Monday, March 07, 2005

Blessed John Larke

Blessed John Larke was martyred on this day in 1544 at Tyburn. He was at one time Sir Thomas More’s parish priest. He was rector of St Ethelburga’s, Bishopsgate, from 1504 until 1542, just two years before his death. He also had the benefice of the Chelsea parish where St Thomas served his daily Mass.

“Priest and server held each other in deep desteem, and their friendship strengthened them for the coming sacrifice. More was martyred in 1535, but it was not till years later that Larke was tried, with Bl German Gardiner, a layman, and Bl John Ireland, a priest, for refusing to take the oath of supremacy. Fortified by More’s example, Larke stood firm in the hour of trial, and suffered at Tyburn, on 7 March 1544.” [-Bowden]

Bl John was the only diocesan parish priest to suffer martyrdom during the reign of Henry VIII.

The illustration shown is that of his parish of nearly 40 years, St Ethelburga’s. It was damaged in an IRA terrorist bombing in 1993 and has been rebuilt to resemble the original as closely as possible. At one time it was probably the largest building in Bishopsgate; now it is probably the smallest.