Angelic Cardinal Reginald Pole - C. M. Antony




The Reconciliation
1554-1556

After a prosperous voyage the legate was met at Dover by his nephew, Lord Montague (son of his eldest brother, beheaded 1538) , the Bishop of Ely, and a train of noblemen who were commissioned to escort him with all state to the King and Queen. All along the road to Canterbury people flocked to see him and receive his blessing; the streets of all the villages were lined with men and women, kneeling and weeping. At Rochester his friend Pate, Bishop of Worcester, who had preceded him by some weeks, met him with a message from Mary (who was evidently reassured as to the state of the country), beseeching him to assume henceforth the state of Papal Legate, for as such she intended to receive him.

At Gravesend, on November 23, he was approached by a great deputation of nobles, who handed him the copy of an Act, sealed with a golden seal, passed only the day before, by which the Attainder passed on him and his family was reversed, and all his rights and privileges of nobility restored to him. His letters-patent to exercise his legatine commission in England were also handed to him. The Cardinal was deeply moved. We can only dimly guess what his home-coming was to Reginald Pole—the reaping in joy of what he had sown in suffering beyond all tears. He entered the royal barge, which was in waiting. At the prow was fixed his silver legatine cross, surmounting a tall staff. All the way up the river, where the crowded craft left a broad way for the legate's triumphal progress, the people welcomed him with cheers. There could be no doubt as to the passionate thankfulness of England as a whole.

So swift was his progress on a favorable tide that, before it was expected, the clustering thousands lining the banks at Lambeth and Westminster saw the silver cross shine far down the river in the misty dimness of the November afternoon. Philip and Mary awaited the legate at Whitehall, and as the royal barge swung up amid a roar of welcome, the King, the Chancellor, and a retinue of nobles descended the steps to the water's edge to meet him.

"Your Majesty is going to wait on your subject?" said one of the lords-in-waiting. "The King is going to receive the Legate of the King of kings," replied Philip gravely.

At the head of the stairs the Queen awaited him, and saluted him with feelings which can be imagined rather than described. After a short conference, during which some presentations were made, and the Legate displayed his credentials from the Pope, he re-entered his barge, and was conducted in state by the Chancellor to the Archbishop's palace at Lambeth, on the opposite bank of the river (vacated by Cranmer, now in prison as a traitor) , which had by Mary's command been prepared for him and his suite.

Beccadelli and his devoted friend Priuli were with him, together with a large retinue, and the former gives us some graphic details of the events of the next few days. From his descriptions and from those of another eye-witness we can form a vivid picture of what took place.

"[Cardinal Poole] of late is arrived in Englande as ambassadour and legate from the Pope's holynes, with most ample commission to receave the realme of Englande unto the unitie of the Church. ... He is and seemeth to be of nature sad and grave, whose good life may be an example to the reste of his profession, and his excellent learning is well knowen through all Europe. . . . For it is commonly sayde of him by lerned men in Rome, and in other places where I have travayled, Polus cardinalis, natione Anglus, pietatis et liter arum testimonio dignus, non qui Polus Anglus, sed qui Polus Angelus vocetur."

At Lambeth he rested after the fatigues and emotions of his journey; but on the third day went to court, and on the day following received the King at Lambeth. During these two interviews everything was arranged for the public reconciliation. On November 28 the Legate attended the House of Lords, in company with the King and Queen. The Commons being summoned to the bar, Pole addressed the whole assembly, after he had been briefly introduced by the Lord Chancellor, who concluded by begging for "attente, and an inclynable eare to him."

"When his lordship had thus made an end, my lord Cardinall, taking the occasion offred, without any studye, as it seemed, spake in effect as foloweth:"

Referring in touching words to his five-and-twenty years exile he thanked them for reinstating him in his rights of nobility.

"If the offer of my service might have been receaved, it was never to seke: and where that could not be taken you never failed of my prayer, nor never shall." Yet this nobility, he reminded them, was but earthly, and he was there to reinstate them as citizens of a Heavenly country. After a sketch of the benefits which England had from the beginning received from the Apostolic See, and a review of the miserable events of the past, in which he pointed out that heresy inevitably results from schism, he came to the purpose of his mission.

"When all lyghte of true religion seamed utterly extincte, as the churches defaced and aulters overthrowen, the ministers corrupted; even lyke as in a lampe the lyghte being covered, yet it is not quenched, even so in a few remained the confession of Christ's fayth. . . . And therefore it may be sayd: Da gloriam Deo."

He spoke feelingly of the Queen, and her Catholic marriage; "in which respecte greate cause you have to gyve thankes to Almighty God that hathe sent you such Catholyke governours; "and most gracefully and charitably of the King's father, the Emperor. He spoke of the twofold division of power, spiritual and temporal, the Author of all power being Almighty God. The "King and Quene's Majesties" represented the power temporal,

"committed to them immediatelye from God. . . . The other power is of ministracyon, whyche is the power of the Keies, which is by the authoritie of God's worde . . . geven to the Apostolike Sea of Rome. . . . From which sea I am here deputed legate . . . and have the keyes committed to my hands. I confess to you that I have the keyes not as mine own keyes, but as the keyes of him that sent me, and yet cannot open, not for want of power in me to gyve, but for certayne impedimentes in you to receave, whiche must be taken awaye before my commission can take effect. . . I cum not to destroy but to build. I cum to reconcyle, not to condemne. I cum not to compel but to call againe. I am not cum to call anything in question already done, but my commission is of grace and clemencye ... for touchinge all matters that be past, they shal bee as thinges cast into the sea of forgetfulnes. But the meane wherby you shall receave this benefit is to revoke and repeale those lawes and statutes whiche be impedymentes, blockes, and barres to the execution of my commission."

He compared his own position, unable to return to England until the Act passed against him was revoked, to theirs, who could not receive the Papa absolution until the "abrogacion of such lawes whereby you have disjoyned and dissevered yourselves from the unity of Christe's Church"; and he concluded by begging them "lyke true Christians and provydente men" to consider their position and take such steps to remedy it as might tend to the glory of God and the welfare of their country. "This was the substannce of my lord cardinalles oration, or rather his tale, which he pronounsed in such sort as no man could judge, it any studyed matter, but a thing spoken ex tempore. Wherof a frende of myne beinge a burges of the parliamente, and presente at the same tyme, toke the notes, and gave me the same in writing, so (as I beleve) nothing that he spoke in effecte is omitted."

He was heard in thrilling silence, broken now and then by sobs. After so many years the awful strain was loosed. To the aching hearts of those who had sinned through pride or terror, ignorance or fear, came a passion of repentance for their sins as a nation, which rose like a sea, the beating of whose waves might almost be heard.

Then Gardiner rose, and in a voice choked with emotion thanked the Legate for his "good offices to the nation"; after which Pole withdrew "to hys house at Lambeth"; and Parliament listened to a fervent speech from the Chancellor, in which, as one himself guilty of schism, he implored his brethren to return to the unity of Christ's Church, as in all humility he willed to do himself.

Next day Parliament met again, and in both Houses the question was put as to whether it was desired to return to the communion of the Catholic faith as a nation; and whether it was agreed that the schismatic laws should be repealed. The motion was carried through both Houses, with one dissentient in the Commons; and a resolution was passed to beg the Cardinal to bestow upon them the pardon of the Pope.

The next day was fixed for the Reconciliation of England. It was St. Andrew's Day, November 30, 1554; a day subsequently ordered to be kept forever sacred in England.

A dazzling company of prelates and nobles—six bishops and six knights of the garter—escorted the Cardinal-legate across the river to Whitehall, where, in the great Chamber of the Palace, says Beccadelli, the House of Lords was bidden to assemble, and the Commons summoned.

There under a gorgeous canopy of jeweled cloth of gold, upon a dais magnificent with hangings of royal tapestry, Philip and Mary awaited the Cardinal-legate, whom they received with the deepest respect, as he arrived "in full pomp," in his splendid crimson robes—all the insignia of his Legateship, the silver cross, pillars, and axes being borne before him. No pageants, as it has been often said, can equal those of the Catholic Church. He took his seat on the Queen's right hand, the King being on her left, and rather nearer to her; and there was a moment's silence, as the murmur of wonder and welcome died away, and the Chancellor rose to make his speech. They remembered, he said, what had been agreed upon the day before. Were they still of the same mind; and did they desire to ratify it? And then arose a heartfelt cry: "We do—we do."

Then Gardiner, turning to the King and Queen, presented a petition from the nation declaring the sorrow of the people for their schism, and for the enactments against Rome, all of which they now purposed to annul, beseeching from the Legate pardon and restoration.

Philip and Mary read it—the Queen through blinding tears—and then the Chancellor read it aloud so that all could hear. Then the whole assembly rose as one man to its feet and advanced as near as possible to the Legate, while the Queen, kneeling, besought him in her name and the King's to grant the pardon for which they sued.

Again there was a silence, choked with sobs, while the Legate, with a gesture, motioned them all to their seats, and then proceeded to address them. How thankful should they not be, as Englishmen, for God's mercy to their country, to which He had given so signal a proof of His love, in sending repentance to the whole kingdom. "If the angels in Heaven," said the quiet voice, "rejoice over the conversion of a single sinner, what must be their joy to-day at the sight of a whole kingdom which repenteth?"

Then as he rose to his feet, the whole assembly fell on their knees, and a threefold cry for pardon went up. All eyes were centered on the slight, dignified figure, with his grave clear eyes and face marked by suffering, standing there in his trailing scarlet robes—the representative of St. Peter himself sent to reconcile England—and then he raised his hand, with the great jewel flashing from it. The words of absolution fell like rain into their parched souls.

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who with His most precious blood hath redeemed and washed us from all our sins and iniquities, that He might purchase unto Himself a glorious spouse without spot or wrinkle, and whom the Father hath appointed Head over all His Church; He by His mercy absolve you. And we, by the Apostolic authority given to us by the most holy Lord Pope Julius III. His Vicegerent on earth, do absolve and deliver you, each and all, together with this whole realm and the dominions thereof, from all heresy and schism, and from all and every judgment, censures and pains for that Cause incurred.. And also we do restore you again unto the unity of our Holy Mother Church, as in our letters more plainly it shall appear. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen. "

And, as they wept, the people cried again, Amen. But no one—not even those who receive the hundredfold now in this present time—can know what that supreme moment was to Reginald Pole.

They sang Te Deum afterwards, in the Chapel Royal, tears of joy running down their faces.

The supplication for pardon, from the nation to the Legate, is too interesting to be overlooked. It begins by a declaration that Lords and Commons, representing the whole realm, beg the King and Queen to present their petition to the Cardinal, and continues, "we dooe declare ourselves very sorye and repentante of the scisme and disobedyence . . . agaynste the . . . Sea Apostolyke, either by making laws against the supremacy of the sayed Sea, or other wise dooing or speakynge that might im pugn the same." They promise, to the uttermost of their power, to abrogate and repeal all laws against Rome; begging Philip and Mary, as persons "undenied in the offence of thys body towards the saide Sea," so to set forth this their suit to the Legate that they may obtain "from the Sea Apostolike, by the saide most reverend father, as well particularlye as universally e, absolution, release, and discharge from all danger of such censures and sentences, as by the lawes of the church we be fallen in. And that we maye, as children repentaunte, be received into the bosome and unitie of Christe's Churche. So as thys noble realme, wyth all the membres thereof, maye in unitie and perfecte obedience to the Sea Apostolike, and popes for the tyme beinge, serve God and your majesties to the_furderance and advancemente of hys honoure and glorye. Amen."

On December 1, the Lord Mayor of London waited on the Legate, desiring him to make a triumphal procession through the city, which he did two days later.

"Then the fyrste Sunday e in Advente followinge, my lorde cardinall came, at tenne of the clocke, from Lambeth by water, and landed at Pole s wharfe. And cumminge from thence to Pole's churchewith a crosse, ii. pyllers, and two pollaxes of sylver borne before hym, he was there receaved by my lorde chaunceller, with procession. Where he taryed untill the kynge's cummynge; whose hyghnes came from Westminster by lande, and all hys nobles before hym, to Pole's also, at a leven of the clocke. And so the kynge's majestie and my lorde Cardinall, with all the lordes of the privye counsell beinge presente, with suche an audience of people as was never sene in that place before, my lorde chaun celler entered Pole's crosse. And after that the people ceased, that so much as a whisperinge could not be hearde amongest them, more than amongst those of whom the poet Virgil speaketh, Conticuere omnes, intentique ora tenebant, but every bente hartelye wyth eares to here, eyes to perceave, and handes to wryte, his lordship preceded, and tooke to hys theamthese wordes of the epystle of that daye, wrytten by Saynte Paule the holye apostle in the xiii. chapter to the Romaynes, Fratres, scientes quia hora est jam nos de somno surgere, &c., whyche parcelle of Scripture was so godlye and so clearkelye handeled by him, as no manne alyve . . . was able to meande it."

Gardiner, in a most able sermon, informed his hearers of facts which few, to-day, perhaps realize. He told them that Henry VIII. had twice intended to make his submission, the first time eighteen years before, at the time of the northern rising; and later on sending Gardiner himself to the Emperor, to ask him to be his intercessor with the Pope: "but it tooke none effecte because the time was not." At the beginning of Edward's reign, again there was talk of submission, to which the council did not agree, lest it should be said the realm was unable to defend itself during the King's minority without the Pope's assistance! Lastly, Queen Mary, at her coronation, had earnestly desired to restore the Pope's supremacy, "but the tyme . . . was not then."

"These, wyth manye other notable, yea, lamentable lessons, to longe here to bee rehersed, hys lordshyppe then declared, whyche moved a greate nombre of the audience with sorrowfull syghes and wepynge teares to chaunge theyr cheere." At the end, after dwelling upon Cardinal Pole's mission, and speaking with deep gratitude of the action of the King and Queen, the Bishop told the people that if they remembered their promises, and "hartely embraced and faithfully followed [them] they al then myghte synge with the angell whiche appered to the shepherds at the natyvytie and birth of oure Savioure, Jesus Christ, Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus. And finally to say with the prophet and psalmist David, Haec est dies quam fecit Dorninus, exultemus et laetemur in ea."

The sermon was preached after solemn High Mass had been sung in the presence of the Cardinal-legate, the King, Queen, and the whole court. "Syns the day of whiche sermon all such thinges as were amis and out of order here begin now to cum to rule and square, and occupye their auncyente and accustomed places."

On the following Thursday Convocation assembled, and kneeling, humbly entreating pardon, was solemnly absolved. A fortnight later the ancient Heresy Acts, which it had suited Henry VIII. to repeal, were re-enacted; just after an act had been passed restoring jurisdiction to the clergy.

But the principal question which troubled the kingdom was the restoration of abbey lands and church property. By far the greater part—nearly three-quarters—of this had been confiscated to the crown by Henry VIII., and this wholesale plunder Philip and Mary gladly agreed to restore. But even then an enormous amount was in the hands of private persons, to whom, and to whose fathers, it had been granted by the King for services rendered, or for some caprice; and such persons, though most desirous of returning to the church, were not in all cases equally desirous of giving up their wealth.

It was this difficulty, clearly foreseen by Philip's acute mind, which had caused him to delay the Legate's reception up to the moment of his leaving Brussels, whither he had sent Renard to treat fully of the question. It would have been most unwise to press the nation as to the spoils of the church, just as it was returning bodily to its allegiance, and Pole gladly consented to grant delay to allow of the matter being arranged by degrees. A large number, however, gave up their lands and money to safeguard those who did not wish to do so; and by an Act passed on January 3, 1555, such possessions were granted to their holders, with the Legate's full consent. Pope Paul IV. subsequently, at Pole's request, granted a bull confirming this, on September 16, 1555.

His letters to the Pope (Julius III.) at this time, are alive with interest. On the day of Reconciliation he wrote to him, giving a detailed description of all that had taken place. Philip, too, who had been deeply moved, wrote on the same day to the Holy Father, whose delight at hearing the news was expressed by public rejoicings, after a solemn Te Deum sung in St. Peter s. King Henry of France wrote to congratulate Pole, who had by no means lost sight of the second half of his legation, and was even then discussing a plan by which peace might be secured between France and the Empire.

Meanwhile on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25) there was a general procession of the Blessed Sacrament, with representatives from every parish in London, in which took part 150 to 200 priests and religious, with the members of the City Guilds and "singing men," preceded by the children of the Greyfriars and St. Paul's Schools, all singing Salve Festa Dies. Eight mitered bishops followed, Bonner, the Bishop of London, bearing the Blessed Sacrament; the procession being closed by the Lord Mayor, aldermen and guildsmen. The King and Cardinal were present in the cathedral, and in the evening, amid general rejoicing, bonfires were lit, and the whole city of London was illuminated.

The Queen sent representatives of the three estates of the realm—the Bishop of Ely, Lord Montague and Sir Edward Carne,—to Rome with a letter of introduction to the Pope from Cardinal Pole. Scarcely had they started, however, when news came of the death of Pope Julius III., on March 23, 1555; and the succession to the Pontificate of Pope Marcellus II., a most holy and learned prelate, and a personal friend of Pole's, who unhappily only survived his election by three weeks. Pole's own name had again been mentioned as that of the future Pope, but owing to his absence or, more probably, Cardinal Caraffa's influence, he was not so near election as during the last conclave.

When the ambassadors reached Rome, two pontiffs having died during their long journey, they were received by Pope Paul IV., formerly Cardinal Caraffa, entering Rome on the very day of his coronation. Paul IV. embraced them publicly, and was so delighted with the importance of the embassy, and the graceful and eloquent Latin oration of the Bishop of Ely, that he wrote himself to Philip and Mary, to express his pleasure and to send his blessing. As to the Cardinal-legate, nothing, said Paul IV., that he or Philip or Mary could ever do would be anything but unequal to Pole's marvelous virtue and heroic qualities. In view of future events, it is well to remember this.

In the spring Pole was very ill. The cause may have been the damp climate, to which for so long he had been unaccustomed, but on April 15 the Venetian ambassador writes: "Cardinal Pole's indisposition increased so violently, a malignant fever having never left him for five consecutive days, that not only his own attendants, but the physicians themselves despaired of his life; and the former being even more tender and apprehensive than the latter, their extreme affliction and dismay, especially that of Monsignor Priuli, was too piteous a sight; but through the aid and grace of the Almighty his right reverend lordship is not only better, but out of danger, having already passed four days without fever, though so weak and exhausted that all who see him well know how much he must have suffered. He is now intent on taking rest and gaining strength that he may be able, if necessary, to cross the Channel for this Conference."

This was part of his plan for peace, to which reference has been made. In the same letter the ambassador mentions the horrible outrage on Easter Sunday at St. Margaret s, West minster, when the priest, while giving Holy Communion during Mass, was attacked by a violent fanatic with a drawn sword, who wounded him so terribly on the head and hands that his life was despaired of. His blood fell into the chalice.

A few weeks later the Cardinal was sufficiently recovered to preside at the Conference which, after much preliminary negotiation, Henry II. had agreed to hold at Marc, near Calais, with representatives of the Emperor. To make peace between these monarchs had been one of the great endeavors of Pole's life, and it was indeed part of his legatine commission. Queen Mary was in tensely anxious as to the result, and had used all her influence with her father-in-law, the Emperor, and the King of France, to bring about the meeting. The first session was held in May, 1555, and the Legate used all his powers of persuasion and diplomacy; but political jealousy was too strong, and on June 8, a month later, the Conference was broken up; any hope of an agreement between Charles and Henry being out of the question, as both parties insisted on concessions which neither side would grant.

It was a terrible grief to Pole, who, however, in the difficult and generally thankless position of arbitrator had greatly endeared himself to both parties; and, indeed, for many years it would have been difficult to find a man more universally loved and revered than Cardinal Pole. Not one who knew him personally, not even one who had studied his life in his letters, could accuse him, as Protestants have not hesitated to do, of cruelty, during the prosecutions for heresy now beginning in England. The question of the so-called "Marian persecution" of heretics cannot be fully discussed here, any more than the wholesale butchery of Catholics which took place during the two previous reigns. They were the methods of the age. It must never be forgotten that the greater number of Protestants who suffered under Mary were put to death as traitors as well as heretics; and most had assisted at the martyrdom of Catholics—all certainly would joyfully have done so had the tables been turned. Many of them had urged the assassination of the Queen, and plotted against her; and all of them had uttered foul and shocking blasphemies about holy things. All, without exception, at the beginning of the reign, were invited, and in some cases compelled to leave England, and not one was put to death without repeated efforts to save him by reconciliation with the Church. [The following quote, from an intensely Protestant, Dr. Hook is worthy of careful consideration:

"For political offences men were slaughtered by hundreds and thousands in the sixteenth century; and the very historians who compassionate those who were slain for their religious principles, under the notion that the religious party to which they are opposed is discredited thereby, are among the first to vindicate the severity which they represent as necessary to preserve the peace of society.

"If we credit Foxe, the martyrologist, there was a parcel of bloodthirsty men at the head of society, or rather at the head of the Christian Church in this country, whose only object was to delight their cruel hearts by witnessing the agonies of their fellow creatures. Such persons there may have been . . . but we may doubt whether they existed in greater numbers in the sixteenth than in the nineteenth century. If we look to the facts of history, we find, at the commencement of Mary's reign, that there was no desire or intention to deal harshly with the reformers, whether Protestant or Calvinist. . . . [their] number was small, they were aware of their danger . . . and every facility was . . . afforded them for quitting the country.\" [Hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury Vol. viii., p. 358.]

At the same time, the heroic courage of these martyrs to private judgment must in many cases arouse our admiration. Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer had been allowed to dispute at Oxford with certain Catholic divines, one of whom, the Bishop of Gloucester, said "Latimer leaneth to Cranmer, Cranmer to Ridley, and Ridley to the singularity of his own wit."

Cardinal Pole had exhorted the Bishops in Convocation, in January, 1555, to use gentleness rather than harshness to heretics; but they, who had suffered cruel persecution, and been in danger at the hands of a king whose only law was his own will, can scarcely be wondered at for employing, to stamp out the hated heresy which his acts had fostered, means which were at least strictly legal. Had not they, too, tasted the bitterness of separation? Heresy, implying willful separation from the Church was mortal sin, and the death of the body was to be preferred to that of the soul.

Latimer, an old man with a harsh and bitter tongue, who had, to quote his own words to Cromwell, "played the fool" at the burning of the Blessed John Forrest, was burnt at the same stake as Ridley at Oxford, on October 16, 1555. Both these men were apostate, married priests; and though the Legate had on September 28 sent three Bishops to Oxford to examine them, and if anyhow possible to obtain their submission and consequent pardon, both were obdurate.

Three months before, on June 4, there was published with the sanction of the Legate, and of Convocation, a prayer book for general use in the realm. It was called: "an uniforme and Catholyke primer in Latin and Englishe, withe manye godlye and devoute prayers, newly set forth by ceartayne of the cleargye with the assente of the moste reverende father in God, the lorde cardinall Pole hys grace." It consisted of morning and night prayers, the Jesus Psalter, and prayers of St. Bridget on the Passion, "Matyns of oure Ladye," office of the dead, and form of examination of conscience before confession, together with short meditations on the Passion.

At the end of August, 1555, King Philip left England for Brussels, where his father the Emperor was about to make over to him formally his Spanish dominions. The Queen felt the parting keenly, her only comfort being in the fact that the King, on leaving, recommended her to the Cardinal's care, charging him to watch over and cheer her; at the same time bidding the Council do nothing without the Legate's express sanction. He was, in fact, Prime Minister of England, or would have been, had he not gently but firmly refused to meddle in temporal things. He promised to receive reports, and advise when necessary, but not more. In accordance with the wish of Philip and Mary, he took up his residence at the royal palace of Greenwich, where he could be in constant attendance on the Queen. To this palace was attached a Friary of Franciscan observants, lately reinstated by Mary.

It was perhaps at this time that the first apprehension of real danger clouded Pole's path. Pope Paul IV., a man of blameless and even austere life, was a violent political partisan, as has been already said. In September, 1555, he had a serious misunderstanding with the Emperor, in which Pole addressed an earnest letter of remonstrance to the Pope, who had been on the point of plunging Europe into a terrible war. It is probable that the Legate's intervention revived in Paul IV.'s mind the dislike and distrust of Pole which he had already manifested as Archbishop of Naples; with results which very soon were to declare themselves.

On November 4, the Legate convened a synod at Whitehall, during which he expressed his satisfaction with the fervor and zeal of the bishops and clergy, and their exemplary lives. After Mass of the Holy Ghost sung in the chapel of the Palace royal, they proceeded to discuss the redistribution of the abbey lands, according to the wish of the Holy Father, to whom Pole wrote a full account of their proceedings. On November 12, Gardiner died; and Pole, in deploring his loss to Philip and Mary, remarks "how necessary it is to supply his place with one not merely a Catholic by name," one that should "shew himself less harsh and stern, but no less firm and ardent" than the dying Bishop.

The anniversary of the Reconciliation, November 30, 1555, was kept with great solemnity. The synod was still sitting, and its chief work was the enactment on February 10, 1556, of a new code of constitutions drawn up by the Cardinal, en titled: "Reformatio Angliae, ex Decretis Reginaldi Poli." There were twelve decrees.

  1. Concerning the thanks to be daily given to God in the celebration of the Mass, for the return of this kingdom to the unity of the Church, and concerning the annual celebration of the memory of that event.

  2. Respecting ordinances and opinions, the reception and rejection of books, and the public teaching of the Canon law. (This dwells strongly on the Primacy, and treats very beautifully of the seven sacraments, ordering Reservation in every parish church.)

  3. Concerning the residence of bishops and other clerks. (Non-residence strongly censured.)

  4. That bishops and others exercising the cure of souls should preach to the people; and that parish priests should instruct children in the elements of the faith.

  5. Concerning the lives of the clergy.

  6. Respecting the examination of candidates for Holy Orders.

  7. Respecting the provision of ecclesiastical benefices (which were not to remain empty).

  8. That there be no grants of the rights of presentation or of advowsons permitted . . . contrary to the ordinance of the sacred canons.

  9. Concerning simony.

  10. Concerning the non-alienation of church property; making an inventory of chattels; not farming church appointments.

  11. Of the diocesan seminaries which it was desirable to form at each cathedral.

  12. Concerning the visitation of churches. (Strict orders were given as to parochial visitations, especially as regards the Blessed Sacrament.)

The prelates, by a re-enactment of a statute of Pope Innocent III., were to correct their clergy "without appeal."

Meanwhile on December 4, 1555, sentence of excommunication was pronounced by Paul IV. against Cranmer, who had utterly failed to justify himself of the charges of heresy which he had been allowed a period of eighty days to answer. He was at Oxford, and not then in prison. By Pole's courtesy he had been removed from Bocardo to the house of the Dean of Christ Church, and there, on February 12, 1556, he was degraded by a Papal commission of two bishops from his offices of Archbishop, priest, and all the minor orders one by one—appealing passionately to the next general council, though it was by the decrees of that still sitting under which he suffered—and was handed over to the secular power, plain Thomas Cranmer, apostate priest and hopeless heretic.

During his imprisonment he wrote and signed no less than six "Recantacyons," by which he hoped his life might have been saved; but in the great doctrine of Transubstantiation it was impossible for him to believe. Finding therefore that the six recantations availed nothing, he made at the last moment a seventh, retracting the previous ones, and declaring he had written them against his own belief, in the hope of saving his life. After asking for prayers for his soul after his death the unfortunate man, with the courage of despair, died by fire on Saturday, March 21, 1556.

He had been the chief instrument in "dissolving" the marriage between Henry VIII. and Katherine; and in declaring the present Queen illegitimate. The natural weakness of his character had been warped by his ambition, and he had lent himself, a willing tool in every new development of Henry's mad ambition. "He died a martyr's death," says his sympathetic historian, Hook, who, however, adds: "but to die bravely when death is inevitable is not sufficient to constitute a martyr." "On Saturday last," writes the Venetian ambassador, "Cranmer . . . was burned, having fully verified the opinion formed of him by the Queen, that he had feigned recantation, thinking thus to save his life, and not that he had received any good inspiration; so she considered him unworthy of pardon."

On the day before Cranmer's death, Reginald Pole was ordained priest in the Greyfriars Church attached to the palace at Greenwich, by the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of London, and five other bishops of the southern province, the Queen being present, and the church filled with a great congregation, all of whom were deeply affected. The next day, Saturday, the Feast of St. Benedict he said his first Mass in the same church, with intense devotion, and on the following Sunday morning, March 22, 1556, was consecrated by the same prelates Archbishop of Canter bury, of which See he had already been appointed administrator.

On Monday, 23, he took the oath of allegiance to the Pope "in the parlor of the convent," and two days after, on the Feast of the Annunciation, which fell this year in Passion week, he received the pallium in the parish church of Our Lady of Arches, at Bow, which was "hung with cloth of gold and rich arras," and splendidly decorated. Entering with a procession of clergy, among whom were six bishops, he was presented by a member of the congregation with a petition begging for a sermon, to test—as many have supposed—his real powers of extempore preaching. The Bishop of Worcester sang the Mass, and after the Gospel the Cardinal-Archbishop turned to the people and spoke to them simply and eloquently of three things—mission, apostolic succession and unity.

He explained to them what the pallium meant—made not of silk and jewels, but of plain white wool, to symbolize that all power and authority came from the Lamb of God. He who above all else loved peace, spoke of it with such intense feeling that he and all his audience were moved to tears, as one of them relates. "And thus" (he exclaimed) . . . " would ye but know the great grace God grants you by the mission of this peace!" On uttering these words his right reverend lordship could not restrain his tears, and after using that expression "would ye but know," he stayed himself for a moment, and then adding . . . " what God grants you," remained silent for a short while, his eyes being suffused with tears.

"This peace, then, which I am come to offer you on the part of God, must be received by those who wish for its enjoyment with great humility, as did on this day the glorious Virgin, who when the Angel announced peace to her in these words "Ave Maria gratia plena, Dnus. tecum," replied "ecce ancilla Domini". . . without any doubt at all, and with the utmost humility [receiving] the peace offered to her. . . . By imitating her you also will come to a peace truly blessed. Beati pacifici, quoniam ipsi filii Dei vocabuntur." A sermon, concludes the ambassador who quotes it, which though unprepared, bore good fruit during the Holy Week.

He was now chief adviser to the Queen and Council, virtual Prime Minister of England, Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal, and Papal Legate. To no one—not to St. Thomas of Canterbury himself—had so dazzling a position been granted. Truly to Reginald Pole was granted the hundredfold—now, in this present time!