I am writing about a lesser known Reformation leader in England who was martyred for his faith, I’ve chosen to write about him because he was the Bishop of Worcester as well as of Gloucester, neither place is very far from where I live.
John Hooper was born in Somerset, his exact date of birth is not known, he died , burnt at the stake in Gloucester on 9th September 1555, he was the second leading Reformer to be martyred in Queen Mary’s reign. Little is known of his early life, he was brought up in the Roman Catholic church like the majority of his era.
He graduated from Oxford university in 1519 and is thought to have become a Cistercian monk. He became disillusioned with monastic life and returned to Oxford. There he became acquainted with the writings of Zwingli, the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland, in them he discovered that Christ’s death was sufficient to secure his justification and eternal salvation, without additional works of his own. He wrote to a friend of his past life”I had blasphemed God by a wicked worship, and an almost idolatrous heart, following the evil ways of my forefathers until I became rightly acquainted with the Lord….”
John Hooper was a wise, far-sighted, faithful bishop, he saw the danger of leaving vestiges of catholicism in the Church of England , such as the the robes Bishops wore. He had a pastoral heart for the poor and a great desire to instruct his clergy in Biblical Reformation doctrine, none of which counted in his favour when Mary became queen.
He was arrested and imprisoned on 1st September 1553 for an alleged unlawful marriage, denying the supremacy of the Pope, believing evil and corrupt doctrine and insulting the Queen’s majesty!
His trial commenced in London on 15th January 1555, it lasted several days, he was found guilty of failing to put away his wife(it was illegal for a bishop to be married) and denying Christ’s bodily presence in the Mass.The conduct of his trial was shameful. John Hooper would not recant and said to a friend who reminded him of the sweetness of life and the bitterness of death , “eternal life was more sweet and eternal death was more bitter.”
John Hooper was burned at the stake outside Gloucester Cathedral where he’d been Bishop. He was allowed to pray but not to speak or preach to the many people who’d gathered. His suffering at the stake was prolonged because the “faggots”(a bundle of sticks bound together) wouldn’t burn properly. Throughout he “neither moved backward, forward, nor to any side,” but only prayed”Lord Jesus have mercy on me,Lord Jesus receive my spirit.”(Foxe’s Book of Martyrs)
John Hooper’s Memorial outside Gloucester Cathedral
….And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Hebrews 11 v35
More links re Reformation Day at Challies.com