas, which he for thee did spend, Make us, Christ, to climb, whither Thomas did ascend."


Of St. Nicholas.

            "O God, which hast glorified blessed Nicholas, thy holy bishop, with innumerable miracles, grant, we beseech thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be delivered from the fire of hell."


Of Mary Magdalene.

            "Grant, we beseech thee, through thy mercy, to let her purchase for us the bliss everlasting," &c.


Another prayer of our Lady.


"The dolorous compassion of God's sweet Mother
Bring us to the bliss of Almighty God the Father," &c.


Another prayer in the said Primer to our Lady.


"Establish us in peace and tranquillity.
And change the name of sinful Eva:
Loose thy prisoners from captivity,
Unto the blind give sight again:
Deliver us from malignity.
To the end we may some grace attain:
Show thyself to be a Mother.
So that he accept our petition.
Deliver us from bondage of sin."


            "Holy Mother, succour the miserable, comfort the weak-spirited, give courage to the desperate, pray for the people, make intercession for the clergy, and be a mean for the devout womankind," &c.


Another blasphemous prayer.


"O thou meek Mother, have mercy therefore
On wretches, for whom thou haddest these paines all,
Seeing thy Son that vine-cluster pressed sore:
And from the pestilence of death eternal.
Keep us by voiding the Send infernal.
And join us with them which rewarded be
'With eternal life, seeing the Deity."


Another blasphemy in the said Primer.

            "Hail Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, our hope. Unto thee do we cry and sigh, weeping and wailing. Come off, therefore, our patroness; cast upon us thy pitiful eyes; and after this our banishment, show to us the blessed fruit of thy womb. O Gate of glory! be for us a reconciliation unto the Father and the Son. From the wretched their faults expel: wipe the spots of sins unclean," &c.


Item, to our Lady.


"The fruit of thy womb everlasting
We may behold through thy deserving," &c.




            "Grant, we beseech thee, that by her merits and prayers we may attain to that unspeakable joy, where she, being assumpt, doth now rejoice with thee in heaven for ever."

            And thus much hitherto of this Catholic Primer, called our Lady's Matins; whereunto, if it were not tedious for the reader, we would also adjoin our Lady's Psalter, to the intent that all indifferent readers, as they have seen what books these catholic fathers have condemned and do condemn for heretical; so the same also may see and judge, what books on the other side they approve as lawful and catholic. And forasmuch as it is not known peradventure to all men, what our Lady's Psalter is, or what it meaneth; yea, and some peradventure will deny any such book of our Lady's Psalter to be written or approved, here therefore we will first produce the name of the author, who was Bonaventure, a seraphical doctor, bishop also and cardinal, canonized moreover by Pope Sixtus the Fourth, anno 1482, for a saint in the calendar, who, in his book thus entitled in Latin, Incipit Psalterium beatem Virginis, compilatum per Seraphicum Doctorem Sanctum Bonaventuram Episcopum Albanensem, necnon sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Presbyterum Cardinalem, in honorem genetricis, &c., (fol. 84, in the second part of his whole works, which were imprinted at Strasburgh, anno 1495,) to show himself a devout servant to his Lady, hath taken every psalm of David's Psalter, (which be peculiarly made and referred to Almighty God,) and hath in divers of the said psalms and verses put out the name of the Lord, and hath placed in the name of our Lady. This being done through the whole psalms and every one of them, it is now called our Lady's Psalter, used to be sung and said in the praise and service of our Lady. A brief taste whereof, for example's sake, (for, to show all, it were too long,) we thought here to exhibit unto the reader in order, as followeth:-

            "Here beginneth the Psalter of the blessed Virgin, made by the seraphical doctor St. Bonaventure, the bishop of Albano, and cardinal of the holy Church of Rome."

            1. "Blessed is the man which understandeth thy name, O Virgin Mary; thy grace shall comfort his soul. Thou shalt bring forth in him the most plentiful fruit of justice, being watered as it were with fountains of water. All women thou passest in the beauty of thy body; all angels and archangels in the excellency of thy holiness. Thy mercy and thy grace is magnified every where," &c.--"Glory be to the Father," &c.

            2. "Why do our enemies fret and imagine vain things against us? Let thy right hand defend us, O Mother of God, terribly confounding and destroying them as a sword. Come unto her, all ye that labour and are troubled, and she will give rest unto your souls. Come unto her in your temptations, and her loving countenance shall stablish and comfort you. Bless her with all your heart; for the earth is full of her mercy. Glory be to the Father," &c.

            3. "Why are they so many, O Lady, that trouble me? In thy fury thou shalt persecute and destroy them. Loose the bonds of our impiety, and take away the burden of our sins. Have mercy upon me, O Lady, and heal my infirmity. Take away my sorrow and the anguish of my heart. Deliver me not into the hands of mine enemies, and in the day of my death comfort my soul. Bring me unto the haven of salvation, and restore my spirit unto my Maker and Creator. Glory be to the Father," &c.

            4. "When I called to thee, thou heardest me, O my Lady, and out of thy high throne thou didst vouchsafe to think upon me. From the roaring of them that prepare themselves to devour me, and out of the hands of such as seek after my life, thy grace shall deliver me: because thy mercy and thy pity are great towards all them that call upon thy holy name. Blessed he thou, O Lady, for ever, and thy majesty for ever and ever. Glorify her, all nations of the earth," &c.

            5. "Hear my words, O Lady," &c. "Turn our mourning into gladness, and our trouble into rejoicing. Let our enemies fall before our feet, and with thy power dash their heads in pieces."

            6. "O Lady, suffer me not to be rebuked in God's anger, nor to be chastened in his heavy displeasure," &c. "From the gate and deep pit of hell, with thy holy prayers deliver us. Let the everlasting gates be opened, that we may show forth thy marvellous works for ever. Because neither the dead, nor they that be in hell, shall praise thee, O Lady, but they which shall obtain by thy grace life everlasting."

            7. "O my Lady, in thee will I put my trust; deliver me from mine enemies, O Lady. Stop the mouth of the lion, and bind the lips of the persecutors. Make no tarrying for thy name's sake, to show thy mercy upon me. Let the brightness of thy countenance shine upon us, that our conscience may be saved before the most highest. If the enemy do persecute my soul, O Lady, help me that he destroy me not."

            9. "I will give thanks to thee, O Lady, with my whole heart, and will show forth among the nations thy praise and glory," &c. "They shall find grace through thee, the finder out of grace and salvation. The humble and penitent groan for pardon and forgiveness; heal thou the sores of their heart," &c.

            10. "In thee, O Lady, do I put my trust," &c. "Seek her even from your youth, and she shall glorify you," &c. "Her mercy take from us the multitude of our sins, and give unto us plenteousness of merits," &c.

            12. "Save me, O Mother of love, and fountain of mercy," &c. "Thou thyself alone hast gone about the compass of the earth, to help them that call upon thee."

            13. "How long dost thou forget me, O Lady, and dost not deliver me in the day of my trouble? How long shall mine enemy triumph over me? With thy mighty power destroy him," &c. "We magnify thee the finder and the author of grace, by whom the world is repaired," &c.

            16. "Preserve me, O Lady, for in thee have I put my trust," &c. "Blessed be thy breasts, [from] which, with thy deifying milk, didst [thou] nourish the Saviour," &c.

            18. "I will love thee, O Lady of heaven and earth; I will call upon thy name among the nations. Confess yourselves unto her, ye that are troubled in heart, and she shall strengthen you against your enemies," &c. "All ye cloisterers, honour her, for she is your helper and special advocate. Be thou our refreshing and rest, for thou art the marvellous foundation of all religion."

            20. "Hear us, O Lady, in the day of trouble," &c. "Cast us not away in the time of our death, but succour our soul when it forsaketh the body. Send an angel to meet it, that it may be defended from the enemies," &c. "In torments and pain let it feel thy comfort, and grant to it a place among the elect of God."

            25. "To thee, O Lady, do I lift up my soul," &c. "Let not the snares of death prevail against me,"

            26. "Be thou my guide to the heavenly rest, and to the company of angels associate me."

            26. "Judge thou me, O Lady, for I am fallen from mine innocency: but because I put my trust in thee, therefore I shall not fall," &c.

            27. "O Lady, let the brightness of thy face be my light, and let the clearness of thy grace shine unto my mind," &c.

            28. "To thee, O Lady," &c. "Have mercy upon me in the day of my trouble, and in the light of thy truth deliver me," &c.

            31. "In thee, O Lady, do I put my trust; let me not be confounded for ever: in thy glory receive me. Thou art my strength and my refuge, my consolation and protection," &c. "Deliver me from the snare that they have laid for me, because thou art my helper. Into thy hands I commend my spirit," &c.

            34. "I will always praise our Lady," &c. "In perils, in adversity, call upon her, and in time of need ye shall find succour. Let her conversation be an example unto you, and follow the virtue of her humility. Because therefore, O Lady, thou wast humble and lowly, thou didst compel the Word increate to take flesh of thee."

            36. "The wicked man said," &c. "Let him depart from his evil purpose. O Mother of God, turn the countenance of God toward us: compel him to be merciful unto sinners. Blessed be thy empery and dominion in heaven, and blessed be thy magnificence upon the earth."

            45. "My heart is inditing a good matter, O Lady," &c. "By thy holiness let my sins be purged; by thy integrity let me obtain incorruption," &c.

            47. "Clap your hands, all ye people," &c. "For she is the gate of life, the door of salvation, the reconciler of our life; the hope of the penitent, the comfort of the sorrowful, the blessed peace of hearts, and salvation. Have mercy upon me, O Lady; have mercy upon me; for thou art the light and hope of all that put their trust in thee."

            51. "Have mercy upon me, O Lady, which art called the Mother of mercy; and in the bowels of thy great compassion cleanse me from mine iniquities."

            54. "O Lady, in thy name save me, and from mine unrighteousness deliver me," &c.

            70. "Make haste, O Lady, to help me," &c. "Have mercy on thy servants, upon whom thy name is invocated," &c.

            71. "In thee, Lady, have I put my trust: let me not be confounded for ever; in thy mercy deliver me," &c.

            79. "O Lady, the, Gentiles are come into the inheritance of God, whom thou didst join unto Christ by thy merits," &c.

            89. "Thou that rulest Israel," &c. "The favour of life cometh from her, and all health floweth out of her heart," &c.

            91. "Whoso dwelleth in the help of the Mother of God, shall dwell in the shadow of her protection," &c. "Cry unto her in your dangers, and the scourge shall not come near your tabernacle. The fruit of grace shall be to him whoso trusteth in her, and the gate of paradise shall be open unto him."

            95. "Come let us rejoice to our Lady," &c. "Receive our souls at our last end, and bring them into everlasting rest," &c.

            105. "Praise our Lady, and call upon her name," &c. "Everlasting salvation is in thy hand, O Lady," &c.

            110. "The Lord said unto our Lady, Sit here, my Mother, on my right hand," &c.

            114. "In the passing of my soul out of this world, come and meet it, O Lady, and receive it," &c. "Be to it a ladder to the kingdom of heaven, and a right way to the paradise of God," &c.

            119. "The whole earth is full of thy mercies, and therefore I will search out the way of thy justifications," &c. "I will covet for ever to praise thee, O Lady, when thou shalt teach me thy justifications," &c.

            125. "They that put their trust in thee, O Mother of God, shall not be afraid of the face of their enemy," &c.

            127. "Except our Lady shall build the house of our heart, the building thereof shall not continue."

            128. "Blessed is every one that feareth our Lady, and blessed be all they which know to do her will," &c.

            130. "Out of the deep I:have called unto thee, O Lady, O Lady, hear my voice," &c.

            132. "O Lady, remember David, and all them that call upon thy name," &c.

            134. "Behold and bless now our Lady, all ye that put your trust in her holy name."

            136. "At the floods of Babylon," &c. "There is no propitiation to be found without her," &c.

            140. "Deliver me, O Lady, from aIl evil, and from the infernal enemy defend me," &c.

            145. "Our eyes look up and trust in thee. Do thou send us meat and food convenient," &c. "My tongue shall speak thy praise, and shall bless thee for ever."

            148. "Praise thou our Lady, O Jerusalem, and glorify her also, O thou Sion; for she buildeth up thy walls, and blesseth thy children. Her grace maketh thee fat, and giveth peace unto thy coasts," &c.

            I could recite also other things more of like blasphemy, following immediately after this Psalter of our Lady, in the seraphical doctor aforesaid, as these:

            "Behold, my Lady, my saviour; I will be bold in thee, and will not fear," &c. "Because thou art my strength, and art become my salvation," &c.

            "Rejoice, O all mankind, because the Lord thy God hath given unto thee such a mediatrix," &c.

            "I will confess to thee, O Lady, because thou hast hid these things from the wise, and hast revealed them to the little ones."

            "O thou wicked and peevish generation, acknowledge our Lady thy saviour. Is not she the mother that hath possessed thee, and in faith hath begotten thee?"

            "O thou blessed, in thy hands is laid up our salvation," &c.

            "In thy name let every knee bend, in heaven and earth, and in hell."

            "Like as an infant cannot live without the nurse, so neither canst thou have salvation without our Lady."

            "Whoso will be saved, before all things he must needs hold his belief of our Lady: which belief, unless every one shall hold perfect and sound, he shall perish, without doubt, for ever."

            Moreover, after these so horrible things and intolerable to be heard, consequently in the next tractation followeth the Rosary or Garland of our Lady, compiled by the said St. Bonaventure; wherein these words are to be read as followeth:

            "O mediatrix between God and man, the Lord hath worthily magnified thee, that thou only shouldest conceive his Son. Wherefore, O good Mary our mediatrix, mother of grace, and mother of mercy," &c.

            And moreover, within few lines it followeth in these words:

            "Therefore, O our empress and Lady most bountiful, by the authority of a mother command, command (I say) thy well-beloved Son, that he will stir up our minds from the love of worldly things, to heavenly desires," &c.

            Item, "O the advocate of the miserable, the eyes of thy servants be directed to thee," &c.

            To these premises I might also adjoin the horrible and most blasphemous words of the said Bonaventure in the said book, fol. 100, p. 2, col. 1, which I beseech thee to read and note, "What greater goodness can be, than that Christ is content to be captive upon the altar?"

            Whereupon he speaketh in the person of Jeremy, saying:

            "Behold, I am in your hands; do with me as you see good," &c. "Where note," saith he, "that when any duke or prince is taken prisoner for his subjects, he is not let go, before he pay some great sum of money for his ransom. Even so neither we ought to let Christ go out of our hands, being our prisoner and captive, except he grant unto us remission of our sins and his heavenly kingdom. The priest therefore lifteth up the body of Christ upon the altar, as though he said thus, Behold him whom the whole world is not able to comprehend; he is holden here our captive; wherefore let us hold him fast, and not let him go before we obtain of him our requests," &c.


Notes: The Church of Rome examined.

            Is not here good catholic stuff, Christian reader, trow you? Confer, I beseech you, this doctrine with the doctrine of the apostles, who teach us that we are fully complete in Christ, and I will refer me to no better judge than to your own conscience. And now therefore, if any man have been in doubt in times past of the doctrine and proceedings of the Church of Rome, whether it be rightly charged with blind errors, with blasphemy intolerable, and idolatry abominable, or not, here now may he he fully certified and resolved. For where was ever idolatry or blasphemy to be found, if it be not here in this Matins and Psalter of our Lady? If idolatry be to make an idol to be worshipped as God, which is no God, what do we here but make an idol of our Lady, (as we call her,) to be worshipped with no less dignity, glory, authority, reverence, and service, than is the Lord God himself? And as he is called our Lord, so she is called our Lady. And if he be King, yet she is the Queen of heaven. And though he have the name of God, yet she beareth so the title of the Mother of God; that as mothers have authority over their children, so she is willed to show herself to be his mother, to cause him to grant our petitions. Finally, if he be our patron, yet is she our patroness. The commandment saith, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." And what worship or service can we give to God, more than we do ascribe unto her? or what benefit is to be asked at the hands of Christ our Saviour, which is not equally asked of her? To save our souls, to give us peace, to grant grace, to comfort the desperate, to loose our captivity, to release our sins, to deliver from the fiend, to bring to heaven, &c. To her we pray, we cry, we creep, we sigh, we groan, we knock and kneel, to her we trust; and if we believe not also in our Lady, we be heretics ipso facto.

            Furthermore, as Christ our only Lord and Saviour hath his church and congregation, which professeth his name, of whom we are called Christians; so neither is she likewise without her chapels, her cloisters, her chapters, fraternities, and brotherhoods, which professing her name in like sort, are called our Lady's Brethren, or White Friars, besides an innumerable sort of other patrons of churches, of whom every one hath his peculiar church and religion by himself, yet all these together be included under the general devotion of our Lady, their supreme patroness and governess.

            Now to proceed further to the other part of the commandment, which saith, "Him only shalt thou serve." What service hath the Lord in all the church, but our Lady also jointly with him hath the like? Her mass, her matins, her even-song, her hours and compline, her rosaries, her anthems, her collects, her primer, her psalter; her holy-days likewise, yea, five to one. Finally, as the Lord hath his prayer called the Lord's Prayer, so hath she her Ave Marias, yea, ten Ayes to one Paternoster; yea, and read further in the said Bonaventure, and ye shall see her also to have her Te Deum, her Benedictus, her Magnificat; and also her Quicunque vult.

            If the Lord our God had not expressed unto us his own will by plain words, limiting unto us by express injunction what to believe, what to follow, and how to worship and serve him, and how to receive from him our salvation; but had left us to the imagination of our own inventions, every man to shift for himself after his own policy; then, peradventure, this way taken by the pope's church, to make friends and mediators between God and us, for reconciliation, remission, and salvation, might have some rhyme or reason; but now God's word doth bind us, doth prescribe and limit us precisely, in every point touching salvation, what to believe, and what to do, showing us plainly that we cannot be saved, but by the blood of his Son only, neither can be justified but by faith only in the same Christ his Son: wherefore, not to believe that which he hath promised, is infidelity, and to follow any other belief than he hath set us, is plain idolatry. The which two special errors most commonly do follow the doctrine of the Romish church, as not only in this Primer and Psalter of our Lady aforesaid, but also in all their proceedings, teachings, and preachings besides, may well appear. For whereas the Scripture doth perfectly promise and pronounce us to be justified through our faith in Christ, and willeth us to seek our salvation no where else, but only in the merits of Jesus: the institution of the Church of Rome neither will receive that God hath freely given, (wherein standeth infidelity,) neither yet will seek the same there where they should, but in the merits and prayers of our Lady, of St. John Baptist, St. Peter and Paul, St. Andrew, St. Nicholas, St. Thomas of Canterbury; and by the worthiness of the material cross, and such other unlawful means, wherein standeth plain idolatry. And yet such books as these can be suffered among the catholics to be current, as good, wholesome, and lawful books; whereas the other, which lead us the true way from infidelity and blind idolatry to true Christianity, in no wise can be sufferable. But of this to complain it is vain. Wherefore to pass from this proclamation, let us proceed (God willing) in the course of our history.


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